So you want help designing/building a SFF system?

Discussion in 'Small Form Factor Systems' started by Machupo, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

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    Since we're getting a lot of questions recently about building SFF systems, I figured I'd adapt the General Hardware sticky thread for the SFF arena. Please cut and paste the below questions and your answers into any new thread asking for design and building advice, part lists, etc...


    1. What will you be doing with this PC? Gaming, Photoshop (or other intensive programs), Web browsing, strictly HTPC/Playback, etc. (If you have multiple things you want to do with the system, make sure you rank them from most important to least important).

    2. Will you be overclocking? (If so, are you looking to watercool?)

    3. What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included in this budget? Is your budget flexible? Is cost a driving factor in component selection?

    4. Where do you live? Do you have any big B&M (brick and mortar) computer chains nearby (e.g. Microcenter, Fry's, etc)?

    5. What exact parts do you need for that budget? CPU, RAM, case, etc. The word "Everything" is not a valid answer. Please list out all the parts you'll need (especially if you will need 3.5" hard drives or expansion cards as these may restrict case options).

    6. If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. For reused parts, list brands, model #s, and, if applicable, firmware revisions.

    7. What specific features do you need in a motherboard? RAID? Thunderbolt? Crossfire or SLI support? How many USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s? etc. Which is more important, size of the system or having the particular feature? Make sure you indicate *required* vs. *wanted* for each feature you list.

    8. What resolution output do you need? 4k playback, 1080p playback, etc for HTPC or give a vertical/horizontal resolution for gaming SFF rigs. Do you need multiple monitor output?

    9. Does this system need to fit into a particular space and do you need an optical drive? Think entertainment center shelves, closet space, rackmount, etc. Many modern SFF cases have either removed the optical drive or have been constructed so that removing the ODD increases the configuration possibilities immensely.

    10. How comfortable are you with custom case design/modification and electrical wiring? What tools do you have (Screwdrivers/Leatherman, Drill, Dremel, Metal snips, Soldering Iron, Bending Brake, CNC/Welding machines/Plasma cutter, etc...)?

    11. How important is the noise/silence of this sytem? HTPCs typically want to be quiet while all-out SFF gaming rigs don't care ;)

    12. How mobile does this system need to be? Need a carrying handle or carrying straps? Is weight important (carry-on bag, etc)? Water cooling quick disconnects, etc?

    13. Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license? If yes, what OS? Is it 32bit or 64bit? Remember that OEM copies of Win7 have issues with new motherboards :eek:

    14. When do you plan on building/buying the PC? Immediately, in a couple weeks, 3-5 years? :p


    By answering these questions you help us help you build a PC that's of better quality, better performing, cheaper or all of the above. The more details the better responses you will get.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013
  2. scott77

    scott77 Limp Gawd

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    fuu, didn't realize i was in this thread still :eek:
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2011
  3. Zap

    Zap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I would like to "officially" add one item to this list.

    15. Do you need an internal optical drive.

    The reason is that SFF cases are just about the only ones that have done away with ODD bays in some models, and it can be one way to make a system even smaller.
     
  4. Machupo

    Machupo Gravity Tester

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    Very good point! I will definitely be glad to see spinners go the way of the Dodo :p

    I added your question to #9 as it really ties into the size/configuration of the cases available (also trying to keep the # of questions from expanding, lol)

    Thanks!
     
  5. Stardog Champion

    Stardog Champion n00b

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    Two other important questions I always ask since some SFF cases have room for these and some do not.

    - Do you need to use a 3.5" hard drive
    - Do you need an expansion slot (like say for a wireless card or video card)

    This is probably implied in #5 but these two things make a huge difference in which case whereas some other parts might not.
     
  6. splash

    splash Limp Gawd

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    1. What will you be doing with this PC? Gaming, Photoshop (or other intensive programs), Web browsing, strictly HTPC/Playback, etc. (If you have multiple things you want to do with the system, make sure you rank them from most important to least important). 90% of the time is Web Browsing/Email the other 10% Quickens / MS Office / Burning DVD's. I don't play games on the PC anymore. That is what the Xbox if for.

    2. Will you be overclocking? (If so, are you looking to watercool?)NO

    3. What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included in this budget? Is your budget flexible? Is cost a driving factor in component selection?Budget is flexible. Want to spend wisely but not a deal breaker

    4. Where do you live? Do you have any big B&M (brick and mortar) computer chains nearby (e.g. Microcenter, Fry's, etc)?Fry's about 20 miles away along with Best Buy's

    5. What exact parts do you need for that budget? CPU, RAM, case, etc. The word "Everything" is not a valid answer. Please list out all the parts you'll need (especially if you will need 3.5" hard drives or expansion cards as these may restrict case options).Starting from the beginning again I do have a pair of WD Black 640GB drives and a external Seagate 2 TB USB2 connection I can hook up. I thought about buyig a 2 bay to house the 2 WD Black drives. So I need Case CPU RAM MOBO cables Power Supply. OH and I have a external DVD/CD drive that is a USB2 connection for burning disks and loading software

    6. If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. For reused parts, list brands, model #s, and, if applicable, firmware revisions.Listed under #5

    7. What specific features do you need in a motherboard? RAID? Thunderbolt? Crossfire or SLI support? How many USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s? etc. Which is more important, size of the system or having the particular feature? Make sure you indicate *required* vs. *wanted* for each feature you list.RAID for my data drives (WD Black 640 GB drives) at least 1 USB 3.0. I thought I could hook a USB 3.0 hub to that and run multiple external drives from the hub. HONESTLY NOTHING IS REQUIRED. i'M TRYING TO UPDATE TECH FROM A 6 YEAR OLD MACHINE THAT IS STARTING TO HAVE ISSUES. I WOULD LIKE SMALLER THEN MY MID TOWER I HAVE NOW. MAYBE LESS NOISE. OH REQUIRED I WANT MY OS TO SET ON A SSD AND EVERYTHING IN DATA DRIVESRequired **WIFI** In case I move this PC away from the cable modem/router

    8. What resolution output do you need? 4k playback, 1080p playback, etc for HTPC or give a vertical/horizontal resolution for gaming SFF rigs. Do you need multiple monitor output? I have a 24" monitor that is 1920x1200

    9. Does this system need to fit into a particular space and do you need an optical drive? Think entertainment center shelves, closet space, rackmount, etc. Many modern SFF cases have either removed the optical drive or have been constructed so that removing the ODD increases the configuration possibilities immensely.I have beed reading a little about NUC systems and that would be nice to mount VESA to the back of my monitor. But really want to get away from the Mid Tower I have now. So NUC is not a requirement

    10. How comfortable are you with custom case design/modification and electrical wiring? What tools do you have (Screwdrivers/Leatherman, Drill, Dremel, Metal snips, Soldering Iron, Bending Brake, CNC/Welding machines/Plasma cutter, etc...)?I have put together my last 2 computers but I'm not a handyman so building from a kit is doable. But from scratch I'm not into.

    11. How important is the noise/silence of this sytem? HTPCs typically want to be quiet while all-out SFF gaming rigs don't care Quieter is better. I will not be gaming

    12. How mobile does this system need to be? Need a carrying handle or carrying straps? Is weight important (carry-on bag, etc)? Water cooling quick disconnects, etc?System will not be moved around. I have a desk. I just want to reduce footprint.

    13. Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license? If yes, what OS? Is it 32bit or 64bit? Remember that OEM copies of Win7 have issues with new motherboards WIN7 Enterprise 64bit

    14. When do you plan on building/buying the PC? Immediately, in a couple weeks, 3-5 years? I would like to do this around the Black Friday time frame when computer parts are at their lowest

    Thank you to anyone that takes time out of their day to help me. About every 6-8 years I try to "catch up" with tech knowledge to make a educated buy/build BUT then I forget it all next time I have to buy another PC. Thanks for your help!
     
  7. WiSK

    WiSK 2[H]4U

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    This sticky is itself not for asking, only advice on how to ask.
     
  8. harsaphes

    harsaphes [H]ardness Supreme

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    OOPS. Starting a new thread.