After fleshing out an impressive selection of nearly 100 ATX and mATX AM4 motherboards, our motherboard partners have started to turn their attention to more specialized small-batch designs like the mini-ITX form factor. Prized for its “power-to-weight” ratio, the diminutive mITX form factor—just 170x170mm—can pack a lot of hardware into systems not much larger than a shoebox. That’s tantalizing potential for gamers like Darrell, who just put the finishing touches on a hot new ITX rig built around the flagship AMD Ryzen™ 7 1800X processor.
AMD: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Darrell: Hey, I’m Darrell! I live in Portland, Oregon and I've always had a passion for technology. I'm currently working as a network and systems engineer. I've been building custom PC's for the last 10 years, and I’ve recently spent more time dedicated to the building process.
AMD: Every good PC needs some good games. What are you into right now?
Darrell: I love love LOVE my HTC VIVE. VR changes everything. Tilt Brush, Space Pirate Trainer and SUPERHOT are great in VR! Outside of VR, I also enjoy some old school Runescape, Hearthstone, GTA V, Doom, Path of Exile and some Overwatch.
AMD: I understand you’re running an ITX system with Ryzen now. Give us the specs!
Darrell: That’s right! I built a blue AMD PC. It’s a little unorthodox, but it has a peaceful “Zen” feel to it. It’s packing a Ryzen 7 1800X overclocked to 4GHz, Biostar X370GTN ITX mobo, 32GB DDR4-2933, 1TB Samsung 960 EVO NVMe SSD, a Corsair SF600 SFX power supply, and a Radeon R9 Nano overclocked to 1.1GHz. I built the system into an NCASE M1, and then watercooled it. Most of the watercooling components are made by EKWB and Bitspower. There’s more work to do, but I really enjoyed building it!
AMD: You recently switched to AMD, is that right? What convinced you?
Darrell: Yes, that’s right. I’ve been following Ryzen since it was announced, and when I learned the price for what this chip offers, I knew I had to have it. I upgraded from a Core i7-6700K. That’s a pretty high-end processor, but it didn’t do everything I needed it to. The 16 threads on my 1800X gives me peace of mind—I know that I won’t experience a bottleneck while streaming or working on other things while gaming.
AMD: Since you just switched to AMD, is there anything you found surprising/interesting/different?
Darrell: I’ve always been a fan of AMD GPUs, but this is my first AMD processor. I am extremely impressed by how much community outreach AMD has compared to the other guy. I feel as if I am part of a helpful community. I never got that from my 6700K.
AMD: Has Ryzen’s performance surprised you on any workloads?
Darrell: Yes, actually. In my line of work, I need to run multiple [virtual machines] alongside some compute-intensive workloads. I know my 1800X is significantly faster than any quad core CPU for this kind of work. I’ve especially noticed huge gains in x264 encoding while streaming and recording my gameplay. File decompression is noticeably faster, too.
AMD: Why was the ITX form factor so important to you?
Darrell: I need small form factor. I cannot even envision building a large PC. Living in Portland, I attend PDXLAN as often as possible. It’s so convenient to have a desktop’s worth of performance in a system that’s easy to carry around. And since I’m limited to this form factor, I take it as a challenge to put the most powerful components I can find into the system.
AMD: When choosing an ITX board, what features do you look for?
Darrell: I want at least six USB ports and an S/PDIF connector for my DAC/Amp. I also look for smart placement for front panel, power, and fan connectors so it’s easier to install a water cooling loop. Depending on my use case, I also look for robust power phases to support overclocking.
AMD: And what do you think about the BIOSTAR X370GTN?
Darrell: I’m pleasantly surprised. I purchased the X370GTN due it being the first ITX board to market. It’s impressive that this little brand can push out such an anticipated design ahead of the major motherboard makers. I had initially planned to upgrade to a different ITX board later on, but now I’m not so sure. This little thing works really well.
With ITX motherboards like the BIOSTAR X370GTN now for sale for around $110 USD, the enthusiast’s dream of serious multi-core CPU performance in a tiny box is quickly becoming a reality. And we’re only just getting started: more ITX designs for the AMD Ryzen™ processor are on the way over the summer!
Special thanks to Darrell for taking some time out of his day to chat with us about his new build. You can see more of his rig in his Reddit posts on /r/AMD and on /r/Watercooling. And if you’ve built your own ITX Ryzen rig, share it with us on Twitter @AMDRyzen. We’ll occasionally feature the most incredible builds right here on the AMD community blog.
Robert Hallock is a technical marketing guy for AMD's CPU division. His/her postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.
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