Description

My boss is a practicing architect, and needed a new CAD/rendering workstation. She didn't want to sacrifice valuable desk real estate for a tower because she's transitioning from an iMac. I offered a compromise: bleeding edge performance in a case the size of a shoebox. She liked the idea so I made it happen! Enjoy my latest creation, Espresso Shot. This might be a valuable resource for those looking for creative professional-level PC hardware in a small form factor, so I'll go through the important part choices and how I came to choose what I did.

Case: the NCASE M1 was the only tiny tower choice I that felt comfortable putting professional hardware inside. Its cooling potential is quite impressive for the size. The DAN Case A4-SFX is tempting, but it definitely makes everything inside run hotter with such little breathing room for the components.

Motherboard: we prefer our workstations to have 32 GB of RAM with the ability to expand to 64 down the road if needed. This ASRock board was the only choice that fit that criteria in a mini-ITX form factor.

CPU: we need 6 core, 12 thread CPUs for running renderings from time to time. That isn't our primary workflow though, so we didn't need anything more than the 7800X.

CPU Cooler: Using a liquid AIO was tempting, but I read the tight space of this case puts unnecessary strain on the motherboard with all the tubing stuffed in there. I went with the Noctua NH-U9S, which utilizes the available space inside well. I could overclock the CPU if I added a second fan on the back of this air cooler and relocated the M.2 to the rear of the motherboard. The front M.2 connects into the motherboard with a riser card, which interferes with the space needed for the extra fan. In my opinion, this is the most flexible cooler for professional use to choose for this case at the moment. Other options definitely exist if your criteria are different though.

GPU: since architectural Revit models don't benefit from Quadro-level hardware significantly, we went with a GTX 1060 to provide enough vRAM to carry this workstation well into the future. It gives us enough horsepower to navigate complex Revit models and detailed CAD drawings without being overkill. If you're an engineer who works with complex part assemblies in programs like Solidworks, you may want to consider swapping this choice for a Quadro.

PSU: I chose an SFX power supply from Corsair as they seem to be the most reliable manufacturer of these. Using an SFX PSU is necessary if you're trying to fit a full-size video card inside, which I chose to do so I could use one with a blower-style cooler to exhaust more hot air from the system. You can use a shorter full-size PSU if you also have a short GPU to go with it. I'd recommend adding an exhaust fan if you go that route, possibly at the rear of the case near the I/O panel.

That covers the critical part choices! If you have any questions, feel free to comment!

Comments

  • 15 months ago
  • 3 points

Looks nice! Why did you choose the 7800X instead of the 8700K?

  • 15 months ago
  • 5 points

Good question. That decision boils down to mini-ITX boards for the Z370 chipset only having 2 RAM slots. We need 4 so that we can expand to 64 GB later on if needed.

  • 15 months ago
  • 4 points

Prepared man, no messin' around. :)

  • 15 months ago
  • 3 points

Ah, that makes sense.

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

I love seeing what can be done with these mini case builds despite my preferences towards over sized cases. The bonus is that the NCase has a nice understated elegance to it.

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

Wow... This boost that productivity 4 SURE !!!

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

I’d sip that. :| +1

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

nice

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

I thought it said Espresso Doggo.

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

lol. That would be funnier. Doppio is Italian for double :)

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

Greatness!
(yes i see the irony in this comment)

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Great build but why repost it with a slightly different name even though it has the exact same parts?

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

I built another one ;) plus the first one didn't get featured, probably because I didn't go in depth enough with the description. This time around I elaborated a lot.

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

Ohhh ok. Now it makes sense... Anyway, you got my +1 on this one too!

From my understanding, getting featured does have to do with the description too but it's not the most important factor...

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

I don't think that's why it didn't get featured. Either way, I liked it the first time you posted it and I like this too.

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Possibly not. I read up on their criteria though, and I thought I remembered seeing that they like a lot of explanation in the builds they choose. Another reason could be someone else posted an NCASE M1 build a day or so before my first one and stole the spotlight. Here's hoping it gets noticed by the admins this time!

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

I didn't even know they had criteria lol.

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

I think they need to, otherwise it'd be chaos out there :P

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Cool build but double posted :(

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Technically yes, but I built it again for my other boss and re-worked the description to help others looking to build something similar.

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Gotcha!

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice and tiny build. Though to help airflow it may help to drop a fan in the back of the case for exhaust but there really isn't much room for one between the cooler and the back of the case. Though to me it looks like you will be limited to a 92mm fan and Noctua does make a slim version of that size:

https://pcpartpicker.com/product/PfXfrH/noctua-case-fan-nfa9x14

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

The nf-a9 92x25mm fan fits fine. Plenty of space to clear with the U9S. Good thought, though.

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

As of now the thermals are ok, but as time goes on dust buildup may make it get a bit hotter inside. That would be a good fix! Thanks.

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