A bit of introduction
Why a mini-ITX
This build comes out from the necessity of renewing my old (2011) gaming PC keeping it small enough to place it along my LG TV not ruining the overall appeal of the living room. Choosing Mini-ITX as a form factor was then a no-brainer decision.
Sources of thoughts
I'm quite used to get my hands dirty with part substitution of PCs (GPU, RAM, PSU) and stuff like that, but this was actually my very first from-scratch build.
Being also a mini-ITX build, planning on which parts actually buy to fit in the tiny case was a bit of a pain. I also scratched my head a lot in order to reduce the budget. Here in Europe we are not so lucky as you US folks are and electronic stuff is a little bit expensive, even with Amazon.
I would say a big huge thank to Carey Holzman which is a continuous source of inspirations and whose videos gave me the last final push to decide to build this PC on my own. I would recommend watching this video even if you are confident about your PC building abilities. Which, by the way, I'm not.
Douglas Hewitt also deserve a mention for his How to build a PC with RVZ02 Mini ITX case YouTube video playlist. These videos are a decent source of directions for this particular build, even if some tricky parts are not covered perfectly.
Choosing the mobo
This is a mini-ITX build, so I choose a Z170 chipset Mini-ITX model from ASRock. Supports DDR4, which I planned to stuff inside and has a 1151 socket, suitable for the i5-6500 CPU.
Connecting the front panel wires was not so simple, giving the smallness of the mobo. Further, at one point during the OS installation I made a mistake in the UEFI BIOS configuration that forced me to perform a CMOS reset. Moving the jumper was quite a nightmare but I managed to do this, so this is not impossible.
Regarding the Wi-Fi antennas and their chip, well, this is just an impression, but they does not seems to be very robust. Maybe it's just me. Further, keep in consideration that there are only two RAM sockets instead of the classical four of an ATX mobo.
Choosing the GPU
Great debate here. Main decision driver were the price. I was a little low on budget so I went for the GTX 960 over the GTX 970, which allows me to save more or less 100 euros. I choose MSI as builder just because I read a lot here and there and they seems to be a good brand.
When I unboxed it I suddenly realize how sexy it is. I really mean it.
The particular case I choose requires a PCIe extension (provided) to mount the GPU in a room separated from the one where CPU and PSU lives. Installation was pretty straightforward, nothing to mention.
Choosing the CPU
I've always been an Intel fan, even though my last PC mounted an AMD. Intel i5 has a great performance/price balance, IMHO. Intel i7 was a little bit overkill for this build, I think.
This was the part I was more concerned about. People (including me) are way over concerned about mounting a CPU. Just drop it in place and push the retention bracket. That's it.
Choosing the RAM
For sure I wanted DDR4 memories, then I was in a struggle deciding over Kingston HyperX and G.Skill. I know the latter are quite better, but again, budget went into play and I decided for HyperX. 8GB seems enough to me, I could switch to 16GB later on.
Well, this is the easiest part to be mounted, as you may know. The only consideration is about the mobo RAM socket, which does not have both the plastic tabs openable but only one. This is not a big deal but I was not expecting it and it surprises me a bit.
Choosing the Storage
Samsung 250GB SSD. I bought and installed it last year inside my previous gaming PC. No brainer decision to recycle and use it.
By the way, it works great, nothing to add.
The Raven RVZ02B has a great couple of SSD slot that allows you to put them in place without using any screws. This is very convenient, but I would suggest to mount the SSD as the last part, otherwise the SATA wires and the power supply cables will be in your way to mount some other parts, like the PCIe extension.
Choosing the PSU
I needed a SFX PSU, so I bought this directly from Silverstone, in order to be sure that I could put it in their case. 500W I think is enough for my build. And 600W version was way more expensive.
Well, cables are quite stiff and hard to bend, so routing the cables where a little bit difficult, as you may notice from the images. Also, the Raven RVZ02B is not quite benevolent regarding cables routing.
Choosing the Case
This part was the more debating after the one about the GPU. Mini-ITX was the choice, for space and eye reasons, as I mentioned previously.
At first I was very excited about the Bitfenix Prodigy M. Then some unenthusiastic reviews on newegg made me change my opinion and choose the Raven RV02. A little bit more expensive but smaller.
As I mentioned, this was my first from-scratch build. The Raven RV02 was a great challenge, especially for the cable routing, the smallness, and the uncertainty on how to drop some things in places.
Besides, reinstalling side panels in place after the build was completed was not so easy. Beware of that if you plan to start working on this late in the evening (as I did) and you could land to this stage around 2AM.
Anyway perseverance and calm (?!?) where my best allies.
Wrapping everything up
First things first, this build has been a great challenge, I knew it would have been, but I really enjoyed taking it to the end.
Overall I'm quite satisfied of my work, but I think that cables could have been managed in a better way. I do not know which one though.
I've not yet monitored under-load temperatures, I will and add them accordingly as soon as I can.
Hope you guys enjoyed reading this build description as much as I enjoyed writing and (of course) building it.