The misses chose this title. I think that it fits the overall project and end result. She enrolled in an online college and was using a Lenovo Laptop for school work. She also using another bigger and older Lenovo laptop for gaming. This just wasn’t practical anymore. Especially since I had a nicer computer http://pcpartpicker.com/b/hDtJ7P. At first she just wanted a new desktop to do school work and standard productivity work. Then I kept talking about how her new desktop would be more powerful than her laptop, and she would probably want to try one game, then another, realize it’s better than the laptop, and want to use the desktop full time. So in the end it became more than a “simple” office and school build. It became the monster box.
This is how it all was going to start, http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ff2MRB, then thanks to the beautiful people of the PCPP forums (https://pcpartpicker.com/forums/topic/135885-i3-debate), it turned into what you see now, with some tweaks.
She’s happy, I’m slightly jealous even though I have a nice build myself. Her being happy though is what matters most, happy wife = happy life. It’s a true statement in any real and serious marriage. She likes how quiet it is. She likes the BIOS/UEFI. She likes the size of it. I don’t think there is one thing she doesn’t like about it. So that works for me, it means I did a good job. She did the painting though, that was all her.
CPU- The i3-6100 was chosen as the next logical successor to the i3-4170. Since it is part of the Skylake family of processors it will last for years to come. No, it’s not big, or powerful, or anything else “great and crazy.” You know what it is though? It’s cost effective for productivity and light gaming. So beat that.
CPU Cooler- The Noctua NH-L9i is arguably the best SFF CPU cooler on the market for intel CPUs. It fits the socket perfectly. No clearance issues for the ram. No clearance issues for any case. Moves a great amount of air for it’s size. Best part, low noise adapter. As if Noctua wasn’t silent enough.
Mobo- This is an interesting part in my opinion. The B150I is a “business” class board for “professional gaming?” I don’t really imagine those two adjectives going together in the computer world, but hey, it works. I wanted to get my wife a board that was easy to use as far as the BIOS/UEFI goes and has a solid connection for the Wi-Fi antennas. Oddly enough, another reason for this part choice is that it was cheaper than the H170I as well. So we have a business class board, which should last longer than regular consumer parts, tweaks for gaming, and a price point lower than the low end board. What’s not to like? The only scary thing was at the time, it was hard to find any information on it. But I figure MSI makes good boards, so roll the dice (winner 7). The only “problem” with the motherboard was that it didn’t recognize both memory sticks right away. We had to go to Fry’s and find some super tiny CMOS jumper caps. This was after the damn thing was built. With the help of some needle nose pliers I was able to reset the CMOS. Anyone else buying an MSI Skylake board, I would recommend getting some jumper caps ahead of time, just in case, and use them after you post to verify they are needed/work.
Memory- RAM is RAM more often than not. It’s in a small Mini-ITX case with no windows. Who cares about tacky heat spreaders that don’t really do much other than increase the cost of the product? Some people may find the gains worth it, I don’t.
GPU- I wanted my wife to have the best GPU she could, for the price, and would obviously fit. I think she got it. It had better speeds than MSI, Zotac and Gigabyte. Along with better looks than the other three. EVGA also makes awesome cards. I loved my 960 so much I told her to get their 950. It’s not SSC, but it keeps up with mine just fine for the games we play. It hasn’t stuttered on her even once. She also rocks 1080P so no worries there. The only thing I don’t like about her card, and it’s not the fault of the card, it has a power cable. Like two or three months after we built her Monster Box, EVGA announces the low power 950s. Now she doesn’t care, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Having one less cable in a Mini-ITX would have been nice though.
Case- She loves this as well. It’s small, fits on her desk, and was able to be painted quite nicely. One of the things she really liked in the end was that the front mesh and the case are two different alloys, so the paint responded differently just enough to provide a contrast. For small cases, it is nice, I think the USB hook ups on the front are “backwards.” It was a struggle to work with, but fun. It made me really think about part placement and order. The only thing I would have gone back and done differently is the mounting of the 140mm intake fan. It was oriented “wrong” for maximum cable slack. Live and learn.
Power Supply- Some people felt like it was a bad choice. For what she does, and needs, it works. The price point is fine, it’s bronze certified. She isn’t doing any crazy gaming, rendering, audio production, or anything else that would want a higher rated and more expensive PSU to get the job done. It is currently “inverted” for the case to suck hot air up and out of the case. It could have gone in the other way to draw cool air from the top of the case to keep it cool, but I decided to use it as an exhaust fan. There have been no temperature problems yet. And with the added GPU, there is no room in the case for a side intake/exhaust fan.
The Fan- Man, this thing is quiet, like "is the computer on and running" quiet. With or without the low noise adapter, it is crazy silent. The owl logo is very fitting for Noctua fans. Silent flying death creatures, silent spinning cooling devices. Close enough to deserve the badge. Who cares about the colors, these things work. If you do care, they have all black, and now you can get corner accents. Most people wont’ see inside your case, get Noctua if you can spare the budget. If not, go Cougar.
Monitor- Super clean design. It has a small border under the glass. Some people got mad by that, we think it looks good despite that. I would recommend this monitor to anyone.
Keyboard- Cooler Master Quick Fire Rapid with brown switches and a custom WASD key cap set. She may get the NovaTouch one day. It sounds funny, but is a nice board, just pricey. She is happy for now though.
This was very fun build for a second build. It made me test my knowledge and skills from the first build. I wouldn’t say that Mini-ITX should be built my experienced builders, but it can be tough, for anyone. No matter your skill levels, the restrictions are a pain compared to full and mid size cases, period. Everyone will get annoyed at some point. Just plan it out and take it slow. And don’t screw anything down until you test fit it first.
Paint provided courtesy or Rustoleum at $20 some odd dollars a can from Autozone. Two cans covered all needs for this size case.
Thank you PCPP for helping in the design and creation of another build.