This build was a birthday present for my lovely wife earlier this year. She got rather fed up doing some photo/video editing on our laptop one night and verbally berated it like a drunken sailor. Light bulb! Surprise birthday present... surely this would bestow some generous husband points upon me!? It is here that we begin.
A couple of weeks before her birthday I sat down one night after she had gone to bed. With craft beer in hand and some extra on standby, I began to pick out the parts I wanted to use. I've always wanted to piece together a mini-itx build but I never had a reason to do so before now, so there was excitement in the air that evening. I wanted to maintain a reasonable budget for the build and decided on a maximum of $1,300. She's not a heavy computer user, but for what she does use it for I wanted to provide her with a quality computer that was quick and one that would last a long time.
In addition to quality parts I decided to focus on a black/purple theme to make it more personable for my wife and help visually define it as hers. Plus she likes the color purple, so it's a win-win all around. I ordered everything from Amazon in a very devious manner as to not to arouse the suspicion of my wife. I also made sure everything was delivered when she wasn't home (Sick day!) and barricaded my man-cave off for the next couple of days while I slowly pieced everything together and tested components.
When it was all said and done, the build went smoothly and I didn't run into any problems. This is a fantastic little computer with a hell of a lot of power and it allows my wife to do everything she needs to do at light speed... and it allows me to lan. Come on! I couldn't build her a computer without juicing it up enough that it benefits me as well. :)
When it came to the cpu I decided on the i5-6400 to better fit my budget - AMD has not won me back yet. There was no reason for a 6600k and the differences in the 6500/6400 are so negligible that it wasn't worth the $50 additional cost at the time. I could have gone with an i3 and been fine, but having four logical cores allowed my wife to benefit better from the photo editing software I installed on the computer.
Holy ****, he put an AIO on an i5-6400!?! Guilty as charged. First of all, I'm not ever going to use an Intel stock cooler and secondly, I find air coolers to be rather ugly in general. At the end of the day I went with this cooler because it was more low-profile and it added a more custom look. It's installed on the side vent using a Corsair SP120 PWM set in a push configuration which is the only exhaust fan in the system. Between this fan and the intake, the system sits at 26-45C depending on load and is completely silent.
There are not a tremendous amount of options for solid black motherboards in the mini-itx range but I was excited to use this one because A) I haven't used an MSI motherboard in a build in a long time. B) It was all black. C) It had wireless built-in. Point C became a major factor because I'll be damned if I was going to run any network cable in the attic during the summer.
To keep costs low I went with 8gb and when it came to brand I looked at Corsair, G.Skill and Kingston. I decided on the Kingston because it was cheaper and solid black. Nothing but "HyperX" in white script adorns the top of the dimms which I found pleasing.
While I love Samsung, the 250gb drives were over $100 at the time of ordering and I just refuse to pay that much for a 250gb ssd. I instead opted for Crucial and I got a steal of a price on this one. Unfortunately the MX300's had not released yet when I got this one.
Solid hard drive I included as a storage device for all the photo's and video's my wife has. Plus it doubles as a system backup.
Did she reaaaaaally need a graphics card? Debatable. But ultimately I'm not going to build a computer without a graphics card. It's just not right. I also had secret plans to use this machine for lan gaming when the chances arose and I selfishly wanted more power than an igpu. Amazon also tantalized me with a shiny deal on this gpu. Sold.
It's small, sleek and it looks professional. I was seriously impressed by this little thing and it really doesn't feel that small when you're working in it. I was able to route cables easily and install the hardware without much frustration. I also swapped out the main 140mm intake fan at the front with a Corsair AF140 purple led fan. It provides a very subtle purple glow around the edges of the front panel which is what I was going for.