Description

(TL;DR Good price for a really nice PC that can do gaming and a wee bit of music fiddling through some form of DAW. 10/10 would insert again.)

Finally, a fairly powerful PC that's actually portable.

Originally, I was only supposed to be upgrading the CPU in my original, albeit aging, machine. That ended up spilling over into just buying an (almost) entirely brand new rig. I'm quite happy I did, as I've finally got a machine that actually does everything I need it to without compromising too much on performance, while still keeping this relatively affordable.

PART CHOICE

In retrospect, I feel I should have perhaps waited and pumped a bit more money into an i7 4790k rather than the one I ended up buying, but the performance I was getting from the 4690k stock was good enough. Once overclocked, everything I've been doing on this machine has worked perfectly; games still running beautifully even while windowed with OBS, a browser, and irc running in the background on a second screen, for example. I've also invested in the H100i closed-loop cooler by Corsair, which does the job very well in keeping the CPU nice and cool, and it's dead quiet; I keep hearing irregular noise, then realise it's just noise coming from the LCD TV panel I'm using for a second monitor. It's brilliant.

For the graphics card, I was originally going to go for either a 280X or GTX 770, however the new GTX 9xx range got released about a month before I bought one. From what I've seen from reviews, the 970 is almost as powerful as the 780ti (apparently) but for £200 cheaper, so seemed an obvious choice. There was also a choice between the MSI and ASUS brand of 970's, but the latter has some cool features like not spinning up AT ALL while idle, even while playing games that aren't graphically intensive as long it stays below 40-50°C. The biggest reason however, was that it looks like an owl. As arbitrary a reason that may sound, it's not. Because Owl.

The Corsair 380T case itself is wonderful, and exactly what I've needed. Space has never been much of an issue, but I'm always taking the thing from my house to other places, and this fits that niche brilliantly. The handle, compared to a lot of other attempts (for instance, the shoddy piece of metal on my old Bitfenix Survivor case) feels very solid and secure. There's a small LED with an on/off switch that can illuminate the inside of the case, which would be great while building, but obviously you don't want it powered up while building and so renders this a little useless. Another lovely feature of the case is that there's actually a 240mm radiator mount, and one of the other main reasons for purchasing the H100i aside from the decent cooling is that's a bit rude not to use it, really. You could just use it for two extra case fans, but where's the fun in that?

As it's a Mini-ITX case, and with the large card and dual-rad inside, a modular PSU really is needed. If I tried with my old one (which is exactly the same as what I've bought, except bronze-rated and not modular) I doubt I'd have been able to fit all the cables away.

The Ballistix RAM and two HDDs I've reused from my old machine. Nothing wrong with them, and I've no reason upgrade any of it, and I'm not overclocking the RAM so the pathetic looking heatspreaders are fine by me. I may buy an SSD in future, however, but more due to me being paranoid about buggering up the HDDs during transit rather than faster boot speeds.

Remember that the price of the RAM and HDDs are what I paid for them when I bought them, NOT their current price. I've set those in the component list, but allowed automatic pricing for the rest in case you wanted to select it yourself. The entire build cost less than the current stated total, using automatic figures.

INSTALLATION

As this was my first ITX build, I did do a few mistakes. These were mostly rectified, but I couldn't do all of it as I ran out of cable ties, and I ended up just wanting to get it running. For instance, I forgot to put in the WiFi module that came with the motherboard. I really do like the motherboard, but why they didn't just have the thing already instead is beyond me. With tiny pins, and having to screw it in from the reverse side of the board, really screwed me over after I then tried to install it, didn't have it in tight enough, and then had to take everything out again to reinstall it. The other issue was cable management with the radiator in. It's a struggle at best, and again - another gripe with the motherboard - because all of the power connections, SATA ports, and USB3 header were at the same side as the radiator, most of it was blocked off and I either had to squeeze the cables under it, or route some through a tiny gap under one of the fans and over the top of the mobo connection bit. Thing.

The case is essentially entirely toolless, aside screwing the PSU into the backplate. I did however, unscrew the top and bottom panels from the case, which wasn't too much work, but I didn't actually need to take the bottom panel off as it doesn't open up any cable management options. It's good to know you can pretty much reduce it to the barebones shell of the case, which provides a much more open platform to install everything into.

After removing the top panel which has the handle on it, there's a nice little hole through which to thread cables, which is perfect for the front panel connectors to go to the motherboard; the front IO strip on the motherboard was directly below the hole, so after taking the front panel off, you can thread the cables through another convenient hole, thread them under the front IO panel, and then down through that hole. There should be an image on this page showing it. If you do it yourself, remember to be careful removing it, as there's a possibility you could rip out the case LED that illuminates the inside of the case. Not very fun.

There are A LOT of cable tie points all over the inside of the case, and as mentioned earlier, even under (ideally) irremovable case panels. This, for someone with more patience than me, is a nice touch. I may go over some of the cable management to make the space beneath the radiator not look a complete mess, but I'm pretty happy with how it looks inside the visible part of the case.

All in all, pretty happy with this, please tell me what you think in the comments etc.

Comments

  • 59 months ago
  • 5 points

Man I love this case! Nice build.

  • 59 months ago
  • 4 points

Looks great with good part choices. While apparently RM series PSUs are good, for the price you probably should have gotten this. I have the 850w version and I love it.

  • 59 months ago
  • 3 points

I second EVGA power supplies. Gor an 850 G2 in my rig and couldn't be happier!

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

In hindsight, I probably should have; the PSU used in this build I'm not exactly happy with. Looks nice, but the connectors are bit dodgy (they fit fine and it works fine however) and the cables are horrible compared to other options.

I may upgrade it to something a bit nicer and more compact at some point, and use this one for troubleshooting hardware.

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

I was wondering about the connectors... built a pc for my friend with the Corsair RM850 and had the same issue. It's a shame, corsair is an otherwise reputable brand.

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

I originally tried but it just didn't fit by slim dimensions, so ended up with 650 instead.

  • 59 months ago
  • 3 points

Lovely! Is a beautiful machine. Congrats!

Caroline.

  • 59 months ago
  • 2 points

Cool build! Gotta love Corsair cases. They really are well designed!

  • 59 months ago
  • 2 points

So, is cable management..nonexistent on this case?

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

hahahaha :)

  • 39 months ago
  • 2 points

I've built the same rig for my DJ job and gaming on the go. I do have the i7-4970k and m.2 ssd as well as a 1tb 7200, also waited for the msi 1xxx but I've loved every single thing about this machine, except with so much going on it is difficult to manage all the wires. I might have to take top off and see what you were talking about!

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

Very nice build! I've got a few parts coming in for a budget CM N200 LANBox.

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm intrigued as to what score this gets in firestrike, any benchmarks? Nice build btw +1

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! Last time I ran 3DMark, I had a slightly lower clock on the CPU, but for benchmarks:

Firestrike: 9266 Sky Diver: 22496 Cloud Gate: 20257

Possibly the most expensive achievements I've ever earned from Steam. :P

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice!

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

nice rig but the msi 970 fans dont turn unless 40% usage same as the strix!!

  • 59 months ago
  • 3 points

Yeah but not Owl.

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

Yup. Owl is so important that benchmarking software takes into account the amount of Owl used, in much the same way that go-faster stripes on cars add an extra 150BHP per stripe.

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

You've got max Owl, so this thing must be a screamer.

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

Really nice build! I had one question; what are your boot speeds like? I know windows 8/8.1 has some boot speed optimizations, but I am also going to use a 500 gb hdd in my next build, just wanted to see what the speeds were like. (If they were tolerable). +1.

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

This is by far the coolest case I've ever seen.

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

For that price, I would have deffo expected an SSD in this build. Nice rig, nevertheless.

  • 59 months ago
  • 1 point

That case is just so damn compact, i love it! Also, hows the strix ? much coil whine on yours?

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

What was your rational going for the MSI Z97I Gaming AC over the normal MSI Z97I AC?

When I built my mini-itx build I tried to find the difference between them and other than the color scheme I really didn't see any major difference, yet the gaming model costs 60e more. Just wondering why is that?

  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Allegedly, they claim there's a higher quality of on-board sound with a Creative X-Fi chip on both regular audio I/O ports and USB soundcards, and a larger collection of USB ports. And dragons, obviously.

Mind you, the price difference on Amazon UK seems to only be £16ish, so unless my brain's stopped working, by 60e I assume you mean €?

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

Yeah, Euros. Huge price difference for seemingly little difference.

  • 48 months ago
  • 1 point

Where did you buy the motherboard?

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

Ebuyer; not entirely sure how much they're worth now, but there's been a refresh since I bought mine and the new layout is far, far better; for instance the wireless module is already on the motherboard rather than being required to screw it on yourself from the rear of the board. I could be wrong about that though.

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