I build a computer every year. I used to supe up cars but that's too complicated to do these days so instead I build powerful computers. I don't over clock my builds. In fact, I don't even need the level of power they do have naturally. It's not about power for purpose, it's about power for powers sake and the fun of building it.
I use this machine every day for IT work, video copying, office type stuff, and surfing the web. I save my game time for the big screen and Xbox.
The challenge: This year I decided to put all of that power into a micro ATX case. Frankly, it's pretty easy to research parts and put together a mean machine. You can do that in a mid-tower case and keep it cool fairly easily. But I'm tired of the big case under my desk and I wanted to build something that would take some thinking and tweaking.
Performance: This machine is plenty fast. It ranks 7.9 on the Windows Performance Index. I disabled the unused Marvell and audio controllers and made some other tweaks in the BIOS to make the boot up time as quick as possible (16 seconds). I really wanted to put in a PCIx SSD but it's still too soon for those and they're not coming with the NVMe interface yet. So that will be something for next year.
Cooling, power, and silence: It does create some heat too, but I hate noisy computers so the fans are at their minimum and the temps range from 28-31 doing office and internet work. The CPU is cooled by what I think is one of the best\lightest\quietest CPU air coolers. The key is getting plenty of air flow thru the case without making a lot of noise. For that I use 2 high pressure BitFenix 140mm intake fans that create lots of pressure and CFMs at low speed. The platinum 80+ PSU provides plenty of power and the fan never comes on. I also put my SSDs in a hot-swap cage that takes up only 1 bay in the stock Corsair cage, thus removing the secondary Corsair SSD cage and an obstacle for airflow.
Hot swappable SATA bay: I have a few computers that I move data around to\from, and I frequently image my drives or create offsite backups. I miss my old 650D case that had a removable bay built in, so I found a 5.25 bay hot-swappable tray from AMS that has worked wonderfully.
Cable management: Some people have commented on my cable management. I came up with something that I thought was pretty nifty. I had some old ventilated expansion slot covers that I trimmed the ends off so what was left was about 2" long. I put an adhesive tie down at the appropriate location and then used the trimmed expansion cover and a nylon tie to hold in place and flatten down the bulky power cabling. For the 3 lower SATA drives I got some 8" cables to reduce the unnecessary cable length. I also color coded the SATA cables so I could easily tell what was SSD, mechanical, or optical.
Case Mods: To reduce noise and to lessen air flow restrictions, I removed the honey comb grill in front of the front intake fans. I also completely stripped down the case and painted the interior a grayish color to better show off the inside parts.
Money: OK, so this wasn't a budget build by any means. I could have been more thrifty with some parts and achieved a similar machine. For this build I simply got premium parts for longevity and reliability and (frankly) good looks.