First let's start with a little history...
I'd been looking on and off at media hubs for a while, interested but struggling to find the justification as I don't have the world's biggest CD or DVD collection and although I have a HDTV it's only
a 720p capable one with no home cinema system either... probably very low tech for these parts!
At one point I was hovering over the Buy button on a Western Digital Live Hub but ended up deciding against it -- mainly because for my part of the world (UK) it doesn't offer many interactive services. It was at that point I started entertaining the idea of a HTPC.
Since then the idea has grown slightly but basically I'm going to use it to rip my CDs and some of my DVDs (mostly the TV boxsets), to listen to and view those things once on there and for an assortment of other things such as web browsing and interactive services such as BBC iPlayer, 4OD, etc. There's an outside chance of playing casual games on it too but it's not that likely as there are a few PC's in our house but only one TV, so if games are wanted they'll probably be played elsewhere. I don't need the ability to watch or record TV on it as I have a Sky (satellite) TV subscription which works for me at the moment, although if the box continues to miss recordings and crash it may be replaced!
One last bit of history before the details of the build... I don't like Intel, hence the choice of processor... I'm aware that a Core i3/i5 would probably have been the better choice
The build... (so far)
Motherboard: Asus F1A75-I Deluxe -- £70 (~110USD, ~80EUR)
Processor: AMD A6-3650 -- £65 (~100USD, ~75EUR)
Memory: Corsair 2000MHz DDR3 CL9 -- £34 (~53USD, ~40EUR)
SSD: Kingston V100 64GB -- £55 (~85USD, ~64EUR)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 100 -- £34 (~53USD, ~40EUR)
The motherboard was always on my hit list but I got really lucky with it and found it for a good £20 (~32USD, ~22EUR) less than most other stores are charging.
The processor wasn't my first choice -- I had been holding out for an A8-3800 but the possibility of getting one this side of Trinity seemed unlikely. Because I'd already decided on the case I new I only had 150w to play with so I didn't want to risk an A8-3850. And then I spotted a used A6-3650 on eBay at around £20 less than retail and thought I might as well go for it.
The memory was probably a bad decision as it isn't on the approved list for the Asus motherboard and I've had issues getting it to run at 1866MHz so I've had to drop it back to 1600MHz at the moment, albeit with tighter timings. My logic was that there were a number of other Corsair XMS products on the approved list and although the board can't run 2000MHz RAM it should happily run at a slower speed... apparently this isn't strictly true!
I'd been trying to get my hands on a Crucial M4 64GB SSD to use as a boot drive but finding one within budget (£60, 95USD, ~68EUR) was proving difficult... I was almost ready to give in and pay the extra £20 to get one when I noticed some new Kingston V100's up for grabs on eBay. I know they're "previous gen" but they're more than capable for what I need and most importantly, they're reliable and in budget.
The final part is the item I had chosen first of all... I liked the look of the Cooler Master Elite 100 case and it also gave me a number of options as it can handle mATX and mITX and a number of configurations of hard drives. As luck (although it didn't turn out quite that way) turned out there was a used one going cheap on eBay -- seller looked good so I punted for it. When it arrived it was devoid of most of its screws, the power supply was being held in by a single screw on the back (instead of three) and it only had a single standoff holding up the front. Even worse was that the screw point for the other standoff had a broken screw head in it.
Since I really wanted the case and didn't want to have to mess around sending it back and getting another one I spoke to Cooler Master about getting some replacement parts and then told the seller about the issues and what it would cost to get the replacements. He refunded some of the cost of the case and although I don't think he was happy with the situation, neither was I... I do love eBay but purchases like this make me have second thoughts.
Anyway, here is what those parts look like when assembled
It's currently using the stock heatsink and fan and geez is it a picture perfect size... it's like it was designed for this case. Shame it wasn't designed with some copper heatpipes though as sat open on my desk it idles around 35C and gets over 60C running Prime95... it'll be a lot less airy when its all closed up and in its final resting place. I may need to investigate alternatives in the near future but I think I'll be hard pushed to find any as in addition to a mere 50mm headroom I only have about 80mm of width to play with, which counts out even the Scythe Kozuti, and that sucker is small.
You may also have noticed that at the moment I'm still missing a number of parts, most notably the optical drive and main hard drive... oh and some screws which are on their way from Cooler Master. I think the optical drive is sorted but given it's another eBay purchase (I know, I never learn!) I'll hold my breath until it arrives and I can test it... (it's new, what's the worst that can happen?!
I'll keep this thread updated as the remaining parts arrive and add my impressions once everything is up and running. For the time being though, over to you all for your critique and comments!
Thanks for reading