AMD Llano APU System Build: Mini-ITX for HTPC and Gaming
The Rest of the System
Cooler: Zalman CNPS8900 Quiet and Slim
While you could use the standard cooler that comes with the A8-3870K if you are trying to save money, I would recommend this Zalman cooler that is a bit quieter and still low profile to avoid any issue with the power supply location in our Lian-Li chassis. This will also allow you to push the performance of the APU if you decide to go down the overclocking route with your unlocked K-series part.
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 2 x 4GB DDR3-1866
Despite looking for some of that AMD-branded memory, the best product we came across was a set of 4GB modules from Corsair in the Vengeance line running at 1866 MHz. Why is that important? As we have seen in the past, GPU performance actually does scale with memory frequency so sticking with DDR3-1333 memory is leaving performance at the door. And since we found this 8GB kit for under $60, it’s an easy upgrade selection.
SSD: OCZ Agility 3 120GB
The Agility 3 SSD uses the SandForce 2000 controller but uses slightly slower flash memory, but not to a point that average user would realize it. The Agility 3 is pretty low cost as well coming in well under $1.00/GB (and as of this writing is an absolute steal at $69 after rebate!). And while you won’t be able to use the 120GB SSD alone if you planning on doing a lot of gaming or home theater recordings, it will definitely improve the perceived speed of your Llano build!
HDD: Samsung 2TB EcoGreen F4
After getting your operating system on the SSD, you’ll definitely want to add on a larger mass storage hard drive for your games, for recordings from your DVR and more. Enter the Samsung 2TB EcoGreen F4 hard drive and its 2TB capacity. There are lots of different brands and models of hard drive and if you don’t want to fall into the Samsung camp, feel free to pick up a new Western Digital or Seagate option.
Because the Lian-Li case has enough space for it, you might also consider doubling up on your storage drives and running them in a RAID-1 array for a bit more security.
Power Supply: Corsair Builder Series 430 watt
Okay, here’s the deal: to run the A8-3870K, the ASUS motherboard, Corsair memory, OCZ SSD and single hard drive, you aren’t going to need much power. Corsair has a Builder Series of power supplies that are low cost and no frills, but get the job done. Though I do wish it had modular cables to ease with cable management, it doesn’t have enough clutter back there to be a huge deal.
Putting it all together is pretty simple and if you have any experience building PCs you shouldn’t have any problem getting our mini-ITX rig assembled. The only issue is that sometimes installing hardware in a small form factor case can cause some spacing issues (and possibly some cuts on your hands), the Lian-Li case is built well enough (and spacious enough) to avoid that for the most part.
Without a discrete GPU to install, you really only have an APU, heatsink, memory and storage to worry about – then installing your Windows operating system (or Linux if you swing that way).
The total cost on our build clocks in at just under $700 – not cheap by any stretch but getting an SSD in addition to the cost of a higher end case and cooler really makes this better than your average budget build.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, I would really recommend you check out a new PC parts pricing and building site – PCPartPicker.com. By using this URL to the build that I created based on our article here, you can edit and add/remove parts as you wish, get the best prices from any number of vendors in any number of countries, and then share your work with others. It also provides some great information like the cost of your total system build over time, seen below:
So, again, my build based on this article can be found right here: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/cPY1
What do you think about our SFF / Llano build? What would you change? Let us know in the comments!