All AMD mini-ITX Build – 3700X + 5700
12th July 2019
Reference blower style coolers on GPUs don’t get a lot of love from enthusiasts. They are typically loud and don’t do a great job of cooling. In my review of the 5700 I found that the GPU has been artificially “gimped” by AMD and you can’t push the clocks beyond 1850Mhz. Not a great move by the company, but as a result even with the power target maxed – and an aggressive fan curve – the GPU stayed around the 68c under load, and remained relatively quiet, especially for the Portuguese summer where 35-40c is common. With this in mind, the 5700 felt like a perfect fit for an all-AMD mITX build.
AMD also sent me their new Ryzen 3700X and 3900X for review so I’m pairing the 5700 with the 3700X for this project.
This machine will be dual-booting Linux and Win10 for some testing, so the storage used is very limited at 128GB. If you are building something similar, I’d obviously recommend getting a larger SSD. M.2 drives are now at price parity, so go for one of those.
The AIO liquid cooler is not a requirement as the included box cooler that comes with the Ryzen 3700X will perform about the same, but the AIO does allow us to route hot air from the CPU out through the bottom of the case instead of having it circulate inside, heating other components unnecessarily.
Lastly, for those who might be wondering, the 500W PSU is indeed plenty fine for this configuration.
Note 1: It is highly recommended that you build the system first on top of a cardboard box (or of your desk if it’s non-conductive – aka not metal) first and make sure everything is working – including installing your OS of choice – before actually mounting the components inside the case.
Note 2: For this build log I will skip some of the fundamentals as I’m assuming you already know how to build a PC. I’ll focus on a few of the particulars of building a mini-ITX system, but I’ll skip over things like sitting the CPU on the socket, adding thermal paste, etc.
Before you start, it’s highly recommended that you use a long screw driver with a magnetic bit for the build process. Building in a mITX case is a nightmare otherwise.
Firstly, I mounted the PSU vertically to the left-hand side of the case, at the bottom, as seen above. This allows the PSU to pull in air from the side, and exhaust through the bottom. There’s a handy power extension that comes with the Evolv Shift that will route the power cord to the back of the case.
Make sure you slot in the motherboard I/O shield before adding any other components.
The motherboard fits in as seen above. There’s an included fan to the right that comes included with the case, this will ensure plently of airflow coming in. The hot air generated will exit mostly through the top of the case, with the exception of the aforementioned CPU radiator. Speaking of which….
IMPORTANT: Depending on the GPU you use, you might not be able to mount the fan in a push configuration as seen above. If your GPU is too long then the radiator will be mounted as is, but the fan will need to be mounted in the bottom of the case in a pull configuration.
There’s a removable SSD caddy that lets you screw the SSD in and then slide it in to the case. There are two of these if you wish to add more storage.
The Shift comes with a riser cable and this is a good time to plug it in. It routes to the back of the case where the GPU is mounted.
The GPU mount bracket is adjustable, so you can configure it depending on how you wish to position the GPU. Slotting it in to the riser cable extension is easy, just make sure to screw the GPU securely at the top (not seen here).
We can start plugging in all the cables and it’s a good idea to start with the longest ones first. Route the PCIe power connectors to the GPU, making sure nothing is touching any of the fans.
The power cable can be a bitch to plug in. Follow your motherboard instructions to make sure you are connecting it to the correct pins. In the case of the MSI gaming AC, it’s these two seen above.
Use some velcro straps to bundle the cables and tuck them away in this location in the back of the case. Make sure all the fans, power connectors, sata cables, etc, are connected before you do cable management.
After all these steps your build should look like the above, nice and tidy. There’s a handy “drawer” just under the motherboard tray where you can hide some of the cables away.
The back should look like this. The cable you see there crossing the GPU is the CPU power connector. I decided it looked too messy going through the front so it loops around like this. I don’t recommend this if you are going to be swapping GPUs a lot for testing, for obvious reasons, but otherwise it’s fine.
IMPORTANT: Before you mount the panels, make sure you thoroughly wipe the glass ones with window/glass cleaner (away from the components) with a fiber cloth. And when moving the case around always pick it up from the bottom support. Do not lift this particular case from the sides or from the top! as the panels might slide off as you do.
The case renders itself nicely to various orientations, and you can have it sideways under your TV in the living room for instance, or perhaps tucked behind your monitor in the orientation seen above.
Some components I would probably change are replacing the 3700X with the 3600. The R5 will perform about the same and generate less heat (I didn’t have one on hand to test, but early reviews seem to suggest this). I would also use higher clocked RAM at 3600MHz, but this GSkill kit used was the only one I had laying around that wasn’t being used in another system. Also, instead of the 5700, you can get a mini-ITX version of the 1070ti in the used market, Zotac has a nice dual-fan one. It will perform a bit slower than the 5700 but not by much, and you can probably find them for around $80-$100 less (used).
I will follow up with a post in the forums on how this machine performs, and what the cooling/sound situation is, as I’m still running some tests on it. Be sure to subscribe to the forum if you are interested in that.