|Budget Hackintosh PC Build Project|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 10 April 2013|
Page 4 of 10
Since mini-ITX cases don't have cutouts behind the CPU area of the motherboard, any third party coolers requiring backplates must be mounted before you install the motherboard. And this is where I ran into a problem I never anticipated: ASUS has components on the back of the P8H77-I motherboard that preclude any type of cooler backplate:
Whoops. So much for the GEMIN-II M4 cooler I'd hoped to use. (I have used this cooler on other mini-ITX builds and really like it: it offers an excellent performance boost over the Intel cooler and is virtually silent as well.) On an enthusiast level motherboard this would be a fatal flaw, but remember that the H77 chipset doesn't permit overclocking, even if you're using a "K"-series CPU. If you know you're not going to be overclocking, then the standard Intel push-pin cooler is all you'll ever need, so you don't need to worry about this. Oh, well. Installing the CPU, Intel cooler, and Crucial Ballistix memory is the work of moments.
The Cooler Master Elite 120 case is not only inexpensive, it looks good and its design allows the use of ATX power supplies and full size graphics cards. It also has one significant advantage for Hackintosh work: it's the only mini-ITX case I know of that has both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports on the front panel. Why is this a big deal? Because Hackintoshes still aren't perfect...and one way this imperfection makes itself known is the fact that USB 2.0 mass storage devices (like, say, USB keys) won't work in USB 3.0 ports. With any other mini-ITX case, you'd have only USB 2.0 front ports (in which case you couldn't use USB 3.0 devices conveniently) or only USB 3.0 ports (in which case you couldn't use USB 2.0 devices conveniently). This problem is what keeps me from recommending a case like the Bitfenix Prodigy, since its two front (well, side) USB ports are USB 3.0.
As you can see from the image above, the tiny SFX power supply is a real win in terms of working inside this small case. A full size ATX power supply pretty much covers the entire motherboard, which makes getting to things like the EPS-12V and SATA connectors a real pain. With the Silverstone ST45SF-G, it's easy. In this image you can see the Elite 120's small side fan on the right side of the case. I removed this fan for this build since it wasn't needed, and plugged the front fan into the motherboard's chassis fan connector.
Snap off the front panel, slide in the optical drive, and flip the locking lever to secure it. Another option here is to use a slim optical drive and a 3.5" device like a card reader with a special bracket to fit both items in the 5.25" bay.
As you can see, there's plenty of room for the GTX250 video card and its power cables. The left side of the Cooler Master Elite 120 case is covered with ventilation holes, so the card's cooling fan will be drawing air in directly from outside the system.
Below the 5.25" bay are three 3.5" bays for hard drives; Cooler Master supplies 2.5" adapter sleds for two of these bays. The 3.5" drive you see here is a spare I had and will be used for Time Machine backups. The Seagate SSHD is in the top bay, just below the optical drive, and isn't visible in this image.
This is one of the easiest builds I've ever done. But at this point it's just a generic PC. Let's turn it into a Hackintosh in the next section.