Description

Big Buddy was my first build. He is designed for silent gaming; he also happens to be my first desktop PC. Late last year - after a decade-long video game fast - I dove back into gaming, but the macbook I use for Audio Engineering just didn't offer the immersive experience I craved. Buddy, on the other hand, is all immersion. He drives Guild Wars 2, LoL, and some light image processing with graphical grace.

While silence was a priority with Buddy, I also kept a close eye on value. Deals were hunted, and Intel's mistakes were exploited: I found a second-hand 970 and D14; the new i5-6500 I picked up for cheap overclocks easily to a stable 4.2Ghz with ASRorck's Sky OC. I haven't bothered pushing it any further.

Sadly, Big Buddy's namesake is stained with a spot of tension. While the household loves him dearly as he is, Buddy's never seemed quite at home in the the Define Mini's enormous 40 litres. As far back as we can remember, he's expressed himself in ways that are a little more uhm... mini than his chassis encourages - jumping onto the desk after a match, never using more than one expansion slot, and dumping his drive racks as if to say, "I don't feel right about all this hardware in here. i'm just not made that way".

Frankly, this build is more of a retrospective than anything else. As I type, Buddy's making the transition to itx. Stay tuned!

Part Reviews

CPU

Wonderful CPU. I haven't pushed this badboy yet, but it runs a 4.2Ghz overclock like an ice cube with Sky OC.

CPU Cooler

Very happy with how noise-effective this cooler is. To boot, the mounting Bracket is solid and versatile. I would penalize one star for Noctua's bigtime-smoker beige aesthetic, but performance-wise this cooler deserves a 6/5. That nets us 5/5 stars.

Motherboard

This board does the trick. 2 fan headers left just enough flexibility for my fan profiles, and ample usb 3.0 ports supplied me with all the connections for my basic needs. While it's feature-set is rather small, this board's value is hard to beat in the Matx form factor.

Using ASRock's Sky OC to overclock my locked processor was a breeze. I experienced issues with the BIOS freezing up past 4.3Ghz, but this is likely due to my own failings.

Memory

I bought this Ram kit when it was still quite expensive, but It arrived, it worked, and it looks great.

No defects or problems with these sticks.

Storage

Very happy with this drive. Fast, reasonably priced, and well-reviewed. I can only see myself replacing this drive to move to M.2 storage.

p.s. I don't use a lot of space. 250 GB is plenty for me atm.

Video Card

Great value card. A little noisy, but a solid performer that includes a backplate.

Case

Excellent build quality and design. I love the front panel look, cable management is a breeze, and the airflow is to die for.

But. Could use a revision with 2.5" drive slots behind the mobo, and it is quite large for a Mini ATX chassis.

Power Supply

This PSU is SO QUIET. Plus, it's received glowing reviews across the board. My only qualm is that it's a little big, reducing it's compatibility with some cases. That said, the extra length is certainly worth the upgrade to a 140 mm fan.

Case Fan

Well-built fan with a pleasant acoustic character. Although Noctua is championed as the king of silent fan operation, there are more noise-effective options out there, like Enermax's less expensive Twister Pressure. Still a great fan tho.

Mouse

Grip style is a little strange on the tiny 303, but I've come to love it (even with my big hands). I mostly play mobas and Guild wars 2, and this mouse is well suited to my needs: the 303 is simple, light, and accurate.

Couldn't be more pleased.

Comments

  • 43 months ago
  • 2 points

Good job.

I wish I could have picked up one of the i5 6500 from NCIX last week at $93 but the sale was over before I clicked to the site. Maybe it will have another crazy low price again soon.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow. That's some deal.

I never catch those sales either. ><

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

I couldn't believe it when I read it from the email blast, but I eventually clicked the link only to read "This sale has expired..." And the price went back to over $200 :-(

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Ain't that just the way. :(

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah I figured it had to be a mistake and had made it through the pcpartpicker in error until I clicked it and read that. With your bios allowing the overclock I don't see a reason to buy a 6600k cpu. I think you chose a great cpu.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I'm pretty happy with it.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Here is the actual notice from NCIX

Sorry, we've SOLD OUT of this item at the Surprise Sale price. Please watch for more Surprise Sales in the future. - See more at: http://www.ncixus.com/products/?usaffiliateid=1000031504&sku=110592&vpn=BX80662I56500&manufacture=Intel#sthash.FNVj8z2p.dpuf

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

argh

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

I actual was able to order before it was over and they canceled my order it was a pricing mistake and offer me 10$ off my next order.

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

What is it with pricing errors? Click the link for a copy of the order I placed for 2 gtx 980s when PCM.COM aka Tigerdirect.com messed up and had them priced at $55.99 each.

https://scontent-iad3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/t31.0-8/fr/cp0/e15/q65/13411649_1331690013511901_7674735519053363377_o.jpg?efg=eyJpIjoidCJ9

They canceled my order but didn't offer any restitution or coupon.

  • 43 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice build! Have you looked at the Nano S for an ITX case?

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks. :)

I have. It was actually my first choice until I found Lian Li's PC-Q10WX. The Nano S is a great case. It's just bigger than Lian Li's offering, and its airflow is more restricted. The gap between GPU and PSU is real tight.

  • 43 months ago
  • 2 points

This case with its grommets and big backside look like it made your cable management a breeze! Great work.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

It sure did. Thank you!

  • 39 months ago
  • 2 points

Hey, very nice build you got there!!

I'm in the midst of building one myself with the z170m pro4s. Wondering which bios you were using and where you might have gotten it from?

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! AsRock still hosts the file in their Beta downloads.

http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z170M%20Pro4S/?cat=Beta

The Sky OC bios is version 2.23.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey, I'm building smth very similar. Bought everything but the video card this morning. Where did you find the GTX970 for that price?

P.S. I actually got lucky and got the last Asrock Z170M Extreme4 that newegg had. Went out of stock after I paid. Very happy about that :P

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Awesome. I hope yours comes together as smoothly as mine did. All of my components were a dream to work with.

The 970 was a used find on Kijiji. They're normally posted for around 360; I got lucky with this one.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow lucky find. Best I found was around 375 Canadian.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

If you wait for Pascal to release at the end of the month, $260 might become the standard used price.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

That is the exact reason I didn't buy a card yet. I'm hoping the price on new cards will drop too. For now the i5 integrated graphics :(

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Is it difficult to remove your GPU with it being so close to the big D14?

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Not at all. I need a little ruler to engage and disengage the PCIe slot lock, but there's so much room in this case that I've never had a problem removing the GPU. Luckily, my card has a backplate to keep the fan brackets away from the GPU's PCB.

Now, I've moved most of this build to a mini-itx case, and I've learnt some pretty strange moves trying to edge my GPU into that thing.

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