I bought what I think is a "future proof" high-spec ITX build today. Parts are cheapest in Oz. Think any is worth a deal post?

TL;DR (likely):

  • Problem: Both of my laptops are busted and get refunded next week. Next gen everything is launching/coming in the next 3 months and I don't want to waste cash.
  • Workaround: WFH (thanks corona) and get a high-spec but very quiet ITX base with Ryzen Renoir APU until Boxing Day sales (to retain my OzB membership).
  • Solution: After loads of research I found ideal parts (quiet+powerful), with fast delivery (AU stock), at prices cheaper than anything that shows on searches.
  • Ask: If these parts/suppliers are of interest to the community, I'll post as deals. What do you think?

Now children, are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin…

Last week I hit a dilemma. Both my laptops have had multiple hardware repairs and after months of escalation are being returned for a full refund (I'll spare you the prequel). I need a decent computer by next week but it feels like this is THE WORST time to be buying a laptop or PC:

  • Intel laptops in-stock will be worthless after Intel Tiger Lake launch tomorrow. 11th gen mobile with Willow Cove and Xe iGPU should be great but that's no help right now
  • AMD Renoir laptops have all been delayed getting to Australia, and the best are still yet to launch (I need high spec thin and light)
  • AMD Zen3 Vermeer is coming in the next 3 months, but prices haven't dropped on 3xxx CPU's. They literally were cheaper last year
  • Intel desktop CPU's desperately need a refresh, but their production line is stuffed so nothing new coming till next year, or even 2022 for anything competitive with AMD
  • Nvidia GPU's are still overpriced, but they're launching RTX 3000 right now so I'll lose badly on bang for buck now
  • AMD GPU's will be redundant with BigNavi launch too whenever that happens. Good for gamers, but I want Nvidia tensor cores for work
  • COVID-19 ruined the economy and gamers bought up "work from home" machines so prices have jackity jacked. That said there's a deluge of RAM and SSD deals coming in now.

The workaround plan I came to is to build a 'decent' PC now while WFH. Then come Boxing Day sales I can go nuts on new laptop, CPU and GPU.

I haven't built a PC since 2003 and have always just 'docked' my laptop as a workstation. After waaay too much research I think I've found a solution that meets my goals. I.e. has to be a) small, b) powerful, c) quiet, d) cheap, and e) future proofed. I realise that's totally unreasonable but let me know what you think…

I've found a very quiet and decent airflow ITX case (factory fans but can swap if needed), SFF high power PSU with zero-rpm fan mode, excellent silent cooler overseas (if its late I'll use a cheap gumtree cooler for a week), good overclockable x570 motherboard (future proofed until AM4 dies), high speed RAM for overclocking, silly fast SSD, and next-gen OEM tray APU. Total spend is $1705 excl. cashbacks; probably a third less than RRP. Everything should be here by Friday (except cooler) and has full local warranty. Here's what I found:

I've already pulled the trigger, but I hope this epic saga post might be helpful. If anyone bothered to get to the end, share what you think of the build idea, can I answer any questions on product choice, and can you share any tips on better prices for others?

Comments

  • I'd factor in OS or software, it has a cost usually.

    So you are going to add GPU later? You've already committed, I wonder if there is any turnkey solutions or barebones out there that match this or better? It's been an age since I've built a PC myself but funnily enough priced one up last night for around $1500. I have some kit to begin with so in a unique spot I could throw a GPU in for that.

    • Luckily I have a Windows 8 Pro retail license I bought cheap years ago. I've used it to upgrade Windows Home to Pro on laptops, so that gives me at least one thing to save on.

      I don't have to get a GPU, but suspect it would give a good speed boost for dev and video work. I'm trying to learn and work on a lot of that with a new business idea (smashing the udemy free course deals posted here). Ideal would be Ryzen 4900x and RTX3060.

      What did you get for $1500?

    • You can still upgrade Win7 Pro to Win10 Pro for free and those licenses are pretty easy to get off old computers - legality or morality aside it's a genuine licence key with no probs :)

      I did this last month.

      • I saw a post here on that too. It looks like there are OEM Certificates of Authenticity (aka genuine keys) on ebay for $60 delivered. If I reuse the Ryzen APU with a tiny portable case (can be 2 litre volume - smaller than a NUC) for a portable streaming PC (I run live training workshops) after I upgrade I may need another key but not an issue.

        • You can get a whole computer for that easily lol. Even in the electrical hardware at a tip you'll find a sticker. That's all you need.

          • @Presence: I thought COA codes (now OEM's use FeatureByte) built to be non-transferrable by having a validation model behind the key format.

            If not, I would have thought there would be a grey market for them from recyclers, or black market where keys are nicked from classified pics etc.

            Curious if you have used a sticker key from say an old Dell workstation and successfully used code from the sticker to authenticate a new install on self-assembled hardware (i.e. Windows 10 with a signed in MS account) recently. I thought that was blocked from Win 8?

            • @TheLurker: I don't really know the rules, but I have definitely used OEM codes on other brand computers for win 7, then upgraded to 10 no issues.

              Obviously using the generic windows installer rather than OEM specific one.

  • thumbs up for detailed thread . BTW I also haven't built a PC since 2003 :)

    • It was quite a learning curve, but the difference is today machines can look good too! Think you'll build something?

  • Thanks for the detailed explanation. I am in a somewhat similar scenario in that my old laptop is past-useful (6 and a half year old ultrabook), I decided I was going to build a PC at the start of March but then lockdowns and WFH happened, the deals dissapeared and I couldn't justify the increased costs. Now the deals are back but it is so close to everything being replaced with new models.

    I just committed myself to a build by buying a RX 580 ($225 computer alliance deal) as a temporary solution until the new models are released.

    Was planning on doing a very simple function-over-form mini Tower build ($1200 or less), but have now ended up in a rabbit-hole of <20L ITX builds. If the white H1 was still available this morning I might have pulled the trigger.

    • It is tempting for sure. That is supposed to be a great case. Anything half decent in mini itx is usually at least $80.then cooling and small PSU adds up too.

  • I'm in a similar boat (but without the laptop prequel).

    If you're looking for bang for buck, more is a terrible time.

    Check out:
    If you don't need all the USB - Gigabyte Aorus B550 v2 mobo. Has new VRM for much better overclocking because of shortage of existing cheaper parts.
    Reference

    The cheapest Crucial Ballistix DDR4 3000 (and above) seemingly all have great overclockability, all at very similar CL18.
    Reference

    • Good tip. I did check those options out well, but upspecced for two reasons.

      The X570 is just $20 more than the cheapest b550 I could find. It should perform better and have more features and resale value. Also its more mature so has more stable bios (had issues until late last year)

      The new 4000 series Ryzens use a new infinity fabric core which has higher overclock ability. Zen3 version is rumoured to run at 2000mhz vs 1800mhz zen2, so stock at 4000mhz. I'd struggle to get slower clock higher latency ram to clock at that or above. It cost about $70 more (edit: this is a better deal for imported) for 32gb, but as I'm using an APU now it shares video memory so any clock increase reflects in teraflops and FPS.

      Both parts are something I will keep, and I get to test out Renoir overclock now for fun.

  • Damn got excited at that PSU, but it's SFX-L

    Nice post, looks like a great setup mate!

    • Thanks. Hope it works out well. Pretty excited to give overclocking a Renoir a go. That case takes an ATX, so SFX was only really about airflow. Just couldn't justify another $100 for equivalent corsair SF

  • Never heard of SbB so did a google search, and the reviews for it are not good….

    Gets a rating of 1.7 from 74 reviews. Will be interesting to see how your experience turns out.

    Having 100+ of the same motherboard in stock sounds suss already.

    Anyway good luck and please keep us updated.

    • Good point. I did some digging, and here's why I'm not worried.

      There's a company in Sydney (forgot their name) who sell a white label online tech store platform. I've found about 5 sites using it (there were about 25 listed on their website). This means for same stock prices vary heaps as each 'reseller' can choose their own price and range. Even Kogan lists some of their resellers (with maybe around 12% commission on top).

      Orders from another company on that platform, 'LogicalTech', were fulfilled by Ingram Micro when I bought recently. That explains the high inventory, but also explains what happens for warranty. Reassuring.

      Brandon runs a marketing company according to his Facebook page so I am guessing he literally just hosts the site to get zero effort sales at low prices. The 1300 number goes to a messaging service, and yes no one called me back last week.

      So summary is its a cheap automated shop for low price full warranty product. As long as you expect it to go through the 'standard' process it should work on rails for cheap items. If you want to talk to a person then it's an issue but for the savings it may be worth it.

      • SOOOOOOO… my theory of running on rails and saving money is out the window. New recommendation is to STAY T.F. AWAY from solutionsbybrandon.com.au

        After 3 website messages, 1 email, 1 message to 1300 number and zero reply I have now cancelled and raised dispute via Paypal. Their 1300 number has been disconnected and the company 'Gluh' who runs the online reseller platform as a service has not heard from SbB for 2 years (i.e. they do not run the store). Whoever their inventory suppliers are still are linked with many other stores (i.e. 11 cases in stock) but I can no longer trust this is going to happen.

        Changed direction and probably getting:
        * Cooler Master NR200 white case - scorptec
        * Corsair SF750 PSU - umart
        * Gigabyte Aorus Pro x570 ITX - umart

        Costing a lot more until I find better deals but on a deadline. Any stocked supplier tips or deals appreciated

        • Hi Lurker, first off I want to say great post! Very succinct and accurate writeup of the current PC situation.

          It would be a good idea to edit your original post to include this information! Some people might not read through all the comments.

          • @fobbychowchow: Thanks. I will do an update soon. Just found out the APU is delayed/lost with Sendle shipping. Back to scrambling for parts before courier takes my laptops for refund. The post was an epic, but the fallout from failures to deliver is a disastrous saga.

  • try look for 2nd hand parts in Gumtree, there might be some people offloading their parts for decent price thanks to all the new toys coming soon and also since this is a temporary placeholder for you till post Xmas :)

    • Is definitely an option, though after the amount of hardware failures I have had in the past year I really value warranty. Also I can claim tax invoices in my business. If an epic cheap deal on the parts I want (very specific brands and models of RTX for silent build) I'd do it. I reckon RTX 3060 may be a better choice at boxing day sales for bang for buck

  • check out the noctua shop on newegg for cooling - the d15 was really cheap even with shipping

    • I was going that way (or NH-D15S for ram clearance on ITX) for $129 on Amazon US sale (sold out now) until I researched the Fuma 2. It is quieter, cools just as well, fits itx much better, and it isn't poo brown. Check the YouTube review I linked. That dude is thorough!

  • With new 3xxx power requirements, I would have gone at least 750 https://www.corsair.com/ww/en/Categories/Products/Power-Supp...

    • never buy under and only when they're cheap, always have a spare or 2 750 plus

      • I would have preferred to get that for sure, but for an extra $100 on top, I thought worth the saving. Toms Hardware rates the Fractal as their best SFF PSU which I was surprised at. They rate Corsair as best ATA sized. I'll keep an eye out for a cheap deal on an SF750 for next build (when I swap out the Renoir for Vermeer)

        • A 2080ti system runs easily on an sf600, corsair uses that psu in their prebuilts apparently. I think 750w is overkill when it's platinum, check out optimum tech on YouTube

          • @badonde: I totally agree.

            I picked up a SF750 corsair for $239 at uMart because:
            a) it will run with zero fan until 300W+ and I'm trying for a near silent build (except when heavily loaded),
            b) any other decent SFX PSU was not much different in price but this will get better resale or save the difference in power bill over the years, and
            c) the supplier I bought the Fractal has gone under and this was guaranteed to arrive as I collected in store

            Still annoyed I paid so much, but I wasted many hours searching to try to save the cost of a counter lunch. At least it should be decent.