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Build

KABY LAKE MINI-ITX HTPC / SERVER / NAS

by colche

7
6 Comments

Details

Date Published

Feb. 18, 2017

Date Built

Jan. 25, 2017

CPU Clock Rate

3.5GHz

Description

This machine sits next to the TV and has a few functions.

1) HTPC - Plays media on TV

2) NAS - Primary data storage for computers around the house

3) Server - eg. Hyper-V Virtual Machines, Emby

I needed a bit of oomph to run Virtual Machines/Docker Containers so went with Kaby Lake i5/16GB combo. I also wanted something small but have the ability to store a fair bit of data, so went for the Fractal 500 Mini-ITX case which can hold 3 x 3.5", 2 x 2.5" and 1 x 5.25". I also looked at the Fractal Design Node 304 but it double the price (case).

Part Reviews

CPU

Excellent performance. Was tempted to wait for AMD Ryzen but given it's initial lack of I-GPU it would not have been suitable for HTPC (I didn't want to add a discrete GPU).

@ 3.5ghz 4C/4T this CPU handles multiple VPC's and services fine.

Would have been nice to have the i7 7700 but couldn't justify the extra $140 for minimal performance benefit.

Motherboard

Quite expensive for a "budget" Mini-ITX build but this is the cheapest Kaby Lake ITX board I could find at the time. Had no issues at all it is a very good looking and solid performing board. I particularly liked the hybrid fan headers (which is quite common these days but first time I've had one). In built AC wifi is useful, although it is not used on an ongoing basis it is handy during build as it is one less plug worry about. Has 8x USB, 6x SATA, Ultra M2 SATA - Dual GB Lan so plenty of connectivity.

Memory

RAM prices are going up so got this quickly on import. I noticed it is at least $150 now. It is "low profile" so useful if a big cooler is needed in future. The motherboard seems to detect it as 2133. I tried it with XMP profile set to 2400 but found some errors during memtest. On auto settings no errors so left on auto. Not too concerned with memory speed (more after stability) so haven't investigated further.

Case

Well thought out case and very flexible. Also looks slick yet simple. I like the 3 x 3.5", 3 x 2.5", 1 x 5.25" drive options (although I would have preferred no 5.25" - or at least an adapter for further 3.5" or 2.5" drive options. The PSU position is not something I've seen before. It resides at the front of the case and relies on an extension cable running to the rear of the case. This seems to work well as most of the cable are tucked in out of sight between the PSU and drive bay above. Also it gives plenty room to have a proper CPU cooler (up to 17cm according to manual) - though if you aren't using the top radiator frame you could probably go slightly more - and a full size GPU (as long as PSU is < 16cm)

First thing I did was remove the top fan/radiator frame. This made installation a lot easier. Had no problem putting the Mini-ITX board in. Working out the cabling is challenging as always on a small case - it might also help to remove the drive bay above the PSU and add this on last as I found tucking cables between the drive bay/PSU gap is the best way to hide cables.

The case cover is a bit annoying to open/close. It takes a bit of jiggling to line up and slide in. The dust filters work well but they always seem to fall off when working with the case.

Power Supply

As a 24/7 server I wanted something efficient and at least Gold+. Heard excellent things about the G2 so when I saw the G3 had just been released in a smaller and more efficient package I was very keen to get one. It is only 15cm x 15cm - (For reference - the 550W G2 model is larger 15cmx16.5cms and the Fractal Core 500 case recommends < 16cm modular PSU if you want to use a full size GPU).

550W more than enough for this build but it is nice to have the headroom. Modular plugs are great and it is very quiet, probably because the PSU comes with a nice ECO mode button that keeps the fan off if temp < 45oc

Comments Sorted by:

nakaman 3 Builds 2 points 19 months ago

Rip ram prices

JeffChrist 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

Have you used the VMs while playing media? any noticeable issues?

colche submitter 1 Build 1 point 19 months ago

no problem (1080p)

Absekon 2 Builds 1 point 18 months ago

Very Nice. "Quite expensive for a "budget" Mini-ITX build". That Mobo isn't really for a budget build. H270's are the Z270's without overclocking, but if it suits your needs then go for it.

RodoGodo19 8 Builds 1 point 16 months ago

Hi, Your CPU gets 4.1GHz on all cores while gaming or when doing intensive tasks?, I have the same motherboard and processor but, mine doesn't hit 4.1GHz, I don't know why. I want to know if I'm the only one with this issue.

ArmyRangerSJ 1 point 15 months ago

Your ram may be the problem. People with this issue typically need more ram. If not cooler temps

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