Living room media center/1080p gaming PC. Connected to Optoma GT1080 DLP projector for a 92" 1080p 60Hz display. Also the PC that will be used to emulate everything from the Wii on back with some nice upscaling and post processing(Metroid Prime Trilogy is going to be amazing). Toshiba soundbar/subwoofer for great audio/decent virtual surround, and Logitech G430 headset for better virtual surround.

Building this was a pain, but with enough twist and zip ties I was able to route the cables to allow ample airflow. I reversed the 80mm fan to be exhaust(they had it as intake).

I'll update this with benchmarks eventually.

Part Reviews


Great dual core processor. Hyper Threading is fantastic technology(it's the main thing that separates the i7 from the i5 after all) and allows this processor to do much more than you'd expect from only 2 cores. Don't expect to throw tasks at it that require a lot of multi-threaded power, but for gaming and desktop uses it gets the job done and then some(with very few exceptions in some games, then you just remove the "and then some" portion).

CPU Cooler

Great little cooler. A necessity for any cramped build(or if you just want something a little better/quieter than the stock cooler that looks slick). "25% cooler than Intel stock cooler" seems to be accurate and it's definitely quieter. I have 2 of these and they both are doing well.


As far as functionality goes, it's a good motherboard and seems to be well made. eSATA has few options, but considering what I paid it has tons of features for an mITX board.

2 stars knocked off because of the amount of times I swore at ASRock as a company and called this motherboard a "piece of s***" during building and set up. The SATA ports are backwards and in an idiotic spot. The USB ports on the back are extremely tight, so I try to only plug in things in the back that will stay plugged in because when you unplug them you can feel the stress being put on the motherboard from how hard you have to pull. The BIOS is ugly and not quick and easy to navigate like MSI boards, and the custom fan curves(which I swear by) are annoying to edit and don't allow you to modify the stock curves(so you're left with no clue what "performance" means). Also had trouble getting the ports to even boot from my official Windows USB(don't remember the solution, but I eventually figured it out). Plus there are no debug LEDs, which I feel should be standard these days.

Maybe for a total expert who doesn't mind the couple design flaws this would be a great board. But for the intermediate/advanced users(and especially beginners), I'd say to get something from MSI or Asus, that way you're good to go out of the box and have an easier time building. Plus ASRock's website looks like somebody at the company's nephew who's just getting into graphic design made it. You really feel like you bought a generic brand when you go to download your drivers.


I've got one of these drives in two different machines now and I think they're fantastic for the price. Boot times are within a fraction of a second of the "go to" SSD Samsung 850 Evo, read times are in the mid-upper 400's, writes and mixed are unfortunately in the mid-upper 200's. Still a great performing drive with good price/GB.


  • 35 months ago
  • 1 point

Very well balanced mITX rig. Everything is perfect here.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

This is basically exactly the build I've been trying to figure out myself: Not super pricey HTPC/gaming/emulator living room machine with a small footprint for use with a projector. Thanks for putting this together for me. :)

I have an m.2 SSD I've salvaged, which I'm hoping can make the cable management slightly easier since this will be my first build. How do you like it/how has it been working for you? Anything else you'd change about it? I'll probably also forego the optical drive, which maybe helps with space as well. How's the cooling situation while running emulators?

  • 28 months ago
  • 2 points

This build is actually out of commission and is now this:

But as far as THIS build goes, it was good for what it was! The i3 really held the PC back in Cities Skylines but that's a very CPU intensive game, but in almost every other game it was just fine. CPU temps were pretty good. 60's or so for a typical gaming load. GPU stayed under 70 degrees with a pretty good overclock and custom fan curve. The new build is even more cramped and the GPU still stays under 70 with a slightly higher OC, but that has a 7600K at 5GHz with an AIO cooler.

I would recommend not getting this Cooler Master case though. The Fractal Design case in the new one was nice, but there are some quirks with the PSU installation. There are a lot of pretty decent mITX cases for under $50 though. Also, I would suggest getting either the Pentium G4560 or Ryzen 3 over an i3. Pentium if you're on a tight budget, R3 if you can do $110 for the CPU.