Centaurea Cyanus is a flower typically colored blue on the outside and turns purple on the inside.( PSST it also sounds like a spell from Harry Potter. Happy Halloween! )
This is the little pc my daughter will take to college and use it for some gaming, word processing, art projects and light Photo Shop use. She is still a senior in high-school, but its build was pushed up due to a twist. My father was retiring and wanted a pc to replace the company computer that would have to be returned. The search began. My mother is still using an 8 year old laptop that needed repair. Well my father was offered another position to stay on and not retire. Focus switched to my mother. A visit to the Microcenter in Marietta, GA while on vacation netted everything but the cosmetic cooler, fans, case and gpu. Once back home, I visited my parents to discuss the new pc size, color and where to place it while working on my mother's laptop. The problem with her laptop was Norton backup had been set to automatically use the C: drive and had it filled to within 148MB. After cleanings and resetting the Norton to manual only, it functioned as an 8 year old 2 core cpu with a slow hard drive would. She was thrilled and stated she didn't want a new computer now. In retrospect I should have broken the laptop so I could upgrade her with what I had bought for them. Speaking with my father we decided I would use these parts for Ellie's college pc and create a computer for them in the future.
Since I was thinking of my parents, I chose the i3 6100, 8 GB of ram, 275GB M.2 SSD, Gigabyte H170N-wifi mobo, and Corsair CX450M psu. My father still likes a couple of simulators and a GTX 1060 was in my mind to handle these. Turns out the little 1060 is up to the task and then some.
I purchased a new Gigabyte GTX 1060 6GB gpu from Jet's using their "TRIPE15" first time user code. I did nothing to the video card for any asthetics. Maybe a lexan pcb cover painted in the future.
The Zalman cooler was selected for a flower like asthetic and painted to imitate the colors as it is in the inside. The two Silverstone pwm fans were painted as well for consistency. The ram was a bright red, so I removed the stickers and painted it purple.
I chose the blue Raijintek Metis for my girly, girl because she requested a blue and purple pc. Having a video card pulling hot air from the top of the case with the only fresh air vent directly above the card's hot exhaust made no sense to me. Easy enough to change that. I flipped the motherboard tray so the video card would be at the bottom. The case front plate had to be partially drilled and tapped for the tray to be flipped and secured. I drilled a 114mm hole in the bottom plate using a Lennox bimetallic hole saw and WD40. The offset of the bottom 120mm fan with filter grill blows onto the gpu cooler fan and past it up into the case. This change has allowed the setup to remain cool and silent in testing so far.
The psu is designed to pull air from the inside and exhaust at the bottom, but a large portion of the exhausted hot air gets recycled back into the case. I "VOID(ED) THE WARRANTY" of so many other parts in my past, what's one more. I flipped the psu cooler fan and modified it's air diverter so it wouldn't contact the inlet side of the fan if it goes to full speed. This now sucks cool air in at both the lower case fan and the power supply and the psu exhausts into the case just above the gpu with the modified internal diverter.
So far I am impressed by the Gigabyte motherboard and GTX 1060. The Intel i3 hasn't missed a beat. The Zalman cooler is quiet and pretty and more than adequately cools the cpu. I am happy to say the ram still functions after me painting it :). All the fans are whisper quiet even after painting and modifications. The Crucial M.2 275 GB SSD is lightning fast. The case is great, and I like the Corsair psu but I wouldn't use any standard psu with this case again. Way too tight of a fit.
I cut the SATA power cable after the first connector and insulated it to connect to the one Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB 2.5mm SSD to clean up the cables and save space. This eliminated a lot of messy wiring. I talked with my daughter letting her know we would upgrade from that ssd if more space is needed.
I could not use any of the sata 3 ports on the side of the mobo due to the psu side pushed against them.
In my version of cable management, the cables are tucked away behind the motherboard and tray, and above, around and behind the psu.
I had to disconnect the 2.5mm SSD during Windows 10 Pro installation due to I forgot to securely format the Windows 8.1 off of it and somehow it wouldn't boot.
I had to disconnect the USB 2.0 wiring attached to 3.0 case cable because I'm naive and connected both causing the front USB 3.0 ports to not function.
I modified the case psu cord pass through bracket, making it larger to allow the cord to be moved after assembly and tied up hiding the excess cord.
I added in two pictures of Heaven benchmark running at the factory settings, and overclocked. The program was used with full screen, 1920x1080 Ultra quality, Extreme tessellation. It outperforms the GTX 780 SC and GTX 970 SSC of my oldest son's pc's.
I'm happy with the build and so is my daughter. It's amazing how this little thing performs compared to her Lavender Lady pc. Enjoy the pictures and feel free to comment. Thanks for reading and 100 points to Gryffindor and all others who made it this far.
Gooberdad(AKA Scott, or just dad) built for Elyanna 10/29/2016. Love you sweetheart. College will be a blast. This should help.
Final thoughts about the case in retrospect; building in a 13.4 liter case (3.53 gallons for those of us that don't think in any metric form) was a fun challenge that I will gladly attempt again. Why the company puts the case together like they do, without drilled and tapped screw positions on the front panel to facilitate an essier mobo flip is a mistake. Flipping this pc's motherboard is absolutely essential to proper cooling. The fan on the bottom of this one is most likely unnecessary leaving room for 2.5mm drives. I'm upgrading my review to 5 stars as of 12/18/2016 because the setup, although modified, works better, and quieter than any of the other builds I've had the pleasure of working on.
Edited 11/3/16: I couldn't stand having a windowed case without some internal lighting, so I convinced my daughter I could wire up 1/2 an extra undercabinet rgb led strip and install it into the case. She agreed and again asked for purple. I wired the blue and red leds only and connected them into the molex wiring. I cut the molex wiring short just after its first connector and insulated it. I used a fan 4 pin to molex adapter and modified it. It is insulated with a purpke polka-dot tape, but it can't be seen. I installed the 1/2 strip with 6 leds at the top of the case and viola a soft purple light now illuminates the inside of the pc.
Edited 12/26/16: I replaced Ellie's TV with a 24" Acer monitor and Z533 Logitech speaker system. I also added a 525 Crucial SSD (notice my crude arrow pointing to the 525GB ssd position not touching the side panel by just a millimeter. Yay!) and replaced her mouse with a G502 and an oversized desk mouse pad. She's set to take it to college now.
Edited 10/15/17: almost done with her first semester at college. Grades are all A's and no problems with this little pc.
Edit 3-7-18: I can only assume the Corsair CX450M has failed due to my modifications in reversing the air flow. I have now replaced it with the Corsair SF600. Wow this thing is tiny and more powerful than this little pc will ever need. Why 600 watts? Because the other 450 watt version I wanted wouldn't arrive while my daughter was home during spring break from college. So overkill it is. It is actually quieter than with the CX450M installed. Maybe because it never gets loaded. Well here's hoping I don't use its 7 year warranty.
Fantastic performing little cpu. Such a surprise for just a 2 core processor.
Cool, quiet, easy to take apart and paint!
This works great for me and my family and all the others that have been cleaned and reapplied paste.
I am an ASUS fanboy, but this Gigabyte works like a charm and looks great in black.
Yep its ram. Performs well.
Great slightly older SSD. Can find folks selling these used from Lenovo laptops for around $40 on Craigslist.
I will use these from now on. I had no idea how fast an M.2 SSD was until I experienced it myself.
Fast SSD at a great price. Picked up two of these after B&H couldn't deliver an item that sold out and was discontinued Black Friday.
Quiet, cool and fast. Getting one for the price of a 3gb on Jet.com! Awesome.
Flip the mobo tray to get around the issue of excess heat from poor air flow by it's delivered design. This is an extremely tight fit if used with a standard sized power supply. I recommend getting a small form factor PSU. Small and beautiful. Anodized aluminum, making it's color durable and the metal easy to drill and cut.
Tiny, quiet, 600 watts, 80+ Gold rated, and a 7 year warranty. I'm in love. I wish I had put pine in right from the beginning of the build. Next small build is getting a small form factor PSU from the start. Corsair built a high quality little bitty PSU.
Now that we have gotten used to it, we like it. Glad I was able to use the code for the Windows 7 Pro 64 bit I had purchased last year to activate it.
Pulse width modulated and very quiet at lower to mid RPMs.
Vast improvement over a smaller flat screen TV. The three different inputs, wide view angle, color and tilt are surprising for a monitor picked up for $79.99 at Best Buy. I reccomend getting one before the sale ends.
Long lasting, low priced, quality keyboard. My household uses 3 of these. Great keyboard for the price.
Great weighted feel, a sheathed cable, tuneable and with well placed buttons. This mouse is perfect.
These speakers look beautiful and sound just as good. At 120 total watts they get quite loud if needed without distortion or becoming tinny.
A must have for using any SFX or SFF PSU in a standard ATX holder. Thus unit feel sturdy. Not sure why it is vented on one side, but it looks nice that way. I'll buy this again.