Description

My Stealth Ghost build is the latest incarnation (RIP Stealth Node) of my SFF PC fixation. Stealth Node was built in a Fractal Design Node 304 case as at the time it was one of the smallest mITX cases available. Over the past few years though, several new start-ups have designed SFF cases pushing size limits into thermally restricted and performance limited territory. Few have managed to design a case that’s versatile yet subtle enough for my taste. Louqe has not only designed such a case – but have delivered.

The timing of my old PC failure was impeccable as the Ghost S1 was able to be ordered in 2019. I managed to order it via Amazon with a 10% discount due to Louqe cancelling their website orders. The discount helped as I’m from Australia and had to ship the case to my USA address and then forward it to Australia (using Australia Post Shopmate). I paid a lot more shipping/insurance/tax for the sake of getting the case ASAP as Australian orders from Louqe were indefinite.

I’ve been building and modifying PCs since the early 2000’s when having cold-cathode lighting and a non-beige case was considered extreme. Over the years I have opted for more subtle (stealthy) looking PCs with grunt under the panels, similar concept to ‘sleeper’ vehicles. I chose the Pangea coloured Ghost S1 just to have something different to stare at in my home office, I’m glad I did as the colour is beautiful.

Many hours since February have gone into researching every component of this build and I’ve been waiting on AMD Ryzen 3rd gen CPUs to hit the shelves. Not knowing what the demand would be like – I was one of the first in Australia to buy the processor minutes after the pre midnight release on 8 July. eBay conveniently had a 10% discount code which meant the cheapest price in Oz on launch day with free shipping from my local computer store – trifecta!

I chose the 3700X as it was the best 65W TDP CPU available and SFF PCs always suffer from cooling limitations. I’m not a heavy PC user but when I game/CAD I don’t want to have to push the hardware to its limits. I don’t overclock hardware as it will reduce its MTBF and increase power draw which in turn increases cooling requirements which in turn increases fan noise. A key feature I value over slightly extra performance is silence and the PSU was analysed carefully for this build.

My last build was based on a Corsair AX760 PSU because I had a theory I wanted to test. The specifications have a fan speed/noise to wattage graph and an efficient feature of the PSU is that the fan won’t spin up until 40% power load. I purposefully select a PSU around double the wattage that I require in order to hopefully have it running below the load it starts to add noise into the system with the fan. Conveniently this wattage zone is in the platinum efficiency sweet spot so it’s not just about noise, it’s also saving electrons. The same concept was applied to my previous GPU, the EVGA GTX 980 didn’t spin its fans up until a certain power load was reached. This meant that unless gaming the GPU was also silent, effectively nearly a passively cooled system.

With all of the above in mind here is my component list and justification:

Case (Louqe Ghost S1): Extremely small (8.2L volume) case with subtle appearance yet fits full length GPUs etc. Expensive, but I don’t put a budget on engineering and looks, it will likely be my case for future builds.

PSU (Corsair SF750): Case requires SFX form factor – not negotiable. 7-year warranty and platinum efficiency rating are nice but low noise level and individually sleeved modular cables sealed the deal. I planned to shorten the OEM wires to fit my case but it was difficult to achieve a nice-looking termination and eventually I managed to contort the OEM wires in the tight Ghost S1.

Mobo (Gigabyte X570 I Aorus Pro Wi-Fi): Only X570 chipset mITX mobo available on launch. Considered getting a X470 mobo as I prefer ASUS boards but I’m very impressed with this mobo. The I/O shield could be nicer but the rest of the board screams quality and is very solidly built. It too was 10% off via eBay and time will tell as it was my mobo that died in my Stealth Node build.

CPU (AMD Ryzen 7 3700X): I tried AMD once nearly 15 years ago but was disappointed, fast forward to 2019 and they’re amazingly delivering a 7nm processor which will outperform Intel offerings in the same TDP bracket. The price is great value and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed with the performance of 8 cores.

CPU Cooler (Noctua NH-L12 with NF-A9 PWM Fan): Louqe designed the Ghost S1 when the NH-L12 was the ideal SFF cooler however it’s now discontinued. The latest NH-L12S cooler is too tall to fit the case and requires modification to fit. I prefer elegant solutions and sourced a used NH-L12 which will fit the case as intended. Due to tight height clearances between the heatsink and RAM, I couldn’t fit a NF-A12x15 fan for the CPU cooler. A single 92mm NF-A9 PWM fan will have the responsibility of keeping my 8 cores from throttling. The 92mm also uses the correct mounting clips to hold it securely to the heatsink achieving OEM installation specs. Another reason why I don’t intend to overclock this CPU and one of the sacrifices you must make when going down the SFF route.

Case Fan (Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM): Since there is space for an additional case fan as I haven’t installed a 2.5” SSD, I’ve taken the opportunity to help increase some airflow with the thin profile 120mm offering from Noctua. I had to use the anti-vibration mounts from the NF-A9 though as the slimline fan come with unusually long mounts.

RAM (Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3200 MHz): LPX was chosen as I’d hoped the 120x15mm CPU fan would fit however it didn’t work out. The speed and CAS timing combinations were all the same latency however I hadn’t committed to a mobo yet and some X470 mITX contenders may have had compatibility/stability issues with 3600 MHz sticks. The RAM is still worthy to be part of this build so no harm no foul – plus I got it 20% off thanks to eBay.

SSD (Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB M.2 NVMe): My introduction to the M.2 form factor and a huge step forward for SFF enthusiasts since it allows one less separate component in PC builds. 1TB was chosen as this matched my existing SSD volume and I hope to transfer everything across seamlessly. I keep half of it free for when I’m editing videos since I temporarily transfer a few hundred GBs onto the SSD for better performance. Again, eBay helped me score 20% off this guy, making it incredible value. There’s also a cashback from Samsung I’ll qualify for so a very good buy indeed.

GPU (Nvidia RTX 2080): I bought this GPU on release day and it delivered, it’s the only component I’ve carried over from my previous build. It was the GPU that finally gave me 60 FPS UHD gaming and is staying for the foreseeable future.

Enough verbiage from me though – tell me what you think!

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Comments

  • 8 months ago
  • 2 points

awesome build! +1

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey thanks!

  • 3 months ago
  • 2 points

+1 for the sff

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

SFF FTW

  • 2 months ago
  • 2 points

Sorry for commenting on a 4 month old post, but how have temps been with the L12? Are they still acceptable ?

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Yes, no issues once I orientated it so that the fan pulls air from outside and through the heatsink and blows onto the mobo.

  • 24 days ago
  • 1 point

hey man how do u set the fans from pulling the air into the case

  • 8 months ago
  • 1 point

i would recommend a small aio for more stable cooling mah dude

  • 8 months ago
  • 1 point

I know what you mean but unfortunately there is no way an AIO would fit in there without a top hat extending the case height but then it defeats the purpose of being a small volume case.

  • 8 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh ok well what size of fan would fit in the case

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

The best cooler for the case is the one I’ve used however take a look at the Louqe website and you will see the top hat extensions they use to allow AIO cooling systems to be used.

The fan I’ve used is only 92mm for scale if that helps you visualize it better...

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

I think jayzteocent madr a video on this he did have a smaller cooler

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks - will check it out but after using this for a few months now, it's not a problem.

I played SoTR for 60 hours over a few weeks sitting on 60 FPS @ UHD with high settings and temps were 65 to 75 °C.

  • 8 months ago
  • 1 point

nice build, but quick question

why an rtx 2080

should have gotten a super series card

  • 8 months ago
  • 1 point

ohh i see nevermind, but consider upgrading to a super series card at some point, like with the upcoming 2080 super

  • 8 months ago
  • 2 points

Since the 2080 does what I need it to do I’ll wait until I start playing some newer games as most of the time I’m only playing CS:GO or AOE2 HD - I’m old school.

  • 8 months ago
  • 1 point

Looks fantastic. Do you foresee dust being an issue with so much ventilation at the top? I think that's my biggest concern with this case.

  • 7 months ago
  • 2 points

No for a few reasons... I keep the case on my office desk not on the floor and the room is a very low foot traffic area and in a corner of my house so there’s not much dust around there at all.

I’ve always tried to keep cases under positive pressure to not suck dust in and get it stuck inside. This case is different - there’s no way to keep it positively or negatively pressured as four sides are very open. The case bottom is open a lot more than the top so likely some dust that enters the top will fall straight through.

The fan I’ve got at the bottom blows upwards so it’s also less likely to allow dust to fall inside and likely blows some that has settled back out the next time it’s running.

Finally the lid is so easy to open you could just blow the dust out whenever you feel like if that’s a concern for you. Thanks.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Is there a specific reason that you have the CPU cooler's fan exhausting air instead of using it as an intake? I've seen a lot of people say that it works best as an intake fan with the L12.

  • 7 months ago
  • 3 points

You and others are correct. I had cooling issues until I flipped it around and now it’s sucking in nicely from the side panel. There’s very little room inside between the fan and mobo and it’s already hot in there so it must pull in this case.

I’ve never had this issue before so took some trial and error to work it out. Thanks.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Great looking build! Do you have any benchmarks regarding temps and clock speeds? I'm considering building a new PC with the Ghost and an aircooled 3700X, and I would love to know how well it would actually run before spending that kind of money!

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi, it sits in the 70 to 80 °C temps when running Prime95 on all cores 100%. In a room with ambient temps and no air con on etc.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi in the photo you show m.2 in the back of the board once installed is it possible to install m.2 or change the one you installed without pulling apart everyting. I have a ghost and was wondering how upgradable the m.2 will be once I build my system.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Yes. This case is very modular

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi, the rear M.2 is accessible by only removing the GPU. The front M.2 is easily accessible too by removing the heat sink covering it. I used the front as it had the extra cooling and if I ever add a second SSD it will be easier to install it at the rear.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

How do you find the temps? What CAD software are you using? I'm trying to finalise a very similar build at the moment, just trying to decide between the 9700K and the 3700X. Thermal considerations are near the top of the list!

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

I've been using it with Inventor and CorelDRAW etc. but these even run on my Dell XPS 13 laptop. They really only chew the CPU if you're rendering and even then it's only short bursts of a few minutes. I would go with the 3700X purely because of the efficiency anyway. No regrets from my build, I'm actually very impressed.

  • 6 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks. I've been intending to build this machine for months and was always intending to go with Intel, but the temperature thing worries me. I'm not completely sold on Ryzen yet but need to decide quickly!

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Super dope build....I’m a noob at PC building and I’m in the current stage of building this as we speak few questions.

  1. The Noctua NF 12x5 fan is at the bottom is there enough room to still mount a 2.5 drive in there right next to it?

  2. Do you suffer from any thermal throttles with this setup pushing it?

  3. Will this setup so high refresh rate or 4K gaming with that card and chip?

I hope my questions are not one of those common sense questions lol like I stated before I’m a noob at pc gaming

Hope all is well thank you!!!

  • 1 month ago
  • 1 point

Nice build dude, could you please tell me if your IO shield sits flush / fills the space in the Ghost S1? I can't for the life of me get it to sit right, I've never used motherboard with the IO shield built in so I'm not sure if it's just something I'm doing wrong

  • 17 days ago
  • 1 point

How did you mount the CPU cooler / fan? I've got the same cooler, but the AM4 mount screws where too long for the included fan, I've had to exchange the 92mm to the Noctua NF-A9x14 to fit. I'm currently looking into the Black Ridge, since it is able to house an additional NF-A12x15 on top.