See my thoughts/recommendations at the bottom if you don't want to go through my explanation rigamarole.
First thing - my cable management in this thing is bad, probably the worst I've seen in this case. That being said, the nonmodular power supply and the B85n mobo connection points did me in. On the plus side, I didn't block the fans and no one will ever see the cables anyway.
Recently, we had been using one of the gaming computers I recently built upstairs in the living room with the television as a monitor. However, it was bulky and out of place. I wanted to move it back stairs, and wanted something to replace it with that would function as more of a console-type machine. I had seen the new Steam machines and decided to look for something like that. However, I didn't want to limit myself to the games available on linux, so I did not make this a proper Steam machine.
Anyway, here were my main goals:
- Try to keep the cost down.
- Make a small machine (mini-itx preferably), and look as much like a console as possible.
- Make sure the machine can run games well, but is not too loud.
Reasons for choices:
the 750ti SC from EVGA because it is small, does not require additional power, and is not expensive. It will be easy to upgrade (though no SLI of course) when I decide that it is not powerful enough anymore.
the B85n-wifi because I needed wifi where I was going to build, and I did not need the extra features of the H87n or Z87n.
SSD only because speed, size, and power consumption. I have used the 840 evo and Crucial M500, and both are great. The M500 was a little less expensive.
the NH-L9i instead of simply stock mainly because I don't like the sound of the stock fan on high, and this fan has guaranteed compatibility with mini-itx boards. A lot of coolers block the PCI slot (or ram). We will see how it works out.
the low profile ram because I bought it before the cooler and was still unsure which cooler I wanted. I read horrible reviews about this model on Newegg, but the Amazon reviews were good. I almost decided against the ram before going with it. The ram worked fine, and is running at spec speed.
-The case because it is awesome. I like a lot about it, especially the included riser card. I almost went with an SG case, but had a second look at the RVZ01 and couldn't pass it up.
-The PSU because I needed an SFX, and it was bronze rated, and this build requires little power with the 750ti. It will also allow an upgrade if I ever put a GPU in that needs the connections.
- The CPU because it was powerful enough, good marks on gaming, and no intention to overclock. Also, it wasn't too expensive.
Here are my thoughts/reccomendations after building:
You could build something that is great for gaming with a 750ti for less than this. However, I couldn't find something that would meet my needs. I REALLY wanted to go with an AMD cpu because my previous builds were with Intel i5, and I was in the mood to experiment. Unfortunately, I am not adventurous enough. The 4440 beats out basically all comparably priced AMD mini-itx compatible CPUs, and I wanted quad core so it had to be i5. There simply are not any mini-itx board for FX processors. Otherwise this would have an FX processor. This would save money, but I was set on the RVZ01, so mini-itx it had to be, and therefore, I personally had to go Intel. If you are happy with the performance of what AMD has with mini-itx compatibility you could save $50-60 on a CPU. Also, if you live close to a Microcenter you can get a 4570 for less than what I paid for the 4440, if you want Intel.
Because of the feature of lack of additional power for the 750ti, it was an easy sell. I also wanted to try it out.
The RVZ01 can be difficult to work with. Getting the PSU enclosure back in the case was very difficult. I only put in 2 of the 4 screws. But it does not move at all, and I am not worried.
Cable management with the Silverstone non-modular SFX PSU is very challenging in this case, especially if you want to put in an HDD. If you have the money I would recommend the gold PSU from Silverstone, which is modular. Especially, if like me you are only using one or two storage devices and no ODD.
The B85n-wifi is not made for this case. It's connections are in somewhat odd places, making cable management difficult. On the plus side, it has more space between the PCI slot and the CPU than some other mini-itx boards. I don't know how connections on other boards compare, but you might look around to see.
Here is how to save money on a similar build that would give gaming performance (I couldn't justify the concession): 1. Go with an HDD instead of an SSD. This would save approximately $60-$70 with much more space (I will in the near future have to add a second SSD). 2. Go with the stock cooler. It will likely function just fine, if you don't mind the sound it makes, saves $45. 3. Go with AMD processor and mini-itx will probably give you similar gameplay for a savings of $10-$60. 4. Go with a cheaper mobo, especially if you don't need wifi. Just be careful about max ram specs, could save $30.
Overall, I think you could save probably $120 to $180 on this build easily without sacrificing too much in terms of gaming performance. I couldn't bring myself to make the concessions, but I wouldn't begrudge anyone who could. Without the OS you could build something similar for probably around $650-$700 that would perform nearly as well in gaming ($750-$800, if like me you can't part with Windows).