Processor: Intel Core i7-5775C
Intel 6th Gen Core processor ‘Skylake’ are in production and coming out real soon here in the second half of 2015. Intel 5th Gen Core processor ‘Broadwell’ was announced in June 2015, but retail boxed processors have yet to make it to market due to “supply tightness due to strong demand” and Intel “expects additional volume to be available as Q3 progresses” according to Intel Public Relations. Amazon has the Intel Core i7-5775C ‘Broadwell’ processor available to pre-order with an estimated in-stock date of August 14, 2015. If the Intel Skylake processors are announced the first week of August at Gamescom like they are expected to be there is a chance that you’ll be able to buy a 6th Gen processor before a 5th Gen processor, which is something we’ve never seen happen before. Our Intel Core i7-5775C processor review showed that the Intel Broadwell microarchitecture has some strengths (graphics performance, eDRAM and 14nm process), but lackluster overall CPU performance gains over 4th Gen Core processors (Haswell) and a steep price tag have really discouraged the enthusiast community. To update our ‘Dream Mini ITX’ build from 2012 we wanted to go with the latest processor and since we will be running integrated graphics we actually look forward to the performance gains to be had in the graphics department. One of the joys of a ‘Dream PC’ is that there are no price limits!
Intel Z97 Mini ITX Motherboard: ASUS Maximus VII Impact
Picking an Intel Z97 Mini ITX motherboard for our PC was pretty simple. The ASUS Maximus VII Impact is the only Intel Z97 Mini ITX motherboard on the market that has an M.2 PCI Express Gen 3.0 x4 slot for 32 Gb/s of storage goodness (when the M.2 slot it used the boards single PCIe x16 slot operates in x8 mode), Intel I218V Gigabit LAN and Realtek ALC1150 8-Channel HD Audio (SupremeFX Impact II). This motherboard also packs ATX-level power thanks to the riser board located at the edge of the board, so you basically end up with a mini ITX board without having to sacrifice any key ATX components. This board is also part of the ROG series, so you know the UEFI BIOS will have all the overclocking and features that enthusiasts love. When we reviewed this motherboard back in 2014 we found it to be an excellent board and it continues to be our number one choice for a high-end Intel Z97 mini ITX board nearly a year after being released! At $219.99 this tiny mini ITX board has a high price tag, but it comes with pretty much every feature you’d want on an Intel Z97 board with the exception of SuperSpeed+ USB 3.1 support.
SuperSpeed+ USB 3.1 Add-In Card: ASUS USB 3.1 Type-A 2-Port Card
We wanted to support SuperSpeed USB 3.1, so we will be using an ASUS Dual Type-A USB 3.1 PCIe Add-In Card in order to support the latest USB 3.1 specification. ASUS also sells a USB 3.1 card that has a single Type-C port on it, but there isn’t an add-in card available that has both Type-A and Type-C ports on it. This sucks as you’ll need to pick one form factor or the other for the time being, but it should be doable. The ASUS Dual Type-A USB 3.1 PCIe Add-In Card isn’t exactly inexpensive at $38.15, but we want the latest and greatest USB ports. We figured that since we wouldn’t be running a discrete graphics card that this will put the open PCIe x16 slot to good use!