[Build log] Freilite Alpha - GTX 970 in a LianLi PC-Q12 uSFF - Overclock.net - An Overclocking Community

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[Build log] Freilite Alpha - GTX 970 in a LianLi PC-Q12 uSFF

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post #1 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-25-2014, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Build is done!



Parts List:

Case: LianLi PC-Q12

Motherboard: Gigabyte B85N Phoenix

Graphics card: GALAX GTX 970 OC

GPU Riser: Delock 89105

CPU: Intel Core i7-4770T

CPU-Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i

RAM: G.Skill Value 8GBx1 1600 CL9

SSD: Samsung Evo 840 120GB mSATA


HDD: Samsung Spinpoint M9T 2TB

PSU: FSP300-60LG


Final Pictures:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)




Update List:

You may want to go through the complete build log, as it consists of a lot of planning and research. But, if you want to just see the major build updates, here they are:
  1. Case arrived, making first evaluations.
  2. Small case modification, test fitting with cardboard
  3. Cutting off the back and standoffs, new layout.
  4. Mounting the PSU
  5. Modding PSU to fit 80mm Fan instead of 40mm one
  6. First installation of GPU and temp testing
  7. Modding the PSU power outlets
  8. Cutting and installing I/O panel and mainboard mount
  9. System up and running!
  10. Installation of final HDD and RAM
  11. Last stick of RAM


Original Post! (Click to show)
So, this is the reason why I even found this site and made an account a few days ago, so let's get on with it!

I'll be putting a mITX system with a GTX 970 in a 6.7 Litre case, namely the LianLi PC-Q12



Working Title:



Goals:
  • Most oomph possible, at least for games
  • Case has to fit inside my shoulder bag
  • No external power brick (those are cheating in my eyes)
  • No external hard drives -> HDD is a must
  • No external stands (increases total volume, so nope)
  • SSD for OS and heavily used software
  • WLAN capability
  • Slot in Blu-Ray drive
  • Case should look as stock as possible
  • Can be used upright and lying down (So it can be used as a Steam Machine under my TV, too)
  • Cool it well and silent


Well, the PC-Q12 fits in my shoulder bag quite nicely, at least from measuring.Graphical processing power will be be provided by a GTX 970 (a 980 just doesn't fit), which is conveniently economical regarding power draw.



Parts: (subject to change)

Case: LianLi PC-Q12
in black.

Motherboard: Gigabyte B85N Phoenix
I couldn't find the WiFi version of this board, so I'll have to buy an mPCIe card for that separately. Also, the Phoenix doesn't seem to differ from the regular B85N except for the colours. I had considered some other boards but ditched them, more on that later.

Graphics card: Zotac GTX 970
which is currently the shortest 970 available at 204mm, the PCB is even shorter at a guessed 170mm, so that is pretty convenient.

GPU Riser: Delock 41800 Delock 89130
111mm high GPU vs 88mm case is not going to work and DeLock has never disappointed me so far. They make great niche adapters and stuff like that. I am thinking about ordering a custom PCB at one point, but I'll do that only when the rest of the build is finished and I know exactly where the Graphics card will sit. EDIT: With the new Layout, I'll have to angle right, not left. I am a bit concerned about shielding now, but I hope it will be alright

CPU: Intel Core i7-4770T
which has a very low TDP of 45W. Also, this is only the final plan. For now, I'll be relying on a Pentium G3250T for budget reasons

CPU-Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i
Not really a surprise, is it?

RAM: 16GB, not decided which modules yet. But they have to be low profile. I'll also only buy one of them in the beginning. Again, budget reasons.

SSD: Samsung Evo 840 120GB mSATA
I could go for 250 or more, but SSDs are expensive and I am not rich at all. 120GB will be enough for Windows and Linux if I choose to install the latter. The data will go on an HDD anyways, so that will be groovy.

HDD: Western Digital Green 2TB 2.5"
Humongous capabilities in a small package. I'm not sure if I'll purchase this one immediately, we'll see.

PSU: FSP300-60LG
Short FlexATX PSU. It is very loud with that 40mm fan, but I will redo the enclosure out of mesh and it will sit under the two 80mm fans.
It took a while to decide on this PSU. Here is the initial list of options for reference:
  1. SilverStone ST45SF-G, the SFX PSU we all know and love. It is nearly perfect for this build, BUT it is very large. I think I would manage to it in there, but it would be a thight squeeze and I want to cool my components decently, so I would like to avoid it.
  2. FSP400-70LQ This would be the perfect fit. As a FlexATX, it is so thin that I could place it on its side, giving me space for a 120mm fan in the side panel! Also it is rated 80+ gold, so there will be very little whirring from the 40mm fan. I could even mod it and make a enclosure out of mesh, place two 90mm fans in the side panel and cool it that way. But, it is not in stock in Germany, and they would only import it from China at a minimum of 100 units, which I can not afford to buy. So, after talking to a salesperson of FSP, I end up with the third option.
  3. FSP350-701UJ A very questionable option. At only 350W, it has barely enough to support my system under 100% load (or at least I think so Spoiler: I was wrong), I would have liked a bit space in that regard. I already posted a question in the Power Supply forum if that is actually enough. It is not a FlexATX, but a short 1U, meaning that it is 100mm wide. So I can't place it on its side, and it would complicate cabling quite a bit, I would probably have to mod it in order to get it where I want it to be. Also, it is only rated 80+ Bronze, which means more excess heat and more fan whirring, which I'd really like to avoid.

The layout:

So, I've already planned a lot and I made several considerations:
  • The HDD cage will get thrown out, that is for sure.
  • The side panel the GPU and CPU are facing needs holes for air to come in.
  • The PC-Q12 comes with a stand, which has to be screwed on. I want my build to be as portable as possible, so I'll ditch the stand and lay the case on its back. This requires me to make a custom Motherboard mounting and I/O plate slot. try to find a way to put it inside the case for transportation. I can not guarantee that this will work, but I'll try to.
  • I will be placing the 970 over the Motherboard, which will be a very tight squeeze. The I/O plate of a motherboard is 40mm high, the card about the same, and I only have 88mm in total. Because of that, my SSD can not be mounted on the back of the motherboard and why I decided on the Gigabyte board over the ASRock Z87E-ITX I will quite certainly have to make very short stand offs and put something between board and case so the contacts won't short circuit. This also means that I can not use the stock screws of the NH-L9 as they are pretty thick and designed as thumbscrews.
    Also, the GPU can be made a few Millimetres lower by removing the heatsink cover.
  • As the CPU Cooler will lie under the GPU, it should be as much exposed to air as possible.
  • I will probably have to sacrifice the clip-in side panel mounts of the case and weld the backplane to the frame of the case. EDIT: With the new layout, this will hopefully not be a problem anymore. But I can not be sure until I test it out.
  • I don't want the FUSB and power button to be on the top, so I'll have to cut holes in the front and place them there, that's also where at some time in the future the Slot in drive will find its place. To seal the holes in the top, I will use some of the material I'll have left over from cutting out the back of the case. To make the surface area for gluing larger and the fitting easier, I'll probably try to file the holes out so the edges get a phase from the inside.
  • I'll have to somehow seal the underside of the case. Don't know how, yet. But it wouldn't have to be pretty

With these points in mind, I came to the (badly shopped) following layout:



In this mock-up, the right hand area features the SilverStone PSU as I don't have pictures of the other two. You can guess where it will go, though: The FlexATX or 1U PSU could be placed at the top or to the right. With the low 40.5mm height of either, a larger fan could be placed in the Sidepanel. I really hope to get my hands on one of those. Also note that I have not decided on a position for the HDD, yet.


UPDATE: All new layout, closer to what I originally had in mind.

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post #2 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-26-2014, 06:13 AM
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I have a feeling that NH-L9i and a dual slot Zotac GTX970 don't fit in the way you are thinking of, even if you use shorter-than-usual motherboard standoffs. LianLi sites says the max CPU cooler height is 55mm whereas NH-L9i is 37mm tall and a dual slot GPU would need at least 38mm including some of the chips and screw heads or tails that stick out on the back side of the card, probably 40mm.

Also, if you are thinking of mounting a stripped FlexATX/1U PSU and a 25mm thick fan on its largest face side, you might as well just stick to an SFX like ST45SF-G, strip it and replace its internal 80x80x15mm with a 25mm thick fan of whatever size. FlexATX is 41mm thick, a stripped SFX with its 15mm thick fan removed is something like 47mm, not much difference in terms of thickness, and in the other 2 dimensions SFX is more compact. Also those SFX units by Silverstone come with PCI-e cables and a single rail 12V which those FlexATX/1U units don't.
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post #3 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-26-2014, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veryrarium View Post

I have a feeling that NH-L9i and a dual slot Zotac GTX970 don't fit in the way you are thinking of, even if you use shorter-than-usual motherboard standoffs. LianLi sites says the max CPU cooler height is 55mm whereas NH-L9i is 37mm tall and a dual slot GPU would need at least 38mm including some of the chips and screw heads or tails that stick out on the back side of the card, probably 40mm.

Yes, I read that, too. But I am quite certain that LianLi deliberately understates the maximum height so the fan doesn't touch the side panel and still has room to get air from the intakes, which are not located above the CPU. In reality, there should be more space, I read somewhere that it would be 64mm, so with shorter standoffs, a modified PCIe backplane and a removed heatsink cover, it should just fit. In case it doesn't, well just read on wink.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by veryrarium View Post

Also, if you are thinking of mounting a stripped FlexATX/1U PSU and a 25mm thick fan on its largest face side, you might as well just stick to an SFX like ST45SF-G, strip it and replace its internal 80x80x15mm with a 25mm thick fan of whatever size. FlexATX is 41mm thick, a stripped SFX with its 15mm thick fan removed is something like 47mm, not much difference in terms of thickness, and in the other 2 dimensions SFX is more compact. Also those SFX units by Silverstone come with PCI-e cables and a single rail 12V which those FlexATX/1U units don't.

I wasn't so sure about that initially, but after looking at the pictures a bit, that would work. And I would really prefer to use the Silverstone PSU, it's just way easier to get and less cable fiddling.



This is very cool, it looks like after moving the inlet, the height really is just about 47mm.

But at least in one dimension FlexATX would've been smaller: it's only 81.5mm wide, instead of 100mm for SFX or 1U.


So now, with your inputs in mind, I came back to the original layout I had planned, which contained considerably less modding effort:



In that version, I was using a Radeon R9 285 and the Silverstone PSU in its regular position. Also note the massive intake power of 3 80mm fans, which would've made the front look abysmal biggrin.gif

Going from there, keeping the orientation of the case, moving the motherboard up a bit and stripping the ST45SF-G off its case, I can actually achieve something way better:



Now that is how it should've been originally. The stripped PSU will be placed below the two 80mm fans at the bottom. The Fan in the top will be ditched, but I think as this design will achieve a chimney effect and as I'll have positive pressure inside the case, that shouldn't be a problem whatsoever. Turning the GPU upside down, I'll of course have to find a different riser, but that shouldn't be too hard.

This has only benefits, except that I'll have to use the stand again, which I wanted to avoid. I'm thinking about some way to put the stand inside the case for transportation, we'll see how that goes (probably not so well sadsmiley.gif).

Thank you very much, @veryrarium, REP+! You just made this build better in every single way, I'm even more exited about it than before thumb.gif
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post #4 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-26-2014, 12:36 PM
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post #5 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-26-2014, 12:50 PM
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Would it be possible to put the stripped PSU in the bottom center with one 80mm fan in the rear for exhaust and one in the front for intake? The PSU would be sandwiched between the two fans in a sort of push-pull kind of cooling.
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post #6 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-27-2014, 12:26 AM
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You can get a FSP400-70LQ equivalent through Sparkle Power Inc for 110 USD + freight.

http://www.sparklepower.com/pdf/SPI400F4BG.pdf

It's 80 plus gold, has 18A on each of the 12V rails and should be easily moddable if you want to trim cable space. I am in the process of ordering one now. On a side note they have a new version of this coming out in the not too distant future that is 150mm long and pushes 400W (rather than 190mm like this one). If you're interested PM me and I will hook you up with my contact at Sparkle.

Also as a side note, I have had a 4670K and a 760 on a 300W FSP supply (80 plus bronze) and it's never been an issue. I've run Furmark + Prime 95 and it never hit 300W from the wall on my Kill-A-Watt. The 350 would likely run this system perfectly well and furthermore I don't think you need to go with the T Class chip. If you want to keep the CPU wattage down, I also think you might do better with an i3 4360 than an i7 4770T no? Most games don't make use of all four cores if I'm not mistaken?
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post #7 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-27-2014, 03:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, but I live in Germany and WiFi version of the Phoenix doesn't seem to be available here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccRicers View Post

Would it be possible to put the stripped PSU in the bottom center with one 80mm fan in the rear for exhaust and one in the front for intake? The PSU would be sandwiched between the two fans in a sort of push-pull kind of cooling.

By rear and front, do you mean the front panel where the USB3.0 and power button are and the back where the I/O panel is located? Or do you mean the right and left side panel?

If it is the latter, no. Because the PSU has a footprint of 100*125mm, it will overlap with the GPU a bit (case is 365mm high, minus 10 for walls and clearance. Motherboard takes 170mm, GPU 111mm or a bit less), so it has to stay as close to the right side panel as possible. It will be tight even then, 47mm of the PSU + 38mm of the GPU is 85mm already, so if I assume a wall thickness of 1mm, I have practically no clearance. I hope the GPU isn't that thick or I can scrape of a few more millimetres of the PSU or even get a FlexATX one.

Even then, I don't want any exhausts at the bottom, or any fans in the right side panel so to speak. I want to be able to use the case both standing up and lying down, so it can fit nicely under my TV for entertainment purposes. And if I stand it upright, air should be intaken (is that a word?) at the bottom and rise to the top itself. Because the PSU is located at the bottom, it will heat the air up and make it rise naturally, without the need for an exhaust fan. Exhaust will then be at the top, of course.

If it is the former, I don't want to put any fans in the front, I like the clean look of the PC-Q12 and will try to keep it that way wink.gif The only things I'll be changing is the back panel (obviously tongue.gif), and the left side panel which will gain a few intakes. I hope I'll find a way to make them look like the ones already there, like this:



Not quite sure how I'm going to do that. My Uni has CNC mills, so that would be an option, I guess. I don't think dremeling would look good. biggrin.gif In the ideal case, I would get a replacement for the right side panel with no intakes and mod in only those that I really need.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovelampshade View Post

You can get a FSP400-70LQ equivalent through Sparkle Power Inc for 110 USD + freight.

http://www.sparklepower.com/pdf/SPI400F4BG.pdf

It's 80 plus gold, has 18A on each of the 12V rails and should be easily moddable if you want to trim cable space. I am in the process of ordering one now. On a side note they have a new version of this coming out in the not too distant future that is 150mm long and pushes 400W (rather than 190mm like this one). If you're interested PM me and I will hook you up with my contact at Sparkle.

Also as a side note, I have had a 4670K and a 760 on a 300W FSP supply (80 plus bronze) and it's never been an issue. I've run Furmark + Prime 95 and it never hit 300W from the wall on my Kill-A-Watt. The 350 would likely run this system perfectly well and furthermore I don't think you need to go with the T Class chip. If you want to keep the CPU wattage down, I also think you might do better with an i3 4360 than an i7 4770T no? Most games don't make use of all four cores if I'm not mistaken?

Does it have enough lanes for 2 6pin PCIe connectors? Sorry for the question, but I can't extract info like that from the sheet you linked, I don't know that much about electronics, and the guy from FSP didn't send me the exact specs either smile.gif But at least that would be about the same money for a slimmer PSU, the 190mm version would be to long, though. It would either block the front USB or, if I moved it up more, the GPU intakes, both of which I want to avoid.

I also received a mail by Athenapower about this little guy, who is only 150mm long. They told me that they also have it with 80+ bronze and a version with 80+ gold is currently in testing for efficiency. I believe it was @WiSK who told me that Athena does not have good quality, though.

It's good to know that 300W would suffice.

Yes I thought about using i3s, too. I just saw that the Pentium processors have some higher clocked models too, but they probably have less extensions or cache. Something I know for sure is that they've got even worse integrated graphics, but I don't care too much about that biggrin.gif
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post #8 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-27-2014, 09:14 AM
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I don't see why it would be an issue, as The 970 isn't exactly a power hog (170W under full load from what I've read). If you're worried about 400W being insufficient and you can spare an extra 1.5cm in width and 3cm in length then you could also go with this option:

http://www.sparklepower.com/pdf/IPC/FSP500-70UDPB.pdf

80 plus platinum which means even less heat production, 500W and again a FSP PSU which should be of quite good quality. Also as far as Athena Power goes, I would steer clear of them. If you start reading reviews on them the components are typically lower end and the fail rate sounds quite high.
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post #9 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-27-2014, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovelampshade View Post

I don't see why it would be an issue, as The 970 isn't exactly a power hog (170W under full load from what I've read). If you're worried about 400W being insufficient and you can spare an extra 1.5cm in width and 3cm in length then you could also go with this option:

http://www.sparklepower.com/pdf/IPC/FSP500-70UDPB.pdf

80 plus platinum which means even less heat production, 500W and again a FSP PSU which should be of quite good quality. Also as far as Athena Power goes, I would steer clear of them. If you start reading reviews on them the components are typically lower end and the fail rate sounds quite high.

I was talking about it having the right connectors, but it shouldn't be a problem, I'll have to mod the cables no matter what and I'll not use all the IDE power connectors anyway. PM'd you, let's see where this goes! biggrin.gif

80 plus platinum would be amazing, but 500W are definitely overpowered, and IIRC, using a PSU under its specification will lower the efficiency.
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post #10 of 122 (permalink) Old 09-27-2014, 04:24 PM
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Just overclock to increase the draw obviously wink.gif
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