Description

This was a build meant to replace my aging iMac, which was mostly used for content creation (graphic and web design, and light video editing). I wanted something powerful, quiet, and in a small case, so I decided to give ITX build a try.

CASE: My first choice was the Node 202, but after seeing how poorly the low profile coolers were performing, I ended up getting the NCase M1. It's a very small case, and allows for many build options.

CPU: I've mostly owned Intel systems through the years, but after seeing what Ryzen is capable of, and its low price tag, it was very difficult to pass up.

RAM: 16GB, 3200MHz, CL14. My previous system had 8GB, and I've hardly ever maxed it out, so for the time being I picked 16GB CL14 RAM, which works at advertised speed with the AM4 motherboard.

MOTHERBOARD: At the time of writing this review, the Biostar X370GTN was the only ITX AM4 board available for sale. It came with AGESA 1004a BIOS preinstalled. The BIOS settings look very 90's. There's no built-in WiFi, which isn't a deal breaker, because I was able to pick up a USB 802.11ac WiFi adapter for under $10. The board has a CPU fan header, and a case fan header. If you need more than two fans, then the simplest solution is to use y-splitters.

COOLER: Noctua NH-U9S is a medium-sized tower cooler which can use up to two 92mm fans, while fitting next to the RAM slot. I've purchased a second 92mm fan, which I originally attached to the side of the case, but after some time I placed it on the other side of the U9S. At the moment, the CPU hovers around 35c-38c while browsing the web and transferring large files, though I've not done any serious stress testing to see what happens under very heavy load. The highest temperature that I've encountered during gaming was 57c. The cooler didn't come with an AM4 bracket, so I had to buy one separately.

When I first set up this computer, I used the Quiet Mode to control the fans. I think there might be some issue with the temp readings when using this system in Windows, so from time to time the temp would jump up to ~42c, and the CPU fans would spin up from their usual 900-1100rpm to 1250-1300, which was audible. This became annoying after a while, so I changed them to manual settings to work at 1150rpm. This allows the temps to remain the same, and the system now stays quiet.

SSD: I saw Samsung 960 EVO 500gb on sale for $190 at Newegg, so I bought one, seeing as regular SSD's have been steadily climbing in price. At the time of purchase, the 850 EVO was $20 cheaper. The 960 hovers at around 40-45c while browsing web/transferring large files. It also doesn't require any additional SATA/power cables, so it allows for more room inside the case. For everything else I can always use external storage, or some additional internal hard drives.

GPU: I didn't really know which GPU would fit, so I went with one that I saw on NCase M1's approved list. It was under the common $400 price tag, which a lot of 1070's currently cost, had the stock 150w TDP, and according to many reviews, didn't have coil whine. The card fits without a problem, but as you'll see in the photos, it sits lower towards the right side. The reason for this is that rear part of the card's fan cover is thicker by about 1/8". I put a thin piece of rubber between the card and the fans to keep the card away from the fans.

PSU: It was either the 450W or the 600W from Corsair, and I don't think I'll need more than the 450W with this build. The PSU fan usually stays off, or spins at very low RPM when browsing the web.

CASE FANS: The two Noctua 120mm fans installed at the bottom of the case act as intake fans to push air towards the GPU. The GPU's fans remain off until 50c.

MONITOR: I am not heavy into gaming, so I didn't have much need for a 144Hz screen. Instead I went for a content creation-oriented IPS screen which was ~$500. I don't see any stuck pixels or light bleed on this screen, thought I did read some reviews which mentioned that it might randomly blank out for a second or two from time to time. Hopefully I won't have to deal with any of that. Other than that I had to manually select which cable (miniDP) I was using in the monitor's settings, because the system kept telling me that there was no cable attached, which initially made me think that either something wasn't plugged in correctly or some peripheral was broken.

POWER CONSUMPTION: I hooked up the system (without the monitor, which I tested separately) to a P3 Kill-a-Watt EZ to check how my system was doing during normal use, because I wasn't sure if the 450w PSU was enough, and got the following:

  • Windows 10 with a few background apps running like an antivirus, email client, etc. on AMD Ryzen Balanced power mode: 55-60w

  • Overwatch on medium with 1440p, fps capped at 60: 180w during game, and up to 225w on menu screens.

  • Rust: Simple setting, while running around on a map with 5 or so people at 1440p: 220-235w

  • Hearthstone on low settings (prefer not to play with the 60fps animations of high settings) at 1920x1080 windowed mode: 70w.

  • Adobe design apps: I couldn't get a good reading on this, because the apps are capable of performing different functions, and some might not be used as often as others, so during my normal run, it kept showing between 70w to 95w.

  • System during sleep mode: The reader showed 2.4w, but I'm not sure how things work during sleep mode, because I have everything set at default. There are some USB devices connected, so they might be using the power while the system is sleeping.

  • The Dell monitor drew about 22.7w at 45% screen brightness, and 50% contrast. Every other setting was at default.

I've installed the 39mm x 17mm case feet, and this has helped to keep the GPU's temps lower by about 3 degrees during the summer. It's not a big drop, but it helps keep the GPU's fans off for longer periods of time, so the system remains silent.

Comments

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

cool, my only complain is i am not a fan of the case fan colors, but that is just me

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, I'm not a big fan of their color either, but they work, and the case has no windows, so I don't mind. My other choice was the Corsair fans, but those were a bit louder.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

I have the Node 202 and my temps are good, 34c idle and 61-70c gaming using a Cryorig C7. I wanted the NCASE M1 too but, it's expensive for me. You can check out my build here: https://pcpartpicker.com/b/rqpG3C

Your PC is awesome by the way.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks. I wanted to get an i7 7700 with Big Shuriken 2 rev B in a Node 202, but then Ryzen got released, and I changed my plans. I contacted Scythe, and they said that they were planning on possibly releasing the AM4 version of the cooler some time in May, but that never happened.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

why pay $230 for a case? what's so great about it?

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

it's one of the smallest cases you can get on the market,has great acoustic levels,cooling, and It has fantastic build quality. they are great for watercooling as well.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Seems like a waste of money when you're getting less but I guess that's how these things go. Give me a BitFenix Portal or Fractal Design Mini any day over this thing, and we'll see how actually superior its "build quality" is

  • 30 months ago
  • 2 points

As for the design mini, I would take one over the Ncase any day. The bitFenix Portal is a gimmick, and has quite a few issues that I won't go into. And the build quality IS superior. It's all metal, and made in the Lian Li Factory, and we all know how their build quality is. There are a lot of cases on the market that are much more expensive that people still buy. Take for example CaseLabs. I think they are a great line of cases, but I could never justify spending $500 on a case.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Im glad you agree on the Mini, but could you explain regarding the Portal? I was planning on helping my buddy build in one. You raise fair points though

  • 30 months ago
  • 2 points

Design Mini is a very nice case, but it would have been perfect if it could fit a mATX board. I think it's a bit too big for an mITX setup. For mATX, I would have went with the Silverstone SG10.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Now this is something original for a change. Well done! +1

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

its a good build but you can buy a 4k monitor with 500 $

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

I was looking at the LG 4k, but in the end I decided that I don't have much need for such a screen.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Great build. Very interesting miniATX mobo too. How are the noise levels overall? I am looking at putting in a Noctua U9s in the future too. I do like the stock cooler but would like to get this setup even more quiet if possible :D

  • 30 months ago
  • 2 points

The system is silent when working, browsing the web, or watching videos. The GPU's fans remain off when not doing any system intensive stuff. I opened five tabs with 4k YouTube videos playing at the same time, but that didn't raise the temps of the GPU above 47c, and the fans remained off.

The PSU's fan randomly turns on and then off for like 30 seconds, but stays at under 800rpm, so I can't hear it.

SSD usually stays under 49c when not doing heavy file transfers.

I do hear a very faint sound of a fan or two spinning up for 1-2 seconds every now and then, but I'm not sure which. I suspect it's the two 92mm from U9S and exhaust since they're both connected to the CPU fan header. That could probably be taken care of through either the low rpm adapter included with the fans, or through an app. I've not bothered with it for the time being.

I'm hoping to lower the temperatures a little further once I receive the taller case feet.

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

What screwdriver did you use for the m.2 drive?

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

The m.2 screw requires a Philips screwdriver.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

The video card you bought online it says minimum of a 500W power supply required. Have you ran into any power supply issues with only 450W power supply? Thanks

  • 28 months ago
  • 2 points

It's a high quality PSU, and I haven't experienced any issues. I've seen people use it with GTX 1080, and even 1080 Ti, though I wouldn't recommend it for the Ti.

  • 21 months ago
  • 1 point

Is there anything bad about that GPU. I am thinking of getting one and I am trying to see how good it is. So far everyone Is giving it 5 stars.

  • 20 months ago
  • 1 point

Overall the card performs great. During normal web use, it draws about 10-30w, and while gaming, I've seen it top out around 165w. I also ran a stress test on it, and it got up to 180w. At that point the card was getting maxed out, and I could definitely hear its fans going at 2000rpm+. They were producing a buzzing sound, but since I limit the fps in gaming using vsync, the fans usually stay at under 1750rpm, so they're not too loud.

There's also a new revision of this card, but I don't know the difference, other than it having a different shroud.

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

Agree!!!! :)

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Didn't get a chance to test things out yet. I'm currently in the process of transferring files from the iMac to the new system, because my backup drives were formatted using HFS file system, so I have to figure out a way which will allow me to work with both systems.

The card's cover has some ridges on the back, which extend past the fan, so if the card does come in contact with the bottom fans, then the card's fans won't get caught against anything.

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

This may be your best bet for reading the Mac filesystem:

https://www.howtogeek.com/252111/how-to-read-a-mac-formatted-drive-on-a-windows-pc/

  • 30 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks, but I already read through that page. HFS Explorer was a headache to deal with, because it required jumping through many loops to get it working, and even then I'd get errors. Paragon might be a good solution, but I'm currently looking at alternatives before I spend money on an app I know almost nothing about. Dukto seems to be working fine at the moment, except for a handful of folders it had issues with due to special characters in their names.

[comment deleted by staff]