Silverstone Sugo SG05 (white)
ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe
AMD Athlon II X3 445
CoolerMaster Geminii + newer AM3 retention bracket from a Hyper N620
Seagate Momentus 7200.4 500GB 2.5" HDD
OCZ Vertex 2 40GB SSD
2x1GB DDR3 PC3-8500 SODIMMs
Nexus Real Silent 120mm White LED Fan
Sony Slimline DVD-RW (white faceplate from http://www.centrix-intl.com
Total cost for this build was ~US$650. You can easily do a similar build for US$500 if you don't need the SSD or other extras.
The Asus M4A88T-I is an amazing mini-ITX board. AM3, DDR3, PCIe x16, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, eSATA, USB 3.0, DVI+HDMI -- all for only US$125 from Newegg. The BIOS has both CPU and chassis fan control. CPU fan is controlled by PWM and chassis fan is controlled by voltage.
I took a tip from the SPCR and HardForum and bought the older CoolerMaster Geminii, which seems to be largely discontinued in the US (but readily available in Taiwan, with fans). The old Geminii is technically not compatible with the Asus motherboard. The original retention bracket is not symmetrical, so the Geminii will only mount so that it points "sideways" over the PCIe slot. This is a problem because
1) it blocks the PCIe slot
2) it might not fit within the sides of the case (I did not test it with this motherboard, but my preliminary estimates were that it would be very close if it fit at all), and
3) it positions the cooler at the back of the case, far from the front fan. Having the cooler close to the front fan appears to be the key to being able to run it passively.
My solution was to obtain a newer CoolerMaster AM3 retention bracket designed for the Hyper N620, like this: http://www.avadirect.com/product_detail ... PRID=16878
It's a US$1 part on that site, but shipping is a ridiculous $10, so try to acquire the bracket elsewhere. (I got mine from a CoolerMaster distributor in Taiwan who was happy to send a spare.)
The newer AM3 bracket has mounting holes on all four sides, so that it can be mounted in both directions. I still needed to really force it on to make it fit (sandpaper or a file would have helped).
The SG05 has both a 2.5" drive bay and a removable 3.5" drive bay. I used a 2.5" SSD and a 2.5" HDD. To avoid blocking the front fan, I removed the 3.5" drive bay and put the SSD at the bottom of the case, under the front fan. That space was originally reserved for a card reader option that (unfortunately) never materialized in the retail models. There are some unused screw holes on the front face there, so I just attached the SSD with one screw and have it sitting on the floor of the case. I figure the SSD is more resilient anyway.
Since I'm not using a video card, another idea I had for the SSD was to mount it on the left side of the case so that it covers up the front part of the left side vent. The SPCR review found that covering up that area was a good idea if not using the PCIe slot. If using the Geminii, however, I think it is less critical because the fan is blowing directly on the cooler.
Cable management was quite difficult with this motherboard/cooler combination. The motherboard has cables going in all directions, and the cooler blocks much of the open space.
The Nexus LED fan was just for aesthetics; the stock fan is just fine if you don't want the lights. But IMO, an LED fan is the perfect fit for the large front fan grill.
The completed computer is very quiet at idle and low usage. At load, the PSU fan seems to ramp up but it is still quiet enough (and usually I am doing something distracting when I need that much CPU usage).
Great case, and much appreciated to SPCR and HardForum for all the reviews and suggestions.
Pictures uploaded with ImageShack.us