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erik's "Tiny But Mighty" HTPC: ASRock Z370M-ITX/ac - i5-8400 - UHD 630 Graphics - High Sierra

Joined
Apr 7, 2011
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184
Motherboard
Asrock Z370 Extreme4
CPU
i7-8770k
Graphics
GeForce GTX 960
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MacBook Pro
Classic Mac
iBook
Mobile Phone
iOS
erik's "Tiny But Mighty" High Sierra Coffee Lake Build:
i5-8400- Asrock Z370m-ITX/AC - Intel UHD 630 - 16GB RAM



Components

Intel Core i5-8400 Coffee Lake 6-Core 2.8 GHz (4.0 GHz Turbo)
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117824

ASRock Z370 Extreme4 motherboard
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157795

16GB (2 x 8GB) G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series DDR4-2666 SDRAM
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D8U29QQ/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

250GB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 250GB VNMe PCI-Express 3.0 x4 SSD
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147593&cm_re=256_GB_EVO-_-20-147-593-_-Product

Noctua Low-Profile Quiet CPU Cooler for Intel 115x Based Retail Cooling NH-L9I
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009VCAJ7W/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

2x Noctua NF-A4x20 PWM premium-quality quiet 40mm fan
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071W93333/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

MITXPC MX500 Industrial Fanless Mini-ITX Case (VESA mountable)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B575EMA/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

Mini-Box picoPSU-160-XT High Power 24 Pin Mini-ITX Power Supply
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005TWE6B8/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

Mini-Box 12A/144W AC to DC Switching Power Supply 110-240vAC to 12vDC PicoPSU Compatible
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007XVD452/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

Broadcom BCM94352Z NGFF Dual Band 802.11ac 867M Wifi BT 4.0 Lenovo FRU 04X6020
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Broadcom-BCM94352Z-NGFF-Dual-Band-802-11ac-867M-Wifi-BT-4-0-Lenovo-FRU-04X6020/191855727748?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649


Comments

I had a 1.4 GHz Mac Mini I was using as an HTPC/home server. I had been getting fed-up with -- ironically -- how unstable this machine was in comparison to my hackintosh builds. Not to mention that it was slow and not upgradeable.

On the tail end of an 8700k build, I decided to sell the Mac Mini and do a mini-ITX HTPC build to replace it. I wanted a tiny case that my toddler wouldn't be able to reach. The ideal case seemed to be a Mini-ITX case that could be mounted to a VESA-bracket. The MITXPC MX500 fit the bill. It's not a gorgeous case, but it's the biggest VESA mountable case I could find that was inexpensive.

I decided to go a little overkill on the memory and system drive, opting for 16GB and a 256GB PCIE M2 SSD. Realistically, a 128GB SSD/8GB of DDR4 would do the trick. But I'd rather spend a little more and have some breathing room.

I knew I wanted Coffee Lake since it was by far the best value, and I had loved the ease and speed of my 8700k build. For that build I used an ASRock Extreme 4, and it was very, very easy to configure. So going ASRock was a no-brainer for me, which pushed me to the Z370M-ITX/ac board.

I swapped out the Intel wifi chip that came with the board with a Broadcom BCM94352Z NGFF Dual Band 802.11ac 867M Wifi chip, made by Lenovo (FRU 04X6020). There are hundreds of these on eBay shipping from China. Takes a while to get here, but they're only $20 and work great. Swapping this out took a little finesse -- you need to remove the Wifi modules, replace the M2 card, reattach antennas, and reattach Wifi module.

The stock fan on the Intel CPUs is too tall for the case I chose. A fan of Noctua, the NH-L9i was an easy choice. I paired it with a couple 40mm PWM fans set up to exhaust to help cool the case. I would have done an intake-exhaust setup across the case, but the fans are too wide to mount on the other side of the case. Shrug. For now it seems fine. The HSF blows down, pushing out hot air, which these fans help exhaust. I'll put some 10mm wide intake fans on the other side of the case if I can find some PWMs.

The most complicated part of the build was the CPU choice. I needed it to be low power (65w or less) and have working integrated graphics. For what I needed it for, the i3-8100 was plenty. Four cores, 3.6 GHz, UHD 630 graphics. So I ordered this first, without much of a thought. Several others have built i7-8700ks and got 100% functional integrated graphics, so I figured the i3, with the same graphics SKU, would work fine.

The build was easy. (More details below.) However, I could not get graphics acceleration to work. The GPU was recognized using Kaby Lake device ID, it was given full memory, etc. But no acceleration. I tried everything under the sun to get acceleration to work. No luck. I then re-tested by 8700k's integrated graphics to confirm acceleration. Worked like a charm. What gives? I searched other builds on this site, reddit, etc. and found that nearly all Coffee Lake builds were either 8700k builds or used an external GPU.

If you dig into the docs on the Coffee Lake GPUs, you'll find that the i5-8400 and up have device ID 3E92. Slower chips have 3E91. People had success with the 3E92 8700k integrated graphics, as did I. My hypothesis then was that the 3E92 GPUs would work, but the 3E91s would not.

I decided to order an i5-8400 -- which has device ID 3E92 -- to see if this would fix my problem.

I popped it in, booted the configuration I already had setup, and bam -- success! Full acceleration.

The end result is an $800, blazing fast, tiny 6-core build that hides behind my TV and can put the Mac Pros to shame!

Making the Build Work

BIOS

The default BIOS settings are almost perfect to get started. All the ACPI/USB/CPU/Chipset settings can basically be left aone.

The Installation

I used my Mac Mini to create a fresh install of High Sierra 13.1 on an external HD. I just selected the external on the install menu and followed the prompts as usual. I then downloaded the latest Clover, put a basic config.plist (the attached will work), installed FakeSMC, and booted into the drive. It worked first try! I then used SuperDuper to clone the drive to my 960 EVO and then installed Clover locally and copied over all of my kexts. Native boot worked and I was off and running to get my live system set up.

I also did a USB build using Unibeast when testing the broken graphics. That worked fine too. Pick your poison.

Config.plist

The config.plist used is in the attached zip. Here are the essentials.

ACPI: HDAS -> HDEF, HECI -> IMEI, GFX0 -> IGPU (the patches pre-programmed into Clover Configurator work fine

Boot: dart=0, -disablegfxfirmware

Devices: IntelGFX=0x59128086, Audio=1

Graphics: Inject Intel, ig-platform-id=0x59120000

Kernel and Kext Patches: Wifi patch

SMBIOS: iMac 18,3

Kexts

See the attached. I used:

RehabMan's FakeSMC kexts

IntelMausiEthernet for Ethernet

Lilu.kext + AppleALC + CodecCommander for sound

USBInjectAll + XHCI-200 series injector in /L/E to get USB to work on initial boot

Rehabman's FakePCIID + FakePCIID_Broadcom_Wifi kexts

RehabMan's Broadcom Kexts (BcrmFirmwareRepo, BcrmPatchRAM2)


SSDTs

I followed Rehabman's directions to create an SSDT to inject only the USB ports on the motherboard. Works great.

I created a power management SSDT using a PR on PikerAlpha's ssdtPRGen.sh script. This gets me full working power management.

Graphics

Intel graphics work fine.

Sound

I use AppleALC. Even though this is an HTPC, I did not try HDMI Audio (it should work fine). I actually prefer to use the sound with a cable because I can use my HTPC keyboard to adjust the volume without touching my receiver. Personal preference.

Networking

Ethernet works easily with IntelMausiEthernet. Wifi and Bluetooth work with the installed chip and patches.

Audio/Sleep

LILU + AppleALC + RehabMan's fork of CodecCommander work perfectly with no editing. I don't actually sleep because I use this as a server, but it does work.

USB

SSDT injects the correct ports and I have no problems.

Power/Thermals

Idles in the low to mid 30s and never goes over 50C in Geekbench. When doing backups to an attached USB hard drive on it, it sits in the 40s. Haven't tried "torturing" it, and don't plan to. Intel Power Gadget hasn't had it hit over 55w, so the 144w power brick/160W Pico PSU should be absolutely plenty.

Performance

Geekbench:
https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/compare/5170862?baseline=4928409




Conclusion

This is one of the favorite builds I've ever done. Besides the missteps with integrated graphics, this was a very easy build and it works great. I love that it mounts to my TV, is super fast, and runs cool.

Next Steps

Around the holidays I will probably put a 4gb internal HDD in it to streamline network backups. May pose some thermal challenges, but we'll see!
 

Attachments

Last edited:
Joined
Nov 4, 2017
Messages
5
What a great build, Erik! I'm also considering the ASRock Z370 Mini-ITX, but then the Fatal1ty Z370 Gaming-ITX/ac, because that has USB-C onboard. Did you consider that board as well and if so, why didn't you pick that?
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2011
Messages
184
Motherboard
Asrock Z370 Extreme4
CPU
i7-8770k
Graphics
GeForce GTX 960
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MacBook Pro
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iOS
What a great build, Erik! I'm also considering the ASRock Z370 Mini-ITX, but then the Fatal1ty Z370 Gaming-ITX/ac, because that has USB-C onboard. Did you consider that board as well and if so, why didn't you pick that?
Thanks!

The gaming itx board costs $50 more and I do not need its features.

Looks like a good board though if you want what it has to offer!
 

trs96

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Did you go with APFS or avoid that ?
I’ve stuck with HFS on all my builds so far.

There doesn’t seem like much upside to APFS for desktop yet, besides the cool snapshot stuff. I don’t have a strong opinion but I’ve not yet been compelled—longer boot times plus uncertainty over things working right doesn’t sound like a good deal to me. I’ll let everyone else figure it out in the mean time!
 
Joined
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Excellent. Your two Coffee Lake builds have me considering ASRock which I hadn't before. Now you are showing that you can switch out the wifi, which was the reason I had not considered ITX - couldn't do that with the ASUS or Gigabyte ITX boards and I need the PCIE slot for a GPU.

Building an ITX video editor is back as a possibility. Excellent. I don't see the 32gb RAM ceiling as a limit for the next couple years in my work.

Yes, the ASRock Fatal1ty Z370 looks good.
 
Joined
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Messages
184
Motherboard
Asrock Z370 Extreme4
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i7-8770k
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GeForce GTX 960
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Excellent. Your two Coffee Lake builds have me considering ASRock which I hadn't before. Now you are showing that you can switch out the wifi, which was the reason I had not considered ITX - couldn't do that with the ASUS or Gigabyte ITX boards and I need the PCIE slot for a GPU.

Building an ITX video editor is back as a possibility. Excellent. I don't see the 32gb RAM ceiling as a limit for the next couple years in my work.

Yes, the ASRock Fatal1ty Z370 looks good.
Be aware that replacing the wifi chip does take a little work. You need to remove the metal-encasement using a screw driver (two screws). Then you have to disconnect the old card from the antennas, replace the new card, slide it back into the M2 slot, and re-screw it. It's not extremely difficult, but it does take some finesse! It is not as easy as on some boards where you have direct access to the card without removing anything. On the other hand, the final result is more aesthetically pleasing!!
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Messages
65
Motherboard
GA-Z77X-UP5 TH
CPU
i7-3770K
Graphics
HD 7970
Be aware that replacing the wifi chip does take a little work. You need to remove the metal-encasement using a screw driver (two screws). Then you have to disconnect the old card from the antennas, replace the new card, slide it back into the M2 slot, and re-screw it. It's not extremely difficult, but it does take some finesse! It is not as easy as on some boards where you have direct access to the card without removing anything. On the other hand, the final result is more aesthetically pleasing!!
Thanks for mentioning and that is something I'm fully comfortable with. You are getting full speed on the wifi?
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2011
Messages
184
Motherboard
Asrock Z370 Extreme4
CPU
i7-8770k
Graphics
GeForce GTX 960
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MacBook Pro
Classic Mac
iBook
Mobile Phone
iOS
Thanks for mentioning and that is something I'm fully comfortable with. You are getting full speed on the wifi?
Yep, says 867 in system information even downstairs from router
 
Joined
Nov 29, 2017
Messages
8
Motherboard
AsRock z370m AC
CPU
Intel i3 8100
Thank you Erik, since i have similar build (yes, indeed without dedicated GPU as well), i copied everything and it worked great. igpu worked quite bad :(

my problems started after few boot, always hanged before loading desktop (in verbose mode, it hanged when the boot screen arrived with apple logo, so i can not see what was going on). than i tried to boot without any boot flag, no chance. than i tried to started with only fakesmc.kext, it worked... one by one i load the kexts, my problem starts with Lilu.kext

well, i think in a few i'll buy msi gt 1030 - heatsink model, and need to clone my SSD to reformat in HFS+ and reclone back (will it work? on my mbp carboncopy clone was working well)

my build:

z370m itx ac
i3 8100
 
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