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First build: mini-ITX desktop.

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Last response: in Systems
November 18, 2012 1:13:20 AM

My first build. Would like to hear from those with experience about my choices.


What's the intended use?

My home desktop machine: MSOffice, webbrowsing etc.
Dev work: programming, compiling etc.
Casual gaming: I sometime game. Wouldn't mind playing Diablo 3 with high settings (my current computer sometimes struggles with D3 on low settings). I would like to be able to play almost anything that's currently around even on lowest settings.
Home theatre: This would be our main device for consuming media in the short to medium term (i.e. watching movies, listening to music etc.)
Potentially do some image processing, maybe even some movie rendering at some point.
Dual booting Linux and Windows.


What I want?

I want it to be small!
Contrary to stereotypes of engineers I do care about aesthetics.
I'm a fan of minimalism. I don't like to add anything I don't need.
I want it to be relatively quiet, and not draw excessive amounts of power (I have friends whose computers are like heaters. No need for a wood burner at their house).
I'd like to have WiFi and bluetooth available.


The proposed build

Chassis
Silverstone Fortress FT03S-Mini

PSU
Silverstone ST45SF-G 450W

Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI

CPU
Intel Core i5-3550 3.3Ghz

RAM
2x Corsair Vengeance Low Profile DDR3 PC12800/1600MHz CL9 2x4GB

Graphics Card
EVGA GeForce GTX 650 HDMI Dual-DVI 1GB

Optical drive
Silverstone SOD02

HDD
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALX - 1TB 3.5"

SSD
OCZ Agility 4 Series - 128GB 2.5"


I really do like the idea of using the fortress mini. It looks good, and has a very small footprint. I'm not interested in overclocking so I assume I won't need any extra cooling devices. Items such as RAM, HDD and SSD are just ones that were cheap and looked decent. One thing I don't understand though is what it means that each RAM stick contains 2x4GB as opposed to 1x8GB.

So am I being excessive on any front? For example do my combination of components mean that the CPU I've chosen is more powerful than it needs to be (maybe bottlenecks elsewhere will diminish its effectiveness).

More about : build mini itx desktop

November 18, 2012 4:01:28 AM

Now I'll get one thing out of the way real quick is that building a minimalist-friendly PC is very hard to do. Software and technology is evolving everyday so if you buy something today, sometimes just a few months down the road it can't get the job done. So either you buy parts that will future proof your build and not buy anything for a long time, or risk having to change components prematurely... It's up to you.

So this is what I have suggested for you needs, while also balancing the need the what you need, and what you will need.

CPU: An i5 is probably overkill for your needs. Though I did see that you will be doing some programming. Depending on how much programming you will be doing, a Intel Pentium G2120 will probably suffice.

Motherboard: Will you be using Wi-Fi at all? If not, a motherboard with Wi-Fi & Bluetooth is unnecessary. So if you aren't, I'd recommend the ASRock H77M-ITX motherboard.

RAM: Dual-Channel ram (2x4GB DIMMS) is slightly faster than just 1x6GB DIMMS. You won't noticed a difference though. Also not sure if having 2 instead of 1 memory chips is not minimalist or not...

GPU:A GTX 650 may be enough, but if you are in doubt, Grab a GTX 650ti

SSD: All an SSD does really is speed up Windows booting, and opens files quicker. Not essential, so probably not minimalist.

PSU: The best way to hide a "footprint" is to get a good PSU. A bad 1000W PSU would have to have 1350W just to produce 1000W, while a great PSU only uses 1075W. That's why I'd recommend this Rosewill FORTRESS Series 450W Platinum . This is a 80+ platinum rated PSU meaning it gives at least 89% efficiency meaning it never wastes more than 11% power. If this is too expensive for you, just get anything that is 80+ Bronze or above PSU.
November 18, 2012 5:40:27 PM

Thanks for the reply, BreadWhistle. I see your point about future proofing, it's something I need to think about. Regarding your specifics:

CPU: You're probably right in that I don't need such a powerful processor. It is hard to judge without using these things. I looked at the Pentium G2120 but then saw a Core i3 3220 for only slightly more. There doesn't seem to be any reason not to make that jump as those two chips have the same maximum power consumption.

Motherboard: The reason I thought I'd need Wi-Fi is because I've always needed it in the past, but now that I think about it, probably won't in the near future. So I'll go with the ASRock board you mentioned.

The PSU: The FT03-Mini chassis only takes a SFX form PSU. From what I've read Silverstone ST45SF-G 450W is about as good as it gets in SFX size.
November 18, 2012 11:13:26 PM

Yeah, you could go ahead and grab the 3220 if it's only a but more. I also didn't know that it only took SFX PSU's as I'm more experienced in ATX builds. Also I was confused by the case as inside of it everything is at weird angles like the fans :p