So after a little build I did previously for the girlfriend (really, honest, TOTALLY - it was for her). I reasoned that we indeed needed a HTPC. NEEDED!!
It was a reasonable argument with my beloved partner that had all the wit and charm of intelligent, intellectual adults - well, on one side at least. I subsequently lost graciously, but *Cough* quietly built it on the sly anyway ;)
So, I pulled my finger out and finally built a system from scratch! Phew, first full build and I choose an APU in a tiny case with specific sound requirements.. After months of deliberation I kinda lost it. Enough fiddling with old office dungers, enough reasonable researching and reviews! To hell with it! I was fed up dreaming.
The budget kinda went like this: (me talking to myself) "Be reasonable Mr UNi, only buy what you neee..." *Que Radio static and crackle*
I think we've lost him
Me: "it must be small to blend in with the consoles"
Me: "I sooo have to have that sound card... NEED!"
Me: "... Quietness" (whispered)
Me: "OOOW! SSD!"
OK, so I suck at sticking to a budget and building accordingly, but this Lounge Lizard inducing HTPC does do everything I had hoped for, even if it's a little whacky on the surface (and costly). Yes, for a little more I could have got a stronger CPU , punched in a GPU and brought a DAC.. Damn, that's exactly what I should have done.. ha! Anyway, the equivalent $$DAC$$ and heat dissipation in my install location was the killer of that idea. Plus, I play weak old games. Just started to re-do Need for Speed Most Wanted... Side note: Does anyone actually remember this game being brutally hard?? What the?!
Currently I have this playing music through an old vintage amp (Sansui AU-4400) and some nice floor standing speakers. It's an amazing improvement to the headphone jack of my old laptop! Movies are huge! So. in. love.. The Mrs seems a little worried thou?
Anyway, as you can probably spot, I have a little bit of a thing for old consoles so this does a fair amount of emulation duties as well as blast HD movies - hence a little extra storage and the optical drive for the odd rip. The A8 seemed like a better buy than the A10 for my purposes, I think the most strenuous game I'll play on this is F1 2012, to which it smashes. I was talked in to a CS:GO LAN to which my lack of skill came to the front in the performance stakes rather than the little A8 pushing 40-50 frames at max. Of note, the Xbox 360 controller has been a PIA to connect and set-up with regular drop-outs and initialisation failures. My back-up/cheap (brought for $10AUD while on holidays) Malaysian XON PS controller, is super slick and easy. Push the receiver in, turn on, play everything. Go figure? I blame the Xbox controller on windows 10 drivers though - I hope this improves in time.
Build issues and my general eff-ups (they were numerous):
The C7 cooler impacts the north bridge cooling fins on this mobo and thus the cooler doesn't properly seat on the CPU without some force. You know that: 'think I'm doing this up too tight' moment? Right before you wreck it? Well, luckily I caught myself before I destroyed the mobo by trying to fold it in half with the super tight cooler mounting hardware. Anyway, a little observation and a trim to the CPU cooler fins here and there with side-cutters and all is well. See arbitrary cooler photo attached.
Note that the CPU socket is rotated 90deg on this board compared to most other solutions - I didn't. This isn't an issue unless you run a tiny case with a small access window and an after-market cooler with a massive back plate.. It all seats ok but the bracket looks a little dumb impacting like it has on the case - I've accepted that I'm the dummy and the bracket is plastic so it's all good..
Ahh, headaches. I initially used an old external hard drive, which gave me a mobo system beep that I couldn't diagnose. I had to strip the cables (that was a another PIA that required many beers, but more on that in a sec) and pull components and test over and over. It was intermittent beeping too. I hate intermittent. Once found, said hard drive was safely put aside as a trap for a despised nemesis, or something.
Cable management I think I did over 9000 times.. So many cut cable ties. So many. The heat is a little up in this case since there's no case fan and the CPU cooler seems a little smaller than other Raven/Milo builds. So I went to town here making sure cables were as out of the way as best it could be. The flat Silverstone cable ribbons hindered rather than helped, and I added a cable extension to the hard drive power cable since the plugs were distanced in a stupidly stupid fashion. Silverstone, I know you guys read this site, split this cable at about 1/3 from the power supply in to a 'Y' rather than a daisy chain that doesn't reach between your own drive mounts.. Serious.
(Shhh, this one is a little embarrassing) During the beeps above, I freaked at about 1am in the morning after frazzling myself looking for the issue. I was convinced that the sound card was overheating but not reporting temps that I could see anywhere. It happens when you're in a mini-mess-of-cables, and closely packed and sequenced installed components. Don't get me started on trying to read AMD CPU temps... I then got the biggest fan I could fit and banged it on performance mode.. A little knee jerk right? Yeah, it's now set to quiet, which it largely is most days. Oh Silverstone (sorry guys), put some fan mounts in the grills of this otherwise awesome case.. Having to make cable-tie mounts is so ghetto.
I've come to terms with the build, we had our moments, and I love everything it does. The Mrs has even accepted me back to in to the house (suckered with the right movies, that new Jessica Jones series and a cuddle on the couch - pro tip right there gents ;)
Thanks to PCPP team for the space and resources, and all the crew here! Not to mention others that helped out immensely along the way. Cheers!