Big Power, Small Size
Though the mindset that a small PC is a slow PC is fading, there are still quite a few readers out there that believe the size of your components will indicate how well they perform. That couldn't be further from the case, and this week we decided to build a small, but not tiny, PC to showcase that small can be beautiful too!
Below you will find a complete list of parts and components used in our build - but let me say right off the bat, to help alleviate as much vitriol in the comments as possible, there are quite a few ways you could build this system to either get a lower price, or higher performance, or quieter design, etc. Our selections were based on a balance of both with a nod towards expansion in a few cases.
Take a look:
|MicroATX Gaming Build|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4790K - $334
Corsair Hydro Series H80i - $87
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5 - $127|
|Memory||G.Skill Ripjaws X 8GB DDR3-2133 - $88|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 970 FTW - $399|
|Storage||Samsung 250GB 850 EVO - $139
Western Digital 2TB Green - $79
|Case||Corsair Carbide Series Air 240 - $89|
|Power Supply||Seasonic Platinum 860 watt PSU - $174|
|OS||Windows 8.1 x64 - $92|
|Total Price||$1602 - Amazon Full Cart|
The starting point for this system is the Intel Core i7-4790K, the top-end Haswell processor for the Z97 chipset. In fact, the Core i7-4790K is a Devil's Canyon part, created by Intel to appease the enthusiast looking for an overclockable and high clocked quad-core part. This CPU will only lag behind the likes of the Haswell-E LGA2011 processors, but at just $340 or so, is significantly less expensive. Cooling the 4790K is Corsair's Hydro Series H80i double-thickness self contained water cooler.
For the motherboard I selected the Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5, a MicroATX motherboard that combines performance and features in a mATX form factor, perfect for our build. This board includes support for SLI and CrossFire, has audio OP-AMP support, USB ports dedicated for DACs, M.2 storage support, Killer networking and more.
It's so cool, and so tiny
Corsair continues to march down the path of making a PC case for just about every user imaginable. At Computex this past June, Corsair announced the Carbide Air 240 case, which is a smaller version of the very popular (and well reviewed) Carbide Air 540. These unique cases include two separate compartments: one for the motherboard, CPU, and graphics card and another for the power supply, storage, and miscellaneous cable clutter. The result is a sleek cube-shaped form factor that is easy to build inside.
Available in both black and white (with UV resistant paint), the $89/99 case fits both Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX motherboards allowing quite a bit of component flexibility.
A quick look at the front of the case shows the cube-like shape that both the Air 540 and Air 240 share, a form factor resulting from the dual-compartment design. The Corsair logo in the center can actually be rotated depending on the orientation of the case which itself can be rotated to allow the windowed case door to be the top of the case rather than the side.