The Mini HTPC

So I built myself a small form factor PC like I’ve always wanted to. I just bought a new house so I’ll be using it as my main media center and hub for all other PC’s in the house. I’ll probably upgrade the RAM sometime soon but for the time being it’s perfect for what I need.

Here’s exactly what went into the computer. All of this is guaranteed to fit and work with each other (because my computer is proof…) All links take you to the product’s page on where I bought the pieces.

Motherboard: ASUS P5E-VM

Case: SILVERSTONE SG01-BW Black Aluminum MicroATX Case

Power Supply: KINGWIN ABT-600MA1S 600W

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.53GHz Socket 775 Dual-Core



Hard Drive: 320GB Western Digital Caviar SE

Optical Drive: SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner

Keyboard: ADESSO WKB-4000US Wireless Mini Keyboard

Assembly wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. I’ve put together a few PC’s in my lifetime but nothing in a case this small or this cramped. I’ve built computers in everything from a drawer to a wooden box to a cardboard box (man I really wish I had pictures of each of those to link to…) but none of them were as tight as this latest computer.

The case was obviously well thought out. I chose it because it had a clean look to it and wasn’t too “lan-party with a handle!!”-ish but still had some “ooh cool I can see the inside!” factor to it. The case has great air flow and a great solid quality feel to it. The top feels a tad flimsy when you take it off – but it’s not…just because it’s a bent piece of sheet metal probably…but other than that everything else seems top-notch!

I haven’t run any benchmarks and I’m not putting a wireless card in it because I’m going to be plugging it up directly to my wireless router. Also, there’s no need for a video card as of now because I’m not going to be gaming on it and the motherboard has built-on HDMI for 1080p right out the box!! Talk about sweet…

Hope this inspires some of you to build yourself a small form PC!

Here’s some pictures of the build. The only negative thing to happen the whole build was my twisting the head off of a screw (used the wrong screw…) and my DVD burner is now permanent in the case (ok so I’m over reacting…but that thing ain’t comin out easy…). That and the cramped space isn’t for the timid or faint of heart.

The boxes have arrived!

Simple things like the cutout notches for easy access with a screwdriver to the 5.25″ drive bays is worth the price you pay for the case.

This is the Silverstone NT06-Lite CPU cooler compared to the factory Intel CPU cooler. Damn this thing was a lot bigger than I expected it to be!! But then again they usually are…I’m gonna stop being surprised one of these days…

The Asus P5E-VM unboxed! What a colorful happy ball of silicon and metal goodness! Yay! HDMI here I come!

Here’s a shot of the DVD drive already in. Note I used the 90 degree SATA cable that came with the motherboard on the DVD drive because I knew there wasn’t gonna be much space in between the PSU and the drive. Speaking of not-much-space…check out the 2mm gap between the top of the CPU radiator and the hanging bracket for the power supply…Fortunately there’s a 120mm fan on the bottom of the power supply I chose and it does a great job sucking all the hot air off of that radiator and spitting it out the back of the case.

Everything all put together!… well ok almost all put together. But at least it all fits! That was my main concern. You can now see the gap between that power supply and the CPU cooler and just how insanely small it is. They actually touched a bit and I simply flexed the metal heatpipes holding the radiator up a bit and got myself a tiny little gap. The blue wires in this picture are also not attached yet…they’re just kid of stuck in the empty drive bay until I get home with it. Those are the front USB/Firewire cables as well as the power button and reset button cables.

Here’s another shot from the other side of the untidy case. It gets much cleaner…trust me. One of the harder parts was getting the motherboard plate on the back to fit in the square the case provided. A few violent attacks with the handle-end of the screwdriver I was using did the trick nicely. It’s a hella tight fit.

Those little fan plugs on the motherboard were so unbelievably hard to get to. I suggest you get yourself a friend with long slender fingers or a bit set of needle-nose pliers to plug that in for ya… or at least plug it in before you set a gargantuan CPU cooler right ontop of them making direct access a thing of the past.

Powered up and tidied up! Something to note – none of the fans I have had any LED’s on them and I didn’t add any cold-cathode neons or other LED’s for lighting. The blue light is coming from the power supply. Each port that you plug a modular plug into has a ring of LED’s around it that light up and the fan on the bottom (a massive 120mm) has 4 LED’s in it. When you stick something like that in a tiny case like this – it’s a fireworks show. The front of the case has blue LED’s for both it’s HD activity light and Power light.

Ta-da! A shot with the lights on and from far back with another tower in the case to show the exact size. It’s a little bit bigger than pictures would allude to – but it’s still really freakin small to be able to use standard PC parts.

Simply the clearest I’ve ever seen Windows… Take a look at the rails on the bridge on the right-hand side. They’re so crisp.

3 Comment(s)

  1. This computer is way cooler than i thought that it would be. I would rate this mini PC a 9.33454454 out of 10

    pEpE | Jun 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. You just convinced me to get the same htpc case as yours. very light! Thanks for the suggestion. Your htpc looks really good!

    Celso | Jul 2, 2008 | Reply

  3. great overall summary. not quite detailed enough to be a “walkthrough” but sure helped me decide which parts I am gonna be getting for my mini pc. thanks bro!

    koala | Jul 8, 2008 | Reply

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  1. Jun 29, 2008: from cpu cooler fan | computer tags
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