I finally worked enough to finally get a decent machine, after buying budget (see: Lenovo) laptops that would die on me consistently after 2-3 years each. I figured I'd spend once to have a moderate machine that would last 5-8 years, considering I don't game as often as the standard PC gamer, that is, mostly weekends, and not for super long sessions.
The goal for this machine was something that could do decent design work (notable programs include Quartus, Altium, Visual Studio, and Adobe CC), while being able to run AAA titles at reasonable (see: 720p) resolutions without any problems, and older games well (Dragon Age Origins, I'm looking at you).
Since this was my first build, cable management ended up being a nightmare. You can see from the exposed picture, but I ended up tucking cables in holes that were meant for other purposes, as well as utilizing corners of the MB PCB to hold things. Other than that, I had a slight issue with wires from the stock CPU fan clipping into the blades, but that got fixed with a little extra wrangling. The computer booted without any problems, which is always a plus, and I'll probably take it for a spin in the next few days to see what it can do. All in all, a great experience - hopefully I'll have the time (and money) to do one of these in the future.
Note that the load temperatures included come from running the Cinebench 4D OpenGL Test - the full CPU test provided drove the CPU temperature up to 69 degrees at max, but it would have probably gone higher had it not stopped. The CPU itself drops its multiplier from x34 (as in idle) to x32, but that's about expected at load.
System runs the Cinebench tests at 105 fps, with a score of 466 cb for the CPU. Recorded tests shown in the picture.
It's a basic i5 - not much else to say about it. I'll test it under my usual software loads in the weeks to come, and add a better review then.
Pretty damn good for the money. Only qualm I had was with the fact that the PCIe x16 expansion slot will forces longer expansion cards to hang over the RAM, but considering the amount of expansion and customization (2x PCIe, 2x PCI, and 4x Ram Slots) for a MicroATX, that's a small cost. Would use again in a build, unless the following weeks say otherwise
Edit: While there have been no real major issue with the main operation of the board, there has been a bug where the EIST option throttles the CPU frequency to its minimum, where there is no performance period. Could be another component, but noting this here. Ended up turning off EIST to allow for performance.
Solid stick, manufacturing feels good to the touch. Performance is as expected? No real benchmarks that I can run immediately, so given that It hasn't failed me in the last two weeks, I'll give this a solid pass.
It's small, and runs relatively cool. Powerful enough for most major games, but is lacking in some areas. Based on the games I play, this card can handle most non-AAA games, and older AAA games with relative ease - starts heating up when you play more modern behaviour
From the games that I play, I observed 2 major categories. Games that this card had almost no reaction to: BattleBlock Theatre, Valkyria Chronicles, King of Fighters XIII
Games that the card starts working for (heats up > 10 degrees Celsius): Final Fantasy XIII, Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition.
Minus a lack of easy cable management (I ended up using holes meant for connecting to MB mounted SSDs for that purpose), this case is solid for its price. doesn't feel flimsy, has well labeled Front panel cables, and is relatively easy to put together for a new comer. Instructions are a little lacking, but relatively intuitive.
Edit: Having watched someone else make a build in this, I retract my cable management issue - I just didn't know how to properly build this, and had a non-modular power supply.
I mean, it's a non-modular power supply, which hurts its usability, but it hasn't been complaining about its 300W load at all, so I'm satisfied.
Wireless Network Adapter
Much better than what I had back in my laptops, this card doesn't drop network easily, and has pretty fast speeds. No real complaints here.