The goal was to a build a small PC that would double as an HTPC and a console-replacer. After a wealth of research I went with a 9 L Jonsbo V3 case because it allowed for double slot graphics, as well as full size PSU, all in a minimalist unostentatious design.
I went with an i3 due to the low TDP and the numerous benchmarks showing that even today, the majority of games show no significant increase in performance from 2 cores + HT to 4 cores.
The R7 260X was the perfect price/performance/TDP card at the time of the initial build in January 2014. However, had I began the build a little later I would have went with the 750 ti as it offers similar performance without the need for the messy 6 pin cable. Nevertheless, with a case of this size (more than 3 times smaller than the Prodigy!) what turned out most important was the card length. It was essential to keep it under 180mm.
The initial build was incredibly fun, and turned out great. The only concern was the video card felt a little claustrophobic after the 6 pin was plugged in. The location of the connector is at the front of the card, thus plugging in the 6 pin adds to its size and makes the cable touch the back end of the power button and front connectors. If the card was even a few mm longer it wouldn't have worked.
Unfortunately, the internals were a bit messy. For example, I kept the hard drive simply hanging around because the SATA power connector from the power supply was at the wrong angle and made it impossible to mount the drive to the bottom of the case as intended.
I was able to play a few great games and everything ran smoothly and it was a blast. The temperatures were acceptable for the build of this nature. However, the case sounded like a small turbine when the components were stressed.
The stock heatsink on the video card was actually quite good from a thermal perspective. Kept the card below 75 C at all times even in a cramped space. But it did so at a cost of poor acoustics. The noise was even more audible given the small dimensions of the case, and the open nature of the side panel. So the first upgrade would come in the form of aftermarket GPU cooling.
I measured everything out, and ordered a bit of an unorthodox cooler given the size of this case, the Accelero Mono Plus. Pictures speak louder than words, and as you can probably see it made the stock heatsink look so inadequate.
The GPU cooler had no problems with clearance as expected and made the bottom of the build look like a little rocket while eliminating the noise that made it sound like one. Other than being inaudible, it also dropped my temperatures by 20 C to a very comfortable 55 C under any load. Given how massive this cooler is, and the low power draw of the 260X, the automatic fan pretty much runs at the minimum RPM.
Now that the video card was cool and quiet it was time to take care of the whiny angry intel stock cooler.
My ram is quite tall and the motherboard is tiny so I went with a CPU cooler that allowed for 100% compatibility with RAM and PCIE slots; the NH-L9i. I have to say, I am very impressed with the premium packaging. Once I got the cooler out of the packaging I was even more impressed with the build quality and mounting mechanism.
Installing the CPU cooler meant that I had to take everything apart again. This gave me a chance to work on some things that were bugging me. First, I debranded everything I could. I don't need plastic stickers all over my tech after I have already bought the tech. I find that the adhesive residue, just like thermal paste, comes out quite easily with a bit of isopropanol.
Second, I wanted to clean up the cables a bit further. I hid the smaller I/O and SATA cables under the motherboard. The bigger PSU cables, despite being modular, were clearly designed for a bigger case. That's where zip-ties came in, lots of them.
Lastly, I didn't want my hard drive hanging around anymore so I bought a molex to SATA power connector. This allowed me to finally mount the hard drive to the rubber grommets at the bottom of the case as intended.
I think the end result turned out quite well. I can now be at peace with internals of my build.
A very compact build at that.
Here it is in its natural habitat under the TV. After the GPU and CPU cooler upgrades, and the proper hard drive mounting, the case is completely silent. So silent that when I turned on a benchmark after putting it all together, I thought I forgot to plug in the CPU cooler fan.
This case is great for an APU as well. It will definitely allow room for a full sized hard drive coupled with a 2.5 inch drive. However, with an APU you are doubling the TDP compared to the i3, so I would suggest a SFX power supply oriented towards the side panel in order to get an independent cooling channel. These changes will allow the PSU to stay safe without having to exhale all the hot air produced by the APU and will also allow for a beefier CPU cooler.
Awesome to say the least
Is there enough room to fit a 140x150x13mm slim fan between psu and side panel? Could enchance cooling a bit.
Don't think there's room, nor am I sure of how you'd actually figure out the mounting. There is room for 4, 40mm fans between the motherboard and PSU, but I am quite happy with the temperatures as it is and don't want to introduce more noise and cable clutter.