I too have "tried" to build my own CAPS PC, taking some advice from the computeraudiophile site. I've learned some things and maybe made some decisions that were so-so.
I think the crux of the nicer/newer CAPS PCs on computeraudiophile.com is the case. They use like a $400 case that has a special heat-pipe cooling solution built in, but I didn't like the price nor any of the case configurations. I instead went with a Silverstone ML04B case and the Prolimatech Samuel CPU cooler thinking this would be enough. I was wrong. My CPU temps were higher than I wanted, so I did add a Prolimatech Ultra Sleek Vortex 140mm x 15mm PMW Fan and this brought my temps way down. While the fan is completely silent I have no idea if it degrades the audio quality at all.
-The CPU I went with is the very low wattage (35W) Intel Core i3 4130T.
-The motherboard is a Gigabyte Mini ITX GA-B85N with a dedicated, gold-plated DAC port. Power to this DAC port can be turned on or off to avoid jitter. Meaning, if the DAC has its own power, you turn off the power from the motherboard so that the DAC only receives audio data.
-Otherwise, it runs 8GB of high speed DDR3 RAM as well as a very fast 128GB Samsung 840Pro SSD. (The music is actually stored on a NAS in my LAN.)
-Power is supplied via an external PicoPSU.
-Software: Win7 Ultimate / WMC + AnyDVD + JRiver
I should note that the PC is not a dedicated CAPS PC but more of a HTPC. It contains a Blu-Ray drive and I have an HDHomeRun Prime on my network, so I use the PC as a DVR as well.
Back when I was researching it, I obviously came across loads of posts arguing for $2K external power supplies, $500 insulated SATA cables, $400 SOTM USB card, etc. I have no idea what kind of benefit all of this would have done for me.
The PC connects directly to my Meridian Direct DAC via USB and this is connected to my NAIM XS-2 amp.
I am happy with the solution; it does everything I intended for it to do. The biggest determinant to audio quality I have found is the quality of the files being input into it. Playing the FLAC files via JRiver produces the best results while there is a noticeable difference playing Pandora via the browser, etc.
Last edited by GTaudiophile; 08-21-2014 at 08:36 AM.