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AMD/Asrock m-ITX Water-Cooled APU Build

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iamdak View Drop Down
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    Posted: 26 Oct 2015 at 8:53am
Toward the end of the summer I had the idea of building a computer that was powerful and portable enough to act as a desktop computer as well as a gaming console. I already have a standard Intel i-based system but I wanted to build something unique and after heavy research I found myself intrigued by AMD's line of APUs. I'm a software engineer and after reading about about AMD's approach to unified systems I was absolutely hooked; I was excited about the kind of OpenCL/OpenGL applications I could write on this kind of system. My two major requirements were that the computer must be a small size and run as quiet as possible. To achieve this I decided to go the Mini-ITX route with an emphasis on running cool. I ultimately decided to go with AMD's A10-7870k APU. This processor kicks butt! The price is right on the mark for the performance it delivers especially after overclocking it to a 100% stable 4.5Ghz. To achieve this I replaced the stock cooler with a Corsair H60 all-in-one water cooling system. Games and applications run blazing fast while remaining very quiet and very cool.

Final mITX  build!


My choice of motherboard was a no-brainer. Asrock Asrock Asrock, all day everyday. I got my hands on an Asrock FM2A88X-ITX+ and as always I have no regrets whatsoever. I'm the kind of person who tends to stick with a vendor if I find they have consistent quality and as such every machine I build for myself or others have Asrock motherboards in them (I'm typing this on a PC with an P67 Extreme4 Gen3)! The layout on the FM2A88X-ITX+ perfectly suited my case's crammed together build; particularly having the ram and power connection on top saved me from heartache early on. Additionally the bios is easy to use and absolutely reliable. Keeping an Asrock motherboard up-to-date with the latest firmware is as easy as hitting [enter] in the bios and overclocking the APU was just as simple. Asrock motherboards are my goto hardware -- period.

AMD has been gently pushing the possibility of using the integrated R7 GPU as a co-processor to a dicreet graphics card so I decided to do just that. Although they were scarce at the time, I managed to get my hands on an R9 Fury X manufactured by Sapphire. The card is a beast on the inside but it is the perfect Mini-ITX size on the outside. It has a built in all-in-one cooling solution which posed a minor challenge when it came down to actually fitting all this equipment into a mini-ITX case. Two large water blocks and a discreet graphics card takes up a considerable amount of space seeing as I still needed to squeeze in two SSDs and a power supply!



I found that the case which best suit my needs was the Ncase M1 (v4). This custom ordered case is versatile enough to accommodate many different Mini-ITX configurations and can even fit a full sized ATX power supply. In the interest of fitting the two water blocks, though, I also purchased Silverstone's SX600-G SFX form factor power supply. That tiny beast offers 600 watts of power and leaves more than enough space for excellent airflow between the PSU and GPU water block. The biggest challenge of course was fitting the AIO-cooling hoses in such a small space; after iterating through many different positions, I found that coiling the tubes into an almost-'S' shape allows the blocks to slide in smoothly with absolutely no kinks in any of the hoses. There are a total of five ultra quiet fans in the case. Two 120mm fans on the bottom and one 92mm fan in the back pull in cold air from outside the case while two static pressure 120mm fans function as exhaust, pushing air through the radiator fins out of the left side of the case.



Mushkin also powers some of the core hardware in the machine. The ram is 16GB Mushkin Enhanced SDRAM 2133 DDR3 and the two SSDs are 60GB and 480GB Mushkin Enhanced Eco2 solid state drives. Games run like a dream on this system. The combination of AMD and Asrock tech enables games such as Battlefield 4 to push well over 120 frames per second with the graphics turned up to 'Ultra.' Attached to a BenQ XL2720Z, games run like a dream and the size of the build makes it easy to carry downstairs to my 65" TV for console-like gaming.



On the fence thinking about either AMD's APU tech or Asrock's m-ITX motherboard? Don't be; this setup is an absolute winner and I simply can't recommend this enough!

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ASRock Expert View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ASRock Expert Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Oct 2015 at 3:20pm
Love it. Except Mushkin RAM. They gave me a lot of compatibility problems with ASRock AMD 8xx chipset
a few years ago. So I ditched them and stuck with Patriot, Kingston and G.Skill.

But hell yeah, great ITX PC! Clap
990FX Extreme 9 MOD P1.70
AMD FX 8120 4GHz 1.25V
Thermalright HR-02
Patriot Viper 2x4GB 2133MHz
Samsung 850 EVO 250GB
MSI R7970 TFIII 3GB
CORSAIR VX550W
LanCool K62 Dragonlord
ASUS Xonar D2X
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iamdak View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote iamdak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Oct 2015 at 2:50am
:D  thanks so much!

The RAM has worked perfectly so far but after some funniness with the 60GB SSD I'm slightly dissapointed with Mushkin. The performance of that drive is not up to par with what I would otherwise consider a phenomenal SSD line up.  To be fair it was only $30 so I'm not sweating it too much!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote tag75 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Oct 2015 at 10:38pm
wicked setup mate , well compacted Smile , check mine if u can now as compacted as yrs lol
treat people the way you want to be treated
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote parsec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Oct 2015 at 12:14am
I can't help but admire builds in small form factor cases. I've never done one myself. I appreciate the amount of effort and care required simply fitting it all in a case of that size.

For some reason I can't bring myself to use a non-ATX sized board, or less than a mid-tower case. That is mainly caused by my constant, unrelenting fooling around inside the case, changing one thing, tweaking another. I don't use more than one video card, and rarely if ever have HDDs mounted in a case (all SSD for me!), so all the space is for ease of access and easy cooling.

I have an mATX board waiting for me, and you build inspires me to try it in a nice case like yours. Will that convert me? We'll see... Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ASRock_Official Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Oct 2015 at 12:00pm
Very neat and impressive build, always love to see some small beast ITX
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iamdak View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote iamdak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Oct 2015 at 3:27pm
Thanks for all the support! If nothing else, the build certainly took a considerable amount of patience ;)

I still have plans to have the system boot into steam big picture mode. It would be really cool if  I can figure out a way to keep a single consistent splash screen from boot to steam but regardless it will be a lot easier to take it to my big screen if I didn't need a mouse or keyboard too!

I'm currently pricing out the parts for a server system which will probably also be an AMD and (of course) Asrock build. I wont be doing another mITX for a while though, it'll be on a rack to host media for my household.

:3
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pajevo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Nov 2015 at 6:17pm
Nice rig mate,  just for you'r info, I'm a plumber and thought you might like to know that a tank in the ground outside in my country UK will remain at the temerature of -1   this we call the (mean) temperature,   but love your rig!!

A790/GXH/128 4Xagillity 2X6570 BD burn etc.Phenom Quad black edition
Win 8.1Pro with Media or 8.1 RT
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