Updates on Zotac CI540 Nano and SSDs for a silent $600 desktop

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Well that Zotac box is sure nice at $370. It is only 1.5GHz, but ultra quiet and we paired it with a screamer drive (the SanDisk Extreme Pro for $299) and 8GB of Crucial SO-DIMM memory for $68. The only wish is that it would have 16GB or two slots worth. So a nice simple system $370+299+68=$700 and uber small. Probably comparable to a Mac Mini in terms of price and certainly high performance.
But in looking at ordering some more, prices have come down:
– Zotac from Rakuten has fallen from $360 to $340 including tax which is nice
Tom’s Hardware just updated their SSD recommendations and we had gotten a very fast SSD, but the MX100 512GB is probably a better match at $209 from Newegg
– Memory at Newegg is also down slightly with Ripsaws at $58 instead of $68.
This brings the cost down quite a bit to $340+$209+58=$600 or so. If you don’t need 512GB, then the Crucial MX100 at $110 is quite a deal and you end up with a fast $500 system.
Some configuration notes:
1. Set up with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. This works from the a USB or a SD on a USB adapter, but not from the SD reader itself.
2. When you do the setup, only the wired lan adapter is detected with 14.04 LTS. However, when you install, the Intel wifi drivers are found and loaded, so you only need to be wired on initial setup.
3. The thing really is very silent. Unlike the Atom processor’s we’ve used before, this low power Haswell is decently powerful driving the graphics for Xubuntu and is certainly absolutely quiet and pretty cool. The CPU runs at 67C which is pretty hot, but within thermal limits and the outside of the box gets luke warm. Probably 80 degrees or so at idle.

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