Description

Standard workstation and casual gaming.

  • CPU

    • Core at 3.5GHz with 1.1625V via AMD Overdrive
  • GPU

    • Core at 1090MHz with 1.163V, GDDR5 1500MHz, +20% power limit via MSI Afterburner - clocked
    • Core at 950MHz with 1.163V, GDDR5 1400MHz, +20% power limit via MSI Afterburner - standard

The CPU is underclocked and undervolted because of Gigabyte's bad mainboard design - analog (non-digital) VRMs, component and BIOS quality. The same goes for the GPU. At the time of building (winter 2015 - spring 2016) Gigabyte had a lot of marketing about "ultra durability", "extra reliable dual BIOS" and whatnot, which turned out to be false (just like Asus's "high quality" marketing BS).

Noctua NH-U12S is too weak, CPU reaches 78°C at 4.0GHz and 1.325V. Also, the NF-F12 fan is quiet, but not as quiet as advertised. All temps are measured at 25°C ambient.

If you're using a 95W+ CPU and/or you plan to OC - check the CPU Cooler Tier List in my profile description for the best options.

I updated the mainboard to Beta BIOS F10a just to check it out. It was awful, less stable, and AMD Overdrive couldn't fire up on boot, so each time I had to manually set the clocks and voltages. I reflashed back to Stable BIOS F9.

Notes:

  • Roccat Tai​to is an awesome mouse pad!

  • Avoid using Beta BIOSes.

  • The top fan is not used. It didn't help with the airflow and just added extra noise.

  • Cooler Master JetFlo 120 is good only as an exhaust. For intake - Noctua NF-F12 is much better.

  • The PSU is non-modular and the back of the case is limited, so that's the reason for the cable snake pit at the bottom.

Part Reviews

CPU

Good value for money, but you should set custom voltage in the BIOS or in AMD OverDrive. The factory one is ridiculously high - 1.38V.

It can be overclocked, if you have a good mainboard.

CPU Cooler

Really, really overpriced and overrated.

For $5-20 less you can get:

  • Scythe FUMA 2
  • Thermalright Macho Rev.C
  • Scythe Mugen 5 Rev.B
  • Thermalright Macho 120 Rev.B
  • Arctic Freezer 34 eSports / eSports Duo
  • Cryorig H5 Ultimate
  • Phanteks PH-TC12DX

All of which are between 1 and 6°C better than Noctua NH-U12S.

Thermal Compound

Average thermal paste. At least it doesn't harden and is easy to remove.

Better thermal pastes:

  • 1.5-4.5°C cooler - Thermalright TFX
  • 1-4°C cooler - Thermalright TF8
  • 0.8-3°C cooler - Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme
  • 0.5-2.5°C cooler - Phanteks PH-NDC
  • 0.5-2°C cooler - Noctua NT-H2

Motherboard

The voltage regulation and LLC are locked - you can only increase the voltage, but you cannot decrease it. There are no VRM heat spreaders and the VRMs themselves are lower grade analog (non-digital) with constantly fluctuating voltages.

The USB 3.0 ports don't work at USB 3.0 speeds, because of Gigabyte's poor drivers.

As all Gigabyte boards in general - this too is not good with fast RAM. And manually setting the Command Rate to 1 leads to instant crash. Even the built-in XMP RAM settings won't work if they are too fast.

My previous build's board - Gigabyte GA-MA78LMT-US2H 1.1 - literally got one of its RAM sockets fried because it couldn't handle the G.Skill F3-14900CL8D-8GBXM RAM, even though I set it to run at 1333MHz and that board officially supported up to 1666MHz. I had to set it at 1066MHz to avoid burning a second RAM slot.

The only reason I bought Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-D3H is because of the time of building I couldn't afford MSI A88XM Gaming.

Memory

Great RAM!

Overclocked at 9-11-10-24 CR2 (the rest of the timings on auto) 2133MHz with 1.65V.

Performance XMP mode is 8-9-9-24 CR2 1866MHz with 1.5V.

High Performance XMP mode is 8-9-9-24 CR1 1866MHz with 1.5V.

Storage

Awesome SSD!

As fast and reliable as Samsung 850 Pro, but much cheaper.

Uses MLC memory, so it's better than the TLC based MX500 and MX300.

Storage

Standard HDD, better quality than Seagate.

It gets hot and noisy under load.

Storage

You can't go wrong with Western Digital's 7200 RPM storage.

Video Card

Overclocked, Core at 1090MHz with 1.163V, GDDR5 at 1500MHz, +20% power limit via MSI Afterburner.

Custom fan curve via MSI Afterburner:

  • 33% at 0-30°C

  • 40% at 50°C

  • 100% at 75°C

Issues with Gigabyte R7 370 2 GB Windforce 2X:

  • Bad VRMs.

  • It only has a 6-pin power connector, but it draws 150W at max load, so it actually needs an 8-pin power connector.

The above two lead to constant crashing and screen blackouts. To avoid this, you should underclock and undervolt it, or raise its power limit and fan speed.

With Gigabyte - the Aorus series are preferable, with the triple-fanned Gaming OC being also a very good option.

Case

The best standard mATX mini tower case! Just look:

  • 3 HDDs
  • 4 SSDs
  • CPU cooler up to 160 mm
  • Optical drive bay
  • Case height only 378 mm
  • PSU up to 180 mm

Cheap, simple, high-quality, hight airflow front mesh, easy to clean and looks good!

Power Supply

Not so great power supply.

The 12V line drops to 11.760-11.676V under 350-400W continuous load.

Costs as much as a 650W Gold PSU, but has no Japanese components.

Optical Drive

Normal DVD RW + M-DISC functionality.

Case Fan

Moves a lot of air, but it's noisy as ****. The specs say it should do around 2000 RPM, but in a hot summer day it reaches 2100 RPM and stays there.

At around 1200-1600 RPM sometimes it wobbles and the sound is kinda irritating.

I was never a fan of RGB, but the white LED is kinda nice. I bought this model because the shop had ran out of non-LED JetFlos.

Good when used as an exhaust fan, but the MasterFan Pro 120 Air Flow 84.5 CFM is better, because it's slightly quieter, has an adjustable fan speed, and better bearing.

Update: One of the three fans started breaking down right after the 2 year warranty period's end, so I couldn't return it. It still "worked" but its high-pitched buzzing was annoying, so I threw it out.

Monitor

LG Neo Blade IPS panel, Full HD with native 96 DPI, 75Hz when using FreeSync.

A small detail - it may go blank if FreeSync is enabled and you're not using an HDMI 2.0 cable and a GCN Gen. 2+ GPU.

Also, like all LG displays - the light on the standby button constantly lights on and off when the display is on standby, so you have to completely turn off the display to stop this.

Mouse

Extremely comfortable, high-quality, 1ms response time.

The best mouse you can have, equal to A4Tech AL90 in performance.

Speakers

Nice wooden full-range speakers. Good sound quality.

I gave 4 stars, because sometimes there is a vibration in the hollow speaker (the one without the amplifier). Place a book or another heavy object on top of the speaker to neutralise that.

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