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Messages - Steve N. Mavronis

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Phanteks Evolv ITX - ASUS Z170i Pro Gaming motherboard and the Thermalright Silver Arrow ITX heatsink cooler question:

While test fitting the Thermalright mounting system the top ring shaped bracket that gets bolted down to the 4 barrel nuts seems like it will be a very close fit, possibly close to touching my G.Skill TridentZ inner RAM heatsink and/or the rearward motherboard VRM heatsink. I measured the frame and it is 95mm across which is the CPU pocket maximum spec. The orientation is as pictured below to hold down the dual tower heatsink. It could just barely clear them but If this bracket does in fact end up touching the RAM and/or motherboard heatsink is that bad? They are just heatsinks after all and not any electrical contact there. My last resort would be to file down the left and right edges of the bracket, maybe 1/32" for more clearance but I want to avoid that if it isn't a big deal.

General Discussion / Re: DIY Magnetic Case Badges
« on: February 27, 2016, 02:22:31 PM »
Very cool! Note that some Phanteks cases, including the Evolv ATX I'm currently testing, use aluminum side panels, so this unfortunately wouldn't work for them, but for steel-sided cases, this is a great idea.

I'm putting them inside my Evolv ITX in that blank near the grommets. The main thing is they're movable. Here's an example in my case with the magnet badges lined up.


General Discussion / DIY Magnetic Case Badges
« on: February 27, 2016, 01:04:22 PM »
Magnetic case badges that I made from by PC build. I bought 10' roll of 1" magnetic tape at Walmart for $4 in the crafts section.
Each one is a separate 'movable' magnet badge. They are just randomly placed here for a photo. I don't like the idea of permanently affixing sticker badges to my case and not being able to remove them later without possibly peeling some paint off messing up the finish. This is better!

This looks great - fantastic photos, and good step-by-step review for other readers of the forum. I agree on the VGA bracket cover - with the extra-tall EVGA GTX 980 Ti Classified heatsink shroud, you don't need or want it. I'm a little bit surprised at how much EVGA sells its colored G2 cable sets for... they're practically as much as the entire units!

Yeah, I actually paid less than the cable set for my 650 G2 after sale price and $20 MIR rebate! The dumb thing is EVGA was nice enough to send me an up to 30% off digital coupon for a power supply or up to 50% off on a mouse after I registered my 980 Ti Classified. Problem is I already bought the 650 G2 PSU and a Corsair M45 mouse so its of no use to me. I wish it was a general coupon for any EVGA product! Those cables are expensive. I sort of really only need a ATX power, CPU power, and 2 GPU power cables because they're the ones that show but they don't sell separate cables or let you bundle only what you need. And I would have to use their G2 compatible cables because the ATX power cable is split into 2 sections at the PSU end.

I redid some of my cabling: 1) Used the farther EVGA G2 split end CPU power connector to avoid bunching up 2 cable sections. 2) Moved the ATX motherboard power cable to the upper grommet which makes more sense.

One of these days if the EVGA G2 red individually sleeved PSU cable set ever goes on sale I'll be buying it. I guess the stock black PSU cables look okay I suppose for now.
I also just realized there was protective film over the 'Pro Gaming' ASUS chipset heatsink so I removed it, LOL.

I also removed this GPU screw down slot bracket or whatever it's called. It's the only part of the Evolv ITX case that feels cheap. It's purely cosmetic anyway but my EVGA 980 Ti Classified as a set of vents on the raised back end and it felt weird to cover it:

This is the slowest build log sorry. It's my first complete build and I'm taking my time here and there working mainly on the weekends. I'm waiting for a final small 'optional' piece anyway due within a week. At the end of this I'll either crash and burn or it will all be worth it. ;)

That looks awesome! Love the big Classified lettering and the TridentZ heatsink! But one tip: attempting to install a huge cooling tower while the motherboard is mounted will be an exercise in frustration. I couldn't even install the Thermalright Macho in a full ATX system with the motherboard installed. The issue was the fan clip. Can't get hands in to secure it. Maybe the Silver Arrow is better in that regard, but don't count on it.

I know but either way is a challenge. It would also be near impossible to plug into the CPU fan header or to plug-in the CPU power cable. The pointed edges of the cooler fins are like razor blades. If I get it mounted this way then I'll try to clip the top of the fan first since the'll be more hand room at the bottom with the GPU removed. I may have to remove the roof which is a pain because there are so many screws and you have to loosen the front panel at the top too. I'm debating on removing the top radiator rack and just leave it off. There's a screw tab location right behind the CPU power connector that drags across the power cable when sliding it out.

Some pictures...

This weekend I hope to install the Intel i7-6700K CPU and Thermalright Silver Arrow ITX heatsink cooler to finish the hardware part of this build. I will remove the GPU while doing this so I can get my hands in there to position the mounting bracket over the base to screw down even and gently until I feel both screws stop. I'm assuming you don't want much torque. I was playing with the mounting hardware and the bracket that holds down the cooler does have plenty of room to slide over the base to position it not to touch the first TridentZ module. I'd like 1 mm of clearance if possible so I don't scratch the RAM aluminum heat spreader.

Hey I wanted to stop back with an Evolv ITX build update and some thoughts. I have everything installed now except the GPU and CPU/Heatsink. I'm waiting until this weekend when I should get a package from Thermalright (direct from Taiwan) for free containing their Skylake CPU support bracket and special backplate washers. I don't technically need them but will install them as a precaution and it is nice that they (and Nan's Gaming Gear) offer support like that. Also I hate possible GPU sag so I'm looking on snapping one or two trimmed down plastic screw anchors into the holes of the PSU shroud (which are about 7/32" in diameter) as support rests between the GPU dual fans. Can't find them in black so I'd either have to 'paint' them with black permanent marker or possibly use red ones which seems more likely. I replaced the front 200mm fan with two Phanteks 140mm fans. I need to get more machine screws for the new front fans. I have two of the stock screws in each fan right now. They need to be 6-32 and 1 1/4" long, instead of the stock 1 3/8" because the 140mm fans are 5mm thinner. Note: the stock fan cable is tie strapped to a bundle of wires under the roof. I had to remove the roof to cut the strap to get the cable free, then I re-strapped the rest of the wiring bundle again. Take your time on cable management in the back. I really had to experiment and think it through. The shrink wrap on the EVGA PSU cables are very stiff so I had to work around them to bend the connectors and cables. I used the large oval grommet hole for the main motherboard power because the closer top hole would have made it stick out too far to bend towards the motherboard connector. The CPU connector was kind of rough to figure out too but I fed the cable through the top hole. I bought that extra Phanteks $7 HDD bracket but decided not to use it. I'm not using the mid-plate anyway since the EVGA 980 Ti Classified has that long LED description running along its length and the work Classified would be hidden. So instead of remounting that HDD bracket elsewhere I'm just using the bottom HDD bay slot and the top slot tray will be the GPU dual 8-pin power cables resting area. I made tie them down loosely to keep them flat not to impede airflow to the GPU. I really like the ASUS Z170i Pro Gaming motherboard. It's more beautiful in person than I expected. I'll post pictures soon.

All parts have been ordered for my first complete build. The items in green have arrived and just waiting for all the yellow items to finish shipping! I'm very excited since although I've been a PC technician for decades (since 1985) in the past I've always just done the Compaq, Dell, and Gateway type online limited parts options kind of computer order. I've made some good deals taking advantage of online sales, mail-in rebates, etc. I've elected not to buy an external optical drive for now. I don't really need it for software installation but do like to burn CD's and DVD's. My widescreen monitor will at some point be replaced. Anyway I wanted to publish my build's parts list and pricing in case this is of use to others making a first time build too. If I'm overlooking anything I can always pick things up on the fly. Oh the Skylake CPU spacer is optional but it's free anyway so I asked for one.

P.S. Thanks Ari for all your help and opinions while I was thinking everything through!

Straighten me out on case fan connections. The ASUS Z170i Pro Gaming motherboard has 1 CPU 4-pin fan header, and 2 case 4-pin fan headers, one next to the CPU fan header at the top rear and one at the bottom next to the PCIe slot.

The stock Phanteks Evolv ITX 200mm intake fan (PH-F200SP) and optional 140mm fans (PH-F140SP - $15 each or $25 for 2-pack) both fan specifications say 'speed sensor' is 3-pin.

Phanteks sells 2 Fan Splitter cables (PH-CB-Y3P 3-Pin y-splitter for $3, and PH-CB-Y4P 4-Pin y-splitter for $5) - "The Y-Splitter allows you to connect 2 fans to one fan header. Phanteks Y splitter can also be used with other 3-pin (PH-CB-Y3P) or 4-pin (PH-CB-Y4P) fans as well, maximizing the amount of fans you can have in your build."

Phanteks also sells a PWM Fan Hub (PH-PWHUB) for $15 with "6 fan headers allowing for up to 12 fans or 30 watts of consumed power. The package also includes 2 3-pin splitters for a total of 8 connections without needing to purchase additional splitters. Mounting can be done on any Enthoo Series case with the provided screws or any other case using the universal mounting strips. The Phanteks PWM Fan Hub is capable of powering up to *11x fans (3-pin) through PWM modulation, while occupying only 1x 4-pin header of your motherboard per Fan Hub. At the same time this Fan Hub also keeps your chassis interior clean and tidy by centralizing all your fan cables. The PWM hub comes with pre-drilled mounting holes for easy installation to your Enthoo cases and also Velcro strips for use with other chassis. Power LED illuminates the Phanteks Logo when the PWM hub is powered on."

I plan on buying the Phanteks Evolv ITX Bundle for $85 today or tomorrow which includes a 140mm fan (for the rear exhaust) and drive bracket. If I buy the 140mm 2-pack for $25 as well to replace the stock 200mm intake fan, do you recommend one of the Y-splitters or their PWM fan hub?

The net cost of $620 for the EVGA 980 Ti Classified was too good to turn down. I just ordered it from Newegg!
The MSI 980 Ti Gaming 6G net cost would have been $650. I like the hot rod look of the twisted heat pipes better than the side of the EVGA but I think most would agree that the Classified is the better card. I've liked it since it came out but the initial cost was too high until now. Crazy sales!

I want you to know that I don't mean to go against your recommended ultimate ITX build parts list. I'm using them as a baseline and judging what's best for me.

I still have a few more parts to order including the Evolv ITX case. Monitoring for surprise sale deals over the weekend for the rest.

When the ASUS Strix 980 Ti first came out I was in love with it. But I've read so many negative comments about it, from criticizing how the heat pipes contact the card to it's a poor overclocker and stock speeds aren't that great. I'm not that crazy over the backplate design either.

I like the EVGA and it has dual bios and great warranty support but the MSI is so solid rare to hear anything bad about it.

Also I'm thinking ahead about cable routing to the GPU no matter what I use. The EVGA has that huge backplate with the red 'Classified' logo on it right next to the 2x8 pin power connectors. I don't want to block airflow to the fans and I wouldn't like covering the backplate logo either. If I wrap the cables under the card it could restrict airflow unless I'm very careful or route them through the HDD bay hole in the PSU shroud. To wrap them edge-wise around the front would be tricky too.

Nice that's good to hear! But what about the choice between a net sale/rebate prices of $650 for the MSI 980 Ti Gaming or $620 for the EVGA 980 Ti Classified?

MSI 980 Ti Gaming 6G:
Core Clock   1178 MHz (OC Mode)
1140 MHz (Gaming Mode)
1000 MHz (Silent Mode)    
Boost Clock   1279 MHz (OC Mode)
1228 MHz (Gaming Mode)
1076 MHz (Silent Mode) 

EVGA 980 Ti Classified Gaming w/ACX 2.0+:
Core Clock   1190 MHz
Boost Clock   1291 MHz

Here's a Newegg review thoughts from someone who's owned both cards:

I had been using my MSI GTX 980ti Gaming 6G happily since 6/2015, but I have always been a fan of the EVGA Classified cards, with my last one being a 780ti that I loved. With the recent sale at NewEgg I decided to give one a try.

So how does it compare to my MSI 980ti Gaming 6G? Build quality of both cards is excellent with backplates, memory cooling plates and excellent design. The Classified has a couple small advantages over the MSI including extra power phases, higher stock boost clock and slightly more robust cooler, but for most users, the differences are minor if using the stock cooler. Stock Boost Clock on my Classified was a hair under 1400Mhz.

Overclocking on the Classified topped out at 1494Mhz on the core and 8100Mhz on the memory @1.21v and 115% power target. My Asic was 71% and came with Samsung memory. The core will game/bench higher than that, but not with 100% stability, so 1494Mhz is where I settled and the power limit is never tripped so the clock speed is rock steady at all times. With the fans manually set to 70%, max temp was 71C after a couple hours of gaming with the new Tomb Raider @ 1440p. At 90% fan speed, temps drop well down into the 60's, but are pretty loud at that speed and not personally what I would use daily. Using default fan setting is very quiet but allows the temps to get to 80C, so I opt for a custom fan profile. Compared to my MSI Gaming, which clocks very similar @ 1.23v, but often hits it's power limit so it throttles down to 1450-1460 range under the same gaming situations.

Cooling ability per decibel is similar on the Classified compared to the MSI Gaming 6G. The MSI at 80% fan has a similar noise profile to the Classified at 65% fan with temps being very close at those speeds, with perhaps a couple C advantage to the EVGA cooling solution. 60-70% fan speed on the Classified is very tolerable in my opinion and not very loud. Beyond that, noise does start to scale unfavorably.

Overall I am very pleased with the EVGA 980ti Classified. My personal example is just a mediocre overclocker, but there is no denying the high quality of the build. Throw in EVGA's excellent customer support and a solid 3 year warranty and you end up with a great card. For $620 after rebate + two free games (at time of purchase), it is impossible to not recommend.

I've started buying parts for my PC build. I have an EVGA SuperNova G2 650W power supply on the way. I was planning on getting the MSI 980 Ti Gaming 6G from Newegg which after sale/rebate is $650 and a 600W power supply is recommended. But they've put the EVGA 980 Ti Classified which after sale/rebate is $620. No brainier right but I'm concerned about the power supply. EVGA says "600W or greater" based on an i7-3.2GHz. I also ordered the i7-6700K 4.0GHz. This is for a mini-ITX system built in the Phanteks Evolv ITX case. Will the EVGA 650W G2 power supply be enough and afford a little CPU/RAM overclocking? No liquid cooler is being used so no power consumption there. I'm 100% air cooling the system.

I am getting an external blu-ray/dvd/cd writer because I do that sometimes. But like you said the OEM is tied to the motherboard (hope it don't go DOA) and if I have the SSD go bad not sure how many times you can re-install. Plus is a full install, you can't in-place upgrade to overwrite your Windows installation. I guess you can boot the OEM to do a repair Windows operation? I have to look that up LOL. Either way the full USB version is the safer bet, not for support but for flexibility.

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