Building a PC, Part IX: Downsizing

Those USFF “Mini” or “Tiny” enterprise designs are pretty amazing; basically a decent laptop, minus the screen, in a smaller but thicker footprint. However, they just don’t have the cooling capacity to run flat-out continually. I have a oldish Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p Mini with an i5-4570T (2 HT cores, 2.9 base, 3.6 turbo), and it’s great for browsing, watching, and even light or retro gaming, but under significant loads (compiling or endcoding or folding@home), it throttles because of temperature quite quickly. And that’s with a 35W CPU! With a full 95W CPU, that fan will be going full blast quite quickly and it’s going to throttle very soon after. Yes, you have more cores, but there is just no way it’s taking advantage of the turbo clocks of those [unlocked] K CPUs for more than a few seconds before being slowed down to keep from overheating. Combined with the fact that it’s pretty rare to find those type of machines with a [non-enterprise] BIOS/UEFI that supports changing the multipliers, seems like putting a K series CPU in it might be kind of a waste.

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Did some downsizing myself a while ago, maybe the insights are relevant to you folks. :slight_smile:

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@codinghorror could you include the motherboard you used? I didn’t see a reference to it in the post.

Will you be forthcoming with benchmarks and temp under load as well?

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It’s not operational yet, but the use-case will be running parallel compiles for hours, so I will be able to report fairly quickly how it compares with the Z230 it replaces.

Was the fact the 3D-printed case not metal and thus not acting as a heat sink a problem?

Not at all. Even in relatively warm environments (well above 20°C) the components don’t appear to get unusually hot. The fans and the AIO are doing a good job moving the heat.

Yes, sort of. There are mobile class CPUs with reduced TDP and mobile class GPU modules. It can be tricky to source these however.

Right but who is actually running a live production database server on their desktop, doing thousands of queries per second? I think this is a bit of a fantasy. The more realistic scenario is compiling code or running unit tests. And even then, guess what we found with Discourse (Ruby)… the fastest boxes are all Intel i9-99xx!

Above is the post spec test, which is considerable at 10+ seconds of runtime.

Here’s my i9-9900ks Geekbench result for what it is worth.

That is the question, it depends how much the fans spin up. Right now I notice the video card (2080 RTX Ti founders edition) most of all – but it is unclear why the video card would suddenly decide to spin up to full 5000rpm?! I’m still looking at that. The 120mm and 140mm fans are fairly quiet; I may put a reducer on the 92mm fan (included with all Noctua fans) to keep it going slow as it tends to have a higher rpm due to its size I suppose:

Now that I look at this, it is interesting that the system fans are barely spinning up under load. :thinking: I guess it takes a while for system temps to raise enough.

Also @mrus your custom build is amazing. You’re right that the 860 QVOs get real weird (160mb/sec or lower) once you fill the internal caches. It’s almost like a fancy solid state tape drive :rofl:

@gortok I find motherboards are kind of interchangeable and not super interesting. I used the Aorus Z390 Pro WiFi on the DA2, and I am planning to use an Asus Z390 for the next DAN build.

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I’d hope no one is running production loads on their desktop :-).
Perhaps my remark was a bit off-topic but as a DBA, SQL is on my mind ;-).

Anyhow, I did test it myself by comparing workload running on a VM with 8 ‘slow’ cores compared to one with 4 fast(er) cores. The latter was the fastest even though it was 3 generations older. We’re talking about 2.5 vs 3.2 ghz here.

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I just doubt you’d get that kind of workload on a desktop, personally. Plus these desktop cores are 5.0 Ghz.

Note how close that is :wink:

I went ahead and installed the Noctua fan reducer on the 92mm fan since it’s the smallest one in the system and thus most likely to spin fast and noisy.

Minimum speed went from 779 rpm to 556 rpm.

This thing is kinda fun Motif Monument – Yuel Beast Designs

I build for quietness now. The only fan in my system is directly over the CPU – fanless power supply, fanless GPU, etc. I miss when computers weren’t noise polluters, and now we can have that again.

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Yes, this is very easy in today’s world, efficiency is fantastic! It used to be far harder, see: Building a Quiet PC

I ended up getting a 3 fan 2080 Ti to help, the Founders Edition is a dual fan and seems to lock in at minimum 1500 RPM for no reason :exclamation: The 3 fan model indeed works better in an open air environment, defaults to under 1000 RPM at idle, and fits well in this case particuarly with the bottom dust mesh removed.

So yeah, my recommendation is to get a 3 fan style card here, and avoid blower rear exhaust cards in these kinds of builds.

what makes you NOT considering a water cooling system :bowing_man:‍♂

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Just the bad experiences I had circa 2003. I’m sure the kits are better now, and the case I used (Streacom DA2) seems tailor made for a 280mm radiator…

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I’m trying my best to find a MoBo that says it supports 64GB of RAM and actually has qualified vendors that sell ram for it, and am… struggling.

Ah, well in that case you’re welcome to try mine, the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro WiFi … it definitely supports 64GB RAM because that’s what I have in it now:

If you build up a DAN A4 SFX you may want to put in the 92mm slim fans at the bottom. I personally feel this is only necessary if you’re really pushing the limits of high end CPU and high end GPU in such a small form factor?

Note that you might need to install these fans in as part of the initial build because it’ll get quite tight with cable routing.

Thanks!

I had originally gone with : https://www.amazon.com/ROG-Strix-Z390-I-Gaming-Motherboard/dp/B07HM57LVH due to its reviews; and it notionally supports 64GB, but neither crucial.com nor its own vendor list show any 64GB kits that work.

That’s funny, Crucial still shows only 32GB max ram usable with that Gigabyte 390

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