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Building the Perfect PC by Barbara Fritchman Thompson, Robert Bruce Thompson

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Component Considerations

With our design criteria in mind, we set out to choose the best components for the SFF PC. The following sections describe the components we chose, and why we chose them. For the SFF PC, we had to reverse our usual practice of choosing the components and then building the system. As strange as it sounds, we had to build the SFF PC and then choose the components.

What we mean is that component choice is constrained when you build a small system. With a standard system, you needn’t worry about components fitting the case. With an SFF PC, component size is a constant concern. For example, the CPU cooler you really want to use may be too tall to fit between the motherboard and the drive bay, the ideal optical drive may be half an inch too deep to seat fully in the drive bay, or the fan on your video adapter may intrude on the PCI slot.

For example, Figure 7-1 (yes, we stole it from the Home Theater PC chapter) shows two optical drives, a Plextor PX-708A DVD writer on the bottom and a Lite-On DVD-ROM drive on top. In a standard case, the inch or so difference in depth is immaterial. In an SFF case, that extra inch may mean the larger drive won’t fit the case. (As it happened, we were able to use the Plextor PX-708A optical drive, but it was a tight fit.)

Plextor PX-708A DVD writer (bottom) and Lite- On DVD-ROM drive

Figure 7-1. Plextor PX-708A DVD writer (bottom) and Lite- On DVD-ROM drive

Such factors as motherboard layout and ...

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