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Fractal Design Terra Build

I am/was designing a modular custom case that would be more asymetrical and architectual than the design of most computer builds. I ran into a few road blocks like sourcing the right riser cables, time, and needing a PC to stream rebuilding my WRX motor which I have been broadcasting to Twitch and Youtube.

I was considering building a lightweight PC on the cheap for streaming and had been sitting on both a 3090 and 4090, but in the end, I decided to focus on a single, powerful, and compact PC.

Build Specs

  • Fractal Design Terra
  • Asus ROG Strix Z690I-Gaming Mini-ITX Mobo
  • Intel i7 14700k
  • G.Skill 32GB D5 6000 RAM
  • Nvidia 4090 Founders Edition
  • Asus Loki 1000 Watt SFX-L PSU

Things I love about the Terra:

  • Sandwich design
  • < 13 L
  • Real walnut accent and aluminum build materials feel nice
  • Looks nice next to my Mac Mini
  • Its even more compact than my last build which felt like a ton of bricks in hand, this thing is DENSE

GPU Clearance Customizaton

In order to fit the 4090 in this case I did have to mod the pull tab which interfered with the vertical height of the GPU. I saw someone on Reddit who simply chopped the tab to accomdate the GPU. I wanted to keep it original, so I designed a new tab in Fusion 360 and printed it on my 3D printer. Its available on Printables if you would like to use it!

CPU Cooler Customization

This build has been plagued a bit by high temps. If you search about 14th gen Intel, you will generally see that "its supposed to run hot." The processor is going to use all of its available headroom until it is thermally throttled (somewhere just north of 100 degrees Celsius.)

I tried a few different CPU coolers in this case but ran into clearance issues with the mortherboard and/or the case which led me to customize a Noctua NH-L9x65. The cooler comes with a 92MM fan but I found it to be too noisy and the performance was fine but had room for improvement. I found convesion bracket that basically snaps on to the CPU cooler allowing me to use a 120x15MM fan with a hair for clearance.

This reduced noise and temps. I think it helps push more air over the VRM and other motherboard components that the original 92MM fan only touched after running through the cooler fins.

Below are some process pics, from the OG Hot Rod Noctua NH-D15 (best air cooler BTW), to a modified ID-Cooling IS-55 to clear the VRM, and finally to the Noctua NH-L9x65. Personally love the look and performance of the hot rod method, but its not practical when I intend to move the PC between my office and garage often.

Only Complaints...

My only complaint is that with the CPU side door down, with the closeness of the fan to the side (its touching the rubber feet of the fan) there is a good amount of turbulence. To get around this I simply flip the side of it like I'm BBQing on a Sunday. Sometimes if I am feeling frisky I'll flip the GPU side as well which has a nice Imperial Landing Craft effect.

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