This is a slightly edited re-post of a retrospective build log I made on the small but excellent SmallFormFactor.net forum.
I mentioned here that about 15 years ago, I ditched PC’s and Windows and switched to the Mac (a 12” iBook!) and OS X as my every day driver, I also switched to consoles for gaming.
At PAX 2014 I was totally overwhelmed to see just how much had changed in the world of PC’s during my self-imposed exile. Probably the most striking change was quality - no longer the realm of mostly ugly beige and only sometimes black boxes, grey power supplies, messy cables and worst of all loud rigs.
Reinvigorated, I embarked on an adventure of investigation to build a gaming rig as an alternative to the Xbox One. My last PC was built in an Antec Aria and it was extremely…snug, I had some ‘SFF’ heritage to build off and intended to go back down that path.
The goals I set for the build were:
- Handle any game I could throw at it, at 1080p for gaming on a TV.
- Living room level quiet
- ITX preferred/can’t take up too much room
- Component flexibility, leaving options open for water-cooling or full size GPU/PSU.
- If it was going to be in the living room (and being a Mac user), it couldn’t be ugly.
Enough babbling…onto the parts list!
Case: BitFenix Prodigy Mini-ITX White
Case add-ons: Cat (Dax), Window side panel, Black Mesh front panel with red trim
PSU: Corsair AX760i
Motherboard: MSI Z97I Gaming AC mITX
CPU: Intel Core i5 4960K (OC: 4.0Ghz)
Disk: Crucial MX100 512GB
RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury 2x8GB 1866Mhz DDR3 - Black (OC: 2133Mhz)
GPU: MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4G
Corsair Hydro H100i
Corsair SP120 Red LED x2
Corsair AF140 Quiet Edition
Corsair AF12 Quiet Edition White LED x2
Corsair Commander Mini
Corsair K65 RGB Keyboard
Corsair Sabre RGB Laser
CableMod C-Series AXi Cable Kit Black/White
Black with white LED replacement power button that seemingly everyone uses.
And now, some photos:
H100i and AX760i from Amazon, Dax doing border import inspection.
Back in my day, PSU’s came in cardboard boxes and where all the same shade of grey. Now they come in pretend velvet bags!
My wife approves.
Dax - Chief PC Build Operations Officer
The Prodigy PSU cage is pretty snug for a beefy unit like the AX760i
This revision of the case has a more sensible cutout in the cage than the original…
All my pre-purchase measurements checked out. AF140 exhaust fit with a couple of mm to spare from the rad and hoses.
What I didn’t account for was the length of the hoses. Ideally I would have mounted the rad with the hoses at the front…but the front intake AF120’s ended up being a little too thick. Thankfully it wasn’t a build-ending-event.
Black heat spreaders on the Kingston RAM were a good match. Also a little preview of the replacement PSU cables :)
Had to drill the existing cutaway out a little to fit the back of the new power switch though the inside panel. I ended up swapping the original side panel with the vented side panel with no switches or ports for aesthetics and one less bunch of cables to run inside the case. I made the mistake of thinking I’d be able to remove the switch after the hole was drilled to solder on the wires…I was mistaken. Many fingers were burnt in the attachment of these wires.
Most of the hardware installed, this was the moment I realised the slightly-smaller-than-I-realised window was going to be totally consumed by the GTX 970’s dual-fans.
Let the cabling begin! Closer look at the CaseMod cable replacements…summary: really nice.
It lives!…with dummied in cables
After the first few months of running with the GTX 970 fans taking up the whole side window, I figured I wanted to actually see more of the stuff inside the case and that the card would run cooler with the vented panel right next to it anyway….so…I sorta pulled all the cables out to start over.
Swapped the side panels around and convinced myself that I’d never actually be happy with the cabling, so this is ‘done’.
Much better view from this side of the video card!
Inside of the case runs quite cool even under load, so using interior air exhausting though the rad works really well…looks good too :cool:
Front panel illumination looks cool though the mesh, exactly the effect I was going for.
That’s a wrap! The Prodigy is a great, if a little big, mITX case if you’re looking to dip (or re-dip) a toe into the PC building waters. It’s flexibility is it’s strength, giving you plenty of options for expansion and custom water-cooling if you’re that way inclined.
I’d probably classify this as a semi-SFF build, living in a small apartment with limited space and 2 gamers (and 2 TV’s…and 2 Xbox’s…you get the idea) it’s worked out to be slightly bigger than I was after. Planning has started on squishing this build into the positively petite Raijintek Metis.