The recent Easter holidays gave me a chance to build the first of two new PCs. Two, because whereas I have had one “all rounder” for the last few years – used for gaming, media (music), everything – I decided I wanted to move the gaming PC into my living room (connected to the TV) and have a second, less powerful, one for all tasks but gaming in my study\hobby room. It is this second one which I have recently built. For a while I was tempted by a Mac mini for this purpose, as I use one at work for iPad app development. But, in the end, looking at the details, I could get a more powerful PC for less money. So, the details:
- Intel Core i3-4130 3.40GHz (Haswell) socket LGA1150 processor
- Asus H87I-Plus Intel H87 (Socket 1150) Mini ITX motherboard
- Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C9 1600MHz RAM dual channel kit
- Samsung 840 EVO SSD 120GB SATA 6Gb/s
- Western Digital Green HDD 2TB SATA 6Gb/s
- Corsair CX500M 500W ATX modular power supply
- Corsair Obsidian Series 250D Mini ITX case
- Windows 8.1 (64 bit)
Obviously, it is no gaming beast, but as I said, it is not intended to be. Anyway, it went together really well. It is always slightly nerve-wracking to me to build one from scratch! Once I have seen the BIOS come up the first time, detailing the correct CPU, memory and drives, I feel that I am in the home straight. That, and a few error free passes of Memtest86+ before installing the OS – the only time I had a problem PC assembly in the four previous attempts was to do with bad RAM.
A few observations:
- I always build my own as I can never find the exactly equipped one pre-made! Plus I would sooner avoid all the extra software which the PC builders insist on installing onto Windows, the likes of which do Microsoft no favours in my opinion.
- I really like the neatness of the Mini ITX board. The only thing I could fault it for was only having one case fan header, but I think you could daisy chain more from an appropriate adapted molex power supply cable.
- This is my first solid state drive. Of course, I used that for Windows and all program installs, leaving music and documents for the larger hard disk drive. As expected, it makes boot time much shorter.
- The case is nice too – perhaps a bit bigger than other Mini ITX cases, but that is fine. Change the CPU I selected for an i5, add a dedicated graphics card (the case can supposedly fit all but the largest ones) and you would have a very capable gaming box. Good for LAN parties.
- This is also my first proper use of Windows 8.x. Having used it after Microsoft have had time to issue various updates, I think that I have avoided some of the major frustrations for keyboard and mouse users (as opposed to touch screens). I would guess that at this point it is probably not going to shake off the negative views in many quarters, but I can live with it fine.