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Minimalist Productivity Build

by Trinergy



Date Published

Dec. 12, 2016

Date Built

Dec. 11, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

3.7 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

33.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

55.0° C


(Lighting in my office is bad and the walls are painted a mocha color which doesn't help, so sorry for the weak quality photos).

This build was put together for a friend's wife that manages their home photography business and is replacing a 2010 MAC Mini. The old Mac Mini has outlived its usefulness with its low ram slow mechanical HDD and well it's a MAC. Her husband convinced her it was time to go get a PC built by me for $500 that would relieve her frustrations. With that budget I went out and canvassed the net and made out on some great deals pre Black Friday slowly putting together pieces as they went on sale at newegg and Microcenter. The build is primarily for Office productivity apps and occasional Lightroom and Photoshop when organizing pictures as necessary.

The build centered around the Phanteks Evolv ITX case as it went on sale and had a $10 rebate for it's lowest price ever on Newegg. I thought it was the best compromise of size and adequate cooling while being budget friendly. The large 200mm fan is more than enough to handle the Core i3-6100. I added a 120MM Fractal Design Silent Series 2 fan from my Node 804 that I no longer used as an exhaust. Easy to work in and when the time comes to add a dedicated GPU for when their son becomes a PC gamer this case will be ready for whichever they choose.

The piece the resistance of this build is the ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac which went on sale at Microcenter. The motherboard was the hardest choice as their was a lot of going back and for with available motherboards at Microcenter to get the $30 discount along with the unheard of price for the 6100 at $89.99 before tax. I chose this motherboard because of the the modern digital display outputs of a DisplayPort, a HDMI 2.0, and HDMI 1.4 ports. All others did not have this connectivity and the user was going to get multiple displays. No other boards had M.2, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, Type-A , 8+2 VRMs, and 2x2 802.11ac/Bluetooth. No other board has this many features that make it more reliable and future proof. I know that I am not using a K series chip with this board. However, as longevity is important the manufacturers high end boards uses higher end mosfets, capacitors and more PCB layers to create a much cooler and more reliable board than the lesser chips. Furthermore, getting this board for $108 after rebate and taxes made it that much of a no brainer.

The memory was what was cheapest at the time and I got lucky that it was right when everything started going up. I was also lucky that the LEDs were red so it actually matched the red and black of the motherboard. I didn't mean for it to match but at least it doesn't clash. The Z series motherboard also allows the memory to run at the slightly faster 2400 Mhz. 16GB at $68 was a no brainer. My friend can use this machine to help Photoshop when his is tied up running batches of filters.

I wanted m.2 storage so that I can have less wires to create the ultimate minimalist build. This Crucial was also as cheap as the 2.5" versions so there was no penalty to go to the M.2 version. There was enough storage here that we decided not to add an additional mechanical hard drive as they have a Drobo N for mass storage on the network.

The PSU had a $25 rebate on top of it's sale price so it was another no brainer. I did not use any of the modular cables since everything was on board. This really created a clean install with just the ATX and 8 PIN EPU cables going to the motherboard.

The Cryorig was at a great price and I wanted to make sure we had a very quiet PC. The stock cooler is so loud at high levels that I definitely didn't want to use that. A small tower setup that looks great and performs as well or better than others at a lower price and size was an easy decision.

Part Reviews


Better than AMD 8 Core and uses a heck of a lot less power. Bought it at lowest price I ever seen for it at Microcenter.

CPU Cooler

I am using this for my low TDP builds over the EVO 212s as it is cheaper, quieter, looks great and performs better. The attention to detail from the packaging to the engineering and the included paste are fantastic. Easy instructions. Only issue I had was with the mounting plate on the motherboard extended over the m.2 slot of the motherboard and did put some pressure on the SSD. I am going to ask them if I cut it down if they will still honor the warranty.

Using OCCT PSU test (Linpack for CPU and Kombuster for GPU) this cooler keeps the CPU at 55 C at a mere 550 RPM. I have it set to stay at 30% till 65 C before it spins up higher.


Has everything you can want in an Skylake ITX motherboard. Layout of all ports are perfect! USB 3 plug is right where it should be and has every feature including 3 modern display outputs for when using built-in graphics.


Cheap didn't need the lights but it was cheap. Slight overclock available that you can only use with Z motherboards.


Cheap (seeing a theme here). Performs well and allows less wires than a traditional setup allowing for better cable management and air flow.


Great case to build in as it is not a tiny ITX case. As large as MATX cases with many fan options and great cable management. Also looks great and is cheap.

Power Supply

Cheap! But performs well against everything in it's category. It is quiet as well which you can't say for most cheap PSUs. Corsair uses nice black wires and sleeving. This is important so that you don't have yellow and black wires showing through when you don't use sleeved extensions. Again important for people who want cheap budget builds but also want it to look nice and clean.

Comments Sorted by:

LeMMingSlayeR 23 Builds 2 points 28 months ago

It looks so tiny in there. Very minimal. +1

Trinergy submitter 9 Builds 2 points 28 months ago

Yeah and it has the cleanest basement. I wound up wrapping the atx and epu power cables to the side to keep the front open to allow the air to get through unimpeded from the front.

FACUNDO 13 Builds 2 points 28 months ago

This is how PCs should be made. With love, and only with things we need.

Doubled073 1 point 28 months ago

I would have went with a case without a window but that's just me very good minimalism +1

Trinergy submitter 9 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

Grabbed what was on sale so price won over minimalism. Just like it did with the RAM. Didn't realize the RAM was LED lit at the time.

felohany 1 point 28 months ago

where did u buy the mobo with that price xD Which branch

Trinergy submitter 9 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

Microcenter in Wayne, PA (St. Davids). The sale is long over though I think it is back to $109.99. Newegg had it for $99.99 at one point. You have to jump on these as they come. The crazy part was that the 6600K was $189.99 plus 6% tax. Which was the lowest price ever. The 6500 was $169.99. If it wasn't for the low clock speeds even at Turbo I might have suggested going with that.

fn230 9 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

Love how even the CPU cooler dwarfs the motherboard. It makes for a cute aesthetic.

Trinergy submitter 9 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

Mind you that is a small tower cooler 92mm fans. I can't believe how quiet it is even at full 2000 RPM. Especially compared to the CM's Blade Masters on the Hyper 212s.

BernardSk 1 point 28 months ago

+1 for the IBM display.

Trinergy submitter 9 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

That's my spare for putting things together, it's over 10 years old and it is brighter than my newer monitors. My DisplayPort to DVI adapter wiring went bad and I had to finish the build on my son's TV.

BernardSk 1 point 28 months ago


androiddude7 1 point 28 months ago

Congrats on the build! I'm genuinely impressed you managed to fit such quality parts for that low price. I checked the completion date and looks like you just finished it today; it'd be great to see how the recipient copes with this new PC and of she likes it or not. Thanks for sharing!

Trinergy submitter 9 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

Thanks. I can't wait till she starts using it too. Doing a 72 hour burn in running OCCT PSU test right now. The parts compilation took over 2 months. As deals came up I pounced on them. Only wish I got the memory earlier as 3Ghz memory was going for that price just back in October.

acswim1 1 Build 1 point 28 months ago

FYI you can overclock that 6100 on ASRock z170 boards

Trinergy submitter 9 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

Only if you go down to the 1.54 BIOS and have a dedicated GPU as the integrated GPU gets disabled along with C-States. So that's a no go...

Bodom0511 5 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

Mmmmm, such simple cable management.

Trinergy submitter 9 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

Yes, especially when you have no cables but the minimum. The least amount of hardware and wires in a PC I ever built.

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