Description

This gaming build had several goals in mind:

  • Compact - has to fit on my desk, so mini-ITX is a must.
  • Stay cool in summer with no AC, so flexibility in cooling is needed.
  • Affordable - stay under $1.5K.
  • Upgradable - leave some options for improvement.

Case - Raijintek Ophion Evo

Choosing the case was the most difficult and time-consuming part, since it would determine size and cooling options.

  • The Phanteks Evolv Shift was my first choice since it's vertical and takes up minimal desk space, but it turns out it has horrible airflow - even if I add a blower video card and an AIO CPU cooler there's a good chance that either one will overheat. Additionally its riser card would need replacement just to support PCI-E 3.0.
  • The Dancase A4 and Kolink Rocket are extremely compact, but their lack of fans and no space for AIO cooling meant I'd be SOL if the components I chose ended up overheating.
  • The Thermaltake Core V1 in white had a great price point and would look great with RGB lighting, but was ultimately too large. Also the fan config is weird - two 80mm’s and a 200mm? Who’s even buying 80’s anymore?
  • NCase M1 was a bit too pricey, but would probably check all the boxes.

I eventually landed on the Raijintek Ophion Evo. It has a balance of size, price, cooling, and looks. The magnetic dust filters and 240mm AIO support are a huge bonus.

Maybe it’s too early to tell, but it feels like Raijintek is actually listening to customer complaints regarding this model:

  • Some users have complained about high temps from the lack of side ventilation with the glass (even though I see a lot of those users gaming on open-air GPU’s) so they’re preparing to sell ventilated metal side panels for those users who want it. (I would hope that they offer other upgrades later on if any are physically possible.)
  • I’ve also seen complaints regarding the lack of clearance available for AIO coolers - one of the AIO tubes would need to be bent significantly just to get past the metal panel separating the GPU side from the PSU/mobo side. Fortunately, Raijintek has updated this model so that a small section of the panel can be removed to accommodate the AIO tubes.

CPU - AMD Ryzen 5 2600X

I was originally going to go with the Ryzen 5 2600, but there are a lot of price drops in preparation for the 3rd gen Ryzens so I ended up grabbing a 2600X.

Motherboard - Asus ROG Strix X470-I

I was originally planning for the B450 version of this motherboard, but it sounded like the X470 version would improve my chances of being able to support a higher-end 3rd-gen Ryzen a couple of years down the road.

CPU Cooler - Corsair H100x Liquid

This would be my first time using any form of liquid cooling - I don’t trust liquid cooling in general since it’s only a matter of time before it starts to leak, and you’re typically paying extra for the privilege of possibly having your build ruined. However, it sounds like it’s the ideal way to cool a compact system like this and cut down on fans, so I had to research a bit - NZXT and Corsair seemed to be the way to go due to warranty length, reputation and reliability. DeepCool’s designs looked awesome, but I noticed a lot of negative reviews regarding leaks so that was not an option. However, it looked like all 3 brands had a reputation for replacing hardware in the event of a leak (after shipping everything in for investigation, of course.)

Installation was pretty simple, and the AM4 mounting hardware was easy to handle - no need for a backplate replacement. (The instructions were clear and easy to follow although I’m pretty sure they got the quantity of components needed for each socket wrong.) I did end up replacing the fans with some ARGB ones from DeepCool.

RAM - G.Skill Trident Z RGB 16GB (2x8)

I’m not picky about RAM - I trust the G.Skill brand, wanted some light, and wasn’t going to obsess over CAS latencies.

SSD - Crucial MX500 500GB M.2 SSD

I’m also not too picky about SSD’s - I prefer reliability over speed, so I picked what was cheap and well-rated. I may replace this with something that has NVME down the road though (once 1TB+ M.2’s are more affordable.)

GPU - MSI Radeon RX VEGA 56 8GB Air Boost

At first I was looking at the RX 580’s (which were floating around $200) but decided to wait a couple of weeks to see if the 590’s and Vega’s dropped - eventually there was a great deal on the Vega 56’s, and I’m glad I went for it. The main appeal of this card for me is actually the blower-style cooler since all of the 580’s and 590’s I saw were open air, which would suffer in most ITX builds. I haven’t done very much testing thus far, but it was recommended in some user reviews that this Vega be undervolted to reduce heat and improve performance - I’ve never done this before, but I’ll probably give it a try soon.

In practice, the GPU does get loud during gaming, but at idle the fan actually stops which makes the entire desktop almost silent - it’s often difficult to tell if it’s even on.

PSU - Seasonic FOCUS SGX 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular SFX

While the Raijintek Ophion Evo supports ATX PSU’s, it would be a horrible idea. SFX already feels large enough in this ITX case as it is, and fully modular cables are a must. The SFX form factor also includes shorter cables, which were just the perfect length in this build. It’s also worth mentioning that this PSU includes an SFX to ATX adapter plate - I’m fairly certain the Corsair SF600 I was eyeing did not have the adapter plate, which would have cost me an extra $10

If I had to complain about anything regarding this PSU, it’s that the fabric bags included with it are much cheaper than I was expecting. The last (ATX) Seasonic PSU I purchased included a huge drawstring bag that I’m still using for Carcassone tiles, but the ones included with this feel like they’re made of disposable airline pillowcases. It’s an extremely minor complaint - I’m not basing any purchasing decisions off of this and I wouldn’t rate it any lower than 5 out of 5 stars, but it’s the only negative thing I have to say about it.

Case Fans - DeepCool CF120 3-pack

I wanted to add a bit of lighting to my build, but needed to avoid having to run several RGB utilities at once. Corsair, Asus, NZXT, G.Skill, etc. each have their own and realistically there are no “good” RGB utilities that I’m aware of - only varying shades of “decent” and “resource hog”.

The motherboard has its own RGB LED’s built-in along with some ARGB and RGB headers, so I went with Asus AURA. I chose these fans because they support AURA (using the ARGB headers in this case) and were also well-rated. Asus has a compatibility list of various fans and coolers that support AURA on their website, but finding well-rated ones is difficult.

I swapped out the two 120mm Corsair fans on the top AIO radiator with these (since they have similar specs) and put the remaining 1 on the bottom. All 3 are set as intakes so the blower GPU and PSU are active exhausts, while the open gap between the glass side panels and the case are passive exhausts if there’s enough air pressure. (I tried this configuration to reduce the amount of dust being pulled in from the side panels.)

There is one issue I do have with Aura, which is that Apex Legends’ anti-cheat system refuses to start Apex while “Lightingservice.exe” (which is from AURA) is running - closing it keeps the LED’s lit, they just won’t change.

Also be aware that RGB adds a completely new set of cables, so you may need to get creative with your cable management - and don’t confuse 5V Addressable RGB with 12V RGB. This motherboard has both options, but you do not want to get those headers mixed up.

Temps

Coming soon.

Part Reviews

CPU

Great performance for the price. Go Team Red!

Case

Looks great if you can put more time and effort into cable management.

Price is a good middle-ground between the high-end M1/A4's and the plastic Silverstone/Coolermaster ITX cases.

Cable management isn't too bad, but I would never use an ATX PSU with this - go SFX, and mount it with an ATX-to-SFX adapter plate. Flat PSU cables can fit through the gaps easily with the space you're saving by going with SFX.

Like most ITX cases, I'd also recommend using this with a blower-style card. An open air cooler may cause overheating as it recirculates hot air back into the case, especially if it's a wider card. If you're stuck with open air, Raijintek will be selling vented aluminum panels to replace the glass.

The newer version of this case has a removable bracket near the front of the case that allows for a 240mm AIO cooler to fit comfortably without having to bend the tubes.

I've configured mine with 3 intake fans (so that air is leaving via the blower GPU, PSU, and gap between the glass side panels, reducing the amount of dust entering the case through the gaps) with no ill effects.

Power Supply

Quiet and works flawlessly, and the 10-year warranty is comforting. Cables are just the right length for my mini ITX build. Includes an SFX-to-ATX adapter plate. Only complaint is that the drawstring bags it's packed in are cheap this time, which is so minor that it's not worth lowering the score over.

Case Fan

Quiet and colorful. Was able to connect to (5V) ARGB on my Asus ROG mobo, and it works flawlessly with Aura. This 3-pack includes the connectors you'll need to get everything hooked up, even if you don't have ARGB support on your mobo. Just be sure you're not mixing up the (5V) ARGB and (12V) RGB headers, and be careful about connecting too many fans to the same mobo header. Also be warned that RGB adds more cables, so you'll need to put more time and effort into cable management.

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Comments

  • 5 months ago
  • 3 points

Awesome build! How are you liking it so far? I have a 5700 XT reference card that I'm thinking of using in this case which I'll probably undervolt.

  • 10 months ago
  • 2 points

Maybe you can use a second hard drive, to get more storage, for saving your games. Ok 500GB is a lot, but you have to know that every gaming PC fits a 2nd hard drive... Other things are great

  • 10 months ago
  • 1 point

There's actually space under the mobo for another M.2 drive, however there's a riser cable between the mobo and case - so I'm uncertain if it'll be cool enough to survive there.

I intentionally avoided adding any 2.5" drives, since that adds additional cabling to route. If I end up running out of space, I'll probably buy a larger M.2 (1-2TB) and use some cloning software to copy it over once those are more affordable.

  • 10 months ago
  • 2 points

looks like a really cool affordable build. Honestly I am kind of skeptical about the cooling though. I come from an Amd FX 9590 build and I really want to make a newer computer that runs at really cool temps and is really small.

  • 10 months ago
  • 1 point

Just played Apex a bit the last few days to see how hot it gets, will update my temps on the page. CPU is hitting 62C and GPU is hitting 81C (but that's without undervolting.)

  • 10 months ago
  • 1 point

:0, hmm, I feel like that is an ok temp, my 9590, when I don't disable 2 cores, gets up to 80 max. I usually get 60 max when 2 cores are disabled or I under clock it. I feel like if you have a fan in front blowing in then the gpu might get a bit cooler. also the cable management could be restricting a bit of airflow, lol I am one to talk because my cable management is horrific.

  • 10 months ago
  • 1 point

Are you sure that a blower gpu was necessary here? Won't the gpu fans and three case fans do a good enough job cycling air away from a typical fan-style gpu?

  • 10 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm not certain if a blower GPU was necessary, but I wanted to minimize the risk of having to return components (due to overheating or not fitting properly) for a number of reasons:

  • Mini ITX in general having a reputation for running hotter compared to larger form factors.
  • I blame my initial research of the Phanteks Evolv Shift for making me paranoid about airflow, since that case has a lot of thermal issues in spite of having 3 case fans. (In the Evolv Shift's case, open-air GPU's would recirculate the hot air back into the case - it needed either a blower or an AIO GPU cooler.)
  • Can't find the review at the moment, but I'm certain that I've seen some mentioning that wider cards get too close to the glass side panel, starving the fans of air. (I'm only assuming that open-air GPU's are more likely to have a wide profile, but it seems accurate based on the models I was looking at.)
  • Taller cards have a separate issue where the PCI-E power connectors will bump into the top fans. Thankfully there are 90-degree adapters out there to remedy this, and I'm sure there are cards out there with horizontal PCI-E power but it's still a risk. (I'm also assuming that open-air GPU's are more likely to have a taller profile.)
  • 10 months ago
  • 1 point

Siick card. Did you buy it recently for 279 +2 games? I picked up the Nitro+ V64 and I need to find a new case. Would you recommend and are you happy with thermals?

  • 10 months ago
  • 2 points

Yeah it was the 260-270 deal plus 3 games (DMC5, Division 2, and Resident Evil.) The GPU temp seems relatively high (maxing at around 87C) but it doesn't seem like it's throttling. I think the temps are caused by a mix of the card and the case. The dimensions of the card work perfectly if you're willing to put some time into cable management to keep the PCI-E power connectors from touching the fan. Also you'll probably have to experiment with undervolting the card, which should lower temps significantly. Overall though, I'm happy with it.

  • 10 months ago
  • 1 point

At 87C, your card is pushing it's top end, throttling and most likely sounds like a jet engine. The MSI VEGA PCBs + cooling are not good. Check out the Raijintek Morpheus II Core, it has a TDP of 360W (there is a picture of it in my build post). If you mounted 2x high static pressure fans as intakes at the bottom, I bet you could to try get away with a passively cooled GPU?! Otherwise, there are good deals on VEGA waterblocks.

I ended up ordering a Sliger Cererus mATX case to solve for this problem. it is going to give me more options to build out in the future. Not as pretty tho.

[Buildzoid on undervolting VEGA:] https://youtu.be/z2rQgQZLyOE

EDIT: damn, your build looks good.

  • 10 months ago
  • 2 points

Whoops, I misspoke. I think it's maxing at 87C for the VRAM and 81C for the chip itself (based on what HWMonitor is saying.) I've been looking to avoid water cooling though due to space and pricing - undervolting will be a priority for now, but I will have to look at changing the fan config (possibly intake on top and exhaust on bottom) or swapping out the fans if it gets that bad.

Good luck with the Cerberus!

And thanks, I put a lot of effort and planning into this one - I loved my previous case (the green Corsair C70, which looks like an ammo can) but it just takes up way too much space that I'll never use.

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm looking to switch over the from the evolv shift just like you! Except I made more of an investment in the evolv shift before giving up. I purchased a AIO 2080ti (MSI sea hawk x), thinking it would help.. (nope). The front is also starved for air. So then I got holes cut into the front panel and that still wasn't enough: https://imgur.com/a/Vm2FQY3

So I'm wondering what are your thoughts about going dual aio in this case? I was thinking about having bottom as intake and the top as exhaust, would there be enough air to cool the rads?

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Does that mean a 120x120x25mm fan will fit as the bottom intake? because their website said a 120x120x15mm would only fit there.

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