A client of mine was in desperate need of a new computer. She had been working on an older laptop, first gen i5 I believe, and this thing was painfully slow. Boot up took 10 - 15 minutes, not joking. She had just recently lost her husband and was needing a reliable storage solution as well for important documents and photos. So I decided to put together this build at cost for her.
Her computer needs are not complex. She'll be using it for general purpose (email, web, bills), and storage. She is also in the process of cleaning up her office environment, so I figured a small foot print would be best, which led me to build a mini ITX!
I have been wanting to build a mini ITX for a while now. I really wanted to get some experience with the components which will allow me to provide good reviews and research for users and future builds. I must say it was a lot of fun. Definitely more challenging than a full ATX build. Lots of tight spaces, but ultimately I think it came out great.
This build isn't exactly on the "cheap" side of things. There are areas I could of taken the cheaper route on, but when it comes to long term reliability, sometimes you need that extra buck. Especially when I'm building for someone other than myself. I do not like to receive calls telling me something isn't working. But important thing is it is reliable and came in under budget.
The storage solution is a 250GB SSD for the main drive with two 1TB WD Blues in Raid 1(Mirror) for redundant storage.
This build takes place in an Corsair 250D, so I was sure to take a lot of pictures and measurements for those of you looking to build in this case. Did a few custom touches. I sleeved all the system cables and cut them to length which really helps with a tiny build. I also painted the back I/O shield and slot covers to give it a little better look. I ordered blue sleeve to match the motherboard, but shipping has had some troubles, so I sleeved with left over sleeve I had on hand. Hope you enjoy!
This is a locked processor so I wasn't able to do much with it. Its a very snappy processor, Intel's single core performance is just ridiculous these days. With 4 threads this is a great general use processor with plenty of speed. i3's have really come a long way since the first Gen.
If you are looking for a budge processor this is a great one. I wouldn't recommend it for gaming builds as it is locked and therefore prevents your from overclocking it.
The cheapest cooler in Corsair's lineup, but that doesn't mean it suffers from performance. This is a no frills AIO liquid cooler. Put up against the i3, it's a little overkill. However, the cooler the CPU the longer it will last and more reliable it will be.
The cooler is very quiet, much quieter than the kraken equivalent. There is no LED lights or corsair link, but that is not needed for this build.
I'm giving this cooler 4 stars as its install bracket is far from intuitive like the rest of corsairs coolers. I'm not sure why this one is so different but it took a little longer to get it sorted out than the others. But once installed it works great. The tubes are a little short, but are easy to work with.
My first ASRock build, and it will not be the last. I was limited on my options for this ITX build. I really wanted the 97 from Asus, but it was not available. So I thought I'd give ASRock a try.
This board is actually really impressive. Plenty of usb ports, build in wifi, decent aesthetic. It has one of the fastest post times of any motherboard I've worked on to date. Even with the RAID controller on. Very impressive. With the 850 Evo, this thing boots from completely off to login in less than 4 seconds! I'm not embellishing that number either. I was stunned. It was so fast in fact, that I had to look up the enter bios key online because the post screen was so fast I could not see which button to press. Most boots, I didn't see the screen at all! Needless to say this is a huge plus for my client who was experiencing 10+ minute boot times!
As with any ITX board, it is difficult to fit everything. I don't love the position of some of the headers. Or the way the Wifi card has to be installed in the middle of the board with wires to the I/O shield. Purely aesthetic though. Just makes cable management a little more of a challenge.
I'm giving this board a solid 4 stars. If they could put an extra fan header, move the wifi module to the I/O shield, and put the majority of the headers on the edge of the board, it would get 5 stars no problem.
This is my upteenth time to build with this drive, and it takes the cake again. Solid performance and speed. And for the price this is without a doubt the best buy in the solid state market.
Cheap reliable storage drive. Works really well in a RAID setup.
There are lots of Mini ITX cases out there. Some are large some or ridiculously tiny. This one is just right. Corsair did a great job with this case, taking into consideration of the popularity of AIO coolers. It'll fit their H100I GTX no problem, as well as most full size GPUs.
This is really a non sacrifice case. You can put a large GPU, AIO cooler, full size PSU, and a 5.25" optical drive. You could even build a custom loop in this case with a 240mm radiator on the side and a 140mm radiator in the front, bay res in the 5.25" bay. Can't wait to try that!
The case is well constructed, and light. Comes with 4 fan filters. One for the front intake, 2 magnetic filters for the side panels (nice touch), and one for the PSU intake. It has nice tall feet for those of you that keep your case on carpet.
The optical drive holder is a little tight, and it messed up my paint job on my optical drive. Not a problem for most.
It has a great window on the top panel to see the build. I would like to see corsair offer a version with a full window on the top and a window for the left side panel for builds with a liquid cooled GPU.
The storage solution for this case is great. 4 sleds, 2 x 3.5" and 2 x 2.5". This cage should have a hot swap feature. Getting to the back of the 2.5" sleds was tight, but overall, I like what they did for the storage.
The RM series are great PSUs. Build with high quality capacitors that are specifically designed to cut down on coil wine. Also, it uses passive cooling and only spins up the fan when under a curtain load. Even then it is still quiet.
Being fully modular and Gold+ certified makes this a great choice for anyone's low powered builds.