EDIT: I've since upgraded this build with an MSI RX 570 8GB Armor OC - Now we're talking!
I'm going for a low to mid-tier gaming PC that doesn't look like one. It needs to be in my (shared) home without drawing attention (from my better half), as well as being easily transportable for LAN parties / gaming nights. This can be approached multiple ways since technically even full towers are "transportable" and can be made to look like speakers with enough creativity, buy my criteria are as follows:
1 - Small and discrete: Easily carry-able, no annoying fans, no flashing lights, no micro furnace "feature"
2 - The budget should be between 800€ and 1000€ (otherwise we get into gaming laptop territory)
3 - All red build... because I can.
First off is the case. I kind of fell in love with the micro-tower idea after researching the different ITX forms, there is somehow something more elegant about them than the average cube. In the end I went with the Silverstone ML08 since it has an optional handle, is super thin, and has a separate GPU and MoBo compartment. As a bonus, the windowless version has this sort of industrial, Thinkpad-esque look going for it. Other contenders that came close are the Silverstone RVZ01-based series (thicker, more fans needed, worse cable management), the Thermaltake Core G3 (mATX, but hit-or-miss GPU riser cable quality and a holey gamer design), and the Fractal Node 202 (different design, smaller, but harder to build in... Might switch to this if things don't work out with the Silverstone).
Next up is the MoBo, that was a no-brainer when ordering since... When there's only one candidate, there's only one choice! (That being the Biostar X370GTN, also: vote Marley). Sure there might be some older AM3 options available but why waste a good Ryzen now that AMD is back in the race.
Thin case plus a brand new platform means I had one heck of a time finding a cooler that doesn't fight with the ram slots, is low-profile, and is AM4 compatible... Turns out Ryzen actually comes boxed with such a cooler namely: the Wraith Stealth™. Coincidentally the Ryzen 5 1400 is currently the only chip chip that includes the Wraith Stealth™ cooler so once again, when there's only one candidate...
RAM was also a bit tricky to guess what might fit and run. In the end I went with the Corsair LPX 3200 since they are low-profile, plus they have been proven to work with AM4 (at least with lower frequencies) in early review rigs, let's hope I will reach rated speed some day.
The rest is more-or less preference. The Corsair SFX PSU got top ratings for silence and size, I've had good experience in the past with Samsung drives plus the Evo is quite affordable, and I took the cheapest Radeon I could find in stock within walking distance since evil Etherium miners and Ebay scalpers have gone and bought up all the mid-tier graphics cards, almost doubling the prices of what's still available. Damn. Guess that means I'm waiting for Vega(s), baby!
-Also naming this build sleeping dragon. Alternatively would have been muzzled dragon since the other option at this price point was a GTX 1050
...And this is where I stop for now. The building process went well but I need to play around with it for a few days to get some performance/temperature results. Will post details later, right after these annoying ads:
GFX update: I went with the RX 570 since the Vega series turned out to be mini furnaces. From what I've read the 580 (and now the 590) are just overclocked, hotter versions of the same board whose performance gains might not be worth the throttling in an SFF case. With this little champ I run my games at 1440p with mid-high settings. When in doubt I turn down the anti-aliasing a bit rather than going down to 1080p since it seems to make less of a difference at the higher resolution. So far there haven't been any thermal issues like crashes or fan noises outside of games.
TEMPS update: When it comes to dust I've noticed that the main problem seems to be having the PC on the floor, so I've taken off the top filter to give the GPU more fresh air but left the CPU vents covered. After testing a bit with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at 1440p, recommended quality the setup gives me the following temps while gaming:
CPU: ~42° C while occasionally peaking at 48° C GPU: ~55° C while occasionally peaking at 71° C SSD: 48° - 53° C
The SSD is a bit high, but it doesn't change much during use and is still way below the official max temp of 70° C. Considering that I was expecting the M.2 to be a problem without any case fans I think this turned out pretty well.
Full 5-stars for this little champ. The included cooler is usually dead silent and doesn't whine or anything at high RPMs, plus it's a perfect fit for SFX setups as long as you don't have RAM spacing problems. While it is only 20eur cheaper than a 1500x, you end up saving another chunk of 30-50eur by avoiding an after-market cooler.
The internet is quite divisive on this. Apparently reviewers find that it's a minimal but solid MoBo, but many users give it a lot of hate for having a messy BIOS menu and for being a Biostar board.
I've personally not had any problems yet with BIOS navigation which might be because it's been 7 years since my last build, so my expectations were quite low going in. Previously I've found after the initial setup you just forget about it anyway so I guess that will happen quite soon.
My board needed a bit of tweaking out of the box since my RAM defaulted to 2133Mhz and the CPU cooler was running on 100% all the time, but once I activated an XMP profile and ran the fan PWM calibration everything was hunky-dory. Haven't tried overclocking the CPU yet though since it looked like a lot of manual work.
These were basically one of the few low-profile, high-frequency options available that weren't overpriced (due to people buying up all the Samsung B-die confirmed kits) and are confirmed to work with Ryzen. After flashing the new AGESA 126.96.36.199 bios update I have them running stable at 2933mhz using the preset XMP profile. -1 star since the system crashes if I try running them at the actual rated frequency, hopefully this will change with future updates.
This case really turned out to be everything I had hoped for. It is super-easy to build in and, as long as you stick to mid-level components, also very quiet and cool. The small form factor and carrying handle make it very portable for both carrying around and when cleaning around the desk.
All-in-all I am very pleased and don't regret the hours of extra research needed to find fitting components.
Not much to say here, this PSU has gotten top reviews for its quality and silent operation, which I can only confirm.