Description

Built this as a budget mITX gaming PC / Steambox. Then decided to upgrade with a dedicated GPU. Cable management isn't the neatest, but all the cables were just long enough and not too long. All the extra cables got tucked away quite neatly. There are some thought out little spots that you can manage cables through so they're not all over the place or blocking the front intake fan. I'm not sure if it was the mobo or PSU 20+4 PIN connector, but it was a pain in the rear to get it to fit in the socket. Also the disk drive activity light never blinks. Hmm... The two items in my list with $0 values were bought over time in the past and I don't remember the exact prices.

I was getting a console quality experience in games such as Skyrim, GTA5, Saints Row IV, FarCry 3, Borderlands 2 at 1080p with the APU alone. Now with the addition of a GPU, I am playing those games on highest settings at around 60fps (sometimes) , except for GTA5, that game is broke. GTA5 gets 20-60 fps and I've messed with all different settings.

With the addition of the GPU the stock fan on the CPU is as loud as a jet engine. The backplate on the GPU gets very hot and it's way too close to the CPU socket. I bought an aftermarket CPU cooler ( Zalman CNPS5X Performa ) which was suggested by pcpartpicker as the most popular and compatible, and it will not fit because of how close the CPU socket is to the PCI-E slot. It would fit otherwise. Maybe if I shave off a 1/4 inch off the mounting brackets it will fit. Also bought two 80mm fans to pull more air out. They do a great job, but it's not enough. They're also very loud.

Edit: Removed the two 80mm fans from rear and added a liquid cooler for the 7850K. My system is finally quiet even under load. Just a soft hum.

Thanks for reading and I will reply to any questions anyone has about this build.

Part Reviews

CPU

This APU is a beast! Stays quiet even under load (until you add a dedicated GPU, MSI R9 380 4GB in my case, which runs quiet but really heats up the APU because it sits so close to it. You can add a liquid cooler to get rid of that problem). It can handle many games at 1080p. Games such as GTA5, FarCry 3, Saints Row IV and the like run in console quality and sometimes better.

CPU Cooler

Great little cooler. Installed in Thermaltake Core V1 without a problem. Keeps my 7850K super cool. I wish I recorded temps before installing, but my thermal margin is 70C at idle and 52C under load. BIOS reports temp at 26C (not thermal margin, but actual temp). These temps are at 20C ambient room temperature. The LNC this cooler comes with makes a huge difference in noise reduction. Don't forget to use it. UPDATE: After five months with this cooler my temps are constantly jumping up and down by 10C. Coil whine from pump. Random knocking sounds, air bubble noise. BIOS reports actual temp at 40C. Thermal margin reported by AMD Overdrive jumping every second from 60C to 70C. I did a clean OS install thinking it was a software issue. Still the same results.

Motherboard

Very nice looking board. Doesn't look or feel cheap. BIOS is weak because there is no way to dedicate more memory to the APU. Default is 1GB. I have it updated to the latest version and have searched the internets above and beyond to no avail. Grammar in the BIOS and MSI apps is terrible as it was translated from another language without effort. Front panel connectors had to be connected individually in a very cramped area of the board. Board could have come with an additional PWM header. Also, if possible, they should have placed the CPU socket further away from the PCI-E slot. My GPU card gets hot and this ramps up the cooler on my CPU. Solved this issue by installing a liquid cooler.

Memory

Look and feel like top quality pieces of hardware. Work as advertised.

Storage

Very good quality product. Works as advertised.

Video Card

Hot! Hot! Hot! The fans on this card do a great job at dissipating heat from the front of the card. The backplate on the other hand is HOT! If you have a mITX board and want to install this card, DON'T do it! (Unless you liquid cool the CPU/APU.) It sits way too close to the CPU socket and gets my fan roaring like crazy! I'm sure if I added an aftermarket fan it would do the same. Liquid cooling might be the only way to go.

Case

The layout in this box is very nice. Looks very nice. HDD/SSD mounts are a pain to get in and out. One of the side panels rattles when poked. No big deal, but really? Big problem with this case is that when dust settles on the front intake mesh it leaves a huge visible gray circle of dust on the outside of the case and just looks ugly. Have to clean it weekly. The front intake fan is slow at ~850 max RPM and feels like it barley moves any air. A 120mm radiator fits nicely and was easy to install in front of the case for a push pull config.

Power Supply

Knocking off a star because the 20+4 PIN connector was a pain to connect to my motherboard. The 4 PIN kept slipping out of the socket as it's not a clip on. Otherwise, the PSU works as advertised.

Operating System

Because Windows 8 and 10 are ****.

Monitor

Looks great with the thin bezels. Major light bleed all around when viewing blacks or playing a game when night comes.

Mouse

Seriously don't notice any difference between optical and laser. My old mouse was a MX518.

Headphones

Great headset. Mic sounds great. Wish these were not open ear. Get a lot more bass if they were closed. I bought them for the way they look.

Speakers

Can't beat the look and sound for the price.

Comments

  • 48 months ago
  • 2 points

I'm not sure if it's the blazing speed of the SSD or I did something wrong or something doesn't work, but the disk drive activity light never blinks.

Hm... maybe double check the F_PANEL to see if the Hard Drive Activity Led wire is correctly connected to the HD + and HD -. I have accidentally done this before, wondering why the Led wasn't blinking, did not show any signs of activity. I had the positive and negative upside down before, when this occurred with my grandma's build until I flipped them around and suddenly the HD Activity Led was working. And sometimes the HD+ and HD- wires could have been yanked a tad and causes a improper contact to the pins. So it's also possible they need a re-seat to their pins.

Hmm... For now I have Windows 8.1 using a generic key until I save money for a legit key in the future, so I'm not sure if some features in Windows are disabled.

>Blinks< A generic product key? Not a legit product key?

  • 48 months ago
  • 3 points

its the plugs for the activity lights, can confirm, I did the same thing, knew what was wrong, but was too lazy to fix it for weeks.

  • 48 months ago
  • 2 points

This mobo didn't come with one of those easy connector things so you have to plug every little cable in a very tight spot.

  • 48 months ago
  • 3 points

I feel your pain man, I had to go through the same thing, you'd think that block connector would be universal by now?

  • 48 months ago
  • 3 points

Yeah, I'm broke now. I found out you can download an app from Microsoft that will download Windows for you, build the ISO and burn it to a DVD or USB stick. Also found out there are generic keys out there you can use for 90 days until you buy the real thing. It nags once a day to buy it, but it's not obtrusive yet.

  • 48 months ago
  • 2 points

Oh no worries. I understand the "broke" situation. Thanks for the clear up there, makes sense since yes you are correct. The ISO is still there so makes sense now on what you meant. Thank you for the clarification! Enjoy your computer, it's a good budget build and it will serve you well!

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

Can you link to the MS app? I haven't heard of that before.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 48 months ago
  • 2 points

Do not link that sub here. Those keys are not legitimately distributed and break microsoft ToS.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 40 months ago
  • 2 points

I just finished building a machine very similar to yours. Same APU, and almost got the same CPU cooler. I think I will go ahead and buy the cpu cooler now that I hear the sound of the stock cpu cooler. I also bought some pwm 80mm fans that I currently can't use because I also need a fan hub. Nice build BTW. Really like how that GPU sticks out the front of the case frame.

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

Just ordered the thermaltake water 3.0, can't wait! And I got the 2 80mm fans working with a fan splitter cable

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

the next upgrade would either be an all in one water cooler

if not you can loom for the CM Gemini II M4 cooler

  • 48 months ago
  • 2 points

I don't plan on overclocking. The stock cooler stays quiet even under load.

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

+1 sub LOL. did the graphics card fit perfectly in that case. cause im going to build my first build with that case and that card :D..

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

It fit, but I had to remove the front panel and the front intake fan to get it in there. Updated pics to show what it looks like. Also, get as much cooling in this case as possible. I'm getting an aftermarket CPU cooler soon because stock is really loud under load after adding the 380. The backplate on this card gets very hot and if your CPU socket is as close as the one in my build you will get high temps.

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

cause im going to use the asus h97i- plus and I dont know if the pcie connector will fit at the top of the graphics card. its kinda squishy in other builds. and can u upload pics in the front panel with that card. have a nice day bro.

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

The PCI-E connectors fit just fine in the case. I had to bend them a little bit. The top panel doesn't bulge and slides on and off without a problem. Uploaded a couple pics with the front panel off.

  • 47 months ago
  • 2 points

well, I got myself a deal. Evrything is now shipping.. Thnks bro.. :D

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

ill hope my cable management skills are good..

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

Plan all your cable routing before you connect the GPU. It's the hardest thing to work around in this case. I might get extensions for some of my cables in the future to hide them better.

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

Your problem with GTAV may not be from the game. I play with everything at max, at 30+ fps with a GTX 960, on a 42 inch 1080p.

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

Maybe I made a bad choice going with AMD. I play on high settings and my performance is all over the place. Not just with GTA5. Borderlands 2, FarCry 3, and Skyrim performance is not the greatest at all times either. And those are old games. I checked to make sure it's not my CPU bottlenecking and found that usage never goes above 90%.

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

Maybe. My setup is pretty similar to yours except for the mobo and the cpu. I also recently upgraded the ram too. Can play every game at very close to fully maxed settings. The bottleneck in my case is definitely the GPU. Here is my setup: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/JvBMHx

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

My last build was Intel / nVidia and I decided to give AMD a try despite all the hate. Lesson learned.

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

My colleague was having a similar problem with his R7370 not performing well either. It ended up being a driver issue. So he found an earlier version of the driver, installed it and hasn't had any issues since then.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Question: did you have to update the BIOS in order to use the 7850K? I'm preparing to purchase the same mobo/CPU combo but I've read that there are some compatibility issues with Kaveri CPU's.

Thanks!

  • 46 months ago
  • 2 points

Everything seemed to work just fine. I updated the bios later because I wasn't seeing any option to increase APU dedicated memory. The update didn't add the feature. Default is 1 GB.

  • 46 months ago
  • 1 point

Okay great. Thanks!

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

This build interests me because it is one of a very few that combine a Kaveri APU with an R9 discrete GPU. Do you have a way of telling whether the system recognizes both the on-board GPU and the discrete GPU? I'd expect that dual graphics are not working since the onboard gpu is R7. But I'm wondering whether the two gpus can run in parallel even if they cannot share resources? If they can, then this build may work for people doing budget GPU computing.

  • 44 months ago
  • 2 points

I've disabled the APU in BIOS. HDMI plugged in to only the GPU.

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice, I got the same case wrapped in carbon fiber vinyl !

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey, I am looking at doing a similar build except I am hoping to use only the APU with no GPU (workstation not gaming). I was wondering what you meant in your review of the MSI A88XI AC V2 Mini ITX FM2+ Motherboard when you said that you were only able to dedicate 1GB of ram to it. As I plan for this PC to have no dedicated separate GPU, the limitation of ram would seem to be a major issue. Can you please elaborate on your issues with the limitations of the board bios/ram. Thanks!

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

The 1GB I am talking about is for VRAM (graphics) which is plenty for most applications. This board supports up to 32GB system RAM, some of which will be shared with graphics.