Small Form Factor "Gaming" PC Thread (AKA HTPC)

harSon

Member
Oct 30, 2017
4,726
Even intel integrated graphics can handle that just pick something you like basically. I'm looking here on ebay and I'm seeing some super small form factor business PC's for <$100 that would be perfect for that.
Really? Even at a solid frame rate? :O

Recommendations would be much appreciated!
 
OP
OP
Bomblord

Bomblord

Member
Jan 11, 2018
5,276
Really? Even at a solid frame rate? :O

Recommendations would be much appreciated!
Uhh sure just grab a 4th gen or newer Dell Optiplex Mini with an i5 or better in it. Lenovo Thinkcentre Tiny also is an option again 4th gen i5 or newer. Here's an example, here's another one. HP also makes a version like it but I've heard bad things about thermals in those. Don't expect to do more than 2x res on Gamecube with those particular models though.

Here's a nicer model for a bit more
 
Last edited:

FinKL

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
1,536
I've seen cases like that where you have to provide your own Pico Power Supply/converter for a laptop power supply and it's always scared me off. 90% of that is the price (Pico Power supply and a relevant charger adds up) but also I'm worried about voltages or something not matching up (which seems unlikely) and frying components or not providing enough power.
I'm with ya there, but I really wanted to push the envelope of these tiny machines, but I also get scared something will fry. Guess I'll look for a SFX Powersupply mini itx case. It's not like it adds that much more weight/size.

Waiting for these Ryzen 4000 APU's, I know the laptop version comes out Q1 2020. so I imagine mid 2020 we'll get news
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
Bomblord

Bomblord

Member
Jan 11, 2018
5,276
I'm with ya there, but I really wanted to push the envelope of these tiny machines, but I also get scared something will fry. Guess I'll look for a SFX Powersupply mini itx case. It's not like it adds that much more weight/size.

Waiting for these Ryzen 4000 APU's, I know the laptop version comes out Q1 2020. so I imagine mid 2020 we'll get news
The laptop component schedule seems disconnected from the desktop space when it comes to AMD. The 4000 series laptop stuff looks awesome but I don't think it's proof they're close to a refresh in the desktop space.
 

Kiyoshi

Member
Apr 4, 2018
30
While it's probably not small enough to really fit the discussion here... what I've been wanting is an HTPC-style Micro-ATX case, but there's hardly anything out there. Just two old Silverstone models and that's it. There are a bunch of Micro-ATX towers of varying sizes, and a handful of shoebox and cube cases, but haven't really settled on any of these.

The Aerocool Playa Slim is kind of interesting, as a very small Micro-ATX case (~11L), though only fits low-profile GPUs. There are finally a handful of low-profile GTX 1650's out there (better than a 1050 ti, worse than an RX 570).

So I'll probably end up going with a small tower (or sticking with an old ATX case I've already got), which is easier for building, but not exactly media center friendly.
I had similar thinking, and couldn't settle for ages. In the end (after over a year of planning a build on-and-off) I went for a Silverstone GD09. I'm not sure if this qualifies as SFF, but I wanted the HTPC profile but with the ability to use an ATX PSU and a m-ATX motherboard.



It's currently hosting a Ryzen 2700x with a Noctua NH-U9S which has an upright profile that doesn't cover RAM slots and is short enough to fit inside the case. It's like a miniature version of their popular coolers used in full size builds, and it's wonderful. My CPU temps are lot lower than the Wraith Prism (which itself wasn't bad) and it's a lot quieter when the fans ramp up. I'm seriously impressed.

For the GPU I'm currently using a Zotac 1070 Mini. I previously had a larger MSI 1070 card which didn't fit in the case (it was too tall) so I switched to one that just about fits. I'm looking at a GPU upgrade in the near future, and I have to be careful I choose the right one.

Here's what it looks like inside...



Here's how it looks in the TV cabinet. PS4 Pro is on the right, for size comparisons. It is still quite large, but fits nicely...

 

Burny

Member
Oct 26, 2017
343
...I went for a Silverstone GD09. I'm not sure if this qualifies as SFF,
...
Here's what it looks like inside...

😂 That's a grownup PC tower lying down - definitely nowhere near "small form factor".

I'm running a similar setup with a HTPC next to my AVR and center speaker, only in a Lian Li PC-C60B case:



That said, I'd love to eventually build a real SFF PC. Since this large case is already integrated into the living room however, there's no real need to. But i still find the notion of a full blown gaming PC in something as compact as a Dan case very appealing.
 
Last edited:

Kiyoshi

Member
Apr 4, 2018
30
😂 That's a grownup PC tower lying down - definitely nowhere near "small form factor".

I'm running a similar setup with a HTPC next to my AVR and center speaker, only in a Lian Li PC69B case:


That said, I'd love to eventually build a real SFF PC. Since this large case is already integrated into the living room however, there's no real need to. But i still find the notion of a full blown gaming PC in something as compact as a Dan case very appealing.

Yep, definitely not SFF but hopefully still relevant for discussion in the thread :D Thinking back, my original intention was to go for proper SFF but couldn't quite go that far considering I do have the space for the mATX HTPC style one. Maybe in future :)
 

Cheeky Devlin

Member
Oct 31, 2017
149
I followed this build a year ago and it cost me just under £170.


I've been very impressed with it and it works great as a living room PC, especially with a frontend such as Launchbox on it.

Emulation wise it handles everything up to Citra (3DS) really well and I've even managed to get some Cemu (Wii U) out of it, but it has some crash issues. Dolphin (GC/Wii) and PCSX2 (PS2) run really well at high resolutions.

I did go on and add some additional RAM which helped a bit and I recently picked up a Steam Controller when they were getting rid of them.

Well worth a look.

PC Games wise it seems to handle AAA stuff up to around the end of the 360/PS3 era with no issues.
 

Ganondolf

Member
Jan 5, 2018
496
I have a Node 202 case which I really like as it fits in my entertainment unit but cpu cooling is an issue. I was thinking of changing but not sure what will fit in the same entertainment unit space and give me better cooling options.
 

Shikari

Member
Nov 2, 2017
285
The Land of Abaya Babes
OP
OP
Bomblord

Bomblord

Member
Jan 11, 2018
5,276
I had similar thinking, and couldn't settle for ages. In the end (after over a year of planning a build on-and-off) I went for a Silverstone GD09. I'm not sure if this qualifies as SFF, but I wanted the HTPC profile but with the ability to use an ATX PSU and a m-ATX motherboard.



It's currently hosting a Ryzen 2700x with a Noctua NH-U9S which has an upright profile that doesn't cover RAM slots and is short enough to fit inside the case. It's like a miniature version of their popular coolers used in full size builds, and it's wonderful. My CPU temps are lot lower than the Wraith Prism (which itself wasn't bad) and it's a lot quieter when the fans ramp up. I'm seriously impressed.

For the GPU I'm currently using a Zotac 1070 Mini. I previously had a larger MSI 1070 card which didn't fit in the case (it was too tall) so I switched to one that just about fits. I'm looking at a GPU upgrade in the near future, and I have to be careful I choose the right one.

Here's what it looks like inside...



Here's how it looks in the TV cabinet. PS4 Pro is on the right, for size comparisons. It is still quite large, but fits nicely...

That's a chonker but technically an HTPC lol. Honestly looks like you could put a VHS tape in it what about that sytle of industrial design makes everything look like a 90's VCR?
 

Noisepurge

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,647
I just built a system in a Dan Case A4-SFX.
Just need a video card now.
i´ve been thinking of getting something as small as a Dan case that can still support a fullsized videocard. But they seem really hard to find, especially in Canada.

Can anyone recommend similar tiny cases that support fullsized GPUs?
 

exodus

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,326
It's not particularly small for an ITX case, but I have a soft spot for the Phanteks Evolv Shift. It just looks so good horizontally and feels right at home in a home theater space.

 

exodus

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,326
Another tip to anyone looking at a Node 202 build. Most people say the best CPU cooler you can get is the Scythe BIG Shuriken, it can be hard to find. I know I couldn't find it in Canada. Here's a tip: look at the Reeven Brontes RC-1001b. It's officially 2-3mm higher than the supported clearance of a Node 202 case, but it fits just fine. As a plus, the fan rests against the case and is assured to pull in fresh air and has no vibration whatsoever. It makes for one of the best, cheapest, and most silent cooling options for the Node 202. The only thing I will caution is to get an ITX motherboard with low profile VRM heatsinks (AsRock is usually good for this). Unfortunately I was stuck with a Gigabyte motherboard with massive VRM heatsinks so I need to run them bare, but they stay within thermal limits even under Prime 95.
 

ContraWars

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,251
Canada
I have a Node 202 with a SF450 PSU collecting dust.

I also have a spare blue LED Sapphire Nitro+ RX 580 8GB kicking around.

I need to pick ITX board/APU/Ram/storage for it, but I wonder if the GPU would also fit in there and cook me breakfast.
 

JayCeeJim

Member
Jan 3, 2019
157
I have been an HTPC user for more than 10 years and it is wonderful. But add me to the list of those that prefer to stick to micro/ATX and ATX PSU. It's much cheaper, more flexible, cooler, and easier to build and manipulate.

And unless you are extremely short on physical space, there are really good case options that are not that big and look really stylish/discreet. In both horizontal and tower form factor.

Like the Cooltek Coolcube Maxi:



Or the Silverstone ML04:

 

Nzyme32

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,477
How was your experience with the RVZ02's thermals/noise? I've had the case lying around for a while but didn't yet get a hold of all the SFF components needed to get it up and running.

GPU was great, thermals still high at idle, around 45 to 55C, but very good underload, maybe hitting 70C.

Thermals with no load were high for the CPU, around 45 up to 50C. Under load that could go as high as 80, maybe 90 if the filter wasn't cleaned (if you got the filter version like I did). It never throttled though, as the CPU cooler I got, handled it well - it is noisy though when underload most of all. Also noisy at idle, though with a good fan curve, its no problem.
Dust filter is a bit annoying to clean due to the design, but I am always happy to have filters.

I used this Noctua CPU cooler, it JUST fits in the case with the clearance, and did perform better than the low clearance Noctua heat since that is super popular


Worth noting - I was using high end powerful and hot components though - i5-8600k, GTX 1060 at the time, 16gb RAM etc

In the end though, the noise was one of the main factors for me changing up, and the long boi shape was not ideal enough for me.

If you are in the UK, I do still have the case doing nothing, so would be happy to sell. Got the original box and all the screws etc.
I did modify the case to remove the slim disc drive screw pole, so I could fit an extra 3.5inch HDD.
 
Last edited:

Shikari

Member
Nov 2, 2017
285
The Land of Abaya Babes
Nzyme32 thanks for the detailed reply. I've got the case (filter version here as well), but it's good to know the 65mm Noctua cooler will fit. Was originally considering an i7-9700/RTX 2080 build, but now I'm not sure if that's the way to go, given the CPU load temps you mentioned. I can live with the noise, but an i5 hitting 80-90C doesn't bode well for an i7. May have to stick to my old tower case.
 

Atolm

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,373
So with my main rig pretty much getting no heavy use I decided to jump the gun and buy a preconfigured SFF from China, to use it with lower end games, Retroarch and Kodi. There's huge market there in that country for those.

It has a hexacore i7 9750h (which probably isn't very far away in performance from my 6700k 4,6Ghz lol) and a dedicated 1650 card and I really like the form factor. Take a look:


It comes with external power brick so I'm not too worried about thermals. Will post impressions.
 
OP
OP
Bomblord

Bomblord

Member
Jan 11, 2018
5,276
Lenovo just put up the M75Q with Ryzen 3/5 3400/3200GE CPU's in the them



So with my main rig pretty much getting no heavy use I decided to jump the gun and buy a preconfigured SFF from China, to use it with lower end games, Retroarch and Kodi. There's huge market there in that country for those.

It has a hexacore i7 9750h (which probably isn't very far away in performance from my 6700k 4,6Ghz lol) and a dedicated 1650 card and I really like the form factor. Take a look:


It comes with external power brick so I'm not too worried about thermals. Will post impressions.
I like the look I'm looking forward to impressions.
 

RedSwirl

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,327
Anyway, I just got an air remote, and these things should probably be required for HTPCs.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,564
Why do these things have to be small? I have a full tower hooked up to my TV.
Because some people want them to be small.

After almost 7 years, I'm kind of tired of how big my Fractal Define Mini is. Its the mATX model and its still huge and heavy, and yet too small to be friendly to work/build in with any frequency. It's annoying carrying into my back yard to blow out all the dust.

In a sick and twisted way I'm almost hoping the O11 Dynamic Mini doesn't fit the 400w 7 pipe D15 coming soon, so I have little reason to buy such a big "mini" case (its not mini at all!).
 
Last edited:

disgraciau

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,129
Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain
SFF setups are beautiful but sometimes a pain to install. But for me I've won switching to SFF. Easier to carry my case when I have to clean it up, and easier to open and barely I have to remove dust (and cat fur) thanks to the dust filters.

I used the Fractal Node 202 for the setup. I mounted the Mini PC last year. These were my components, keeping the Ryzen 1600 and 16 GB RAM DDR4 from my former setup:




And this the PC with all components installed:



I was thinking about changing the ITX graphics card for one larger but I was afraid of temperatures and less "breathing" space, so instead I went with Aero ITX and installed an extra fan in the clear space you see next to the card.

Downside is cable management as you can see. Did my best but still is messy, but at least cables are away of graphics card and CPU so they can have plenty of breathing space for an ITX case.

My surprise was the CPU temperature: idle temperature is a bit more higher than in my old ATX case, but while playing it kept some awesome temperatures, even on summer, barely reaching 60 degrees. Stressing it with DOOM 2016 at uncapped framerate under Vulkan it went up to 69 degrees. On the graphics card side it has some acceptable temperatures, but I still am a bit nervous when it works at 80 degrees with some GPU-heavy games despite knowing that it can work up to 88 degrees without damaging the card. And the fan is pretty noisy. Despite that, it works like a charm.

My setup ended like this. And it's beautiful:




I needed a smaller pc to carry over to friends house, and it only needs to play league of legends or cs:go, so it didn't need to be powerfull. What I did is I bought a refurbished HP 8300 elite SFF. Its not super small, but smaller than the average atx tower. It has a 3rd gen i5 and 8gb of ram, and it only cost me $120. I then put a gt1030 and a 256gb ssd in it and it plays non demanding games really well.

What I got for $120
Hey, my father has that case and he LOVES it. Small and very easy to open and change components.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
Bomblord

Bomblord

Member
Jan 11, 2018
5,276
Ryzen 5 HP Prodesk has dropped $50 to $399 on BH Photo Video I've update the OP. Cheapest I've seen a new SFF Ryzen.
 

maximumzero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,767
New Orleans, LA
So my parents finally are ready to get a new PC and they don't want to spend the money on a Mac mini or iMac (and won't let me buy it for them) so I'm putting together a computer for them. This is a 70% web browsing, 20% e-mail, and 10% word processing computer, so I don't need a GPU, but this is the closest place for me to talk about it.

Gonna go with a Ryzen 3 3200G, probably 16GB of RAM (Overkill for their needs, but I'm looking for longevity) and probably a 256GB SSD of some variation.

Can anyone recommend a smallish case that's not stupid expensive? I don't need a side panel or cooling and whatnot but their current Acer computer is one of those tiny desktops and I'd love to keep it similar to that form factor if possible.
 

myzhi

Member
Oct 27, 2017
829
Here's mine:

Dan A4 V3 case
9700K
32GB 3200MHz RAM
Nvidia 2080Ti FE
1TB Samsung 970 Evo nvme
2TB Intel 660p nvme

CPU side:


GPU side:


Case:


Compare to my old case:


After going SFF, I wouldn't go back to anything larger than 10L.
 
Last edited:

inner-G

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,888
PNW
I recently put another budget SFF machine together, and it’s since been hooked up in my living room.

It was only about $420 or so altogether and came with Windows 10 Pro. It’s a used Dell Optiplex 9010 DT, with an i7 3770, 16GB DDR3, GTX 1650, 1TB SSD + 2TB HDD. I love the stock OEM look lol.

 
Oct 29, 2017
5,680
So my parents finally are ready to get a new PC and they don't want to spend the money on a Mac mini or iMac (and won't let me buy it for them) so I'm putting together a computer for them. This is a 70% web browsing, 20% e-mail, and 10% word processing computer, so I don't need a GPU, but this is the closest place for me to talk about it.

Gonna go with a Ryzen 3 3200G, probably 16GB of RAM (Overkill for their needs, but I'm looking for longevity) and probably a 256GB SSD of some variation.

Can anyone recommend a smallish case that's not stupid expensive? I don't need a side panel or cooling and whatnot but their current Acer computer is one of those tiny desktops and I'd love to keep it similar to that form factor if possible.
- InWin Chopin (150W PSU included)
- InWin A1 (600W PSU included)
- Jonsbo cases if you want something that is silver like a Mac that is not $200. But you probably have to buy out of Ali Express to get the older itx ones like a Jonsbo C2 or Jonsbo UMX1.

But you could also go for an barebones like the Asrock Deskmini A300
 
Last edited:

FlexMentallo

The Fallen
Oct 29, 2017
245
Los Angeles
I have a ~10L Sliger 550 case tucked away in the corner with an AMD 3600 and mini 2070 in it, Keychron wireless mechanical KB, Logitech wireless mouse, XB1 controller - mostly 1440p 60fps Ultra gaming on my 4k Sony TV. Ripped my Blu-rays to a Synology and watch them thru Plex on my PC.

Finally got all the pieces (including case size) that made PC TV gaming work for me after previous attempts always had one piece that sucked or was frustrating.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,564
Chimera CX2 (23L)

Planned for pre-order in March 2020, release around computex this summer. Target price is sub $200 USD.

The Thread (have to be sff.net member to see the pics, unfortunately)
Some small vids from a newer prototype, can view without an account

This is basically everything I've been wanting rolled up into one case, probably the most extensive jack of all trades SFF case I've ever seen. Well the safest/most compatible option anyway.

eATX, ATX, mATX, mITX; No riser, lots of slots for extra pcie cards (wireless VR OR storage OR TB3 OR Sound Cards OR more networking OR MOAR GRAPHICS etc), 4 dimm slots, 93mm/165mm cpu air cooling options; top, rear or front (in development) psu mounting; ATX, SFX-L, or SFX mounting; 240+240/280 AIO support).

Basically a hypothetical Chimera Cerberus/Cerberus X v2 and a Lian Li TU150 smashed together. Smaller than the O11 Dynamic mini (~37L), but still over that nebulous 20L sff cutoff diehards adhere to.
 
Last edited:

maximumzero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,767
New Orleans, LA
- InWin Chopin (150W PSU included)
- InWin A1 (600W PSU included)
- Jonsbo cases if you want something that is silver like a Mac that is not $200. But you probably have to buy out of Ali Express to get the older itx ones like a Jonsbo C2 or Jonsbo UMX1.

But you could also go for an barebones like the Asrock Deskmini A300
That Asrock kit is looking like the way to go, I’ll price out the parts I need for it later today and post it for review. Might even spring for that snazzy VESA mount kit and stick it to the back of their monitor.
 

maximumzero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,767
New Orleans, LA
The more I read about the A300 the more I'm dissuaded from going with it. I'd like the additional USB ports add-on as well as the audio out add-on they offer but those don't seem to be available anywhere. I'm concerned there may be a scenario where I end up quickly filling the USB ports on the back and without a proper audio out there isn't really a way to use speakers without going with some sort of HDMI audio stripping accessory.

Reverting back to my original plan. Bleh.

Edit: I love the look of the "BM643" from Inwin but it doesn't seem to be actually available for purchase anywhere.


 
Last edited:
Oct 29, 2017
5,680
The more I read about the A300 the more I'm dissuaded from going with it. I'd like the additional USB ports add-on as well as the audio out add-on they offer but those don't seem to be available anywhere. I'm concerned there may be a scenario where I end up quickly filling the USB ports on the back and without a proper audio out there isn't really a way to use speakers without going with some sort of HDMI audio stripping accessory.

Reverting back to my original plan. Bleh.

Edit: I love the look of the "BM643" from Inwin but it doesn't seem to be actually available for purchase anywhere.

What country are you from? I filtered a list of cases on Pcpartpicker that should be similar, and one the top right corner you can change the country and the list should remove things that are not available.
- With PSU included
- Without PSU
 
Last edited:

selfnoise

Member
Oct 25, 2017
590
What’s the smallest MicroATX case on the market? I feel like I’m overpaying for components just for the sake of them being small.

In my experience most MicroATX cases are cheap, but not very small. Or expensive but not very small.

This case is the smallest I've seen that isn't a low-profile build. But it's stupid expensive.

Then you have mini-itx cases, that are quite small but expensive and a PITA to build in usually.

I've been thinking of going to mini-itx for a PC I am building for my daughters with old components, but I can't actually find a used Haswell mini-itx Mobo for cheap, everyone wants one billion dollars.
 

Meatwad

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,441
USA
I have one of the original Alienware Alpha consoles and it's a damn shame Dell discontinued this line

 
Oct 29, 2017
5,680
What’s the smallest MicroATX case on the market? I feel like I’m overpaying for components just for the sake of them being small.
Smallest there is (in volume), it is probably a streacom fansless thing.

But without getting into premium cases, knowing you don't need room for a GPU, I think as affordable options go, it may be between Antec VSK2000U, Rosewill R379-M or that Cooltek Coolcube Maxi posted at the top of the page, which is also know as the Jonsbo V4.

Edit: Actually the Jonsbo C2 is smaller than the V4 and also mATX. But like I said, Jonsbo cases you may have to buy thru Ali Express.
 

maximumzero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,767
New Orleans, LA
I have one of the original Alienware Alpha consoles and it's a damn shame Dell discontinued this line

Man I remember lusting over them so bad. Such a shame SteamOS didn't catch on.

Smallest there is (in volume), it is probably a streacom fansless thing.

But without getting into premium cases, knowing you don't need room for a GPU, I think as affordable options go, it may be between Antec VSK2000U, Rosewill R379-M or that Cooltek Coolcube Maxi posted at the top of the page, which is also know as the Jonsbo V4.

Edit: Actually the Jonsbo C2 is smaller than the V4 and also mATX. But like I said, Jonsbo cases you may have to buy thru Ali Express.
Not crazy about the "cube" form factors, but the Antec and Rosewill cases you recommended are definitely good starting places.

Thanks.
 

maximumzero

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,767
New Orleans, LA
So it just occurred to me that going with the Antec VSK2000U means I have to purchase a $80 power supply, which completely negates the purpose of buying a mATX case in the first place.

Bleh, this is always so difficult.