PCPartPicker

  • Log In
  • Register

Build

Cube in a Cupboard

by jonnug

Description

When my old media PC, an ancient small form factor Dell desktop, died once and for all, it was time for a new, cheap HTPC, and Skype-from-the sofa machine.

After a little research (and help from those in the know!) I settled on this spec and case, since it fits nice as snugly in my TV cabinet. Priorities here are silence and cost!

I was a little worried about overheating within the TV cabinet, but this case has a monster 200mm fan on the front to help keep the noise down, and move a lot of air through. I also opted for 2x 80mm fans as exhaust synced to the PWM CPU fan, to help move heat out if it does get a little warm, and run slowly and quietly when not. These are about the only premium component used here, as I thought 80mm fans might get a little loud if I went for cheaper kit. I already had the HDD from previous.

The build went together easily enough, although I did have one bent pin on the motherboard CPU socket. I was able to straighten it using a bit of calmness and precision with a sharp knife, so got out of jail there! Also the anchor points on the Intel CPU cooler were as crap as ever, so I've probably got a big smudge of thermal paste across the CPU, lovely.

The only other problem was as a result of the Asus driver disc (copied to USB on another PC as there is no optical drive here), their 'install everything' option installs a second audio driver for hardware not even present. Que 3 hours of swearing about why HDMI audio wouldn't work.

The Thermaltake case was great to work with as virtually all the sizes come off, so cable management was nice and easy. As most will be aware, any good PC will be at least 50% tie-wraps.

This little PC stays lovely and quiet even under load, and temps stay under 70C, even after a 24hr torture test on Prime 95, and being locked away in a little cubbyhole. It's running Windows 10 in tablet mode, which seems to be a great HTPC interface.

Despite not having a GPU, it copes extremely well with HD video and Skype, but the big surprise was how well it performed in-home streaming via Steam - maintaining a solid 1080p/60fps on Civilisation 5!

Really happy with this little machine. Phase 2 would be if we get a 4k TV to run it with, it'll need a bit more muscle in the form of more RAM, better CPU cooling, and a mid-range GPU (750ti?). But for now, couldn't be happier.

Part Reviews

CPU

Great budget CPU, with surprisingly good onboard graphics capability. Very happy.

Motherboard

Had a bent CPU socket pin, but seems a good quality board.

Storage

Fast, cheap and big. Can't complain!

Case

Brilliant case for a mini-ITX system build. Big 200mm fan in the front is a superb feature. Only minor complain is that the front panel pulls off a little too easily.

Power Supply

Big fan of Corsair PSUs. Stable, powerful, neat semi-modular PSU.

Case Fan

Premier quality small fan, surprisingly quiet and moves a fair bit of air. Good kit, and not Noctua Beige!

Keyboard

Brilliant media keyboard for the sofa. Scroll functions would have been nice though.

Comments Sorted by:

g0vernor 1 Build 2 points 40 months ago

Feels good to see it fit that well into your cabinet. I bet it feels snuggy and comfortable in there.

jonnug submitter 1 Build 1 point 40 months ago

Sure does! I might make it a little blanket, just to make it extra cosy.

pyrogab29 2 points 40 months ago

A gtx 750/750 ti would be a great gpu for 1080p gaming . Great build! +1

jonnug submitter 1 Build 1 point 40 months ago

Cheers, I think that's the way to go. It'd be a nice little console then! :)

anskyfan 1 point 40 months ago

Nice. I just put together something similar with a 750 ti. Loving it.

Question, how did you sync up the exhaust fans with the CPU fan? What cables are required?

Thanks.

jonnug submitter 1 Build 1 point 40 months ago

I got a 3-way fan splitter cable with a Sata connection for the power. There is a master fan connection, plugging the CPU fan into that one meant the other fans sync to that. Works a treat. Have a look on Amazon and you'll find that cable, it's by Akasa I think.

jcwiseesq 1 point 40 months ago

is there room left for a wifi/bluetooth card? got any recommendations?

jonnug submitter 1 Build 1 point 40 months ago

Not really, once a GPU goes in!

The best option I reckon would be a USB 3.0 wifi dongle.

DouvleX 1 point 39 months ago

You paid way too much for what you got. Great build anyway

jonnug submitter 1 Build 1 point 39 months ago

Ok, I'll bite. How much should I have paid?

DouvleX 1 point 39 months ago

Slightly cheaper and better:

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/w3GtMp

A bit more expensive but WAY better:

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2LgKf7

Now that I think about it, I reread your build and for your needs this is great. For mine it isnt because you sacrificed performance for size and limited the upgrade ability. So i set out to make the smallest good build and although this is bigger its way better.

Kreuzer 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

Nice, I got the same case !