Ben was a long-time TBG reader and Forum member, having already completed and submitted an ultra-compact mini-STX-based PC for The Gallery, but it was now time for him to dive into a truly high-end PC. After plenty of discussion on the Forum, he came up with the following masterpiece, which in fact inspired TBG to completely re-work the $2,500 Ultra-Extreme ITX Build. Read on to hear his story!
Built: May 2018
Hey TBG, just wanted to send you a big thank you for your help in talking through the parts for my living room gaming pc. Here's the final parts rundown:
Case: Silverstone FTZ01S
Motherboard: MSI Z370I Gaming Pro AC
Processor: Intel Core i5-8600K
Cooler: Noctua NH-L12S
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 1060 Dual OG 6GB
Power Supply: Corsair SF-450
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB)
Solid-State Drive: Samsung 970 Evo 500GB M.2 PCIe
Optical Drive: TBD
I got it up and running a couple weeks ago without too much trouble. The FTZ01S looks great, and has a great sturdy feel. I will say that the instruction manual leaves a little to be desired. For instance, the manual says very little about which screws to use where. Not something I couldn't figure out, but it didn't help that the list of screws in the parts list didn't match up with the screws provided.
Strangely, there was also no explanation of how to connect the two part riser card. It wasn't hard to figure out, but I thought it was an odd omission given that it's a specialty component for the case. None of these were insurmountable obstacles, but a slightly better manual would be a welcome addition to the case. The only real installation problem was the support bracket for the GPU. The screws are a bit too short, and thus it's very hard to get any engagement. I did eventually get them to hold, but I'd guess I only have one or two threads of engagement.
I came away most impressed with Noctua. The NH-L12S felt like the most premium component that I worked with, and their instructions and materials provided were excellent. I ended up trying the heat sink in all 4 different orientations before settling on heat pipes towards the I/O shield. The fan does touch the tops of the Corsair LPX memory, but only just barely, and since the pressure is straight down into memory sockets I figured it wouldn't be as big a deal (as opposed to having the heat pipes put lateral pressure on the DIMMs).
MSI did a nice job with the board, and their TPM chip (purchased separately) was a very easy solution to implement. Almost plug and play (almost because you do need to enable the chip from the BIOS, but the option was easy to find). I understand now why the M.2 drive goes on the back. The TPM header is occupying the real estate on the board where most m-ITX boards put a top side M.2 drive. And speaking of M.2 drives, Samsung's NVMe drives are just awesome. I made a last minute parts change and swapped the 960 Evo for the 970 Evo. I'm sure I'll never notice the difference between the two, but it is consistently awesome to see the system boot up in about 10 seconds or less.
I encountered a bizarre Amazon glitch with the Corsair PSU. Amazon sent me a Corsair SF-450 box with a Silverstone 450watt SFX PSU in it. Not sure what happened on Amazon's end other than they sent me a botched product return from someone else. With the right Corsair PSU in hand now, I have no complaints.
Anyway, I'm loving the system so far. I fired up a few games that I had been playing on my little STX system with the Intel HD 630 integrated graphics and it's so much more fun to be able to crank the settings all the way up (remember, my display is a 1080p TV, so 1080p at 60hz is the upper limit on what my GPU has to output). The DVD/BD drive is still on hold. Haven't quite decided what I want to do in that regard yet.
A final thought is that cabling in the FTZ01S isn't necessarily easy. Or rather, it's easy enough in the sense that if you use a small SFX PSU, there's plenty of room to just stuff cables in and call it a day. Coming up with a clean solution takes a bit more planning. You can see my stab at it in the cabling pic shown here.
Thanks again for all your help, Ari! And to everyone else who's a TBG fan like me, use the links to buy your gear when you can. Good content is worth supporting!