12/09/2018 at 05:33 •
After using my E-ITX Z270 I7-7700 Mini PC for a while, I wanted to try different things
- Build it myself vs getting it from E-ITX
- Have a built-in power supply, so no the power adapter by the PC
- Try one of Intel new 4+ core CPU
My search for ITX cases resulted in interesting options :
The IN WIN Chopin case was selected due to it's integrated power supply, nice look and features. The HDPLEX H1.S is very appealing but its price is 3 to 4 time more than the Chopin.
The parts were selected in different stages and updated with new product release.
- InWin Chopin SECC Mini-ITX Tower Case 150W $99
- ASRock - Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITX $214.99
- Corsair LPX 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz DDR4 $276.10
- Samsung 970 EVO 500GB - NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSD (MZ-V7E500BW) $116.99
- Samsung 970 PRO 512GB - NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSD (MZ-V7P512BW) $175.99
- Intel Core i7-8700 $339.98
- Scythe Kozuti $20
- Noctua NH-L9i $39.95
The motherboard has nice feature : 2x NVME slot, USB 3.1 Gen2, Thunderbolt 3. In some chassis the dual on board storage is appreciated, not common on ITX boards. It turned out nice that the release of Z390 occurred during that research time.
The Chopin chassis has about 43mm of clearance for the cooler. The Scythe Kozuti looked very nice to have the fins showing thru the mesh case. The Noctua NH-L9i was a backup in case the Kozuti did not fit which it did not. The heat spreader on the RAM was slightly too much.
The Scythe Kozuti clears just about the motherboard heat spreader.
I resigned myself to use the Noctua cooler instead of voiding the brand new RAM warranty. There are only a couple of mm on each side of the cooler.
With NVME, CPU and cooler, the motherboard can be placed into the case. Some cables are a bit long, like the front USB 3.0 but will eventually fit nicely. Eventually the brown Noctua fan can be replaced by a black one to match the color scheme.
The Chopin chassis allows to fit 2x 2.5" drive on the back. I also added extra USB 2.0 ports. My only issue is how difficult the drive in the ODD space is to install. The cable are all cram and bent. With the space present, there could be space for 3 drive.
The system is very nice and compact. The performance are good as well. To improve performance, I undervolted the CPU to -70mV. This allows to get a bit higher clock speed at the 65W TDP.
Intel XTU revealed current limit throttling during benchmarking and prime95. However during a Yocto compilation, the system maintained a 4.3GHz clock with thermals in the 75C.
12/09/2018 at 01:25 •
I was looking to get a new PC at work. I wanted to try a small PC, like a NUC form factor with standard components.
In end of April 2017, I selected a C292-Z270 I7-7700 mini PC from E-ITX:
- 120W Power Adapter
- picoPSU-150-XT Power supply
- ASRock FATAL1TY Z270 GAMING-ITX/AC
- Travla Dynatron T450 low profile cooling fan
- Dynatron T450 low profile cooling fan
E-ITX shop was very nice to work with. They made me a custom config which then mainlined afterward.
At the time I wanted to test out the picoPSU power supply. It has been working great.
- The case looks nice and supports a PCI slot with a riser.
- The case support 2x2.5" drive slot. Gets a bit cram.
- The case has front audio and USB port. I wish it was 3.0 USB.
- The case has a single exhaust fan which gets loud.
- The external power adapter makes the system a bit bulky
- The low profile cooler is ok but on the cheap.
Dec 2018 Update :
The system was getting loud under load and a bit hot. Testing with Intel XTU gave some thermal throttling issues.
I changed the original cooler for the Scythe Kozuti ( originally planned for the IN WIN Mini-PC build ).
This time around, this cooler fitted this system. Still the clearance was small. The below pictures are taken with the cooler sitting on the screw, not touching the CPU.
The clearance on the RAM side is the most concerning. I would recommend ram without heat spreader as it increase the thickness of the RAM stick.
The Scythe Kozuti has a nice look as the fan is below, leaving a nice shiny fins look at the top.
The 40mm high of this cooler is close to being the maximum allows for this case if the PCI riser is to be used.
The original cooler 31mm height would give more clearance. I would just go with the Noctua NH-L9I.
The thermal performance with the new cooler are better.
Before changing the cooler, I got the performance of the system. I run a bit into a surprise when I used Intel XTU. Both power limit are removed, thus this 65W TDP rated chip was running up to thermal or current limit. I have not seen the current limit being enabled with the external adapter and the picoPSU. No wonder that the 65W TDP low profile cooler was not enough to cool the system.
<Pictues to come soon>
Once the cooler was replaced. Performance was good but the system was running a bit hot. I had a bit of a challenge undervolting the system. Intel XTU is not reporting the BIOS configuration. During testing, CPU was running at different voltage under Prime95 : 1.136V, 1.104V, 1.008V. I undervolted by -50mV leading to a core voltage of 1.008V. The power gain by undervolting lead to a cooler running CPU.