Description

I've always wanted to get into the mini-ITX business - and boy, it was well worth it.

Building and cable management

Building in the case can be considered rather difficult. I had issues accessing some areas with my average size hands. Since I'm all for an occasional challenge, this has not bothered me at all. If you look closely, you can see that the SATA cables are routed in the middle of the case - between the frame and PCI-E riser card, along with the front IO for audio.

The GPU power cable and the AUX power cables are routed between the two drives, within the drive cage, along with the USB3 front IO, to tidy up the mess just a little bit. Since the board has two M.2 slots, I'll probably replace the 2.5 drives eventually, getting rid of three more cables - as soon as SSD prices go down enough for it to be worthwhile.

It is a bit crammed up and kind was kind of a PITA to do (and undo), but the result speaks for itself.

Unexpected issues with the motherboard and CPU cooler

At the back of the motherboard, there are a couple of small chips that stand out - and they happened to block the mounting plate of the CPU cooler. So as a solution, I had to "mod" the plastic mounting plate a little bit around those parts. I also had to do some cutting around the AM platform's mount holes, just so it fits between the metal frame of the case, and the motherboard.

Temps

Initially, my i7-6700 was so hot, it reached more than a 100 degrees celsius in synthetic tests, and averaged around 75 degrees during gaming. After the relid through, the max temp it reaches is 86 degrees, and it averages around 65 degrees in games. The fan remains almost inaudible during gaming sessions.

As for the GPU - leaving the settings untouched, the card will try to remain around 80+ degrees, which usually means a fan speed of 50-60%, which is audible, some would say noisy. Not a deal breaker at all.

I found that the additional case fans does not help when turned on (the temp drops with 1-2 degrees, however they make the GPU fans spin faster too - so it's no surprise). I have removed them and have been using the computer this way for more than a year now - no issues whatsoever.

All-in-all temps are mostly fine - I have added a couple of pictures showing them off, please do check them.

Screencaps, in order:

  • p95 running for about 40 minutes, temps on the left.
  • Afterburner graphs of an extended GTA5 gaming session (with the GTX 970)
  • AIDA64 Stress test (CPU AND GPU)
  • Unigine Heaven running for 20 minutes (with the 3D parts added, now with the GTX 1070)

These temps were observed in a room with an ambient temperature of around 28 degrees celsius. In a cooler environment, they should be better.

Edit on 06/11/2018

Removed case fans (a week after the build being completed) and replaced video card (970 > 1070). Small changes to the description.

Edit on 12/12/2018

Swapped my older DELL screen to an 29" ultra-wide LG monitor.

Edit on 05/02/2019

Added a 512 GB NVMe drive and removed the 1 TB 2.5 HDD, to use it for other purposes. Also had a couple of items 3D printed for my graphics card. Quite a simple solution really - two "walls" to block out hot air from being circulated into the airflow. This has cut GPU temps with about 10 degrees of Celsius under load. See images. Also removed old FurMark images.

Part Reviews

CPU

Performs as one would expect. I wanted to have a future proof-ish CPU that I won't need to upgrade for years. Initially I was a bit worried, as it was kind of hot. During gaming sessions temps ranged between 70 and 76 degrees Celsius. Synthetic tests (such as p95) quickly raised these temps to 100<. A relid was in order. After it has been done, the maximum temps during synthetic tests dropped to 86 degrees of Celsius, while under gaming load it usually stays around 65 degrees.

CPU Cooler

Performs very well and surprisingly quiet. My choice was between this and a similarly prices Noctua, but I went with the looks. No regrets. Installation is a breeze. The only downside is that the access to this product is a bit limited in my country, there's only one vendor who's actively selling it.

Thermal Compound

One of the best thermal compounds on the market. Had it laying around since 2009-ish...

Motherboard

Looks rad and has everything a casual user needs - near perfection. The package is quite nice - they've included small cable ties, and a stylish receiver for the on-board Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is very stable and delivers around ~250mbits on better days. RGB is nice, but I'm not sold on lit up computers, so I've turned them off.

Has issues with the Cryorig C7's mounting plate, but the cooler's plate can be modded to work with it. My issue appears to be a combination of three things - the board, the mounting plate and the case.

Memory

Bought it second hand, well under the current prices. I am missing out on dual channel, but all-in-all, it does not provide that much of a gain. A single stick is not that pleasing aesthetically though.

Video Card

Bought this best second-hand recently, but I have no complaints. Boosts high, keeps quiet and last but not least - it fits my case.

Case

One of the best looking slim cases on the market. Could be a bit slimmer though - I feel like they let on a bit too much space with the plastic parts. Also, the hinges holding the plastic casing to the metal frame are unpleasing to unhinge. I'm always worried they'll break during config changes. Cable management is a challenge.

Power Supply

Best power supply I ever had. The cables could be nicer, ribbon cables should be past imho. Nevertheless, they can be worked with and the power supply itself is completely silent, even under load.

Headphones

Got it about 2 years ago, still love it.

Comments

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

How are the thermals? I've always wanted to enter the tiny case club, but have always been worried about my OC edition card not reaching its full potential.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

I have a Node 202 w/ i5-7500 and a passive cooled RX 470 (with fans pushing air at it). Given there are fans in the GPU bay to feed in air or cycle air through temps can be solid. On a C7 I maxed at like 65C CPU and 87C GPU with the passive cooler.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

87c sounds like where a GPU would sit while thermal throttling, so you might want to check that out. 100c doesn't really exist anymore for GPU throttle temps.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

It would throttle at 90C, usually on the stock cooler sitting at 89C. The passive cooler and high static pressure fans decreased temps with a slight overclock.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Thermals on the video card should be fine as long as the case fans are blowing in the correct direction since the card is right next to them.

I have a RVZ01, that has a similar case layout, and haven't had a single issue with temperatures; even when overclocking.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

I've uploaded a couple more pictures and added bits and pieces to the description. Hopefully that'll answer your questions. If you'd like to see a particular test, let me know.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Throw AIDA64 trial on there with both CPU and GPU pls :)

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

I've added a new pic - please check. :)

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Not trying to cause anything, but why do you take your printscreens about a minute after the tests have completed? Doesn't really give accurate results in the photos. I saw 55c temps for CPU load and I was like "haha. nawww"

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

So you can see how much it cools down in a minute or so. You have a graph on the right about the temps throughout the test. I have nothing to hide, you can see that hwmonitor on the left clearly shows the max temp.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Too late to mention this now but the C7 includes some plastic washers. You were supposed to use those in place of the backplate if you ran into any clearence issues due to motherboard chips layout. I had the exact same problem with the Z270I strix and the C7 backplate :) Good build!

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the tip - I never tried to use them, but read some threads where some of owners reported that temps were quite a bit higher when using the washers only (I don't exactly see why though). I'm also feel a bit more at ease with the full backplate installed. I decided to cannibalize it a bit as you've seen - I don't regret it (not yet, anyway) as I am not looking to change platforms anytime soon.

Thanks for the compliment - just checked your builds, they are great as well! I've always had an affliction towards the Evolv ITX, but it is just a tad too big for an ITX case.

  • 24 months ago
  • 1 point

That's a pragmatic solution to the surface mounted components getting in the way. I may use that board at some point and will remember your straightforward answer to the C7 mounting plate. Weird, Asus didn't think we would put a aftermarket cooler on this board? Anyway, very nice non-OC build.

I am on the fence over the 7700 vs 7700K running at stock. Has your 6700 given you the performance you expected? My i5 7500 is doing the job, but tech envy runs deep in the dark side.

  • 24 months ago
  • 1 point

To be honest, this is the best CPU I've ever had - but to be fair I never had anything relatively this powerful. My last CPU was an i5-4460. It performed well enough, but since I wanted some future proofness, I decided to switch. In summary, I'm satisfied and most likely will be, even for years. If you have the budget though, I'd go with K one. Higher freqs even without OC, and its more future proof.

  • 24 months ago
  • 1 point

The clock is better for the K, cooling will be fun to monitor. I am sure when a cheap 7700K comes round, I'll buy it since the 8700K needs a new board (no thanks). I'll get a new board in 2020 maybe, unless a great Asus X370 forces me to rethink.

  • 24 months ago
  • 1 point

Your thermal improvements from your delid are encouraging me to pursue it for my 7600k. I just have to stomach having my computer down for that long since I would probably send it to Silicon Lottery. Really appreciated your in-depth write-up.

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

Glad to hear that I could help. How did it go?

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

Perfect timing, actually, since the CPU just came back home. Unfortunately, I haven't noticed much improvement. I may need to go play with my BIOS settings. I also jury-rigged a larger 92mm fan onto the C7 heatsink which is very loud and has a bit of a rattle from the sketch way that I mounted it. I thought that the greater airflow would offset noise/heat but neither of those things are true. A bit more tinkering is in order to validate the delid helped.