Had a bunch of parts lying around including the processor, memory, drive and a bunch of fans. The idea was a cheap box to run Ubuntu Linux. I knew I wanted something small, therefore likely a Mini-ITX format, and had to be LGA1150 to accommodate the Pentium CPU I already had available. Basically went with what was more or less available, cheap and could work together. I went through several iterations of speccing things out and this is what I came up with. The only major "oops" came from the Intel OEM CPU cooler that I decided very quickly to abandon in favor of a Noctua low-profile cooler.
A secondary goal was to make the thing fairly easily upgradable should I find myself spending more time in the Ubuntu environment than I currently think. Since it's an H97 board, that criteria is pretty much already met, as I can swap the Pentium for any of the lower-powered LGA1150 CPUs quite easily and could even go for a hotter one by swapping to an AIO cooler. And of course, the most likely upgrade would be a modest GPU that this board and case can also handle.
The SG13B case is pretty tight. If you want to use more than one 2.5" drive, you MUST keep the PSU less than 150mm at the largest and depending on where the cables emerge from the PSU, 140mm is better. The Corsair I chose fits the bill, as do Silverstones' own ATX PSUs. Corsair was cheaper.
The other parts, well they just pretty much work. It's a simple machine with no complex stuff on it.
Stressed the CPU pretty thoroughly and was quite pleased to not exceed 62C on a hot day. For the most part temps linger in the 30s to low 40s.
Currently plugged into an ancient 17" monitor I keep around for troubleshooting. Eventually I'll get something better when I see it on sale.
1) The pile of stuff, most of it still boxed though some of it's been sitting around for a while.
2) Initial motherboard assembly.The goal was to keep it as cheap as possible with nothing extraneous, so I started by using the Intel CPU cooler. Then I ran it up to speed and changed my mind. Getting a more expensive one is not in the spirit of the thing, but glad I did.
3) Motherboard assembly with the Noctua NH-L-9i cooler in place. It very precisely fits the maximum dimensions allowed by Intel's CPU spec.
4) Motherboard assembly.
5) Motherboard assembly. Wireless AC card is visible towards the bottom.
6) Board and basic connectors fit in quite nicely.
7) Board and basic connectors. Fan also visible.
8) Add the PSU and it starts getting really tight inside really fast.
9) PSU above motherboard from opposite side.
10) PSU in place, overhead view.
11) This is where you can see how tight the space is between the PSU and the tray that holds either a single 3.5" or two 2.5" drives. There is also a space for a 2.5" drive on the bottom of the case. If you choose a larger PSU or larger front fan (there's room for a 140mm), then you have to do without the upper drive tray.
12) Another view of the tight spacing between the PSU and drive tray.
13) The blue LED ring on the Themaltake fan nicely complements the power indicator, which comes in the form of a blue bar at the very bottom of the case. The HDD indicator is a red section at the center of the power indicator. All very nicely done. I generally go for simple and clean with no case lighting or other accessorizing, but this somehow suits the case really well. It won't be terribly visible under my desk but I like the overall look. Not many more options for cosmetics in a case this size.
14) All done and installed, with my NAS now sitting on top of it and UPS right beside it all.
15) Very pleased with the thermal performance. Obviously this isn't a high-powered CPU but is rated at 65w so should be comparable to other similarly-powered CPUs. I'd recommend against the higher powered ones in any compact case, but with this performance you should be able to get anything up to an i7 "S" version to run pretty well.
In the Silverstone SG-13B case there's very little space for any sort of a fan-based cooler and the manufacturer recommends an AIO water cooler for higher-power CPUs. I'm running a 65w CPU so figured I could get by with a decent air cooler and of the ones that fit the NH-L9i appears to be the best of them. It very precisely fits the space allowed for in the Intel specs and unlike some others does not presume there will be any surrounding space on any side for the odd heat pipe or other appendages. It's a perfect 95x95mm square just like it's supposed to be.
Thermal performance is fantastic for such a small cooler and it's reasonably quiet as well. I torture tested the CPU and temps maxed out at 62C.
There are better coolers if you have the space, but if you don't, this is arguably the best you'll find and it's pretty much guaranteed to fit.
Board is decent. The Wireless adapter that is included is pretty poor. It appears to be a bad copy of the older Intel 3160 with maximum AC connection speed at 433 mbps on a dual-band setup. If it matters, it could be swapped out for an Intel 7260. Mine is running on a wired network so it's isn't an issue but it is one reason this board is cheap compared to others. One point deducted for that, but can't really complain much given the price.
I love this little case! Was originally thinking of the even smaller SG05, but this one came up on special and the ability to use a standard ATX PSU rather than an SFX model made the overall value more compelling.
The downside to the choice of an ATX PSU is that it's really tight in there. You're extremely limited as far as CPU coolers and thus really should consider this case only for lower-powered CPUs, unless you want to cram a small AIO water cooler in there (which is possible). Frankly, if you're running a CPU hotter than 65w you really should opt for a slightly bigger and better ventilated case.
Silverstone says to limit the CPU to 140mm length if you plan to use the upper drive tray and they're not kidding. You might be able to get away with 150mm if all the cables are pretty low down on the PSU but it'll be really tight. I used a Corsair semi-modular model that works well. Modular is good on these smaller cases because you only need to worry about space for the cables you are actually using. If you want to try to make a bit more space, you could consider an SFX PSU with an adapter plate that would allow more room. Silverstone makes a nice modular one but you do pay more for those.
A single 120mm fan gets decent airflow through the case. There is a full-length vent grille on the left side where a GPU would go, so anything instlled there should be mostly sucking in air from the outside. There are also vents on the right side and on top. The PSU mostly sucks in air from the top and exhausts out the back. All nicely laid out.
Minor annoyances: you have to remove the front cover to get at the intake air filter, which requires you to take off the case cover first. That's a total of eight screws which is a bit of a pain for a filter cleaning. The built-in standoffs for the motherboard are not as solidly attached as I'd like. Managed to get one of them spinning in place (it seems to be riveted) and resorted to JB-weld to permanently fix it. My bad for cross-threading a screw that caused it, but still should not have moved that easily. Reset button is a "straighted paper clip" type rather than a real button. Always one of my pet peeves. Still, all these amount to only a one star deduction. For the money it's hard to beat in an ultra-compact case.
Nice PSU with unusually smal dimensions (140mm depth) that works well in cases with tight internal clearances. No major complaints. It looks good, installs easily and is more than adequate for a low/mid powered workstation.
Only one issue. The SATA power connectors are all "L" type. This makes it virtually impossible to use them if the HDD is mounted flush against the side/bottom of a case where there isn't always a cutout for the cable/connector. I was able to make it work, but it really would be nice to have one of the power cables offer straight power connectors. As it stands, if flush-mounted HDDs are something you're considering, you'll probably an extender, or better yet just buy a PSU with cables that work in that situation.
Decent fan, not too loud, especially if run at 80% (1200RPM) or less. As you get closer to the top speed it does begin to howl a bit, but that's to be expected at this pricepoint. LED ring makes for a really nice accent.