All prices reflected are the ones I had to pay due to me living in Argentina. Please be wary of that before any reprimands on how much I’m getting ripped off.
I’ll start off by saying that this build post was delayed over and over and over again, due to several reasons (work, myself not feeling inspired, photos being a bit meh, the build itself having changed throughout half a year), but finally I feel in the mood to post this critter. The name was because I overspent trying to get this build right, but oh well…
It all began in late 2016 – I was graduating as a Graphic Designer, and set off to build my fantastic portable Editing, Rendering and Graphic Design rig, with the best parts I could think of within my budget (and the Credit Card limits I had at the time). Because all of this was purchased in December 2016, you can clearly see why I picked a 100-Series Chipset and a Skylake Processor. But nonetheless, I think I made the right choices, as the 200-Series Chipset in ITX form factor wasn’t bringing any advantages, and Kaby Lake wasn’t a worthy upgrade, what with the worse thermals due to a small bump in IPC, with the resulting TDP being altered a bit and the TIM between the IHS and the die being insufficient to cool that extra clock bump. Of course, picking the parts on December 2016 also means I bought all this before Ryzen. Even if Ryzen 7 was hotly anticipated by the Holiday season, I needed stability; something that barely now do we get to see. I can’t afford downtime because of a premature architecture. So Ryzen was out, and I stuck to Team Blue for this build.
The rest of the parts in the original purchasing spree were as follows: Crucial Ballistix 2400Mhz DDR4 RAM, ADATA SP550 960GB SSD, SAMSUNG 950Pro 256GB NVMe SSD, EVGA GTX1060-6GB SC, Corsair SF600 PSU and a Lian Li PC-TU100A/B (This because I went through both case colours and had to ditch the case later on as I got a better card that couldn’t fit within the case, even if some people claim to having been able to fit such card – will spare you the surprise for later on).
All this in order to build my own Graduation gift and a Workstation that I could carry anywhere and use to work on-site. Many people suggested me to go for a Gaming Laptop, but the reason why I dismissed such option is because Gaming Laptops aren’t made to withstand punishing rendering sessions with all CPU Cores + GPU pinned to constant 100% usage. Portable workstations were out of the equation due to the non-existent availability of any competitive models in this region. Gaming Laptops are also more expensive, and to have something like what I was building probably demanded a 50% premium over the already hefty cost I was paying.
While the original build was cute, nice and portable, I was disliking the thermals and the fact I was stuck with a GTX1060 seemed bitter, because I had a Core i7 and 32GB of RAM. All top spec… So I went back to scratch. Adding insult to (a self-inflicted) injury, my rush in getting all the parts ended up in me making questionable choices for parts in some cases. The ADATA SSD was a piece of **** and after I liquidated it at 50% of its price (despite using 50% of its capacity as storage) I swore never to use ADATA ever again. The Crucial Ballistix RAM wasn’t going to be my original purchase so I sold the RAMs to a lucky guy who managed to overclock them to 3000Mhz on a Ryzen 7 setup. The GTX1060 was out, and due to the fact I managed to sell my WACOM CINTIQ 21UX and got a CINTIQ 13HD for cheaper, I had extra change to buy my desired card. By May (my birthday already) I secured most of the newer parts and was finally satisfied with the selection you see before you. All of this couldn’t be possible if it weren’t for Amazon Europe, and my willingness to take risks with my credit card and import stuff from overseas – stuff that I wanted, because no ****** around these places dares to sell ITX stuff – or what power users want (i.e. NO RGB, NO OC, NO GAMER DESIGN). But not before…
Not always can you rely on a PC with a handle...:
After going through two cases (The Lian Lis), I went full on SilverStone, and got the Milo ML-08H… And was extremely disappointed. The steel chassis was weak, it felt cheap, cable management was poor, it was bigger than I thought it was
(that’s what she said) , the handle wasn’t stable enough and I couldn’t fit it in any of my backpacks, unlike the Lian Li cases. That stopgap was a learning experience on doing my own research properly. And then, I found what I wanted…
The SilverStone Sugo SG13. I stumbled upon this case while doing my research on the CoolerMaster Elite 110. I was so close to picking the latter case until I figured out the height was its weakness. It was too tall. The Sugo was a bit longer, but lower, I could live with that, after all, it was 3 to 4cm more, not big deal. Plus it was capable of fitting in a JanSport backpack, so a win by all means.
Finally – Habemus PC:
Once the Sugo arrived (in white, with a mesh front, because the solid front was unavailable), I got back to work and built the final revision. So let’s see which parts we got: - CPU: Intel Core i7-6700. Skylake locked i7 processor, with respectable 65W TDP, and enough power for my rendering needs. - Cooler: Cryorig C7. I originally had the Noctua NH-L9i, and while it performed awesome, I simply couldn’t get over its colour scheme. This one, on the other hand, is a bit noisier but can withstand a k-series CPU unlike the Noctua. - Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-H170N-WIFI. I pick GIGABYTE boards because of the technical support in Argentina. It’s that after-sales support that makes me pick their products. However, it’s not without its flaws, which I’ll comment below and on the review. - RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB DDR4-3000Mhz. The best RAM kit in my opinion. Unlike the Trident Z from G-Skill, it will always appear on every motherboard’s QVL. Plus it’s low-profile, has a subdued design and I heard/read it overclocks really well (Can’t confirm, I have an H chipset and can’t engage XMP). - SSD: SAMSUNG 950 Pro 256GB NVMe M.2 SSD for OS and Programs; SAMSUNG 850 Pro 256GB SATA3 SSD for Scratch; SAMSUNG 850Evo 1TB SATA3 SSD for Storage. SPINNING RUST **** OFF! - GPU: ZOTAC GTX1080 Mini… Surprise! I got this cutesy beast for quite cheap and while it’s noisy, I love it to bits and will use it until it gives the ghost. Simply love it. - PSU: Corsair SF600. By far the BEST SFX PSU money can buy. Only gripes are the cables and the lack of an ATX adapter. A SilverStone bracket was purchased to fit the PSU in the Sugo. - Case: SilverStone Sugo SG13. White. Looks like a microwave upfront… Or a white-chocolate-dipped Oreo… - Fan: Corsair ML140 LED WHITE. Noisy because I configured an aggressive fan curve, but the best fan I have ever laid my hands on.
I will start by pointing out how nifty the C7’s accessories are; makes it feel quite premium. Points off to the i7 for coming with that ****** excuse of a CPU cooler. The motherboard started showing some of its weaknesses early on: tabs on only one end of the RAM slots is a pet peeve I can’t pass up. Then we have the PCI-E slot not being reinforced, and the fact it only comes with a 4-pin CPU EPS Connector. The USB 3.0 header placement is a pain in the ******* ***, why there? Especially when the USB 3.0 cables are horrible. No G-Connector for a motherboard of this caliber is a missed opportunity. However, the motherboard feels solid, the rest of the headers are in predictable positions, and the Wi-Fi solution just works.
The case doesn’t feel that high-quality, but ironically it feels more solid than the Milo, despite the latter being twice as expensive. Something I didn’t read was that in order to fit the 140mm fan, I had to give up on the top SSD tray, but thankfully picking the SFX PSU allowed me to place the SSD tray further back, so I was able to have my cake and eat it too, and all without modding a thing. Next suggestion for the guys at SilverStone: put some extra air filters, please! That poor GPU is sucking in a lot of dust and I have to blow the PC every 45 days.
Speaking of the PSU, God damn it has very stiff cables. I would suggest a CableMod kit if you want more flexibility. Since this doesn’t have see-thru panels nor TG, my only concern was guaranteeing good airflow to all of the components. It appears that after abusing of the zipties and carefully bending cables, I did a good job, considering the temps I got for all parts. Of course, don't expect me to do a wonderful cable management job at this size; I did what I could.
The GPU fit in nicely, with no issues whatsoever. Oh the glory! That size is mesmerizing
(that’s what she said… again!) . Finally the front fan. While I’m against LEDs, let alone RGB LEDs, I feel like I added a subtle touch to the PC by installing a White LED fan. Really gives the PC some character.
Build took approximately 2 hours. I wanted to be as delicate as possible, and enjoy building this Workstation as well, of course.
The end result was a PC below 5Kg, that I was able to carry around to do some Telestration videos at work, some website design, and some logo design. I’m yet to amortize the costs of this build with any side project, but thankfully it’s put to good use as we speak. Temps are in the low 20°Cs Idle, and High 60°C full load, with the PSU fan barely spinning. All in all, noisy as a server, but I don’t mind the noise, it’s fresh and powerful. Really glad how this PC turned out. All I need to do now is continue with my YouTube channel project and paint my bedroom – that turquoise green is geriatric.
The **** you ask? Oh, the FAQs I give...:
Why not AMD? As mentioned before, Ryzen wasn't out when I bought the CPU and Motherboard. And even if it was out, I knew some stability issues would plague the platform. Guess I wasn't wrong. Ryzen is too young to be a reliable 24/7 workstation foundation, regardless of what your favourite YouTuber might say just to save face.
Why not Z170? A Z Chipset was unnecessary because I don't overclock anything, I need stability, not enthusiast-grade operation. Besides, no cooler below 60mm of height can tame a k CPU from Intel at its fullest. AIO CLCs are out of the question, liquid-cooling gives me the heebie jeebies I tell ya. (Was the owner of a LC Power Mac G5 Quad. Oh the horrors...!)
Is that a Model M? Why yes. A 1993 IBM Model M - Assembled in Mexico, with superior quality than the contemporary Lexmark assembly of those years. ISO Format, of course, because I'm in LATAM.
Why using a Tension Stabilizer? Isn't that harmful to the PSU, which already has an APFC? I use it to have more plugs and honestly I never had an issue by adding a stabilizer to a robust PSU.
Which software do you use? I still stick around with Creative Suite 6 from Adobe. I hate the idea of subscription-based software, so no Creative Cloud, thank you very much.
Do you recommend the WACOM? Depends on your workflow. I'm no illustrator nor expert artist, but my workflow gets quite simplified with the pen. If you want to save some money, there are some HUION or UGEE alternatives for less money that perform as well.
Why not AMD? (GPU) Has OpenCL ever been good? Yeah, thought so.
Ever plan to upgrade in the future? This PC is meant to last at least 5 years as is. Any parts swap could only be the result of malfunction/RMA.
Do you game on this PC? Not at all, you won't find a single game here. I have a Ryzen build planned for that, if I can gather the cash.
As always, thank you very much for reading and putting up with my mumbo-jumbo. Any other questions and comments are welcome. XOXO
P.S.: If demand is considerable, I'll leave a link to the previous photosof this build in the previous ITX cases I fitted it in.
Top-tier locked Core CPU from the Skylake family. Really nice performance and retrospectively it has aged well enough to have a favourable performance delta compared to Haswell Refresh. The cooler is a puny piece of crap with no copper slug, so any aftermarket cooler is welcome.
Killer looks, beautiful packaging, solid performance, only a little bit noisier than the Noctua NH-L9i. Can't wait for the copper variant!
While it's too thick, it's my go-to compound. There are some better solutions by Gelid, but this TIM is among the best ones on the market, plus it's non-conductive. Highly recommended.
Solid motherboard, has all the necessary bells and whistles without looking gaudy in the process. BIOS is easy in the eyes and simple to understand. 3 years of local warranty in Argentina is a plus. Knocking two stars because of the horrible USB 3.0 header placement, the lack of dual tabs in RAM slots, the lack of reinforcements on the PCI-E slot and only a 4-pin EPS CPU plug.
I went with these ones instead of HyperX. The Corsair Vengeance lineup has nice OC support and XMP settings, can be fitted on any motherboard as it's on every single QVL you can find, has moderately competitive prices and its looks are subdued. You can pick other colours, too. Highly recommended.
Power consumption is on the high side, and it's too expensive as a SATA SSD, but I'm using it as a scratch drive and it does its job fantastically. However, as with the 950 Pro, the 960 Evo is a better product to pick.
Yesteryear's top-tier NVMe SSD performer. If I were to suggest you a SAMSUNG NVMe stick, go for the 960Evo or the SM/PM961, it's closer to this Pro variant. Or you can find a used bargain or clearance, in which case pick it up, it's fast enough already.
The unbeatable SSD. Incredible transfer speeds. It's been three years since its launch and no modern 3D NAND SSD with a SM Controller can beat it! If you can score yourself a bargain, pick it up, you'll never regret it.
Nice little card, a marvel of engineering by ZOTAC. Has two different fans to regulate noise and airflow towards the die. Not so overkill in looks. Can overclock quite well despite running close to stock frequencies. Frugal power consumption for a custom card. Amazing thermals. Big problem though: TOO NOISY (because it has NO passive mode). I'm giving this card 5 stars because I don't give a flying toss about the noise, but if you're into silent operation, avoid this card.
Price paid was adding the ATX SFX bracket. Case is spacious for its size, can fit an AIO 120mm CLC, ATX PSUs or converted SFX PSUs. It can fit inside a backpack, is light but sturdy, can fit several configurations and is capable of hosting even a reference GPU from either AMD or nVIDIA. Only requires more dust-filtering.
The best SFX PSU on the market right now. No other PSU is better, no matter how higher the wattage can be. Solid 12v Rail, considerable warranty, a very effective semi-passive mode, large 92mm fan ensures less noise. Only gripe are the cables, which are too stiff. For space-constrained builds, custom cables are a must.
Once you pick it up it's heavy indeed! It uses a MagLev Bearing, and is indeed the perfect compromise between SP and AF. Maybe a bit too noisy, but it cools like a champ! Oh, and pricey as well, so be prepared to fork out the dough for one of these.