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Dual Purpose mini-itx build - need advice

Last response: in Systems
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July 6, 2012 7:45:27 PM

Greetings! Long time reader, first time poster.

I apologize for the somwhat convoluted post.



Approximate Purchase Date: Within the month….or later if processor prices are expected to drop

Budget Range: Less than $1000 Before / After Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: HTPC – System to build virtual network to prepare for MS certifications. Not at the same time.

Parts Not Required: Monitor, mouse, keyboard

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon, TigerDirect

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel Ivy bridge processor and MB

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: Depends upon monitor being used.

Additional Comments: I am looking to build a mini-itx system that can be used for two purposes.

First, I am hoping to build a small (portable) system that I can use for testing. I am about to upgrade my 2003 MCSA to 2008 and I need a system capable of running 2008 Server Enterprise R2 with Hyper V.

This is really my sticking point because I am not sure if most modern BIOS allows for virtualization.

I probably won’t need to have more than 2 virtual systems and they won’t need ECC memory or to be particularly fast. I just need to be able to build/test the systems for study purposes.

In addition, for training purposes the instructor recommends two hard drives two Ethernet ports.


When I am finished using the system as a test bed, I am hoping to use it as a simple HTPC. I am not planning on running Server software for the HTPC. My plan is to save an image of the Server (in case I need it again) and then simply reload with W7. (Unless a virtual W7 machine can be used to run a HTPC????)

Here again, I am not sure if the video circuitry built into the MBs/processors are up to the task of running 1080P HDMI.

In addition, I am hoping, if possible, to use a lower wattage processor. I would like to leave the system running 24/7 so I can access files while I am away. (Sonicwall / VPN)

The first MB I am considering is the Zotac Z77 because it has dual Ethernet ports and supports the newer Ivy bridge.

http://www.zotacusa.com/zotac-z77-itx-wifi-z77itx-a-e.h...

The second board I am considering is the ASUS P8Z77. The downside of this board is the single Ethernet port. I suppose I could install a Ethernet card in the PCIe slot. What attracts me to this board is the ability to throttle back wattage usage when not needed.

http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/P8Z7...


Both of these boards offer more features than I need to be honest, but I was hoping for a Z77 to take advantage of native USB3 and to hopefully keep from being outdated so soon.

As far as processors I was thinking about one of the newer IVY Bridge I3 low wattage processors. Will a I3 be sufficient if I am not looking for a production server?


As far as video, again, if the built in video is sufficient for HTPC then I am should be fine. If not, I have a ATI HD3870 that could be installed. Would this card work better? (I have read somewhere on this forum about users using the 3870 for HTPC… even though it is a few years old.) The ASUS board has the built in Crossfire/SLI type circuitry that will combine the video processing. I might even be able to run something like Call of Duty.

For a case I would like to have something small but I have to take the installation of two hard drives (2.5” or 3.5”) and possibly the installation of the 3870 or a Ethernet card into account.

I found this Silverstone Case. It isn’t particularly nice looking but it seems to be a good compromise.

http://www.amazon.com/SilverStone-SG05BB-450-Mini-ITX-C...

Finally, I plan on installing a Blu-Ray player, slimline or otherwise.


So…. Am I asking too much of these boards? Does anyone have any better suggestions of MB / Processor / Case combinations? I haven’t built a system since 2008 so I am seeking the best advice I can get.

Any and all suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks in advance.






July 8, 2012 3:31:21 PM

Anyone familiar with building a mini-itx in a hyper-v enviornment?
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