This machine was a long time coming. I've been putting off buying/building one for about ten years, but now my pile of Steam shame has become large enough that I thought bugger it, let's go. The requirements were that it had to be small enough to sit on a subwoofer in a lounge room, not look teenage-boy-case so it would satisfy partner aesthetics, be reasonably quiet and play pretty much everything in my backlog at 1080 with bells and whistles full on. (I'm not going over 1080 as the Samsung TV I'll be running it through won't go higher than that anyway, so it's academic.) It'll be running Steam in Big Picture mode, as well as occasional Origin/Desura/random games that aren't tied to an online account sessions.
I bought parts with my brother, who built an almost identical disk, except he picked an i3 instead and went with 8GB of RAM and a 500GB second drive, both of which he already had. We picked apart setups mercilessly, and went from case to case before settling on the V1 as being the smallest we could fit what we wanted into - as well as what was in stock (at umart, along with case fans). The rest of the parts were sourced from MSY (mobo, chips, drives, RAM). The R9 and the PSU came from an eBay seller, hence the price difference from retail. Platform was chosen for size, and for upgrade path - I'll be able to put another 1150 chip in there later on, and incrementally change other stuff as well.
This was my first build. Other than being a bit nerve-wracking (**** you, bendy tin motherboard backplate) the assembly was fine, albeit fiddly. Removing the front case face made it easier to install the video card (or to plug in the power cables, rather) but other than the squeezy nature of the case, everything fit in fine.
One thing not mentioned by other people assembling machines based on this case was the need for extra fan power - the Arctic fans didn't come with any adaptors, and as we wanted the machines built rather than sitting in the office waiting for parts, had to go with a solution which was available locally - molex-fan adaptors. Doing it again, I'd order a sata-fan cable and run them from that (thus minimising the number of cables plugged into the modular PSU). But that's for next time. I did a bit of cable routing and unplugging/replugging but am not too fussed about the spaghetti junction inside. It's clean-ish.
Other than a bit of screw loosening/tightening to minimise fan noise, there wasn't much else needed doing. Mental note, though: when tired, ensure you don't use the 32-bit Windows install disk instead of the 64-bit version. Trust me.
I haven't done any benchmarking yet, so I may update this when I do. I'm not intending to overclock it, though, so there's probably not much point as I'm uncertain this would vary much from stock. Only thing I'd add to it would probably be some dust filters for the vents on the side - though these would have to be custom made, as I've not really found any to fit in one piece.
So yeah, it's a bit nervewracking to realise you're in a position to bugger up $1k worth of parts, but what everyone says is true: building a PC isn't as hard as it might seem. I'm more annoyed by how long the driver and Windows installs have taken than with the build itself.
Finally at home and plugged into the screen. 3dMark Firestrike 1.1 score is 6922 with everything on stock. Better than 78% or results so not too shabby I think. Www.3dmark.com/3dm/6407957.