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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  • acooke - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    In case anyone else is curious, I emailed Delta and they replied saying "yes":

    > Thank you for your e-mail to Delta Air Lines.
    > According to FAA directives, Delta and the Delta Connection Carriers
    > allow each passenger to carry onboard one carry-on and one personal item
    > such as:
    > - Male or female purse or briefcase
    > - Computer bag (computers cannot be checked and must be carried on)
    > - Camera case
    > - Diaper bag
    > - Any item of a similar or smaller size to those listed above
    > These items must fit easily in our SizeCheck unit (approximately 22"" x
    > 14"" x 9"") and be placed under the seat in front of the passenger or in
    > the overhead bin.
    > You may carry your computer bag as a carry on bag and a laptop as a
    > personal item. The computer bag must fit in our SizeCheck unit.
  • flipmode - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    Nice. Giving me the opportunity to ask two days in a row.

    Am I becoming annoying enough yet?
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - link

    Ask and ye shall receive... after a while at least. :-)
  • devlinb - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    I went to AVADirect's website and the only SSD they are offering in this config now is a "Wintec" 60GB.

    Their configurator is a bit of a mess in other areas, it offers a lot of impossible RAM configuration options (4x2GB for example).

    I love the look though, the entire thing looks great. Looking at those interior shot photos, it is worth paying someone else to cram all those cables in!

    Also, the article needs a product shot on the first page. Having to hit the fourth page to see what the case looks like was a bit confusing.
  • jaydee - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    Here's a good comparison PC that legitreviews just looked at a couple days ago. For $400 less (stock), I think it's a much better deal. I would add a Vertex 2 60GB for ~$130.


    V3 Gaming Move 3DS PC:

    SilverStone SG05
    Custom Asetek LC 120mm Liquid Cooling
    Intel Core I3 540 Dual core Processor w/HT @3.82
    Zotac H55-ITX WiFi Mini-ITX
    4GB(2x2GB) Patriot Viper II Sector 5 DDR3-1600MHZ @ 1333MHz
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB
    Seagate 500GB 2.5" ST9500420AS
    Sony Optiarc DVD/CD Rewritable Drive AS-7700S
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
    Price $1129
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    Playing with the AVADirect configurator, I put together much of the same specs only with an i5-650 CPU (no i3 options at AVA), 2x2GB OCZ DDR3-1600 RAM, EVGA Superclocked GTX 460, and without the Asetek cooler. Total price came to $980. You'd have to do the overclock yourself, and perhaps add a better HSF than what they offer, but it's in reach. Certainly there are a lot of options, and my own experiences with AVADirect have been good. Also note that they come with a 3-year warranty.
  • miahallen - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link


    nuff said ;-)
  • pjladyfox - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    After taking a look at the link you referenced I have to agree. The AVADirect Nano pales in comparison to that beast especially with the H70 cooler and better overall layout that does not pack things in so tightly that taking it apart would be an issue.

    Thanks for sharing that BTW as well!
  • acooke - Saturday, September 18, 2010 - link

    Thanks for that link.
  • dmuk2010 - Sunday, September 19, 2010 - link

    interesting idea. Why don't they just use a slight bigger SG07? At lease it come with 600W PSU, which can push 5870 and desktop core i7 without problem...

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