TBG Reader Forum

The PC Builder's Guides - Small Form Factor => The Home Office Mini-ITX/STX Build => Topic started by: Ari Altman on March 04, 2014, 01:50:14 PM

Title: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on March 04, 2014, 01:50:14 PM
Here's the thread to discuss the "Home Office Mini-ITX Build" on The Tech Buyer's Guru.

The original article can be found here:

http://techbuyersguru.com/miniITX3.php (http://techbuyersguru.com/miniITX3.php)

Feel free to start your own threads to discuss your personal builds in this category!
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on May 05, 2014, 01:48:16 PM
We just received a very helpful e-mail from one of our readers, and thought it was worth sharing with the community. Our response can be seen in the next post.


"Hello,
 
I really enjoy your site. It has given me several ideas to build pc's.
 
I was curious if you would one day highlight a pc build that comes somewhat close to a macmini with internal drive.  There currently is nothing like the mac mini available for pc builds but there are a few that look nice and seem to come close. (You did mention the antec isk 300 but didn't spotlight it as a build).
 
http://www.streacom.com/products/fc8-evo-fanless-chassis/
 
Looks like cyberpowerpc is using this case:
http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/LandingPages/ZeusSFF/
 
Another case that's similar.
http://viako.en.ec21.com/Viako_Mini_Letter_SELF_DIY--4327891_4327902.html
 
Viako also makes one that's called the letter case which is pretty similar to mac mini style with no cd drive.
 
Thought it would interesting to spotlight an article on building a pc for those that want to come somewhat close to the appearance of a mic mini with and without optical drive. Although I think the Antec isk 100 you highlighted is pretty close to one having no optical drive."
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on May 05, 2014, 01:56:37 PM
Here's our response to the above reader inquiry:

"Thank you for your very thoughtful e-mail! The ISK300 option was added a
while back based on reader input, similar to yours. The reason it's not
highlighted as a separate build is that it has a couple of drawbacks: (1)
it's relatively large due to the use of a full-size DVD burner, and (2)
the power supply may be a bit buzzy. We built up a system using a case
nearly identical to the ISK300, and just weren't happy with the power
supply noise. That's a risk you run with very small power supplies using
small-diameter fans that spin at high RPMs. The Mac Mini is a great
design, but adding an optical drive within its dimensions would be
difficult. And at this point, the Intel NUC designs have really gone
beyond what Apple was able to do in terms of compact dimensions.

We do highlight the Zeus in our pre-built Desktop Buyer's Guide:
www.techbuyersguru.com/DesktopAdvice.php, but unfortunately it has become
harder to find in stock since we published that guide. This is sadly all
too common in this very niche market - just not enough volume to keep
products for sale. The higher-end version is still available on the
CyberPowerPC website, as you found, but it's a bit expensive for
non-gaming HTPC use. The case is also available for sale, but it's VERY
expensive:
http://www.rakuten.com/pr/product.aspx?sku=262923880&listingId=335505130#.

Have you considered the Silverstone ML05? Here it is:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DU6RVK8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00DU6RVK8&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=5F6UBT7AJ7KWSDMX

This case probably offers the best combination of small size, low noise,
and an optical drive at a reasonable price. It's quite a bit bigger than
the Mac Mini, but still relatively small - in fact, it's nearly identical
to the ISK300 in size."
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on May 07, 2014, 07:38:38 AM
More info from our reader on the NUC!

"Intel has an ecosystem catalog for their NUC series. It has a lot of different cases. There is one that I like a lot, however it seems like it's only in Japan.  The Abee NE03.
 
Here's the catalog if you've never seen it:
http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/technical-specifications/nuc-ecosystem-enabling-technical-spec.pdf
 
And here is a good picture of the Abee. The NE04 is neat too.  I don't know where to find them in the US though and they are pricy.
http://www.abee.co.jp/Product/nuc/NE03/index.html"
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on May 12, 2014, 10:17:42 AM
Following up on the e-mail exchanges above, I decided to do a bit more research on what it would take to build a "Mac Mini-like" system. I found that Amazon in fact does ship a version of the Streamcom case for a very reasonable price:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00958D9LA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00958D9LA&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=IIHAXRZUKS2CKDQK

Now, the trick with this kind of system is the cost of the other miniature components:

(1) A slot-loading DVD burner is $70:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004X9PHFC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004X9PHFC&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=IH7W553FOLUPEU5J
(2) The Pico PSU 90W internal components are $33:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005TWE3ZM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005TWE3ZM&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=HZVX5TMDDDTVARTP
(3) The Pico PSU external components are $25:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A4HLOTU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00A4HLOTU&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=5YK3LF3J27GYQGWE

So you're at about $220 before motherboard/RAM/CPU/SSD/OS. Roughly speaking budget an extra $450-500 for that. Also note that you'd need a splitter or adapter to power both a SATA SSD and SATA DVD burner, as the PicoPSU has only one SATA power cable.

Interesting, but not particularly cost-effective. This build probably isn't going to show up in our official build guides any time soon, but it's an option for any builders out there who want a truly custom feel.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on May 16, 2014, 02:11:28 PM
Here are some additional thoughts I had as I worked with a reader to find the right compact HTPC for him.

Among the ideas were several of the pre-built systems profiled in the TBG Desktop Buyer's Guide: http://techbuyersguru.com/DesktopAdvice.php

For anyone looking to buy/build a small HTPC akin to the MacMini, the Asus VivoPC in particular might be a great choice. It's much smaller than even the Antec VSK 110-based Home Office Mini-ITX Build on The Tech Buyer's Guru. There is a trade-off, of course - it offers processing power closer to the tiny NUC, rather than desktop-class power. Also, it has no SSD, but it's easily upgradeable, and of course it comes ready to run. Might be a good compromise for a lot of people.

Here's a direct link to the VivoPC: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J2FA7TS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J2FA7TS&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=UQBY6HRUYXQMYUJS
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: wvc on September 19, 2014, 10:21:47 AM
Howdy,

I'm a complete noob when it comes to PC building.  I wanted to take a crack at the Home Office Mini-ITX listed in the guide.  It didn't list anything about a component for wireless connectivity, though.  Do you recommend a mini-PCIe card that would be suitable for this build?  Would the Intel Network 7260 Wireless AC recommended in the NUC build be appropriate?  Also, in the description update you say you changed the processor to a Core i5-4150 dual-core, but I think that's a typo and you meant the Core i3-4150 (that's the actual component linked to down below).

Perhaps I'm starting out too deep?  Should I just go for a NUC?  It's a debate I've been having for some time now.

Thanks.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on September 19, 2014, 10:50:33 AM
Howdy,

I'm a complete noob when it comes to PC building.  I wanted to take a crack at the Home Office Mini-ITX listed in the guide.  It didn't list anything about a component for wireless connectivity, though.  Do you recommend a mini-PCIe card that would be suitable for this build?  Would the Intel Network 7260 Wireless AC recommended in the NUC build be appropriate?  Also, in the description update you say you changed the processor to a Core i5-4150 dual-core, but I think that's a typo and you meant the Core i3-4150 (that's the actual component linked to down below).

Perhaps I'm starting out too deep?  Should I just go for a NUC?  It's a debate I've been having for some time now.

Thanks.

Great question! As a matter of fact, the Home Office Mini-ITX system has an option for built-in 802.11ac wireless. Just pick up the Gigabyte H97 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KATHCD4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00KATHCD4&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=IIHI7UMNCGJR5KU6) motherboard listed as an option in the motherboard section. The Intel AC card listed in the NUC guide actually won't work for this build, as it requires a mini PCIe connector that most mini-ITX boards don't have. Another option is to use a USB wireless receiver that you can buy separately - you can read more about those options in the Wireless Buyer's Guide (http://www.techbuyersguru.com/NetworkingAdvice.php).

And to answer your question about the NUC - it's an awesome feat of engineering, and it's far smaller than any ITX build. But it's expensive for the performance. You have to weigh the value of a palm-sized computer against the cost. The Core i3-4150 desktop processor in the ITX build will be about twice as fast as the NUC's Core i5 laptop processor.

Oh, and thanks for catching that typo! Yes, it is indeed a Core i3 in the Home Office Mini ITX build.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: wvc on September 19, 2014, 11:40:16 AM
Thanks.  I'm going to go for it.  From a cost stand point, it seems like the better deal, and I guess I have to start somewhere.  I did have on additional question.  I was exploring the possibility of using my old 21.5" iMac as a monitor for this build, and since it's a pre-thunderbolt iMac it actually might work if I can hook up to a mini display port.  By chance, does the motherboard you recommended support a mini display port?  The display mode on the iMac doesn't appear to work with HDMI, at least not so far as I can tell.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on September 19, 2014, 11:54:49 AM
Thanks.  I'm going to go for it.  From a cost stand point, it seems like the better deal, and I guess I have to start somewhere.  I did have on additional question.  I was exploring the possibility of using my old 21.5" iMac as a monitor for this build, and since it's a pre-thunderbolt iMac it actually might work if I can hook up to a mini display port.  By chance, does the motherboard you recommended support a mini display port?  The display mode on the iMac doesn't appear to work with HDMI, at least not so far as I can tell.

Well, I can't promise that the iMac will work as an external monitor over DisplayPort, but it could if that's an input and not an output on your iMac. My bet is that it's an output, unfortunately. All you'd need to try it is a DP to mini-DP adapter, like this one (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0055PKO3I/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0055PKO3I&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=FTIRK6QF64Q76RC4). You might want to research this in your iMac manual before spending the money on the adapter, though.

Also, the Gigabyte H97 board actually has dual-HDMI ports, but does not offer DisplayPort. So you'd need to change that too, and I'd recommend the ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K6JKV8Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K6JKV8Q&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=TFVFI7F7QGILWJ7F), which is a higher-end board but very competitively-priced. It was showcased in my Project ITX (http://www.techbuyersguru.com/projectitx.php) article. While there may be other ITX boards that offer both DisplayPort and 802.11ac 866Mbps, it's a bit hard to find that second spec, and I know the ASRock has it because I've tested it.

Edit: Looks like Apple has some helpful information on Target Display Mode using mini-DisplayPort: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3924#1

It seems it was limited to 27" models. In that case, it looks like you'll need a new monitor. Sorry! By the way, I personally only buy motherboards with DisplayPort, as I often use a 2560 x 1440 monitor, and HDMI won't support that. So keep that in mind if you do end up shopping for a new monitor.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: wvc on September 21, 2014, 03:42:36 AM
I've ordered the components, and I went ahead and picked out one of the monitors you recommended.  We'll see how it goes.  I'll let you know how the build turns out, and in the likely event I have more questions I'll be back even sooner.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on September 21, 2014, 05:55:19 AM
I've ordered the components, and I went ahead and picked out one of the monitors you recommended.  We'll see how it goes.  I'll let you know how the build turns out, and in the likely event I have more questions I'll be back even sooner.

That's great! If you'd like to add your system to the User Gallery (http://techbuyersguru.com/thegallery.php) on The Tech Buyer's Guru after you've built it, just send an e-mail from the contact page (http://techbuyersguru.com/contact.php), including a couple of pictures of the system. It would be great to profile one of these builds for our readers!

And if you encounter any issues, just post them here and we'll figure them out.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on September 29, 2014, 07:05:32 PM
Hi,

I'm leaning toward doing something very close to this build, but I have a few questions about possible modifications.

(1) I want to use 2 monitors via hdmi or display port and display port looks like a better long term option.  Ideally, I might even get a third display port, because I've been toying with the idea of adding a third monitor.  I'm guessing this means I have to choose a different motherboard.

(2) I'm leaning toward upgrading it to a i5 processor (again, a different motherboard).  If someone has a good argument for why it isn't worth the money, please let me know.  But I don't think it ups the cost that much.  I'll also probably more the RAM up to 8 or 16GB.  The main reason I'm upgrading is that my old (Velocity Micro built ~2006) intel dual core 2.0GHz and 2 GB RAM is constantly near it max of RAM used because I like to keep lots of programs (and browser tabs) open at once, switching from one to another.  Now it crashes sometimes when I have a lot open (especially webpages with a lot of flash or javascript and libreoffice).  I also think my nvidia graphics card may be to blame for some of these problems and I've had some compatibility problems with it at times (it's the GeForce 8600 GT), so I'm planning on avoiding that problem by just going with onboard intel graphics.

(3) Other than that, I'd like it to be quiet and energy efficient if possible.  I'd pay more for an especially quiet fan or power supply if that helps.

(4)Beyond that, I'm not too picky, but I have a list of things I'd like if possible:
-wireless & ethernet
-in front 2USBs plus 2 USB 3.0
-audio jack in front
-small size (which is why I chose this build)
-space for at least 1 2.5 internal SSD and 1 internal SATA harddrive would be nice, but I suppose I could get along with internal SSD and external for backup.

It's being used primarily for web research (which is why I like to keep many tabs open at once as I track down the most useful leads and slowly close less fruitful ones), word processing, powerpoint making (libreimpress), pdf files.  But little to no serious gaming.

I'm currently running arch linux as my main OS, but I also sometimes use win7, lubuntu, or another linux distro (mainly as a way of trying to learn more about them).

I always try to choose very widely used components and peripherals with it because I'm not an expert with linux and can trouble shoot better when a product (video card, scanner, etc.) is more widely used.


Here are my questions:

1)  I've been thinking about using one of the cases you mentioned (leaning to the Antec ISK 300-150, but I also have considered one of these because I like the small form factor with 4 USB ports on the front, and a tight and solid look.  I haven't decided which way I'll set the computer on my desk, but I'm used to vertical orientation (and both of my monitors are set up in portrait mode 90% of the time).
- http://www.amazon.com/IN-WIN-Desktop-Case-Cases-CE685-FH300TB3/dp/B00J8LZDSG (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J8LZDSG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J8LZDSG&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=5GPL4YF4SPGJJHLA)
- http://www.amazon.com/-Win-USB2-0-Ports1x-Speaker1x-Desktop/dp/B00502CAYW/ref=sr_1_4?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1411921500&sr=1-4&keywords=in+win+case (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00502CAYW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00502CAYW&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=7W6LQPVQ77IX5EQA)
- http://www.amazon.com/-WIN-MicroATX-Desktop-Black-BL647-FH300TB/dp/B00JHME4UY/ref=sr_1_2?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1411921471&sr=1-2&keywords=in+win+case (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JHME4UY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00JHME4UY&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=TOEYDQE7MPKHZ6FK)
Thoughts on other case options?

On the two you listed, are 90 or 150 watts enough for what I'm talking about? 
Also, are they _both_ really quiet (I remember only one being commented on in the article)?

2) This would be my first home build.  Any estimate as to how long it might take me and whether I'm likely to run into any serious issues?
One of the reasons I like the idea of going with your build is that you've tested it and know all the parts work well together.  If I went with something else, I'm worried about getting the components and finding out they won't all work together.  In the back of my head, I'm thinking "Yeah, I could have that up and running in a few hours"  but maybe I'm kidding myself.  I've changed out processor for a new one before, a CPU fan once, and frequently swapped out drives and video and audio cards, so I think I've done most of it piecemeal before.  But I've never messed with a powersupply or needed to know anything about how well different parts mesh.

Any thoughts or advice is much appreciated,

Rick
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on September 30, 2014, 10:06:11 AM
...

Here are my questions:

1)  I've been thinking about using one of the cases you mentioned (leaning to the Antec ISK 300-150, but I also have considered one of these because I like the small form factor with 4 USB ports on the front, and a tight and solid look.  I haven't decided which way I'll set the computer on my desk, but I'm used to vertical orientation (and both of my monitors are set up in portrait mode 90% of the time).
- http://www.amazon.com/IN-WIN-Desktop-Case-Cases-CE685-FH300TB3/dp/B00J8LZDSG (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J8LZDSG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J8LZDSG&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=5GPL4YF4SPGJJHLA)
- http://www.amazon.com/-Win-USB2-0-Ports1x-Speaker1x-Desktop/dp/B00502CAYW/ref=sr_1_4?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1411921500&sr=1-4&keywords=in+win+case (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00502CAYW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00502CAYW&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=7W6LQPVQ77IX5EQA)
- http://www.amazon.com/-WIN-MicroATX-Desktop-Black-BL647-FH300TB/dp/B00JHME4UY/ref=sr_1_2?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1411921471&sr=1-2&keywords=in+win+case (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JHME4UY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00JHME4UY&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=TOEYDQE7MPKHZ6FK)
Thoughts on other case options?

On the two you listed, are 90 or 150 watts enough for what I'm talking about? 
Also, are they _both_ really quiet (I remember only one being commented on in the article)?

2) This would be my first home build.  Any estimate as to how long it might take me and whether I'm likely to run into any serious issues?
One of the reasons I like the idea of going with your build is that you've tested it and know all the parts work well together.  If I went with something else, I'm worried about getting the components and finding out they won't all work together.  In the back of my head, I'm thinking "Yeah, I could have that up and running in a few hours"  but maybe I'm kidding myself.  I've changed out processor for a new one before, a CPU fan once, and frequently swapped out drives and video and audio cards, so I think I've done most of it piecemeal before.  But I've never messed with a powersupply or needed to know anything about how well different parts mesh.

Any thoughts or advice is much appreciated,

Rick

I think I can help you with most of these questions.

(1) With regard to the cases, while I haven't tried the In Win cases you listed, I have built up a system with the In Win BP655 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J5TTBK2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J5TTBK2&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=GMR2KIV32HPBCCSI). It's a great case - very compact and stylish - but the power supply is slightly loud. I would be a bit concerned that the same could be true of the ones you listed. Also note that those are large in comparison not only to the BP 655, but especially versus the Antec cases. In fact, the last one you listed is Micro ATX - that's going to very large, relatively speaking. Remember that the Antec ISK110-VESA has no internal optical drive or power supply - that makes it much, much smaller than most other ITX cases.

The Antec ISK110-VESA is also the only case that will be silent, as it has no fans. The other Antec ITX cases would take a close second in that regard. Note that there's actually a newer version of the Antec ISK 300 called the ISK 310 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0035FIS2Y/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0035FIS2Y&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=ST2MHLR6HVFWMXUK). It has USB 3.0 front ports, which you mentioned you want. The older Antecs don't have that.

As for using a standard quad-core, well, it's been done on the ISK 110-VESA's 90W power supply, but I would not personally try it and don't recommend it. On the other hand, the Intel "-S" edition processors cap power at 65W, which is a better fit for that case. The Core i5-4590S (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J6F5LHM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J6F5LHM&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=TP6ETVX7WKE24Y3U) is a good chioce. The ISK 300/310 will easily handle any Intel quad-core, due to the larger 150W power supply provided. Intel's Core i3 dual-cores are excellent CPUs - I've used them extensively and think they offer great bang for the buck. But given that you've kept your current PC for 8 years, I'd say the investment in a quad-core is a good one. It will be more future-proof, even if you don't need the power right now. By the way, you won't need more than 8GB any time soon, so I'd stick with that setup for this system rather than 16GB. You could always start with a single 8GB stick (like this Crucial 8GB low profile model (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A14ZTWE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00A14ZTWE&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=ZOV6UNZR4YJ6UA53)) and see how it works for you, leaving you the option of upgrading later if you need to.

The most important upgrade you can make to silence a system is the CPU cooler. The standard Intel cooler works just fine, but it's pretty loud. The Noctua NH-L9i (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009VCAJ7W/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B009VCAJ7W&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=PGXRSU7NE2WQDOPR) is the best (and quietest) low profile cooler on the market.

(2) As for how long the process would take to build a PC like this, I'd say about 2-3 hours. You're not dealing with many parts, especially with the Antec ISK110-VESA. The hardest thing will be routing cables, as all of these systems are relatively compact inside. That's more about patience than anything else - it doesn't require that you've built a system before. Remember that you need to install the drivers off the CD included with the motherboard, or else download them ahead of time from the motherboard manufacturer's website and store them on a USB stick. Many first-time builders forget to do that, and it causes lots of problems. The chipset (INF) drivers, ethernet drivers, Intel graphics drivers, and audio drivers are critical, for instance.

Also, you mentioned the use of DisplayPort. I agree that it could be a wise investment, as some newer monitors are dropping HDMI for DisplayPort. Motherboards with built-in DisplayPort usually cost just a bit more than those without it, though, so you have to weight the cost versus benefit to you. I've personally tested and can recommend the ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K6JKV8Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K6JKV8Q&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=A44KFJAQM5GWTW4L), but being Z97-based, it's probably more than you need for your purposes. Perhaps consider the MSI H97I-AC (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K23BT78/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K23BT78&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=ZFG36RVYUSNAJ6NS). You don't have to worry too much about going with a different motherboard than the one recommended in the build guide. They are all the same size and the components you're using will all be small, minimizing the chance of overlapping parts that more often comes with ITX gaming systems. The greatest challenges might be the position of the main motherboard power supply connector, the USB 3.0 header, and the SATA ports, which vary from board to board. Before installing the motherboard, step through the process to see if it makes sense to connect the cables before installing due to tight clearances.

Hope that helps - definitely post back if you have other questions.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 02, 2014, 10:40:24 PM
This is very, very helpful.


I think I'm going to try to order the parts this weekend.  I'll probably go with the Antec ISK 310 (though I want it in the all black variety--the link seemed to be silver on black).

Then I'll go with most of the parts you mentioned, including the Noctura NH-L9i (also 1x8GB RAM, i5-4590S). 

It looks like I'll have to examine some motherboards and see which one I like the most.  If I want to consider other options than the ones you mentioned, is there a particular search term I should use to make sure it fits the ISK 310?

I'll also have to figure out what wiring to order.  Off the top of my head, I can only think of these:
-SATA 3 cable from board to SSD 2.5 drive
-SATA 3 cable from board to 3.5 HD
-power cables from the board to these drives (I have no idea what search terms to use for those, SATA iii or 3 doesn't seem especially useful
-I'm guessing the fan comes with it's own power cable, but maybe I need to be sure it works with my board or power supply
-I have an old SATA (SATA 2, I believe) (or for that matter also an old IDE) DVD drive, I can use with this I think, assuming the SATA 3 is backward compatible
-I have the 2 display port cables
-that's all that is coming to mind now for cabling, but I suspect I'll also need some cable to run from the motherboard to the front USBs, and probably there are others I'm forgetting.

Maybe I can make a list with links to parts and run it by you before I order?  (I'm happy to use your links if the companies, like Amazon, give you 6% or something for the referral.)


Should I get a special anti-static surface to put it together on or is my wooden desk ok if I ground my hands every so often?
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 03, 2014, 11:07:38 AM
A couple of additional questions, when you wrote
Quote
can recommend the ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC, but being Z97-based, it's probably more than you need for your purposes
, what exact did you mean?  I like all the USB ports on it and it's only $30 more than the other.  If you think I could manage the wiring well with the Antec ISK 310, I'd go with it--wait, I just noticed it only has 1 display port and I want at least 2 (and maybe a third).

After searching on newegg under LGA 1150 and mini-itx, I don't seem to see any boards with 2 display ports, so maybe I'll go with the Z97E afterall.  I'm not sure why the Z87 is selling for $5 more than it:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157374

It's odd I can't find one with 2 display ports.  Lenovo is shipping their M83 sff with 2 display ports now.  Maybe I should see what board they use on that.

Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 03, 2014, 11:20:14 AM
The Antec ISK 310 has the brushed aluminum faceplate (which I don't care for)--that might be too high a price to pay for the USB 3.0 in front.  I can't seem to find the 310 without the brushed aluminum, but it's hard to be sure though because Antec doesn't list the 310 on their site.  http://store.antec.com/isk-series/

I'm guessing the ugly faceplate is why the 310 is selling for $5 less than the 300.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 03, 2014, 02:02:14 PM
This is very, very helpful.


I think I'm going to try to order the parts this weekend.  I'll probably go with the Antec ISK 310 (though I want it in the all black variety--the link seemed to be silver on black).

Then I'll go with most of the parts you mentioned, including the Noctura NH-L9i (also 1x8GB RAM, i5-4590S). 

It looks like I'll have to examine some motherboards and see which one I like the most.  If I want to consider other options than the ones you mentioned, is there a particular search term I should use to make sure it fits the ISK 310?

I'll also have to figure out what wiring to order.  Off the top of my head, I can only think of these:
-SATA 3 cable from board to SSD 2.5 drive
-SATA 3 cable from board to 3.5 HD
-power cables from the board to these drives (I have no idea what search terms to use for those, SATA iii or 3 doesn't seem especially useful
-I'm guessing the fan comes with it's own power cable, but maybe I need to be sure it works with my board or power supply
-I have an old SATA (SATA 2, I believe) (or for that matter also an old IDE) DVD drive, I can use with this I think, assuming the SATA 3 is backward compatible
-I have the 2 display port cables
-that's all that is coming to mind now for cabling, but I suspect I'll also need some cable to run from the motherboard to the front USBs, and probably there are others I'm forgetting.

Maybe I can make a list with links to parts and run it by you before I order?  (I'm happy to use your links if the companies, like Amazon, give you 6% or something for the referral.)


Should I get a special anti-static surface to put it together on or is my wooden desk ok if I ground my hands every so often?

Glad my feedback was helpful!

Note that the Antec ISK 310 only comes in silver on black, as you've discovered. If you want all black, you'll need to go with the older ISK 300, which has USB 2.0 in front instead of USB 3.0. Not a huge deal, as you'll have plenty of USB 3.0 ports in the back I/O panel.

As for cables, all of those come with the motherboard or case, so you can cross that off the list! The motherboard will always include two SATA cables (you'd need to buy a separate one (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00552PDCS/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00552PDCS&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=H46P2ASSJ3FOE2PT) for an optical drive, though, if you don't have a cable for that). And the power cables are connected to the power supply. Note that SATA3 ports can accept SATA2 drives, but they will not fit IDE, so that's a critical distinction. Also, remember that this case requires a slim laptop-style optical drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GXNPJI6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00GXNPJI6&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=SAPOLKN7ALTV2PEN), not the much larger desktop-style optical. Make sure your old drive is the right type/size. You'll also need to buy an adapter (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009JXKQ9O/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B009JXKQ9O&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=PLMAITE5JABHRREB) to connect it to the motherboard, because laptops and desktops use different size power connectors. Also, the fan has its own power cable, and the front USB ports are pre-wired with a single cable as well, which you'll plug into one of the motherboard's USB headers.

When looking for motherboards, just search for "H97 ITX". Older B85, H81, and H87 board may not support the Core i5-4590S chip. There are no ITX boards with dual DisplayPorts - in fact I've never seen any retail board, regardless of size, with dual DP! Lenovo probably built its own board for the M83. The Z97 chipset is designed for overclocking, which you won't be doing, but otherwise, the ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC board is fantastic, and Newegg (http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/7120282/type/dlg/http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157504&cm_re=z97_itx-_-13-157-504-_-Product) happens to have a rebate on it right now. Feel free to go with that one. The Z87 model has been discontinued, but the price has not dropped to clear it out - just avoid it! By the way, I believe that the MSI H97 board (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K23BT78/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K23BT78&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=Z6LE42SX3L3FAZEP) is the least expensive one with both wireless and DisplayPort, but feel free to look for others.

One other word of caution...you mention a 3.5" hard drive. The Antec cases cannot fit a 3.5" drive, only 2.5" drives. They will fit two, however, so you can still have both an SSD and a hard drive installed at the same time.

Please feel free to run your parts list by me - I can provide links to Amazon or Newegg, and I do appreciate you mentioning that. I won't be available for part of Saturday, so please be patient if I don't answer right away!

P.S. I've never used an anti-static pad, but I know some people feel more comfortable with them. You can just ground yourself by touching metal unconnected to the computer if you're concerned. And the only tool you'll need is a standard philips-head screwdriver. Lots of folks buy 45-piece kits, and honestly, I feel kind of bad for them. They didn't get that idea from me!
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 05, 2014, 01:42:11 PM
Case update: 

I've looked at many, many mini-ITX cases and narrowed it down to yours, the Antec ISK 300-150 and  the Fractal Node 304.

I think I'll go with yours because it (1) it is much smaller and (2) it now appears to come with frontside USB 3.0 (see the newegg reviews or amazon answered questions).
**One question about it though--especially considering the board choice below--will the front USB cable to long enough?
See this review from newegg:
Quote
Cons: The front power led connector cable is much shorter than the other front connector cables! As it was, my motherboard had the front panel connector towards the back of the case and the wires would not reach. Why in the world not make them all the same length!? Anyhow, had to cut and make them longer.

Now I'm going to try to make a final MB selection.

While I look at MBs, can you tell me, would it be easy to add a card with Display Ports or no?  (I'm trying to allay my concern about having 2.  At the very least I need to find a MB that lets me run two monitors, 1 by display port and 1 by HDMI, (and preferably a 3rd via some manner--DVI, HDMI, or something).

(Looking at MBs right now...)
The ASRock Z97:  It appears to have 1 display point, 1 HDMI, and also 1 DVI.  Is that right?  Could I use all 3 at once to run 3 monitors?

I suppose the HDMI-in is worth something, but I'm not sure what I would run into it... I suppose some people run blueray into it?

Also, for the expansion slot, newegg lists "1 x mini-PCI Express Slot: For WiFi + BT Module "  Does that mean it doesn't come with WiFi or possibly that it doesn't have a slot because it is being used for WiFi??  I assumed it had built in eithernet and wifi, and still had a free expansion slot.

From my search, the only board that looks competitive is the Gigabyte GA-H97N.  It has 2 hdmi ports, but I fear you lose the display port (because I don't see anything about that).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128721

So my best guess so far is that I'll want amazon links for the Antec ISK 300, the ASRock (amazon shows only 1 left, hmmm), probably the Noctua (you think it's worth the $50?), the Intel Core i5-4590S (unless you know of something else I should consider), and... is there anything else since I already have my SSD drive?  (I'll run without optical drive and just load via USB thumb drive I guess.)

I'm going to just put 1 stick of 8GB RAM in so I can up it to 16GB later if I want.  Is there any reason to look at different types of RAM?  Since almost all my selections are ending up with your original recommendations, I'm starting to think I should just add the Crucial 8GB low profile model and order it this evening. 

Any additional cables or ties I should order?

Note:  I have your link for many of the parts I'll order, but I don't have one for the Antec 300, since you gave me the one for the 310.  So you might want to paste that one, though I believe Amazon works in such a way that it gives credit to all the orders within x hours after your link is used.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 05, 2014, 10:59:05 PM
Sorry to just now be getting back to you.

You can go ahead and use this Antec ISK 300-150 link (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0035FIS2O/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0035FIS2O&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=ZO2GQGWLSMNEXRGO) or the one in the article - great that it has USB 3.0 now!

That quote you provided from Newegg suggests that on a certain motherboard, the power-on header (which you connect the power button leads to) was at the back of the motherboard, too far away to reach from the front of the case. The Asrock Z97E-ITX/AC has the header at the front, so it won't be a problem. It's out of stock at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K6JKV8Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K6JKV8Q&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=XSYTTVCO3RUSCM3T), but still available at Newegg (http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-7120282-10446076?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newegg.com%2FProduct%2FProduct.aspx%3FItem%3DN82E16813157504).  Maybe you got the last one at Amazon!

I also agree that the i5-4590S (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J6F5LHM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J6F5LHM&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=T6ULAPCXHZWPKFED) plus a Noctua (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009VCAJ7W/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B009VCAJ7W&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=FSOXV3KERODNQQQX) cooler will give you the best power and noise characteristics. You could actually squeeze the standard 4590 into the ISK 300-150 (if that's what you choose), due to the 150W power supply, but with the 4590S, you know you're always going to be in the safe zone. With the ISK 110-VESA, the 4590S is definitely the best choice. And yes, the Noctua is expensive, but there's really no competition for it in the ultra-low-profile segment. Every other cooler will be louder.

By the way, yes, you can use three monitors using DP, HDMI, and DVI - I wouldn't worry too much about adding a second DP connector. In fact, you won't have that option anyway - the miniPCI slot is used for the wireless/Bluetooth, and a DisplayPort connector could not be added there, as it's internal. For the foreseeable future, DVI and/or HDMI will be on every monitor, so you'll be covered in some way or another. You can also use converters to connect via DisplayPort if that's critical, but remember, these are all digital connections, so the quality is the same. DP has the advantage of higher bandwidth, which comes into play at resolutions over 1920x1200 (HDMI cannot handle these, and DVI has trouble too, depending on the type).

As to your last question, if you have some simple zip-ties at home, they may come in handy, but honestly, you can just tuck things away in a case this small. And I think you're covered on cables, especially now that you're not using an optical drive.

If you have other questions, just post them here, and please report back when you have the build up and running!
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 05, 2014, 11:27:41 PM
No, I was on the edge of ordering the last ASRock from Amazon, but decided it was better to be sure the USB cable was coming out of the right location and I figured you'd know.

I guess I'll have to order that from newegg for now, which means the rebate will have to pay for the shipping and it will take a little longer, but I'll still get it in time for next weekend.

I'm also a little wary of newegg because they seem not as friendly with returns if something goes wrong, but amazon makes it easy (and I have amazon prime already).

Before I push the purchase button, can you tell me how the BIOS/UEFI are on the ASRock?  I've had boards in the past where the BIOS made me which I had ordered my computer from someone else.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 06, 2014, 08:22:42 AM
No, I was on the edge of ordering the last ASRock from Amazon, but decided it was better to be sure the USB cable was coming out of the right location and I figured you'd know.

I guess I'll have to order that from newegg for now, which means the rebate will have to pay for the shipping and it will take a little longer, but I'll still get it in time for next weekend.

I'm also a little wary of newegg because they seem not as friendly with returns if something goes wrong, but amazon makes it easy (and I have amazon prime already).

Before I push the purchase button, can you tell me how the BIOS/UEFI are on the ASRock?  I've had boards in the past where the BIOS made me which I had ordered my computer from someone else.

As of right now, Amazon is again showing that there's one ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC motherboard (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K6JKV8Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K6JKV8Q&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=LGETDOB27TIMBPVU) in stock. I'm sure they'll get more soon. I agree that returns are better with Amazon. I've returned products to both vendors, and you pay a restocking fee at Newegg. Frankly, Amazon is incredibly-generous with its return policy - it typically even pays return shipping! Ideally, you won't need to use it, but it's nice for peace of mind.

The ASRock BIOS (now called a UEFI) is excellent. It's leagues ahead of an old-fashioned BIOS (the switch to the UEFI standard allowed manufacturers to make the interface much more user-friendly...you can now navigate with a mouse!). But I also feel the ASRock UEFI is at least as good as other current UEFIs. If you end up having questions on how to set it up, I can help, as I have this exact board.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 06, 2014, 09:30:45 AM
Sounds great.  I'm glad you checked Amazon again, I don't think I would have bothered.  I always wondered if their "only 3 left" indications were real or just a tactic to convince someone to "Order now!"  I can't say I know for sure now (last night it told me that expected delivery was Oct 29), but it even changed from when I clicked on your new link (1 left) to when I viewed it in my cart ("the quantity of this item has changed":  2 left).  For all I know, it counts it as not available for a certain period of time when people put it in their cart and I had all of them.  (Interestingly, when it said there was now 2 left, I had 2 in my cart because I had added it and forgotten it was still in there from last night). 

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.  Thank you for all the help!

(I was so tempted to get a 2nd stick of 8 GB RAM, but refrained.)

One more question:  won't I need some thermal paste or something?  I've read that it is normally included with the CPU but that they don't give you the best kind or enough quantity.  (Seems odd since Intel would be getting a lot of complaints/returns if people weren't using enough or the right kind.  Perhaps people's response is a better indicator that Arctic is doing a good job with advertising.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 06, 2014, 09:51:00 AM
Sounds great.  I'm glad you checked Amazon again, I don't think I would have bothered.  I always wondered if their "only 3 left" indications were real or just a tactic to convince someone to "Order now!"  I can't say I know for sure now (last night it told me that expected delivery was Oct 29), but it even changed from when I clicked on your new link (1 left) to when I viewed it in my cart ("the quantity of this item has changed":  2 left).  For all I know, it counts it as not available for a certain period of time when people put it in their cart and I had all of them.  (Interestingly, when it said there was now 2 left, I had 2 in my cart because I had added it and forgotten it was still in there from last night). 

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.  Thank you for all the help!

(I was so tempted to get a 2nd stick of 8 GB RAM, but refrained.)

One more question:  won't I need some thermal paste or something?  I've read that it is normally included with the CPU but that they don't give you the best kind or enough quantity.  (Seems odd since Intel would be getting a lot of complaints/returns if people weren't using enough or the right kind.  Perhaps people's response is a better indicator that Arctic is doing a good job with advertising.

On the thermal paste question, both the stock Intel cooler that comes with the Core i5-4590S and the Noctua cooler (if you choose to purchase it) will have thermal paste. The Intel cooler has it pre-applied , and it can only be used once. If you then remove the heatsink, the paste application needs to be removed and a third-party paste needs to be applied. You can remove paste with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs, by the way. There's nothing wrong with the Intel paste, it's just not quite as effective as other pastes. For a low-power system like yours, it's more than sufficient.

And as for the paste included with the Noctua cooler, it just so happens to be among the very best products on the market. It will come in a tube applicator, and there's typically enough for multiple applications. To apply it, you squeeze a pea-sized amount directly on the CPU heatspreader, and then affix the heatsink the the motherboard. The paste will spread out naturally as the heatsink is bolted on. You can pull it back off to check and then reattach - because Noctua's paste isn't a solid like Intel's, pulling the heatsink off won't ruin the application.

And building on your point, it's a testament to Arctic's marketing that Arctic Silver 5 continues to far outsell every other paste, despite it being inferior to many products that cost the same or less. This is indicated in all of TBG's high-end build guides, and yet people still buy more Arctic Silver 5 than anything else. What can you do? :)

P.S. Don't sweat that extra 8GB of RAM. You honestly don't need it, but you can always pick it up when the mood strikes. That's the beauty of PC builds...the fun doesn't end when the build is complete, because soon it's time to upgrade!
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 06, 2014, 11:35:05 AM
Thanks for explaining about paste.  I did order the Noctua fan, so I'll have the paste from them.  Will the Intel paste already be applied?  Or (I'm guessing this is the case) is it ready for me to apply it when I install the CPU?  In that case, it sounds like I should just save it for another time and install the Noctua fan with the paste that comes with it instead.


I've heard people say you don't really save that much when you build your own computer because the big companies order on large scale, blah, blah, blah.  But this is a better computer than the Lenovo M83 I ordered--and returned when I found out how bad their tech support was at helping me (a) deal with the UEFI (calling a random phone number would have been more helpful--and you'd better never mention you're planning on installing Linux...) and (b) when they couldn't help me figure out the part number I needed for the little bracket they make to install the 2.5" drive (sent me the wrong bracket 'for free' the first time then decided they needed to charge me for it, but couldn't even figure out what part it was, puf). 

This computer will have the same general specs, but a better HD, a better fan, and a smaller case.  And it is substantially cheaper (by about $350).

I think people claim you can't really do better because they're afraid to try it themselves (and a little lazy) so they just want an excuse to order it.

But perhaps I speak too soon; I'll have to decide after I've put it together.  At least this way I avoid paying for horrible tech support (and windows 8.1).
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 06, 2014, 12:13:33 PM
Thanks for explaining about paste.  I did order the Noctua fan, so I'll have the paste from them.  Will the Intel paste already be applied?  Or (I'm guessing this is the case) is it ready for me to apply it when I install the CPU?  In that case, it sounds like I should just save it for another time and install the Noctua fan with the paste that comes with it instead.


I've heard people say you don't really save that much when you build your own computer because the big companies order on large scale, blah, blah, blah.  But this is a better computer than the Lenovo M83 I ordered--and returned when I found out how bad their tech support was at helping me (a) deal with the UEFI (calling a random phone number would have been more helpful--and you'd better never mention you're planning on installing Linux...) and (b) when they couldn't help me figure out the part number I needed for the little bracket they make to install the 2.5" drive (sent me the wrong bracket 'for free' the first time then decided they needed to charge me for it, but couldn't even figure out what part it was, puf). 

This computer will have the same general specs, but a better HD, a better fan, and a smaller case.  And it is substantially cheaper (by about $350).

I think people claim you can't really do better because they're afraid to try it themselves (and a little lazy) so they just want an excuse to order it.

But perhaps I speak too soon; I'll have to decide after I've put it together.  At least this way I avoid paying for horrible tech support (and windows 8.1).

The Intel paste is already applied to the Intel heatsink. Since you're not using that heatsink, you can just set it aside with the paste on it, and use it if you ever need a spare.

I think there's a cutoff in the buy vs. build debate. Below about $400, it's nearly impossible to build a system with Windows for less than a pre-built machine. Above that price point, building your own really becomes a winning formula. Furthermore, you get to equip it how you like. For example, many relatively expensive OEM machines still don't have SSDs, which is just perplexing. SSDs are the greatest innovation to come to PCs in the past twenty years, in my opinion. And it sounds like you'll be going with Linux - another reason building your own makes a lot of sense.

Please report back when you have the parts in hand, and feel free to ask questions regarding the build process as they arise. I can't help much on configuring Linux with this system, though, so you might want to read up on that in advance.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 09, 2014, 09:10:49 PM
Parts in hand.  Typing on tablet here.


 question

1 the CPU cover and latch doesn't seem to want to go on after I install the CPU.  Specifically, the latch is easy to pull back down before input the CPU in but there starts to be a lot of tendon when I go to pull it down with the cpu in there.  I made sure thecpu arrow is aligned with the arrow on the mb. An I doing something wrong? Doi need to remove the phatic cover _before_I latch it? The directions seemed to show me latching it first.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 09, 2014, 09:23:37 PM
I sort of half removed the cover plate first and that seemed to make the tension less so I finished pulling the latch down without a problem, then removed the cover. Going to put on the NH-L9i now.


The as rock directions say this:

It is unable to activate Dual Channel Memory Technology with only one memory
module installed.


I can use just the single ballistix 8gb stick I ordered right?  This just must mean I can not use the"dual" technology?

I believe my ram is he one you suggested: the 8gb DDR3L 1600 CL9 UDIMM Sport VLP from crucial
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 09, 2014, 09:56:17 PM
The 3"x4"pieces of reddish brown paper that came with the antec isk 300: what are they for?  Do they go under the hard drives? Between the drive and the metal holding cage?
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 09, 2014, 09:57:37 PM
Also how do I decide which of the antec screws that came with the case are for holding down the mb?
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 10, 2014, 12:57:15 AM
I answered all these myself and the system is running. If you think it might help someone else, I can come back latter and explain what I did.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 10, 2014, 08:42:46 AM
I answered all these myself and the system is running. If you think it might help someone else, I can come back latter and explain what I did.

OK - glad you got all those questions sorted out. A few comments:

(1) tension on the CPU locking plate is normal. It takes a lot of force to lock it down. You just have to make absolutely certain that the CPU is seated corrected, with the notches between the CPU and socket lining up, before pressing down. That plastic cover is actually supposed to be removed before latching it down. It's just there to protect to socket during shipment and handling. If anything were to hit the pins, they could easily be bent.

(2) You are correct that one stick of RAM won't run in "dual channel" mode. You may lose about 1% of performance due to this, but you gain the ability to add another 8GB later, which is a fair trade-off, especially in a system that isn't designed for all-out speed.

(3) The motherboard screws are typically easy to identify by matching to the mount holes. Admittedly it takes a bit of trial and error!

(4) I actually don't know what the red piece of paper is for. Did you figure it out?

Anyway, I'm glad it's all up and running! If anything else comes up, don't hesitate to ask. And if you'd like me to post the system in the user gallery (http://techbuyersguru.com/thegallery.php), just let me know! Other readers might like to see how everything fits together.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 12, 2014, 04:13:23 PM
Ok, I'll just add a my thoughts on these points so if someone follows in our footsteps, they can have some added comfort.

OK - glad you got all those questions sorted out. A few comments:

(1) tension on the CPU locking plate is normal. It takes a lot of force to lock it down. You just have to make absolutely certain that the CPU is seated corrected, with the notches between the CPU and socket lining up, before pressing down. That plastic cover is actually supposed to be removed before latching it down. It's just there to protect to socket during shipment and handling. If anything were to hit the pins, they could easily be bent.
Yes, I eventually figured out to remove the socket cover, but the directions that come with the board have a step AFTER your latch it in that tell you to now remove the cover.  The motherboard install instructions are rather sparse though (so are the Antec case instructions).

To anyone worrying about messing up at this step, I would say this.  I read several step-by-step "building your computer for the first time" lists.  They tend to tell you that you never want to force anything because you can damage it.  So when I had a good bit of tension in the CPU socket lever, I didn't want to keep pulling it down.  In part, this was the right thing because it appears I should have removed the socket cover first.  At the same time, it is a little misleading because, while removing the socket cover lowered the pressure, it still felt like more than enough to damage the socket and CPU if I hadn't oriented the CPU right.  So I guess I would say to be 100% sure the arrow on the corner of the CPU and socket match, be 100% sure any other little pegs match up right, and then you're going to have to accept some risk that you mess up your board and CPU because, in order to latch it, you need to apply enough tension on the lever so that you could damage things (if you didn't line it up right).

Quote
(2) You are correct that one stick of RAM won't run in "dual channel" mode. You may lose about 1% of performance due to this, but you gain the ability to add another 8GB later, which is a fair trade-off, especially in a system that isn't designed for all-out speed.
Yes, that's what I figured.  I was afraid it meant I couldn't use just one stick with this board, but that was not the case.

Quote
(3) The motherboard screws are typically easy to identify by matching to the mount holes. Admittedly it takes a bit of trial and error!
The Antec case came with a variety of screws, most of which I'm not sure what they are for and I didn't use them.  In particular there were some cylindrical looking screws (not narrow at the threads, but almost as wide as the screw head).  I didn't end up using these at all.

For the motherboard, I used some flat topped screws that appear to be identical to the one Antec uses to screw in the harddrive cage.


Quote
(4) I actually don't know what the red piece of paper is for. Did you figure it out?
No, but it is exactly the size of a 2.5" drive and it has screw holes at the same places.  I'm guessing it is to put something between the drive and the metal the drive attaches to, but I didn't use it, so I hope it's not important.

Quote
Anyway, I'm glad it's all up and running! If anything else comes up, don't hesitate to ask. And if you'd like me to post the system in the user gallery (http://techbuyersguru.com/thegallery.php), just let me know! Other readers might like to see how everything fits together.

I didn't take a photo of it opened, but I'll try to do that the next time I open it and send it to you.

Thank you for the help.  In the end, it was much easier than I expected.  I went very slow and took my time since it was my first build.  I even read all the instructions that came with the case, motherboard, fan, etc. (even the online manuals), so it took me 4-6 hours.  But, now I could probably do it all in 45 min or less.

The one additional note I would have for people is that this was my first UEFI computer.  The ASRock's UEFI/BIOS is great (it can update over the internet just from the push of a button in the UEFI itself).  It also appears as if tech support can get in and look at it for you to help if you want (not sure, haven't tried this).  It is MUCH better than the UEFI/BIOS that came with the Lenovo M83 sff I originally ordered (somehow all the default settings were right for me too).  However, since I hadn't owned a UEFI computer before, I didn't know I had to make a UEFI partition when I installed Linux.  So at first, I installed linux and then the computer wouldn't see a valid OS on the hard drive when I rebooted.  Eventually I figured out I needed to also make a small (35MB) UEFI partition and assign it to UEF (the way you assign other partitions to / (root) or other directories).

I've installed lubuntu on it so far, but I tend to use arch linux most of the time, so I'll probably do that next.  I just wanted to get lubuntu up and running first because it doesn't take much time.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 12, 2014, 09:23:22 PM
Great info, rabarrett!

I think manufacturers are very nervous about people damaging the CPU socket prior to installation, which is why they say to keep the cover on the entire time. But, of course, that makes it really hard to lock the CPU in the socket!

And as you found, OEM motherboards are a lot less user friendly than the UEFIs on stand-alone motherboards.

Also, for builders looking to load linux, your info about partitions will undoubtedly be of use.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: wvc on October 13, 2014, 12:34:31 PM
Howdy,

I finally got around to putting this build together.  I went with the ASROCK Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard and the Antec ISK 110-VESA case.  I thought I was doing okay, but when I went for the initial boot, I can't get it to send a signal to the monitor (I bought the Dell P2314H YDPKC recommended elsewhere on this site).  I tried the DisplayPort, but the monitor is just blank.  What did I do wrong?  Do I have to find a DVI cable to get things started?  Should I use HDMI to start with?  Ack!
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 13, 2014, 12:42:50 PM
Howdy,

I finally got around to putting this build together.  I went with the ASROCK Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard and the Antec ISK 110-VESA case.  I thought I was doing okay, but when I went for the initial boot, I can't get it to send a signal to the monitor (I bought the Dell P2314H YDPKC recommended elsewhere on this site).  I tried the DisplayPort, but the monitor is just blank.  What did I do wrong?  Do I have to find a DVI cable to get things started?  Should I use HDMI to start with?  Ack!

OK, sounds like we need to do a bit of trouble-shooting.

Can you list out the components you used in addition to the motherboard? For instance, the CPU and RAM. I want to make sure I give you the right advice.

Regardless of the components, the first thing we need to determine is if the PC is getting power. With the side panel removed, take a look inside the PC when you press the power button. Does the CPU fan spin and do any motherboard lights turn on? If so, at least you know you're getting power to the system.

The fact that no image is being output does not necessarily point to a problem with the monitor or cable you're using. It could be that the PC is not booting. If you notice that the fan turns off or the PC resets or shuts off after a while, it may be having trouble starting up. Once you report back on the components you're using, I can help you more with all of this.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: wvc on October 13, 2014, 01:00:13 PM
Sure thing.  Here are the components:

Case: Antec Mini-ITX ISK-110 VESA (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0064LWISQ/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0064LWISQ&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=NZHMXS3EZ6L23YCC)
Motherboard: Asrock Z97E-ITX/ac (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K6JKV8Q/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00K6JKV8Q&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=5R5HN5VTNFIKYWNH)
Processor: Intel Core i3-4150 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J2LIF2S/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00J2LIF2S&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=SJAIY2QXMR27VCTV)
CPU Fan: Noctua Low-Profile (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009VCAJ7W/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B009VCAJ7W&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=5H4GMSQPS6UWAB7K)
RAM: Crucial Ballistix Sport Low Profile 4GB x2 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A14ZT6U/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00A14ZT6U&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=6MHY7H4RNAHL5VX2)
Hard Drive: Crucial MX100 256GB SATA 2.5" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFAGCWK/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00KFAGCWK&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=BX42BWR37QXCH5XD)

When I power on the PC, the fan turns and the top blue LED (the one closest to the power button) comes on.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 13, 2014, 01:39:26 PM
Sure thing.  Here are the components:

Case: Antec Mini-ITX ISK-110 VESA
Motherboard: Asrock Z97E-ITX/ac
Processor: Intel Core i3-4150
CPU Fan: Noctura Low-Profile
RAM: Crucial Ballistix Sport Low Profile 4GB x2
Hard Drive: Crucial MX100 256GB SATA 2.5"

When I power on the PC, the fan turns and the top blue LED (the one closest to the power button) comes on.

OK, that's good. So let's go through some basic trouble-shooting steps:
(1) with the PC unplugged from the wall, remove both RAM sticks, and then re-insert just one stick in the second slot, making sure the locking tabs on either side click in fully. We'll continue all testing with just one stick for now.
(2) unplug and reconnect both power lines running to the motherboard: you should have a large 24-pin connector going to right-hand side of the motherboard, plus a second smaller connector going to the left hand side of the motherboard, just below the vertical blue heatsink. I believe the power supply will have a four-pin connector (but please confirm), while the ASRock motherboard has an 8-pin connector. You should see that the pins are keyed so that it will fit into either the first four holes or second four holes of the motherboard's connector. Both the 24-pin and 4-pin connectors must be fully inserted - make sure they snap in and cannot easily be pulled out without pressing the release tab.
(3) try plugging the PC back in and powering on the system.

If you still do not get an image on the screen, we'll need to turn our attention to whether there could be an issue with the cables. Just to confirm, you do not have any other monitors or cables on hand to test with, correct?

By the way, in a worst-case scenario, the issue could be a damaged CPU, which is a bit hard to test for. Did you generally feel comfortable that your installation of the CPU went smoothly and that you had a good handle on how to seat it and lock it in?
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: wvc on October 13, 2014, 02:42:28 PM
Well, I figured out my bone-headed mistake.  When I went to check the RAM, it was definitely not pushed in all the way (I could've sworn I pushed it in when I first installed).  So I pushed it in, went ahead and checked all the power connections, and put it back together and now it boots and I can see it on the monitor.

Now I'm stuck at how to get the Operating System installed.  I have a Windows 8.1 DVD, and I have an external DVD Drive hooked up, but I don't think the system is recognizing it - I can't find it as an option on the boot menu.  I thought I might be able to update the drivers, but I can't figure out how to connect to my network through the UEFI.

But at least I haven't had to go buy any cables (it's a long trip from here), and I think I installed the CPU well, although I'm not sure if I used enough thermal paste (the Noctura manual made me nervous about using too much).
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 13, 2014, 02:56:32 PM
Well, I figured out my bone-headed mistake.  When I went to check the RAM, it was definitely not pushed in all the way (I could've sworn I pushed it in when I first installed).  So I pushed it in, went ahead and checked all the power connections, and put it back together and now it boots and I can see it on the monitor.

Now I'm stuck at how to get the Operating System installed.  I have a Windows 8.1 DVD, and I have an external DVD Drive hooked up, but I don't think the system is recognizing it - I can't find it as an option on the boot menu.  I thought I might be able to update the drivers, but I can't figure out how to connect to my network through the UEFI.

But at least I haven't had to go buy any cables (it's a long trip from here), and I think I installed the CPU well, although I'm not sure if I used enough thermal paste (the Noctura manual made me nervous about using too much).

Phew! I'm glad it wasn't a more serious problem than a RAM stick that's not all the way in. That's something I've done more than once!

Getting the OS installed from the external DVD should be fairly straight-forward, but you may have to enter the UEFI to adjust the boot settings.

To start, let's make sure the DVD drive is working properly. To ensure it gets sufficient power, plug it into the rear USB ports, rather than the front ports. Also, I assume it has two USB plugs connected via a splitter, as most external drives need double the power that a single USB plug can deliver. Once it's plugged in, see if the drive will eject. If it does, then the computer is recognizing it. If it does not, then there may be an issue with the drive itself. Let me know which one it is in case we need to figure that potential issue out.

The next step, assuming the DVD drive is getting power, will be to go into the UEFI and see if it is recognized. I just booted up my own mini-ITX system using the ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC, and have plugged in an external DVD drive, so I can tell you exactly what you'll see:

Once you enter the UEFI (reached by holding the delete key after powering on), check the "Boot" menu. You will see "Boot Option #1" and "Boot Option #2". If both your SSD and DVD are properly connected, you will likely see Boot Option #1 showing "AHCI" and then some abbreviation for the Crucial MX100. Under Boot Option #2 you should see "USB" and then an abbreviation for your external drive. You want to switch these two to show up in the reverse order.

Report back once you've gone through these steps.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: wvc on October 13, 2014, 03:10:08 PM
Using the rear USB ports did the trick.  I'm currently installing Windows 8.1 - hooray!  Now to start cleaning up this mess I made. . .

Thanks for all the help!  This website has been a boon.  For someone truly starting out from scratch this is a fantastic resource.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 13, 2014, 03:35:47 PM
Using the rear USB ports did the trick.  I'm currently installing Windows 8.1 - hooray!  Now to start cleaning up this mess I made. . .

Thanks for all the help!  This website has been a boon.  For someone truly starting out from scratch this is a fantastic resource.

Glad to hear you're up and running, and thanks for the positive feedback!

If you have the chance to snap some photos of the system, I'd be happy to add them to the User Gallery (http://www.techbuyersguru.com/thegallery.php). There's a growing interest in these bookshelf-sized systems, and I'm sure other readers would love to see how yours came together.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on October 16, 2014, 08:38:14 AM
Hi Ari,

If I want to build another of those systems (putting it in an office I only use 2-3 times a week), but I'd like to make it a little less expensive, where do you think I should save?

I'm a fan of the AZRock Z97E board now, and with the rebate it's so cheap, I'm not sure I should change the board.  (the ASUS Intel Celeron J1900 would only save me about $10 after rebate)

I could drop the extra fan and just use Intel's.
The only other place I see the price coming down is by changing the CPU.  Instead of the i5-4590S ($205), I could go with the i3-4150 at $120 or the G3220 3.0 for $57. 
For the case, I think I should go with the same (especially with the front 3.0 USBs).
For the RAM, I'm not sure it makes sense to go from 8 to 4GB (saves about $33).

For this one, I'll have to buy another harddrive.  Does it make sense to save there or do you think SSD is such a big edge over normal hd, I should stick with it?
On that front, before I used Samsung 840 EVO-Series 500GB  (which I had already purchased to put in the Lenovo), but this time I could go with Crucial MX100 256GB SATA at $113 or 128GB at $73.  But I could get another Samsung 128/250/500GB ($230/129/80 respectively).  My understanding was that Samsung got the SSD details down better than the other manufactures, so I'm not sure it is with the $7 or $17 to go with Crucial.

Any other places to save on this one?
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 16, 2014, 09:56:32 AM
Hi Ari,

If I want to build another of those systems (putting it in an office I only use 2-3 times a week), but I'd like to make it a little less expensive, where do you think I should save?

I'm a fan of the AZRock Z97E board now, and with the rebate it's so cheap, I'm not sure I should change the board.  (the ASUS Intel Celeron J1900 would only save me about $10 after rebate)

I could drop the extra fan and just use Intel's.
The only other place I see the price coming down is by changing the CPU.  Instead of the i5-4590S ($205), I could go with the i3-4150 at $120 or the G3220 3.0 for $57. 
For the case, I think I should go with the same (especially with the front 3.0 USBs).
For the RAM, I'm not sure it makes sense to go from 8 to 4GB (saves about $33).

For this one, I'll have to buy another harddrive.  Does it make sense to save there or do you think SSD is such a big edge over normal hd, I should stick with it?
On that front, before I used Samsung 840 EVO-Series 500GB  (which I had already purchased to put in the Lenovo), but this time I could go with Crucial MX100 256GB SATA at $113 or 128GB at $73.  But I could get another Samsung 128/250/500GB ($230/129/80 respectively).  My understanding was that Samsung got the SSD details down better than the other manufactures, so I'm not sure it is with the $7 or $17 to go with Crucial.

Any other places to save on this one?

I'm glad to hear your first system worked out so well. Here are a number of pointers for you to consider in building a second one:
(1) The Asus J1900 motherboard (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KMIJR5Y/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00KMIJR5Y&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=5OXWKWD6QF2VZA27) actually comes with a CPU permanently attached. That means it represents over a $100 savings compared to even the H97/Core i3-4150 combo provided in the build guide. That is quite significant, but you do trade desktop-class performance for laptop-class performance. I currently run a J1900 system and find that it's ideal for office tasks and video streaming.
(2) You can definitely drop down to 4GB to save money - in fact I'd encourage you to do so. A basic office machine will never use more than 4GB, and can even run well on Windows 8.1 using 2GB.
(3) The SSD is really a crucial piece of the puzzle. Offering up to 10X faster read/write performance than a hard drive, it can make even a low-powered system feel very responsive. If you need a lot of room for media storage, consider running a small SSD for the OS (say a 128GB Crucial MX100 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFAGD88/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00KFAGD88&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=WNYBMPFR7G6IHMWV) model), and a 500GB laptop hard drive for media. But if you can only buy one, definitely get the SSD. Samsung had been the market leader for a year, but the MX100 has achieved a better GB/$ ratio, and also offers equivalent performance. The 256GB model in particular offers tremendous value.
(4) If you want to stick with a desktop-class CPU but want to also save money, consider the Pentium G3258 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KPRWAZQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00KPRWAZQ&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=K62D5SYHBWXHGSTB) over the older G3220. It can actually be overclocked using a Z97 board like the ASRock that you already have, but will also work perfectly-well on an H97 motherboard, like the MSI H97I (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K23BT78/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K23BT78&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=AFBG5K2T6TE665QE). The ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K6JKV8Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K6JKV8Q&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=35YY4WHVMJUY56EC) is definitely a fantastic board at a great price, but it's not your only option. Note that $125 was a sale price - Newegg has already increased the price, and Amazon likely will later today.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on November 23, 2014, 12:20:51 PM
One of our readers passed along his parts list for building up an awesome fanless "all-in-one" PC, using the Antec ISK110 case bolted to an Acer touchscreen monitor. This is the wave of the future, everyone!

1. Acer FT220HQL 21.5 HD Touchscreen (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I14DPC2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00I14DPC2&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=MTKDW4FNIEUME7O6)
2. Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BP5KOPA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00BP5KOPA&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=LFUZIL3AY3PC7H7S)
3. ASRock Q1900 -ITX Motherboard (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JQHUE3G/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00JQHUE3G&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=6U76F7BVM7H4KG5K)
4. Crucial 8GB Single DDR3 1600 SO-DIMM (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006YG8X9Y/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B006YG8X9Y&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=XZX3VEUMXD6UYPFR)
5. Intel 3160 Dual Band Wireless AC + Bluetooth Mini PCIe card (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IOS19E6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00IOS19E6&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=5XMVPA3H7QLL4V2G)
6. Antec Mini-ITX case ISK110-VESA (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0064LWISQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0064LWISQ&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=X4NH2PDEYSVEDXGZ)
7. Crucial MX100 512GB SATA SSD (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFAGCUM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00KFAGCUM&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=OORLZYGTL777M67F)
8. MS Windows 8.1 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EDSI7QO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00EDSI7QO&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=JFTU3LRULYZHB6RW)

Total Cost:  $757.72
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on June 18, 2015, 03:22:49 PM
Hi Ari,

Now that I've been using my system for 7 months, I thought I'd report back my thoughts:

It's outstanding.  I've had no problems and it is still running very fast.  I'm glad I stuck with arch linux for my operating system.    I run the computer pretty much 24-7 unless I'm going to be away for a few days.  It's always running cool. 

I'm thinking about adding the second stick of RAM.  It's still not _necessary_ but I do sometimes have 30-50 tabs open when doing research online and if one of the pages has buggy code, sometimes there is a memory leak that slows things down a lot until I figure out which tab it is and close it.   Would I still get this one?  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A14ZTWE?ref_=pd_ys_iyr140

If you have another recommendation (or would prefer I use your link), please just post a link and I'll buy it from there.  Also, I'm pretty sure this system is no problem to just add 1 stick of ram on top of my current 1 stick of 8GB (the link above is to what I bought before); but let me ask "Is it simple?  I just power down, put the new stick of ram in, and reboot?"

Best,

Richard
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on June 18, 2015, 07:44:22 PM
Hi Ari,

Now that I've been using my system for 7 months, I thought I'd report back my thoughts:

It's outstanding.  I've had no problems and it is still running very fast.  I'm glad I stuck with arch linux for my operating system.    I run the computer pretty much 24-7 unless I'm going to be away for a few days.  It's always running cool. 

I'm thinking about adding the second stick of RAM.  It's still not _necessary_ but I do sometimes have 30-50 tabs open when doing research online and if one of the pages has buggy code, sometimes there is a memory leak that slows things down a lot until I figure out which tab it is and close it.   Would I still get this one?  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A14ZTWE?ref_=pd_ys_iyr140

If you have another recommendation (or would prefer I use your link), please just post a link and I'll buy it from there.  Also, I'm pretty sure this system is no problem to just add 1 stick of ram on top of my current 1 stick of 8GB (the link above is to what I bought before); but let me ask "Is it simple?  I just power down, put the new stick of ram in, and reboot?"

Best,

Richard

Wow, this is just fantastic news! It's great to hear that you're enjoying your system so much!

So, to confirm, yes, you can just add another stick of Crucial's low-profile 8GB DDR3-1600 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A14ZTWE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00A14ZTWE&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=ZECRTSDS2UQUTWYM). It will be as simple as installing the first stick was - no additional setup is necessary. Just make sure you line up the notch in the right place and that it locks in all the way.

If there's any question as to whether the system is reading it, you can always go into the UEFI BIOS to confirm that it's being reported. You'll have have the advantage not just of double the RAM, but also dual-channel operation, which will make all CPU-intensive tasks slightly faster.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rfbarrett on October 05, 2015, 10:23:05 AM
Hi Ari,
I just joined your forum yesterday. My son (rabarrett) told me about your great website. He built this system and as he said in his post loves it.

I am going to build the same system with some options and I would appreciate it if you would take a look and tell me what you think. With the number of upgrades I have made if you feel another system would better accomplish what I am trying to do, please suggest that too. I will order components using your links to Amazon. If you think the components will work well together, please send me additional links and I will order everything from them.
Thanks,
Dick

Intel i5-4460 LGA 1150 CPU
Gigabyte GA-H97N-WiFi Board
Crucial Ballistix 16GB Kit Memory
Crucial BX 100 500GB Drive
Antec ISK 300-150 Case
Samsung SN-208FB Slimline DVD Burner
Slimline SATA Adapter
Noctua NH-L9i Cooler
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 05, 2015, 02:28:01 PM
Hi Ari,
I just joined your forum yesterday. My son (rabarrett) told me about your great website. He built this system and as he said in his post loves it.

I am going to build the same system with some options and I would appreciate it if you would take a look and tell me what you think. With the number of upgrades I have made if you feel another system would better accomplish what I am trying to do, please suggest that too. I will order components using your links to Amazon. If you think the components will work well together, please send me additional links and I will order everything from them.
Thanks,
Dick

Intel i5-4460 LGA 1150 CPU
Gigabyte GA-H97N-WiFi Board
Crucial Ballistix 16GB Kit Memory
Crucial BX 100 500GB Drive
Antec ISK 300-150 Case
Samsung SN-208FB Slimline DVD Burner
Slimline SATA Adapter
Noctua NH-L9i Cooler

Hello rfbarrett - so good to hear from you! I thought the name sounded familiar!

I recently built a system almost identical to the one you're looking at - you can see what I have to say about it in the Antec vs. In-Win ITX case shootout (http://techbuyersguru.com/battle-mini-mites-antec-isk110-vesa-vs-win-bqs656).

The one thing I will say about the Antec ISK-300-150 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0035FIS2O/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0035FIS2O&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=CSBG3CWQU564CBBE) case is that it will produce some fan noise due to the built-in case fan (which you can control or even unplug) and the built-in power supply fan (which you cannot control at all). That is the necessary trade-off for a case that can support a separate video card. If you don't think you'll be using one, definitely have a look at the In-Win BQS656 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007HIMYJ8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B007HIMYJ8&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=LU4DP6ZYLVS7GXB3) case showcased in the shootout. It uses an external laptop-style power supply that doesn't require a fan. It also has the advantage of including the proper slimline power connectors (no adapters necessary!).

Otherwise, your build is really fantastic - you're packing in tons of power and functionality - maxing out the RAM, equipping it with a very large and fast SSD, and using one of the most powerful CPUs that will work with that system.

One tip, though - the Noctua cooler is fantastic, but if you're not pushing your system really hard (i.e., just using it for office tasks), you can tune the stock Intel fan to run just as quiet. In a system with no other cooling, however, it doesn't have the headroom for sustained 100% load (say if you're doing a lot of HD video processing).

Any other questions, just ask!
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rfbarrett on October 12, 2015, 07:30:03 AM
Hi Ari,
Thank you for all the additional information you provided. I have decided to go with all the components I listed on my original post. I do have one question on the Windows 10 operating system. I did the free upgrade from Windows 8.1. I understand that I cannot use the media tool to do a clean install to a new computer. You list the OEM version of Windows 10 which I understand Microsoft does not provide "support" for. Is there any reason to opt. for the Retail version in order to have "support" from Microsoft.

Thanks,
rfbarrett
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 12, 2015, 07:47:11 AM
Hi Ari,
Thank you for all the additional information you provided. I have decided to go with all the components I listed on my original post. I do have one question on the Windows 10 operating system. I did the free upgrade from Windows 8.1. I understand that I cannot use the media tool to do a clean install to a new computer. You list the OEM version of Windows 10 which I understand Microsoft does not provide "support" for. Is there any reason to opt. for the Retail version in order to have "support" from Microsoft.

Thanks,
rfbarrett

If you still have your Windows 8.1 DVD, you can try installing it on this new system, and then upgrading from there. You cannot install Windows 10 directly using the OS image you downloaded from Microsoft, as you do not have a license key for it.

I don't think you'll ever need support from Microsoft for Windows, but there is one reason to go with the retail version (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01019T6O0/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B01019T6O0&linkCode=as2&tag=thtebusgu-20&linkId=JLEGG5S53JLTT7AI) (which comes on a USB stick): you are allowed to move it over to a different computer in the future. OEM versions record the motherboard model in use upon initial installation, and will not allow use of the OS on a different motherboard. The only exception is if the motherboard fails and you contact Microsoft to indicate that.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rfbarrett on October 12, 2015, 08:10:36 AM
Thanks Ari for your incredibly quick response. That answers my question. After the build I will let you know my experiences building and using your great "Mini".
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rfbarrett on October 16, 2015, 03:40:35 PM
Hi Ari,
I have all my components installed. Almost all the wiring is completed but I have a question about the connections for the optical drive and the solid-state drive. I have the adapter cable from the optical drive connected to the power supply cable and the data part (flat red) connected to flat black cable coming from the front panel of the case. First, is this correct, and second, I have a parallel power cable coming from the same connector running power to the optical drive, connected to the solid-state drive. If this is correct, where do I connect the data connection on the back of the Solid-state drive to, and with what cable?
I hope I have made this clear enough to understand.
Thanks,
rfbarrett

Intel i5-4460 LGA 1150 CPU
Gigabyte GA-H97N-WiFi Board
Crucial Ballistix 16GB Kit Memory
Crucial BX 100 500GB Drive
Antec ISK 300-150 Case
Samsung SN-208FB Slimline DVD Burner
Slimline SATA Adapter
Noctua NH-L9i Cooler
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rfbarrett on October 16, 2015, 04:55:21 PM
Hi Ari,
I found the cables. They came with the motherboard (but of course, you knew that).  I now know that the flat cable from the front panel goes to the same place on the motherboard.

rfbarrett
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on October 16, 2015, 10:04:32 PM
Hi Ari,
I found the cables. They came with the motherboard (but of course, you knew that).  I now know that the flat cable from the front panel goes to the same place on the motherboard.

rfbarrett

You got that right. The SATA data cables always come with the motherboard, and you likely got two in the box, enough for the SSD and DVD burner.

You already had the power cables correctly attached, by the way, and it sounds like you figured out that the front panel cable connects to the motherboard. These include usb leads, power button leads, and audio connector leads.

Any questions about all this, just post them here.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on December 19, 2015, 12:56:34 PM
Hi Ari,

I've had my system running for about 1.25 years now.  No real complaints, but about 2 months ago the Noctua fan started making a fair amount of noise.  A few weeks later it started changing speeds, audibly speeding up and down at times (seemed to change when the computer was doing more intensive tasks).

I watched it run open for a few hours.  The fan would slow down to barely moving, then speed up but it seemed to struggle as if it was having trouble doing so.  If I gently pressed on the center plastic part of the fan with a q-tip, it would speed up and stop making noise.  I emailed Noctua about it (it took forever to find an email address for them and I'm still not sure it was the best one).  It has been several weeks and they never responded.

Today, it seems to have quit entirely.  When I first turn on the CPU, the fan briefly tries to move and then stops altogether.  Thoughts?

I want to get my computer running again ASAP and I'm afraid to run it without a CPU fan.  I'm in range of Amazon now and could get 1 of 2 fans that look like they'll fit within a couple of hours from them.

Here would be my choices (limited because Amazon Now only has available whatever is already in the warehouses in your area):
Corsair Hydro H55
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Series-Edition-Liquid-CW-9060010-WW/dp/B009VV56TY

or
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Hyper-212-RR-212E-20PK-R2/dp/B005O65JXI/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1450558528&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=coller+master+hyper+212+evo

Too bad the Noctua didn't last longer (and that the company seems to be impossible to reach).

Best,

Rick
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on December 19, 2015, 01:07:22 PM
Hi Ari,

I've had my system running for about 1.25 years now.  No real complaints, but about 2 months ago the Noctua fan started making a fair amount of noise.  A few weeks later it started changing speeds, audibly speeding up and down at times (seemed to change when the computer was doing more intensive tasks).

I watched it run open for a few hours.  The fan would slow down to barely moving, then speed up but it seemed to struggle as if it was having trouble doing so.  If I gently pressed on the center plastic part of the fan with a q-tip, it would speed up and stop making noise.  I emailed Noctua about it (it took forever to find an email address for them and I'm still not sure it was the best one).  It has been several weeks and they never responded.

Today, it seems to have quit entirely.  When I first turn on the CPU, the fan briefly tries to move and then stops altogether.  Thoughts?

I want to get my computer running again ASAP and I'm afraid to run it without a CPU fan.  I'm in range of Amazon now and could get 1 of 2 fans that look like they'll fit within a couple of hours from them.

Here would be my choices (limited because Amazon Now only has available whatever is already in the warehouses in your area):
Corsair Hydro H55
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Series-Edition-Liquid-CW-9060010-WW/dp/B009VV56TY

or
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Hyper-212-RR-212E-20PK-R2/dp/B005O65JXI/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1450558528&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=coller+master+hyper+212+evo

Too bad the Noctua didn't last longer (and that the company seems to be impossible to reach).

Best,

Rick

Rick,

First off, Noctua typically has great service, and I have a personal contact at Noctua in Austria - I'm going to get in touch with him to see if he can help resolve this issue. Noctua makes some of the best stuff in the business - they should back you up on this.

If I recall correctly, you're using a Noctua NH-L9i (http://amzn.to/22gJKuI) cooler in an Antec ISK-300 case (http://amzn.to/1Ofvzls), and you will be very limited in cooler choices. Neither of the ones you linked to will work. If you have another case, please let me know.

The fact is that the Intel cooler that came in the box with your CPU will be perfectly adequate, at least for the short term, to get your system running. I wouldn't recommend running the system without a fan, but nor would I recommend you pick up just any cooler you can get immediately. Just pull that heatsink out of the box (hopefully you kept it!) and enjoy a free fix for now!
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: rabarrett on December 19, 2015, 02:03:15 PM
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. 

First, to be fair to Noctua:

I emailed them Dec 9.  I immediately got an automated reply.  And I now see that they sent me a full reply in under 24 hours.  I just somehow missed it in my mailbox (I think I got a ton of mail that day and it must have gotten marked "read" without me noticing it).

Here was their reply:
Quote
Dear Richard,

First of all many thanks for choosing a Noctua product.

We are very sorry to hear that you are having issues with your NF-A9x14 fan.
Please send us a proof of purchase (screenshot, scanned invoice, etc.) for your CPU cooler as well as your full shipping address. We would like to send you a replacement fan as it is very likely that your fan is affected by a manufacturing defect.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Alexander Dyszewski
Noctua support team


I just sent them a copy of the invoice, so it looks like they'll be taking care of that.

(It was very, very hard to find the right place to contact them. And the one I found was a page in German and it kept staying in German even when I clicked English, so that was annoying.)

You're right, I have the other fan around here somewhere.  But I have to remove the heatsink and redo the thermal paste too right?  (It would be so nice if the other fan happened to fit on top of this heatsink.)

Just so I learn something more:  Why would those 2 fans I pointed to not work?  Is it because they're too big for the Antec case?  (one of them goes on and on in the description about how it fits almost any case)

At least I have a temporary solution and now a final solution too.

-----

Another question entirely:
There's no problem adding another SSD drive to this system right?  I have a Samsung SSD 500 GB on it now.  I'm thinking about moving that on to my laptop and gettting a 1 TB SSD on this system.  But for a while I'll probably leave both installed on my desktop.  It looks like this ASROCK board as perhaps 6 ATA spots for drives.  Right now 1 is taken up with my current drive and 1 for the front port.  I seem to still have 1 black ATA 6G cable left too (or do new drives tend to come with their own cables anyway?).

The power supply to the new drive appears to be more of an issue, but I see one that piggy backs from the current drive, so that should work.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on December 19, 2015, 04:03:06 PM
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. 

First, to be fair to Noctua:

I emailed them Dec 9.  I immediately got an automated reply.  And I now see that they sent me a full reply in under 24 hours.  I just somehow missed it in my mailbox (I think I got a ton of mail that day and it must have gotten marked "read" without me noticing it).

Here was their reply:
Quote
Dear Richard,

First of all many thanks for choosing a Noctua product.

We are very sorry to hear that you are having issues with your NF-A9x14 fan.
Please send us a proof of purchase (screenshot, scanned invoice, etc.) for your CPU cooler as well as your full shipping address. We would like to send you a replacement fan as it is very likely that your fan is affected by a manufacturing defect.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Alexander Dyszewski
Noctua support team


I just sent them a copy of the invoice, so it looks like they'll be taking care of that.

(It was very, very hard to find the right place to contact them. And the one I found was a page in German and it kept staying in German even when I clicked English, so that was annoying.)

You're right, I have the other fan around here somewhere.  But I have to remove the heatsink and redo the thermal paste too right?  (It would be so nice if the other fan happened to fit on top of this heatsink.)

Just so I learn something more:  Why would those 2 fans I pointed to not work?  Is it because they're too big for the Antec case?  (one of them goes on and on in the description about how it fits almost any case)

At least I have a temporary solution and now a final solution too.

-----

Another question entirely:
There's no problem adding another SSD drive to this system right?  I have a Samsung SSD 500 GB on it now.  I'm thinking about moving that on to my laptop and gettting a 1 TB SSD on this system.  But for a while I'll probably leave both installed on my desktop.  It looks like this ASROCK board as perhaps 6 ATA spots for drives.  Right now 1 is taken up with my current drive and 1 for the front port.  I seem to still have 1 black ATA 6G cable left too (or do new drives tend to come with their own cables anyway?).

The power supply to the new drive appears to be more of an issue, but I see one that piggy backs from the current drive, so that should work.

Rick - glad you got it sorted it out. For future reference (and for other forum members), you can Noctua's English-language RMA form here (http://noctua.at/en/support/rma-form.html). Their support is truly second to none.

Yes, you'll need to remove the Noctua cooler to use the Intel cooler, but the Intel cooler comes with paste pre-applied, so it's very easy to install. If you need to use your PC right away, I'm afraid that's your best option. The two coolers you listed are much larger than your Noctua, and are designed for full-tower ATX cases. You have an ultra-slim mini-ITX case.

As for 1TB drives, you can certainly add one to the Antec case. I recommend the Crucial MX200 1TB (http://amzn.to/22h0baa), which offers the best balance of performance, price, and high-quality fabrication. SSDs do not come with the SATA data cables you need, so do confirm that you have a SATA cable available. I believe you motherboard only came with two, so I'd be a bit surprised if you have a total of three available. That front cable is used for your DVD drive, by the way. And yes, the power connector piggy-backs off the existing cable.
Title: Re: The TBG Home Office Mini-ITX Build
Post by: Ari Altman on May 10, 2017, 06:39:32 AM
This build guide has been completely revamped using the new STX form factor, so a new thread too discuss it has been created here (http://techbuyersguru.com/forum/index.php?topic=387.0).