First build, hence the name Primula. I don't do gaming, so I decided to go build something quiet and low-spec for browsing, documents, videos, and some light coding. No, this isn't really the best bang for buck, but the machine is totally silent and the CPU only draws 6 watts, so that's probably worth something. Could have probably purchased a comparable pre-built system for a little cheaper as well, but I felt like I would miss out on a potentially valuable experience in building one myself. Despite my clumsy hands, constant fretting, and the M350 case's cramped space, everything seems to have turned out OK. I'm pleased with how this turned out and would definitely go this route again for a new computer.
In hindsight, it's possible to go even cheaper with a build like this. Instead of the M350 case and N3150DC-ITX board, I could have gone with the Antec ISK 110 and N3150B-ITX, which would have saved me around $30 while adding an extra two USB ports. Dropping to 4 GB of RAM would further bring the total system cost down to $200. Cable management will probably be worse, but the idea of building such a cheap yet capable computer is extremely tempting. I've saved the parts for such a build here if anyone's interested.
ASRock N3150DC-ITX motherboard/CPU/PSU combo: I'm fairly impressed by this board. It's silent, power efficient, and packs a surprising punch for something that's running off a laptop brick. The Celeron N3150 is snappy for a 6 watt CPU and zips along without any real trouble, even handling 1080p video without breaking a sweat. Can't speak for 4k performance since I don't need it, though I've heard reports of getting it to work. Would happily recommend for a basic budget build or an HTPC.
While idle, the CPU hangs at a comfortable 45 C. Under 100% load, I got it to hit 60 C before I got worried and decided to call off the stress testing. The temperature wasn't really rising anymore at that point, so I guess it'll probably cap at around 63 C. If you're going to be doing crazy things with it, you should probably get a fan or replace the stock thermal paste.
M350: This diminutive case is a natural fit for the ASRock board. It's cramped and cable management is kind of tight, but it's mini-ITX, so I knew that going in. It's not like I had many cables to deal with, anyway.
Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x4 GB: To reduce costs, I initially harvested a stick of Super Talent DDR3-1333 memory from an old laptop. It seemed to be OK initially, but I soon started to observe application crashes and kernel panics. To be fair, the laptop had problems like that, too, so obviously the RAM was just bad. I decided to do research on compatible RAM and settled on a pair of Crucial Ballistix Sport sticks. I also took this as an excuse to go 8 GB of RAM for dual channel operation. I don't actually need that much RAM, but at current prices, 2x2 GB wouldn't be appreciably cheaper than 2x4 GB, so I figured why not? During the RAM replacement, my clumsy hands bent one of the holding clips, which may have caused a mechanical slip that led to a subsequent kernel panic. Following the kernel panic, I opened up Primula again, reseated the RAM, and then... nothing. The system wouldn't boot. Of course, I freaked out, but decided to give it another shot and reseated the RAM again. In the process, I managed to fix the bent clip, and upon powering on, Primula was alive and well, and I haven't had any problems with her since. The new memory is super stable. One of the sticks did have a bad sector, but the seller was prompt to get me a replacement, so thumbs up.
Sandisk SSD Plus 120 GB: I've already used these before as aftermarket upgrades for laptops and I love them. As of this writing, they're only a little more expensive than competing 60 GB models, making them somewhat of a no-brainer.
Fedora 23: Linux has been my main OS for years now. Since the N3150's Braswell architecture is still fairly recent, I picked Fedora 23 for its recent kernel version. This turned out to be prudent, as everything works fine and I'm not seeing any of the performance issues that some people report under Linux. I assume that this board works fine with Windows, too, but I do not intend to pay $100+ just to verify that.
Dell 1702FP: I got this monitor from school for free since they didn't need it anymore. It's an old piece of junk from 2002, but it works just fine. I honestly prefer the boxy 5:4 aspect ratio over widescreen.
Audiovox D1501: Portable DVD player with a busted screen. Since it's useless for its original purpose, I'm using it for Primula's speakers to reduce costs. The audio quality is quite bad, but I don't mind.
Sony PCVA-KB4P/U: This old PS/2 keyboard was just sitting around not doing much. There's not much to say about it. It works, though it's a tad loud and the keys can be a little stiff.
Insignia ND-PNM5013: It's a mouse. What am I supposed to say about it?
RAM is RAM. The 1600 speeds do provide a noticeable slight improvement over the 1066 I was using earlier.
At its current prices, this is pretty much a steal. You're not paying that much more over a 60 GB model, but you're getting double the capacity, and the upgrade over a hard drive is worth it.
Probably about the smallest mini-ITX case you can get. It's cramped and cable management may be a little funky, but I think those are acceptable tradeoffs for its size. Besides, are you really going to be putting that much stuff inside it? The 2.5" drive mount can be moved to either side in case your CPU gets in the way of it, which is a nice touch, and the internal USB ports are good for concealing things like Wi-Fi adapters.