Powerful Small Form Factor Mini-ITX PC Build

s4 mini itx pc upgrades
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A few months ago I built a do all compact PC in an NFC Systems S4 Mini. That system worked well, but left me wanting better gaming and rendering performance. I also wanted a PC capable of playing VR games on at least high settings with no problems. So it’s time for some upgrades.

Case & Build Components

mini itx build parts

Fitting and cooling high end components in a compact mini-itx case raises some issues. You really have to plan your build and component selection ahead of time. That is why you see an Intel Core i7-7700 instead of a 7700K, and a GTX 1060 Mini instead of a full sized version with a beefy cooler.

For the case I am sticking with the S4 Mini. This is still my favorite mini itx case by far. It is extremely compact but you can fit some pretty powerful components inside.

One of the best things about modern CPU’s and GPU’s is there efficiency. The amount of power you can get from a 120W GPU, and a 65W CPU is downright impressive.

COMPONENTPART NAME
CPUIntel Core i7-7700
GPUZotac GTX 1060 6GB Mini
RAMCorsair 32GB DDR4 2400MHz
MotherboardMSI H170I Motherboard
HDDIntel 600P 256GB NVMe m.2 SSD
Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SATA SSD
Samsung 840 EVO 120GB SATA SSD

 

PSUHDPlex 160W PSU
HP 230W Power Brick
OSWindows 10 64-bit
CaseNFC Systems S4 Mini

Choosing a Power Supply

mini itx build power supply

In the previous build I went with a Pico 160xt and 192W Power Brick. That is a great power supply for low powered mini-itx systems. The addition of the GTX 1060 added the need for a beefier PSU with a 6-pin connector.

HDPlex offers up several compact solutions to this problem. Most notably the HDPlex 160W and HDPlex 300W. The 300 is capable of handling heavier loads, but the 160 is more compact and easier to work with.

hp 230w 19v power brick

I went with the HDPlex 160W. My system sees peak loads at the wall up to around 193W. So the added beef of the 300 is not necessary. Using the 160 keeps the case internals nice and neat, while increasing air flow.

I paired the HDPlex 160W with a 230W HP power brick. You can pick up the pair for around $80 together. If you have the money, I would go for the Dell 330W brick, which will make upgrades easier in the future.

Full System Build

You can check out the full build process in the video above, as well as listen to noise test.

CPU Performance Benchmarks

i7-7700 processor

With its 4.0GHz boost clock the Intel Core i7-7700 is a great all around CPU. It handles games with ease, as well as taking on rendering duty with no problem. I found it to be a snappy and efficient CPU. Here are the CPU benchmarks.

BENCHMARKSCORE
Cinebench874
Passmark CPU Mark11420
Geekbench16059 – multi core
4066 – single core
3D Mark CPU Test5012
CPU-Z8917 – multi core
2030 – single core
PCMark 87752

pc mark 8 test results

The PCMark 8 test was very interesting. My seemingly mid-range system posted a score of 7752. Which is better than 97% of all systems submitted. This is proof that you don’t necessarily need top of the line components to create a very powerful system. Achieving overall system balance is important.

Graphics Performance Benchmarks

mini itx build gpu and ssd

The Zotac GTX 1060 Mini is the cheapest 6GB 1060 that I have found. I picked one up for $229.99 which is an absolute steal. The GTX 1060 represents the best value in price to performance ratio in NVidia’s 10 series lineup. Lets take a look at the GPU benchmark.

GPU TESTSCORE
Cinebench146.06
Passmark10174
3D Mark Timespy4315
3D Mark Firestrike11513
Heaven 4.03374- 133.9 fps
Steam VR Test7.8 – High
Tomb Raider55.42 avg fps
min 13.31
max 126.01
CS: Go390 avg fps
min 279
max 4481

In testing the system performed as expected. You will be able to play virtually any game at 1080p/60fps. You will be able to play a lot of games at 1440p/60fps as well. This cards is a mini beast, don’t be thrown off by reviews saying to cooler is not good. As long as you don’t do any heavy over clocking you won’t have any issues.

Power Draw

s4 mini build internals

Under full 4k gaming load the system hit a peak of only 193W from the wall in my testing. It typically hovers between 134-163W when gaming or rendering. This is a super efficient build. The performance per watt rating is off the charts.

Temperatures

Furmark and Prime 95 were used for system stress testing. I kept both the CPU and GPU fan on there silent profiles. You could easily lower the max temps by ramping up the fan speed.

STATECPUGPU
IDLE33C36C
GAMING51C72C
STRESS87C82C

Conclusion

upgraded compact mini itx pcI set out to upgrade my original system with some more capable components. What I ended up with was a better all around system. From the power supply to the graphics, this system is better in every way. It works well for gaming, video editing, and productivity alike.

I am thrilled with this build. I am excited for the future of mini-itx small form factor PC’s.

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7 Comments

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  1. Spencer says:

    I am looking to do this same build, but with the following modifications:

    – no GPU
    – replace the 2 SATA SSDs with 2 2TB SATA HDDs
    – replace the HD Plex with the 160 Pico PSU

    My question is, will the Pico work in the configuration on this page considering the fact that I am not installing a GPU?

    • Jay Mattison says:

      Yes it should work just fine. I ran a i7-7700 and GTX 1050 Ti off of a Pico 160xt with no issues. Are you using an S4 Mini case?

      • Spencer says:

        Yes sir! I currently have a pc from a build I did a while ago and it works great, but its full size and draws a lot of power. So I’m just looking to do a SFF build that consumes much less power but can still be used for work and other stuff. Thanks!

  2. jikura says:

    What about i7 7700k with 1050ti lp? Could pico 160w run this configuration?

    • Jay Mattison says:

      Yes, that would definitely work. Although cooling the 7700K in compact cases can be challenging.

  3. Alex says:

    Post and video are great!! But I have a doubt, I have been checking the consume of all your components and they in total are 228W! How is this possible if the picoPSU is 160W? Maybe I am wrong and also I have to say that I do not understand much about energy and PSUs… All that consume depends of power brick only?

    • Jay Mattison says:

      How are you calculating the power draw? It’s a 65W CPU and a 120W GPU. Under what scenario would this system be hitting 228W?

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