My grandfather was looking to venture back into the desktop arena from using his old laptop. Since I was coming out to Arizona to visit this week I figured now was as good a time as any to build it for him and eliminate having to ship the completed build to him later.
He had some requests for me which greatly impacted the direction this build was going in. I am fully aware this could have been done for much less if I had not gone with mini ITX, but I will get into that now. This build needed:
1) To be small. As you will see in the photos, this computer is on a kitchen table. While I haven't cleaned it up as of this moment, its permanent home will be at the end of the table. It needed to take up as little space as possible (without going the HTPC route, though I almost did, however that required further sacrifices).
2) To be powerful enough for light photo editing and future video editing. This is part of the reason why I added a 950. It is probably overkill for his needs to be honest, but it'll do the job for a long time. I also went with the 950 so it would comfortably output 2560x1440p for his photo editing.
3) To last. This is probably the most important. He wanted this computer to last him a long time. Five years from now I want this computer to still be powerful enough to do the job.
4) To be simple. There is a reason I did not go with a Z170 board and a K processor. He doesn't understand any of that. If there's one thing you need to know about my grandfather, it's that the simpler it is, the better off he and everyone around him is. He can ask you enough questions to occupy your time for the rest of the day.
The first time he turned it on he was completely surprised by how quickly it booted up. That's the moment I knew this computer would satisfy his needs for many years to come.
Overall it was a smooth build and I'm actually very satisfied with how it turned out. I do wish I had gone with the windowed version however, because I know he would like looking inside and seeing the parts.
I managed to finish this in around 2 hours with the most difficult parts being the instillation of the CPU cooler and plugging in the USB 3.0 header. I had my uncle help me with the cooler so it was significantly easier than if I had tried to do it alone (I would recommend getting help from someone). The placement on this motherboard for the 3.0 header is atrocious. Any air cooler will likely cover it partially aside from small LP and stock coolers, if not completely and make plugging it in incredibly difficult. The cable bent enough that it wasn't applying too much pressure on the CPU cooler luckily.
Since there is no optical drive in this case, I went with an external instead, since it is small and will still allow him to read/burn discs.
I had two extra 140MM Phanteks fans from my Enthoo Pro M case that I brought with me since I wasn't using them. I wanted to be sure there was enough airflow in this build since it's so much warmer here most of the year. Based off of the stress testing I did in CPUZ and monitoring in HWM, it is going to be plenty of cooling.
This is a great board for the size and it has some nice features. The only thing is the placement of the USB 3.0 is absolutely idiotic. Unless you're using a water cooler or stock/small LP cooler it will be partially, if not completely covered. I used a Hyper 212 EVO on this board and it partially covered it, making it really difficult to plug it in.
I've used this as a boot drive in 3 builds now. No complaints.
This is an easy case to work in and it functions well, not to mention it looks great. I have two complaints though. Why are there no fan screws in the hardware bag? There should always be at least one set of fan screws with any new case. I had to order some online because I was building in this away from home and did not have access to my spares. I would also rather have one 140mm fan in the front and back than one 200mm fan in the front and no fan in the back, but I guess that's just my personal opinion. Overall this was a really easy case to build in. Keep in mind the clearance of the PSU cables is minimal with the HDD cage left in. Just plug them into the PSU before you place it in the case and you'll be just fine.
This monitor is stunning. This is the first monitor I've actually seen in person with such slim bezels. The picture quality is really crisp. ASUS never disappoints.