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[Build Complete] - Little Mac - World's Smallest 4.2L Gaming HTPC Steam Machine?

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Little Mac
The world's smallest gaming HTPC?

Weighing in at 4.2L with an Intel i5 CPU and an nVIdia GTX 970 GPU,
Little Mac want to be the HTPC Gaming FPS / Liter champion!

900x900px-LL-5485c0e3_WP_20150129_22_04_08_Pro.jpeg

Like this, but want smaller? Qnix has the H2O Micro. Custom case water cooled
16c23a7f_lovzbMd.jpeg



http://imgur.com/a/TLaX9
2015.png


Full Imgur Gallery

About Me
I am a Software Developer / Analyst. This is my second build log. The first was the 2013 Torch GP, a twin (CPU/GPU) AIO watercooled gaming HTPC.

Why this case?
Bragging rights mostly, Could we go this small? But, on a more practical note, I had recently moved and upgraded from a DLP TV to a flat panel. I switched out my first build and upgraded to an Intel NUC and a soundbar. In the process, I ditched the entertainment center and mounted everything behind the HDTV. I loved the look. Very clean. No wires. But the NUC wasn't strong enough for gaming. A new build was needed. One that could fit behind the TV, without compromises..

I had three goals.
Small enough to fit behind a wall-mounted television (sub 100m height for me),
Quiet enough for general HTPC use
Powerful enough for gaming.

In November 2014, two things happened in the market that allowed this build to take off. First, Gigabyte released the world's first stubby GTX 970 card. It fit into a mITX motherboard, the GV-N970IXOC-4GD. Second, Logic Supply released the MC600 and I stumbled upon this Reddit PC build thread using a it. I contacted the thread's author - who is also one of the engineers/designers of the case - and he turned out to be an all-around classy dude. I told him I was inspired, and he offered up one of Logic Supply's MC600 to be part of this build and I was determined to make it work. But industrial PC chassis' aren't meant to cool the consumer parts used in gaming PCs.

Case design and modifications
In order to fit everything inside, an unconventional layout is being used. It involves laying the GPU down next to the motherboard and using a flexible PCIe riser ribbon in order to connect the two. This is sometimes referred to as a Steam Machine layout, because of Valve's popularization of the design with it's prototype Steam Machines. Another trick used to reduce the footprint, is electing to use a DC power board instead of a traditional ATX Power Supply. This allowed most of the PSU to live in an external power brick similar to a laptop or Xbox One. (Props to Sony for not needing this!) The last hurdle was thermals. The stock airflow pattern of the Logic Supply MC600 was not engineered with the intention of dissipating 150 Watts worth enthusiast grade GPU heat. To fix this, I sketched out a crude CAD drawing and took it to a local CNC place. I had them cut two 120mm holes into the top panel. One above CPU and another above the GPU. Two fans were mounted there and blow cool air onto the components. Since the GPU side generates twice the heat, it gets two assistance of two additional 60mm exhaust fans.

Parts List
PC Part Picker List
Case - Logic Supply MC600
Mobo - Asus H97I Plus
CPU - Intel i5 4690K
GPU - Gigabyte Mini-ITX GTX 970
PSU - HDPLEX 250W + Voodoo Firebird 350w Power brick
RAM - 8GB Crucial Ballistix Very Low Profile DDR3
SSD - Transcend MTS800 256GB

CPU Cooling - Noctua L9i Heatsink (with 120mm Cougar Vortex)
GPU Cooling - Stock Gigabyte heatsink + 120mm Yate Loon D12SM-12C
Case Exhuast - 2x 60mm Evercool

Additional Items: LiHeat 250mm PCIe Gen 3.0 Shielded riser. Silverstone mesh grill covers.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iFreilicht View Post

There's also this one: http://www.delock.de/produkte/F_380_PCIe-x16_41788/merkmale.html

And the li heat risers seem to be of quite good quality. They might be something to consider! Also it seems like they're sold with a left angle, so you won't have to worry about the bend so much.
You can actually choose between a left angle, right angle, and no angle, which is pretty nice.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reindoonicorn View Post

You can actually choose between a left angle, right angle, and no angle, which is pretty nice.
And, I just learned, you can order them with custom lengths and even conversions, so if you want a PCIex4 to PCIex16 adapter of 9cm length, they'll do that for you. Pretty awesome. I don't know anything about price, but if it is reasonable (not more expensive than 3M), this might be the end of the PCIe riser problems SFF builders were facing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by iFreilicht View Post

There's also this one: http://www.delock.de/produkte/F_380_PCIe-x16_41788/merkmale.html

And the li heat risers seem to be of quite good quality. They might be something to consider! Also it seems like they're sold with a left angle, so you won't have to worry about the bend so much.
Yeap, just did some more informal testing.

Single flex riser - No problems, all lengths and flavors.
Single flex riser + angle riser - Boot, but sluggish graphics. reflection EMI?.

Two risers, naked, folded - No boot.
Two risers, one layer of tinfoil folded - No boot
Two risers, two layers tin foil tape,boot, good performance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iFreilicht View Post

And, I just learned, you can order them with custom lengths and even conversions, so if you want a PCIex4 to PCIex16 adapter of 9cm length, they'll do that for you. Pretty awesome. I don't know anything about price, but if it is reasonable (not more expensive than 3M), this might be the end of the PCIe riser problems SFF builders were facing.
I just took the leap and ordered a riser from LiHeat via Ebay. It will take some time to ship from Asia, but it will be interesting to see how the product works. Will post up here when it lands.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Runamok81 View Post

I just took the leap and ordered a riser from LiHeat via Ebay. It will take some time to ship from Asia, but it will be interesting to see how the product works. Will post up here when it lands.
Do you have a link to their store? I can't seem to find anything under the name "Li Heat".
 

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Discussion Starter · #69 ·
Actually, Yes! Update!

1. The LiHeat 250mm right angle PCIE 3.0 riser arrived last week and it was installed.





Because the riser touches the backside of the GPU and LiHeat indicated that it was slightly conductive, I did add vinyl. LiHeat's riser is less bendy/flexible than a DIY tinfoil tape/vinyl riser, but it took all the punishment I gave it. I have some pretty severe bends. It's working flawlessly. LiHeat generously shipped me three, so I have two extras stateside for those that might need them. Mert? iFreilicht?

2. Installed a Deep Silence 60mm NDS60-2000 - Link - to help with GPU exhaust. It's highlighted upper right.



I also realized I could fit a 60mm x10mm fan in the space below the Deep Silence. I tried the MC600's included maglev 60mm fan. It moved good air, but was too loud (whine). Also it only had had 2-pin connector. So...

3. Ordered more fans which I will test.
A. GPU - Yate-Loon D12SM-12C - Link
B. GPU - Deep Cool 120GS - Link
C. GPU Exhaust - Evercool EC6010M12CA 60mm x 10mm - Link

I'm especially excited about the Deep Cool 120GS. Never heard of it before. But it's made as a heatsink fan.



Fan B, the Yate Loon D12SM-12C is also no slouch. It's an upgrade from my current Yate Loon D12SL-12C at the expense of noise. But we can take it. Right now, the rig is pleasantly silent.

4. Added magnetic fan filters to the top.



Banana for scale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by eggDK View Post

Thanks for that :) This update did not dissuade me one bit from copying your build! I must have such a machine... The build looks finished to me. Can you report back with temps?
It's a stuffed build for sure. Patience, time and courage required.

Informally, the CPU temps are fine. It's the GPU temps are iffy. Stock loud Gigabyte fans kept it at 66°, but after back-to-back Heaven 4.0 Extreme runs, MSI afterburner is reporting max temp of 74°
That's too close to the 80° throttle point. But more powerful fans are inbound. I'll be bench marking / testing Little Mac most of the night tonight. Do you have a set of test you want me to run? Or just punish it and see what shakes out?
 

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No no no
rolleyes.gif
What you're doing is plenty for me..

I don't get a lot of gaming hours in, and never more than an hour at a time (have to put kids to bed first and then work in the morning ). So mainly the rig would function as HTPC, with the ability to run games once in a while.

The reason I am so interested in temps is because I want to mount the case on the wall behind the TV or monitor. Still haven't bought the right TV, so I don't know how much heat that would add to the equation. Also being mounted like that may constrict the ventilation a little...

If you don't get rid of your temp. problems, I will probably end up using lower power hardware, e.g. 4690T/4770T and 750ti.
 

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Discussion Starter · #78 ·
Small update, I swapped out the Deep Silence fan for two undervolted(7v) Evercool 60mmx10mm fans. The Newegg version of these Evercool fans was much smoother/quieter than the one Amazon version. Maybe its a QA thing? Here they are installed.



You'll notice the GPU fan missing above. That's because I tested five different slim fans of various sizes and speeds for the GPU. Tests were performed with fans at constant speed. All measurements were taken after allowing five minutes of steady idle temperature and then recording the max temperature incurred during back-to-back Heaven benchmark runs at various RPMs. No over clocking. I present the results below.

fXpKMzml.png


The DeepCool Gamerstorm GS120 was the most powerful fan of the bunch. Keeping the GTX 970 at 66° while running at 1835 RPMs. At this speed the GS120 had a noticeable whine. Lowering the speed of the GS120 to 1540RPMs decreased this whine and allowed a direct comparison to the Yate Loon D12SM-12C. At that speed the performance of the fans was equal. However, the Yates had a much more pleasing tonality. No whine. Only slightly audible. Both the The Gelid Slim 12 UV Blue and Noctua A9x14 performed well, despite their size disadvantages. The Gelid and Silverstone FN123 were nearly silent - on par with the Yates - while the Noctua was nearly silent at medium speed and audible at its highest speed. For me, the Yate Loon Medium speed fan provided the best compromise between noise/performance while keeping temperatures at an acceptable level.

Also, what's a gaming PC without some gaming stickers?

 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mack42 View Post

How did you secure the 120mm fan on the L9i? Clips? Hard to see.
One short screw through the lower half inlet of the (above upper left) fan corner holds the fan down to the L9I. Works because there is no room to swing, it's sandwiched in pretty tight.
 
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