BACKGROUND: This build has been a long time in the making. It all started a little over 3 years ago with my first PC build, which was a beastly AMD 8350 based system. It was a loud, hot, power hungry monstrosity of a system but I loved it all the same. Unfortunately my career got in the way of the time I had to use it and I eventually ended up selling it because of the lack of free time I possessed. Ever since that day I have regretted my decision and I FINALLY decided to pull the trigger on some new parts for a system which resulted in what you see here today.
THE OBJECTIVE: I had a budget of $1100 for the complete system and monitor (excluding other peripherals) and wanted it to have the following attributes:
Small footprint - I don't have a big desk so I needed a relatively small computer
Fully filtered air inlets - I have two cats and i'm sure any cat or dog owner will understand why this is a must lol
Quiet - My last computer sounded like a small hurricane and I always hated that about it so I aimed to change that this time around
Power efficient - I mean who wants a big power bill?
Fast boot/ read times - With the lower prices of SSD's as of late I really wanted to experience their speed as well as keeping the system quieter with the lack of spinning discs
1080p capability - Ultra settings on 1080p at 60fps? Sounds good to me
Freesync - As soon as I heard about this technology I knew I wanted a monitor with it
Good looks - I'll be honest and say that i'm shallow and this is important haha
After watching literally hundreds of YouTube videos, reading a few forums, looking at a bunch of PCPartPicker builds for inspiration and making dozens of parts lists I decided on these parts and I am extremely happy with how it turned out.
PARTS AND RATIONALE
i5 6500- I was going to go with a 6600K but since I didn't really need the extra processing power from overclocking or the increase in power draw I decided on the 6500. Plus without the overclock I don't have to worry about longevity or added heat to the system. It does everything I need it to and is extremely snappy, i'm very happy with it for $200.
CRYORIG H7- I know this cooler isn't at all necessary for the 6500 but I wanted something quieter and better looking than the stock Intel cooler and for $30 this definitely ranks up there with the 212 EVO and other popular air coolers. The included fan is literally inaudible, there is no RAM clearance issues, it keeps the processor nice and cool and it looks a lot better than the 212 EVO IMO. All around it is an awesome cooler and I highly recommend it to anyone.
ASUS B150i Pro Gaming Mini ITX- I originally purchased an MSI H110i PRO AC to save a little money, but after a lack of POST and questionable quality I decided on the ASUS board as opposed to getting another MSI board. I am extremely impressed with the build quality and features of this board, specifically the BIOS and AURA LED's. The BIOS is really easy to navigate and looks great. I really like the integrated fan software too. The AURA lights look amazing and are awesome but the only gripe I have with the board as a whole is the fact that the LED's don't retain their settings when the computer switches off and on. It's pretty irritating to have to go in and change the color to your liking every time you boot the system. Hopefully that gets fixed soon with a BIOS update or something like that but other than that this is a great motherboard. Also the included Wifi antenna is awesome
Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 16GB- Not much to say here other than it was the cheapest set of white DDR4 in 16GB lol. They do their job and match the rest of the system so i'm happy with them.
Samsung SM951 128GB- This is easily the most impressive part of this system. I wanted fast boot times and holy crap did I get them; from completely powered off to Windows log on screen in under 15 seconds! Freaking awesome! I haven't seen this drive in many builds and I really don't understand why. I have read of some over heating issues with heavy data transfers but when used as a boot drive it is absolutely perfect. It's half the price of the 950 Pro and is only ~300Mb/s slower (pretty much negligible at almost 2100Mb/s) and it uses the more compatible AHCI interface, plus it installs easily in an m.2 slot. All you have to do is slap this thing in your system, load a copy of Windows and you're good to go. I HIGHLY recommend this drive to anyone looking to save a little over the 950 Pro or those who are lacking NVME compatibility.
A-Data SP550- I decided on full SSD storage for the system for noise reduction and speed, and at $50 for this drive you can't really go wrong here. It produced the advertised 550MB/s reads using CrystalDiskMark and makes for super fast load times on all of my games. I only wish I went for the 480GB version since it's almost full already but adding another drive later is easy enough.
PowerColor R9 380x Myst Edition- I found this card on sale for $189 on Newegg and considering at the time that was cheaper than most regular 380's it was a good deal, unfortunately I wasn't patient enough to wait for the RX480 that was announced 3 days after ordering it. Either way, it performs great at 1080p at max settings and looks awesome. It just feels like a nicely build card too. Unfortunately it does get rather hot, but I think that has to do with the layout of the Nano S being that the power supply almost completely blocks off one of the fans so i'm not going to knock it for that. Also, this card refused to overclock at all but even so it does well at the factory clock.
Fractal Design Nano S- I love this case. it is extremely well constructed, looks awesome and is very quiet. There is a lot of room for cable management and included velcro cable ties are a big plus. I think this case would be great for water cooling despite it's small size, which is great because I plan to do a custom loop in the future. My only problem with case is the side window, and not that it looks ugly or anything. I saw on the Hardware Canucks review that it failed the scratch test and didn't think much of it because I didn't plan to be scratching at my case window but I really didn't expect it to be as sensitive as it is to scratching; I wiped it off with an automotive microfiber detailing towel when I noticed a little dust buildup and realized that it left lots of little fine scratches all over it. I would understand if it were a paper towel or something but not a microfiber cloth. I'm pretty sad that the window isn't more durable, but other than that I couldn't be happier with the case for $65. Who knows, maybe i'll mod a tempered glass window on it eventually to make it perfect.
EVGA SuperNOVA GS 550W- I picked this power supply because it was a little cheaper than other 80+ gold rated fully modular supplies and it's size made it perfect for the Define Nano S in terms of cable management. It's very quiet and the Eco mode is a nice touch too
ViewSonic VX2457- I was very upset when I first got this monitor because the picture quality was god awful. However after taking it off of "gaming mode" and doing some color adjustment it is much much better. It's very crisp and responsive and Freesync is great, no more screen tearing! I was worried about dead pixels being that this is the first monitor i've had shipped but luckily there are none. The speakers honestly suck and the control placement on the back of the monitor is awkward, but for a 1080p Freesync monitor at just $110 on sale I guess that's just nitpicking considering I only used the controls once to adjust the colors and I use a headset for audio anyway. For the price this is a great monitor, especially for people using Radeon video cards
CONCLUSION: Overall i'm very happy with how it all came together, it does everything I wanted to and more. In the future i'd like upgrade the graphics card and monitor for a 21:9 3440x1440 setup and do a custom water cooling loop, but that will be when I save up some more money.
I'd like to thank all of the youtubers like LinusTechTips, HardwareCanucks, JayzTwoCents, PaulsHardware and AwesomesauceNetwork for being super informative and helpful in my endeavors, i'm sure there are a lot of people on here who feel the same way. I would also like to thank all of the people posting your builds here on PCPartPicker; your builds have been a huge inspiration and help for me, keep on doing what you do and I hope you all enjoy my build!