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Old 03-14-2012, 07:23 PM   #1
Zap
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Default Zap's SFF LAN box

I used to go to a lot of LAN parties, so I have become accustomed to having a computer dedicated to taking to LAN parties. I also made them SFF. Initially I used mATX cubes/towers such as the Ultra MicroFly, Aspire X-Qpack2, Antec NSK3480, Cooler Master Elite 341. More recently I made the move to mini ITX with a Lian Li PC--T7R.

I was messing around with another ITX build and tossed some games on it, and it worked great! Thus I upgraded the graphics card and am now going to use it for my next LAN rig (after I figure out which drives to use). I don't have a full build log, but here are the specs and a couple pics from when I swapped out the graphics card.

Core i5-2500K (stock speeds)
stock cooler
8GB DDR3
Zotac H67ITX-C-E motherboard
Antec ISK 300-150 case
random slim ODD
random SSD (temporary)
low profile Sapphire Radeon HD 4650 (old card)
low profile MSI Radeon HD 6570 (new card)

Doesn't sound like much of a graphics card upgrade, but it was. The 4650 was a crippled version with 64-bit DDR2 (unknown speed) while the 6570 has 128-bit DDR3 (667MHz = 1333MHz data rate). Clock speeds are both 600MHz, I think. That makes the 6570 a bit gimped too, since normally they are 650MHz. There are 480 stream processors on the 6570 versus 320 on the 4650. Also, I read somewhere that supposedly the 6570 has a 5W lower TDP. I did not find any measurable difference in power draw from the wall, which peaked at just under 110W while gaming for both cards. I fully understand that I could have gotten a Radeon 6670 for higher performance, primarily due to the higher clocks (800MHz core, GDDR5 memory). Still, I decided on the lower end card for the sake of paying only $50 versus $100. The CPU is also a bit of an overkill, but it was a spare I purchased from Micro Center for cheap. I think I would be happy with a Core i3.

Performance-wise I did not take "before" benchmarks, but performance did seem a bit better and I have "after" numbers. Not sure how accurate these are, but the numbers came from MSI Afterburner's monitoring window, after ALT-TABbing out of the game.

Didn't play too long so temperatures never went over 60ºC. GPU usage was around 98-99% during gaming.

Graphics settings were 1920x1080 resolution, but otherwise with game defaults.

Modern Warfare 3 avg around 91FPS
Team Fortress 2 avg around 80FPS

Not too bad for a computer that measures 12.90" x 8.70" x 3.80".

Here are the boxes the cards came in.


The cards themselves. They came with normal brackets, and included the low profile brackets which I have already installed in this pic.


Top view of the system with the newer card installed.


Side view showing the new card installed.


Side view, with the cover on.


Rear view. Note that the ports and card don't quite line up in the case. You'd think that with Antec's years of experience selling cases that they would not have stuff misaligned, but they do. I've heard it is also a problem in their even smaller ISK 100 case.
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:34 PM   #2
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not bad
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Old 03-14-2012, 08:10 PM   #3
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Very nice!

Edit: Hey, Zap. Do you reccomend the zotac mobo? Zotac has caught a lot of flack over their quality in many of their mobos. I don't know of any other itx mobos with that wifi though off hand. I was thinking something like you have done or go a bit larger with like the SG08. Thinking i3 2100, 6770, itx mobo combo. I may wait for the Z77 mobos to come out first though. I don't think they are too far off. Summer probably.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:09 PM   #4
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I say this a lot but if you're running stock you can probably save a few degrees and watts with undervolting if you haven't already. Probably even more important in a case that small.
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Old 03-15-2012, 12:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skott View Post
Hey, Zap. Do you reccomend the zotac mobo? Zotac has caught a lot of flack over their quality in many of their mobos. I don't know of any other itx mobos with that wifi though off hand.
I bought the Zotac board because it was on some special for around $90 or so, which I thought was a pretty hot deal. It was kind of fiddly at first, and wouldn't POST with one of my two 2500K CPUs for whatever reason (which works fine in a Gigabyte board).

WiFi kind of sucks in it. I get better signal and more reliable connection with a cheap USB dongle. The USB dongles I use are the external ones on a stand with extension cable, and with those huge 5dBi antennas. They use the cheap Realtek chipset.

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I was thinking something like you have done or go a bit larger with like the SG08.
That's $210 or so. Alternately you can look into the SG05-450, which runs around $130 shipped at Amazon. The difference of course is you can't use the largest graphics cards. I've heard of people using cards such as the GTX 560 Ti in them just fine. 6770? Should work just fine.

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I say this a lot but if you're running stock you can probably save a few degrees and watts with undervolting if you haven't already. Probably even more important in a case that small.
I considered that but haven't even looked to see if the board supports undervolting. Also, not even sure it would get hot enough to matter. Bit of heat comes out the top, but the case fan does a decent job expelling the hot air.
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:16 AM   #6
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Very nice. Its a shame they dont have more reasonably priced low profile cards.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:25 AM   #7
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What was the overall cost of the build?
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Old 03-15-2012, 09:54 AM   #8
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What was the overall cost of the build?
Not including OS and the old graphics card plus the optical drive which I acquired used, and counting all the deals I got, I think I spent around $550 on it.
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Old 03-15-2012, 01:08 PM   #9
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That 6570 actually packs quite a punch for a low profile GPU. I had one with my Llano and it didn't play very well with the dual graphics so I decided to just use the discrete HD6570. Played BF3 on medium at 1366x768 no problems at all. It was kind of pointless to have a llano and not use the iGPU so thats why I have a bulldozer now.
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Old 03-15-2012, 06:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Zap View Post
.



That's $210 or so. Alternately you can look into the SG05-450, which runs around $130 shipped at Amazon. The difference of course is you can't use the largest graphics cards. I've heard of people using cards such as the GTX 560 Ti in them just fine. 6770? Should work just fine.



.
Yeah, I considered the SG05. I hear it can be a real pia to work with though. Your set up didn't look like it was too tough to work with. That is why i was considering the SG08 when you posted your little project and caught my eye. I might just wait for the new Z77 mobos to come out though. ASUS already has their P8Z77-I Deluxe listed. I'm guessing release this summer probably perhaps sooner. Anyway, again, thanks for the reply and info.
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:30 AM   #11
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UPDATE! I upgraded the graphics card, took some pics and have benchmarks!

So, this Sapphire Radeon 6670 came back in stock at $75 AR FS, so I bought it.

Old card:
Radeon 6570
480 stream processors
650MHz core
1333MHz 128-bit DDR3 memory

New card:
Radeon 6670
480 stream processors
800MHz core
4000MHz 128-bit GDDR5 memory

The core has the same number of stream processors, but is around 25% faster. There is around 3x memory bandwidth. My hope was to get roughly 50% increase in gaming performance.

Old card still in system.



New card is longer.



New card installed.



Current drive setup.



Old WEI.



New WEI. Graphics went up. Drive score went down a touch, probably because SSD is now in a well used state.

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Old 05-22-2012, 05:40 AM   #12
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Here are before and after benchmarks. I just used the basic 3DMark stuff because it was easy. I used all benchmark defaults.

3DMark03
Radeon 6570 - 22119
Radeon 6670 - 35717





3DMark05
Radeon 6570 - 14036
Radeon 6670 - 23037





3DMark06
Radeon 6570 - 7465
Radeon 6670 - 12563





3DMark Vantage
Radeon 6570 - P4857
Radeon 6670 - P8418





Haven't gamed yet (jeebus it's 3:30AM!!!) but so far I'm pretty happy with the results. The blower on the new card may be a touch noisier than the old card, but the stock Antec 80mm Tri Cool fan isn't the most quiet anyways, so almost a draw. I don't have my Kill-A-Watt handy so I don't know how much more power it draws, but theoretically the faster card draws 6W more. FWIW with both Radeon 6570 and the even older Radeon 4650, the entire system drew around 110W when gaming.
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:22 AM   #13
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Not bad at all, I'll have to benchmark my lan build to compare. I have to ask, how much does that guy weigh? Weight and length were the only reasons stopping me from the shoebox-style case.
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Old 05-22-2012, 02:56 PM   #14
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Before the upgrade it weighed just over 11 pounds. That is a rough estimate using a small analog package scale (not 100% accurate, but probably within an ounce or two). The new card is likely heavier than the old card, being that it is larger plus has a larger heatsink with a copper base. It should still be 12 pounds or less for the entire box. That seems very light weight (I have a gaming notebook that weighs more even without the power brick) but it "feels" heavy because it is so small.

The more I think about it, the more I like the case. It can use some improvements, however. First thing is that the 150W PSU is not very efficient (around 75%? some place reviewed it with testing equipment), plus some low profile cards like this one actually require additional power. Also, I've found a number of low profile cards that do not adhere to a single slot. Anyways, here is my "wish list" for a "closer to perfect for Zap's gaming SFF" case. Why I put that in quotes is because I realize that there will never be a 1-size-fits-all. Heck, I have multiple computers and no two of them have the same chassis needs. So, here I go:

Take the rough design of the Antec ISK 300-150. Make it out of aluminum (why not?!?!) to drop a pound or two. Have a higher wattage and more efficient PSU (250W with one PCIe power plug and 80+Gold or better). Use quieter fans (really Antec? those Tri Cool are super noisy for their airflow). Heck, make the case 12mm thicker so 92mm fans can be used. This can also allow for two more 2.5" drive bays, and make them thick ones to hold 12.5mm drives or even VelociRaptors (the SAN versions w/o the heatsink), plus slightly larger CPU heatsinks. Make the single low profile expansion slot able to hold a dual slot card. Have two USB 3.0 front ports that use internal headers, along with two USB 2.0 front ports since all newer higher end ITX motherboards have both. Have an SD card flash reader built in front. Have feet built in to the case instead of a physically separate and unattached plastic stand like the current case. Have loops that can pop out on top, so you can attach a carrying strap to it, like shoulder straps from messenger bags. Have things line up better, unlike in the current case (really, Antec? How many years have you been making cases? AFAIK ALL Antec ISK series cases have motherboard alignment issues).

I'd pay $200 for that. Heck, if I was back home (instead of stuck 2000 miles away for months - one reason I made this system) I would try to make my own. Probably wouldn't be any lighter and indeed may be heavier because I wouldn't be able to use super thin materials with bends in it to make it more rigid, but it could have all the other features including small 80+Gold PSU (albeit overkill, plus need custom enclosure for bigger fan).
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Old 05-22-2012, 08:37 PM   #15
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Nice little upgrade. :-)
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:44 PM   #16
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I'm surprised to see the alignment so far off on the backplane cutouts on that case. I would expect to see it on a Raidmax or Rosewill, but not an on Antec.
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Old 07-08-2012, 06:38 AM   #17
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I upgraded my computer again.

Partial disassembly, with all drives and drive tray removed. Evident is the new fan which I had added a couple weeks ago. It is the clear one in the top middle. It is an Enermax 80mm unit which cost $4 at Fry's. I got it after my RAM fried and I had to buy some to get my system operational again. Speaking of RAM, I swapped it again with some low voltage low profile stuff. Unfortunately the motherboard doesn't seem to like it, maybe because it is super low voltage? It often thinks there is an overclock failure, causing me to have to hit reset twice on a cold boot before it will boot Windows (perfectly stable). Hilarious considering the motherboard is not overclockable.



There is a notch in the PSU, giving a bit of space between it and the drive tray. Hmmm, perfect place to shoehorn another drive! So, the Patriot TorqX 256GB SSD (Indilinx Barefoot controller) that was already in the system goes in there. I used a peripheral (AKA Molex™) to SATA power adapter because the PSU has a single peripheral plug (used for stock Antec fan with a pass-through) and has no extra SATA power plugs.



The drive tray back in the system, with a couple more SSDs. You can see the cables for the third SSD poking out from underneath the drive tray, to the right of the graphics card. This third SSD just... sits there. It isn't attached or taped down to anything.



The Intel 330 180GB SSD (using Sandforce 2281 controller) is my new C: drive and the Crucial M4 512GB SSD (Marvell controller) is my games drive. My system now has 948GB (measured the manufacturer method, not the OS method) of SSD space. The Intel and Crucial are SATA 6G, using the two SATA 6G ports on the H67 chipset motherboard.



As it is, the system idles at around 53W and peaks at around 138W. Peak was tested using 3DMark Vantage, and measurements were taken using a Kill-A-Watt.

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I'm surprised to see the alignment so far off on the backplane cutouts on that case. I would expect to see it on a Raidmax or Rosewill, but not an on Antec.
You'd be surprised. Antec isn't the only one with misalignment issues. I've also encountered occasional cases where the motherboard standoff holes weren't threaded.
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Old 07-08-2012, 06:48 AM   #18
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Crazy that you have 3 (!!!) SSDs in that box. I'd be too pinched for space with just under 1TB, but that's me. I have a 1.5TB in my HTPC, and I'm picking up a 2TB to add to it within the month to give me some much needed available space.

I'm still enjoying my MSI Media Live setup with its 5.1/100w per channel amp card. Using an AMD X4 820 to speed up encoding, and I finally was able to make it work with my Dish 722 DVR, altho the Hauppauge SD IQ is rather poor, which I knew before I bought it.
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Old 07-08-2012, 12:52 PM   #19
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Crazy that you have 3 (!!!) SSDs in that box. I'd be too pinched for space with just under 1TB, but that's me.
I also have an external USB 3.0 7200RPM 2.5" drive currently hooked up, and here is the drive utilization.



Note that while I'm using this computer pretty exclusively right now for a few reasons, I do have a "main rig" at home which has two SSDs along with two 3TB drives which are quite filled.

Not sure if I can live with this as my "main rig" but not due to storage issues, because I can have a file server for that. At home I run dual monitors, one of which is 2560x1600. Yeah, that graphics card ain't gonna cut it for gaming at that resolution. I'm currently at 1920x1080 and gaming is mostly okay at full res as long as I leave graphics quality on defaults with no AA (most games default to medium-ish settings). My main rig was running dual GTX 560 Ti in SLI.

Potentially I could live with such a system as my main rig, if upgraded to a slightly bigger case like the Silverstone SG05 and with a better graphics card like a single GTX 560 Ti, or a new GTX 670.

Come to think of it, I have a spare Lian Li PC-Q11B at home. Maybe that will become my new "main rig" once I am back home and have time to fiddle with stuff?
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:09 PM   #20
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That's all packed in pretty tight there, does it get warm inside?

Was just measuring my shuttle case. . . same width and length as your Antec but pretty much exactly twice the height, which buys me 3 2TB drives and a 560Ti. . . but does weigh around two metric tons.

Have you not been tempted to switch to a low profile Radeon 7750 yet?
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Old 07-08-2012, 05:52 PM   #21
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That's all packed in pretty tight there, does it get warm inside?

Was just measuring my shuttle case. . . same width and length as your Antec but pretty much exactly twice the height, which buys me 3 2TB drives and a 560Ti. . . but does weigh around two metric tons.

Have you not been tempted to switch to a low profile Radeon 7750 yet?
Which shuttle model do you have?
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Old 07-08-2012, 06:00 PM   #22
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It used to be an SG41-J1 . . . but I changed the PSU, and motherboard, and CPU, and RAM, and case lid. . . it's not really anything in particular now.
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:11 PM   #23
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http://www.techpowerup.com/168346/Po...hics-Card.html

Another GPU upgrade in the offing?
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Old 07-08-2012, 08:16 PM   #24
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That's all packed in pretty tight there, does it get warm inside?
It did with just the stock fan. I used to leave it turned down unless I was gaming, but I often forgot and the system would overheat and throttle (framerate tanks, entire computer feels super hot to the touch). After my RAM failed maybe due to heat, since it was underneath the blocked fan spot, I decided to fill that empty fan spot. Picked up an Enermax 80mm 1500RPM fan for $4+tax at Fry's. It is running at full speed. I can now leave the stock Antec fan on medium setting and the system never gets as hot. It isn't very quiet, but isn't obnoxiously loud either - just an omnipresent white noise hum. Probably sounds louder than it otherwise would since it is around 2' from my ears, while my quieter sounding "main rig" at home sits underneath my desk.

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Have you not been tempted to switch to a low profile Radeon 7750 yet?
AFAIK they are not yet available to buy. If they were, hell yes I would consider upgrading. I see Sapphire and PowerColor both have LP 7750.

Anandtech Bench - 6670 vs 7750-800

Note that there was an 800MHz core and 900MHz core reference clocks for the 7750. Looks as if both the LP cards stick with 800MHz. Still, the 7750-800 thoroughly trounces my 6670 by what looks like an average 50% performance increase, and does that even with slightly lower power draw. Win! Well, at least once they become available and as long as they aren't prohibitively expensive.
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Old 07-09-2012, 01:16 AM   #25
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My 7750 OC'd quite happily (FurMark, OCCT, and F@H stable) all the way up to 1GHz Core / 1.25 GHz Memory. (The Max I could do with AMD Overdrive.)

It was a factory OC'd version with an auxiliary power connection though, so who knows what other magic they did to the board. Still only pulls about 60w though.

Anyway, just though I'd share. In case you weren't already going nuts waiting for an LP 7750.
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