Friday, April 27, 2012

E-I7 build

Last week, the E-I5 and E-I7 arrived. For the E-I7 build I had to wait on some new parts including a new motherboard (ASRock H67M-ITX), new CPU (G530) and a slot-load DVD burner. I hijacked some RAM from my office PC just for testing and to see how regular profile RAM would fare in the E-I7. I had the Titan low-profile CPU cooler (30mm) from a previous build so I cleaned that up to see how this inexpensive cooler would fare in the E-I7.

My first impressions of the E-I7 are that it's a beautiful case. I love the brushed aluminum in either the silver or the black. I am usually not a fan of silver but it's sharp. Black though is my favorite. There is plenty of room inside to work with, spots for four 80mm fans and a low-profile expansion card. The slot cover is unfortunately the break-away kind but low-profile slot covers are easy to find and cheap if someone were to change their mind. There are vents everywhere to keep any mini build cool. The E-I7 comes with an interesting feature: an external SATA cable and molex power connector. I chose to remove these since I was not using this function.

Building with this case, like the E-I5, is very simple. The top comes off with four screws. The front panel wiring is all labeled. The only thing difficult here was that the ASRock H67M-ITX motherboard has the front panel headers at the back of the board so it was a bit of a stretch. Why front panel connectors on the back of the board? Beyond me. The position of the 24-pin ATX power connector was good. The USB and audio/microphone ports are on the side of the case which is nice because you still get front connection but with the minimalist/clean look on the front. Screw the motherboard in and hooking everything up takes less than five minutes. Mounting the slim ODD was easy -- just a matter of sliding it into the cradle and moving it forward enough that it lines up with the front. The E-I7 comes with the tiny screws needed to mount the ODD. I chose to mount the SSD vertically using a single screw even though there was room under the ODD tray for a 2.5" SSD/HDD. I just figured there'd be better airflow this way. A 2.5" HDD could go under the tray while the SSD is mounted vertically so with the ODD in place there is room for 2 x 2.5" HDD/SDD. Without the ODD in place, the cradle can be removed and it looks like (I did not try this) there'd be room for 2 x 3.5" HDDs with a lot of clearance above the cooler. A stock cooler might even fit in here. There really is a ton of room.

Overall, I found this case very easy to work with. There isn't a lot to mini builds like these -- they go very fast. There's a ton of room, relatively speaking, in this case and lots of venting and places to mount drives and fans. The look is minimalist and sleek. The materials are very high quality. This is a great little HTPC or desktop case.

Here are the customary pictures of the build:

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