What Is the Best Mini ITX Case in 2020? (Reviews)

Today, we’re going to walk you through our top picks for best Mini ITX cases. We’ve scanned over all the best Mini ITX cases on the market in order to find all of the best meaningfully-different options, and we’ve gathered them in a list of our top six for you to explore below.

Here’s a quick rundown.

If you aren’t sure what all of the specs and jargon being presented mean, we’ve included a detailed buying guide at the bottom of the article to ensure that you get all of the information that you need. Our hope is that by reading this article, you won’t just know what the best Mini ITX cases are- you’ll know why they’re the best, and carry that knowledge into the future.

Let’s hop into it.

Best Mini ITX Case to Buy

#1. Thermaltake Core V1

Dimensions and Size: Mini ITX Cube (276 mm x 259 mm x 314 mm) | Front Panel Type: Perforated | Side Panel Window Type: Perforated/Window (swappable) | Color Options: Black, White | Max Motherboard Size: Mini ITX | CPU Cooler Clearance: 140 mm | GPU Clearance: 255 mm with drive cages, 285 mm without | Drive Bays: 2 2.5, 2 3.5 | Fan Capacity:  1x 200/140/120mm (front, 200 mm included), 2x 80mm (rear) | Lighting: N/A | Front Panel Ports: 2 USB 3.0, Standard Audio

  • Lowest price
  • Included 200 mm fan for strong airflow intake
  • Generous space for drives and GPU

Thermaltake Core V1 SPCC Mini ITX Cube Gaming Computer Case Chassis

Our pick for best budget Mini ITX is the time-honored classic, the Thermaltake Core V21. In addition to being one of the cheapest Mini ITX cases on the market, it’s still pretty fully-featured. Its cube form factor allows for both full-length GPUs and full-height CPU coolers, though you may want to consider removing drive cages in order to maximize room for your GPU of choice.

Despite its small size and low price, this is a case built with airflow and performance in mind. With a mesh front panel and a perforated side panel, air shouldn’t have an issue getting into and out of this chassis. It includes a 200 mm intake fan to take care of that, but for some better airflow, you may want to grab a few 80 mm fans to complete the airflow setup.

Honestly, we’re hard-pressed to complain about this chassis. It has all the features you should be looking for, and while it isn’t the absolute smallest Mini ITX case out there, it’s still pretty darn solid.

Verdict: The best budget Mini ITX case

#2. Cooler Master Elite 130

Dimensions and Size: Mini ITX Cube (238 mm x 205 mm x 378 mm) | Front Panel Type: Mesh | Side Panel Window Type: Perforated | Color Options: Black | Max Motherboard Size: Mini ITX | CPU Cooler Clearance: 65 mm | GPU Clearance: 343 mm | Drive Bays: 1 5.25, 1 2.5, 1 3.5 | Fan Capacity: 1 120mm front, 1 80mm side (both included) | Lighting:  N/A | Front Panel Ports: 2x USB 3.0, Standard Audio 

  • Incredibly small size
  • Low price
  • Great GPU clearance
  • Very little CPU cooler clearance

Cooler Master RC-130-KKN1 Elite 130 - Mini-ITX Computer Case with Mesh Front Panel and Water Cooling Support

The Cooler Master Elite 130 is a lot like the Thermaltake Core V1, but it actually manages to get even smaller while also offering support for a full-size 5.25-inch drive. (For DVD/Blu-Ray/card readers/etc.) This makes it particularly suited as a home theater PC box, and unlike with the Core V1, you don’t have to buy anything extra for your airflow! Both a 120 mm front intake and 80 mm side exhaust fan are included in this chassis, and it runs inexplicably cool.

The only real issue we have with it is that it has very little CPU cooler clearance. This means you’ll either have to use an AIO for best performance or be restricted to a low-profile air cooler, which won’t keep your CPU as cool as it could be otherwise. If keeping things as small as they can be on as low a budget as possible is your priority, then the Elite 130 is definitely the right pick for you. Otherwise, consider one of the other picks on this list.

Verdict: The smallest Mini ITX cube case

#3. NZXT H210(i)

Dimensions and Size: Mini ITX Tower (372 mm x 210 mm x 349 mm) | Front Panel Type: Solid (Vented) | Side Panel Window Type: Tempered Glass | Color Options: Black, Black/Red, Black/White | Max Motherboard Size: Mini ITX | CPU Cooler Clearance: 165 mm | GPU Clearance: 325 mm | Drive Bays: 3 2.5, 1 3.5 | Fan Capacity: 2x 120/140mm front, 1x 120mm rear (included), 1x 120mm top (included) | Lighting: RGB with i-Series version | Front Panel Ports: USB 3.2 Type-C, USB 3.2 Type-A, Standard Audio

  • Plenty of GPU/CPU/drive space
  • Sleek, refined aesthetic with tempered glass and high build quality + dual fans
  • Great RGB (with i-version)
  • Expensive (with i-version)

NZXT H210i - CA-H210i-B1 - Mini-ITX PC Gaming Case

NZXT is well-renowned for their high quality cases, and the NZXT H210i is no exception to that rule. (If you want to save a little money, get the non-RGB H210 instead, the two cases are exactly the same barring the addition of an RGB LED strip.) While this case isn’t particularly focused on providing the smallest ever Mini ITX PC or anything, what it does offer is some pretty stellar build quality and (in our opinion) a very sleek and refined aesthetic.

Aesthetics aside, you also have very generous space inside this one. 325 mm GPU clearance and 165 mm CPU cooler clearance means that you should be able to fit most full-sized GPU and CPU coolers inside this baby without much issue. The airflow won’t be super strong due to the solid front panel, but if that’s an issue you can just pop it off to reveal the mesh filter beneath and/or add some intake fans to improve the airflow situation.

As a nifty extra, you also get two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports on the front (technically top) panel, one of which is Type-C. This makes it ideal for use with the latest portable devices and drives, and offers more raw speed over USB than any other case on this list. (The other cases use standard USB 3.0).

Overall, we don’t really have much to complain about. It’s costly and getting great airflow may require a few adjustments, but this is definitely more of a status symbol of a chassis than a raw performance chassis. The tempered glass side panel and the RGB version, if you opt for it, make it perfect for showing off your components to the world. And while it isn’t the smallest, it’s still small- small enough to take with you whenever you travel and show off, if you please.

Verdict: The best-looking Mini ITX case

#4. Phanteks Evolv Shift Air

Dimensions and Size: Mini ITX Tower (274 mm x 186 mm x 470 mm)  | Front Panel Type: Solid (Ventilated) | Side Panel Window Type: Mesh | Color Options: Grey, Black | Max Motherboard Size: Mini ITX | CPU Cooler Clearance: 82 mm | GPU Clearance: 350 mm | Drive Bays: 2 2.5, 1 3.5 | Fan Capacity: 1x 120/140mm bottom, 2x 120/140mm side, (1 140mm fan included) | Lighting: N/A | Front Panel Ports: 2x USB 3.0, Standard Audio

  • Strong airflow thanks to mesh panels and unique design
  • Sleek aesthetic and low footprint
  • Expensive
  • May be tough to build in for newcomers due to unconventional design

The Phanteks Evolv Shift Air is one of the most interesting cases we’ve ever seen. Despite its unconventional form factor, it offers great support for full-length GPUs and even AIO water-cooling. It has plenty of fan slots, three total drive bays, and despite how densely-packed everything is, surprisingly great airflow performance. While manufactured quite some time ago, it also resembles the upcoming Xbox Series X in more ways than one.

The downsides come down mainly to how experienced you are with PC building. While you can remove every panel for access to the internals, you’ll still be dealing with an incredibly unconventional building experience with this one. If you’re new to PC building, we highly recommend taking this to a shop for assembly or bringing an experienced friend onboard to help you put it together.

The price is also a little high, but not extreme for specialized Mini ITX cases like this one. We have budget options if you need them, but if you want something truly super-small, then the higher price tag is an unavoidable part of that.

A lot of case selection really boils down to personal preference. If you want the smallest tower-style Mini ITX case, then this is definitely the right pick for you. Otherwise, consider one of the other available options on this list.

Verdict: The smallest Mini ITX Tower case

#5. InWin A1 Plus

Dimensions and Size: Mini ITX Cube (357 mm x 224 mm x 273 mm) | Front Panel Type: Solid | Side Panel Window Type: Tempered Glass | Color Options: Black, Pink, White | Max Motherboard Size: Mini ITX | CPU Cooler Clearance: 160 mm | GPU Clearance: 320 mm | Drive Bays: 2x 2.5 | Fan Capacity: 1x 120mm side, 1x 120mm rear, 2x 120mm bottom (side and rear RGB fans included) | Lighting: RGB | Front Panel Ports: 2x USB 3.0, Standard Audio

  • Insane RGB implementation
  • Fans included
  • Wireless charging!
  • Included PSU not suited for high-end systems
  • Highest price

InWin A1 Plus Black Mini-ITX Tower with Integrated ARGB Lighting - 650W Gold Power Supply - Qi Wireless Phone Charger

The InWin A1 Plus has one of the coolest, most over-the-top RGB implementations we’ve ever seen. InWin is becoming infamous for providing great low-profile and great RGB cases, and this seems to combine both of their talents into one. It’s super-small, it’s well-built, the RGB and tempered glass looks great, and it even offers a wireless charging station! What’s not to like?

Well…two things.

For one, it includes a power supply that, despite its 650W rating, isn’t actually well-suited for high-end systems. Overclocking your CPU or GPU with this one may result in the PSU being tripped, so pretty much you’re going to want to replace the PSU in this chassis with your own SFX PSU. And unfortunately, even on the low-end…those don’t come cheap.

Also, it is expensive. It’s the most expensive case on this list, actually. The included PSU, wireless charging, and RGB all come at a significant price premium. And you’ll still very likely need to replace that PSU you’re paying for. If only there were a version of this case without the PSU and a lower price…

Don’t get us wrong: this is still a superb case. GPU aside, everything else about it is great: it even includes two RGB fans for good out-of-the-box cooling! Its CPU cooler and GPU clearance are both as good as it gets with a Mini ITX case, too.

Just…be prepared to spend a lot if you’re going to go with this one.

Verdict: The best RGB Mini ITX case

#6. Silverstone Raven RVZ02

Dimensions and Size: Mini ITX Slim Tower (380 mm x 87 mm x 370 mm) | Front Panel Type: Solid | Side Panel Window Type: Perforated | Color Options: Black, Black/White | Max Motherboard Size: Mini ITX | CPU Cooler Clearance: 58 mm | GPU Clearance: 330 mm | Drive Bays: 2 2.5 | Fan Capacity: N/A | Lighting: N/A | Front Panel Ports: 2x USB 3.0, Standard Audio

  • Super slim form factor
  • Plenty of GPU clearance
  • Surprisingly good cooling performance despite fanless design
  • Somewhat expensive
  • Restrictive cooler height and building experience

SilverStone Technology SST-RVZ02B-USA Slim Gaming Computer Case for Mini-Itx Motherboards with Full Size GPU Support

Last but certainly not least, we have the Silverstone Raven RVZ02! This is by far the smallest Mini ITX case we’ve been able to find on the market, with a size more comparable to that of a bulky console than your usual PC. Despite its small size and the utter lack of fans or fan mounts, you have great GPU clearance and cooling performance!

The way this is pulled off is in a very console-esque manner: by opening up both side panels with ample ventilation, hot air from the CPU and GPU are pushed directly out of your system, and unable to build up inside the chassis. While the lack of fan slots will mandate a low-profile air cooler and we wouldn’t exactly recommend slapping a 9900K into this machine, it should still work just fine for your gaming needs as long as it has plenty of room to breathe.

If you want the smallest size you can get in a Mini ITX case without skimping on quality, we believe the Silverstone Razen RVZ02 is a great option for you. While it’s a bit on the pricier side, it’s nowhere near as expensive as the InWin RGB pick, and its unique form factor makes it perfect for bringing to LAN parties or showing off how much power you can fix in a small package.

Verdict: The smallest Mini ITX case

FAQ and Selection

In this section, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know before buying a Mini ITX case. Let’s dive into it!

Things to consider when buying Mini ITX cases

When buying a mini ITX case, there are some important compromises to keep in mind:

  • Most high-profile air coolers will not work, due to reduced dimensions. Make sure to go with liquid cooling or low-profile air coolers with a SFF PC build!
  • While dual-slot GPUs will fare just fine, triple-slots may not, even if they technically fit in the system, due to a lack of open space beneath them. Try to keep both GPU length and thickness in mind when buying Mini ITX, as these specs are more important than ever now!
  • Don’t expect to run multi-3.5-inch drive setups, especially not if you also plan to run a full-sized graphics card.
  • Many Mini ITX cases will be too small for anything but an SFX power supply, which will cost more!

Understanding dimensions and volume specs

If size is important to you, you may want to take dimensions into account. To compare any of these given cases and the total volume of space they take up to one another, take a look at the dimensions spec (for instance, 380 mm x 87 mm x 370 mm for #6), and treat it like a math problem. Running those numbers will provide you a number, in liters, of the total volume that chassis takes up.

If you aren’t overly concerned with size beyond “it’s small”, then don’t worry about this- just grab whichever of the cases listed above looks most appealing to you. They’re all designed to be as small as possible while still maintaining key functionality, like holding full-length graphics cards and such.

Drive bays and M.2 drives

Drive bays are one of the most obvious specs that get cut down in Mini ITX builds, especially since most consumers aren’t going to be running more than a few drives, anyway. Many PCs will only use one drive in its entire lifespan.

However, this is still an important spec to take into account. If you aren’t sure what the drive capacity spec refers to, we’ll break it down like this:

  • 5.25-inch drives – Used for full-size card readers and CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drives. Rare in this market segment.
  • 3.5-inch drives – Used for large hard drives. If you must use an HDD instead of an SSD, 3.5-inch will usually be the better option due to providing higher RPM and speeds.
  • 2.5-inch drives – Used for laptop hard drives and SATA solid state drives. HDDs at this size will usually be much slower than larger counterparts, whereas SATA SSDs will be faster than any hard drive, but not as fast as an NVMe SSD.
  • SATA M.2/NVMe M.2 drives – Both come in the same M.2 form factor that plugs straight into your motherboard, allowing you to bypass concerns of drive bays and capacity entirely. However, most motherboards will only support 1 or 2 of these drives, and NVMe M.2 drives are much faster than their SATA M.2 counterparts, which are still restricted to SATA speeds.

For the best results with a Mini ITX build, prioritize NVMe M.2 drives before anything else. If you must add an extra drive, opt for an SSD whenever you can since your case likely won’t support 3.5-inch hard drives. Even if it does, removing those drive cages where allowed will give you more room for a longer GPU.

Fan capacity and liquid cooling

Fan capacity is probably the biggest compromise when it comes to using smaller cases. People aren’t using multiple expansion cards and multiple drives like they used to thanks to evolving USB and cloud storage standards, respectively. Raw cooling performance is still important, though, especially for gamers and those who want high performance out of their PCs.

Most Mini ITX cases don’t offer very many fan slots, and where those fan slots are available they’ll usually be limited to 120 mm. 120 mm fans are great, but compared to 140 and 200 mm fans, aren’t able to push quite as much air quite as quietly. (Try saying that three times fast.)

If you’re interested in liquid cooling, you’ll need to be aware of radiator size and mounting. Liquid cooling radiators require 120/140 mm fan slots to be mounted, and in this confined form factor, 240 mm radiators won’t be feasible unless 2 120 mm slots are side-by-side. If you must do liquid cooling in an ITX case, we recommend going with a 120 mm AIO setup and using the rest of available fan slots for airflow.

Different lighting types

Lighting is a big selling point for some, and an afterthought for others. Of the cases we’ve picked, they either have no special lighting features to speak of or come with a fully-fledged RGB setup right out of the box. The InWin case is particularly remarkable in that regard, though this visual presentation comes at quite the price premium.

“RGB” lighting refers to lights inside your chassis or on a given component that can be customized to cycle through colors, provide different lighting effects, or be set to individual colors. If this doesn’t sound like much to you, save your money and opt for the non-RGB cases we’ve provided in the roundup above. Pretty as RGB is, the added price won’t be if you’re on a tight budget.

How front and side panels make a difference

Front and side panels impact how your PC will intake and exhaust air. Mesh panels are most ideal for airflow, especially when paired with intake fans, since they provide the most access to air without opening your system up to dust and debris. Many Mini ITX cases will opt for solid panels with ventilation instead of mesh, though. While this looks more aesthetically pleasing, it does result in less raw airflow performance.

If you love a case’s aesthetic but wish it had better airflow, you may be able to make some modifications. The NZXT H210(i), for instance, can be run with its front panel off…but expect to clean the fan dust filter much more frequently if you choose to run it like this.

Parting Words

And that’s everything! We hope that this article helped you make an informed buying decision, but if you have any lingering questions…feel free to ask them below.

The post What Is the Best Mini ITX Case in 2020? (Reviews) appeared first on AddictiveTips.

Best GTX 1660 Super Graphics Card (Reviews) in 2020

The GTX 1660 Super is Nvidia’s October 2019 refresh for the GTX 1660, which was released earlier in the same year. In addition to offering performance within spitting distance of the much more expensive GTX 1660 Ti, the 1660 Super serves as Nvidia’s primary competitor in the sub-$300 GPU price range, offering the most performance-per-dollar of any of their cards.

If you don’t care about features like real-time ray-tracing and you just want a GPU that’s a great value for the money, the GTX 1660 Super is a great option for you. Unfortunately, many cards under that name exist- so how do you find the best one for your needs?

Which GTX 1660 Super to Buy?

That’s what we’re here for. If you aren’t familiar with all the jargon and stuff, skip on down to the buying guide section of the article, where we break all this down for you. But if you already have a pretty confident grasp on GPU technology … go ahead and look at our top picks!

#1. Gigabyte GTX 1660 Super Mini ITX OC

Clock Speed: Up to 1800 MHz | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 170 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI

  • The shortest GTX 1660 Super on this lis, and often one of the cheapest
  • Doesn’t lose much performance when compared to larger alternatives
  • Smaller size means less raw cooling perf and OC headroom

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 Super Mini ITX OC 6G Graphics Card

First up is our pick for the best small GTX 1660 Super, the Gigabyte GTX 1660 Super Mini ITX OC. While there are many Mini ITX 1660 Supers available on the market, we believe this one offers the best raw performance of the cards in this weight class. At only 170 mm and 2-slots, fitting this into a standard Mini ITX or HTPC case should never be an issue.

While this card doesn’t offer the raw cooling performance or overclocking headroom of its larger cousins, it still swings within the same ballpark. The 1660 Super chip inside is adequately cooled, and when you’re trying to get your PC as small as possible, these kinds of compromises are normal and expected, so we can’t really knock it for that.

Plus, this is one of those GTX 1660 Supers that always seems to stick around MSRP. Considering how frequently GPU pricing can fluctuate, a card at a reliable low and reliable price point is always a nice thing to have.

Verdict: Best small GTX 1660 Super

#2. ASUS TUF GTX 1660 Super

Clock Speed: Up to 1845 MHz | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 206 mm | Ports: 1 DP, 1 HDMI, 1 DVI 

  • One of the cheapest GTX 1660 Supers available, offers DVI support
  • Beefy enough for a strong factory OC and cooling performance
  • Should fit fine in standard-sized MATX and ATX cases

Asus TUF Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super Overclocked 6GB Edition

The ASUS TUF GTX 1660 Super is our pick for best budget 1660 Super. Like our #1 pick, it’s always at or around MSRP, but it does so without slacking in the performance department. The factory overclock and cooling performance are both genuinely impressive for the price, and it even offers a DVI-D port for those who are still using an older monitor! (If you’re still playing games at 1080p and 1440p, hey: no judgement here.)

The length is only 206 mm as well, which means it should comfortably fit in just about any chassis. Many gaming-oriented Mini ITX cases should even be able to fit it, since those are making a heavy pivot toward having open space for the GPU and not much else. If you just want a GTX 1660 Super and don’t really care about extra features or overclocking, then this card will pretty much be a perfect match for you.

Verdict: Best budget GTX 1660 Super

#3. Gigabyte Windforce Twin-Fan GTX 1660 Super

Clock Speed: Up to 1830 MHz | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 226 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI 

  • One of the strongest-performing 1660 Supers
  • Priced very close to MSRP
  • May be too large for some MITX/HTPC builds

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 Super OC 6G Graphics Card, 2X Windforce Fans, 6GB

The Gigabyte Windforce Twin-Fan GTX 1660 Super is our pick for the best balanced GTX 1660 Super. It offers some of the best performance out of any of the available versions of the card, and better cooling/OC headroom than the previous two available in this list. While only 226 mm, it offers two full-sized cooling fans with a beefy heatsink, and it’s only priced for $10 more than MSRP at the time of writing.

In addition to being one of the best-performing 1660 Supers, it’s also one of the best-priced ones. So, what’s the catch?

…there isn’t one, really. As long as it can fit in your system, and it most likely can, then you really aren’t going to have any issues here. 226 mm may be pushing it for extreme SFF PC builds, but most HTPC and Mini ITX PC cases should be able to fit a 226 mm GPU just fine. We wouldn’t recommend it if it’s a tight fit, though, since a card of this size needs plenty of air to breathe for optimal performance.

Verdict: Best balanced GTX 1660 Super

#4. MSI Gaming X GTX 1660 Super

Clock Speed: Up to 1830 MHz | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 247 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI 

  • Slick aesthetic and RGB
  • Great raw performance, among the best 1660 Supers
  • May be too large for some Mini ITX or HTPC builds
  • Priced higher than other options due to the RGB

MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB DDR6

There are some in the world of PC gaming who care about one thing and one thing only: RGB.

While the RGB on the MSI Gaming X GTX 1660 Super isn’t particularly excessive, it’s also just about the only 1660 Super that actually has the feature. It offers customizable RGB lighting in the LEDs around its cooling fans and the MSI logo visible on top of the card. If you want to show off this RGB, especially synced to the rest of your PC build, then a vertical GPU mount should go a long way, if your case supports it.

In addition to RGB, this card offers fairly strong cooling and raw performance. RGB is there, cooling is there, and performance is there…so what’s the catch?

There’s the length, first of all. At 247 mm, or 9.7 inches, this is definitely starting to hit the territory where it’s unfeasible for smaller PC builds. It’s a very beefy graphics card.

More importantly, there’s the price. This card is quite a bit more expensive than its non-RGB counterparts, and if you don’t care about RGB, then there’s really no reason to choose this over one of our other listed options. Even if you do care about RGB, you may find the price hike a little bit excessive.

Verdict: Best RGB GTX 1660 Super

#5. Gigabyte Windforce Triple-Fan GTX 1660 Super

Clock Speed: Up to 1860 MHz | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 280 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI

  • The GTX 1660 Super with the best raw performance
  • Usually not too much more expensive than other options
  • The longest GTX 1660 Super, will not fit into many SFF PC builds
  • Spotty availability

Last but certainly not least is our pick for best performance GTX 1660 Super — the Gigabyte Windforce Triple-Fan GTX 1660 Super. It’s the longest card on this list, at 280 mm, but in exchange you get the best factory overclock, overclocking headroom, cooling performance, and raw in-game performance of any GTX 1660 Super on the market. If you aren’t concerned with fitting this into a SFF PC build or RGB, then the Triple-Fan Windforce GTX 1660 Super is easily the best option available to you. It even has an RGB logo!

Really, we don’t have much negative to say about this card. It does what you would expect it to, and better. The only issue we really have is that its availability is a little bit spotty at the time of writing, possibly due to high demand. (Not just for this card- the 1660 Super in general seems to be a hot graphics card purchase right now.)

If you can’t get your hands on this card, the Gaming X or Twin-Fan Windforce card should both make for suitable replacements. Otherwise, this is our pick for the best overall GTX 1660 Super.

Verdict: Best Performance GTX 1660 Super

FAQ and Selection

Looking past our top picks, it’s time to discuss all the need-to-know information that you’ll need before making an informed purchase. Let’s get it all down.

Base GTX 1660 Super specs and information

The reference specs of the GTX 1660 Super GPU chip that is within every 1660 Super card is, as follows:

  • Turing Architecture
  • 1530 MHz Base Clock
  • Up to 1785 MHz Boost Clock
  • 6 GB GDDR6 RAM (instead of the GDDR5 in the non-Super card)
  • 14 Gbps Memory Speed

Unless specified otherwise, assume that every card listed above shares these basic specifications.

Aside from differing cooler designs, another big difference you’ll notice in all of the 1660 Supers listed above is that they include much higher boost clocks. These are called factory overclocks, and we’ll dive into the nature of those a bit later.

How the GTX 1660 Super performs in games

The GTX 1660 Super is a mid-high range 1440p and VR card, and outright overkill for 1080p. To compare it to a console, it outperforms even the Xbox One X. (Note: The X1X and PS4 Pro both use lower resolutions, like 1440p and 1800p, to scale to 4K displays. They are not true 4K consoles!)

Pushing 100+ FPS at high-to-max settings at 1440p and lower resolutions shouldn’t be an issue with this card. For a detailed look at how it performs at max settings in the latest games, click here to check the TechSpot benchmarks. It’s pretty much on par with the GTX 1070 of old, and very often comes within spitting range of the more-expensive GTX 1660 Ti. Value-wise, this is a really hard card to beat in its price range- on Nvidia’s part, it borders on self-competition against the 1660 Ti.

How it compares to competing cards

While the RX 570 and RX 580 used to offer better overall value, those cards are no longer being manufactured and are rapidly dropping out of availability. If you can find a sub-$200 RX 590 before it disappears, it’s certainly a great pick…but that won’t be around for long, and it still won’t match the raw performance of the GTX 1660 Super.

The closest modern competitors it has are the RX 5500 XT and RX 5600 XT. The former card is significantly weaker for not much cheaper, and the latter card is more expensive…for not much more performance. (Plus, an issue with inconsistent VBIOses means that there can be a great disparity from one 5600 XT to the next.)

If we had to recommend just one card in this price range, it would be the GTX 1660 Super. If you don’t mind pushing closer to $300, a proper-VBIOs 5600 XT or 5700 non-XT both make a good alternative, though.

Clock speed specs and factory overclocks

Clock speed, measured in MHz, refers to the raw speed of a given processing chip. Once upon a time, this was the most important metric to consider for CPU or GPU performance, but over time clock speeds have stagnated while architectural improvements elsewhere have pushed the card to a higher level of performance. Make no mistake: a higher clock speed is still better, but it can no longer be used to determine the performance level of two CPUs/GPUs that don’t share the same architecture.

In the case of GPUs like the GTX 1660 Super, though, it is a useful metric. While these factory overclocks only result in a slight difference in performance between these cards that are otherwise using the same graphics processor, a higher factory overclock tells you a bit about the rest of the card, too. For instance, cards with particularly high factory overclocks tend to have particularly good cooling, because better cooling is necessary to make those factory OCs stable enough to be advertised.

Once it’s in the hands of the user, that clock speed- and other aspects of the GPU, like its power limit- can be pushed farther to squeeze even more performance out of the card, so long as the cooling can keep up.

Width, Length, and how they pertain to compatibility

Width and length are the main physical specs to be concerned about when it comes to buying any graphics card, not just the GTX 1660 Super. Fortunately, since the 1660 Super is a relatively low/mid-range part, it comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes from different manufacturers. This means you can get a 1660 Super with the beefiest cooling and OC potential if you have a spacious ATX case, or a super-small 1660 Super if you’re building in a Mini ITX or HTPC case.

All of the cards on this list are dual-slot cards, and this pertains to width. Width is almost never a compatibility concern when it comes to graphics cards, since any chassis will have at least 2 slots open, and most GPUs are 2-slots. Some beefy cards may be 3-slots, but even many Mini ITX cases are equipped to handle that.

Width only REALLY becomes an issue when you need to use multiple PCI Express cards, not just a graphics card…or your GPU needs breathing room, but can’t get it because it only barely fits, widthwise. Fortunately, the 1660 Super is only ever a 2-slot card, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Length is the more prominent issue here. As cases get smaller, so too does their capacity for long graphics cards. Stuff that’s around or under 200 mm will usually be fine, but ~300 mm and higher are very often too large to fit inside today’s low-profile cases. Be sure to double-check a GPU’s length spec against your case’s specs before buying a graphics card!

Different ports and their impact

Now, for some common video ports you’ll be seeing and the differences between them!

  • DVI – An older standard. Carries video only, no audio. Limited to a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz or 1080p @ 144 Hz. Not recommended for high-end 1440p or 4K displays.
  • HDMI – A TV-centric standard. Depending on the specific implementation, can support 4K @ 60 Hz or 1440p @ 120 Hz. The very latest HDMI cables can support 4K @ 120 Hz, but this isn’t common at the time of writing. Not as good at supporting arbitrary/non-16:9 resolutions.
  • DisplayPort – A PC-centric standard, recommended for most PC related scenarios. Has the best support for high refresh rate and high-resolution content. Like HDMI, also supports audio passthrough, but is rarely (if ever) seen on 4K/HDTVs.

Parting Words

And that’s it! We hope that our combined buying guide and product roundup helped you find the best GTX 1660 Super for your needs. If you still have any questions left, feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

The post Best GTX 1660 Super Graphics Card (Reviews) in 2020 appeared first on AddictiveTips.

Best Intel Motherboard in 2020: Mini ITX, Micro ATX, ATX and X299

Trying to find the best Intel motherboards? Look no further.

Whether you just need the cheapest Intel motherboard that suits your needs or the ultimate Extended ATX Intel X299 beast for your Intel Core i9-10900X, we have you covered.

Let’s dive in!

Wanna see what the red team is up to instead? Check out our AM4 Motherboards roundup!

What Is the Best Intel Motherboard?

Due to the wide variance of Intel motherboards available on the market, we’ve divided this part of the article into three sections with three options, each. There are three options each for Mini ITX, Micro ATX, and Full ATX motherboards. We’ve also added an extra Extended ATX pick.

If you aren’t sure which to pick, consult the buying guide at the bottom of the article.

Best Mini ITX Intel Motherboards

#1. ASRock B365M-ITX/ac

Chipset: Intel B365 | Form Factor: Mini ITX | Overclocking Support: No | SATA Ports: 4 | M.2 Slots: 2, 1 NVMe | RAM Slots: 2 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 2666 MHz | PCIe Slots: 1 | Wireless Tech: Wi-Fi AC and Bluetooth 4.2 | Lighting: No

  • Super cheap for Mini ITX
  • NVMe at a low price
  • Built-in Wireless!

ASRock B365M-ITX/ac - Mini ITX Intel Motherboard

The ASRock B365M-ITX/ac is our pick for best budget Mini ITX Intel motherboard. Thanks to its B365 chipset, it supports the latest 9th Gen Intel Core processors out-of-the-box, no bios update required. And while it is a cheaper Mini ITX board, it doesn’t skimp on features considered vital for this form factor, like Wi-Fi AC and integrated Bluetooth. (For a larger motherboard, features like these are what you would use your expansion slot for, but with mini ITX, you’ll most likely be using the single available expansion slot for a graphics card.)

Despite its low price, it features dual M.2 drive slots, one of which supports full NVMe Gen 3 speeds. For those who want to maximize their storage speed in their Mini ITX system, this is a valuable feature to have.

Honestly, we’re hard-pressed to complain all that much about this board. The chipset may be pretty barebones, but so is the pricing- so can we really complain?

Verdict: Best Budget Intel Mini ITX Motherboard

#2. Gigabyte H370N WiFi

Chipset: Intel H370 | Form Factor: Mini ITX | Overclocking Support: No | SATA Ports: 4 | M.2 Slots: 2 NVMe | RAM Slots: 2 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 2666 MHz | PCIe Slots: 1 | Wireless Tech: Wi-Fi AC and Bluetooth 5 | Lighting: No

  • Dual NVMe at a fair price
  • Fully-fledged Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • No overclocking

GIGABYTE H370N WiFi - Intel Motherboard

Our pick for best mid-range Intel Mini ITX motherboard is the Gigabyte H370N WiFi. As the name implies, this board comes with integrated Wi-Fi AC, and even the latest Bluetooth 5 standard.

While the H370 chipset is an upgrade over the previous pick, it unfortunately still doesn’t allow for overclocking. You still get higher build quality and better VRMs, though, which should allow your i5s and i7s to more easily reach their rated boost clocks, so long as your cooling can keep up. Another upgrade over the previous model is that both of the available M.2 drives are running at full NVMe speeds, rather than just one.

Honestly, as long as you don’t plan on overclocking or running a super high-end i7 or i9 processor with this board, we don’t think you’ll have any issues with it. It’s at a very fair price point, all things considered and offers all the features that any non-overclocker should need.

If you want more, though, check our next pick.

Verdict: Best Mid-Range Intel Mini ITX Motherboard

#3. ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC

Chipset: Intel Z390 | Form Factor: Mini ITX | Overclocking Support: Yes | SATA Ports: 4 | M.2 Slots: 2 NVMe | RAM Slots: 2 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 4500 MHz | PCIe Slots: 1 x16 | Wireless Tech: Wi-Fi AC and Bluetooth 5 | Lighting: RGB Rear Glow

  • Overclocking support at a surprisingly good price for an ITX board
  • Dual NVMe!
  • Full Wireless capabilities and RGB

ASRock Motherboard (Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC)

The ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming is our pick for the best overall Intel Mini ITX motherboard. There is no slacking on features here, and honestly it isn’t even that much more expensive than our mid-range pick. For only ~$35 or so more, you get quite a few upgrades.

The big selling point of this board is its Z390 chipset, which allows full overclocking capabilities for 9th Gen Intel Core processors. While we wouldn’t recommend trying to run an i9-9900K OC on this board (due to its small size), i5 and i7 processors should both easily be able to achieve high overclocks thanks to the great build quality, as long as you have a good cooler.

In addition to CPU overclocking capabilities, you have a truly stellar RAM speed rating of up to 4500 MHz, dual NVMe, built-in RGB lighting, and higher-quality integrated audio. We’re hard-pressed to find a better Mini ITX board for Intel processors available on the market right now, and certainly not for a better price.

With that in mind, the choice is clear. If you can afford it and you want Mini ITX with your Intel PC build, get this motherboard!

Verdict: Best Overall Intel Mini ITX Motherboard

Best Micro ATX Intel Motherboards

#1. ASUS PRIME B360M-A

Chipset: Intel B360 | Form Factor: Micro ATX | Overclocking Support: No | SATA Ports: 6 | M.2 Slots: 2 NVMe | RAM Slots: 4 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 2666 MHz | PCIe Slots: 3 (1 x16) | Wireless Tech: No | Lighting: No 

  • Super low price
  • Dual NVMe despite low price
  • May need BIOs update for 9th Gen compatibility

ASUS PRIME B360M-A - LGA1151 (300 Series)

The ASUS PRIME B360M-A is our pick for best budget Intel Micro ATX motherboard, and not just because it’s one of the cheapest available. Despite its budget price point, this is a fully-featured Intel motherboard.

First and foremost, dual NVMe support! While a lot of the motherboards in our selection offer this, many low-end and mid-range motherboards available on the market do not. If you care about having fast storage but don’t want to break the bank on a motherboard- especially if you have no plans to overclock your CPU or RAM- then the ASUS Prime B360M-A is a great pick.

The main downside related to this board is that it isn’t guaranteed to support 9th Gen Intel CPUs without a BIOs update, due to using an 8th Gen chipset. While many users are reporting that they’re receiving a version of the board with the relevant BIOs update pre-applied since mid-2019, you may still want to consider opting for a slightly higher-end board to guarantee 9th Gen compatibility if a BIOs update sounds like too much of a hassle for you.

Despite that downside- which is unlikely to impact you, but is still worth noting- we don’t have anything else bad to say about this board. It’s pretty solid, and it can’t be beaten at its price point.

Verdict: Best Budget Intel Micro ATX Motherboard

#2. ASRock Z390M PRO4

Chipset: Intel Z390 | Form Factor: Micro ATX | Overclocking Support: Yes | SATA Ports: 6 | M.2 Slots: 2 NVMe | RAM Slots: 4 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 4266 MHz | PCIe Slots: 4 (2 x16) | Wireless Tech: No | Lighting: No

  • Fair price
  • Dual NVMe
  • Overclocking support!

ASRock Motherboard (Z390M PRO4)

Up next is the ASRock Z390M Pro4. Since we’ve jumped up to the vaunted Z390 chipset, that means we now have access to the expected features that come with it, including RAM overclocking up to 4266 MHz and CPU overclocking. Despite the high-end chipset, this board doesn’t have the high-end price to match, since it only comes in at around ~$115 at the time of writing.

In addition to the overclocking stuff, you get your expected dual M.2 NVMe Gen 3 slots. For the first time in this roundup, you also get two full-speed PCI Express x16 slots instead of just one. This is particularly ideal for dual GPU users who want both of their cards to run at full speed.

There isn’t really a notable downside to this board, unless you need wireless technology. If you need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you’ll need to buy USB adapters or expansion cards for that functionality. However, we try not to cut boards too much flak for features they don’t have, especially if they aren’t expected to. Micro ATX boards at this price point almost never do, so we aren’t going to dock points for it- but if this functionality is important to you, consider our next pick.

Verdict: Best Mid-Range Intel Micro ATX Motherboard

#3. MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC

Chipset: Intel Z390 | Form Factor: Micro ATX | Overclocking Support: Yes | SATA Ports: 4 | M.2 Slots: 2 NVMe | RAM Slots: 4 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 4500 MHz | PCIe Slots: 4 (2 x16) | Wireless Tech: Wi-Fi AC and Bluetooth 4.2 | Lighting: RGB Rear Glow

  • Overclocking support!
  • Dual NVMe!
  • RGB!
  • Higher price

MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC LGA1151 (Intel 8th and 9th Gen)

Our pick for best overall Intel Micro ATX motherboard has to come down to the MSI MPG Z390M Gaming Edge AC.

…hoo, that was a long name.

Anyway, this is a fully-featured Micro ATX motherboard. Your expected Intel Z390 chipset is in, along with all the features that come with it, except even better than our previous pick. High-quality VRMs, RAM speeds of up to 4500 MHz, and the stellar general build quality should enable you to push higher overclocks on any Intel Core processor of your choice. While we’d still recommend the ultra-high-end ATX boards for getting the most out of your 9900K OC, you should still be able to run that CPU quite comfortably on this motherboard.

Coming in at just under $200 at the time of writing, this board has to offer some extra features over our previous picks in order to be worth buying. Fortunately, those features come in spades. Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, RGB lighting, high-quality audio and antenna connectors, and even dedicated chipset cooling to keep temperatures low.

If you want a great, overclocking-suited Micro ATX motherboard for your 8th or 9th Gen Intel Core processor, this is definitely one of the best picks for you. We hope you enjoy it!

Verdict: Best Overall Intel Micro ATX Motherboard

Best ATX Intel Motherboards

#1. ASRock Intel H370 Pro4

Chipset: Intel H370 | Form Factor: Full ATX | Overclocking Support: No | SATA Ports: 6 | M.2 Slots: 2 NVMe | RAM Slots: 4 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 2666 MHz | PCIe Slots: 5 (2 x16) | Wireless Tech: No | Lighting: No

  • Very low price
  • Dual NVMe despite the low price
  • Dual x16 slots despite the low price
  • No overclocking

ASROCK Intel H370 Chip Set ATX Motherboard H370 Pro4

The ASRock Intel H370 Pro4 is our pick for best budget Intel ATX motherboard. Despite its sub-$100 pricing, it still manages to provide a surprisingly solid full ATX motherboard experience, including two NVMe slots and two full-speed PCIe x16 slots. While there isn’t support for either RAM or CPU overclocking, you’re getting a fairly full-featured ATX motherboard here at a price that MATX boards with the same features would kill for.

While there isn’t any overclocking, wireless functionality, or real extras to speak of here, that’s completely fine at this price point. If you aren’t interested in any of that stuff and just want an ATX motherboard, with all the expandability that implies, at a fair price…this is the motherboard for you.

Verdict: Best Budget Intel ATX Motherboard

#2. MSI Z390-A Pro

Chipset: Intel Z390 | Form Factor: Full ATX | Overclocking Support: Yes | SATA Ports: 6 | M.2 Slots: 1 NVMe | RAM Slots: 4 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 4400 MHz | PCIe Slots: 6 (2 x16) | Wireless Tech: No | Lighting: No

  • Overclocking support!
  • Fairly-priced
  • Dual x16 slots
  • Only 1 NVMe

MSI Z390-A PRO LGA1151 (Intel 8th and 9th Gen)

The MSI Z390-A Pro is one of the cheapest Intel Z390 boards available on the market. Don’t mistake the low price point to mean low-quality, though: there’s a lot of great features on offer here. Dual x16 slots, memory overclocks of up to 4400 MHz being supported, and CPU overclocking being unlocked all make this a compelling choice, especially at its sub-$100 price point.

The general build quality and VRMs on this board are fairly solid, too. While we wouldn’t recommend it for hardcore i9-9900K overclocking or anything like that, OCing with either an i5 or i7 should be just fine on this board, as should reaching boost clocks on the aforementioned i9. The included OC Engine feature on the motherboard also makes overclocking a super-easy process for new users.

The only real downside here- and this is a curious thing indeed- is the fact that this motherboard only offers one NVMe M.2 slot, despite its full ATX size. We aren’t sure why that is, but it’s a downside easily circumvented as long as you opt for a higher-capacity NVMe drive from the start. For gaming purposes, it should be a non-issue, though, as SATA SSD speeds are generally fine for that scenario.

Verdict: Best Mid-Range Intel ATX Motherboard

#3. ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi)

Chipset: Intel Z390 | Form Factor: Full ATX | Overclocking Support: Yes | SATA Ports: 6 | M.2 Slots: 2 NVMe | RAM Slots: 4 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 4400 MHz | PCIe Slots: 6 (3 x16) | Wireless Tech: Wi-Fi AC and Bluetooth 5 | Lighting: RGB Rear Glow and Chipset

  • Overclocking support for high-end CPUs
  • Wireless tech and RGB built-in
  • Dual NVMe
  • High price

ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390 Gaming Motherboard LGA1151 (Intel 8th 9th Gen)

Last but certainly not least for our ATX motherboard selection is the ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi). In addition to the Intel Z390 chipset and the obvious overclocking features, you’ll see a massive boost in terms of extra features and build quality on offer here.

Let’s start with the performance stuff. With support for RAM speeds of up to 4400 MHz, the memory overclocking capacity is about what you would expect it to be here. The assortment of high-quality VRMs, however, allows for far better CPU overclocking than lesser Intel motherboards. If you want to overclock an Intel Core i9-9900K, this is definitely the board to do it with.

While a few higher-end Z390 options exist, their availability is extremely sporadic, and their prices are sometimes more than twice as high. Considering how expensive this motherboard already is, we’re fairly content with stopping the escalation here.

In terms of non-performance extras, the usual suspects are present here. Built-in RGB lighting, built-in Wi-Fi, and built-in Bluetooth 5 are all present here. While we’d recommend using an Ethernet cable for a large, stationary tower, these features are still nice to have for wireless peripherals and environments where you simply can’t run a cable, like at a friend’s house or college dorm.

The only real downside here is the price, but truth be told…if you can’t afford this board, you’re more than well taken care of with one of our prior picks. The main reason to shell out for a board in this price range is for enthusiast-grade overclocking. Otherwise, our #1 or #2 ATX motherboard picks should suffice.

Verdict: Best Overall Intel ATX Motherboard

Best Intel Extended ATX Motherboard

Surprise! We decided to bring Extended ATX to the party, alongside the Intel X299 chipset. If you’re opting into such a high-end chipset (including access to the Intel Extreme processors), we figure you’ll also want the most extreme expandability and overclocking capabilities. So, here’s our bonus Extended ATX pick!

#1. Gigabyte X299X AORUS Master

Chipset: Intel X299 | Form Factor: Extended ATX | Overclocking Support: Yes | SATA Ports: 8 | M.2 Slots: 3 NVMe | RAM Slots: 8 | Max RAM Speed: Up to 4333 MHz | PCIe Slots: 4 x16 | Wireless Tech: Wi-Fi AX/6 and Bluetooth 5 | Lighting: Yes, Chipset

  • The best build quality and overclocking support
  • The most expansion, including triple NVMe support
  • Support for the latest wireless technologies, including Wi-Fi 6
  • Very, very expensive

Gigabyte X299X AORUS Master Intel X299 Motherboard with 12 Phase Digital Vrm, Triple Fins-Array Heatsink

And finally, our pick for best Intel X299 motherboard.

While X299 is a very niche platform, its main purpose is to provide truly hardcore features for Intel’s highest-end Extreme Edition hardware. If you’re using an Intel Core X-Series processor, then an X299 board is the right pick for you. However, we’re going to make a few assumptions here, and assume you also want the best possible motherboard for you to use with that X-Series CPU.

So, meet our pick for best Intel X299 Motherboard: The Gigabyte X299X AORUS Master. This is an Extended ATX Motherboard, and honestly…the spec sheet kind of speaks for itself. All four PCI Express slots are running at full x16 speeds. There are eight RAM slots, the latest cutting-edge Wireless standards are built right in, there are three NVMe drive slots, and, of course, RGB.

The overclocks, the visual flair, and the raw expansion capabilites on this board are completely insane. For most users, even, completely unreasonable. But if you’re trying to pack that Intel Core i9-10900X heat, then we can’t blame you for getting the motherboard to match.

(Pro-tip, though: don’t bother with the lower-end X-series CPUs, they are not competitive with the Intel 300-Series 9th Gen CPUs. If you want to spend less than $700 on a CPU, we’d recommend going for an i9-9900K or lower, and one of our above motherboard recommendations.)

Verdict: Best Intel X299 Motherboard

FAQ and Selection

Now to break down some of the jargon and specs you saw above, just in case you have any questions remaining.

What the heck is with Extended ATX and X299?

Extended ATX is pretty much just a wider version of ATX. Many Full Tower ATX cases should support it, but be sure to double-check your chassis before buying your motherboard or vice-versa. Consumer CPU chipsets don’t tend to bother with Extended ATX, though- it’s usually intended for HEDT or server motherboards.

Intel X299 is their latest chipset for their Intel Extreme edition processors. At the time of writing, this is the only way to get your hand on 10th Gen Intel Core processors, though these may eventually find their way to a desktop-centric chipset. We’re expecting 11th Gen more at this point, though.

EATX and X299 are both suited for HEDT enthusiasts and even server workloads rather than consumer stuff. Even the highest-end gaming performance is better-suited for Z390 motherboards. If you don’t know what “HEDT” is and don’t have professional productivity workloads to deal with, chances are it isn’t for you- so don’t worry about it.

What’s the difference between the other mainstream chipsets?

Intel chipsets as seen in this article exist in 3 main tiers, excluding X299. These tiers are:

  • B360/B365 – No overclocking. Barebones budget. B360 and B365 are largely the same, but the former may require a BIOs update for 9th Gen Intel Core processors.
  • H370 – No overclocking. Mid-range. It provides more features and RAM speed, and is often the best for the money.
  • Z390 – Overclocking support. High-end. It provides the most features, and on the super-high end, becomes the obvious choice for processors like the Intel Core i9-9900K.

Motherboard Sizes Explained

Now, for a brief lowdown on motherboard sizes, from smallest to largest.

  • Mini ITX – Only 2 memory slots and only one PCIe slot. A little harder to build with. Should work for most users, who aren’t using more than one expansion card.
  • Micro ATX – 2-4 memory slots and 3 or more PCIe slots. Ideal for those who don’t need a system as small as Mini ITX, but also don’t need all the expansion offered by Full ATX.
  • Full ATX – 4 memory slots and 6 or more PCIe slots. Ideal for users who want the most expansion possible without opting for an HEDT or server-centric chipset.
  • Extended ATX – 8 memory slots and 6 or more PCIe slots. Ideal for users who want maximum expansion.

Difference between NVMe M.2 SSDs, SATA M.2 SSDs, and SATA SSDs

In order of slowest to fastest:

  • SATA HDDs – The slowest, with speeds tied to RPM. 7200 RPM HDDs are faster than 5400 RPM HDDs, but still top out at around 120 MB/s.
  • SATA SSDs / SATA M.2 SSDs (tie) – The middle, and best for most users. Uses the SATA standard, which is limited to around ~550 MB/s in read and write. More than good enough for gaming, but diminishing returns for non-pro applications.
  • NVMe SSDs – The fastest- even faster with NVMe Gen 4, though Intel mobos only support Gen 3 at the time of writing. Even with Gen 3, though, you can hit over 3500 MB/s! Not bad for a technically last-gen standard. Gen 4 takes it to even more ludicrous extremes.

VRMs and Overclocking

When it comes to CPU overclocking, there is a lot of complicated tech-talk around the matter. For lower-end CPUs, like a Core i5, the motherboard having Z390 at all should allow you to reach a pretty healthy overclock without much worry. For high-end CPUs, like an Intel Core i9, though…things like RAM speed and VRMs become much more of a concern.

To hyper-simplify the matter, the quality of your VRMs determines the quality of the voltage that your CPU receives. Better VRMs and VRM cooling can both help your CPU achieve higher overclocks, especially super high-end chips like the 9900K. Our high-end ATX and Extended ATX picks both cover this ground, though, and should work great with your high-end CPUs!

Why no PCIe/NVMe Gen 4?

Because that’s an AMD-exclusive feature, at the time of writing. You’ll need to wait for the 11th-Gen Intel rollout for that, or get an AMD motherboard instead!

If you don’t already know what those things are, or if you’re just interested in standard gaming/consumer stuff, don’t worry about Gen 4 stuff, though.

Parting Words

And that’s it!

We hope that the excruciating detail we went into told you everything you need to know, but if you have any lingering questions, that’s okay. Just leave a comment in the comments section below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Until then…happy computing!

The post Best Intel Motherboard in 2020: Mini ITX, Micro ATX, ATX and X299 appeared first on AddictiveTips.

CPU and GPU Bottlenecks: Everything You Should Know

Whenever you’re in a discussion about PC performance, but especially PC gaming performance, you may hear about something called a GPU bottleneck. GPU and CPU bottlenecks are referred to as a scourge to in-game framerate, but what does all this stuff actually mean?

More importantly…how can you fix it?

CPU and GPU Bottlenecks Explained

What is a bottleneck?

In the context of hardware, a bottleneck refers to a component in your system that’s holding back the performance of another (or every other) component in your system. For instance, a 5400 RPM hard drive slapped into the world’s most powerful gaming PC would be a significant bottleneck, since it would result in woefully slow in-game load times and in-game performance hitching due to assets being loaded in late.

If you want to ensure consistent in-game performance, removing bottlenecks from your system is vital.

What is a GPU bottleneck, and how do I fix it?

When most people talk about bottlenecks, this is usually what they’re referring to- GPU bottlenecks.

Unfortunately, there are only two ways to fix a GPU bottleneck:

  • Lower your in-game settings to achieve your desired framerate (if you’re in this situation, we recommended turning off AA and post-processing first, as well as changing any “Ultra” settings to “High”)
  • Replace your current GPU with a new GPU

GPU bottlenecks are tied firmly to in-game graphical fidelity and settings. However, many gamers prefer to focus on raw playability and fluidity instead of pretty graphics. For these players, making the game look like it could run on a Nintendo 64 is worth it, so long as they achieve super-high framerates (120+) that give them a competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, even those gamers can’t do much about what’s up next…

What is a CPU bottleneck, and how do I fix it?

A CPU bottleneck is, generally-speaking, much worse to deal with than a GPU bottleneck. The reason why is simple: short of actually replacing your CPU, almost nothing can be done about a CPU bottleneck.

The vast majority of in-game graphics settings have nothing to do with your CPU, and the ones that do- like View Distance in Fortnite- have gameplay implications. Turning down a setting like View Distance in a competitive multiplayer game could give you a very real disadvantage against other players.

So, why are CPU bottlenecks such a big deal?

Why CPU bottlenecks are more complicated- and arguably more important

Simply put: your CPU is the real bottleneck, in any scenario. What your graphics card is doing is making all the pretty graphics on your screen. What your CPU is doing is all the actual work, like tracking the position of players and objects at any point in time, and all the other millions of calculations required for real-time gameplay. All the actual game logic stuff is happening on your CPU, not your GPU.

To sum up what we’re saying, put this to memory:

While your GPU determines your maximum possible graphical fidelity, your CPU determines your maximum possible framerate

According to many third-party studies, higher framerates provide both better perceived fluidity (provided your monitor’s refresh rate can keep up) and in-game player performance. If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at how high refresh rate and framerate impact player performance, we recommend watching the video embedded below:

[Note: While the study is sponsored by Nvidia, any competitive FPS player will tell you the same thing regarding higher refresh rates improving performance. High refresh monitors are standard in eSports for this reason!]

Other bottlenecks to think about

When it comes to bottlenecking, the CPU and GPU aren’t all you need to think about. You also have to consider…

Memory Bottlenecks

Memory, or RAM bottlenecks! Technically, this kind of acts as a CPU bottleneck too.

Your RAM speed is tied to your CPU performance, especially if you’re using an AMD Ryzen CPU. The biggest way that RAM speed negatively impacts performance isn’t by users not buying the most high quality gaming RAM or anything, though.

The issue is that many users are running in single-channel, instead of dual- or quad-channel RAM configurations.

“Single-channel” RAM refers to RAM run with a single stick, which restricts it to running at half of its rated speed.

“Dual-channel” RAM refers to running dual RAM sticks, which allows it to achieve its rated speeds.

“Quad-channel” RAM refers to running…quad RAM sticks, though this doesn’t double rated speeds. It still provides an improvement over dual-channel, though, and may be ideal for any RAM-speed reliant tasks you’re running.

When it comes to gaming, it doesn’t really matter if you’re running in dual or quad-channel. However, it’s important that you aren’t running in single-channel, as this will greatly compromise your CPU’s effective speed (especially with Ryzen!) and result in you not getting all of the performance you paid for.

If you care about avoiding CPU bottlenecks and getting the best performance, always run your RAM in dual channel!

Storage Bottlenecks

Storage bottlenecks aren’t usually a concern, but can become a problem with particularly slow or aging hard drives.

A modern standard 7200 RPM HDD you’ve owned for a year or two should be fine in this regard. It won’t be as blazing fast as an SSD in terms of loading times, but as long as it doesn’t hitch when loading assets or anything, you’re probably fine.

Where you will encounter issues is with aged or slow (5400 RPM) HDDs. As they start to deteriorate, you may notice your games having issues loading in all their textures and assets. In severe cases (like with Overwatch), your drive speed may be so slow that you’re unable to load the map in time to join the game.

For the best experience, we recommend getting an SSD for gaming.

How to avoid CPU bottlenecks in your next PC build

So…now that we’ve gone through everything, how do you avoid this CPU bottleneck issue in the future?

We’re going to boil it down to some very simple PC builders’ advice. Follow these points, and you will be just fine:

  • Don’t skimp on your CPU! – While you may be tempted to spend far more on a GPU than your CPU, don’t. Your GPU is much easier to replace in the future than your CPU is, and the price-to-performance ratio over time improves much more with GPUs than CPUs. Get a great CPU today and a great GPU tomorrow.
  • Get a CPU with strong single-core performance – Any modern Ryzen 5 or Intel Core i5 processor should do the trick. Stick with the latest architecture to get the best single-core performance from either manufacturer. At the time of writing, Intel has a slight lead here, so consider them if you have the extra money or intend on pushing super-high frames (150+) in cutting edge games.
  • Get a Dual-Channel RAM kit – To ensure your CPU doesn’t get bottlenecked by your RAM, get dual-channel RAM, especially if you’re using Ryzen.
  • (optional) Get an SSD – While this isn’t a bottleneck on your CPU or GPU, getting an SSD will improve load times dramatically and ensure better in-game texture and asset loading.

,,,and that’s it!

If you have any lingering questions, leave a comment below and let us know. We hope this helped you!

The post CPU and GPU Bottlenecks: Everything You Should Know appeared first on AddictiveTips.

How to Get Better FPS and Reduce Lag in Your PC Games

Better FPS and Less Lag in PC Games

In this article, we’re going to discuss how to optimize both your in-game framerate and networking setup for the most smooth, lag-free gaming experience possible.

Let’s dive in.

Understanding Gaming Performance

Before diving too deep into our tips, we need to make sure that you have an understanding of the two types of performance we’re concerned about, mainly FPS and ping. People will refer to poor examples of both of these as “lag”, because they’re disruptive to how the game responds to your inputs and feels, but they are not the same thing.

In-Game Performance/Frames Per Second (FPS)

First, the one that’s hardware-related: frames per second. Most games, especially multiplayer games, will target 60 FPS as a baseline of expected smoothness. Some console games and console ports will have a 30 FPS cap. With a PC and a monitor with a high refresh rate, however, you can push this metric much farther, and enjoy even more responsiveness as a result.

With FPS, higher is better.

If you’re curious as to how in-game frame and refresh rate may impact your gaming experience, watch the video embedded below:

Network Performance/Ping & Related Metrics

Aside from hardware-tied FPS that can be worsened or improved based on your PC specs or in-game settings, you have network performance. In gaming, this is most often measured with “ping” which measures the time, in milliseconds (ms) that it takes for the server to receive your input.

With ping, lower is better.

Most consider ranges of around 50 ping or under to be great, with 70-80 beginning to show some unresponsiveness and pings in the 100s becaming outright laggy. Once you hit 200 ping and higher, you may even find the experience unplayable.

Obviously, you don’t want this, and if you see these high ping numbers in your games…chances are you’re fighting with a big disadvantage.

How To Get Higher FPS

Now, it’s important to understand this:

Your maximum possible FPS will always be limited by your CPU, not your GPU. Graphical settings can be lowered to reduce strain on the GPU, but your CPU will generally be dealing with the same workload regardless of performance settings. Where you can reduce settings that impact your CPU, like view distance in a battle royale game, you’ll also be putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage due to active parts of the game not being rendered for you.

For instance, if two players are walking at each other across a large and empty field, the one with the higher view distance setting will see the other player first. This will allow them more time to plan, respond, or even kill the other player before they’re able to fight back.

For more on this CPU-GPU gaming performance relationship, check out our article on bottlenecks.

For now, we’re going to list common graphics settings that you can adjust to raise performance or graphical quality in your games.

Note: While this is hardly a definitive list of settings you may come across in the wild, we believe that this should cast a wide enough net for you to make effective changes. Feel free to comment below and ask us or others for advice regarding a setting in a specific game that isn’t listed here!

Turn Down High-Impact Settings

  • Real-Time Ray-Tracing/DXR Settings – Extremely demanding, at the time of writing, and often for marginal visual returns. Recommended to disable for most users, but especially if performance is needed.
  • [LAST RESORT In Multiplayer Games] View Distance – Fairly demanding, and often moreso on the CPU than GPU. Lowering in multiplayer games like Fortnite can be a competitive disadvantage, but doing so in single-player games shouldn’t be as big an issue.
  • Foliage/Grass/ETC View Distance/Level of Detail – Somewhat demanding. Lower when extra performance as needed until it’s too noticeable for you. For competitive games, this setting on low may actually provide an advantage.
  • Anti-Aliasing – Fairly demanding, and kind of overkill at super-high resolutions. Lower or disable at 1440p and higher for more performance for little cost. FXAA and TAA are less performance-intensive than proper MSAA, SSAA, or MLAA.
  • Tesselation – Somewhat demanding on older hardware. Lower if it having performance troubles.
  • HairWorks/TressFX/PhysX/Other Vendor-Specific Settings – These are usually fairly demanding. Lower them if you’re having performance troubles.
  • Shadows – Shadows. Higher settings will have sharper, more detailed shadows. Sometimes, High may actually look more realistic than Max, and will often come with a sharp performance increase. Lower this setting at 1080p and lower resolutions for an essentially-free performance boost.
  • Ambient Occlusion – Impacts shading and provides a sense of objects being a part of their environment. Higher settings can be performance-intensive.
  • Effects/Particles – Flames, sparks, lightning bolts and etc are usually tied to these settings. Lowering to Medium often provides a good performance boost with little visual cost.
  • Motion Blur – Can make motion look smoother, but also obscure visual information in fast-paced games and lower performance. Unless you really like it, can generally be disabled for a free performance boost.

Other Settings and What They Do

  • [LAST RESORT] Resolution – Match this to your display’s native resolution, as this has the greatest impact on your visual quality.
  • [LAST RESORT] Resolution Scale/3D Resolution – Same as above. Reduce only as last resort, and reduce this instead of actual resolution if it’s available.
  • Model Detail – The detail, in polygons, of the models. Heavier load than texture detail. Difference between High/Ultra should be minimal, reduce to High before reducing texture detail.
  • Texture Detail – Nowadays doesn’t tend to have much performance impact, so long as you’re using a modern GPU with plenty of VRAM to spare. If you’re VRAM constrained, reduce this setting to medium or low.
  • Post-Processing Settings (Bloom, Color Correction, Sharpening, Chromatic Aberration) – Generally low performance impact, with some exceptions (especially to effects like Depth of Field) depending on the game. Largely personal preference whether to use these or not, but sharpening can help with lower resolutions/AA settings.
  • V-Sync and Buffering Settings – If you have a FreeSync or G-Sync monitor, you can keep these disabled without worrying about anything. If you don’t have a monitor with these technologies, V-Sync and buffering with reduce screen tearing at the cost of increased input latency. Recommended to disable in multiplayer games for best results.
  • Frame Rate Cap – Helpful for staying within VRR ranges on G-Sync and FreeSync monitors without enabling V-Sync and hurting input latency.

How To Get Lower Ping and Less Lag

Now that you have your in-game performance in check, it’s time to make sure that your network performance is up to snuff. Running at 240 Hz won’t matter if you have high ping, choke, or frequent lag spikes!

Use Ethernet whenever possible

First and most importantly, try to use an Ethernet connection if you can. A consistent wired connection ensures the fastest speed and the most reliability since you don’t need to worry about other wireless devices interfering with your signal at inopportune times. An ethernet connection will always provide lower latency and a more consistent speed than Wireless.

If Ethernet is unavailable, use AC/AX Wi-Fi or high-speed mobile data

If you must use wireless, try to opt for one of the faster Wireless standards. 802.11 AC Wi-Fi and 802.11 AX Wi-Fi (also called Wi-Fi 6) provide far lower latency and higher speeds than older Wi-Fi technologies, albeit at the cost of some range. 4G LTE and 5G connections with reputable cell service providers may offer decent or even great ping times, but will still be less reliable and generally slower than a proper home Ethernet connection. (For those concerned about data caps: don’t be! You’d be hard-pressed to exceed 150 MB per hour gaming on mobile data. Downloads are another story, though.)

Close other applications that use bandwidth on your system

This may go without saying for some of you, but make sure you aren’t running any big downloads while gaming, especially on a slow connection! Big downloads on a slow connection can cause ping times to balloon to nigh unplayable levels. If other people are on the network and running downloads or streaming services, you may also experience increased latency on a congested connection. If you have 5mbps down or lower, try to minimize streaming media or downloads on your network whenever you’re playing games.

Change router settings

Particularly helpful with a congested network but good for any network are good QoS settings. If you have a modern router, you should be able to find a setting for QoS in its settings. QoS stands for Quality of Service, and it prioritizes certain types of traffic over others. QoS prioritizes real-time applications (like voice and gaming) over stuff like streaming media and downloads. This doesn’t have a negative impact on overall download times, but it does have a very positive impact on any latency-sensitive application, especially gaming.

Parting Words

We hope all that helped!

Any lingering questions? Feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help you.

Until then, we hope you enjoy your games!

The post How to Get Better FPS and Reduce Lag in Your PC Games appeared first on AddictiveTips.