How To - X99 mATX Gaming Rig - Part 2
Category : PCs
Published by Luca Rocchi on 16.04.15
In the second part of our how to build a compact gaming system article, we're going to have a close look at the components we're going to use. In fact we're going to talk about SSD, motherboard, memory as well as the graphics card we've chosen for this setup.
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Today we are continuing with our series of articles in which we are focusing on building a powerful mini-ITX Gaming system. Systems like this one are very popular these days, and while such systems mostly appeal to LAN party gamers, these are also interesting to users, who want plenty of performance in a small form factor. In the first part we provided general overview, which made you familiar with quite a few aspects and today we are continuing with the assembly process and the rest of the components that need to be placed inside the Antec ISK600M PC case.

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Memory and CPU
Page 2 - Solid State Drives Page 5 - Graphics card
Page 3 - Motherboard Page 6 - Conclusion
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Solid State Drives

   

While HDDs reigned supreme for quite some time, in the last few years SSDs have become mainstream storage solution, at least to those looking for performance rather than the capacity. Apart from that today's solid state drives are not just quick, they are also reliable and since there are no mechanical parts inside, they are also completely silent. Since we are building a high-end system, we want to achieve high throughput rates and in order to do so we will be driving two 120GB Kingston SSDs in a RAID0 configuration.

Although HDDs offer significantly more storage at the same price point, we prefer using solid state drives for this build. The performance gap between HDDs and SSDs alone is more than enough reason to make our choice. Games and programs load so much faster on SSDs compared to HDDs and copying files happens in a fraction of the time an HDD would need to complete the same operation. In the case of our rig, we are going to use two HyperX Fury 120GB drives from Kingston. One of these drives costs about 60 Euro these days. If you keep in mind that one 240GB HyperX Fury drive costs about 100 Euro, you are going to pay 20 Euro more for the two 120GB SSDs but also receive around 75 percent more performance in return, thanks to RAID0 configuration.



Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Memory and CPU
Page 2 - Solid State Drives Page 5 - Graphics card
Page 3 - Motherboard Page 6 - Conclusion
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Motherboard

Overview

   

As you maybe remember from our first article, our configuration is based on an mATX case in order to maintain a small size. Unfortunately, mATX motherboards with socket LGA 2011-3 are quite rare these days but we managed to find a perfect model for our project. The ASRock Fatal1ty X99M Killer, which we reviewed in detail few months ago, uses 12+4 phase power design and a complex solution which consists of Dual-Stack MOSFET's (DSM), NextFET MOSFETs and 12K Platinum caps. The motherboard is able to support up to 64GB of DDR4 3000 (O.C.) / 2800 (O.C.) / 2666 (O.C.) / 2400 (O.C.) / 2133 (O.C.) memory.

The layout of the ASRock Fatal1ty X99M Killer is almost perfect for our purpose, as it features ten angled SATA ports that provide excellent cable management inside the case and also the chance to use a large amount of drives. As all the most modern motherboards, the ASRock Fatal1ty X99M Killer also features several 3-pin and 4-pin PWM fan headers located close to the most critical points of the motherboard such as the CPU. In addition, this model also comes with Purity 2 audio chip, a solution based on Realtek ALC1150 audio codec and features 115dB SNR. It also comes with EMI shielding for the main chip as well as an onboard isolation. In order to improve signal quality, the motherboard features excellent Nichicon onboard capacitors.

In order to meet the needs of hardcore gamers, ASRock also included a dual Ethernet port on the X99M Killer, in other words, you get a classic Ethernet port based on Intel (I218V) chip as well as a second Ethernet port based on Killer E2200 chip (Qualcomm Atheros).

Last but not the least, the PCB also comes with power and reset buttons as well as a display debug. Motherboard also comes with three PCI Express slots, which are well spaced and allow you to make an SLI or Crossfire configuration without any problems. In addition there is also an M.2 x4 slot that allows you to install the latest SSDs on the market.

Looking at the external connectors located directly at the back-panel, ASRock equipped the Fatal1ty X99M Killer with one PS2 mouse/keyboard connector, four USB 3.0/2.0 ports, four USB 2.0/1.1 ports, one Intel Gigabit Ethernet port, Killer E2200 Ethernet port, an eSATA connector, an optical out and an analogue audio panel. Furtheremore, you will also find a clear CMOS button.

 
  
 



Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Memory and CPU
Page 2 - Solid State Drives Page 5 - Graphics card
Page 3 - Motherboard Page 6 - Conclusion
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Memory and CPU

Memory

   
   

As far as the memory support is concerned, Intel's LGA2011-3 socket CPUs require DDR4 memory and given the still high cost of the modules on the market, we chose a 4x4GB kit from Corsair rated 2800MHz with 16-18-18-35 latency.

As you can see from the images below you will notice that the Vengeance LPX memory come with black low-profile heatspreaders which are perfect for those that want to huge tower coolers or even, as in our case, for compact configurations. In this article we will not dwell on the performance of this kit since we have already reviewed it a few months ago.

CPU
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In order to maintain a lower total cost of the system, but at the same time have an excellent performance and a good longevity, we decided to use an Intel Core i7-5820K CPU. This CPU is the first model based on Haswell-E platform and LGA 2011-3 socket. Intel's Core i7-5820K features 6 cores and 12 threads with a base frequency of 3300MHz and a Turbo clock of up to 3600MHz. Using an mATX platform that does not have a high amount of PCI-Express slots, the Core i7-5820K, with its only 28 lines, is perfect since it is able to handle a dual-GPU setup in 16x / 8x mode.

The TDP of the processor is 140W, however, our all-in-one water cooling system is able to manage all the heat produced by the CPU under load as well as under hefty overclock.




Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Memory and CPU
Page 2 - Solid State Drives Page 5 - Graphics card
Page 3 - Motherboard Page 6 - Conclusion
[pagebreak]

Graphics card

Overview

   
   
For our system we chose to use an AMD high-end graphics card, the flagship R9 290X. In this case, we used the custom from Club3D's top offer, the R9 290X royalAce. The market currently features plenty of models based on reference or custom design, and for a high-end system, which is designed to be quiet, cool and fast, we preferred to choose a custom graphics card.

The R9 290X royalAce uses a rather large CoolStream 2.5 cooler which comes wtih three 80 mm fans. While the graphics card measures at 308mm in length, it fits perfectly in our small Antec PC case. In order to ensure greater stability and solidity, Club3D used a matte black backplate of excellent quality on this model. As we mentioned previously, the cooling of a graphics card is one of the main points that you have to keep in mind when you have to choose the right model, and in addition to the three fans, Club3D also uses four copper heatpipes which are in direct in contact with the aluminum fins on the heatsink. Even the GDDR5 memory is cooled by a passive heatsink placed directly on the chips.

The R9 290X graphics card is based on AMD's 28nm Hawaii GPU with a core clock set to 1'050 MHz on GPU and 1'350 MHz (5,400 MHz effective) on memory. The reference card has a maximum clock of 1'000 MHz for the GPU and 1'250 MHz for the memory. With these frequencies and the massive heatsink we believe it is possible to get an excellent gaming experience, even at high detail settings.

To feed this graphics you won't need a huge PSU, however, a good power supply is always one of the most important parts of any system and you should consider a high-end solution with a good certification. The bundle of the graphics card also includes a few video and power adapters, and when it comes to R9 290X, you will need one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCI-Express power connector on your PSU.

As far as the outputs are concerned, you get 2x Dual-Link DVI-D, one HDMI 1.4a and one DisplayPort 1.2 output.
 
 



Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Memory and CPU
Page 2 - Solid State Drives Page 5 - Graphics card
Page 3 - Motherboard Page 6 - Conclusion
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Conclusion - Part 2

With details of these main components we are going to finish the second part of our How to - X99 Gaming article series. We will soon publish the next part of this article series, where we will show you how to place all these components inside the Antec ISK600M and how to assemble the complete system. In other words, you will see how to place the PSU in the right area and how to install the cooler on the motherboard.

So in case you are planning to build a powerful but small gaming rig, or high-performance system in general, you should stay tuned for the upcoming article.




Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Memory and CPU
Page 2 - Solid State Drives Page 5 - Graphics card
Page 3 - Motherboard Page 6 - Conclusion