A Reasonable Price: CPU And Motherboard
Mini-ITX and Intel: When The Price Is Right
We decided to build this rig using an Intel Ivy Bridge-based CPU. Keeping cost in mind, a 3.2 GHz dual-core Pentium G2120 emerged as our only real option.
As long as two cores are enough, the Pentium offers great performance. And while AMD sells quad-core parts for about the same price, they don't fare as well when it comes to cooling and power consumption, both of which are important considerations in such a compact space. This time around, it just had to be the little 55 W Ivy Bridge-based Pentium.
The Right Motherboard: MSI B75IA-E33
MSI’s B75-based B75IA-E33 is a newer board that offers everything we could want from a mini-ITX platform in this price range. Although the form factor limits any motherboard's available features quite a bit, MSI manages to give its B75IA-E33 a logical and usable layout. Even the UEFI menus are arranged nicely. We found this to be a perfect fit for both the build and budget we had in mind.
While there aren't many bundled accessories to speak of, MSI's B75IA-E33 includes all the essentials. The unexpectedly large manual is easy to navigate, though the text labels in the schematics could have been larger.
|MSI B75IA-E33 Technical Specifications|
|Processor Interface||LGA 1155|
|Chipset||Intel B75 Express|
|DDR3 Memory Support||1066/1333/1600/1800/2000/2200/2400 MT/s (DDR3-1800 and up are overclocked settings; Ivy Bridge-based CPU required)|
|Maximum Memory (GB)||16|
|PCIe x16||1 x PCIe 3.0|
|USB 3.0 (Back)||2|
|USB 2.0 (Back)||4|
|Audio Connectors (Back)||3|
|Approximate Street Price||$110|
I demand a proper Mini-ITX case from the manufacturers!
I have a "Zero dB PC" as one of the next projects, complete based on a AMD APU (A10 5700). We should stay a little parity, all last Mini-PCs were AMDs ;)
The performance of a HD 7750 is wellknown and this little card is in the most cases the slower part. This is from the other project:
I would like to know why there is no real SFF love in the AMD camp for non APU's, I really want a new mATX mobo with 3 PCI-e slots, so I can do a tri-fire setup with LC in my mini P180, 2x7970's just are not enough. I also want to replace my aging 890gxm-g65 so I can OC my FX8350, this board has known issues with its power circuitry beyond stock (I would know, I have cooked 3 of them, 2 from trying to OC, and one from a long gaming session)
At the $500 price range, I've seen many laptops that perform similarly to builds like this.
The laptops also have the advantage of:
- screen (don't have to use)
- battery (for power outage)
One disadvantage with gaming laptops is that under load the little fan tends to be annoying. It would be really cool if you could easily plug in an external cooling unit that bypasses that fan.
INTERESTING BUILD, though I would strongly disagree with the "good enough for an HDTV" comment about the graphics card. It's a gaming PC. Just because it's hooked up to an HDTV instead of a monitor doesn't make it "good enough"; Far Cry 3 still won't run great.
I'd like to see a little more CPU and GPU processing power while keeping noise in check. Let's see what can be done with $700?