Goal: My goal with this system was to build something that had quite a bit of power behind it while taking up a smaller footprint than my previews system. I wanted it to fit on my desk comfortably without taking up a massive amount of room. While still capable to fitting my GPU at the time (RTX 2060).
Why upgrade: My previous system was built around the 4790k in the Phanteks Enthoo Luxe and I had never really needed all the space it provided. That system is still awesome but didn't quite provide the modern experience I was looking for. I am no longer "100% pure gaming" as they say. I wanted to try and stream more, as well as have more modern components such as DDR4 ram, more Nvme support. That system has now replaced my older 3570k Plex Server, which is now living life as a PfSense box.
The Build: This build was really fun to put together, if not challenging. I had previously intended to move the Dark Rock Pro 4 I have, over to this system, I'm glad I got the Dark Rock however. The Pro would have taken up too much room in the case and make it too hard to build in.
That's not to say the DR4 was without it's own challenges. If I were to to this build again I would mount the cooler last, or after I had attached all the IO and cables.
The next challenge was with my GPU. I had already upgraded to the RTX 2060 and wanted to move it over to the smaller system. The trick was finding a case that would fit a "2.5 inch" thick GPU. This one does, just barely. If the card was any thicker It would have been impossible fit. The cooler shroud is sitting on the cable bar. And the end of the card has very little room before it hits the front intake fans. There's probably only about 15mm of space.
While the GPU does not overheat, it does get warmer than it had previously. In my full tower I'd see it climb to about 60-65 tops typical. Now the hottest I've seen it reach is about ~70-73 degrees gaming at 1440p UW. Would I recommend this configuration to anyone? Maybe? I guess it would depend on what experience you want from your system. I would add a caveat to that and say fitting a similar GPU does require an SFX power supply. I would also add that you can't have a lot of stuff or a mess under there either. I had tried to stuff a 2TB 3.5 HDD in the basement, as well as my NZXT Hue+. The additional cables and objects down there had restricted Air Flow quite a bit, and the GPU Fans had to spin up a lot more to keep the temps under 75c.
Why require an SFX unit? Since it's shorter than an ATX model, it provides more space below under the PSU shroud. This allows the GPU to have more available air to breath in.
Issues: The build does have some problems. For some reason the front audio is not working at the time of ths writing. Not sure if it's a bad cable or just not plugged in fully. Also, Ai Suite 3 seemed to be causing some odd issues. I would try to control my fans with it in Windows, and half the time the system would enter this odd crash state. I'd lose all display out and the system would become totally unresponsive. Most of the time it would require a total power cycle, turning the power off at the PSU as the power button would do nothing.
Other times it would reboot on it's own. I've since uninstalled the software and not had any similar issues yet. Uninstalling Ai, suite did causes another issue however, though minor-ish. One of the fan headders on the board is actually for an AIO Pump. You can control it the BIOS but it's a bit of a pain. I could not get the DC case fans to spin at less then 60% and they were kinda annoying. I ended up putting in a few voltage reducers and it's nice and quiet now.
I love this cooler. The all black design is pretty classy. It's also extremely quiet and was easy to mount.
This a a great looking board with a few issues. The first issue I had with it is the placement of the front audio header. It's positioned along the back IO and above the front M.2 / audio riser. The only way to really attach it, is by routing it through the CPU Power cutout on the case and down. The other issue is it seems PBO is enabled by default in the Bios.
One other gripe is that the board only has three fan headers by a technicality. Left to right we have the CPU Fan, the case fan, and an AIO pump header. You can use the AIO header to power fans but the in bios control for it is not very good. This forced the case fans at 60% all the time so they were more audible then I would have liked. I ended up using some speed reducers I had laying around to drop the noise to an acceptable level.
This case was a joy to build in. The installed cable channels made it easy to manage the wiring as needed. There are a few minor annyances. Such as needed to mount drives placed in the bottom by screwing them in through the floor of the case. Also, the manual that came with it could have made things a lot clearer. Specifically in regards to what screws to use for what.