A nifty side-effect of researching stuff for Project “Harrison”: it gave me lots of ideas and options for other builds. Namely, it really helped me put together a build list for a project that already pretty well had a predefined budget of $300.
“$300?!? What the heck do expect to do with $300?” For starters, the budget was a little higher but I opted to funnel some of my available funds into the “Harrison” project. Second, this project would have some specific uses in mind and gaming isn’t one of them. It’s basically a trading and charting PC. As specialized as its purpose is, I also wanted to build into it some options for future expandability. I’ve grown tired of PC’s with the whole Boeing 747 sound, so I’m also looking to build something pretty quiet. I really don’t need a bunch of storage on this thing, so a HDD is overkill. Plus, it would just add heat, noise, etc. This will be my first pure SSD system.
I wanted something slim and pretty compact. Not quite a mini, though. So I went with the Rosewill R379-M. It’s definitely slim and pretty compact. It also comes with a power supply so I didn’t have to buy a separate PSU. Plus, it rang in at right around $50.
Notes on working with this case will be in the Conclusion section of my write-up.
Pretty much from the git-go, I was leaning towards an APU or IGP type solution. After looking at several options, I decided to go with the AMD A10-5800K. It was a little over $100, is overclockable, performs well, has a great rep, and is ready to be put in Crossfire if I ever want to add a dedicated video card.
Given the case and APU I was using, I didn’t have to weed through as many options for the MB. However, I still really wanted one with some options for future upgrades. I went with the ASRock FM2A75 Pro-4-M. Even though the R379-M doesn’t have front USB 3.0, this board does have a USB 3.0 header. It also has 4 DIMM slots that can hold up to 32GB, which can be OC’ed up to 2600+. Five SATA3 6GB/s ports. It’s even got HDMI and eSATA ports. Definitely more stuff than I currently need but it’s there if I need it.
Memory I picked up 8GB of G.Skill Ripjaws Series 1866 RAM. Good specs, good rep, it would fit in my case, looks pretty slick, and was around $60. In an APU based system, I figure it was worth it to include some decent RAM.
I had a Sandisk Extreme 120GB SSD on hand and not in use, so I used it for this build. It’s fast, cool, and quiet. Plus it didn’t affect the budget at all. Winning! :D
For starters the Rosewill R379-M and Corsair Carbide 200R come from different planets. I knew this going into the build, but figured it was worth mentioning. With the 200R you have the luxury of too many cable management options. With the R379-M it’s closer to “What cable management?” Again, I knew this up front so there was nothing shocking about the scarcity of options.
“How the heck can you go from working inside the 200R to doing a build inside what is basically a toaster slot? It’s like building a PC in a bottle.” True. For starters, the physical characteristics are perfect for where this thing is needed. Second, I love a challenge. Honestly, cases like the 200R can make amateur builders like me look better than we might be. Cases like the R379-M will test you. It forces you to put on your thinking cap, get creative, and figure out ways to do more with less. I freakin’ love that kind of stuff.
For some perspective on getting creative, I completely rebuilt this thing twice. Each time, I came up with better solutions and finished with a better overall result. I also gained a better understanding of the case and its accommodations.
I’d like to thank Rosewill for thoughtfully supplying an ample supply of nylons ties, but instead I have to wag a finger at Corsair for not including enough ties so that I could complete my 200R build AND my Rosewill build. Seriously though, Corsair, if you are reading this, I really do thank you for the generous amount of gubbins you provided. You guys truly helped keep the frustration monster away from this build.
Overall, everything did go into place pretty painlessly. The drive/media cage is pretty slick. Looks a bit like something out of a Saw movie, but it made fiddling with the drives and cables pretty tolerable. Even though I’m using it as a pure SSD system, you can (pretty) easily add at least on HDD. You will need a molex to SATA adapter, but otherwise it’s very doable.
POST and UEFI
It’s ..... not doing anything. Bueller? Bueller? Crap. Unplug power, pop the side panel, take a look around at everything, and - ah, ha! During my last round of cable wrangling, I neglected to attach the 4-pin processor connector. Plugged that in, wrestled the panel back on, plugged in the power, poked the front panel in the eye, and ...... it’s aliiiiiiiiiiiive! Yay! Install Win7 and let the Windows Update party begin :D
Pardon the pun, but I am not a fan of the stock AMD CPU cooler or the stock Rosewill case fan. Job-wise, sure, they do keep things cool. But criminy, they do not keep things quiet. I’ve figured out how to tame the AMD cooler (though I’m still leaning towards replacing it with an aftermarket), but the case fan appears to be impervious to my attempts. I’ve got an Antec fan on hand, so I may swap it in to see if that helps. We’ll see; I’d rather not have to re-do the whole cabling scene again. I could have ordered these parts when I ordered the rest, but ‘quiet’ is such a subjective thing I really wanted to start from ground zero and see what direction I needed to go from there. Turns out the direction I need to go is quieter ;-)
I haven’t loaded up my charts or trading platform yet, so no feedback or pics of that stuff. My suspicion is that everything will be fine. It was far from ideal, but I have successfully run what I needed on a Dell Latitude X1. I can say it takes about 20-seconds to get from fully shut down to a Win7 login prompt.
I haven’t done much with the motherboard features yet, and it looks like it can do some pretty cool stuff. It’s got the whole XFast trio - XFast LAN, USB, & RAM. Same goes with the A10; everything is at stock settings right now.
Though I’m happy with my choice of case, I will say I can’t foresee other projects ending up in another R379-M. I’d toyed with the idea of using one to build an HTPC, but I’ve got my eye on a couple offerings from Silverstone that seem more suited to the goals of that project. If you suffer from case claustrophobia, the R379-M may not be an ideal canvas for you :)
Overall, I think this will work great. Now I can do my normal activities (i.e. web-surfing, email, writing, blah blah blah) on my laptop (an HP DV7) and isolate my trading related work to “Nadia”.
By the way, I guess I'm gonna have to see if my work will let me move to a city with a Micro-Center in it. I'm tired of seeing all these awesome deals that are in-store only! XD
- Network Attached Storage Server (Update 2013-06-05: Has been in progress for about 6mos)
- Media Server (Update 2013-06-05: Has been in progress for about 6mos)
- ESXi 5.1 server (Update 2013-06-05: Planning)
- HTPC (Update 2013-06-05: Planning and in progress. Possible HTPC/Gaming hybrid)
- Steambox (Update 2013-06-05: Planning)
No details, direction, or budget info on these future projects. First will probably be the Storage Server. I already have most the drives for it, some already populated with a crap-ton of files.
2013-06-04 Update: Couldn't handle it, so I went ahead and swapped out the case fan with one of the Antecs. There's a strong possibility there will be a similar update about the CPU cooler ;-)
2013-06-05 Update: Everything seems pretty stabilized and chugging along. And I will be upgrading the CPU cooler. It'll be a bit of overkill given the total budget so far, but I want icy silence. So I went with a Noctua. Once it gets here, I'll update the parts list. So in hindsight, I may have gone with the 5600K or 5400K to keep it around the magical $300 level. In fairness, at $287, I did have a few bucks to put towards the cooler. Just not Noctua-level $$ :D Oh well, off to the plasma donation clinic I go :P