Build An ITX PC

Finally, I graduated with a degree in architecture and I no longer needed a high-performance rendering PC because it was so power-hungry, it was time to celebrate by building a brand new ITX PC!

ITX

As I am going to the UK soon to do a Masters in Computer Science, I need a decent computer to use. However, I can’t stand the harsh noise from my laptop’s cooling fan under high load conditions, and carrying an ATX-sized PC with me on a plane is not practical. All things considered, I decided to build an ITX-sized PC. However, the entire process was much more complicated than my previous ATX setup, as the market demand is relatively small and thus the choice of ITX-sized computer accessories is very limited and often very expensive. So, I spent a lot of effort comparing various brands of accessories (I had nothing to do after graduating anyway) and ended up with the following configuration list.

Configuration List

ComponentModelPrice(RMB)Note
CPUIntel Core i5-10500 @ 3.10GHz 6C12T1269
MotherboardASUS ROG STRIX B460-I GAMING1064
MemoryG.SKILL Trident Z RGB 16GB*2 DDR4 3000MHz1158
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 6300Integrated Graphics
SSD 0Samsung SM961 (256GB)0Migrate from my old PC
HDD 0WD Blue 2.5 (500GB)0Migrate from my old laptop
Wireless NICIntel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 160MHz0Included in the motherboard
PSUCORSAIR SF450 Platinum585
CaseMechanic Master C24(Oxide yellow)688With custom silicone wire
Side PanelBlack side-translucent acrylic (magnetic)50Custom-made
CPU CoolerJonsbo CR140069
FansArctic F8 PWM *4122.4
DisplayDELL P2418D 2K1349
OthersPikachu Stickers & Models47
Total6401.4

Building Process

I initially wanted to buy all the accessories on Jingdong because it has a better product warranty. However, during the Jingdong shop sale on June 18, all the accessories I wanted were out of stock and I had to go to Taobao to buy them.

CPU

This generation of Intel CPU looks a bit weak compared to AMD’s contemporaries. The 10th generation Cores are still made using the 14nm process, while AMD’s CPUs of the same era are already using TSMC’s 7nm process. But I wanted to install Hackintosh on my computer, and the current AMD CPUs lacked support for Hackintosh, so I eventually chose the Intel CPU.

The 10th generation Core restores the hyperthreading that was removed in the 9th generation, and from the specs it looks like an upgrade from the 8th generation Core, with the 8th generation i7 becoming the 10th generation i5. The 10500 is essentially the 8700 in a different shell, with the i5 price for the old i7 LOL.

The Core i5-10500 was released in 2020 with 6 cores and 12 threads. With base clock at 3.1GHz, max speed at 4.5GHz, PL1 at 65W, PL2 at 134W, and 28s Tau.

In fact, the most cost-effective CPU in the 10th generation Core processors should be the 10600K, with base clock at 4.1GHz, max speed at 4.8GHz, and the brazed thermal conductivity technology used between the CPU core Die and the top cover. Brazing does not deteriorate the thermal conductivity like silicone grease does thus resulting in better durability. However, Intel has kept the 10600k off the shelves in order to clear its 9th generation inventory, but the good news is that the i5 doesn’t produce much heat, thus a quad heatpipe tower cooler is sufficient, so I decided to buy the 10500 with silicone grease filling the CPU core Die and the top cover. If you really want a CPU with brazing technology, you can consider buying a 10400, but it’s like a gamble because there are two models of 10400, one is Q0 stepping (SRH79), which is supposed to be obtained by blocking out four cores from a non-qualified 10-core i9 CPU which uses brazing for thermal conduction; the other is G1 stepping (SRH3D), which is a native 6-core with silicone grease for thermal conduction. Only a few people in the comment section of Jingdong said they got a Q0 stepping CPU, so the probability is very low.

Motherboard

Although the Intel CPUs are reasonably priced, the matching motherboards are very expensive. In addition, ITX motherboards are already more expensive than ATX motherboards with the same chipset, which can easily lead to an embarrassing situation where the motherboard is more expensive than the CPU.

The B460I motherboard is currently only available from ASUS and ASRock, with ASRock’s model being only entry level, priced at ¥749, with only four USB ports, which is not enough. The ASUS model is part of the ROG Strix series and is priced at ¥1299. Although the motherboard has the ROG eye logo on it, the logo is just a sticker without any lighting effects, which is slightly a pity.

The H470I motherboard is only sold by Gigabyte and ASRock, but Gigabyte sells it for ¥1898, which is too expensive compared to ASRock’s better price/performance ratio, and the Z490I motherboard is even more expensive, except for ASRock, which has an entry-level motherboard for ¥1599, while all other brands sell for over ¥2000. The H470 and Z490 chipsets can support the 11th generation Core, but most people won’t change the CPU until the computer is retired, so I went for the cheap and relatively practical ROG B460I motherboard.

The ASUS B460I comes with a driver-free wireless card, which is very convenient. The motherboard will remind you to install Armoury Crate after the first boot. This software can control the AURA lighting effects but it is very tough to use, with many bugs, and it took me a long time to finally get it working properly.

Memory

The B460 chipset only supports up to 2666MHz when using an i5 and 2933MHz when using an i7, so there was no need for me to buy a high-frequency memory stick and I opted for the Illuminated Halberd for aesthetic reasons. However, the light control on the Trident conflicted with the light control on the motherboard. Initially, I didn’t install the Trident’s light control software, so the motherboard didn’t recognize the RGB lighting of the memory, but when I installed the Trident’s light control software, there was an awkward situation where the motherboard’s light control software controlled the light effect of one memory while the Trident’s light control software controlled the other. Only after exiting the Trident’s light control software was the motherboard able to control the light effect of both RAMs. There is one small inevitable issue with choosing memory with light effects, that is, the memory lights will remain illuminated when the computer is in sleep mode, as the memory will remain powered on to hold data during sleep.

GPU

For the graphics, I simply used the built-in integrated graphics card in the CPU, which supports up to 4k 60Hz output. The integrated graphics card can dramatically improve learning efficiency, as you can hardly play games with it. In addition, the performance of the integrated graphics card can be increased by 20-30% when working with dual-channel memory, which is better than nothing.

PSU

The PSU I used was from Corsair, it is the only SFX PSU using a larger 9cm diameter fan. However, you need to pay attention to the production batch when purchasing, the 1944-2011 batch is found to be defective and many people in Baidu Tieba have reported that the power supply they bought was malfunctioning, mostly in the power off state, and Corsair has just issued a recall notice. I found a shop on Taobao that sells PSU produced early last year, batch 1902. Because the computer’s overall power consumption is quite low, the power supply’s fan hasn’t even worked since I bought it.

Case

The case is the core of the ITX accessory selection process. The first thing to determine is the size of the case, as it determines the size of the power supply (SFX or 1U), the height of the CPU cooler (top-down or tower), the way the graphics card is installed (direct or use extender PCIe cable) and so on. Cases with direct plug-in solutions for graphics cards can generally support higher CPU cooler heights but at the cost of increased width. The width of the C24, for example, reaches 155mm, compared to the 130mm width of the other case with the graphics adapter solution, and the width of the case largely determines whether or not it can fit in a backpack, making it a little difficult to fit the C24 into my backpack. Most of the ITX cases on the market today are designed by individual sellers and manufactured by small workshops, making for poor quality control and the need to adjust the cases yourself if there are any flaws. There are very few cases designed for mass production by the major brands, only JONSBO has released a few, but none of them quite fit my requirements. After comparing them I chose the C24 in Yellow, the yellow color scheme was just right for a Pikachu-themed case. The side panel that came with the case was made of tempered glass and was not suitable for moving, so I ordered an acrylic side panel for around 50RMB.

CPU Cooler

The CPU Cooler I chose was the CR1400 by JONSBO, for only 69 RMB, with quad heat pipes and ARGB support for both the top cover and the fan. This cooler is suitable for 10500 and lower power CPUs, with CPU temperatures around 40°C in the summer (26.5°C room temperature). The temperature will eventually stabilize at 88°C during the benchmark test, when the CPU is running at 4.19GHz on all cores, consuming 110W and drawing a core voltage of around 1.22V. A 10700-level CPU would probably need a 6-heat pipe cooler like the Silver Arrow 130.

SSD

For the SSD I used an SM961 removed from my old computer, after all MLC consumer-grade SSDs are no longer available at all, and after 3 years of use the total write volume of the drive was only 15TB, so I guess it could be a family heirloom.

I’m going to wait until the Taobao shop sale to buy another 1T SSD for the Hackintosh. Since the second M.2 slot on this motherboard of mine is on the back, the thermal conditions are rather poor, so I basically can’t use a high-performance SSD with higher heat generation. The SSDs currently on sale with better temperature control are Western Digital’s SN550, SanDisk’s Supreme High Speed (similar to Western Digital’s, presumably the same product), and KIOXIA’s (Toshiba) RC10, depending on the price.

Tips

  • It is recommended to install the CPU cooler, RAM, and SSD onto the motherboard before installing the motherboard into the case, as the ITX case is too small and the installation is inconvenient.
  • It is also recommended to plug the power cable, case-control cable, and USB cable into the motherboard in advance.
  • Pay attention to the compatibility of the cooler and the memory before you buy. If the cooler I have is mounted vertically, the fan will squeeze the memory stick shell and the memory stick will be slightly tilted, but it does not affect the performance of the memory stick.
  • If you have enough budget, it is recommended to buy a custom silicone cable or silver-plated cable to replace the original power connection cable, as the original cable is too stiff and difficult to route.
  • If you have SATA devices, it is recommended to use a soft SATA cable to connect them. The two hard drive bays on the side of the C24 are very difficult to route, and a normal SATA cable will push up the side panel.
  • If you use a C24 case, you must pay attention to the choice of a screwdriver, the number of screws in the C24 is too many and it is easy to slip the wire, I recommend using a PH2 head screwdriver (I wondered for a while that the boss was selling screws as a side business)
  • When screwing, use a lighter force, as the C24 can easily lose its paint.
  • Don’t over-tighten the motherboard screws to prevent deformation

Latest Upgrades

2020.9 Updated: Goodbye HDD

The HDD was too noisy, so I dismantled it and added the RC10 512G from KIOXIA.

2022.12 Updated: Long live the discrete graphics card

I’ve been waiting for a long time, but the discrete graphics cards just don’t drop in price, so I finally couldn’t wait any longer and bought a Sapphire 6500xt. As for why I didn’t buy a 6600, one is because there are too many mining cards, and the other is that this case is too strict on the size of the graphics card.

The best brand in the 6500xt is Asus, but it is 132mm wide, 2mm higher than my case size limit, and the part that protrudes is the heatpipe, if the side panel is padded, it can be installed, but I am worried that the heatpipe is too close to the tempered glass and the tempered glass may blow up due to uneven heating, so I bought a compact 120mm wide Sapphire graphics card.

rx6500xt.jpg

2022.12 Updated: Duct adjustment

With a discrete graphics card installed in my case, there was no way to continue with the original vertical ducting solution as the CPU cooler would inhale the hot air emitted by the graphics card. In addition, my two 25mm high bottom intake fans were too close to the graphics card’s fans, which would affect airflow and create wind noise, so I replaced them with a 15mm high JOSEPH HF1215, a 12015 size fan with exactly the same airflow (62CFM) as the two 8025 size fans (31CFM*2), who also support ARGB lighting effects.

In addition, the two 8025-size fans on top of the case have been changed from 2 simultaneous exhausts to one intake and one exhaust, with the front fan supplying fresh air to the CPU and power supply and the rear one blowing out the heat generated by the CPU.

The CPU cooler fan has also been replaced with a larger air-pressure fan, the Thermalright TL-C9B, and the original fan has been moved to the rear exhaust port to continue its service.

Latest Configuration List

ComponentModelPrice(RMB)Note
CPUIntel Core i5-10500 @ 3.10GHz 6C12T1269
MotherboardASUS ROG STRIX B460-I GAMING1064
MemoryG.SKILL Trident Z RGB 16GB*2 DDR4 3000MHz1158
GPUSAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 6500 XT 4GB1099
SSD 0Samsung SM961 (256GB)0Migrate from my old PC
SSD 1KIOXIA RC10 (500GB)399
Wireless NICIntel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 160MHz0Included in the motherboard
PSUCORSAIR SF450 Platinum585
CaseMechanic Master C24(Oxide yellow)688With custom silicone wire
Side PanelBlack side-translucent acrylic (magnetic)50Custom-made
Side Panel Padding3M magnetic strip + sponge tape + screws20
CPU CoolerJonsbo CR140069
Fan 1Arctic F8 PWM *4122.4
Fan 2Jonsbo HF1215 ARGB61.6
Fan 3Thermalright TL-C9B38.55
Fan Splitter1 to 4 with ARGB15.9
DisplayDELL P2418D 2K1349
Light Strip142mm ARGB24.25
GPU Support BraceJonsbo VC-20mini17.9
OthersPikachu Stickers & Models47
Total8077.6