Cheap Fanless Mini PC under 2.5L

While I still hate Intel iGPUs, I could no longer hold off and wait for a new motherboard with a x16 slot. The performance gains are just too big. In fact, it’s so fast, it actually matches the performance of the good old Core 2 Quad Q6600. With 10% of the TDP. This SoC is no joke. Better yet, the only mobo that features it is a fanless one. So this thing is a perfect pick for a performant yet silent HTPC sitting under your TV.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the ingredients.

Part P/N Price
Case Mini-Box M350 $40
Mobo ASRock J5005-ITX $120
SSD (any 2.5″) $80
Wi-Fi Intel 8265 $30
Antenna Delock 89454 $10
PSU picoPSU-80 $25
AC/DC Adapter 5mm x 2.5mm 12V 6A+* $25
Total $360

* I use a 5.5 x 2.5 adapter, it works just fine, so half a mm difference shouldn’t be a problem

That’s $360 for a fanless, tiny PC with incredibly pleasant performance for a HTPC. I’d love to provide a pre-built alternative from the likes of Zotac, but there isn’t any. They only have much older Atom builds with way worse performance, and Core builds with much better perf. For a lot of money, of course. The closest match is the Zotac CI523 Nano Plus, which is no longer being sold, but according to AnandTech it was $320 without SSD and RAM.

I didn’t even bother looking for an Intel NUC, because they’re not fanless, so they have no place in my bedroom.

I haven’t even mentioned the best part of this custom build yet: when Intel Tremont is finally out, you can just buy the mobo with the new SoC, swap it out with the old one, and be done with it. A $100-150 investment and you have the latest and greatest. And you can, of course, sell the old mobo.

Will post pictures later about mine. Till then, let me know what you think!

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