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Old April 22, 2011, 09:28 PM
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Smile Small form factor dedicated gaming rig for <$1000; is it possible? (please help!)

INTRO
Hey all, first time posting. I've been a Mac guy for a long time, and I've been doing all my PC gaming in Boot Camp on my MacBook Pro; lately I've been finding that while my MBP is still awesome for everything else I need to do, I've been having to sacrifice gaming IQ and FPS more and more. So instead of dropping another $2500 for another MBP, I've decided to build a PC gaming console and hook it up to my 720p 32" Sony Bravia.

The other constraint I'd like to try would be to have a small form factor; I would love not to have a giant box + rat's nest of cables under my rather minimal desk setup. I realize that there might be heat and cost issues, so that's why I'm coming to you guys. Small form factor is a BIG PLUS, but if it proves to be too costly or a big hassle I'm willing to abandon the notion.

BUDGET
As this is going to be used almost exclusively as a gaming console, I'd like to set $1000 as an absolute hard upper limit, with the sweet spot around $700-800.

COUNTRY
I'd like to get all of this from Canada (I'm in Toronto and can travel to Markham very easily if that makes a difference)

BRAND ALLEGIANCES
I'm thinking I want an Intel processor; I don't really care about anything else. However, reliability is more important to me than sheer performance.

PARTS I CURRENTLY HAVE
I have a whole bunch of 2.5" laptop hard drives lying around (640GB, 150GB and a couple others); I think they're just 5400rpm though, so that may be a problem. Depends on how bad you guys think they'll be for the build.

I have a mouse and I'll probably get an apple usb keyboard which I'll source separately from this build.

I usually game with an MS LifeChat USB headset, and the rest of the time I plug into my stereo system for sound.

OVERCLOCKING
Nope, don't intend to overclock at all. I'd like to have to tinker with this build as little as possible and have it be rock solid.

RESOLUTIONS
This rig will be hooked up to a 32" 720p Sony Bravia television, which means that I'm definitely going for frame rate and image quality (I'm talking the most advanced shaders and crazy MSAA) for this build, as screen resolution will be very low. Hopefully I can shave some $$$ off because of it. Its native res is 1360x768.

Additionally, I have another 20" 1680X1050 monitor lying around which I'd probably only use for Steam friends and/or browser windows on the side.

WHEN?
As soon as I get a good idea on what I want, I'll pull the trigger. I'd like to get going ASAP.

Thanks in advance for all your help; this community came highly recommended from a friend of mine who got help with his build a while back. I've been out of the PC building loop for so long, I've been getting really overwhelmed with my research so far; hopefully I can get a good start here.

Cheers!

Last edited by AkaokA; April 22, 2011 at 10:08 PM.
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Old April 22, 2011, 09:56 PM
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howdy and welcome.

well,youre looking at matx or itx mobo,2500k cpu(yes,you say no oc but you never know)
4 or 8 gigs of ddr3 1600,gskill corsair etc..

case and psu, ill let the sff experts talk..but for gpu,depending on the case,probably a gtx 560 due to size
constraints

2.5" hdd is a good choice, the wd blacks are quite zippy and not that expensive. or a small ssd
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Old April 22, 2011, 10:11 PM
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How small do you want it? Is noise a factor?

Do you want something slim and small like the Antec ISK300? Or will something like a Lian Li PC Q08/09 be small enough?
If I were you I would pick a case and work my build around that. Budget and performance factors should be easy to work out with a $1000 budget. (welcome to the world of cheap PC's Appleboy, j/k)
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Old April 22, 2011, 10:46 PM
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720p and 1680X1050 are quite low resolutions, aka easy to get good performance with lower end hardware. heck, even my 500$ laptop can max games like crysis2/bfbc2 at 720p. but with a dedicated gaming system u might be a little more demanding.

basically at such lower resolutions u want a rly good processor as with most gpus that would fit in your budget u will be CPU bottlenecked in alot of modern games.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilya View Post
How small do you want it? Is noise a factor?

Do you want something slim and small like the Antec ISK300? Or will something like a Lian Li PC Q08/09 be small enough?
this is very important, ofc it would be hard to fit 1000$ worth of hardware in an isk300 even if u wanted, but many "cube fragbox" cases can fit an itx board+a good gpu costing u about 1000$ and give good performance. otherwise you could go for the minitowers or other matx only boxes (could even go multi gpu with this but 1000$ would be hard but not impossible) but ofc these are bigger.

from the fact that u are going to be using this with a TV and that you used to be mac guy, i'm going to go ahead and assume u would go for something with pleasing simple looks, not too loud, basically something that would fit nicely under a TV?

if thats the case, then id suggest either the Lian Li PC-V354 for m-atx or Silverstone SG05 for m-itx. for an m-atx build def go with sandy bridge, but if you go m-itx...there arnt rly good lga1155 m-itx boards at a good price atm and since its smaller you have less place for cooling so id suggest going with the cooler and cheaper phenom II build, ofc nothing stopping you from doing this with m-atx to save money (ive done it on a full blown gaming rig) but currently SB performance>AMD.
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Old April 22, 2011, 10:47 PM
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I don't need something as small as the ISK300, but I think the Lian Li is a bit too big. I'm thinking a happy medium of <20cm(W) x <30cm(H) x ~30cm(D); something along the lines of the first-gen Xbox 360, maybe a bit fatter.

Noise is a factor; the quieter the better. That said, my MBP pushes A LOT of air after a gaming session and it's tolerable. Is fan size (and thus case size) the main issue there?

Any suggestions? Sexiness is a plus (Apple fanboy 4eva, lol).

going to bed; thanks for the quick replies so far :)
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Old April 22, 2011, 10:53 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions BrutalGreen, I'll definitely look those up in the morning!
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Old April 22, 2011, 11:15 PM
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Here's a build that should suit your needs, I suggest you purchase from NCIX while pricematching these links:

Silverstone SG05 + 450W psu @ 108$
Gigabyte H67N-USB3 @ 100$
Intel i5 2500 @ 202$
GTX 560ti Twin Frozr II @ 222$
Corsair XMS3 2x2GB 1600mhz 9-9-9-24 1.5v @ 43$

Sub total: 675$

...now that is with stock cooler which is fine since ur not overclocking and no HDrive as for gaming your 2.5in drives should be fine. But if you want a new HDrive/silent cooling then add these:

Scythe Big Shuriken @ 30$
WD Caviar Black 500GB @ 55$

Edit: you could save about 85$ on the GPU. Sapphire's newly released 5850 is a very good performer on any game at ur resolution and is currently going for supper cheap but ofc the 560ti has more muscle... but for a SFF build under 600$ with this gpu imo its quite worth it!

Last edited by BrutalGreen; April 22, 2011 at 11:32 PM.
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Old April 23, 2011, 06:20 AM
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I would honestly go with the SUGO SG07 . it does cost a fair bit more, however you get a better psu (600W > 450W) and more space for gpu and cable management (if you do get the sg07, you'll thank me later).

The sg05 is still a good choice, but this is my opinion.

EDIT: Here is another consideration for a CPU Cooler: ZALMAN CNPS 8700 NT
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Last edited by Keltron 3030; April 23, 2011 at 06:29 AM.
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Old April 23, 2011, 06:35 AM
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Why not try the Silverstone Sugo SG03B-F?

Newegg.ca - SILVERSTONE Sugo SG03B-F Black Aluminum / 0.8mm steel MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case
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Old April 23, 2011, 07:22 AM
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Newegg.ca - SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum skin reinforced plastic front panel, 0.8mm SECC body MILO Series ML03B Micro ATX Media Center &#47; HTPC Case
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