Motherboard, CPU, Case
Motherboard: EVGA X58 Micro
The motherboard is the heart of any good system and since the focus of this build is on portability, the micro ATX form factor was a must.
Since performance is equally important here, Intel's X58 chipset was the obvious choice. There are only a handful of micro ATX X58 motherboards out there and they're made by ASUS, DFI, MSI, and EVGA. While all of these manufacturers are pretty reputable in their own right, I chose to go with EVGA's 121-BL-E756-TR X58 Micro as the basis of this build due to their renowned customer support, quality, the success of their other X58 offerings, and frankly, it just looks damn good with its red and black color scheme.
Thanks to EVGA for supplying the review board.
Case: Thermaltake Lanbox Lite VF6000BWS
Probably an equally important consideration in a micro ATX build is the case. Thermaltake was gracious enough to send their Lanbox Lite to use for this build and the name alone indicates this case was designed for portable performance. The version they sent has the optional side windows—a nice touch of show for the LAN party scene.
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 (D0 stepping)
If you're reading this, chances are you know that the Core i7 920 is the chip to get these days. It overclocks well and is at a good price point for performance. There's really no need to go with Intel's more expensive processors, because the 920 can usually clock to the same speeds without too much effort anyways.
One challenge of the i7s is that they can tend to get a bit hot, though; a problem which is compounded when space is an issue. With that in mind, I made sure to get the most recent D0 stepping, which requires less voltage than its C0 counterpart. For those of you who don't know, you can identify D0 chips by the S-Spec number on the box: SLBEJ.