I've built a new workstation based on the mini-ITX form factor. The full ATX form factor is probably going out of style for most desktop PC's. You can also consider it waste of resources to use a full tower ATX case when you can now squeeze everything into a mini-ITX form factor.
I decided to use the NR200 case from Coolermaster, just on its minimalistic design. So having decided on the case I decided to look at parts that would work well with the case.
The workstation part list:
- CPU - AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8 GHz 12-Core Processor
- CPU Cooler - Corsair iCUE H115i RGB Pro XT 63 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
- Motherboard - Asus ROG STRIX B550-I GAMING Mini ITX AM4
- Memory - Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16
- Storage - Samsung 980 Pro 1 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive
- Video Card - EVGA GeForce GTX 970 4 GB SSC ACX 2.0+
- Case - Cooler Master MasterBox NR200 Mini ITX
- Power Supply - Corsair SF 750 W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully Modular SFX
- 2x Noctua NF-S12A PWM
Here is the PC Part Picker link.
The radiator issue
So now comes the fun bit. Did it all fit and work properly. The answer is yes but a few issues did came up.
The biggest issue I faced was the tight tolerances for the radiator. The H115i even tough its rated as a 280mm radiator is actually a 315mm radiator. The extra length does not allow you to fit it into the NR200 without taking the the frame apart of the case. Once the frame is taken apart the you can fit it in. You have to stretch the back panel a bit to fit the radiator in. There is plenty of clearance for the tubes once it's in.
However due to extra 35mm on the H115i all the mounting points on the NR200 bracket are not available. However enough are available so that you can securely add it to the bracket. I only used two screws to secure the radiator and its not going anywhere as it's actually quite light.
The H115i supplied fans fit in nicely and once turned on very quite. There is no audible noise coming of the fans, even at 50cm away.
The motherboard and CPU
The motherboard is an Asus ROG STRIX B550-I, it's a very well built motherboard and the CPU is a 3900X. I was going to buy the 3900XT but I was reading reviews that they were the exact same thing and for some reason AMD decided to increase the price of the 3900XT for no gain in performance other then to boost the clock to 4.7gHz instead of 4.6gHz which is really not noticeable in any application. In regards to the B550 chipset, it is just as good as the X570. The X570 chipset really gives you no extra gain in performance unless you a pushing the system to the max. You save a few extra bucks by not buying into the hype.
The installation of the AIO to CPU was a bit tricky as the instructions from Corsair are as a basic as an IKEA manual. You have to pull out Intel bracket (apply some rotational force on the bracket and wiggle it out) and install the AM4 bracket, which you just push in, it does make click sound when inserted. I made the mistake of not adding the two screws to the AM4 bracket and then had to add them while the pump was on the motherboard. I could have removed it but the thermal paste was on it and I did not want to disturb it. It was a bit tricky as there is not much room in the case. Once tightened the AIO pump was very well secured.
Hoping to get the new 5900x once it comes out and selling the 3900x.
RAM and Storage
I was going to reuse my old RAM but I had 4 sticks of 4GB and the motherboard only take 2 sticks. So I bought 2 sticks of 16Gb for a total of 32GB at 3200Mhz. Which is a nice upgrade. I eventually want to go to 64GB as I do a lot multitasking with heavy workloads like rendering with large Sketchup files. Will have to wait.
I bought the latest 1TB Samsung 980Pro, I bought a little bit into the hype with 7,000MB/s of sequential read speed. That's just incredible read speeds. I have not fully tested it. The ASUS thermal sticker for the M.2 drive was bit of hairy moment as you get only one shot at installing it. You can take it off but I did not have any thermal stickers around for a second shot at installation.
Planning to get the new Nvidia 3700 RTX but currently it's in short supply. I'm just reusing my old 970GTX for now.
Case and Power Supply
The NR200 case is very well built, top marks for Coolermaster. I did buy the NR200P but I don't see how I'm going to use the tempered glass with the giant radiator blocking the view. If you want to use the tempered glass get a 240mm bottom mounted radiator. I just don't know how you can use the tempered glass with an AIO and a large graphics card (air cooled). I have to look into the clearances a bit more. The tempered glasses would really mess with the airflow in the case. Also Coolermaster don't really explain how you should you use the tempered glass on their website and not compromise airflow. I think they need a better design for the tempered glass option with a CPU AIO and a air cooled graphics card. They kind of just strapped on the tempered glass to the NR200 and were like, "this might work for you". If you run custom water cooling on the CPU and the GPU. I guess they give you the freedom, but if you want a quick build avoid the tempered glass option.
I had to reconfigure the front I/O. I remove the audio jack as I have a external USB amp. Once I plugged everything in and turned on the power I pressed the power button and nothing happened. It's kinda crazy that you put in all the work and if you don't wire the front I/O incorrectly and you get nothing. All this computing power waiting to be unleashed but two little cables are not on the right pin. I had to study the pin pattern make sure it's plugged at the right spot, make sure the LED's are in the right spot and the reset button. It's crazy that this is no standard design for the front I/O connection to the motherboard, there is no smarts built into it, no microchips, no simple connector. All the R/D went into GPU, CPU, the chipsets, but nothing into the front I/O which turns the computer on.
Motherboard and case manufactures please give the front I/O some love and just one connector please with some smarts so that you can't mess it up.
The top fans on the NR200 are not very good, the OEM fans are loud and the motherboard does not recognize them as chassis fans, so they are running at high RPM for no reason, it looks like they are running of the CPU temps rather then the mobo temps. I installed the ASUS AI software but that software is not very good. It creates a pop up in the bottom right hand corner which you cannot turn off. Once I saw that I uninstalled it straight away.
I installed 2 Noctua NF-S12A fans which work great. There are very quite below 1000RPM, once you go to 1100 RPM to 1200RPM you can start to hear the moving air.
The iCue software works great. I did buy a additional fan controller Corsair Commander Pro to manage the Noctua fans and add extra 2x USB 2.0 headers. But to my surprise the UBS 2.0 headers did not work. I don't know if a faulty board or if it's a BIOS issue. I contacted Corsair and they did mention its a BIOS issue. So I might have to contact ASUS see if the have a solution for extra USB 2.0 headers.
But yeah, I'm sad that the extra two USB 2.0 headers don't work as I can't monitor my CPU temps and fan speeds and also can't mange my power supply or monitor 😥.
- AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
- 64GB RAM at 3200gHz
- Nvidia 3700GTX
- Extra USB 2.0 headers
I will run Benchmarks in the future but currently the PC has a old graphics card which will not give it a good score. The 970 GTX is now three generations behind.