Needed a new PC for my kids, with the expectation that they would start playing some 3D games. I could have made this system much much cheaper by dialing down the specs on some components. However, I couldn't resist buying some nice components and I know they'll last me quite a while. For example, I could have gone with a lower i5 or an i3. But I chose the i5-3750K because it included the Intel HD 4000 chipset which should perform well for the games they intend to play. If necessary, I can always add a more powerful GPU.
I could have also chosen a cheaper ASUS motherboard, but I wanted one with the Intel Z77 chipset since that will allow for overclocking - leaving open a potential upgrade path.
Man, I hate slim cases. Despite being called "slim" they still seem so bulky. I wanted something that wouldn't stand out in our living room (oh, did I mention that the computer desk is in our living room?) and thus avoided mid-tower cases. Otherwise I could have saved another $30 or so. (Update: The original case was an Inwin BL631-300TBL https://pcpartpicker.com/part/inwin-case-bl631300tbl )
Installation / Setup:
As noted in some reviews, the BL631 case is small which can make wire routing tricky. I chose to put the harddrive under the optical drive to avoid having the drive cables interfere with the PSU cables. It might have worked, but it may also have put too much strain on them. There was a large plastic baffle that came with the case that is supposed to cover/surround the CPU and fan but after everything was installed, there was no room to put it back in. Some people have used a Dremel to "make it fit". Meh. The PSU cable bundle is zip-tied to the case bottom. I had to cut that zip-tie in order to provide more slack for the 24-pin header.
The location for the case fan (which didn't come with the case, nor will I be installing one) is in an odd spot as it seems that location would be blocked by most of the cables. (Just to the left of the PSU in the first pic). The CPU and PSU fans are very quiet and I don't think temperatures are an issue.
The blue plastic on the case doesn't illuminate (maybe I missed plugging something in?) and the power lights aren't bright. Given that I have the case tucked into a corner, the LEDs wouldn't be a problem anyway.
I didn't realize that the HyperX memory I purchased requires 1.65V while Ivy Bridge only puts out 1.5V. I'm not sure if this is really a problem as the system is performing well. I'll have to keep an eye on it.
The power supply in the InWin BL631 case only came with 24-pin and 4-pin headers but my ASUS P8Z77-M motherboard had an 8-pin socket. After some googling I realized that I could still plug in the 4-pin cable and everything would work. The socket is designed so the plug can only go in a specific set of 4 holes.
I purchased a USB WiFi dongle from monoprice.com but was having difficulty in getting it to work properly. I ended up using an extra powerline ethernet plug. Therefore I excluded the dongle from my price list.
Part List Notes:
I had an extra Dell keyboard - no need to purchase
I pulled a DVD-RW drive from my wife's computer to use in this one - no need to purchase
The monitor has built-in speakers!! This helps remove clutter from our small computer desk. Also, the price listed is after a $20 rebate.
Parts were purchased at newegg.com and Amazon. There were some small differences in price and/or shipping costs.
UPDATE! I wanted a better GPU so I picked up an EVGA Geforce GTX 750 video card ($99 on Amazon plus a $10 rebate! So, only $89!). I then needed a more capable power supply - as well as more space within my case! So I picked up a Rosewill FBM-01 case ($39 on Amazon) that includes a 450W power supply. The case includes both a 120mm and 80mm chassis fan but they are unfortunately 3-pin connectors which means no speed control. I'll be ordering some new fans soon since I want this PC to remain relatively quiet. However, I might be able to get away with just ordering a 80mm fan for the back of the case as the 120mm fan doesn't have much of an air intake, rendering it less useful. For the back of the case, I can opt to install a 92mm fan where the 80mm currently resides, improving airflow.