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.