I wanted a HTPC that can run XBMC and Emulators for old systems and be a half decent gaming machine at 720p. I already owned the 2TB and 3TB drives. I wanted the case, power supply, motherboard and SSD drive to last me a long time. The CPU will eventually be upgraded to a i5 so I'm buying a cheap LGA1155 Ivy Bridge CPU that still has very good single threaded performance. Right now, the top performing Low Profile video card is the Radeon 7750 1GB Low Profile. Only Low Profile cards fit in the Silverstone ML03B. I considered doing a AMD APU build but I would have to spend more now and I don't like the long term potential of such a build. I also wanted the system to be as silent as possible. It's not loud but I can still hear it from a distance. I'm using the stock intel cooler for now. I think I over paid for the 4 80mm fans. They come with an adapter to select between 12v, 7v or 5v from a molex connector. At 12v, they are loud so I used 7v. There is no room for an optical drive right now. I wasn't planning on using one anyways. I would have to reduce the cable clutter that I stuffed in the optical tray to do it.
Power supply has to be non-modular and 140mm maximum depth to have the possibility of mounting an optical drive. I forget the maximum depth of the optical drive.
The build: Putting all this in a Silverstone ML03B case is a very tight fit! This is the order in which I installed everything as I remember it. I didn't take notes while building.
1- Mount the first 3.5in HDD under the optical tray 2- Install the optical tray (have to do it now because it's impossible to do it after the SSD in installed) 3- Mount the 2.5in SDD between the optical tray and the power supply position. 4- Mount Power Supply 5- Install the 4 80mm fans. This is a VERY tight fit with the fans I chose. I suspect they are 1 or 2 mm too wide or that the case is a few mm too short. First the 2 outer fans and then the 2 middle ones. The soft mounts provided by the Be Quiet fans were essential here because they allowed me to mount the fans even if they weren't flush against the case in perfect position. 6- Install motherboard with ram, cpu and fan already installed and tested externaly. The motherboard is mATX and the case came with one extra motherboard standoff that I could screw in the correct position. Including that standoff and the preinstalled ones, only one motherboard hole was not attached and there was no hole in the case at that spot. 7- Connect SATA drive power and data cables. Only the end SATA power cable would fit in the SSD as it was close to the floor of the case and the other ones would not fit. 8- Attach the other 3.5in drive to the top of the nylon tray 9- Prepare for good cable management and insert nylon tray. Use the nylon (plastic) tray and the area around it to route the ATX motherboard power connector along the back of the case and underneath the tray. The front USB3 cable is extremely long and I had it loop around this tray. The little front case wires were rolled up underneath the tray. Basically I had all these cables connected to the motherboard and rolled in correct position before I lowered the tray to its position. Even then it's a tight fit and I only managed to get one the two "feet" in the right place. That tray is a bit flexible so that helps. 10-Put the support crossbar back on top of the case and route the two 4-pin ATX power connectors along that bar to their place. 11-I took the four fan power cables and brought them to the empty optical drive bay and connected them the 7v adapters that connect to molex connectors. I needed at least one molex splitter for this (I actually used two splitters) 12-That optical bay holds the bulk of the extra wiring that I couldn't put anywhere else. 13-Install the video card. (the PCI-ex and PCI connectors are easily accessible.)
I also made sure that a SATA power connector is in correct position to install an optical drive later if I can solve the extra cable problem. I used a bunch of tie wraps to keep the cabling as tight as possible.
I temporarily connected a SATA DVD drive outside the case to install Windows.
I have replaced many computer parts in the past though never replaced a CPU and this was my first complete build so I did a lot of research and learned as I went. It must have taken me 6 or 7 hours to do including about 3 hours planning and doing the cable management towards the end. I had no experience with that.
Replacing the CPU and CPU cooler will be a big job as I will have to undo all the wiring and remove the motherboard.