This is a thin and light mini-itx file server project I've had on the back burner for some time. Finally done with school and decided to put it together. Built this mainly for Plex (goodbye itunes) and file storage. It's something I can run 24/7 without worrying about power consumption (~22 watts, with Plex running on Windows Server). Maybe I'll eventually move it to Linux or use it in other ways.
This ECS board is something I bought some time ago from ascendtech. It uses a celeron braswell cpu, laptop ram, and gets power from a standard ac adapter (7.4mm, 65w requirement). I bought an aftermarket Dell laptop charger to power it - it's good to aim above in terms of power requirements just like standard PSUs. The board did have some quirks like getting it to recognize my display (it worked after resetting cmos and RAM). Comes with the necessary adapters for 2 sata hard drives (powered off the board), and supports msata storage or wireless. I'll probably switch to an msata for the OS at some point, but I had a spare netbook drive.
This board is good for if you want to do a NUC-type build or something Vesa mountable, but I picked up an Apex mini itx case off of ebay for $20, mainly so I can put standard HDDs in it for my server needs. Works as you'd expect. I was able to convert the dvd drive bay to another hard drive bay, and use the side vents for an 80mm exhaust fan. The included I/O shield isn't meant for standard cases, so I just use tape to close some of the gaps.
I wouldn't say these perform better than blues. Takes a noticeable second to spin and it's not quiet. But WD stands by these with a 5-year warranty. It inherits a better value than the blues for that reason.
Really basic as you would expect. I didn't end up using the PSU it came with, but I can always use the spare. I unhooked the Hard Drive LED because it was super bright. I wouldn't see myself doing anything super extreme with it like a gaming build, but perfect for what I needed it for.