The goal was to put together a do-it-all machine without breaking the bank. Specifically, it will be used as a NAS, a HTPC, a media/PLEX server, file server, backup server, and also do Steam streaming.
Taking advantage of some great deals, here is what I ended up with:
Case: Cougar Spike - It’s cheap, aesthetically pleasing, and has a front USB 3 port. I can nitpick about the non-existent cable management options, poor SSD mount placement/flimsy HDD bracket, and the fact that the PSU doesn’t seem to sit perfectly on the top rails but, hey, it works, and it’s $15.
CPU - AMD 5350 - Great little processor - admittedly, expectations were low, but it handled everything thrown at it like a champ. The only complaint against it is not of the chip itself, but rather the stock cooler - it took WAY too much effort to put on. The temperature sensors also don’t work properly, but, based on experience, both seem par for the course for AMD products.
Mobo - Asus AM1M-A - Cheapest motherboard I can find with a front USB 3 header but, surprisingly, it is also a great board and the only AM1 board to support ECC memory which I'm sure will come in handy in the future.
PSU - Corsair CX430M - The cheapest reputable/modular power supply available. Modularity was a necessity because of the lack of cable management space. Because of the low power draw of the build, it will be operating far from max efficiency, but it will leave room to grow in the future.
RAM - Patriot Gamer 2x4GB - These were leftovers from an old build. RAM is RAM right? No complaints and overkill 99% of the time but I’ll be glad it’s there when I start up Chrome.
SSD - Corsair Force 60GB - Also from the spares bin. Not particularly fast but, really, it just needs to boot.
OS: Windows 10 - Given the purpose of this build, Windows was the most logical choice. Sharing through Windows took sometime to learn and configure but once it was up and running, it’s just drag and drop.
HDD - WD Blue 1TB - I have one of these in a different rig and it’s been quiet and reliable. Couldn't resist the price and it's spacious enough for my needs right now. Bigger drives, along with a SATA controller, will be added in the future. There’s not enough drives to consider redundancy yet but it doesn’t seem like a necessity, as aside from replaceable media, all the “mission critical” stuff are backed up and stored elsewhere.
Overall, the system performs well. File sharing through Windows is simple, and basic stuff like streaming 1080p Youtube and playing non-transcoded Plex barely taxed it. It can handle only one transcoding at a time and that is good enough for me. Steam streaming 1080P Diablo 3 from my main desktop (connected wirelessly) works flawlessly.
As mentioned, temperature sensor are not offering correct readings (I’m seeing between 0.9C and 19.3C…) but it seems to run cool and quiet. Power wise, my Kill-A-Watt reads 30W idle and 40W under load - not bad at all!
For $125 (excluding OS and HDD), I think I’ve just added an invaluable resource to our network. For those with similar needs, definitely consider giving the AM1 platform a shot.