This is my first post. I've been following this thread for at least two weeks.
I have a specific question and I figured I'd introduce myself and my build too.
I'm putting together a gaming rig for my son. About a year ago we got a Asus G75 gaming laptop scratch 'n' dent from Newegg (Awesome deal!) for my kids to share. It turns out they don't share so well and now it's mostly my daughter's laptop and so I'm building my son a desktop, which will be my first build. I haven't thrown a lot of modern gaming at the G75 (i7-3630qm, gtx660m) but I have seen the limitations of the cpu trying to run Gamecube games on Dolphin. Searching for a solution, I learned about overclocking and attempted BCLK with no real success, and eventually gave up on the most intensive games. I decided a desktop would be better this round and set about designing one. I had vague notions about building a Steam Machine and I was inspired to try SFF by an nVidia advertisement for 750 Ti describing a <$600 Steam Machine.
My starting budget of $500 quickly changed to $750, and I'm trying my best at this point to hug $900. I still have a few undecided pieces where I'm waiting for one or another new part to come out, but they're quickly showing, like today's ML07 on Newegg. I've also invested far more time and energy into scouring the internet than I ever thought this process would entail and I decided to start purchasing so that I can finish buying and start building (My LP53 shipped from Korea on Monday). Hopefully I haven't put myself into a silly situation where I don't know if my stuff works after RMA period has passed, but I'm really craving i5-4690k as the crown jewel, and I'm hoping to tumble down Devil's Canyon without getting burnt
My build is designed with the following parameters and levels of importance.
1. Adequate Cooling - I burnt up the GTX8600m on my 2007 Macbook Pro playing emulated Final Fantasy IX (gpu had a known problem and the four year recall for problem cards had expired) and I then picked Asus G75 because of the dual vent cpu/gpu cooling system. Keeping my components stable and safe is a top priority.
2. SFF Size - Our family has been completely laptop oriented for many years. I like the idea of SFF being somewhat portable, although the system will probably by hooked to the living room TV for the most part. My initial build ideas using larger cases focused around GPU upgradeability through SLI, but honestly when the time comes that my video card is insufficient, I'll probably want to replace instead of add.
3. Sound - Everyone wants a quiet computer, right
4. Modest CPU overclock - Dolphin gets more accurate and more demanding with each iteration. I know that substantial OC is limited with this case and most everything else of it's size, but I'd like to have the juice if I need it. If I could score a sweet deal on an i5-4570, I might forego OC and maybe use Multi-core enhancement if I buy Z87 or Z97, but $20 < 4670k isn't worth it to me.
5. Low power - Hand in hand with cooling and sound. Mainly this factor affected my decision to pick GTX 750 Ti with Maxwell Performance/Watt and near $100 < GTX 760
CPU: 4570, 4670k, or 4690k
Motherboard: Asrock Z97E-ITX or Gigabyte GA-Z97N-Wifi - I'm inclined toward Asrock, but with $20 Mail-in Rebate @ Newegg, Gigabyte's board seems attractive. Extra hackintosh compatibility is added bonus (I don't know if I'd ever go that route, but I do love that Apple software). I don't know if I'm going to fork up the $$$ for Windows and I wonder which Mobo has better Linux compatibility. I know Valve used Z87E-ITX in the 300 Steam Boxes. Apart from that, I'd love to hear your opinions.
Cooler: Thermolab LP53 en route from Korea. Thanks to you guys for turning me on to that one.
Memory: 2x4GB Ripjaws X 1866 CAS 8-9-9-24 (already arrived from Newegg)
Storage: 250GB Samsung 840 Evo (already ordered from Amazon) - I see steam OS requires 500 GB minimum for standard installation and I hesitated at this, but I'd rather leave the spinning disks alone, especially 3.5" over the PSU. Hopefully I'll figure out how to install Steam OS (if I go that route) on a smaller partition and while 250GB isn't huge, it's enough to have more than a handful of games installed at once, and they'll all run nice and fast.
GPU: Gigabyte GV-N75TWF2OC 1215Ghz OC GTX 750 Ti with Windforce cooler (already arrived from Newegg). I really wanted the EVGA ACX, but I read on and on about 750 Ti ACX and the awful non-PWM fan noise, especially at idle. Most reviews I could find of Gigabyte's GTX 750 Ti were critical of low factory OC, and said cooling and noise were not a problem. This newer model has better factory OC and hopefully it will be solid. Aside from the LP53, this was the first part I ordered, and RMA expiration is 6/10/14. If I'm still waiting for Devil's Canyon, maybe I can take it to a local computer shop to test it out. Any advice is welcome.
Case: RVZ01 or ML07 - I've seen the debate here about less ventilation on ML07 exterior and whether that will affect cooling performance, a clear deciding factor for me. With no fans, ML07 is more expensive. However, I'm not sure if I want the slim 15mm fans anyway. More on that below.
PSU: ST45SF-G or SX600-G - Surely that extra 150W could be useful, especially down the road with a more powerful GPU. Since the PP05-E cables will be included by default, the difference in price may be negligible. Of course, it hasn't been released yet either. If I recall, the ST45SF-G rev 1.0 had a noisy fan or something and wasn't a recommended product until 2.0. The semi-fanless design like ST30SF may turn out to be great or could be a dud. Interesting side-note, I think the Milo ML07 page lists SFX and SFX-L as compatible PSU form factors. Silverstone is also releasing SX500-LG, a 500W SFX-L PSU.
Fans: Noctua S12A-FLX or S12A-PWM - Okay, here I have a real question. Do I want PWM or voltage controlled case fans? The best I can figure it, these ITX mobos have a CPU header exclusively for cooler and a chassis header that can split out to all the case fans. Therefore, all the case fans need to be PWM or all of them need voltage control. Am I wrong? Searching the internet tells me that more and more builds are moving to PWM case fans. I've also read that some mobos have a 4-pin chassis header that isn't really PWM. I figured since RVZ01 has two slim 120mm 3-pin fans, I'd put them both to the GPU intake and buy a 25mm 120mm 3-pin for the CPU area. Now I learn ML07 has no included fans and that build might make more sense to use all three 25mm 120mm PWM fans. This was enough of a question for me to finally register on overclock.net and chime into the conversation, so please answer me, one and all. I've seen other brands besides Noctua recommended on this thread and elsewhere on the internet, but none stuck in my mind like the overwhelming chorus of Noctua. If you want to suggest other fans for PWM or voltage control, I'm all ears.
That just about does it for me.
Thanks all for reading. Looking forward to your replies and comments.