|Silverstone SUGO SG08 Mini-ITX Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Thursday, 23 August 2012|
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Building a System
While historically mini-ITX motherboards have been low-power designs relegated to home theater or server use, we're starting to see a number mini-ITX designs aimed at the enthusiast. Several vendors have or are releasing LGA1155 boards based on Intel's latest Z77 chipset. Paired with the right video card and CPU, such a motherboard can be a good basis for a high performance gaming rig.
But when dealing with the space constraints of this case and mini-ITX builds in general, you must choose your components carefully. You'll need a "slim" optical drive, for one thing; as well as a CPU cooler that will fit within the limited confines of the case (of course you can use the stock Intel cooler); in particular, the CPU cooler cannot extend beyond the edges of the motherboard. Mini ITX motherboards only have two memory slots, so consider how much RAM you'll need now and in the future. Here are the main components I used for this build:
You'll also want to consider the video card and hard drive you select due to ventilation limitations. "Reference design" cards with a single axial fan that expels all hot air from the rear of the case are better than dual-fan video cards that exhaust part of their heat back into the case; these will create a hot spot in the dead air zone in front of the card. There's no air flow at all over the hard drives, so high-speed drives like Western Digital Velociraptors are probably a bad idea. The drives mount just inches from the motherboard, so some short SATA cables with right-angled connectors will help keep things neat.
As you might expect from a case this size, interior space is at a premium. SilverStone says the included power supply has "short cables". I suppose this is true for certain values of "short". While the cables might be considered short in the context of a standard full tower case, they are much longer than they need to be for this case, as shown below. The cables on the left are the front panel audio and USB 3.0 headers; on the right are the power supply cables.
If you've only built in standard sized cases before, you'll be frustrated at the lack of cable routing options. There is no motherboard tray to route cables behind, or empty drive bays to stuff them in. The extra length of power supply and PCI-E cables can be accommodated in exactly one place: a "ledge" beside the drive caddy. Even so, it's a tight fit. Zip ties and adhesive tie-downs are your friend. Of course if you're not going to use a separate video card, there's plenty of room for extra cable length.
Here's my first shot at wire routing. The idea is to clear as much space as possible for the video card, which will install right alongside the power supply. The power supply has a protective plastic pad that will prevent the back side of the video card from shorting out against it. You'll need a low-profile CPU cooler that doesn't extend beyond the edges of the motherboard, such as the Cooler Master Gemini M4 I used in this build.
SilverStone says the case will accommodate cards up to 12.2" long. Technically, that's true, but there are a few caveats. A card that long will be pressed right up against the bundle of cables exiting the non-modular power supply. And there are other potential fitment problems as well. Note the heat pipes visible on the top of this PowerColor PCS+ 6950 Vortex II card: they interfere with the fit of the Air Penetrator fan, which you really need since it's the only fan in the case. The MSI NGTX680 Lightning video card won't fit, either, since its large fan shroud hits the top rail of the case. If you plan to use a video card, stick with small or "reference design" cards without protruding components.
Fortunately, a reference design NVIDIA GTX680 fits perfectly. As you can see from the image below, there's about 1.5" of free space between the card and the bundle of cables coming out of the power supply. Since the GTX680 reference design is just a hair over 10" long, you can get an idea about how much clearance is left over for longer cards.
Here's what the assembled system looks like from the other side. Another place to stuff extra cables is the 1" gap between the front of the top fan and the back of the optical drive. Note the right-angled SATA cables coming up from the two 2.5" drives-- there's about 1/4" of space under the optical drive tray you can use for routing these flat cables. You'll want to take extra care to keep the space under the top fan clear, as this is where all the case ventilation is. It took a lot of work to get the case even this neat; plan to spend some quality time on cable routing, and also plan to take everything out and start over a few times.
When you press the power button on your new build and nothing happens, take a look under the power cord. The power supply switch is almost invisible under the cord exiting from the 90-degree power plug, and in my case the switch was turned off as delivered.
Join me in the next section as I give my final thoughts and conclusion about this case.