Description

This PC has been a long time coming. Had enough of mediocre prebuilt PCs and gaming consoles all my life so in 2015, I started learning about building PCs. It still took me a further 3 years to have enough knowledge (and funds lol) to finally take the plunge into the PCMR. I originally built this machine in April 2018, but have been upgrading it little by little since. The choice for a mITX build was made because I wanted a somewhat compact PC, but this form factor has certainly had its challenges which I will explain below.

This PC is mainly for watching YouTube, light coding and moderate gaming, mostly Minecraft, CS:GO, Overwatch, PUBG, Cities: Skylines and the occasional AAA title. Hosting servers is also something that I do, which is why I ended up adding a second stick of RAM.

Went with a Ryzen 3 APU as it was a fantastic value for its performance and the fact that I couldn't afford a graphics card because of all the outrageous prices due to the crypto-mining boom. I was finally able to add an RX 580 as prices finally came down enough for me to be able to afford one this year. Going with two sticks of 8 GB RAM also proved to be a bad decision as I ended up needing at least 20 GB of RAM to host servers and mITX motherboards only sport two DIMM slots. This is not really my fault as I was quite surprised by how much a desktop can suck RAM and prices in 2018 were outrageous. Working with a small board, but full size hardware was a pain. I've had to disassemble a significant portion of this PC on a regular basis just to do a small task like plugging something in or getting rid of dust. After going through this, I would not recommend any first time builder to tackle an ITX as the potential for something going wrong is way more than an mATX or ATX build.

Future upgrades include replacing the board and processor with an Intel Core i5 as Intel has way better single-threaded performance which is more crucial for games and will allow me to add in even beefier GPUs in the future without worrying about a CPU bottleneck. 32 gigs of RAM and getting a different case are also on my bucket list.

Constructive criticism will be appreciated :)

Part Reviews

CPU

Fantastic little performer. Easily handles eSports titles with the 8 Vega cores and overall the obvious go-to for a build on a budget. If there was one thing I could count on, it was this.

Thermal Compound

Had to install the CPU again on my second board since I bricked the first. Read good reviews about this thermal compound and decided to go with it and since this is an aftermarket product, there is one less variable I have to worry about holding back my overclocking potential.

Motherboard

This ASRock board definitely lacks some bells and whistles you would find on boards by other manufacturers like Asus, but I have to say I haven't been let down by ASRock. I did brick my first board because of my inexperience, but ASRock customer service was superb and replaced it free of charge. The fact that it came pre-flashed with BIOS support for Raven Ridge saved me from a lot of hassle. Overclocks modestly, with the VRMs being the hindering factor. It also occasionally fails to boot with the XMP profile of my RAM, requiring me to reset CMOS. I have had some audio problems with this as well with the rear audio jack not being properly grounded causing me to resort to using front panel audio only. ASRock's RGB solution is absolutely pathetic and trying to get it to display colors properly on my LED strips is how I fried the motherboard in the first place.

Memory

Definitely paid a hefty amount for these RAM sticks (bought two for dual-channel) as the prices were insane due to shortage in 2018 and Ryzen really likes high clock rate memory. They've been pretty stable and what more can I say?

Storage

Crucial is just a very respectable brand with their SSDs combining high performance, large capacities, low prices and sporting a five-year warranty!

Video Card

Decided to upgrade my PC about one year after first building it and now that crypto-mining is all but a distant memory and prices are finally below MSRP, it was the perfect time to pull the trigger. Haven't really thrown a lot at it, but I expect about average performance from this card. It does like to run hot under load, but I think that's one of the shortcomings of my case.

Case

Went for this case seeing plentiful reviews about it and its bigger brothers and I really thought that this would be really good for a first build, but I have my gripes. There is false advertising that the front can accommodate two 140mm fans. The holes are way too small for any screw to go through and hold on to the fans. I ended up having to zip tie mine as i couldn't return them. There is also very little clearance between a dual slot GPU and the top of the PSU enclosure so your card will choke unless you watercool it, a major turn off for this case. Other than these two glaring issues, the case overall is a pleasure to have and a breeze to build in. The top sliding radiator tray, plentiful cable routing grommets and and velcro ties at the back are welcome additions. Integrated RGB lighting is a savior for anyone lacking a connector on their motherboard.

Power Supply

EVGA! Wouldn't even consider any other brand. Relatively cheap, fully modular power supplies with the G3 series being so tiny that it really intrigues me how they were able to cram everything in there and still make them so efficient. EVGA also likes to pamper its customers with really professional packaging and a couple good quality bags for the cables.

Case Fan

Decided to go with these fans for consistency with the included fan in my Phanteks Evolv ITX TG case. They are surprisingly silent and in a quiet room, the only thing you can hear is peaceful flow of air. Would recommend for any case and they look really good with Phanteks Halos RGB LED Fan Frames.

Monitor

Don't have a lot to say about this display. Has somewhat decent color reproduction, but that's because it's a TN panel. The onboard speakers absolutely suck so you will definitely need a separate audio solution. 75 Hz refresh rate and FreeSync at this price point are a steal. Would recommend for a budget gaming experience.

Keyboard

The bundle is cheap, but I suspect you could find better alternatives out there. Both peripherals leave something to be desired so I will be upgrading soon, but as placeholders till you have the money to buy something better, they are perfect.

Headphones

Went with this headset since it complements my mouse and keyboard. The red LEDs and the overall design are striking. 7.1 channel audio claim is certainly dubious, but the mic performance and the overall comfort of the earcups is excellent. Audio does feel muddy and you can find better alternatives out there.

Custom

The LEDs are super bright and silicone casing certainly protects them, but can make them harder to fit in the already small-ish space you have around your case window to place them. It also cracks and tears easily so be sure not to twist the strip too much. These are not addressable and you will have to shell out extra dough to get the DIgital RGB strip.

Custom

Should've been included with the Evolv ITX, but as a fan hub, it is really compact and can offer some much needed connectors for fans.

Custom

The Puck has been a great accessory to hold and manage my wired headset as I absolutely hate tangled wires, especially during a tense gaming session.

Custom

Works like charm. With my m.2 being mounted at the backside of the motherboard tray where airflow is poor, this certainly saved the day. Temperatures dropped by about 20 °C and installation was a breeze, provided I had to watch how-to videos on YouTube as the packaged instructions were extremely lacking.

Custom

I was skeptical at first about how well they would light up my fans, but they work surprisingly well on white fans. They are costly and you might be better off just purchasing real RGB fans outright.

Custom

Had a spare SSD from my old laptop lying around, but my case lacked 2.5" drive bays so I had to buy on of these. Another product that I think Phanteks should have included with the Evolv ITX.

Custom

Another accessory that really matched the red/black theme of my peripherals. Didn't really think I would need a mouse mat, but it gives my setup a bit more gamery look.

Custom

Just your standard Xbox One controller, but with bluetooth and a textured grip on the back which is nice. I really do miss the old D-Pad from the Xbox 360 controllers as they were more tactile and satisfying. I hope Microsoft does something about it in the next generation of controllers.

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