Shrinking from ATX to mini-ITX- should I go skylake?


#1

Long story short I’m going to buy a new motherboard and I’m wondering if I should stick with Haswell or if it’s worth moving to Skylake since I’m buying a new mobo anyway.

I’ve currently got an i5 4670K on an ATX motherboard in a big mid-tower case because I had a bunch of HDDs lying around I wanted to throw in there. I have since found that I do want to carry my PC around to different places so although my case has a handle it’s still big and heavy. I looked up some mini ITX cases and the BitFenix Prodigy can accommodate a full size GPU and ATX PSU, so while I may need to consolidate some 3.5 in HDDs into a 2.5 inch I should be able to shrink to mini ITX simply with a new case and a new motherboard.

But if I’m buying a new motherboard, should I not just go ahead and get one with Skylake support? That balloons the cost a bit since I need to get a CPU, a newer mobo, and probably DDR4 RAM (most Skylake mobos don’t support DDR3 right?). My impression of PC purchases has always been just buy what you need but would getting skylake now save me headaches down the line since I’m already going to be investing in a new mobo?

P.S. The black BitFenix Prodigy has a mesh front while the colored ones have a solid front; does the mesh really make that much of a difference in air flow to matter? The colored ones are very pretty.


Quick Questions XIII: Answers Return
#2

I still love this guy (http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=276) for how unadorned and powerful it is (I’m running a Titan X in it and the PSU is fine and it actually fit with some very minor modifications), but the bitfenix looks more transportable

no Skylake CPU will be a more than 10% upgrade on your 4670k (unless you feel like getting one of the new 6- or 8-core desktop socketed ones but I’m not sure if those are gonna be out for Skylake until next year, and they’re expensive, and last I checked the only ITX mobo that supports the special socket was >$200), so I’d strongly suggest against upgrading. even though the mobo will be $100 which is not negligible, it’s almost impossible in real terms to “future-proof” a motherboard; you buy one for the CPU you have.


#3

Sounds about right, thanks for the help. It’s interesting how although there are sleeker cases out there in line with modern tech device visual design sensibilities the black box aesthetic still endures in the desktop PC space.


#4

I’ve been looking at this since I got the crazy idea to make a SteamOS box in my head. If you want a full-on portable-like case, the ML08 (http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=607&area=en) has a variant that comes with a carrying handle so you can lug it around with you like a Gamnecube something small and IIRC it should be roughly a little larger than an Xbone. Compared to the case Felix posted, though, you’ll have to pay for a PSU.

Of course, my plan, if it were to ever come to fruition, would be to stick some cheap AMD APU and hope I can snag a cheap GTX 950 or replace my current GPU and give it the 760 I have now.


#5

I’m not sure how cheap is cheap but there was a Zotac mini GTX970 for like $200-something last week being sold through ebay. I might have to keep an eye on that site more often.


#6

recently, i’ve had a similar discussion (upgrade to skylake or go w/ an older CPU) in regards to building a small gaming rig. the thing is - i want it to be passive cooling.
My trusty/rusty AMD Phenom II 965-X4 (Black Edition) machine is still going strongly, and the loudest bits are the three Samsung (5400rpm) 1TB HDDs and the bequiet PSU (oh the irony).


As far as fans go, I only have noctua fans in there, but the idea of having a totally silent™ rig is tempting … (yeah, i know that even if I use a cooling tower like that, having an AMD CPU is a no-go when it comes to passive cooling.)


#7

if you already have an OK GPU, you’re probably better off waiting for whatever nvidia replaces the 960/970 with a year from now when they FINALLY roll out a mid-end 14nm card

I wouldn’t buy anything weaker than a 970 but it still costs way more than I’m used to paying (granted, I’m in canada, and our currency dove recently).

to be honest though I’m not really feeling PC gaming these days, which is a huge shift from last generation when consoles were basically a ghetto (that happened to have souls games) as long as you had a 9800 GT.

very little of what I play has a mod scene, there’s no more steam free-for-all, I’ve pretty much given up tolerating windows, DRM has gotten better so you can no longer casually pirate to try before you buy, AAA PC ports are increasingly poorly optimized on the assumption that it’s mainly a hobby for people who want to dump tons of money into hardware, and the PS4 is just so good, in terms of getting indie titles and being inobtrusive and handling suspend and resume from within games, that I’m finding a lot less value in the Titan X (which I got free for work anyway) than I expected.

for now, virtually all indie titles that don’t get released on PS4 right away will run on a macbook due to economies of scale and the recent HD5000+ Intel chipsets being basically comparable to the old 9800 GT anyhow, and even if your “macbook” is actually a venue 11 pro running gnome 3 like me, it’s hard to feel like that + a console isn’t the way to go for the next few years.

there are exceptions (I have a whole mess of old console-to-USB dongles, so when a local multiplayer game comes out I’m much more likely to buy it on PC than PS4 since four dualshocks is too much money, and I like having stuff on linux anyway), but they’re few, and for AAA stuff that requires more than intel graphics, it’s suddenly like a done deal.


#8

it’s not that I don’t agree with this (says the guy with all the consoles and a couple of PCs and the handhelds), but my innate need to build and tinker keeps me coming back for more. idle hands and all that.

also, yes, I’m aware that GPUs were on firesale on Black Friday but I didn’t have tabs on all my money that day and I ended up spending whatever cash I held onto on games I’m not going to play anyway (I’ve actually beaten 2 of those and am just about there on a third but those don’t count). hooray for virtual monopolies anyway, RIP AMD.


#9

I feel like it’s less that PC gaming isn’t as good but that consoles have become very similar alternatives as far as mainline gaming goes. Most everything is being channeled through Steam and the cream of the crop get console ports because indie support is way better now. On the flipside we’re seeing more Japanese games getting PC release so if someone likes PC they’re getting better support in an area it’s been lacking in. So really you can’t go wrong with either one but it can feel silly trying to justify both. I know I’ve been thinking recently about how a lot of things I play come are coming out on both PC and PS4 and both versions are equivalent for now (I play 1080 on PC) so it doesn’t matter too much where I buy it. I still usually go PC because HDD space is unfortunately a premium on PS4.

Back onto the PC cases the guy at Microcenter told me that the BitFenix Prodigy case I wanted was discontinued so I can either buy the black or white ones on Amazon for $110 (I wanted one of the colored ones) or I can find something else. Maybe I’ll looking for something that isn’t actually super old like that ML08 notbov linked (edit: would be great but it doesn’t have enough HDD slots) or this funny submersible looking thing.

Edit: Actually the PC version of Darius Burst has multi-monitor support so PC wins.


#10

When I build my next machine it’s going to be all about the IO. I am so excited to run 2 4x NVMe SSDs in RAID-0. I have no idea when I’m actually going to be able to justify such a thing, but I want it

I wish the graphics card situation was a little better. Nvidia is taking its sweet time with a new card, and AMD is busy catching GPUs on fire with shitty drivers.


#11

AMD is just catching up to the time Nvidia blew up cards with a shitty driver

always playing catch up…

I wish AMD was an option for a SteamOS/Linux build but good lord, their Linux drivers, the gulf in performance between the two is just unbelievable (literally looking at a graph where a Fury X gets beat by a 950)

anyway, is it wrong that I almost bough a pair of monitors from NEC’s clearance sale because of the allure of Darius Burst

(aha, a chance to share this pic again)


#12

@Felix @notbov did you guys transition an existing install to mITX or did you do a brand new one? I can’t find a consistent answer on whether I have to reformat my pc when switching motherboards. I’m likely to be switching brands (from Asus to ASrock or Gigabyte) and chipsets (from Z87 to Z97) just due to reviews and availability.

I also just realized I might have a big problem. I know that these small form factor cases can be very tight on space so how big of an issue is it that my GPU now bends like this?


#13

Uhhh what? It actually works like that??

Yeah, it’s a problem. Those slot connectors aren’t made to handle mechanical stress like, at all.

But that looks like misalignment, not that it doesn’t fit. Is the whole motherboard skewed? The RAM doesn’t look like it lines up straight with the back of the case either.


#14

I haven’t done a new build yet, it’s just an idea floating about. If I did, it would be from the ground up, so I would have one system at my “desk” and one by the TV (note that the distance between these two things is less than 15 ft and that I should just buy a HDMI cable but that’s no fun).


#15

well, I guess I have to slightly revise my position on “there’s almost nothing nowadays that won’t run on a PS4 or a MacBook that I care about” position now that the xcom 2 requirements are out and the minimum is basically equal to the very top of the line desktop broadwell iris pro. That’s a surprise, actually. And they keep going on about mod support, too! I do hope it’s good. So many games have already ripped off new xcom and it was fairly obvious that new xcom was missing very little to be a classic.


#16

also I just noticed that fully two thirds of my steam library (88/131) supports linux now so I have to give credit where credit is due, as much as I am a self-loathing linux user.


#17

I also noticed this past week that mITX Z97 boards are kind of hard to come by these days. I guess since that’s more of an enthusiast chipset people move quickly to the latest thing.


#18

yeah, there’s usually only one or two highest-end-chipset mITX boards per generation unless something has changed (asrock and zotac).


#19

I found a good case for you

On a serious, less asshole note, have you considered going mATX? There seems to be a lot more options in both cases and motherboards and you can still get pretty tiny.


#20

mATX is a lot less impressively tiny. mATX is just not-fucking-huge like ATX is. I did mATX in 2003 and 2009 and it doesn’t seem novel at all.