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Big Buddy

by twinn



Date Published

May 8, 2016

Date Built

March 5, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

4.2 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

28.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

70.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.178 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7 GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

29.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

81.0° C


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 Sorted by:

Gooberdad 10 Builds 2 points 35 months ago

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.

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

Wow. That's some deal.

I never catch those sales either. ><

Gooberdad 10 Builds 1 point 35 months ago

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 :-(

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

Ain't that just the way. :(

Gooberdad 10 Builds 1 point 35 months ago

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.

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

Thanks! I'm pretty happy with it.

Gooberdad 10 Builds 1 point 35 months ago

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

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago


Nerdlove_060309 1 point 35 months ago

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.

Gooberdad 10 Builds 1 point 34 months ago

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.


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

Tesel 2 points 35 months ago

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

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

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.

Bigsepe 1 Build 2 points 35 months ago

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

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

It sure did. Thank you!

a.faris 2 points 32 months ago

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?

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 32 months ago

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


The Sky OC bios is version 2.23.

vovalos 1 point 35 months ago

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

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

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.

vovalos 1 point 35 months ago

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

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

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

vovalos 1 point 35 months ago

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 :(

eli_harper13 6 Builds 1 point 35 months ago

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

twinn submitter 1 Build 1 point 35 months ago

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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