The cheapest way to go, of course, is to buy as little as possible. The Venus case makes this possible:
- Mainboard/Processor: VIA EPIA M10000 [$157]
- Ram: 1GB DDR266 [$0 — I already have one]
- Ethernet: onboard 10/100 [$0]
- Audio: onboard 6-channel [$0]
- Video: onboard (has hardware MPEG-2 accelerator) [$0]
- Case: Morex Venus 668 [$95]
- Hard drives: Already own 2x suitable drives which will fit into the Venus [$0]
- DVD burner: The Venus also has room for my drive. [$0]
Total cost: $252 plus shipping
Wow that’s cheap. Of course, this stems from the fact that I already have a bunch of the components. Other benefits:
- The M10000 is a well-tested and well-loved board. It’s been around for a while. Of the VIA EPIAs, it’s the one with the least surprises to uncover.
- It’s undoubtedly quieter, and lower power, than what I’m currently running.
- I don’t even have to move my data from the old warchicken. Since I’ll be reusing the hard drives, I can just install the OS on the root partition, and leave the other partitions untouched (though I might take this opportunity to reformat anyway with something other than reiserfs, because it scares me).
- Performance may actually be somewhat worse than my athlon XP. How much worse is tough to say, though it’s doubtful that it will be too slow for most of the stuff I run. This stems from both the mediocre CPU and the slow memory bus speed. One upgrade that could alleviate this would be to replace the M10000 and the free ram by the VIA EPIA CN13000 or CN10000 (fanless) [$185] and a new stick of DDR2 533 RAM [$122]. We’re still at only $402, and much faster because of the newer chipset and cpu (the CN boards have the C7 processor, while the M10000 has the previous generation C3).
- Of all the mini-itx cases at logicsupply, the Venus is the largest and probably one of the loudest. It has 2x40mm fans and a beefy 200w power supply. The larger power supplies tend to be less efficient and put out more fan noise.
- These hard drives will be louder and require more power than similar-sized laptop hard drives.