—Trinity: The Build (CustoMac Mini 2011)

January 15, 2012

After making such a killing sniping great prices for parts, I was understandably eager to rip the cellophane and get to work. But actually, I was holding off because I intended to do the build with my little nephew. He… had other plans so I was on my own. As I mentioned previously, I was pretty much following the parts list provided in tonymacx86’s CustoMac Mini 2011 post with one small exception, the case.

He listed the Apex MI-008, but I chose the MI-100 instead. I stuck with the same manufacturer because I didn’t want any unforeseen fitting issues and their frames were pretty much identical. I really just found the face of the MI-100 to be more pleasing. The directions that came with the case weren’t exactly crystal clear, but after some trial and error I managed to put the right screws in the right places. I have to say, making all the connections to the motherboard was a little intimidating. Most of my experience so far was with laptops. But I knew enough to ground myself and avoid bending any of the pins on the processor (It seems now they have they pins on the motherboard instead). I also had Gigabyte’s instructions, which where a little easier to follow. The first thing I noticed

, besides the tight space, was the fact that the CPU fan cage bumped right up against the power supply. It also looked as though the power supply had a fan of its own, designed to pull hot air out of the case and keep the power supply temps within range. This might have been fine for a low powered HTPC, but this had a fully powered second generation intel core i3 which gives off quite a bit of heat of its own, hence the fairly sized stock CPU cooler. Early on I got the impression that airflow and temperature control might be a problem.

Everything fit snugly in the case. I fiddled between the two locations to mount the hard drive; the traditional 3.5 inch bay, and a second location mounted sideways next to the power supply. I finally settled on the 3.5 inch bay as it looked as though I could fit a 120mm fan in that second bay next to the power supply. If it didn’t cooperate I had my Dremel handy.

I got a Cooler Master SickleFlow green LED 120mm case fan on eBay. The price was a little high on Newegg at the time. As I was trying find a place to cram it into, I decided to cut off one of the plastic screw mounts with a hacksaw. Probably wasn’t necessary, and it also took away any chances of returning it. I found that it made a subtle rattling noise. To think Cooler Master had the gall to put silent in the description. I tried using a fan controller to lower the speed and thus the noise but that didn’t work. So I threw that fan aside and got another one from frozenCPU.com (a treasure). It’s a SilenX iXtrema Pro. With a name like that its gotta be well engineered right? That, and something about fluid dynamic bearings. Cooler Master may have had a cooler LED effect, but the SilenX (also with green LEDs) was far quieter. Ahh the sweet sound of silence…

• • •

The Parts List (current)

  • CPU: Intel Core i3-2105 w/ Intel HD 3000 Integrated Graphics — $135 [newer model – i3-2125]
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3-B3 — $75 w/ rebate [sold out: here’s an alternate – GA-H61N-USB3]
  • RAM: CORSAIR XMS3 DDR3 1600 MHz (PC3 12800) 8GB (2 x 4GB) — $40
  • Case + Power Supply Unit: APEX MI-100 Mini-ITX w/ 250w PSU — $5 (w/ netflix trial eBay bucks redemption)
  • Optical Drive: Sony Optiarc 24x w/ LightScribe AD-7261S-0B — $20
  • Hard Drives:  Seagate Barracuda 1TB SATA 6Gb/s ST31000524AS (2) — $50 each
  • Case Fans (2 – Green): SilenX iXtrema Pro LED Fan – 120x120x25mm (IXP-74-14G)  •  80x80x25mm (IXP-54-14G) — $20 & $14 respectively
  • Fan Controller: Sunbeam Rheosmart PCI 20W PL-RS-PCI — $8.50
  • Bluetooth Dongle: Belkin Mini Bluetooth Adapter v2.1 + EDR F8T016 — $14
  • SD Card Reader/USB 2.0 Hub (for built-in mod): Cosmos®/(ChipsBnk?) — $8
  • Internal USB Header Adapter Cable (for card reader): 2 ports — $4 Amazon
  • 4-Pin Molex to Serial ATA Power Adapter Cable (for 2nd hard drive) — $1 Amazon
  • SATA Cables: UV Green — $3 Amazon
  • Thumb Screws (for ease of entry): Anodized (4) — $2 Amazon
  • Keyboard: Dell QuietKey – D/PN L30U — $5
  • Mouse: Logitech VX Nano Wireless (already owned) — Amazon
  • Monitor: Samsung SyncMaster 27″ + HDTV 2770HD (already owned) — Amazon
  • Graphics Card: MSI Radeon 5570 1GB 128-bit R5570-MD1G (discontinued) — $40 [alternates]
  • SSD: OCZ Agility 4 256GB AGT4-25SAT3-256G — $189

7 Responses to “—Trinity: The Build (CustoMac Mini 2011)”

  1. anthonyvenable110 Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post and seeing the pictures that accompany it. Please keep me posted as to any building projects you undertake in the future

  2. Very nice…just built the same system, and am going to put in a case fan…i’ll check out the one you used! thanks!

  3. Jack Says:

    RR Browne — thanks for the great posts on your CustoMac Mini. I’m about to attempt my first build to your specs this week. Couple questions: 1) did you upgrade to 10.7.4? How’d that go? Work ok? 2) would you recommend any upgrades to increase performance like an i5 or i7 CPU? I see that tonymac released this build back in Sept so I’m wondering if it is still current. Thanks!

    • rrbrowne Says:

      —Hey Jack, glad you like the project. I’m currently running 10.7.4, but I had some trouble with the hdmi audio which I was able to fix fortunately. If you run into the same problem you can search tonymacx86’s forums for toleda’s solution (our I could walk you through it). From what I’ve read, you can get away with an i5 in this setup as long as you’re not overclocking. The Apex MI-008/100 included power supply is too weak for an i7. Plus heat will be a problem. You’d need a slightly bigger case with better ventilation (try silverstone) and a better power supply, say 400-500 watts.

      *Toleda’s HDMI Audio Guide

  4. […] —Trinity: The Build (CustoMac Mini 2011) (waypastwarranty.wordpress.com) […]

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