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[SUCCESS] ITX gamer - GA-Z370N wifi - i5-8400 - GTX 970

Joined
Jan 23, 2018
Messages
6


Components

Fractal Design Node 202 mITX case
https://www.amazon.com/DP/B015MKDOPU/
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16811352058

Gigabyte Z370N WIFI Motherboard
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076VD4XV4/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813145046

Intel Core i5-8400 Processor
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0759FGJ3Q/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117824

G-Skill Aegis DDR4-3000 16 GB kit (2x8) F4-3000C16D-16GISB
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IW7Z66U/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820232417

Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev B with Noctua NF-A12x15 fan
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0069CQ7BE/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835185174

Corsair SF450 SFX PSU
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CGGOXWQ/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139156

2x Noctua NF-A12x15 case fans in GPU compartment
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071W6HJP6/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAADY5SE4711



Already owned

Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB 2,5" SATA SSD
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OBRE5UE/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
https:///www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820147373

Seagate 2.5" 2TB 5400rpm HDD (ST2000LM015 Barracuda Guardian)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX13P71/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIAA7W78D0357

Asus GTX 970 Strix OC (fan+shield removed and cooled by Noctua case fans via cardboard airflow duct)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NJ9BJ8G/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

Apple/Broadcom BCM94360CD 3x3 AC WIFI card in M.2 A/E-key adapter for native WIFI/BTLE in macOS

Lenovo 24" 1080p display with internal USB 3.0 Hub

Dell AC511 USB soundbar - USB powered, built in USB sound card, built in stereo mic with noise cancellation, iPhone-compatible headset jack (mic+stereo support)

Apple Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard

Logitech MX518 mouse


Comments

After owning MacBooks, Mac Minis and, most recently, an iMac as my primary home computers, I wanted to get back into gaming for the first time since 2010 or so. Before this build, I entered at the shallow end by buying a cheap Lenovo M83 SFF workstation PC (i5-4440, Q85 chipset, 16 GB DDR3) and plugging in a GTX 1050 Ti. I needed dual boot, as I am well stuck in the Apple ecosystem, but also wanted to do some gaming. That build worked well enough by retaining my everyday functionality in macOS and got me hooked playing PUBG on windows :)

So I planned this build for some more fps at lower noise, and also for the satisfaction of once again having built my very own rig.
The Node 202 case is a bit challenging, but I do appreciate a sleek and compact build combined with low noise, which is possible with a bit of effort.

The Build

Motherboard
Due to my choice of case, I needed an ITX board, and looked at all options available for Coffee Lake. I'm no fan of RGB lighting and other gaming-themed "features" - I just want a sober, functional build. I considered the Z370 chipset well as the more recent H350 and B310 chipsets. Even though USB 3.1 gen 2 was appealing, I opted for the older Z370 for OS-independent, BIOS-enabled VCore undervolting to keep CPU temps in check. This led me to choose between the Asrock Z370M-ITX/ac and the Gigabyte Z370N-WIFI. In the end I went with the Gigabyte due to the better audio codec (although I'm currently using USB-audio), and due to an additional M.2-slot on the back of the board for future proofing.

CPU
The i5-8400 is a true bargain from a value-per-dollar. Compared to the previous i5-7400 it gets two additional cores and a significant boost to clock speed, so it was an easy choice.

Cooler
The Big Shuriken 2 was supposed to be the most powerful cooler that could fit into the Node 202, and I am quite pleased with the performance (although I haven't tested any alternatives). With a modest -90 mV undervolt on Vcore, the CPU peaks at 78 C with FurMark and Prime95 at full load, and the Noctua fan at around 1700 rpm.

GPU
I bought this card used for its great performance per dollar (I got it for 1000 DKK, which is $158 USD at today's rate), and overclocked to a stable 1500 MHz on the core, it reaches around 5 TFLOPS which fits in nicely between a 1060 6 GB and a 1070 in terms of pure processing power. I removed the fans and shield from the heatsink and built an airflow duct from cardboard, so the GPU is cooled by the two Noctua 120mm fans in the GPU compartment of the case. This makes sure the GPU is always cooled by fresh air from outside the case. I connected the case fans to the GPU by modding the plug from the stock fan onto a Y-splitter for PWM case fans. I hit around 79 C on the GPU core at 120% TDP, +200 MHz core, +300 MHz memory, +37 mV Vcore in MSI Afterburner with the case/GPU fans at 1800 rpm.

PSU
The Corsair SF450 is an awesome PSU, period. It takes around 15 minutes of furmark+prime torturing for the PSU-fan to even start spinning due to the high efficiency and it stays inaudible at all times.

WIFI/BT card
I already had the Apple/Broadcom wifi card for native support in my previous build, but this time around I wanted to integrate it in a cleaner manner. I pulled the stock Intel WiFi M.2 card from the mainboard, bent the shielding to fit an M.2-to-Apple 12+6 Pin-adapter and replaced the antenna connectors for different ones, so I could use my old stub-antennas instead of the ugly and large one that came with the mainboard. The card works perfectly and I have Magic Keyboard/Trackpad support in UEFI, Clover, Windows and macOS!

SSD/HDD and Dual Boot
In my old build (and I my iMac before that) I had split the 500GB SSD into a 300 GB Windows-partition and a 200 GB HFS+ partition. The 200 GB SSD partition was then grouped with the 2 TB HDD into a Core Storage Volume group for use as a 2,2 TB fusion drive, which works perfectly. I simply moved the drives into the new build without reinstalling. I had some issues with the EFI partition not being recognized by the UEFI, but after booting with a Clover USB flashdrive and re-installing/updating Clover on the SSD EFI partition, everything worked fine.


Post installation tweaks

I generated patched SSDT for the CPU and applied a fix to enable USB 3.0 in macOS 10.13.4.

Now, the system runs perfectly. As in "everything just works". The only detail is that About This Mac says "Unknown CPU", but who cares..

Pictures
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Last edited:
Joined
Oct 12, 2017
Messages
20
Motherboard
Gigabyte Z370n WiFi
CPU
Intel Core i7 8700
Graphics
Intel UHD 630
Mac
MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
Android
Hi man! First of all, congratulations on your build. is amazing.

I made a setup pretty similar to yours, except I have a i7 8700, but I'm facing reboot on specific moments (geekbench for instance, always reboots).
How do you made your undervolting? I see you don't have a "K" processor and as far as I know, the motherboard locks all voltage settings.
 
Joined
Jan 23, 2018
Messages
6
Hi man! First of all, congratulations on your build. is amazing.

I made a setup pretty similar to yours, except I have a i7 8700, but I'm facing reboot on specific moments (geekbench for instance, always reboots).
How do you made your undervolting? I see you don't have a "K" processor and as far as I know, the motherboard locks all voltage settings.

Hey!

Thanks - i couldn't be happier with the build :)

Undervolting works just fine for me, so i don't think you need an unlocked/K CPU for it.

Regarding your reboots, make sure not to undervolt too aggressively. As mentioned in my post, i've settled on a reduction of 90 mV. I could easily boot windows with -130 mV, but at that point the machine would crash or reboot during Prime95+Furmark torture testing. At -110 mV torture testing was stable, but playing PUBG still caused crashes and reboots. At -100 mV the machine seemed stable, but i wanted to give it a little safety buffer/headroom, so i settled on -90 mV in the end.
This illustrates that even minor changes can make quite a difference.

Make sure to set your undervolt in the right setting in the menu. I set mine in the following menu:

M.I.T - Advanced Voltage Settings - CPU Core Voltage Control - Dynamic Vcore(DVID)

Here i put -0.090V

This applies -0.090V to all voltages at all speed steps dynamically. The topmost Vcore setting (called CPU Vcore) sets a fixed Vcore, regardless of CPU load, which would probably affect power management negatively.
 
Joined
Oct 12, 2017
Messages
20
Motherboard
Gigabyte Z370n WiFi
CPU
Intel Core i7 8700
Graphics
Intel UHD 630
Mac
MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
Android
Oh Thank you so much for this info!

I streessed out myself looking on cpu and voltage settings. Never imagined it could be under m.i.t (which I just discovered it stands for Motherboard Intelligent Tweaking). I'll try it out later at home!
 
Joined
Oct 12, 2017
Messages
20
Motherboard
Gigabyte Z370n WiFi
CPU
Intel Core i7 8700
Graphics
Intel UHD 630
Mac
MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
Android
Hey!

Thanks - i couldn't be happier with the build :)

Undervolting works just fine for me, so i don't think you need an unlocked/K CPU for it.

Regarding your reboots, make sure not to undervolt too aggressively. As mentioned in my post, i've settled on a reduction of 90 mV. I could easily boot windows with -130 mV, but at that point the machine would crash or reboot during Prime95+Furmark torture testing. At -110 mV torture testing was stable, but playing PUBG still caused crashes and reboots. At -100 mV the machine seemed stable, but i wanted to give it a little safety buffer/headroom, so i settled on -90 mV in the end.
This illustrates that even minor changes can make quite a difference.

Make sure to set your undervolt in the right setting in the menu. I set mine in the following menu:

M.I.T - Advanced Voltage Settings - CPU Core Voltage Control - Dynamic Vcore(DVID)

Here i put -0.090V

This applies -0.090V to all voltages at all speed steps dynamically. The topmost Vcore setting (called CPU Vcore) sets a fixed Vcore, regardless of CPU load, which would probably affect power management negatively.
Just found it. Just actually had to use + and -. Thx a looot
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
Messages
2
CPU
i7-7700HQ
Graphics
Intel HD630 + GTX1050Ti
@FelixDK Many thanks, Felix. Very helpful also in my case. How could I determine the optimal value for any system by using a tool (not trial and error)?
Thank you!
 
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