This computer was built for one purpose: to function as a workhorse at my office. So far this week, it has been doing great and I cannot complain about it.
In regards to the build itself, there is plenty of room to expand upon and add in a GPU. However I already have a dedicated gaming rig (feel free to check out my profile for the specs on that!) so this build was more about processing power for running several media programs.
The ML08 case is extremely small compared to my R4, and a word of caution to any thinking about building a HTPC: the cable management is tremendous. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. True, it can be challenging at times, and makes additions of hardware components somewhat of a struggle, but I found the task to be - dare I say - fun.
Concerning my selection of chip architecture, the prospect of running a new Skylake chip was too strong of an urge to ignore. The original plan for this rig was to obtain the non-overclockable i5-6500 processor, but Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales had a great deal for this unlocked processor at only 30 dollars more. I figured I would be future-proofing my CPU at the very least, since both my case and my cooling solution are not designed for intense overclocking sessions. Surprisingly however, there have been no problems with a mild/robust overclock on the CPU and my RAM, though I would not want to sustain the higher clock speeds for very long due to the way heat is focused in my case. I will now explain that.
Heat is focused on only one side of the case, where the mini ITX motherboard, SSD, optical drive, and PSU sit. There are NO case fans in the ML08. Additionally there is only room for a CPU cooler up to 58mm in height. This is a thermal challenge in and of itself, but I believe the use of Noctua's NH L9i works well. In fact, I contacted Noctua support, and they were very helpful in telling me that while their website listed the TDP of the cooler at 95W with case ventilation, I would be fine as long as I don't use their Low Noise Adapter (LNA).
Speaking of noise, I did not need the LNA because the PC is totally silent. I can only tell the machine is running by my power LED and HDD activity light (those can both be concealed by a nice front panel shield on the ML08). The PSU is putting out 300W and will not spin its fan unless the ambient temperature rises above a certain threshold. Even while overclocking I have only seen the fan start up once and then turn itself off after a few minutes. While starting up the PSU fan makes a little sound, but to be perfectly honest, I can't hear it without my head against the desk. Noctua fans are dead silent as always and of great quality. This cooler was so simple to install and the product's packaging was incredibly impressive.
My motherboard has a decent wireless adapter which is great because the idea behind having an HTPC is portability. I've had to move my R4 around a few times before, and in comparison the light weight of the ML08 plus the attachable handle makes for a much easier transport. Granted, I won't be playing games on Intel's integrated graphics, so my machine is not truly a console-killer.
The monitor is very crisp and has vivid colors, but as many of the reviews say its speakers are mediocre at best. This doesn't really matter to me personally as I do not use monitor speakers and instead opt for my Sennheiser headphones.
I was able to get my OS through my company so that is why there is no cost associated with Windows 10 Pro in my part list. For reference, the current price of this software is approximately 150 dollars at a local microcenter.
This was a great build, and I believe it can only get better with the addition of a GPU with the replacement of my PSU, or some more storage drives. As of right now however this machine is doing its job and doing it well.
Thank you for reading!