Finalizing The Configuration
Moving on to the CPU, the Kabini chips look to be fairly weak, so I'll go right for the top, which is the 25W Athon 5350. It has four cores, and runs at 2.05GHz.
Integrated graphics has traditionally come up short for games, even now, although APUs and Intel's latest offerings are stronger now than integrated solutions have ever been. Although gaming is not the focus of this build, being able to enjoy light gaming is certainly a reasonable expectation for it. To enable this while maintaining the focus on low power, I have selected a GTX750Ti from EVGA.
Unlike some in the enthusiast community, I am a stickler for high efficiency in addition to high quality we all want in a power supply. I don't want to break the bank though. As it turns out, I had an 80 Plus Gold 450W modular Rosewill Capstone on my parts shelf, just waiting for a system like this.
Having recently upgraded another system to a larger SSD, I had a 250GB Samsung 840EVO available, and used that.
I picked up a 2TB Seagate Hybrid drive for the storage drive. I suspect this has to have been a spur of the moment Newegg Shellshocker purchase, as most of my data drives are WD Black (I prefer the lengthy warranty). For an experimental build though, why not a SSHD?
I wanted to give this little system every chance to perform well, so I loaded it with 16GB of G.Skill Sniper DDR3-1600 that runs on 1.5V. I've used G.Skill often before and had no trouble with any of it.
The optical drive is one I had lying around. Likely, it is whatever Newegg had on sale for $14 or so when I ordered it. I've always bought optical drives this way since they're not used a lot, and haven't had any failures. Some are louder than others, but not enough to affect my choice.
The number of drives, full sized PSU, and full height double slot graphics card ruled out the smallest ITX cases, but there was certainly no need for anything huge. Since I might want to use it elsewhere in more substantial builds, and wanted to have a good look at it, I chose a Rosewill Neutron case. Large enough for even monster graphics cards and tower-style CPU coolers, it is still not a huge case. I've been satisfied with Rosewill's case quality in past purchases, and this one has front USB 3.0.
There's not much to say about the build process, as it went smoothly. The AMD cooler uses pushpins much like Intel's, but you have to put the center pin in yourself. There are only two of them, not four. Everything comes out or apart in the Rosewill case. Happily, even with both sides off and the drive cage out, the shell doesn't feel like it will collapse if you look at it sideways. I'm not the most coordinated person in this world, but I shed no blood from blundering into sharp edges. There is plenty of cable management space, so everything fit easily.
The machine booted up just fine; Scrooge (named for its low power use) came to life quickly, and scarfed down Windows 7 and any other software I cared to load on it. Subsequently, it upgraded to Windows 10. So, after weeks of use, including as the primary tool for one of my review articles, how does it perform?
Although I am going to show some comparative data using an H97+Intel G3258, this is in no way going to be a fair fight, and is not meant to be a shootout between platforms that potentially have a similar price. Software versions aren't all the same; the AM1 system is running Windows 10 vs. 8 for the H97. Test versions are updated. Scrooge also has the benefit of a much stronger graphics card. I'd like to generate some useful data points on the viability of AM1, not just how it compares to H97. I will be including a few gaming benchmarks as well, and will discover a few surprises, mostly (but not all) pleasant.
The Test Environment
Here is a summary of the build:
|CPU Cooler||Boxed Cooler|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking|
|Power||Rosewill Capstone 450M|