More than 6 months late, I've finally gone through with my plan and built myself a computer. This is the first time I've ever assembled a system, and it went surprisingly well. Ars Technica's guide was very helpful, but failed to mention that steel cases will easily carve deep grooves in wood furniture when handled at odd angles.
I'm not quite finished. I want more and better fans (Scythe Slip Stream), possibly PWM for the CPU. As it is, the system is very quiet but clearly audible. The noise is a gentle low-frequency whoosh with a touch of hiss from the HDD. Seek noise is barely noticeable and, thanks to the SSD, very infrequent.
Under 8 threads of Prime95 the CPU peaks at 65 °C. It will turbo boost for about 3 minutes and then clock down to nominal speed. Performance should be very good - I've not yet tested it, but the dubious Windows Experience Index rates it thus: Processor 7.6, memory 7.6, graphics 6.4, gaming graphics 6.4, primary storage 7.8, all out of 7.9. I also timed a cold boot at 24 seconds to the Windows desktop.
RAM is dirt cheap these days, 16 GB cost me less than the CPU heatsink. The HDD, on the other hand...
The keyboard is probably not the typist's first choice, but it's well laid out, decent enough to type on, nicely illuminated, and very slim. I love the G500 mouse to bits. It replaces an MX518 which has served me well for 4 years. The MX518 was always a tad narrow for me and the G500 is slightly broader and, in my hand, more comfortable to grip. Tracking is flawless, and the range of adjustment is very wide indeed. Onboard storage is icing on the cake.
Oh, and that Dell monitor is lovely, especially compared to the dim, glossy, angle-hypersensitive, washed-out turd of a laptop screen I've put up with for so long.
Of course, this is a gallery, so without further ado: Pictures! Click for large versions.
SSD in lower cage, HDD suspended in lower 5.25" bay. Removable HDD cage unused, removed.
The spaghetti side.
Heatpipes are like cool. And stuff.
Left: Vertical expansion slot holds fan controller. Right: DVD drive and HDD above, intake fan below.
Protective foam from HDD shipping box repurposed as noise insulation, works well against idle hiss.
USB 3 plug cold as motherboard lacks internal header.
Side panels swapped to hide unsightly mesh. Vent cover removed for spaghetti clearance.
Left: Not the Towering Inferno. Right: Back panel with fan control knob in vertical slot.
All fans controlled via 3-way and 2-way splitters. 3 o'clock middle point ≈ starting voltage of case fans.
Left: Tower on 'wrong' side as speaker fouls rightmost 3rd of desk. Right: Mouse mat bundled with CPU.
- Case: Fractal Design Define Mini
- PSU: Seasonic X-400
- Motherboard: Intel DH67GD
- CPU: Intel Core i7-2700K
- RAM: Corsair XMS3 4x4 GB 1333 MHz
- GPU: Intel HD Graphics 3000
- SSD: Intel SSD 510 Series 120GB
- HDD: Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB WD10EARX
- HDD suspension: Sharkoon Vibe Fixer
- CPU cooler: Noctua NH-C14
- DVD burner: Plextor PX-L890SA
- Monitor: Dell U2412M
- Keyboard: Logitech Illuminated Keyboard
- Mouse: Logitech G500
- OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit