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Need Help Selecting The Perfect Case (Micro-ATX/Mini-ITX)

1. PC will be used for: SFF Gaming and easy transportation.
2. Budget: $1,000-$1,300
3. Country: USA. Will mostly be buying from online retailers.
4. Brand preference: A little Intel-Nvidia fan. However, wouldn't mind going for Radeon GPUs since they caught up to Nvidia.
5. Re-usables: Nope.
6. Read similar threads: Yes, but im indecisive.
7. Plan to overclock: CPU, No. GPU, Yes but only a little.
8. Date to build: Sometime within 1-3 months. I need to sell my full HAF X PC. I'll be getting a smaller system but with better components.
9. Resolution: Single monitor, 1680x1050. I may get a 1080 monitor later on though.
10. Specific technologies: SSD housing OS and a few select programs (so around 128gbs), USB 3.0, At least one PCIE 3.0, silent case/fans, and good cooling (either AIO, full water, or air).

Hello,

I'm building a new smaller PC for myself and a fellow friend. I already have a large HAF X enthusiast system but I plan on selling it. I built that in 2012 and it cost me $1,800. I hope to sell it to at least cover some of this new build's cost. I need help on making a few decisions on my build.

This is what I've came up with so far:
Micro-ATX Build:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690S 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($224.99 @ NCIX US)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i 57.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($31.30 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: MSI H97M-G43 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($109.99 @ Best Buy)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.43 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 770 2GB ACX Video Card ($329.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Silverstone SG09B (Black) MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($97.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($75.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $1089.64
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-05-13 06:09 EDT-0400)

Mini-ITX Build:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690S 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($224.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i 57.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($31.30 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: Asus H97I-PLUS Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($109.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($109.99 @ Best Buy)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.43 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 770 2GB ACX Video Card ($329.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Corsair 250D Mini ITX Tower Case ($84.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($75.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $1096.65
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-05-13 06:09 EDT-0400)

SFF Mini-ITX Build:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690S 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($224.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus H97I-PLUS Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($109.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($109.99 @ Best Buy)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.43 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 770 2GB ACX Video Card ($329.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: EVGA Hadron Hydro Mini ITX Tower Case w/500W Power Supply ($146.59 @ Newegg)
Other: EVGA 100-WC-S201-BR Watercooling Kit for Hadron Hydro ($166.99)
Total: $1217.96
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-05-13 06:10 EDT-0400)

Here are my issues. The difference between both builds is $10, the motherboards, and case. I figured that a mITX chassis would be smaller than an mATX. Apparently the Silverstone SG09/SG10 lineup is mITX/mATX and it's only 23 liters in volume while the Corsair Obsidian 250D is 28.2 liters in volume.

Other cases I've reviewed was the Prodigy M (36 liter volume), Betfinix Colossus(30.8 liter volume), Silverstone TJ08-E (30 liter volume), Hadron Air/Hydro (15.88 liter volume, would probably have to go water cooled), and Raven RVZ01 (14 liter volume, most likely have to go water cooled)

I don't mind having a 30 liter volume case as long as it has exceptional airflow. I believe Corsair's Obsidian 250D is larger than the mATX SG09/SG10 because Corsair has exceptional water cooling capabilities, such as the H100i.

As you can tell, I didn't grab an unlock "K" CPU because I won't be overclocking my CPU. I may wait for the Haswell 'Refresher' lineup to arrive, which should be within a few weeks, and just grab a H97 or Z97, although I have no need to get the Z-series chipset other than better build quality. I may overclock the GPU to match EVGA's overclocks.
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TL;DR: SG09/SG10 vs 250D vs RVZ01 vs Hadron Air/Hydro? mATX vs mITX? If you own any of these cases then your opinion is greatly valued. If you guys have any suggestions on the other components, then feel free to let me know. I've built three systems so far so I would classify myself as rather noobish. Thanks.
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6 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about selecting perfect case micro atx mini itx
  1. RVZ01 has very good cooling. You can see the results compared to other cases in your list from this review.
    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2014/05/13/silverstone-raven-rvz01-review/3

    Hope this helps you decide :)
  2. Oh nice review! Thanks for the link. It's too bad they didn't use high-end components. The steam box beta uses a GTX 780. Hopefully someone has built the system with a higher end GPU and CPU so we can really see how it handles the temps. I know a guy did a YouTube video of the system but he was having heating issues with it. Same applies to EVGA Hadron, sadly.
  3. joeaguirre0 said:
    Oh nice review! Thanks for the link. It's too bad they didn't use high-end components. The steam box beta uses a GTX 780. Hopefully someone has built the system with a higher end GPU and CPU so we can really see how it handles the temps. I know a guy did a YouTube video of the system but he was having heating issues with it. Same applies to EVGA Hadron, sadly.


    Yeah but they have to keep the setup the same to truely compare with previous cases they have reviewed if not the comparison would be pointless.
    TBH the 2500k is overclocked and in theory will run hotter than modern CPU's as the last 3 generations have focused on efficiency. The same can be said for nvidia when the changed to kepler with the GTX 600 series onwards. Therefore in all honesty I wouldn't expect to see much difference between their setup and a current 'high end' setup.
  4. Best answer
    The issue with ITX system reviews is that they often try to set a benchmark with a standard set of components, and are then forced to change something as each system presents a different challenge. The combo of motherboard+case+cooler is so integral to any high end ITX build that in isolation a lot of it is useless information.

    I like Bit-tech's reviews a lot, but that particular one isn't amazing from a comparison perspective, though they give a nod to some of the shortcomings. How outdated the components picked are won't make a huge difference really, even though Haswell and Ivy Bridge run hotter. What does make a massive difference is using a case+cooler combo people might actually buy - nobody is going to use a low profile cooler like the one tested in a case like the Bitfenix Prodigy, Fractal Design Node 304 or Corsair 250D - which are among the most popular ITX cases. The graphics cooling on an RVZ01 is pretty decent, as it has the potential for side fans, but equally all three other cases I mentioned position the card right at the side meaning it won't make a world of difference. When it comes to CPU cooling, the cases which have compatibility with larger coolers (and perhaps more importantly, a design which favours them) are going to pull ahead.


    On topic, I really like the Silverstone SG09/10, but the killer for me is the front-mounted PSU. It's something that's always going to be humming away, and even a quiet PSU can be the most noisey part of a PC, especially at idle. Given a lot of smaller form factor PCs end up on desks or in living rooms, this seems like it could present a fairly significant disadvantage from a "live-ability" perspective. They are also not cheap. On the plus side, if you want to do compact SLI, it's hard to beat.
    If you aren't going to use a H100i, then the 250D kinda falls apart as a prospect imo. It's a system entirely designed around the notion that you'll use it in this configuration, it's the main USP. Without, it's just a very wide box.
    The Achilles heel of the Hadron is probably graphics card cooling. If you aren't overclocking then the Hydro version is pointless, and you should just go for the air version (the Hydro version is probably not too friendly to assemble either). If you do go for a Hadron, then it's a good idea to go for a reference-style cooler (ie not the ACX version) which will self-exhaust, and help a lot with the limited space in this area.

    Personally, I think if you are going compact it's hard to beat the likes of the Node 304 or Coolermaster Elite 130 for performance and value respectively. If you haven't given them a look then it's certainly worth a glance.
  5. Rammy said:
    The issue with ITX system reviews is that they often try to set a benchmark with a standard set of components, and are then forced to change something as each system presents a different challenge. The combo of motherboard+case+cooler is so integral to any high end ITX build that in isolation a lot of it is useless information.

    I like Bit-tech's reviews a lot, but that particular one isn't amazing from a comparison perspective, though they give a nod to some of the shortcomings. How outdated the components picked are won't make a huge difference really, even though Haswell and Ivy Bridge run hotter. What does make a massive difference is using a case+cooler combo people might actually buy - nobody is going to use a low profile cooler like the one tested in a case like the Bitfenix Prodigy, Fractal Design Node 304 or Corsair 250D - which are among the most popular ITX cases. The graphics cooling on an RVZ01 is pretty decent, as it has the potential for side fans, but equally all three other cases I mentioned position the card right at the side meaning it won't make a world of difference. When it comes to CPU cooling, the cases which have compatibility with larger coolers (and perhaps more importantly, a design which favours them) are going to pull ahead.


    On topic, I really like the Silverstone SG09/10, but the killer for me is the front-mounted PSU. It's something that's always going to be humming away, and even a quiet PSU can be the most noisey part of a PC, especially at idle. Given a lot of smaller form factor PCs end up on desks or in living rooms, this seems like it could present a fairly significant disadvantage from a "live-ability" perspective. They are also not cheap. On the plus side, if you want to do compact SLI, it's hard to beat.
    If you aren't going to use a H100i, then the 250D kinda falls apart as a prospect imo. It's a system entirely designed around the notion that you'll use it in this configuration, it's the main USP. Without, it's just a very wide box.
    The Achilles heel of the Hadron is probably graphics card cooling. If you aren't overclocking then the Hydro version is pointless, and you should just go for the air version (the Hydro version is probably not too friendly to assemble either). If you do go for a Hadron, then it's a good idea to go for a reference-style cooler (ie not the ACX version) which will self-exhaust, and help a lot with the limited space in this area.

    Personally, I think if you are going compact it's hard to beat the likes of the Node 304 or Coolermaster Elite 130 for performance and value respectively. If you haven't given them a look then it's certainly worth a glance.


    Hello,

    I found a few conflicting issues. The new Haswell Refresher i5-4690S is a low power CPU with TDP at 65 which is much lower than most CPUs that are usually at 80. So I'm not too worried about the CPU's heat, especially since I wont be overclocking. If i want something faster then i'd grab an E3 Xeon.

    I plan on using a low profile cooler regardless of which case I buy simply because it's quieter and more efficient than stock. Otherwise, I'd stick with stock.

    I completely agree on the fact that 250D is made to use the H100i hence why it's even larger than the SG09/10 mATX case.

    From what I've read from talking with Hadron and RVZ01 owners, I've been told that Hadron is much less efficient in cooling with air rather than the RVZ01. It's why I would either have to retrofit the Hadron Air with Noctua fans all over the case or just use EVGA's water cooling kit which is like $150. The RVZ01 can potential house a very small AIO, from what I saw and read on overclock forums, however it wasn't built to be water cooled. Water cooling can be much quieter which is a plus.

    I agree, refrence 'blower' cards are best for these little ITX (mATX if using SG09/10) cases.

    Thanks for your reflection.
  6. It's been a year exactly; I have a similar choice of system and I am wondering what you decided to go with in the end.. Thanks!
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