Intro: I typed up 3 pages of explanation for everything. Realized it had to be cut down. This is the cut down version (2 pgs). My old desktop was bought in 2007, and needed to be replaced. I needed a new gaming console, also, I needed a blu-ray player. Buying a console and bluray (for ~350-400) and then purchasing a new desktop (~$500) seemed like my only option. Finances told me I only had $500 to accomplish both. A friend suggested "just build something", thus started my first computer build. I thought I'd have his help, but instead I decided to take a new job and move just before purchasing the parts. So I've had the joy of learning how to build a computer off youtube clips.
Part Selection: The case was most important selection, everything else would be selected around it, I wanted something similar in size to my 360, and something that wouldn't look weird sitting in my entertainment center. Also, something cheap. The Xon fit the bill.
The G3258 and motherboard came together in a new-egg combo special. CPU has enough power for the price, also, I needed a motherboard, any old 1150 would do.
The RAM was the cheapest at the time (should have waited a week for black Friday deals)
The hard drive was chosen because of high reviews.
With a slim case my only option was low profile video cards. 750 Ti's were the most powerful GPU's I could find that came in low profile. Although $150 is expensive for a regular 750 ti, I thought the extra cost was worth it to have the smaller case.
The optical drive works and was cheap.
Assembly: Assembly was very important, everything had to happen in a certain order or everything had to be taken apart again. First was the HDD, I don’t like how it mounts in the case, sideways and with a small bracket (on one side) and directly to the case to the other, both with screws. It just doesn't seem right, and being that the HDD is sideways, the ports are hidden after you install the optical drive, so you have to connect power and sata before moving on. The optical drive must come next, directions provided with case made this straight forward, just took some care, there were multiple mounting holes, the closer holes meant the front of the case couldn't be put back on, the farther back holes meant the drive wouldn't open via the front button.
Popped in the CPU and RAM onto the Motherboard, and then installed the motherboard. The cases mounting holes were in a different pattern from the motherboards mounting holes. I'm not too sure why this is as both case and mother board are micro-ATX, although enough holes fit that I felt comfortable with the fit. Reviews said the case was flimsy, which I didn't think I would mind, but after installing the motherboard I realized just how flimsy this case is, the motherboard flexes with the case whenever I plug in connectors. Its worrisome that I might damage the board because the case doesn't provide enough support. Luckily for me I plan on just leaving it under the TV so it shouldn't have to move much.
Last was the GPU, I ordered this after the rest of the computer was build and up and running. Installation was a pain in the butt. This is where you could really tell the poor quality of this case. The expansion slots didn't want to accept the bracket, and first I thought I was just doing it wrong. Then I realized the expansion feet accepters (?) were slightly bent in and needed to be opened so the feet could slide into place. Then where the bracket gets screwed in wasn't right, and didn't line up properly in x, y or z direction. Also, the lid doesn't have enough clearance to allow for a expansion bracket. For right now the top of the case doesn't fit just right, eventually I’m going to take a file or drimel to the lid and create the clearance about 1/8” should be enough.
Cable management is left up to me; the case provides you with NOTHING. Luckily the PSU and HDD had some space above them, so extra lengths of wire got shoved into those spaces. Really though I thought it cleaned up rather nice, this is mostly because the motherboard layout worked well with the wiring. I've thought about buying some tie strap mounts to install in the case, but probably not necessary.
Turning it on: BAM… right up no problems. I updated the bios when the RAM was only recognized as 1333 not the max 1600 the motherboard could handle, only to find out while trying to trouble shoot after a bios update that the CPU can only handle 1333.
I downloaded SteamOS to tryout. No problems installing. However, I have no Linux experience, so I’m going to be getting windows 8 soon. I had to re-install SteamOS 3 times because I’d play around in desktop mode trying things, but just end up breaking the system. Eventually I learned to just be satisfied and downloaded Portal 2, which runs great.
Area of interest: The PSU that came with the case scares the crap out of me. Not that it looks bad, but rather just because it MUST be cheaply built. I have read some reviews on other sites, some people said the PSU took out their components, others said that they just needed to replace theirs after a year or so. Staying at budget meant not upgrading immediately, however, early next year it will be replaced so I can have some peace of mind.
You might have noticed I have several wireless things I bought. Since I can’t install drivers on steam os (see “Turning it on”), I’m just going to have to wait for windows, then I’ll be able to lay on the couch surf the internet, watch a bluray, or play a video game and not have any wires from me to the computer. I’m excited.
Conclusion: I am extremely happy with my <$500 Computer that looks to me like a slightly larger console, but does everything a computer can. This was way too long, but I since I don’t have anyone to talk to about building computers, the internet gets to hear me rant. If you read all I wrote above you are a better man than I.