01 Jun 2023 - by 'Maurits van der Schee'
I've built another small form factor PC for office use (and light gaming). This time I wanted to upgrade my silent but powerful small form factor PC. You can read about my Antec ISK 110 with and how it's AMD 3400G CPU was limited by the power supply here. The Chieftec IX-03B-OP case is as small as you can go with Mini-ITX.
The Chieftec IX-03B-OP is smaller than the Antec ISK 110, but it does not have the 4 front USB ports that the Antec has. In return you get a smaller and easier to work with case with only 3 cables inside: HDD LED, power switch and power LED. The case has 2 holes that fit the PicoPSU power jack perfectly. The SATA power cables can be removed from the PicoPSU, minimizing the number of cables, making the build really clean. The motherboard is slightly raised from the side-panel of the case using built-in standoffs. There is clearance and air flow for a rear side M2 slot on the motherboard. Also, the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 fitted easily with about 3-4 millimeters to spare. The Leicke power brick is rather large, but it is silent (no coil whine) and very powerful.
Here is the parts list of the build:
42 EUR - Chieftec IX-03B-OP - SFF Case
54 EUR - PicoPSU-160-XT 160W/200W - Power supply
45 EUR - LEICKE ULL 156W 12V 13A - Power adapter
125 EUR - Asrock B550M-ITX/ac - Motherboard
199 EUR - AMD Ryzen 7 5700G CPU - Processor
49 EUR - Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 - CPU cooler
14 EUR - Noctua NA-FD1 - Fan duct kit
145 EUR - Samsung 980 PRO 2TB M.2 - Solid state drive
95 EUR - G.Skill DDR4 Ripjaws-V 2x16GB 4000MHz - Memory
768 EUR (including VAT)
These prices are from June 1st, 2023 on Dutch web shops like Megekko and Amazon.nl (Europe, Netherlands).
Note that I run Xubuntu 22.04 LTS and it works great. The computer is almost inaudible (silent fan profile in the BIOS) under normal office usage (e.g. browsing the Internet). When playing games the Noctua fan did speed up a bit. I stress tested it (for 30 minutes at a 20C degrees room temperature) to see that it didn't use too much power and it was stable at full load and the CPU temperature peaked at around 87C degrees with the motherboard + CPU drawing about 88 Watt. While it certainly didn't overheat, the Noctua fan was very much audible under full load. Since it is a very silent 90mm fan, it is isn't an annoying high pitched noise. Also, the Noctua NA-FD1 fan duct kit helps the efficiency of the CPU cooler, bridging the gap between the case panel and the CPU fan, preventing the CPU fan from circulating air within the case.
I'm very happy with this build, the 2.73 liter machine doesn't look much larger than my 1.92 liter ASRock Deskmini X300 SFF. I prefer Mini-ITX over the STX motherboard that the Deskmini uses, because of the availability of these boards and the full size RAM slots instead of the SO-DIMM slots. I'm happy the PicoPSU-160-XT and Leicke power supply combination delivers enough power to unleash the full potential of the CPU (the Deskmini also uses a 150 Watt power supply). Aside from the excellent performance and being almost silent the build is small, not overly expensive, looks professional and is a joy to build.