Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Small Form Factor Desktop Computer - First Impressions

In my April post I listed computer parts that I was considering buying if I were to build a new computer. In August, I pulled the trigger and bought the parts to assemble the new computer. Here is a list of the components I ended up getting:

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-F2A88XN-WIFI Mini-ITX
CPU: AMD Kaveri A10-7850K APU
CPU cooler: Thermalright AXP-100R
Memory: Patriot Viper 3 16GB kit (8GBx2) DDR3 PC3-17000 2133MHz PVL316G213C1KR
Storage: OCZ Vector 150 Series 240GB SATA III solid state drive VTR150-25SAT3-240G
Optical drive: Panasonic UJ265 slim Blu-ray burner for laptop (slot load)
Case: In Win H Frame Mini Red

The components were ordered from and

First I take the motherboard and try to mount the CPU. The motherboard comes with the appropriate CPU cooler brackets for the AMD stock cooler. The brackets were removed by removing the 4 mounting screws. I mounted the brackets for the Thermalright AXP-100R, inserted the AMD CPU, apply the thermal paste from the Thermalright cooler package, and secured the AXP-100 cooler heatsink and fan. I plug the fan power connector onto the motherboard. So far so good.

Then I try to install the memory modules. It turns out that the Patriot Viper 3, although deemed low profile compare to many memory modules out there today, would not fit under the AXP-100 in the slot closest to the CPU. It can fit in the slot further away, so right now I have just one module of 8GB installed.

Next I put the motherboard into the H Frame Mini case, plug the ATX power, CPU power, USB, front panel USB, power switch, reset switch, power LED, HDD LED, and three SATA connectors to the motherboard. Everything is in the right place. I installed the solid state drive and optical drive. Fits perfectly.

Plug in the power cord in the back, connect the DVI cable to the motherboard, and press the power button. The power button's blue LED lights up, and the fan on the AXP-100 turns, but no video on the monitor.  I tried the HDMI ports, no video.  I tried resetting the BIOS and unplugging everything except the power switch, still nothing. I thought maybe this motherboard has the old version of BIOS that doesn't support the new Kaveri CPU, so I contacted Gigabyte technical support. They informed me that based on the serial number, it should have the newer BIOS that supports the Kaveri CPU. I checked the memory module and found that it was not completely tight in the socket. After that I got video. I browsed the BIOS settings and everything looks ok; BIOS version is F3. Then I plugged everything back. The BIOS detects the two drives and I can proceed to install Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. I changed the memory speed setting to the XMP setting, and it runs at 2133MHz with 11-11-11-30 timing and 1.5V.

below is the info from CPU-Z:

GPU-Z shows info about the integrated graphics on the APU:

Booting is much faster now with the solid state drive. It took about 20 seconds from power button to Windows 7 login screen.