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Node 304: Small PC Gaming Machine

by JayKay8

Description

After nearly 7 years with my Intel Core 2 Quad, Shuttle PC, it was time for a full upgrade.

I decided to focus on getting a powerful, but somewhat cost effective Gaming PC, with a budget of around £1000. I wanted to make it viable for at least 5 years (with perhaps a graphics card upgrade at a later date).

I sought to keep the build as simple as possible, so I decided to forgo any drive bays and instead just fix a single SSD to the top of the power supply with foam tape. I also removed the Fan Controller; instead opting to control fan speed with the BIOS. This removes any cable clutter from above the graphics card.

As this was my first full custom PC build, it took me a while to select all the most suitable components and then put them together. I made some mistakes along the way: such as putting the wrong screws in the motherboard. Nevertheless, the PC seems to work fine (with no heat issues) and has passed all stress tests / games thrown at it so far.

Ultimately, I found the most difficult thing was fitting and arranging all the components / cables within such a small space.

PassMark Rating: 5732

Part Reviews

CPU

I chose the i7 6700K as it was the most powerful mainstream, quad core processor on offer at the time. Although the i5 6600K probably offers best price / performance ratio

CPU Cooler

The Noctua NH-U12S cooler seems to be a well-made heatsink. It just about clears the top of the inside of the case (with around 2cm to spare). It is a bit expensive for what it is; but nevertheless is whisper quiet when gaming

Motherboard

This Mini-ITX motherboard is absolutely tiny, but packs in a lot of features in such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, M.2 support and bright red LEDs (if that’s your thing)

Memory

The 2x16GB sticks of Crucial Ballistix Sport, DDR4 RAM were only £117 from Amazon last December (2016) and seem to offer the best ‘bang for the buck’. The red RAM heat sinks also match quite nicely with the motherboard

Storage

This 525GB Crucial SSD is perhaps not the fastest, but is the most cost effective for its capacity. It only cost just over £80 from Amazon on Cyber Monday (2016)

Video Card

The Gigabyte GTX 1060 G1 graphics card offers decent Gaming performance, particularly at 1080p (where all game settings can be turned up to ultra). The card is also very quiet until around 50% fan speed. The twin fans don’t turn on until the GPU temperature reaches at least 50 degrees C. The card also draws less power than its AMD equivalent

Case

I liked the Node 304’s design and small size. I also did not require an internal DVD drive (as I rarely use one these days)

Power Supply

I needed a short Power Supply, so I could fit a long graphics card inside. The Fractal Design Integra power supply is only 140mm long and fits inside the case nice and snug. The modular nature of it also helps to reduce cable clutter and improve airflow

Comments Sorted by:

GeekFlies 1 point 22 months ago

Nice build dude! How was the build experience with the Node 304?

JayKay8 submitter 1 Build 1 point 22 months ago

Thanks GeekFlies, The build was fairly straight forward, I just had to be careful i chose the parts that would fit neatly inside. I think it would have been easier if I had more room 'to work' inside the case (but that defeats the point of having a small case in the first place).

I tried to be methodological about it, so I put the RAM / CPU / Heatsink on the motherboard first (before putting it inside the case). I then put the Power Supply in, and attached all the cables to the motherboard. This gave me more room to maneuver the cables into position. I then added everything else such as the Graphics Card.

GeekFlies 1 point 22 months ago

Hmm, guess I should look for another mini-itx case then.

blockbuster4664 1 Build 1 point 22 months ago

10/10 SSD mounting :D

JCMsergox 4 Builds 1 point 22 months ago

Gotta do what you gotta do

blockbuster4664 1 Build 1 point 22 months ago

I mean yeah you didn't really have another option, correct me if I'm wrong but there seems to be a lack of 3.5" bays as well