Component build photos will follow once I have a chance to take better photos
- I was interested in building a computer primarily for Lightroom use and lightweight browsing;
- I wanted to make sure performance is "snappy" during regular use, fast during photo editing/sorting;
- I also wanted a form factor that I does not look like a traditional desktop tower;
- All that at the lowest price possible.
I started with form. Cube cases had me intrigued and after considering several InWin, Lian Li and other cases, I found the Xigmatec Nebula. It's not everyone's cup of joe and it doesn't fit my desire to keep the price as low as possible but I like the simplicity (minimal lights, ports). I also like the fact that it is toolless and the build is solid (metal sidings all around). I added some LED around the bottom that I can turn on when I'd like some flare. I wish I could figure out how to make the LED respond to temperature changes.
I opted to go for a Haswell. The 4790K happened to be sale. While I don't intend to overclock, it's a nice option to have in case I want to play around with it someday. The processor is fantastic and offers terrific performance. I think it is a decent price/performance ratio.
From there, it was a matter of selecting a mini-ITX board. Gigabyte Z97n-WiFi. For my needs, I just hope I don't outgrow the 16GB limit anytime soon. That was the only factor for which I was considering micro-ATX instead. The board is great. I wanted to have the option of building a Hackintosh. Gigabyte boards have some of the best chances of success, if I'm not mistaken.
I opted to go for a Noctua fan simply because the stock Intel fan was noisy and this particular fan seemed to be a favorite low-profile fan among users. I had briefly considered an AIO liquid cooling system but since I don't plan to overclock anytime soon, I went for the fan.
The monitor is a rather standard IPS monitor. I had 3 minutes to decide on a monitor before the store closed for the Christmas holidays. I saw LG, IPS, 24", thin bezel and I was sold. The glass stand is a nice touch. The monitor has accurate colors and that was my primary criteria for selection.
For storage, I have a standard 2TB and 500GB Intel SSD. Both are also rushed purchases but I am quite happy with them.
16GB DDR3 RAM - standard fare.
A Tecknet mouse and Maxwell wireless keyboard round out the parts I had to buy.
Since I don't intend to game, I left out graphics card.
Overall, the system is great. It is "snappy" as I wanted, performs well when it comes to processor-intensive systems, is quiet, takes up very little room, looks great and cost C$1500 (w/monitor, drives, peripherals). It's great to be able to cold boot Windows 10 in 4 seconds. El Capitan bootup takes a while but operation is again... snappy.
Do let me know what you think - opinions, suggestions for improvement, mods and questions are all welcome. While I am technically capable, this somehow happens to be my first build ever (I always ended up with laptops for convenience). I enjoyed the experience!