Playing Some Small Games

At this point, we really almost want to be impressed that a computer this small plays games at all. Remember, though, this thing has a Radeon HD 5870 inside—a Radeon that didn't overheat once during testing, either.

The cube may be sitting at the bottom of each of the charts, but look at the numbers. There isn't a single game here that isn't playable with plenty of breathing room. At the same time, we have to wonder if leaving the unit running at stock and allowing Turbo Boost to take the i5 to 3.2GHz on two cores might not have improved the standings a bit. StarCraft II, for example, doesn't scale past two cores at all. Seeing that benchmark GPU-limited is actually a rarity. It's academic, though: 57.8 frames per second is still extremely fluid.

Once greater stress is applied to the graphics subsystem, the cube starts to acquit itself better as the 5870 gets to stretch its legs. Framerates are still beyond playable across the board with the exception of STALKER, which hovers precariously close to the 30-frames-per-second mark. In most cases, the cube with its slower processor and 5870 is able to hang extremely close to the heavily overclocked CyberPower unit with its eVGA SuperClocked GeForce GTS 450's in SLI. Meanwhile the pair of GTX 470's in the iBuyPower Paladin XLC blows everything away, much like the leafblower it sounds like under this kind of load.

Exactly How Much Power You Can Fit in a Mini-ITX Case? Putting Together the Cube
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  • MeTechE - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    Perhaps you would be interested in my current computer as a powerful Mini-ITX setup done right. I have a OC'd i7 785K with 2x4GB of ~1400MHz DDR3 on a H55N-USB3. The ATI Radeon 5770 is perhaps underpowered compared to the rest of the build but it fit the budget.

    Most surprising was the 16K/14K/19K Read/Write/Copy performance I got from the RAM . That bandwidth along with the CPU OC allows my rig to bench competitively with my friends 4Ghz i7 920.

    Don't let one bad configuration spoil the Mini-ITX fun.
  • mados123 - Saturday, September 18, 2010 - link

    What case is that in?
  • Huacanacha - Saturday, September 18, 2010 - link

    I'm planning to build a very similar mini-ITX gaming machine for about the same budget:
    - Lian-Li PC-Q08 case
    - Core i5-760
    - Gigabyte or Zotac MB (GB has USB 3.0, Zotac USB 3.0 + wifi)
    - Intel 160GB SSD + 1TB green HD
    - ATI 5850/5770 (actually waiting to see if 6770 comes out this year)
    - 4GB DDR3
    - Slim DVD (may drop as don't need)
    - 500W modular PSU
    - Windows 7 Home Premium

    Total is about $1500. The case is much nicer looking than the Sugo and should be better for noise & heat, but then again it's also a fair chunk larger I believe. I think I'll take my proposed build over the AVADirect one, but it's nice to see custom built SFF gaming PC's starting to appear... I'm all for the bang-for-cm^3 concept!

    This will be hooked up my living room TV, and probably mainly used for playing Civ 5 :)
  • anactoraaron - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    "Meanwhile the pair of GTX 470's in the iBuyPower Paladin XLC blows everything away, much like the leafblower it sounds like under this kind of load." Looking at graphs makes some forget this 'noise' produced by the first fermi. The noise reminds me of a case fan I had on a heavily oc'd P4 that went by the name of 'tornado'. At the time I lived in an apartment and that fan was so loud the downstairs neighbor complained about the noise LOL! Noise yes, but man that thing could move some air (which one needed to do sometimes with stock P4's).
  • Von Matrices - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    I have a GTX 470 SLI system, and while the cards are definitely louder than any previous cards I have had, I wouldn't exactly compare their sound to a leaf blower. Granted I'm using the proper spacing of the cards (2 empty slots between them), but they only make a low-pitched rumble when at load. I'd much rather have the noise of two 470's than the whine of the 60mm fan on the Radeon 9800 Pro I had a few systems ago. That fan was just plain annoying.
  • Kibbles - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    I have almost the same setup except with a 5770 and I run 160blk with no voltage increases and with turbo and c-states still enabled. It wasn't even much work.
    I just went
    166 -> unstable
    165 -> stable-ish
    164-> runs fine
    back off a couple just to be safe -> 160
    Probably took me but a whole 30mins.

    I expect more from a system that's $1.5k+, since mine was under $700.
    I guess you do get a 750S vs regular 750.

    What kind of core temperatures where you getting?
  • vol7ron - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    I agree, price looks high for what you get.

    I think your OCing is a bit discouraged, though. Even though there are failsafes these days, it's still advised to go from what works to what doesn't, when figuring out the proper setting; rather than going from what doesn't work, to what does.
  • Kibbles - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    If I was starting from scratch, I'd go up 5mhz at a time, and then ease back for longterm stability. But in my case I knew from reading around, the ballpark where the OC should be at. So I skipped that first step. Plus, I wasn't altering any of the voltages. For a builder that's going to be making a bunch of these, I would think they could do that too.
  • sprockkets - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    They took this case and modded it:

    Sad. They took out the 300w 80PLUS FSP power supply and put in an junky Athena.

    And btw, the new SFF Shuttles can be upgraded with mini itx boards, such as this one:
  • JarredWalton - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    Which is why I said the "old Shuttle SFFs". That said, my experience over the past five years is such that I would never buy anything with a Shuttle mobo. Every one of the test Shuttle SFFs died within three years of the review. :-\

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