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Build

Mini iTunes/Media Server

by michaelgat

10
10 Comments

Details

Date Published

Jan. 6, 2016

Date Built

Dec. 15, 2015

CPU Clock Rate

3.5 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

32.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

59.0° C

Description

This one started as "miniNix" a compact cheap Linux workstation (http://pcpartpicker.com/user/michaelgat/saved/B3tTwP). As I've used Linux more and more, I outgrew it and decided to build an different computer. Since I'm moving my office (and both my Windows and Linux workstations) out of the house, this little one got repurposed as a small PC for home, mostly to host iTunes and other media.

Other than adding Windows, the major changes are replacement of the Thermaltake "Riing" fan with an ultra-quiet Noctua model, upgrading the WD "green" drive with a 2TB version of the same that I also had left from a client project, adding some memory because I had it, plugging it into my modest TV set and adding an inexpensive wireless mouse/touchpad combo.

Note that most of the pictures are from the original build linked at the top. Notable differences are the fan is now a Noctua and the CPU cooler has been reoriented as described in my review. This motherboard is pretty tight and the cooler only fits flush when oriented in one direction due to a line of caps close to the CPU socket.

Part Reviews

CPU

Does all it needs to. Low end processor but fine for my needs

CPU Cooler

Fantastic, quiet and keeps the processor cool. Even when I tried it with a higher-powered CPU (80w), it performed adequately, keeping temps under 65C. With the 54w TDP processor I am currently using, it keeps temps under 55C with very low noise.

One note: Depending on the motherboard, it may be necessary to take care about how you mount this one. There is often a line of capacitors on one side of the CPU socket that can interfere with the CPU cooler if it is not mounted in the proper orientation. One side of the heat sink has a slightly greater clearance than the other three and that one needs to be lined up with the capacitors.

Motherboard

Decent motherboard at a great price. The included WiFi mini-card is adequate but not state of the art. Easily replaced with a current Intel card if you really care.

Memory

It's memory. It works.

Case

I've used this case before and really like it. It's tiny and wouldn't be a good choice for a system requiring lots of airflow and cooling, but for the purpose it's well-ventilated and does a very good job. In my current use with a 54w TDP processor that mostly is running at or close to idle, it doesn't even require a front fan. There is one, but the BIOS pretty much never cuts it in.

One slight downside: After using and re-using the case a couple of times, the wires to the power and reset switches started to detach from the switches. Not a big deal, I resoldered them solidly into place, but if I weren't comfortable with that kind of work, the low-level wear and tear would have sidelined the case completely. My advice is to be careful when removing or replacing the front grille that contains the switches.

Power Supply

My go-to small power supply that is usually available with some kind of rebate or other promotion. For a small low-powered system it's more than adequate.

Case Fan

Quiet, quiet, quiet. Provides more than adequate airflow for normal applications without any noise.

Keyboard

Not the greatest keyboard and not the greatest touchpad. But for a living room media PC where the use is pretty light, it's adequate and compact.

Comments Sorted by:

DS4130 3 Builds 1 point 34 months ago

Tidy little media box!

How does iTunes run on this? It seems no matter what I throw in my machine it still runs like a dog :(

michaelgat submitter 4 Builds 1 point 34 months ago

Hard to say so far. It's fine for music even when streaming to three different Sonos devices. Haven't been home enough to do much with video, but since my TV is a 32" 720P job, meaning I'm really streaming mid-resolution not full HD, I'll probably be OK. I did make a point of going for the CPU with the latest (HD 4600) graphics, though I suspect that's mostly an issue for 3D.

ajpinton 11 Builds 1 point 34 months ago

iTunes is poorly coded on windows, I think it is Apple's way of frustrating people who use their devices to switch to a Mac. I have never seen iTunes run well on a PC no matter the hardware. You should also try to change settings like your default music location, it is possible but will take you 30min to find it in the settings. iTunes is poorly programmed all around.

DS4130 3 Builds 1 point 34 months ago

Yeah the default location is certainly changed.. Library file is on PCIe NVMe SSD and the media is located on its own Samsung 850 Evo :(

ajpinton 11 Builds 1 point 34 months ago

I myself have an iPod for workouts (needless to say it rarely gets used), my music is on a HDD and it was a pain to get iTunes to accept that I did not want my music where it thought my music should be.

The easy to use mentality is fine until you want to do your own thing. :P

nukemaster999 1 point 34 months ago

Why would u get a noctua on such a low budget -_-

michaelgat submitter 4 Builds 1 point 34 months ago

I already had it from a previous project. A number of pieces here (both the original build and this rebuild) were ones I had sitting on the shelf. Sorry, I should have updated the prices on the part list to reflect that they were basically zero cost at this time.

nukemaster999 1 point 34 months ago

ohhh ok sry

Gshocked 1 point 31 months ago

Did you have any problems with the power supply? That PSU is 6.3" long but Silverstone's website says its max is 140mm (5.5") or 150mm if the drive bay is removed and gpu is under 9.3"

michaelgat submitter 4 Builds 1 point 31 months ago

Nope. You've got the dimensions flipped.

Per the Corsair website, it's 150mm wide (standard width for ATX), 140mm deep. Meaning it's wider than it is deep. It's a bit tight, but works.