March 7th 2022

Small form factor PC refresh

The "small, but powerful, gaming machine" has seen a few new parts over the years but one of these parts (a new nvidia RTX 3080 ti founders edition) eventually pushed it beyond its cooling capabilities. My slim case was not well designed for handling the new flow through airflow design adopted by the newer RTX cards and any heavy usage caused the entire thing to fill with heat until eventually the PSU would call it quits. Ripping the top off of the case and adding a few extra USB fans helped to cool things off a bit but it was not a pretty sight, and the temperatures were still uncomfortably high...

You vs. the case she tells you not to worry about.

Finally, considering the difficulty I had getting hold of this new GPU and its status as the most expensive piece of my computer, I came to the realiziation that it was time for a better solution. A solution that was both prettier and smaller... Eventually I landed on the dan & lian li a4-h2o. At 11 liters (compared to the 14.6 liters of my old case) this thing was not only smaller and cooler (both literally and figuratively) but it was also a breeze to build. I cannot recommend it enough.

The new build actually runs so cool that it has put overclocking back on the table. With a new 5950x and 3080ti both running at peak efficiency inside it has put this mini-machine back in super computer territory, at least until next year.

Some assembly required.

Parts list

CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 3.4 GHz 16-Core Processor
CPU Cooler EK EK-AIO Basic 240 77 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler
Motherboard Asus ROG Strix B450-I Gaming Mini ITX AM4 Motherboard
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws V 64 GB (2 x 32 GB) DDR4-3600 CL18 Memory
Storage Western Digital Black SN850 (w/Heatsink) 2 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive
Video Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 12 GB Founders Edition Video Card
Case DAN Cases A4-H20 A4 Mini ITX Desktop Case
Power Supply Corsair SF 750 W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully Modular SFX Power Supply
Case Fan Phanteks PH-F120T30 67 CFM 120 mm Fans 3-Pack
Monitor Asus TUF Gaming VG27AQ 27.0" 2560x1440 165 Hz Monitor