Yesterday we showed you our example of a Home Theater PC based on the recently launched H77N-WIFI Mini-ITX board. Today we bring you another Mini-ITX build using the Z77N-WIFI board, but with a rather different focus than people would expect from a typical Mini-ITX build - we going to put together a high-end gaming rig.
Typical Mini-ITX builds focus on being really compact, this is after all the key feature of a form factor where the motherboard is a mere 17cm x 17cm. Having said that however, our Z77N-WIFI doesn’t have any real weaknesses in terms of its specification; it supports Intel 2nd and 3rd Gen Core processors, has two DIMM slots and a x16 PCIe slot… so why not add a zippy K SKU Ivy Bridge CPU, plenty of RAM and lightening fast graphics card? Why not be sexily sleek and compact, yet still pack a mighty performance punch in 3D gaming?
After all wouldn’t it be great to make a real 3D gaming PC that could be pretty portable too. An ideal PC for LAN parties etc.
Here are the components we used:
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z77N-WIFI
- Processor: Intel Core i7 3770K
- Cooler: Thermaltake Water 2.0 Performer
- Chassis: BitFenix Prodigy mini-ITX chassis
- RAM: Corsair Dominator GT DDR3
- SSD: Intel X25-M 160GB
- Graphics Card: GIGABYTE GV-N680WF3-2GD
- CD-ROM drive: Liteon Blueray ROM
- PSU: Cooler Master 600 watts
In terms of the CPU we just went straight for the jugular and opted for the top K SKU in the shape of the Intel Core i7 3770K. The Thermaltake Water Performer is a top-end all-in-one liquid cooling system that will keep the Ivy Bridge processor in nice and cool.
As with any Mini-ITX build the chassis dictates 90% of what you or cannot do with your Mini-ITX board. The Bitfenix Prodigy is a really interesting choice for a Mini-ITX chassis in that it is larger than most. The real advantage of course is that it’s designed almost exactly for our purposes with space for a two full hard drives, a full sized optical drive, a regular ATX power supply and, most importantly from a 3D gamers perspective, a full length two slot graphics card.
Here are step by step photos of the build as it happened. Firstly we installed the i7 Core 3770K CPU.
Then we prepped the board for the Thermaltake all-in-one water cooler, incuding bracing on the back of the board and attaching the cooler fan to the radiator.
Next we install the system memory.
Now we can prep the chassis itself, which involves removing the side panels and drive trays.
Here we’re can installing the Z77N-WIFI board in the chassis, plus its attached cooler, and radiator.
Screw your 2.5” SSD to the drive tray which has handy holes designed to house both 3.5” and 2.5” drives. We’re opting just for one SSD, but the Prodigy could also use an additional 3.5” drive.
Remove the optical drive bezel and install the Bluray disk drive.
There’s a back plate which you attach to your Power Supply first, then you slide in and screw it down. Pretty similar to most regular chassis these days.
There are several cables to attach of course, including the power and data cables, plus front panel USB 3.0 and lastly often trickily small On, Off, Reset and HDD indicator buttons headers. Refer to the motherboard manual if you get lost!
Now for the graphics card. We find there surprisingly plenty of space for our Nvidia 680 card.
Lastly, we attach the WiFi antenna…
The final build. A pretty cool looking compact PC that can take on most 3D gaming rigs.