4TB Seagate 2.5″ HDD

Ever since I started using the Noctua NH-C14, I lost the ability to use a 3.5″ Hard Disk inside my Ncase M1. When I was using and AIO CPU cooler, I was able to use a 4TB drive to store my photos and downloaded content, saving precious space for my SSD intended for storing OS, software and games for quick loading time. I put the drive into an external USB 3.0 case after that, and the performance isn’t that great.

Seagate Backup Plus 4TB

I discovered the availability of the 2.5″ 4TB drive quite late, it was available since late 2016. Upon researching, buying the drive itself is more expensive than buying the external USB 3.0 model called Seagate Backup Plus. Even in Malaysia, the price difference is roughly RM180 (RM680 vs RM860)

Seagate Backup Plus 4TB

The Seagate Backup Plus is just the 4TB drive inside an external USB 3.0 enclosure. It isn’t like some WD external drive whereby the SATA ports for the internal drives has been removed to make way for smaller external drive. After reading few reviews in Amazon whereby people successfully shuck the drive, I was confident enough to get one, shuck it and put it into my Ncase M1.

Seagate Backup Plus 4TB

Taking out the internal drive from the casing is very easy as the case is only held together by adhesive and I don’t need much force to pry open it. Opening up the case, I can see the drive is covered by a thin layer of aluminum, which probably assist in cooling. The HDD inside is again held by rubber at its four corner, probably for impact absorption. The drive is easily taken out, and disconnected from enclosure.

Seagate Backup Plus 4TB

At 15mm, the drive is quite a bit thicker than old 9mm laptop drive, or newer 7mm drive be it SSD or mechanical. That being said, I’ve seen people moding their PS4 for the drive to fit, however I wouldn’t fit into those newer laptop with built-in 7mm drives. Surprisingly it fitted perfectly onto my Ncase M1 front panel, and there was a still a very small gap when the front panel is on.

Seagate Backup Plus 4TB

This isn’t a performance drive, so no WD Black or SSD level speed here. It manage to transfer files in the 90MB/s range, which is enough for me. What I’m interested is lowering the latency, by not going thru USB 3.0 on an external drive. I can’t really benchmark that, but running Lightroom with my huge photo library is slightly quicker now. In addition, using an internal drive is much more stable compared to an external.

Seagate Backup Plus 4TB

The 4TB 2.5″ Seagate Backup Plus can be a little more expensive than a WD Green or Blue 3.5″, but I highly recommends it if you ITX build doesn’t have space for a 3.5″ HDD and you need a 4TB drive to store your data on the cheap.

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4TB Seagate 2.5″ HDD

Noctua NF-P12 & NF-F12

I got a pair of Noctua NF-P12 back in August and I finally got the time to install them into the Ncase. The reason I get the two fans was that the Corsair SP120 cooling the 980Ti is a little on the noisy side when gaming so I was thinking how can I reduce the noise. I always hear how good Noctua fans are so this is probably the good time to get them.

I made the mistake buying the P12 instead of the F12 thinking that like Corsair, P stands for Pressure. It’s not, it is just Premium for Noctua and F means Focus which is the one I really need. The P12 also runs at just 1300RPM instead of 1500RPM on the F12. Anyway, they are considered slow compared to Corsair’s running at 2300RPM. Noctua 2000RPM fans are their Industrial line and they cost almost double.

Replacing the two fans inside my Ncase isn’t hard. With the spare SP120, I decided to use one as exhaust on the side panel, and the other one as a second fan on the NF-C14 CPU cooler. The later is a PITA to install without removing the cooler from the CPU. I used the original clip on its original 140mm fans. Since Corsair fans got this thick rubber screw hole, I have to use cable ties to hold the clip.

After putting everything back on, and flashing the 980Ti BIOS with new fan speeds, I went and run Furmark to see how the Noctua fans perform. One word: poor. At max RPM, which is around 1210RPM, the temp shoots right up to 81C without OC. It simply thermal throttle with OC even if I set the temperature limit to the maximun 91C. Things looks better in real world gaming test. I fired up The Division and with my CPU OC to 4.4GHz and 980Ti OC, the fans seems to be keeping the GPU temp around 80C.

Noise wise, at max RPM, they definitely sounds a lot quieter than the Corsair pairs as they need to spin at around 1800RPM to get identical cooling performance. Since the SP120 is far more quiet than the stock reference 980Ti fan, the NF-P12 is almost like silent even at full speed.

Since the P12’s cooling performance isn’t ideal, I went and ordered a pair of NF-F12. I swapped out the P12 and use the F12 for cooling the GPU, and use the pair of P12 to cool the CPU.

The P12 does a great job cooling the CPU! At full speed, it is much quieter than SP120 and it is able to keep my i5 3570k overclocked to 4.4GHz below 85C. The added 300rpm of the F12 doesn’t really improve the situation on the GPU front. The 980Ti still thermal throttle and I don’t know why.

Updated 10th June 2017:

I couldn’t take the 980Ti always thermal throttling during gaming, so I decided to do a re-paste just in case I did it wrong the first time. After re-pasting and putting every back together, I found something peculiar with the fans.

While stress testing the 980Ti, the 2nd fan connected to the 3-pin on the Y-splitter would stop spinning. Using MSI Afterburner, I’ve set the fan to 100% for testing, and the 2nd fan will stop spinning once a while.

Initially I thought it was due to loose cable because the custom-made Y-splitter’s fan header is pretty lose. It isn’t it because the fan will stop spinning when command for 100% even if I didn’t move or touch the PC. Even if both fan are spinning, the 2nd fan is spinning considerably slower than the main one. By rough estimation, it is spinning less than 40% of full speed.

The fan is fine because switching the header only reverse it. That’s mean something isn’t right with the cable or the card isn’t sending enough power to spin two fans at full speed. I used another Y-splitter which comes with the Noctua fan, and use it on top of the 4-pin.

Yes I splitting it twice. It solved the problem and both fans are running at full speed again and it make a lot of difference. At 1500rpm, the fans are able to keep the 980ti from thermal throttling even with mild over clock to 1300MHz.

Noctua NF-P12 & NF-F12

Ncase M1 V4

Ever since I started building my current rig, I’ve heard about this case. The main reason I didn’t buy one back then was because of the price. It cost around 6 times more than the Cooler Master Elite 120 or 130 case. I wasn’t that committed in the ITX format and wasn’t sure of the form factor, so I decided to play midrange.

At first I bought the CM Elite 120 simply because the 130 hasn’t been released yet. It was a very capable ITX form factor case, supporting full size ATX power supply and full length powerful graphic card. It does lack the space for full fledge CPU heatsink or AIO water cooler. The CM GeminII M4 low profile CPU heatsink that I’ve got for the case was pretty lackluster and I barely could overclock my Intel i5 3570k past 4GHz without hitting 80ºC.

Later on I’ve try upgrading the fan to Corsair SP120, and reversing the fan acting it as pull instead of push. I’ve also replaced all the case fan to the SP120, trying to draw as much air as possible from the front. I manage to reduce the temperature a bit and gain additional 200MHz overclock. However, at 4.2GHz, it is till in the 80ºC range.

January this year I’ve decided to take the plunge to try All-In-One water cooling. In order to fit that, I replaced the case with Elite 130 and opted the cheap CM Seidon 120V. I was waiting for the CM Nepton 120, but it wasn’t widely available at the time of purchase and it is very much more expensive than the Seidon.

The CM Seidon 120V successfully lowered the temperature by a large margin, I am able to game at 4.4GHz and CPU temperature never exceed 80ºC. With the change of PSU to  Silverstone SX600-G (SFX format instead of ATX), the only thing that I couldn’t fit into a Ncase M1 would be the Asus 280X, which is a bit too wide for the case.

In July, with the production of the version 4 of Ncase M1, I decided to order one online from the official site. I shouldn’t have opted for the express delivery since I wasn’t in a hurry to assemble the PC. The case arrived a few days after the delivery started, without any GST or custom tax. After that I went and get the Nvidia Geforce 980Ti in August. With the final component in my hand, I can start to assemble everything.

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The installation isn’t that hard, but it isn’t straight forward either since it doesn’t comes with a user manual. I really need to figure out what those screws are for, and how to attach the 3.5” HDD and 2.5” SSD to the case. You probably need a lot of guide if it’s the first time building a PC with this case.

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The Ncase M1 can be configured in a number of ways. Initially what I had in mine was to put both 120mm fans on side panel as intake, with one attached to the Seidon 120V radiator. The 3.5” HDD will be placed on the bottom of the case below the GPU. Since I got 2 fans pushing air in, I installed the PSU with the air intake from outside (the other side panel).

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I tucked the extra cable in between the PSU and GPU, as well as the empty ODD space. I didn’t opt for the ODD hole because I don’t intent to use one. I’ve placed the SSD inside the case, so there’s some extra space there. I didn’t reattach the CPU cooler, so lazy to do that. Thankfully I can route the tube around with the previous orientation.

I fired up the PC, played a few round of BF4 and found out that I wasn’t impressed with the temperature of my GPU and HDD. The latter was hovering at 60ºC, a lot higher than what I’m comfortable with. It was due to the HDD and GPU are one or two millimetres apart. So the 2nd reconfiguration started.

The HDD is then put on the included bracket and on the side panel in place of one of the 120mm fan that wasn’t attached to the radiator. I fear there’s not much airflow near the HDD, so I’ve reversed the PSU with it acting as exhaust. I’ve placed two 120mm fan on the bottom of the GPU, I heard it is counter productive to put it there, but extra fan give me some extra peace of mind. The re-configuration reduced the GPU temperature and kept the HDD temperature at a normal temperature.

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However things doesn’t look good for the PSU with the fan ramping up while playing game. That noisy 80mm fan now need to work extra hard with using hot air to cool the PSU components. Problem were solved by rotating back the PSU, and I can’t feel if the case got hotter without the PSU acting as extra exhaust.

Now something about the outlook of the case. It is one sleek case, and with the silver coloured panels, it resemble something that Apple produce. iMac wannabe, I know. It is also really small, not  Mac Mini small, but incredibly small considering what kind of performance it is capable of. It’s small enough that I’m considering lugging it for work. We’ll see how that work out.

There’s only two USB 3.0 ports on the front panel, but since the case isn’t that big, it’s no biggie to reach for the ports at the back. There’s a power button which also act as a HDD activity indicator. One thing missing will be the reset button, so I need to long press the power button if I want to force shut-down the PC in case it freeze, which is frequently with my dirty upgraded Windows 10.

I’m currently torn between going full underwater or back to full air cooled. Ideally it’ll be best to go full water cooled with custom loop, but I’m not intrigue by the cost and maintenance work that involve by it. More over with liquid in it, I can’t bring it into the cabin of an international flight. Then again, how often do I need to bring it into the cabin. Going back air cooled CPU and stock reference cooler for GPU would limit their full overclocking potential.

Anyhow, I will be using this case for a long time with its acceptable limitation and limitless configuration in a very small footprint.

Ncase M1 V4