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Thread: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

  1. #1
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    Default "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    Well, it's come time to replace the kids' laptops. My wife and I got thinking and it seems a waste to get them laptops since they never actually leave the house with them. They just get moved from room to room. Also, their needs and interests have grown quite a bit. Instead of just surfing, watching YouTube and playing browser games, they could really use a system capable of much more... and that can do it much faster... and be upgrade-able. After some discussion we came up with the plan to build PCs for them that would be semi-portable, but still use full-size standard components. Well, she came up with the idea, and asked me to figure it out. lol

    So, the plan is to use a slim case and attach it to the back of a monitor then add a handle so the whole thing can be picked up and carried to anywhere in the house. Well, that's the simple version. After looking at many case and many possible configurations I arrived at a design using the Azza Z case and a VESA monitor as the basis for an all-in-one style rig without the drawbacks of such a cramped and restricting form factor.

    My current parts list for this project is:
    [PCPartPicker part list](Intel Core i5-4460, PowerColor Radeon R9 270, Azza Z - System Build - PCPartPicker) / [Price breakdown by merchant](Intel Core i5-4460, PowerColor Radeon R9 270, Azza Z - System Build - Price Breakdown By Merchant - PCPartPicker)


    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant


    CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($159.99 @ Micro Center)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H97N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($96.98 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Mushkin Silverline 8GB (2 x 4G DDR3-1600 Memory ($59.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Kingston SSDNow V300 Series 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($84.99 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: PowerColor Radeon R9 270 2GB TurboDuo Video Card ($133.98 @ Newegg)
    Case: Azza Z Mini ITX Tower Case ($39.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: Antec High Current Gamer 620W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($48.00 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Samsung SN-208FB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer ($19.99 @ Amazon)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (32/64-bit) ($104.46 @ Amazon)
    Monitor: Asus VE228H 21.5" Monitor ($129.99 @ Amazon)
    Other: StarTech SLimline SATA to SATA Adapter Cable ($4.46)
    Other: ICY DOCK EZ-Fit Lite 2x2.5" to 3.5" Drive Bay Adapter ($7.99)
    Other: Arrowmounts 200mm VESA Conversion Adapter for TV Wall Mounts and Brackets (AM-ADAPTOR200 - Newegg.com ($7.99)
    Total: $898.80
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-02-09 02:06 EST-0500
    I'd appreciate any input on these components that you may have.

    Our son loves the green themed look of the Azza Z and also likes the idea of getting a https://pcpartpicker.com/part/cooler...sgb3012kkmf1us to go with it. Our daughter, on the other hand, loves blue. That's where the first step of the modding comes in. I plan to remove all the green insets and spraypaint them blue. I'm also replacing the green led fan with a good ol' https://pcpartpicker.com/part/cooler...an-r4l2r20acgp or 2. Finally, to complete the color change I'd like to replace the front case LEDs with blue ones, but still need to figure out what LEDs to use (unless someone here could direct me to suitable ones to use.
    The in-depth build review posted on PureOC is what brought me to this forum. His build log helped me tremendously in knowing exactly what I could expect to do with this case so I can plan my build without having to have the case in hand first.

    My plan is to mount the monitor to the left (as viewed from the front) side of the case using Arrowmounts 200mm VESA Conversion Adapter for TV Wall Mounts and Brackets (AM-ADAPTOR200 - Newegg.com by drilling holes in suitable positions in the case that won't affect structural integrity or interfere with components. I'd originally thought of using something like Rosewill RMS-MF2720 Accessory - Monitor - Newegg.com but didn't want to rely on luck for being able to find suitable mounting points for the plate that would still be balanced.

    Anyway, there is still much to work out for this build, including a few crazy ideas about where and how to mount the fans for optimum air flow. I'll be adding to this as I make changes and as the build process begins (once I have the funds, which will hopefully be in a few weeks or less). Please feel free to give any advice or share any opinions you might have that could help me along the way. Thanks in advance.


    Completed build log can be found here: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)
    Last edited by HyperactiveSloth; 04-03-2015 at 18:51.

  2. #2
    Gu3
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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    Hey Sloth!

    I like your build idea & look forward to seeing your Log as you move through this process.

    A note or two that are based on my _opinions_ and have no real technical merit!

    1. I'd seriously consider a GPU based on nVidia's Maxwell chips. Given the small size of this case, and your stated purpose, I'm thinking heat and noise are an issue. The new Maxwell based nVidia GPU's offer a great deal of performance/watt of TDP. The card you are looking at pushes 150Watts TDP. A 960 offers more performance in a 120Watt Package than the 270, albeit at a price increase of $50. Having said that, a 750ti only needs about 60Watts, and _may_ be enough for what your kids play. It really depends. I have several 750ti's in lightweight machines, and am happy with them, but I value silence and low heat more than performance quite often.

    2. Again, given your use, a Gold Rated PSU might not be a bad choice. It should operate more efficiently, and a lot of them will be slightly quieter as well. Seasonic (like you have selected) is my personal choice, but the EVGA SuperNova's are popular here too.

    3. Personal bias, I'd stick with Crucial, Samsung, SanDisk or Intel & possibly OCZ(Toshiba) for an SSD. If I had to buy from an SSD by other vendors, I'd look at Kingston and possibly Plextor before other vendors. Again, this is certainly not based on any particular technical issue. However, Crucial, Samsung, Sandisk, Intel & OCZ/Toshiba all make their own NAND Flash, and as such are able to pick the best flash and have the best understanding of the technology.

    4. Are you planning on mounting the monitor using your Vesa Adapter to the Frame or the Side Panel of the case? I'd be a little worried about the relative strength of the panel vs the weight of the LCD and it's VESA Brackets. If you can figure a way to mount the adapter to the case frame, that might work. Oh wait...better question. Is the PC being mounted to the monitor, or the monitor (sans stand) to the PC????

    Nice selection of parts!

    Scott

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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    Good parts list...

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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    Most of my choices are based on a very tight budget, but I will definitely look again at available SSDs since I selected the one above merely because it was the cheapest one in the size/speed range I needed. Now that I know what brands to prefer, I'll likely change that out before ordering. Thank you.

    I had looked at possibly using a 750ti but others had told me that I didn't want something that outdated. *shrug* I'm still learning what's what. The kids will mostly be using these rigs for Minecraft, WoW, Terra, etc. Neither one has interest in high end games, but I'd like the performance to be as good as I can get it within budget. (I do keep eyeing the 960 *drool*) Honestly, the 750ti is probably all I'd need, but hadn't really considered it because of the (most likely elitest) advice I'd gotten from random people online. Of course, those same people would have rather that I rearrange my budget to cut corners everywhere else if it meant I could fit in a 290 or a 970.

    As far as mounting, that part is still up in the air. My current plan is to have it so they both support themselves using some homemade rubber feet when the rig is sitting down, but the mounting of the monitor is still going to need some reinforcement when it is carried, since the handle will probably be bolted to the top of the case. Even that, though, may require some bracing depending on how strong the top of the case is. I had also considered the possibility of using the brackets in a strange way. If they can be bent without breaking them, I'd thought about bending two of them back at a right angle to use as the top mounts and positioning them straight up from the vesa holes so that the bracket "hangs" on the top edge of case, and having the screws go down through the top of the case. If that won't work, either because of where the brackets reach to or brittleness of the plates, then my second plan is to try and get them to mount to the frame, rather than the panel.

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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)


  6. #6
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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    Hmm. The 750ti is the first Maxwell chip that came out. It could be argued that it should have been marketed as a 950 or 950ti, not a 750ti but that's what nVidia did. It's a solid board for basic use. It won't set any speed records, but should do most things at 1920x1080p. Have a look at Tomshardware "The Best Graphics Cards for the Money": Best Graphics Cards for the Money: January 2015 It's not definitive, but they give good rationales for their choices.

    I've run WoW on one with no issues, but I'm not the best evaluator when it comes to higher end titles, as I don't play them....I see you posted separately on the SSD's, so let me look at those and see what's what.

    Scott

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    Gu3
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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    Honestly, for the purpose of a recommendation, I'd go with the Kingston. For myself, it would be a tough call, I actually like OCZ (I owned some of their Stock before Toshiba bought them...figuratively lost my shirt...lol), but the Arcs review a bit mediocre.

    My real recommendation would be to go for the 750ti (perhaps this one: MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card (N750TI-2GD5/OC) - PCPartPicker) and then spend the extra money you've "saved" on: https://pcpartpicker.com/part/crucia...ct256mx100ssd1

    The 750ti sips power, so you could then easily downsize the PSU to a 450 or 550. Might save you a couple of bucks. In fact, if you get this one on sale right now @ NCIX: EVGA SuperNOVA NEX 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply (120-G1-0650-XR) - PCPartPicker you get gold, and 650 Watts. That would save you about $30 and get you some more efficiency too. Plus, it would make your system a bit more future proof, as you could easily upgrade the Video Card later when the pricing on the 9XX's start to creep down, and the video requirements of your kids games start to creep up...

    Of course, we can play with the parts list all week long. There's truly nothing wrong with your selection so far.

    Hope this is helpful and not just an illustration of my manufacturer biases!

    Scott

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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    True, and I'm sure this won't be my last draft of the parts list. Honestly, when I picked that PSU in my list it on sale and had a rebate making it a steal. At $80+ it really isn't the best choice for this anymore. I do like the idea of a lower powered GPU because then maybe I wouldn't worry so much about cooling issues with the video card. I'm worried that having the monitor mounted to the same side as the GPU is going to really restrict air flow to the card. I had decided before that using a blower-style GPU would be a good solution, but after some research I wasn't so sure. Also, to add to that, there practically no blowers in the price range.

    For the last couple hours I'd been looking into finding a cheaper PSU (since the price when I picked that one was around $60) and splurging on a 960... and I'm still considering it. However, if the 750ti would run much cooler and I could find a good blower-type one that would actually help with heat management, perhaps I should go that route.

    Truth is, that's been the biggest thing on my mind with this whole build currently. I've got all kinds of crazy ideas about managing the airflow. One of them is to mount a fan in the bottom of the case and have it draw air in from underneath and push it towards the top, and mount a small fan in the top to draw air out. It wouldn't generate a direct flow path, though, because there would still be the main side intake fan. Speaking of that, I'm not sure if a bottom fan would interfere with the side fan and actually reduce air flow across the CPO sinks or not. I'm basically guessing on all of this since this might as well be my first build.

  9. #9
    Gu3
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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    Hmmm...I'll have to look at the case some more to see. I shouldn't think Airflow would be much of an issue. It seems to me you should be pulling from the Front, or up from the bottom, and venting out the back/top. Generally speaking the sides on my cases are unvented...and you have crazy low TDP.

    With the 750ti, your Video Card dissipation is something like 60 watts peak. In fact, they generally don't even come with a PCI-E power plug. I don't think your listing a spinner in your system, so there's another source of heat that won't be present. At this point, the Video Card, pulls 20 Watts LESS than the TDP of your processor. The SSD is about 5 (!) Watts, and your Memory 10 Watts. The Motherboard itself Sucks down about 30 Watts.

    So...on a whim, I played with your parts on PCPartpicker, and came up with $987.84 with my modifications. I changed to a 512GB Crucial SSD, the EVGA PSU, and the EVGA 750ti.

    Frankly, your power draw in this config is a miserly 188 Watts PEAK. I'm thinking heat will not be an issue, but let me look at the case later tonight. Honestly, even if you grabbed a 960 @ 120 Watts, you'd still only be at a measly 240-250 Watts.

    Intel Core i5-4460, MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti, Azza Z - System Build - PCPartPicker

    Keep in mind though, there are $110 in Rebates in that price, so it's really closer to $1100. With some clever setting of PCPartPickers filters, though, you may find some of these things on sale over the next few weeks...

    Scott

  10. #10
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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    The Azza Z is an oddball. That's to be expected from a radical form factor like this, though. The front vent is actually just an exhaust for the PSU. The left side vent is an intake for the PSU, and the upper rear vent on that side is to provide air to the GPU fans. The right side is for providing air to intakes, CPU fans, radiators, etc. in any combination that is needed. The top is one big vent and the back has a couple more places for air to get out. Beware when looking at pics of this case online because many places online have it assembled backwards (one site even had it upside down). The best place to take a look at the case properly assembled is here on PureOC in one of their product reviews.

    Azza Z mITX Case Review | Pure Overclock

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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    Quote Originally Posted by HyperactiveSloth View Post
    The Azza Z is an oddball. That's to be expected from a radical form factor like this, though. The front vent is actually just an exhaust for the PSU. The left side vent is an intake for the PSU, and the upper rear vent on that side is to provide air to the GPU fans. The right side is for providing air to intakes, CPU fans, radiators, etc. in any combination that is needed. The top is one big vent and the back has a couple more places for air to get out. Beware when looking at pics of this case online because many places online have it assembled backwards (one site even had it upside down). The best place to take a look at the case properly assembled is here on PureOC in one of their product reviews.

    Azza Z mITX Case Review | Pure Overclock
    Wow. You want to build in this thing On Purpose? LOL. So. I've been thinking about this. The monitor won't likely Hug the one side too tightly, a little clearance (provided by the VESA mount) will effectively create a duct for the fans to draw air into.

    With the 750ti, your low TDP CPU and minimal heat generating hardware, I should think you'd get enough airflow to keep this thing cool.

    Now...upgrading to a 960 might present a bit of a problem, but as long as you had some spacing between the monitor back and the side of the case, I think you'd be fine. With only an SSD and a small video card like the 750ti, you should also end up with a bit more airflow through the case. Looking at the pics, some more, it seems if you either raised the case up off the floor a bit (feet) or your monitor supports the case through it's mount, you should be able to clear the bottom vents, and with some 80mm fans (perhaps undervolted), you could pull cool air into the case through the bottom. Of course just raising it up and keeping those vents clear, with exhaust fans at the top of the case would give you some increased air flow as well. Keep in mind that Mike used a non-modular PSU, so he has a lot of extra cables shoved in there. I expect you have just your ATX power cable, a 4 PIN CPU power cable, a single dual headed SATA power cable, and ummm...maybe a single Molex power cable to feed the fans. You'll also have 2 SATA cables, and a certain number of connections to the case. But that's it. More airflow.

    I tend to buy them, but perhaps buying, modding, or making some custom PSU cables would help there too.

    Sorry, I ramble too. I think the case will work fine with the parts we're discussing.

    I look forward to seeing how you get this stuff put together though...lol

    Scott

  12. #12
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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gu3 View Post
    Wow. You want to build in this thing On Purpose? LOL. So. I've been thinking about this. The monitor won't likely Hug the one side too tightly, a little clearance (provided by the VESA mount) will effectively create a duct for the fans to draw air into.

    With the 750ti, your low TDP CPU and minimal heat generating hardware, I should think you'd get enough airflow to keep this thing cool.

    Now...upgrading to a 960 might present a bit of a problem, but as long as you had some spacing between the monitor back and the side of the case, I think you'd be fine. With only an SSD and a small video card like the 750ti, you should also end up with a bit more airflow through the case. Looking at the pics, some more, it seems if you either raised the case up off the floor a bit (feet) or your monitor supports the case through it's mount, you should be able to clear the bottom vents, and with some 80mm fans (perhaps undervolted), you could pull cool air into the case through the bottom. Of course just raising it up and keeping those vents clear, with exhaust fans at the top of the case would give you some increased air flow as well. Keep in mind that Mike used a non-modular PSU, so he has a lot of extra cables shoved in there. I expect you have just your ATX power cable, a 4 PIN CPU power cable, a single dual headed SATA power cable, and ummm...maybe a single Molex power cable to feed the fans. You'll also have 2 SATA cables, and a certain number of connections to the case. But that's it. More airflow.

    I tend to buy them, but perhaps buying, modding, or making some custom PSU cables would help there too.

    Sorry, I ramble too. I think the case will work fine with the parts we're discussing.

    I look forward to seeing how you get this stuff put together though...lol

    Scott
    That pretty much sums up my exact plan. I've already got the "feet" picked out, for both the case (3/4" tall) and for the monitor (rubber J channel) from where I work. It's funny how if you look at car parts in a certain way you can see computer parts instead. I've got the mixing formula for the blue spray paint picked out as well.

    I can't wait to get all the parts, or at least the case, and get my hands dirty... so to speak. )

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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    AzzA maks some killer cases. This is one I did from the AzzA 4000.

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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    I'm still wondering about the LEDs for the power light on the case I'll be turning from green to blue.


    I'm still trying to find out if there's a certain type I need to be looking for.
    Would anyone here know if either of these lots for sale on Amazon would be suitable?
    http://smile.amazon.com/microtivity-...words=blue+led
    http://smile.amazon.com/microtivity-...words=blue+led
    I don't even know if I need the resistors or not. I've never worked directly with LEDs, but just looking at the originals in the case I would guess that I don't need them. ...but I'd rather not work off of "guessing."
    Last edited by HyperactiveSloth; 03-02-2015 at 13:49. Reason: Formatting errors

  15. #15
    Gu3
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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    At a glance, I should think they would work. However you probably need to measure the voltage on the LED Leads. Both of those LED's are 3.0-3.2 VDC. Unless I'm mistaken, your PSU kicks out 3.3 VDC. The LEDs' would probably work @ 3.3 VDC, but it's possible they'd work only Briefly. My handy dandy Electrical Engineer suggests starting with a 30 Ohm Resister and then seeing how bright it is. Add more resistance, less bright, less resistance and more bright. Heck, you can try them @ 3.3 (there will be _some_ loss through the leads), but they're likely to be very bright and not last long.

    Scott

  16. #16
    Gu3
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    Default Re: "Portable" light gaming rig. (Azza Z modded into an all-in-one)

    You don't happen to live near a MicroCenter do you?

    Scott

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