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Building sff PC
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Author:  dbuff [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Building sff PC

I want to build (rather than just buy - for fun and learning) a PC. Here's what I want:
1. I want my PC to be as small as possible. (I want to use an external DVD, bluetooth keyboard and mouse (strong preference), and of course monitor (VGA? USB? don 't know what will be cons and pros) and speakers/headphones - high quality not important as far as I can hear and see.
2. I would prefer to install FreeBSD on it - I want to make it my first FreeBSD machine to start learning about about this OS.
3. I want this to be a very basic, no thrills, cheap and fairly simple project (my first attempt at building a PC).

I think I will go with Asus mini ITX motherboard. I need to find case, PSU, RAM, and HDD (SDD?). If anyone has any suggestion I will be very grateful. Thanks.

Author:  Abula [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 3:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

Welcome to SPCR!!!!

Well depends on your budget, but here it goes,

CASE
Since you chose mini itx motherboard im guessing you want a mini itx case, so my recomendation goes toward a recently mini itx reviewed by SPCR Fractal Design Node 304 Mini-ITX Case it came out really well, and got the editors choice.

RAM
Asus has a QVL list for aproved memory for each of their motherboard, this doesnt mean other memory wont work but if you want to avoid incompatibilities you can go by it. Personally i like more crucial ballistic sport and tactical as its low profile and helps you have more options for CPU coolers down the road.

HDD
SPCR likes a lot WD greens and reds, so that would be my suggestion, they come from 1tb to 4tb, read the following SPCR reviews, Western Digital Red 4TB & Se 4TB Hard Drives and Western Digital Red 3TB & 1TB Hard Drives, chose according to your budget and storage needs.

SSD
I like a lot Crucial MX100 for the 512GB capacity, really good performer and cheap, this would be my pic if you need that amount of storage. If you need less, then i would go with Samsung 840 Evo.

PSU
Depends on what else hardware you might run, as the above with a dual core or even quad can run on a picoPSU, but if you want a more standard PSU, look into Seasonic 360W 80PLUS Gold ATX12V Power Supply SSR-360GP, reviewed by SPCR Seasonic G360 PSU: High efficiency & performance, low price and also got the editors choice.

As a recomendation, if you budget allows i would recommend to check Scythe Kotetsu CPU Cooler: A Compact King for a more quiet operation than the stock cooler, its retailing around $45, Scythe SCKTT-1000 Kotetsu GlideStream 120 PWM 400 RPM CPU Cooling.

As final recommendation, if mini itx is not a must, and you want cheaper componets, then i would go with MSI for motherboard or Intel. Bios fan control should be much better than Asus for the CPU, and if in time you invest on PWM fans, then it has much better bios fan control, specially for someone going outside of windows enviorment where Asus excels with FanXpert.

Author:  dbuff [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

Well I should've mentioned specifics. My budget - initially thought $200 (don't laugh). Here's the detail:

ASUS AM1I-A AM1 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX AMD Motherboard
AMD Athlon 5350 Kabini Quad-Core 2.05GHz Socket AM1 25W Desktop Processor AMD Radeon HD 8400 AD5350JAHMBOX
Or something a bit cheaper.
Not looking for HTPC.
Thanks.

Author:  CA_Steve [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

I wandered around the internet, and lo, there was a low cost solution:

Buy a Chromebox (Anandtech review) for $180, throw it into developer mode and install your Linux distribution via USB.

lifehacker article on installing Linux on a Chromebook
XBMC wiki for Chromebox

Author:  Abula [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

dbuff wrote:
Well I should've mentioned specifics. My budget - initially thought $200 (don't laugh). Here's the detail:

ASUS AM1I-A AM1 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX AMD Motherboard
AMD Athlon 5350 Kabini Quad-Core 2.05GHz Socket AM1 25W Desktop Processor AMD Radeon HD 8400 AD5350JAHMBOX
Or something a bit cheaper.
Not looking for HTPC.
Thanks.
Well the CPU + Motherboards goes over $100....

Case/PSU = APEX MI-008 Tower Black P4 Chassis with 250W Itx Psu+sata Power Supply $48
HDD = Western Digital WD AV-GP WD5000AVVS 500GB 8MB Cache SATA2 (3.0Gb/s) 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $50
Memory = Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 991768 $27

Would be over your budget but its rough the $200 mark.

Author:  dbuff [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

Abula wrote:
dbuff wrote:
Well I should've mentioned specifics. My budget - initially thought $200 (don't laugh). Here's the detail:

ASUS AM1I-A AM1 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX AMD Motherboard
AMD Athlon 5350 Kabini Quad-Core 2.05GHz Socket AM1 25W Desktop Processor AMD Radeon HD 8400 AD5350JAHMBOX
Or something a bit cheaper.
Not looking for HTPC.
Thanks.
Well the CPU + Motherboards goes over $100....

Case/PSU = APEX MI-008 Tower Black P4 Chassis with 250W Itx Psu+sata Power Supply $48
HDD = Western Digital WD AV-GP WD5000AVVS 500GB 8MB Cache SATA2 (3.0Gb/s) 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $50
Memory = Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 991768 $27

Would be over your budget but its rough the $200 mark.

Man will I thank you.

Author:  dbuff [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

[quote="Abula"][quote="dbuff"
HDD = Western Digital WD AV-GP WD5000AVVS 500GB 8MB Cache SATA2 (3.0Gb/s) 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $50
/quote]
I would be willing to buy sdd. Any suggestions, please. Thanks.

Author:  Abula [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

dbuff wrote:
I would be willing to buy sdd. Any suggestions, please. Thanks.
There lots of options around $50-60, but personally i would go with a hdd in that price range, the first ssds i would consider is SAMSUNG 840 EVO MZ-7TE120BW 2.5" 120GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) and Crucial MX100 CT128MX100SSD1 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) (but i believe this one uses a different nad than the 256/512 versions).

Author:  HFat [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

dbuff wrote:
1. I want my PC to be as small as possible.

There are smaller cases than the cheap Apex which come with a power supply.
Unfortunately if you want no noise and and unless you can get a good deal on the used market, so far as I know they're either more expensive (ISK110 for instance) or unsuitable for anything but a low-power PC (see the cheap J1900 boards for something that requires very little cooling and could be paired with a cheapo).
I recommend you do not pick an AMD which are not as good as they look on paper, unless perhaps you really want the integrated GPU. If you want no noise, see for instance the 1037U boards, one of which is supposed to run fanless. If you're OK with some noise, pick a cheap Intel board and the cheapest dual-core Celeron. It doesn't have to be the latest generation if you can get a good deal on older parts.

You can of course go even smaller (see thin mITX, NUC cases).
There are also barebones you could buy of course but you said you wanted to build...

Author:  quest_for_silence [ Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

dbuff wrote:
Well I should've mentioned specifics. My budget - initially thought $200 (don't laugh).

I think you should point out where you are from, to let us be aware of what could be actually available to you.

P.S.: I would add that any FreeBSD HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) wil be welcome, as it should be your first concern about your new rig (just to say, AFAIK currently Kabini, BayTrail and Haswell GPU are not supported under FreeBSD, almost ruling out all the current CPUs lineups for an IGP rig).
Last but not least, about 200 USD look like a bit too tight budget to fairly take into account all the components (monitor? bluetooth desktop set?), the desired small size, the mandatory compatibility with FreeBSD, some need for speed (SSD) and eventually the somehow quiet operation.

Author:  HFat [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 12:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

With a 1037U board (BSD should have drivers for that I assume), you may be able get everything under $200 by cutting corners.
But I think spending a bit more would indeed be advisable unless you are willing to buy used parts.

Author:  washu [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

HFat wrote:
With a 1037U board (BSD should have drivers for that I assume), you may be able get everything under $200 by cutting corners.

I have FreeBSD on a 1007U board (same as the 1037U with a lower clock) and it works very well. I don't run a GUI on it, but the GPU is the same as any other Ivy Bridge chip and should work fine.

Author:  dbuff [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 4:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

washu wrote:
HFat wrote:
With a 1037U board (BSD should have drivers for that I assume), you may be able get everything under $200 by cutting corners.

I have FreeBSD on a 1007U board (same as the 1037U with a lower clock) and it works very well. I don't run a GUI on it, but the GPU is the same as any other Ivy Bridge chip and should work fine.

How is noise? What case/PSU do you use. At one point I was thinking of M350. Thanks

Author:  Abula [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 4:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

Another option would be a prebuilt like GIGABYTE GB-BXBT-2807 1 x 204Pin Intel HD Graphics Integrated by CPU Mini-PC Barebone $122, add memory and the ssd or 2.5 hdd.

Author:  dbuff [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 5:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

Here what I think I thought:
1. BIOSTAR AM1ML AM1 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard $32.99
2. AMD Athlon 5150 Kabini Quad-Core 1.6GHz Socket AM1 25W Desktop Processor AMD Radeon HD 8400 AD5150JAHMBOX $49.99
3. MI-008 Tower Black P4 Chassis with 250W Itx Psu+sata Power Supply $47.99
4. Western Digital WD AV-GP WD5000AVVS 500GB 8MB Cache SATA2 (3.0Gb/s) 3.5" Internal Hard Drive (For CCTV DVR) - OEM w/1 Year Warranty $49.95
5. Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 991768 $26.99

total:$187.91

But in the light ofr what was said I have now doubts (see next post). Just would like to make sure it will run freeBSD! Yes as mentioned by Kabini might be a problem.
What do you think the noise will be?
Many thanks.

Or maybe1007U motherboard. Would like to know more. What You think? Thanks

Author:  dbuff [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 5:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

quest_for_silence wrote:
dbuff wrote:
Well I should've mentioned specifics. My budget - initially thought $200 (don't laugh).

I think you should point out where you are from, to let us be aware of what could be actually available to you.

P.S.: I would add that any FreeBSD HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) wil be welcome, as it should be your first concern about your new rig (just to say, AFAIK currently Kabini, BayTrail and Haswell GPU are not supported under FreeBSD, almost ruling out all the current CPUs lineups for an IGP rig).
Last but not least, about 200 USD look like a bit too tight budget to fairly take into account all the components (monitor? bluetooth desktop set?), the desired small size, the mandatory compatibility with FreeBSD, some need for speed (SSD) and eventually the somehow quiet operation.


THanks. I'm from NYC. What wyikd you suggest if I wanted to go a bit over my budget? Noise, FreBSD, bluetooth are important. Monitor, mouse keyboard of course not included in my budget. SSD would be nice. Thanks

Author:  washu [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 5:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

dbuff wrote:
How is noise? What case/PSU do you use. At one point I was thinking of M350. Thanks


Noise is not bad, but it is not silent. I use it as a router in my server rack, so I don't really care. There is a fanless 1037U board, the Gigabyte GA-C1037UN-EU.

Case is a generic mITX case that is slightly larger than the M350. Came with an 80W DC-DC board and brick. I picked up a couple when a local computer store was going under. They work great but I have no idea who makes them.

Author:  washu [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 5:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

dbuff wrote:
Or maybe1007U motherboard. Would like to know more. What You think? Thanks

I think the 1037U based boards are a safer bet. They should run FreeBSD without issues. They would also be faster than the AM1 CPUs in anything that can't make use of more than two threads.

For anything that can use over two threads the AM1 would be faster. It would also likely have better graphics performance if that matters to you and works on FreeBSD.

Author:  dbuff [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 7:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

washu wrote:
There is a fanless 1037U board, the Gigabyte GA-C1037UN-EU..

I had a difficult time to find this board. I like it but if it's so rare isn't that suspicious?
Thanks

Author:  quest_for_silence [ Sun Jul 06, 2014 10:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

dbuff wrote:
But in the light ofr what was said I have now doubts (see next post). Just would like to make sure it will run freeBSD! Yes as mentioned by Kabini might be a problem.
What do you think the noise will be?

The relevant noise should be fairly noticeable with AMD stock heatsink and run-of-the-mill SFX PSU.
Probably nothing unbearable, but not quiet per SPCR standards (I don't know about your subjective ones), particularly at closer distances, even if probably the issue can be partially addressed pairing any suitable enclosure to some PicoPSU units like this one:

http://www.logicsupply.com/components/power-supplies/ac-adapters/pw-12v5a-l5/
http://www.logicsupply.com/components/power-supplies/picopsu/picopsu-80/

Set aside the proposed mobo also doesn't have a bluetooth receiver, but I guess you already know, about FreeBSD: currently Kabini GPUs aren't supported, likely they will be but I don't know why, maybe relatively soon, even if there's still a not-null chance it will take a long while to have a fully functional support (after several months there are still reports of some issues with Kabini power management too, so at least two "driver" seem to need some work atm).

Unfortunately I don't know any other fanless NM70 mobo, rather than the already quoted and rare Gigabyte UN-EU, so I can't point out any economically viable alternative to it.

Eventually you may look into some Baytrail mobos, as they are available with fanless cooling due to their much lower TDP, but they will run into the same (temporary?) GPU issue with FreeBSD: summarizing, being comparable to Kabini processing power and not upgradeable, they don't look to me a wholeheartedly preferable option, just a potentially tad quieter one.


dbuff wrote:
Or maybe1007U motherboard. Would like to know more. What You think? Thanks

A small, potentially silent, probably more compatible but more expensive solution could be adding SO-Dimm RAM and a 2.5" disk (SSD or mechanical) to a fanless barebone, like the Shuttle DS437T (I see you're quoting from Amazon: in case, currently that barebone is 20-25 USD cheaper on different sources like Provantage/SuperBiiz, excluding shipping).


washu wrote:
For anything that can use over two threads the AM1 would be faster.

Marginally, while the Intel solution should be cooler (less power draw) and more resilient (higher operating temperature) while working in a fanless or low airflow environment.

Author:  dbuff [ Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

Now, after all that trouble trying to find something suitable for FreeBSD, I realized that I may change my approach, and install FreeBSD on another machine, so now there is another question - what would be the best OS? Thanks you so much.

Author:  quest_for_silence [ Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

dbuff wrote:
what would be the best OS?

To do what? Noise-wise nowadays the best OS is (more probably that not) Windows.

Author:  dbuff [ Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

quest_for_silence wrote:
dbuff wrote:
what would be the best OS?

To do what?

For very small, functional (Netflix, Evernote, some Python/PHP, etc., no serious gaming), very cheap PC. Mostly as an emergency/secondary PC (as for example when I'm working on the other PC that has to be turned off).
Thanks

Author:  Pappnaas [ Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

If you need FreeBSD and Windows7 (won't recommend 8.1, personal dislike) then the most logical way would be install one and virtualize the other.

It doesn't matter which one you pick as a host, AFAIK there are pretty good solutions for either. If you want to play a game or two, I'd install Win7 and put FreeBSD into a VM. If you don't, it's up to you.

Author:  dbuff [ Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Building sff PC

Pappnaas wrote:
If you need FreeBSD and Windows7 (won't recommend 8.1, personal dislike) then the most logical way would be install one and virtualize the other.

It doesn't matter which one you pick as a host, AFAIK there are pretty good solutions for either. If you want to play a game or two, I'd install Win7 and put FreeBSD into a VM. If you don't, it's up to you.

Thanks. Virtual machine is a good solution. I am not that knowledgeable as far as the hardware is concerned and that's where I need some help, mostly. As I said small, cheap and functional. I know that FreeBSD has some issues with Radeon integrated graphics, but I think that this may not be an issue for I lean towrds Windows as a host anyway.

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