Serendipity - QB One Build - A case so nice you buy it twice


Trash Compacter
Original poster
Feb 27, 2017
Hello again,

My last build log was a little over a month and a half ago, so I decided that it was high time to go ahead and write up another one.

I should begin with a brief introduction to the situation. My girlfriend has a laptop, it's nearly five years old now, and though it has performed exceptionally well for its price range it has been showing its age. Some games don't run well while others flat out refuse to even start. I'd been dying to build a PC for her for ages, but had no real excuse. I hadn't had the money to buy components for her birthday so when I finally did I decided it was high time I just build it, excuses be damned.

I had some components left over both from my previous build log, and from past upgrades to my own computer. This was both a benefit and a disadvantage. A benefit because it meant that I didn't have to buy an entire computer. A disadvantage because those components included 8GB of DDR3 RAM. That meant no Kabylake or Skylake processors.

Let's start with the objectives for this build.

1. It must be cheap. I have to build the best bang for the buck PC build I can on a shoe string budget.

2. It must be SFF. Space is at a premium in our flat, and besides, a massive case would probably just be an eyesore, especially if it had less than half the performance of my own rig.

3. Preferably it will make use of all the components I already have.

The parts I already had for this build were a strange collection.

120GB 850 Evo SSD
2TB WD Black HDD
Intel Stock Cooler (from my 4790k)
2x4GB DDR3
Superflower HX750 Golden-Green

Not loads, but still enough to get started.

Those of you who read my previous build log will know that the Superflower PSU is big, really big. Obviously that doesn't lend itself to a SFF build. If anything it directly counters any hope I have of building something really small. Gone are the dreams of true SFF. Fortunately there are a few Mini-ITX cases that will take a full size ATX PSU. So began the search.

The first thing to spring to mind was the SG13. This cute little box is one I've had an eye on myself, but came with a few caveats. One, if I used my current PSU I would only be able to use the 120GB SSD I already have. Not the end of the world but that's sort of the bare minimum a PC can survive with these days. Also when I was picking my own case my girlfriend expressed that she wasn't so enamoured of the SG13s looks.

Contender number one out of the race.

Then I looked at the Fractal Design Define Nano S. Plenty of space for the PSU and hard drives. However, it's still enormous, massively above the size of the case I myself own.

Another one bites the dust.

Next up, the Raijintek Metis Plus. This case is pretty highly rated. There was a major cooling flaw in the original case, and this was resolved through the simple expedient of cutting a hole in the roof. Nonetheless, turns out that my girlfriend is picky, and didn't like the look of the brushed aluminium box. I might have gotten away with the black one, but this case is still pretty pricey, so I filed it away for later.

Next up was the Thermaltake Core V1. Still technically missing out on the SFF title, but it's not too big. With that huge mesh front panel and a 200mm fan it should have no problem keeping things cool. And there's plenty of space to fit my behemoth of a PSU. Still it is kinda big compared to a lot of the other options at this price range.

Around this point I picked up an i3 4160 at the amazing price of £30 second hand. This might have been the final push that made me drive towards getting everything together. I put out some feelers into HWSUK and acquired an MSI H81i. While looking for a 750TI for a good price I happened upon a fellow who was looking to get a good quality, quiet PSU for his computer. Joy of joys, he had a CX600. Lower power than my PSU, and arguably lower quality, but he was willing to throw in £20 to sweeten the deal.

Of course I said yes. Then I had a job interview, it went well, and I had supply work lined up for the next week. The first supply work I would have. I was in a good mood. When the same fellow contacted me to let me know he was ready to post the PSU he mentioned he also had a GTX 950 for £68.

I needed a cheap but effective card for the build anyway. How could I say no to such a deal? As far as I was concerned the PSU I was swapping with him was free, so I was getting a GTX 950 (Asus Strix for the record) for fifty quid. I jumped at the chance.

Suddenly with a normal sized PSU my options opened up. The next week I continued my research, when I happened upon an Amazon Warehouse listing. The Sharkoon QB One case second hand, only £25, like new. This is the case I have. My girlfriend likes it, and it has two possible orientations, so it doesn't have to stay wide.

So I had all the parts, I was just waiting for the case to arrive. I was in all day, so there should be no problem with Amazon delivering it.

Or so I thought.

All day, no sign of the case. Cue 4:15. My girlfriend has been home for about twenty minutes, and Amazon turns up. We live in a small flat, two rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. There was no way I was going to get away with smuggling such a large box past her. I came clean, and I'm glad I did.

I had planned to present her with a completed computer. Instead, we reserved Sunday to build it together, and I'm glad we did.

First things first, we disassembled the case and removed the plastic HDD mount. We'd be putting this back in later, but it had to be removed so that we could actually place the HDD in it. I got her to do most of the screwing and unscrewing involved here, as well as for the rest of the build. I was talking her through everything, but I wanted to make sure she had a real sense of ownership.

Adding in the 120GB 850 EVO. No build is complete without an SSD these days, and although I didn't have a larger one, this should be more than enough for the OS and perhaps one or two choice games. As in my own computer, this was fairly easy to add in.

The beating heart of any computer is it's CPU. If there is one thing that an aspiring CPU builder should do it is install this. The clear markings on both the CPU and the motherboard made it easy. I must admit I made her pose for this picture.

Installing the motherboard. She's fairly dextrous and did all this without much help, other than me pointing out each place she needed to screw in and handing her each screw.

The Asus Strix GTX 950 seems to be a fairly petite card, especially compared to my own 970. It fit without much effort.

I had suffered issues using this CPU cooler during a brief period when I had swapped my own CPU's AIO. It had sounded like a jet turbine and failed to keep the 4790k at a safe temperature even when playing DOTA 2. This was a risk using it, but I had a hunch that I had simply failed to mount it properly on my own board. My girlfriend applied a small amount of thermal paste and then we double and triple checked that the cooler was securely mounted to the motherboard.

The HDD was a little bit of a squeeze, but it fit. This angle is poor, it actually doesn't overhang the motherboard that much, and is in fact very secure where it is. We also installed the PSU here, pulling all of the cables through and out of the case so that we could organise them one at a time as we plugged them in.

You can see that we got a little more creative with the front I/O cables, running them through different parts of the front of the cage depending on where they would plug into the motherboard. For the record, the layout of this motherboard was much easier to work on than my own, which is a newer, more expensive version.

Unfortunately we did not get any pictures of the cable management we did. It's a little disappointing as I was actually quite proud of it. With an air cooler it would need that space. I had justified my poor cable management in my own build by telling myself it didn't matter so much with an AIO. Having managed this one fairly efficiently I may very well return to my own PC and improve it.

It's ALIIIIIIVE! It turned on first time, and we straight away began installing Windows 10. The monitor is in fact an old TV that I bought as a third monitor a long time ago, and since going back to two it has just been collecting dust in the cupboard. A quick wipe down and it was good as new. Plus, since it was a TV it had speakers built in. Bad ones, but they worked.

After a few scares (I forgot to take out the USB after the install forced reboot) we were able to proceed through the installation).

We went out for a walk and left it to install as we did so.

She installed all of the drivers that I had earlier downloaded, then all we had to do was wait for her desk to arrive!

The completed build!

Strangely, despite being sold as second hand on Amazon (like new or not) the case appeared to be brand new. It was still in it's plastic wrapping, we mounted the feet on the side of the case, so we could go with the vertical orientation. It looks pretty damn good. We are replacing that keyboard with a wireless one so that she can take it out of the keyboard tray and use it alongside the mouse more comfortably.

All in all the build cost me about £150 to put together, not counting the cost of the components I already owned. She's delighted with it. It's got more than enough power to run anything she plays with any regularity, and to do so well.

Any recommendations for co-op games?


SFF Lingo Aficionado
Jun 29, 2017
it was all dandy until you installed windows... :p Just kidding! Nice build.

co-op games? Wife and I play or played Renegade ops (super fun!), Dungeon Siege 3 (can be played co-op best with joypad), Love in a dangerous spacetime, any Lego game, Trine, Hammerwatch, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, ...