Description

A client of mine was in desperate need of a new computer. She had been working on an older laptop, first gen i5 I believe, and this thing was painfully slow. Boot up took 10 - 15 minutes, not joking. She had just recently lost her husband and was needing a reliable storage solution as well for important documents and photos. So I decided to put together this build at cost for her.

Her computer needs are not complex. She'll be using it for general purpose (email, web, bills), and storage. She is also in the process of cleaning up her office environment, so I figured a small foot print would be best, which led me to build a mini ITX!

I have been wanting to build a mini ITX for a while now. I really wanted to get some experience with the components which will allow me to provide good reviews and research for users and future builds. I must say it was a lot of fun. Definitely more challenging than a full ATX build. Lots of tight spaces, but ultimately I think it came out great.

This build isn't exactly on the "cheap" side of things. There are areas I could of taken the cheaper route on, but when it comes to long term reliability, sometimes you need that extra buck. Especially when I'm building for someone other than myself. I do not like to receive calls telling me something isn't working. But important thing is it is reliable and came in under budget.

The storage solution is a 250GB SSD for the main drive with two 1TB WD Blues in Raid 1(Mirror) for redundant storage.

This build takes place in an Corsair 250D, so I was sure to take a lot of pictures and measurements for those of you looking to build in this case. Did a few custom touches. I sleeved all the system cables and cut them to length which really helps with a tiny build. I also painted the back I/O shield and slot covers to give it a little better look. I ordered blue sleeve to match the motherboard, but shipping has had some troubles, so I sleeved with left over sleeve I had on hand. Hope you enjoy!

Part Reviews

CPU

This is a locked processor so I wasn't able to do much with it. Its a very snappy processor, Intel's single core performance is just ridiculous these days. With 4 threads this is a great general use processor with plenty of speed. i3's have really come a long way since the first Gen.

If you are looking for a budge processor this is a great one. I wouldn't recommend it for gaming builds as it is locked and therefore prevents your from overclocking it.

CPU Cooler

The cheapest cooler in Corsair's lineup, but that doesn't mean it suffers from performance. This is a no frills AIO liquid cooler. Put up against the i3, it's a little overkill. However, the cooler the CPU the longer it will last and more reliable it will be.

The cooler is very quiet, much quieter than the kraken equivalent. There is no LED lights or corsair link, but that is not needed for this build.

I'm giving this cooler 4 stars as its install bracket is far from intuitive like the rest of corsairs coolers. I'm not sure why this one is so different but it took a little longer to get it sorted out than the others. But once installed it works great. The tubes are a little short, but are easy to work with.

Motherboard

My first ASRock build, and it will not be the last. I was limited on my options for this ITX build. I really wanted the 97 from Asus, but it was not available. So I thought I'd give ASRock a try.

This board is actually really impressive. Plenty of usb ports, build in wifi, decent aesthetic. It has one of the fastest post times of any motherboard I've worked on to date. Even with the RAID controller on. Very impressive. With the 850 Evo, this thing boots from completely off to login in less than 4 seconds! I'm not embellishing that number either. I was stunned. It was so fast in fact, that I had to look up the enter bios key online because the post screen was so fast I could not see which button to press. Most boots, I didn't see the screen at all! Needless to say this is a huge plus for my client who was experiencing 10+ minute boot times!

As with any ITX board, it is difficult to fit everything. I don't love the position of some of the headers. Or the way the Wifi card has to be installed in the middle of the board with wires to the I/O shield. Purely aesthetic though. Just makes cable management a little more of a challenge.

I'm giving this board a solid 4 stars. If they could put an extra fan header, move the wifi module to the I/O shield, and put the majority of the headers on the edge of the board, it would get 5 stars no problem.

Storage

This is my upteenth time to build with this drive, and it takes the cake again. Solid performance and speed. And for the price this is without a doubt the best buy in the solid state market.

Storage

Cheap reliable storage drive. Works really well in a RAID setup.

Case

There are lots of Mini ITX cases out there. Some are large some or ridiculously tiny. This one is just right. Corsair did a great job with this case, taking into consideration of the popularity of AIO coolers. It'll fit their H100I GTX no problem, as well as most full size GPUs.

This is really a non sacrifice case. You can put a large GPU, AIO cooler, full size PSU, and a 5.25" optical drive. You could even build a custom loop in this case with a 240mm radiator on the side and a 140mm radiator in the front, bay res in the 5.25" bay. Can't wait to try that!

The case is well constructed, and light. Comes with 4 fan filters. One for the front intake, 2 magnetic filters for the side panels (nice touch), and one for the PSU intake. It has nice tall feet for those of you that keep your case on carpet.

The optical drive holder is a little tight, and it messed up my paint job on my optical drive. Not a problem for most.

It has a great window on the top panel to see the build. I would like to see corsair offer a version with a full window on the top and a window for the left side panel for builds with a liquid cooled GPU.

The storage solution for this case is great. 4 sleds, 2 x 3.5" and 2 x 2.5". This cage should have a hot swap feature. Getting to the back of the 2.5" sleds was tight, but overall, I like what they did for the storage.

Power Supply

The RM series are great PSUs. Build with high quality capacitors that are specifically designed to cut down on coil wine. Also, it uses passive cooling and only spins up the fan when under a curtain load. Even then it is still quiet.

Being fully modular and Gold+ certified makes this a great choice for anyone's low powered builds.

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Comments

  • 52 months ago
  • 3 points

I'm sorry to hear that she lost her husband recently. This is a very nice build that you did for your client, I hope she enjoys it very much!

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the kind remarks, I hope she does as well!

  • 52 months ago
  • 3 points

I smell a feature!

  • 52 months ago
  • 2 points

Custom Sleeve work you did is Amazing !!

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! Lots of time goes into that process. I certainly didn't have to do it for this build, but it's hard for me to not go all the way on my builds.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Curious as to why you went with an AIO with a locked cpu, but wow, 58 photos! Nice build

  • 52 months ago
  • 2 points

Yeah, it is definitely overkill, but it will ensure a long cool running CPU. Looks better as well!

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Yep, AIOs generally look pretty clean inside any system, especially compared with the stock cooler

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Ignore the hate about putting a water cooler on a locked cpu. This is a nice build! Also nice desision to put the HDD's in raid 1! I'm sorry that your client had that happen and I'm very happy that you built that for her. I'm sure she doesn't want to lose pictures with her husband in it and I'm sure the raid will pay off (I still hope the hdds don't crash obviously).

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I doubt both HDDs would crash at the same time, but in such an unfortunate event, I'll be setting her up with an offsite backup as well.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Well if they both crashed, holy moly that would have been bad even though it has a low chance. Maybe later you could upgrade to raid 10 if she really wants raid 0 and raid 1! Realistically I doubt that but it is still a option.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Haha, I doubt she'll need that, plus the drives are maxed out. The SSD is more than enough for applications and speed. I mapped her documents, music, photos, and video to a folder on the RAID array.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

That's exactly why I said I doubt it haha but I can recommend she gets enough dedocated wam to a server xD

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Would you guys reccomend this build? It sounds in my budget.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

I know Im replying to my own comment but I got a question if you dont mind me asking. Should I buy noise reduction technology for it? Also should I buy a better cooling system or is this build 100% perfect and ready to go?

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

I would go with a better cooling system. I personally have never had an issue with Corsairs coolers. I hear a lot of people complain but have never used them or they just read the horror stories of the one out of every 5,000 units.

You could be well off with a good air cooler like the Evo 212. Also, you may be able to save some money on the storage solution if you don't need the redundancy. If you cut some of this down you could easily squeeze in a gtx 960.

You could also probably find a cheaper fully modular power supply that is silver rated or even gold rated. I like the RM series for the type of capacitors they use and the zero db fan feature. All of which costs a little extra. I got a steal on this PSU at the time because Mircro Center was running a special, they are usually $89.99

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Ok if I get a decent one how much will this + the decent cooling system cost around christmas time

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

About the same price or a little less. Are you wanting to do any light gaming or is this just for general purpose?

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Im trying to do something that could possibly run Grand Theft Auto 5 medium settings

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Is the cooling system really that bad or should I get it?

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build!

Seems like the AIO cooler fans push heat in the radiator right to the motherboard/ram.

Not sure if its a good idea tho...

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

The temperature delta (the temp of the air before and after it passes through the radiator) is less than two degrees under full load. So as long as there is adequate exhaust this is perfectly fine to do.

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

How was fitting the cooler in an ITX build? I’m currently considering shoving this over an i5-9400F and into an NZXT H200(i), just not too sure how much clearance I need as I’ll be shoving a whole GPU in it as well.

  • 52 months ago
  • 0 points

The watercooler was a bad idea. Chances are its gonna break down in a couple years and ruin her pc mate. Shouldve gone for a cheap air cooler. Because chances are if she was using a first gen i5 machine shes gonna keep that thing forever.

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Do you have any research or evidence of this because I have an old h50 that still works great. And considering the run time of this PC it won't be getting many hours per year.

  • 52 months ago
  • -1 points

The cooler is very quiet, much quieter than the kraken equivalent.

lol. First time I ever heard someone put Corsair and quiet in the same sentence.

Great build. +1

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

Lol ikr