I built this machine to run Plex, Netflix, YouTube, Steam, Battlenet, and UPlay from the couch in the living room. The goal is to have good-enough gaming performance, while keeping the system cool in a poorly ventilated TV console cabinet. It also needs to fit in aesthetically with the other console devices such as the DVR and cable modem. This build was going to have some challenges right out of gate with the thermal conditions expected. I ran into one issue, that is hopefully temporary. The Crucial MX300 SSD does not seem to be compatible with this motherboard. I checked the compatibility list and sure enough, the MX100 and MX200 are there, but the MX300 is nowhere to be found. I normally take these compatibility lists with a grain of salt, but this time I paid for it as the M.2 SSD was not detected at all. I ended up putting Win10 on the 1TB 2.5" HDD I pulled from a laptop that I upgraded earlier and it will have to do for now. I reached out to MSI for support and will keep an eye out for BIOS updates so this drive will eventually be supported.
Great budget CPU for Gaming. 3.7GHz Skylake with 2 cores and 4 threads is fast enough and powerful enough for the needs of a console killer or media streaming rig. The low TDP of 51W means less heat is being generated as well. The CPU comes with a stock cooler, but I personally hate the the Intel stock coolers and opted for a Cryorig C7. Startup at 27 degrees, up to 55 under load in a Fractal Node 202.
This is my go-to choice for a stock cooler replacement that still fits in a low-profile space. $30 and universal compatibility is a plus, but heat output is directed straight at the RAM and the IO... something to keep in mind if running a really hot CPU. The stock cooler disperses heat radially, in all directions. The C7 is rated for up to 100W TDP and the heat exits the cooler in the direction of the fins. On my motherboard (MSI B150I Gaming Pro AC) the components on the board only let me mount the cooler with the fins in a horizontal configuration.
Great feature set, excellent price for a mini-ITX board with USB 3.1 (Gen1 Type-A), M.2 support, Intel Dual Band AC Wifi and Bluetooth, and premium audio. My only issue, which is hopefully temporary, is that the board will not detect the Crucial MX300 275 GB M.2 SSD I purchased for the build. I'm running BIOS Rev. 1.5 and hopefully a later version will address this issue. Just a side note, this is a B150 chipset, so don't expect to overclock your CPU or run your RAM any faster than 2133. Doesn't matter for me as this is going into a Fractal Node 202 and I want to keep the heat down, so overclocking is not important for me in this instance.
Got 8GB now, and have an extra slot available in case I want to go up to 16GB in the future. Read the reviews about single-channel vs double-channel RAM performance and noticed that the performance difference is only 1-2% with games. Love the look and the value of the Kingston Hyper-X Fury Black modules.
I love this generation of Crucial SSDs. Very fast for a TLC SSD. Nearly on par with a Samsung 850 EVO at 2/3 of the price. PCPP only has the 2.5" version listed, but I actually purchased an M.2 for the same price. Unfortunately it didn't work with my MSI B150I Gaming Pro AC Mini-ITX motherboard as of today, but a future BIOS update will fix that hopefully. I'm using the MX300 in my ASUS ROG laptop and the system boots in the same amount of time it takes to resume from sleep. Literally 3 seconds. So happy with this drive and I can't wait to get the other one working with my Media PC as well.
Got this HDD for free with my ROG laptop and I needed to replace it immediately. 1TB is nice for a data drive, but even at 7200 RPM the system was slow to load levels on Overwatch. When I got dropped from a team because I couldn't load the level fast enough, I had enough and upgraded to a Crucial MX300 right away which was like a dream.
This is a good value video card that focuses on rear exhaust due to the orientation of the fins without the need for a noisy blower-style fan. Excellent performance in gaming, and the Silent profile in the ASUS GPU Tweak software enables the system to maintain 83 degrees maximum under load in a horizontally-oriented Fractal Node 202. Fans are not distracting at all under this profile although you can hear them slightly.
Great case, includes a decent 450W PSU (Fractal Integra 80Plus White). Fits in with a living room setup. The LED is a diffuse white-blue color, not distracting at all. With carefully selected components, you can build a very capable gaming rig without hitting a wall thermally. There are magnetic dust filters over all the intakes, and there are exhaust holes cut in the top (or right) for the CPU/motherboard area. The video card should be a rear exhaust style cooler as there is no ventilation other than the rear of the case on the bottom/left side. Room for two 2.5" drives and a large video card. The CPU cooler should be a stock cooler or something low-profile like the Cryorig C7 I chose. This is the best looking case of it's kind right now in my opinion, probably on par with the Dr. Zaber once that becomes available in the US. This case is not as small as a PS4, but it is comparable to many other TV-console components as far as overall footprint and aesthetic design.