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Thread: Going to build a new HTPC... looking for input

  1. #1
    Skiz's Avatar (_8(I)
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    Going to build a new HTPC and looking for input. It will be used for playing music and movies, usually x264 1080 movies which I will be stealing off the internets.

    I was thinking of buying an inexpensive barebones system like this:

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...3&Sku=B69-0320

    That should easily do what I want it to, right?

    To complete it, I was going to drop in a GeForce 8800 GT or something.

    I'd also need a wireless card. A PCI one should be fine I suppose.



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  2. Software & Hardware   -   #2
    mjmacky's Avatar an alchemist?
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    That systems will definitely cover you, you might want to avoid DXVA since you're processor will handle all, i.e. don't worry about getting the card for video acceleration, just maybe for its 3D capability with the UI you're planning to use (XBMC?).
    As for wireless card, I'd recommend a USB stick, I've always gotten much greater performance out of those, PCI wireless has managed to be trash in every case. Some of the fastest wireless speeds I've achieved are 18 MB/s (144 Mbps) pairing a Linksys USB 600N with a Linksys WRT 610N, using Samba protocol transfer on a Win7 network.

    So the wireless is my opinion, but my first statement is fact, it WILL handle it all EASILY.

  3. Software & Hardware   -   #3
    Skiz's Avatar (_8(I)
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    Looking a bit deeper, there are some really negative reviews on that case.

    Perhaps an extra $20 would be better spent on this setup?

    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...=ITD&body=MAIN



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  4. Software & Hardware   -   #4
    mjmacky's Avatar an alchemist?
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    As far as mid-sized towers go, you're going to have a tight fit with most of them. I saw that thing about having to remove the MB to fit the HDs in. For that new case, there are only a few pics of it, so I can't tell if it will be any better (they do have a shitload of pics of the DVD drive though, WTF is up with that?!). It was that reason that I put down some money for this full sized monster sitting next to my desk. Anyways, since it's for an HTPC, usually you want to go small. What about microatx boards and appropriate cases? If you're starting to feel a little picky, it might be a good idea to migrate away from package deals and put together a list for yourself. You'll have less regret in the long run.

  5. Software & Hardware   -   #5
    Skiz's Avatar (_8(I)
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    Micro ATX is what I've had in mind. I've got a Mini ITX in the living room now, so I know about small space. I have this in this case.

    I'll start looking at Micro ATX cases and mobos and see if I can find a good starting point.



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  6. Software & Hardware   -   #6
    Skiz's Avatar (_8(I)
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    I think I might have settled on this:

    mobo -
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-619-_-Product


    case -
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...3&Sku=ULT40278
    or
    http://www.google.com/products/catal...d=0CFUQ8wIwAA# (there's one on eBay, new for $50)

    Still looking for the best processor I can get for those... I keep reading about the Phenom II x6 and unlocking cores. Not sure what that's all about.
    Last edited by Skiz; 03-11-2011 at 10:06 PM.



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  7. Software & Hardware   -   #7
    mjmacky's Avatar an alchemist?
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    I'd recommend keeping the processor performance below the high end scale. For HTPC, it's just not needed, and for a small form factor, those more powerful processors generate a lot of heat. You might not have the cooling capability necessary for the higher end Phenom II X4s and X6s. My own experience with the keeping an X4 cool even in a midtower was quite a chore. I ended up migrating to a bigger case with a huge heatsink. For HTPC, a decent desktop dual core or a mediocre quad core is more than sufficient. If you're going AMD, stick with Athlon or Phenom series (I'm sure you already know to avoid Sempron), and Intel is just a waste of money.

    The MB is good, however I couldn't possibly provide you any feedback on cases or PSU/case designs, it's going to be your entertainment system after all, size and form is a very subjective matter.

  8. Software & Hardware   -   #8
    Snee's Avatar Error xɐʇuʎs BT Rep: +1
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    I'd probably go intel i3 with an nvidia gt430, or something low- to middle range from ATi if I was building a htpc right now, and wanted a bit more juice/less work optimizing than with the atom-based platform you bought the other year..

  9. Software & Hardware   -   #9
    mjmacky's Avatar an alchemist?
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    Your entry level i3 runs $120 here:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819115078
    and has more power than you need to run an HTPC

    Meanwhile, just evaluating AMD processors of comparable performance
    $77 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103872
    $85 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103824
    $100 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103871

    The advantage the i3 has over those AMDs is they run at 65W, where as AMD usually runs at 95W (when you get into the higher performing models, they usually run @ 125W). So this can translate to less heat. This 65w dual core will also serve your interests for $75 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103910
    However I would recommend quad core, multithreading (>2) has already been or is being implemented where it counts (I know it seems opposite of what I said earlier, but I'm making the distinction between 95W and 125W X4s).

    Also recall that graphics card will be serving to handle 3D GUI, not video decoding, whether this be XBMC or MC7, so it doesn't need to be gaming grade.
    Last edited by mjmacky; 03-12-2011 at 09:01 PM.

  10. Software & Hardware   -   #10
    Snee's Avatar Error xɐʇuʎs BT Rep: +1
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    Lots of neat processors (phenom II, fuck athlon) on the am3 platform, prob is that it's relatively old tech and should be getting replaced with FM1 or am3+ or whatever. Meanwhile, sandy bridge is a new architecture.

    Secondly, you do need an am3 four core processor to match a dual core i3 for threading, thanks to hyperthreading. Oh, and the built-in graphics chip on an i3 might be able to do movies on its own. I've had good results with my i5 laptop, anyhow.


    The GT430 I suggested because he mentioned an 8800gt. It's not a gaming card, but as far as I can tell one of the best htpc cards around, available passively cooled, and running on a low wattage. Catalyst drivers tend to be a bit shaky lately, in my experience, so I'd not suggest ATi as my first choice, but a 6450 or similar should be decent too, and possibly better at downclocking itself when power isn't required. I know the 5000-series is, owning a couple.

    Assuming there's a desktop chipset for it, with sandy bridge you might even be able to switch between the onboard intel graphics and the ATi/Nvidia card. It works very well on the laptop side, anyhow.


    It might not be as cheap as an amd setup to begin with, but the electrical bill won't be as big, and you wouldn't need as much cooling.

    I've got nothing against amd, being a big fan of cheap and unlocked Phenom IIs, and have recommended them on more than one occasion, but for an htpc, I'd not go for an amd setup if I was building today.
    Last edited by Snee; 03-13-2011 at 08:48 AM.

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