This was my first PC build in almost a decade – pleasantly surprised at how much things improved for builders in the years where I only kept a Macbook Pro as my daily work rig.
All the prices listed are local for my region, many of you will probably find most of the parts for less.
Overall I'm super happy with the results. This build is as much about what I wanted as it is about trimming off things I don't need. Hence, no overclocking features, seemingly modest CPU and GPU, resulting in a better price, lower heat (and cooling noise) output while still delivering more performance than I need.
I am a graphic designer, so storage and memory capacity and speed are generally a higher priority on my list than the most powerful multi-core CPU, which does not really affect my daily Photoshop usage at all. The GPU is obviously for gaming purposes only and it does its job great.
Please excuse the mediocre photos, I am trying to be as informative as possible to people who might decide to build in a Manta or similar Mini-ITX case. And there's already enough eye candy with this case out there :).
If you have any building-related questions, hit me up!
More details in the part-by-part section below.
Works for me, low TDP, great performance. Like I mentioned above, I have no interest in overclocking, and honestly this much CPU is enough for most people. Work-wise, my Adobe CC routine with an occasional After Effects project is easy work for it. For gaming – it's more than enough.
An amazing cooler for the price. My average idle temp is 23 C with a maximum of 42 C under load. It's really quiet and basically never goes above its minimal 700-800 RPM range with the default fan curve.
Nominally, it shouldn't fit in the Manta with the fan raised to clear the first memory module (as pictured), but the curved panel has TONS of room to spare even in this position. Initially I thought I'd have to mount it vertically with the case exhaust fan on top, but fortunately, wasn't needed.
So if you are considering this cooler for a Manta but have doubts about its height, don't worry.
The built quality here is sublime and the installation is fairly easy. For some reason I decided to install it with the motherboard already inside the case, so planting this monster onto the mounts was a bit tricky. Not too tricky though.
Works for me.
Good BIOS. Great onboard Wi-Fi with antennas included. No overclocking headroom with this chipset, obviously.
Onboard Intel Graphics REALLY helped me out while I was saving up for the GTX :). That's the biggest surprise for me personally, just how powerful the IGP's are these days.
It's fast, looks cool, and fits under gigantic coolers like the H5 Ultimate.
Since this motherboard can't run memory frequencies above 2133Hz I just picked the lowest CAS latency available.
This thing is incredibly fast. For the price, I could get either these or the Samsung 850 Evo. I really wanted a dedicated 120 GB drive (in addition to the main 480 GB drive) to install my favorite games onto, and the Samsung was only available in 250 GB and up so that was the end of that story.
These also look amazing in person!
Overall, super happy and would definitely buy again with no hesitation.
This has been salvaged from my old Macbook Pro. It's an OK drive. Obviously if I didn't already have it, I would not buy it for a desktop system. It's exactly 2x slower than the other WD hard drive in this case.
I'm using it exclusively for automated file backups.
For most people I'd say look no further. No reason to pay more for maybe marginal increase in performance, especially for a desktop computer drive.
I have had some concerns after seeing stuff about 7200 RPM drives being loud, but it is pretty much silent. I only hear it on startup and shutdown, that's it.
120 FPS in Overwatch on Epic settings at 1080p. That's really more than I need :).
Doesn't run too hot either, seems to hover around 60-70 C during gaming and around 30 C idle.
The fans spin up at about 60 C... I think? I can't really tell because they're pretty much silent. Very pleased with the cooling performance overall, obviously, especially after reading nightmare stories about GPU overheating in smaller cases.
I should also note that there's absolutely no sag in any direction whatsoever (thanks to the backplate?), even if it might appear so in the photos.
So this has pretty much been the centerpiece of the build.
I love the compact Mini-ITX form factor. Basically, for me, it allows you to focus on just getting what you need and not worry about going overkill.
Building in this is really super easy. I'd recommend getting a modular cable PSU as it'll result in less cables stashed under the shroud. As you can see from the photos, there are absolutely no problems with routing cables however you want. Sure, no built-in plastic clips on the back, but a $10 bag of 100 velcro ties and a few plastic zipties in some tight spots worked just fine for me. The PSU shroud really helps sweep the remaining cables under the rug for a cleaner look.
Really love the ability to run 4 drives here.
Ample space and good airflow for the GPU. Also, great case fans as well!
Speaking of case fans: you will be connecting them to the same PWM hub as the CPU cooler. So your CPU cooler fan will have to run at the same minimum speed as these guys, and you will have to adjust the fan curve in BIOS accordingly (in my case – a slight RPM increase at the bottom of the curve).
Air filters are easy to get to, remove and clean. All of the panels, not just the side panels, are easy to remove and put back on.
My only complaint about the case is... The glass. Yes, the plastic IS fragile. It WILL accumulate mystery scratches and there's nothing you can do about it really, except embrace it :). If scratches on case windows are an issue for you, DEFINITELY look elsewhere, in a tempered glass direction, obviously. I did have a minor freakout after the first few scratches, but honestly, I don't care at all at the moment.
Got it for free so hey, it's alright. Better than Windows 7, that's for sure. It's not OS X though :).
Great display for the price. The image quality is really as good as the reviews say.
Good RGB coverage. Surprisingly robust build quality, especially the stand.
Tons of connectivity options and a 4-port USB 3 hub.
If you don't mind the clicky sound, can't go wrong with this keyboard. Perfect for gaming, but performs even better in day-to-day work, such as using frequent shortcuts and blind typing.
Great LED backlight with a range of settings (brightness, effects, ability to highlight which keys have been pressed etc).
Macros etc work great as well.
Perfect for both gaming and work.
I prefer to set the DPI to a pretty high setting (2000) and use lower sensitivity in games but have precise control in work programs (Adobe etc).