The Build

Chris' Feedback:

I really love your site and am going to be building your $2500 4K Gaming build. I noticed the case isn't really optimized for a media center, and as I'll be using it with a Samsung 65" 4K Curved Display I was hoping for a case more media centered.

Built: September 2015

As you can see above, Chris came to The Tech Buyer's Guru with a simple question: could he build an extreme 4K gaming PC that would be small and sleek enough to fit on his media console. Of course, we said, anything's possible in PC building - you just need to use a little creativity! He had already started off with our $2,500 Extreme 4K Gaming PC Build, as of August 2015, but we exchanged a number of e-mails with Chris to make sure he was able to build up the perfect system for his needs. And the first thing that he needed to decide on was a case. Going with the Extreme 4K build, which uses the X99 platform, virtually locked Chris into going with mATX or ATX for his HTPC, and since he also wanted to option of going SLI in the future with two high-powered video cards, the only real option was ATX. While there are a number of ATX-based HTPC cases out there, most are really just full-size towers flipped on their side. That wouldn't do for a serious media center PC, because it would just be too bulky.

The Parts

What Chris decided on was the relatively-new and surprisingly-affordable Silverstone GD09. Part of the Grandia series, this case had a few tricks up its sleeves, namely that it was very sleek and incredibly-compact for an ATX case (at just 14.1" deep and 6.7" high!), but could still accommodate large video cards and power supplies. Once the GD09 was settled on, the next big hurdle was deciding on cooling. We considered air coolers, 120mm-based liquid coolers, and 240mm-based liquid coolers. In the end, we ruled out 240mm coolers, because there just wasn't enough clearance between the motherboard and the right side of the case to mount fans plus a radiator. But Chris still wanted serious cooling capability, and unfortunately high-powered tower-style air coolers wouldn't fit. The choice was therefore between a low-profile air cooler (the best option being the Noctua NH-U9S) and a 120mm liquid cooler, and Chris decided on the latter, based both on capability and the sleek look it afforded the system. In the end, he chose the Corsair Hydro H60, which as it turns out, was still a very tight fit in this case.

Here you can see the all-important "box shot", along with Chris' complete parts list.

Component List:

  1. CPU: Intel Core i7-5820K 3.3GHz Hexa-Core
  2. Motherboard: Asus X99-A/USB3.1
  3. Video Card: PNY GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB
  4. Memory: Patriot Viper 4 4x4GB DDR4-2666
  5. SSD: Samsung 850 Evo 1TB
  6. Case: Silverstone Grandia GD09
  7. Power Supply: EVGA Supernova GS 1050W
  8. CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro H60
  9. Case Fans: 2x Arctic F12 PWM Rev. 2
  10. Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit
  11. Display: Samung 65" 4K Curved HDTV

Prepping System

TBG's "Extreme 4K Gaming PC" is designed to tackle everything up to and including 4K gaming, which means it's quite a beast when it comes to 1080p and 1440p gaming too. The GTX 980 Ti has really proven itself to be a cut above other high-end cards, averaging about 30% faster than the GTX 980 and 45% faster than the GTX 970. That's a difference you can feel. It's backed up by the potent Core i7-5820K six-core processor, which comes clocked at 3.3GHz stock, but has room to run a whole lot faster once you strap a big liquid cooler to it, as Chris did here. And critically important for HDTV use is the inclusion of an HDMI 2.0 connector, which thus far only Nvidia offers, and only on its 900-series of video cards. Only HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort are capable of passing a 4K signal, and precious few HDTVs on the market today include a DisplayPort, so HDMI 2.0 is a virtual necessity in the 4K HTPC space.

One of the toughest parts about building a PC is figuring out how to get all the cables out of the way of your components and the case's airflow. And with this compact ATX case, the challenge was even greater. Frankly, it's just about the smallest an ATX case can possibly be and still fit an ATX motherboard. Just look at this photo Chris took during the build process - these components are fitting very snugly in the case - we'd call it "optimized" for HTPC use. You want your case to take up the minimum amount of space, because it's got to blend in, rather than stick out. And of course it needs to fit on your AV rack as well.

As it turns out, Chris had just a bit of trouble getting that H60 cooler installed. Here's what he had to say:

Just a note - the water cooler is ... half a centimeter too tall for the case. You hardly notice, especially if you don’t screw on the top. It makes a tight fit with the power source as I show, but honestly, it works. It’s a great case and plenty of room inside, just not much cable management. One nice thing about the mobo was that it didn’t require a backplate to mount the heatsink, so it didn’t matter that this case has no underside access.

The System

We think you'll agree that Chris' HTPC is a serious wolf in sheep's clothing. Few would imagine the kind of power that lurks within. Here's a parting thought from Chris about his stealthy build:

I really have the [MSI Afterburner] fan profile low...so the ability to crank up the fan for 4K is going to be my secret weapon. The build right now is VERY quiet. The two arctic fans on the side are pushing lots of air through the case, and what doesn’t get out through the other side hits the graphic card and vents out the back.