This gaming build had several goals in mind:
- Compact - has to fit on my desk, so mini-ITX is a must.
- Stay cool in summer with no AC, so flexibility in cooling is needed.
- Affordable - stay under $1.5K.
- Upgradable - leave some options for improvement.
Case - Raijintek Ophion Evo
Choosing the case was the most difficult and time-consuming part, since it would determine size and cooling options.
- The Phanteks Evolv Shift was my first choice since it's vertical and takes up minimal desk space, but it turns out it has horrible airflow - even if I add a blower video card and an AIO CPU cooler there's a good chance that either one will overheat. Additionally its riser card would need replacement just to support PCI-E 3.0.
- The Dancase A4 and Kolink Rocket are extremely compact, but their lack of fans and no space for AIO cooling meant I'd be SOL if the components I chose ended up overheating.
- The Thermaltake Core V1 in white had a great price point and would look great with RGB lighting, but was ultimately too large. Also the fan config is weird - two 80mm’s and a 200mm? Who’s even buying 80’s anymore?
- NCase M1 was a bit too pricey, but would probably check all the boxes.
I eventually landed on the Raijintek Ophion Evo. It has a balance of size, price, cooling, and looks. The magnetic dust filters and 240mm AIO support are a huge bonus.
Maybe it’s too early to tell, but it feels like Raijintek is actually listening to customer complaints regarding this model:
- Some users have complained about high temps from the lack of side ventilation with the glass (even though I see a lot of those users gaming on open-air GPU’s) so they’re preparing to sell ventilated metal side panels for those users who want it. (I would hope that they offer other upgrades later on if any are physically possible.)
- I’ve also seen complaints regarding the lack of clearance available for AIO coolers - one of the AIO tubes would need to be bent significantly just to get past the metal panel separating the GPU side from the PSU/mobo side. Fortunately, Raijintek has updated this model so that a small section of the panel can be removed to accommodate the AIO tubes.
CPU - AMD Ryzen 5 2600X
I was originally going to go with the Ryzen 5 2600, but there are a lot of price drops in preparation for the 3rd gen Ryzens so I ended up grabbing a 2600X.
Motherboard - Asus ROG Strix X470-I
I was originally planning for the B450 version of this motherboard, but it sounded like the X470 version would improve my chances of being able to support a higher-end 3rd-gen Ryzen a couple of years down the road.
CPU Cooler - Corsair H100x Liquid
This would be my first time using any form of liquid cooling - I don’t trust liquid cooling in general since it’s only a matter of time before it starts to leak, and you’re typically paying extra for the privilege of possibly having your build ruined. However, it sounds like it’s the ideal way to cool a compact system like this and cut down on fans, so I had to research a bit - NZXT and Corsair seemed to be the way to go due to warranty length, reputation and reliability. DeepCool’s designs looked awesome, but I noticed a lot of negative reviews regarding leaks so that was not an option. However, it looked like all 3 brands had a reputation for replacing hardware in the event of a leak (after shipping everything in for investigation, of course.)
Installation was pretty simple, and the AM4 mounting hardware was easy to handle - no need for a backplate replacement. (The instructions were clear and easy to follow although I’m pretty sure they got the quantity of components needed for each socket wrong.) I did end up replacing the fans with some ARGB ones from DeepCool.
RAM - G.Skill Trident Z RGB 16GB (2x8)
I’m not picky about RAM - I trust the G.Skill brand, wanted some light, and wasn’t going to obsess over CAS latencies.
SSD - Crucial MX500 500GB M.2 SSD
I’m also not too picky about SSD’s - I prefer reliability over speed, so I picked what was cheap and well-rated. I may replace this with something that has NVME down the road though (once 1TB+ M.2’s are more affordable.)
GPU - MSI Radeon RX VEGA 56 8GB Air Boost
At first I was looking at the RX 580’s (which were floating around $200) but decided to wait a couple of weeks to see if the 590’s and Vega’s dropped - eventually there was a great deal on the Vega 56’s, and I’m glad I went for it. The main appeal of this card for me is actually the blower-style cooler since all of the 580’s and 590’s I saw were open air, which would suffer in most ITX builds. I haven’t done very much testing thus far, but it was recommended in some user reviews that this Vega be undervolted to reduce heat and improve performance - I’ve never done this before, but I’ll probably give it a try soon.
In practice, the GPU does get loud during gaming, but at idle the fan actually stops which makes the entire desktop almost silent - it’s often difficult to tell if it’s even on.
PSU - Seasonic FOCUS SGX 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular SFX
While the Raijintek Ophion Evo supports ATX PSU’s, it would be a horrible idea. SFX already feels large enough in this ITX case as it is, and fully modular cables are a must. The SFX form factor also includes shorter cables, which were just the perfect length in this build. It’s also worth mentioning that this PSU includes an SFX to ATX adapter plate - I’m fairly certain the Corsair SF600 I was eyeing did not have the adapter plate, which would have cost me an extra $10
If I had to complain about anything regarding this PSU, it’s that the fabric bags included with it are much cheaper than I was expecting. The last (ATX) Seasonic PSU I purchased included a huge drawstring bag that I’m still using for Carcassone tiles, but the ones included with this feel like they’re made of disposable airline pillowcases. It’s an extremely minor complaint - I’m not basing any purchasing decisions off of this and I wouldn’t rate it any lower than 5 out of 5 stars, but it’s the only negative thing I have to say about it.
Case Fans - DeepCool CF120 3-pack
I wanted to add a bit of lighting to my build, but needed to avoid having to run several RGB utilities at once. Corsair, Asus, NZXT, G.Skill, etc. each have their own and realistically there are no “good” RGB utilities that I’m aware of - only varying shades of “decent” and “resource hog”.
The motherboard has its own RGB LED’s built-in along with some ARGB and RGB headers, so I went with Asus AURA. I chose these fans because they support AURA (using the ARGB headers in this case) and were also well-rated. Asus has a compatibility list of various fans and coolers that support AURA on their website, but finding well-rated ones is difficult.
I swapped out the two 120mm Corsair fans on the top AIO radiator with these (since they have similar specs) and put the remaining 1 on the bottom. All 3 are set as intakes so the blower GPU and PSU are active exhausts, while the open gap between the glass side panels and the case are passive exhausts if there’s enough air pressure. (I tried this configuration to reduce the amount of dust being pulled in from the side panels.)
There is one issue I do have with Aura, which is that Apex Legends’ anti-cheat system refuses to start Apex while “Lightingservice.exe” (which is from AURA) is running - closing it keeps the LED’s lit, they just won’t change.
Also be aware that RGB adds a completely new set of cables, so you may need to get creative with your cable management - and don’t confuse 5V Addressable RGB with 12V RGB. This motherboard has both options, but you do not want to get those headers mixed up.
Great performance for the price. Go Team Red!
Looks great if you can put more time and effort into cable management.
Price is a good middle-ground between the high-end M1/A4's and the plastic Silverstone/Coolermaster ITX cases.
Cable management isn't too bad, but I would never use an ATX PSU with this - go SFX, and mount it with an ATX-to-SFX adapter plate. Flat PSU cables can fit through the gaps easily with the space you're saving by going with SFX.
Like most ITX cases, I'd also recommend using this with a blower-style card. An open air cooler may cause overheating as it recirculates hot air back into the case, especially if it's a wider card. If you're stuck with open air, Raijintek will be selling vented aluminum panels to replace the glass.
The newer version of this case has a removable bracket near the front of the case that allows for a 240mm AIO cooler to fit comfortably without having to bend the tubes.
I've configured mine with 3 intake fans (so that air is leaving via the blower GPU, PSU, and gap between the glass side panels, reducing the amount of dust entering the case through the gaps) with no ill effects.
Quiet and works flawlessly, and the 10-year warranty is comforting. Cables are just the right length for my mini ITX build. Includes an SFX-to-ATX adapter plate. Only complaint is that the drawstring bags it's packed in are cheap this time, which is so minor that it's not worth lowering the score over.
Quiet and colorful. Was able to connect to (5V) ARGB on my Asus ROG mobo, and it works flawlessly with Aura. This 3-pack includes the connectors you'll need to get everything hooked up, even if you don't have ARGB support on your mobo. Just be sure you're not mixing up the (5V) ARGB and (12V) RGB headers, and be careful about connecting too many fans to the same mobo header. Also be warned that RGB adds more cables, so you'll need to put more time and effort into cable management.