Exactly How Much Power You Can Fit in a Mini-ITX Case?

If the benchmarks on this page look familiar, it's because they're essentially the same charts we used for the review of the CyberPower Xtreme Gamer 8500. In this instance we're highlighting the performance of the AVADirect Nano Gaming Cube. It's a good opportunity to bring up an important consideration here: while the processor in the cube has been overclocked to 3GHz, it's still a quad-core i5 without Hyper-Threading, and oh yeah, it's being handled by a server processor cooler. The cube is substantially daintier than the competition, and expectations should be attenuated. We'll start with the basic system-based benchmarks.

Update: We've added our own "custom built" PC to the benchmarks as another point of reference. That system consists of an i7-920 cooled by a Noctua NH-U12DX HSF with push-pull NF-P12 fans, Gigabyte X58A-UD3R, 6x2GB Crucial DDR3-1600, and CrossFire HD 5850 GPUs, all running off an Enermax Pro87+ 500W PSU. The storage setup is overkill for most: a 120GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD with a SandForce controller for the OS, and an older OCZ Vertex 128GB SSD. All of this is housed in a stylish Lian Li PC-7B case. Total cost? Pricing out the components on Newegg gets us to just $2300, including the OS (though the two SSDs account for $525, and there's $60 in mail-in rebates available. But there's a catch: the CPU is an old engineering sample that's locked down so tight that overclocking is out of the question. Change the uncore multiplier or raise the BCLK more than 4MHz and the system refuses to POST. Ouch! So this is a super overkill setup intended for overclocking but in need of a different CPU. Not surprisingly, the CPU is clearly holding it back in quite a few tests, and the other components should allow for a healthy overclock; anyway, it's one more system to add to our benchmarks, and it serves as an interesting look at what happens with a stock i7 CPU.

It's fair to say the multi-threaded benchmarks aren't particularly kind to the cube, but also understand that the 750S is running at a still-reasonable 3GHz and doesn't benefit from Hyper-Threading like the i7's do. These numbers are still comparable to the numbers on the Dell Studio XPS 7100 we reviewed, a machine that had the benefit of a full two additional physical cores and a higher TDP. At this point it's worth adding that the iBuyPower Paladin XLC is running at a 3.5GHz overclock on its i7-930, and the CyberPower Xtreme Gamer 8500 has a punishing 3.85GHz overclock on its i7-875K. The competition's fast to begin with.

Unfortunately, performance suffers in every case from the 3GHz clock on the i5. Under ideal circumstances and an even playing field, the GeForce GTS 450's in SLI would be nipping at the heels of the AMD Radeon HD 5870 in the nano cube, but with the substantially faster core clock on the i7-875K (benefitting also from enough space for a watercooling kit), the cube just can't keep up. Having said that, these numbers are still pretty impressive given the tiny footprint of the machine producing them.

Small Introduction, Grand Entrance Playing Some Small Games
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  • Mr Perfect - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    Or even just next to the systems it's compared to. Sure, the full ATX systems with SLI where faster, but they'd also look like a piece of furniture compared to the Sugo 6.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    That's just stupid in this day and age.
  • grimJester - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    The SG-07


    has a 600W PSU, front mounted, with much better space for a CPU cooler and a 180mm fan blowing down from the top. It just looks so much better than the SG-06 for this kind of machine.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    Keep in mind that this system was made before a few updates came to the AVADirect configurator, which is why our price is only approximate. Anyway, the SG07 *is* an option at AVADirect. It's a longer chassis and costs $100 more, but there may be other benefits.
  • acooke - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    Will this travel as hand baggage on planes? Does anyone have experience of this?

    I am planning on building something similar (but for dev work, with the 95W 6 core AMD) while visiting the USA, but need to be able to bring it back home. I think it should be possible to carry this on as hand luggage, but would love confirmation (it would be with Delta, and I would also be carrying a laptop).

    Thanks! Andrew
  • vol7ron - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    More than likely.... not post 9/11
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    I don't know about international flights, but my brother recently carried a larger desktop on a plane trip from WA to AZ. You'd probably want to ask Delta in advance. Best-case, be prepared to have to open the case, plug the system in, etc. to demonstrate it's a working PC with nothing funny going on.
  • strikeback03 - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    I would guess the same, they obviously allow laptops onboard, so as long as there are no liquids involved and it runs I doubt it would be a problem. But if you call ahead, or even better get something in writing, it might help.
  • atmartens - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    I carried a PC within a Sugo SG-06 from the US to France, by airplane, in hand luggage and encountered no issues.
  • acooke - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    Thanks for all the answers. I'll check with them, but it's good to hear soeone has done something similar.

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