Build your own Nettop

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Old 25-Sep-2009
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Build your own Nettop

The Asus Eee Box has left a lasting impression on us. It's perfect for people looking for a small compact PC for everyday tasks like surfing the internet, listening to music or even working on some Word or Excel files. The best part is that it consumes just 20W of power. The only downside to this has got to be the lack of a DVD drive and the price of 16.5K would not suit everyone. But what if you can build your own custom Nettop for around 10K? It obviously won't have the size and refinement that the Eee Box has, but here you can hand pick the components and has the satisfaction of building it yourself. I'm going to list some of the essential components below that should be enough to get you started.

CPU and Motherboard


Although many people may not be aware of this but you can actually buy the Atom processor along with the motherboard as a single package. This comes under their Essential series and the only model available right now is the Intel D945GCLF. Below are the specifications of the motherboard.


This board is powered by the 1.6GHz Atom processor which should easily be able to handle your day to day work or checking e-mail and surfing the net. Even though there's just a single RAM slot, it supports a maximum of 2GB RAM (up to 667 MHz only). Another good thing is that you get two more USB ports. The rest of the features are pretty much the same since it's using the same chipset. I think at the moment the Atom processor from Intel is the lowest power consuming chip for the desktop platform and it's nice to see Intel providing an all-in-one solution. Now if only the DualCore Atom's get here quickly.



The major mainstream brands for RAM that are widely available are Dynet, Transcend and Kingston. At this moment the following are the current prices for RAM.


They are all good brands but one thing to note is that Dynet RAM modules do not come in a casing so it's a little risky. Transcend and Kingston both have casings, so you can be assured no one has tampered with it. For the motherboard we've chosen, 667MHz RAM is all it can accommodate so even if you have a higher frequency RAM, it will automatically be down clocked.

Hard Disk


The hard disk choice can vary depending on your personal usage. If you plan to use this as your download rig, then even 80GB hard disk should suffice since you'll be constantly shifting movies on to your main rig. For a regular system a 250GB should be enough for day to day tasks. You can always go in for a higher capacity drive if you think you'll need the space.


Optical Drive


This is one thing that's missing in the Asus Eee Box and here we have the luxury of adding it. Today you can easily get a DVD Multi-Writer for around Rs.1,300. Liteon and LG are the cheapest at the moment at Rs.1,200 bucks. The other options are Sony, Samsung, Asus and I think even MoserBaer has a couple of drives. Go in for anything that's easily available. As a matter of fact you can even use any old drives if you have any.


The cabinet is one of the most important component that is often overlooked. Mini-ITX cases are quite few as it is and the one that is available from Zebronics is called Tambi. This is a Mini-ITX case with provision for a single hard disk and optical drive. This one's available for around Rs.2500 with a 300W power supply.


Zebronics Tambi

Another case from the Zebronics from their super-slim series is Dhoom (don't get me started on their naming style). This supports a Mini-ITX and Micro ATX boards. It also comes with a slim power supply to power all your basic components. This one is available for Rs.2,200 with the power supply.


Zebronics Dhoom

Once again it's not necessary to use this as you can use any cabinet you can find for cheap. The main reason why these may seem a little expensive is because of the slim profile and also there aren't many cases in the market that have this form factor.

Optional Components


Since we are building a Nettop this would ideally be your second rig. If you happen to have a LCD monitor with two inputs like VGA and DVI, you're all set. If you have to get a separate monitor you can easily pick a 17-inch CRT up for around Rs.5,500. If you're into LCD's then you can pick up an inexpensive 16-inch LCD from AOC for around 6K.


In case you want to avoid the cost of purchasing a new monitor, then you can easily get a KVM switch which looks something like this. What this does is that it allows you to use the same monitor, keyboard and mouse for two computers, which is a real space and money saver.

WiFi add-in card


This is something to consider if you are really going to be using Wi-Fi. Wireless LAN cards can be found in a range right from Rs.1,400 to Rs.6,000 or even more depending on the features and range you need. I think a Netgear PCI WLAN card is available for around 1.3K, but again this will vary depending on your location.

Card Reader

This is rather an inexpensive component that can be found for around Rs.300 bucks. Again its optional and should be purchased if need be.

What's Next

I think we've covered all the components that you would find in the Eee Box and excluding the optional components, it brings the grand total to Rs.11,000, this is with a DVD writer and a 250GB hard disk. Now, this is nothing against the Asus Eee Box but just a cheaper alternative for those who find it a little on the higher side.

{The article appeared on TechTree.com long time back, hence rates may vary}

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