This build replaces my 8 year old computer which is nearing the end of its life. Although I am not a hard-core gamer, I run radio control flight simulators, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, and a few other games. I want to be able to run Oculus Rift or HTC Vibe in the near future. I also use my computer for photo and movie editing, and CAD drawing. I wanted a faster computer than my old one, especially on boot-up. And I wanted to get rid of the big mid-tower chassis. These requirements, along with not buying more capability than I really need, resulted in the selection of the components I used.
This build went together well with only a few minor issues. The internal 120V AC case power lead plug wasn't making good contact with the power supply pins, and that had me off on a wild goose chase for a while (no POST!) until I figured it out and corrected it. I ended up modifying/flipping the SATA power connectors on the PSU harnesses just to make them lay down nicely inside the case - not really necessary, but modifying the cables was no big deal. The Lian-Li PC-Q10WX case is a jewel. Very nicely made, excellent quality, and anodized brushed aluminum, not painted. I used a fairly small GPU so had plenty of room for cables. Excellent ventilation. It costs more than other mini-ITX cases but is worth every penny. I'm very pleased with the Asus MX27AQ monitor. The 27" 2560 X 1440 with IPS screen is a big improvement over my older LG 22" 1680 X 1059 TN screen monitor (which always worked well for me). Colors are excellent and the smaller pixel pitch is very nice. My finished computer works very well, and runs cool and very quiet. With the clear side panel and LED RGB lights it looks great sitting on my desktop. All-in-all a fun build!
Component selection rationale:
CPU Intel Core i5-6500 - Wanted Skylake, at least 3 GHz speed, and meet Oculus Rift requirements. Oculus Rift calls for i5-4590 and Skylake equivalent is i5-6500. To achieve maximum life on this CPU I do not want to OC. Running stock speed reduces the heat output, requires less power, and results in best reliability.
CPU Cooler Cryorig M9i - Air cooling for reliability, low maintenance, and low cost. Didn't want to have a 2+ lb cooler cantilevered off the motherboard, which causes a lot of stress and can be an issue whenever the case is moved around. M9i is a very good performer, fairly quiet, compact, light weight, low cost, and has almost 2X the TDP required for the i5-6500 CPU.
Motherboard ASRock H170M-ITX/ac - Since I'm using a locked CPU with no OC there is no need to spend the extra $ on a Z170 chipset MOBO. H110 board would work but is lacking a few features I desired. There are several H170 MOBO's that look good, and probably all work fine, but the ASRock had six 3.0 USB and two 2.0 USB ports on back which is important to me. Also has a PWM fan header (in addition to the CPU fan header) which I wanted.
Memory Corsair Vengeance LPX 8 GB (2 x 4GB) DDR4-2133 red color - 8 GB meets Oculus Rift requirements and is all I need anyhow. These particular Corsairs have lower CAS latency than most others, and are reasonably priced. 2133 speed is all that the H170 MOBO can use, but it is plenty fast enough for me and keeps the price down. Red color just because I like red and it will go good with my other components.
Storage Samsung 850 EVO-Series 500 GB SSD and Western Digital Blue 1 TB 3.5" 7200 RPM internal HDD - Wanted the speed of SSD for the OS and all the rest of the things I intend to do with this computer. I am tired of slow booting, and slow speeds on most everything on my 8 year old computer. The 850 EVO series has a very good reputation and good price. The WD 1 TB HDD will be used for a backup drive, and possibly storage if I need to off-load some things from the SSD. WD Blue has a good reputation and is cheap.
Video Card Asus GeForce GTX 970 DC Mini 4GB - Lots of good GTX 970 cards out there that would just barely fit into my Lian-Li PC-Q10WX mini-ITX case, but this one is very compact and gives me more options on where to put excess cables in the case. This card also has some features which I really like such as a single, new design fan that is efficient and quiet. Also has concrete core inductors which I hope will reduce or eliminate coil whine which seems to be common among almost all the normal sized 970 cards. Boost clock speed is 1.3 MHz which is decent.
Case Lian-lI PC-Q10WX - I'm tired of the large size of the mid-ATX Tower on my 8 year old computer - it just sits under the desk where it collects dust and is hard to get to. I wanted something very compact that will sit on top of my rather small computer desk where I will have easy access. I also very much wanted a windowed case to show off the components. The PC-Q10WX is perfect for me - very compact, full side window, very nicely made from aluminum, looks high-end, and has excellent thermal properties. The black anodized aluminum looks great. This case doesn't seem to be very well known yet and I was lucky to find it after extensive web browsing - I had never seen it before. Lovely case and worth the $.
Power Supply EVGA Supernova GS 550 watt - I needed a PSU that was no larger than 150mm so it would fit into my case well. There are quite a few out there that will work, but EVGA has a good reputation, and the Supernova GS has ECO mode which only runs the fan when needed, making it very quiet most of the time. 550 watts has plenty of reserve for my components.
Operating System Microsoft Windows 10 - I was still using Windows XP which is getting long in the tooth for sure. I've used Windows 7 and I liked it fine. Never tried Windows 8 and heard that it was terrible and so they came out with 8.1 which I haven't used either. Apparently Windows 10 is a tweak of 8.1 and I figure I will just go ahead and get up-to-date on the OS so I won't have to change again for at least another 8 years. Windows 10 is quite different from Windows XP, but once I learn my way around I think I am going to get along fine with it.
Keyboard Logitech G105 - I have a really cheap old membrane keyboard that works OK, but it's PS/2, and I wanted one with back-lighting this time around. I'm not a hard-core gamer - just run radio control flight simulators and other flight sims, and some submarine sims. So I just wanted a decent, fairly low cost back-lit keyboard from a reputable manufacturer. And that lead me to the Logitech G105. Seems to work just fine and I really like the back-lighting in my somewhat dimly lit computer desk area.
Mouse Logitech M325 - Needed a good basic wireless mouse to replace my worn out basic wired mouse. Went wireless because the wire is annoying to me the way I orient and move my mouse. Basic mouse is fine for me as I do a lot of AutoCAD and I'm not a hard core gamer. I do a lot of web surfing and the slick 4-way roller on the M325 makes web browsing easier. Good battery life, light weight, smaller size which I prefer, and a decent price.
Monitor Asus MX27AQ - Lovely monitor. Since I do a lot of photo editing,some video editing, and am a casual gamer (running mostly simulators and sim type games), I wanted an IPS display. Asus MX27AQ has the same display panel as the Dell U2517H which received generally very good reviews, especially for color and picture quality. Asus unit has faster response time, has built-in speakers, and has a beautifully designed case/frame. My research found that Asus monitors generally have a good reputation, the MX27AQ got very good reviews, and the price on the MX27AQ was quite good.
External CD/DVD burner LG GP65NB60 - The Lian-Li PC-Q10WX case has a place for a slot loading optical drive, but I used that space for my HDD. Plus it's hard to find slot loading optical drives. So I just went with an external unit that I can locate anywhere that is convenient on my desk. It didn't really matter much which one, but the specs and price on this LG unit looked good so that's what I got. It works great.
LED Case Lighting Satechi RGB LED Light Strips with Remote Control (ST-CLEDLS) - OK, so my vanity is showing a bit here, but I think it looks pretty cool when windowed cases have internal lighting to show off the components. And I wanted to have the option of changing colors. These light strips run off the computer PSU and have a nice small remote, and I like that the brightness can be changed. Works great and easy to install.