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New HTPC Build - Stylish, Quiet, Power-Efficient!

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April 23, 2013 3:53:17 PM

Looking to build a stylish, quiet, power-efficient HTPC box that can last a while. So far, I've put together this build:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($133.79 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($63.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 64GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($97.98 @ Outlet PC)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 380W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($48.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $554.70
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-23 18:40 EDT-0400)

I'm not particularly tied to any component, and I'm especially interested in other case options if there are some nice cube looking setups. I'm primarily using this as a XBMC-powered Media Center, as well as a Plex Media Server, playing mostly locally stored media (tv, movies, music).

My considerations:
Budget: < $600 ideally, but willing to splurge on something a bit more if it's worthwhile.
Noise: It sits in my living room so the quieter the better
Style/Size: Again, it sits in my living room (entertainment center) and I'd like to showcase it (at a minimal level). I liked the Coolermaster mITX case but it sounds like the mITX components are just too pricey at this point (maybe not true anymore?)
Efficiency: This is important to me as I will have it on 24/7 for downloading and the plex media server. Would be happy if I didn't notice a bump in my PG&E (though I'm already basically doing this with a laptop sooo...)

Looking to purchase and build pretty soon, and would appreciate any feedback that might help me be more satisfied with my purchases.

thanks in advance!
April 23, 2013 4:18:38 PM

id get this instead
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/SCCZ

you will need a aftermarket cooler if you want silence.

no reason for the hd4000 graphics when you are only playing movies

psu is better. its 42.99 after a MIR at us.ncix
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April 23, 2013 4:18:39 PM

id get this instead
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/SCCZ

you will need a aftermarket cooler if you want silence.

no reason for the hd4000 graphics when you are only playing movies

psu is better. its 42.99 after a MIR at us.ncix
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April 23, 2013 5:10:36 PM

No reason to overspend on this. I made the build mITX with the very nice CoolerMaster Elite 120 and a larger SSD. 64GB fills up real fast.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2120 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus P8H77-I Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($54.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($100.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced (Black) Mini ITX Tower Case ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $510.92
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-23 20:08 EDT-0400)

If you're only watching videos, the Ivy Bridge Pentium G2120 has the same graphical performance as the i3 3220.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/trinity-vs...


The i3 just has hyper threading which probably would never get used here. Might as well pocket $50. The Pentium also uses slightly less power:

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/trinity-vs...

Do you need an optical drive?

Do you need an operating system?

Do you need a motherboard that has WiFi built in?

Also, I highly doubt you would ever use 8GB of RAM so you could cut cost there too.
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April 23, 2013 6:03:39 PM

TheBigTroll said:
id get this instead
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/SCCZ

you will need a aftermarket cooler if you want silence.

no reason for the hd4000 graphics when you are only playing movies

psu is better. its 42.99 after a MIR at us.ncix


yah i'm a little clueless about the cooling needs of this machine so appreciate the reco on that and the PSU. I mean I'll never ever be gaming on this but seems like everyone else building these things is going with the dual core i3 ivy bridge chips... i get the $20 savings, but does that $20 buy me anything in terms of futureproofing or getting some extended life out of this thing... i don't want to have to rebuild this in like 2 years...
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April 23, 2013 6:08:03 PM

If all you are ever doing is watching video then I doubt the load on the machine will ever get much more strenuous in a way that the hyper-threading that the i3 offers is going to help. If you plan on playing ANY games, that's a very different story and not even the i3 is really going to work for that.

It's also more like $50 savings on the CPU alone with basically no performance drop for what you're doing.

Stock cooler is fine. Don't worry about that unless a little noise on start-up bothers you. Most Intel coolers idle silent.
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April 23, 2013 6:16:04 PM

JD88 said:
No reason to overspend on this. I made the build mITX with the very nice CoolerMaster Elite 120 and a larger SSD. 64GB fills up real fast.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2120 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus P8H77-I Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($54.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($100.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced (Black) Mini ITX Tower Case ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $510.92
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-23 20:08 EDT-0400)

If you're only watching videos, the Ivy Bridge Pentium G2120 has the same graphical performance as the i3 3220.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/trinity-vs...


The i3 just has hyper threading which probably would never get used here. Might as well pocket $50. The Pentium also uses slightly less power:

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/trinity-vs...

Do you need an optical drive?

Do you need an operating system?

Do you need a motherboard that has WiFi built in?

Also, I highly doubt you would ever use 8GB of RAM so you could cut cost there too.


I was looking at that case initially, but need to relook at the dimensions. It seems like about the size of a shoebox, right? kind of deep and narrow?

Good points on the CPU - i think for me, I just want to make sure i get some thing that will last a little while and that will handle any video processing i would need for the media server part (on the fly transcoding??) if that pentium handles it all with lower power consumption I'm all for it. I haven't fully experimented with the range of the Plex apps as far as quality goes, so it's a bit of a question mark for me.

Optical drive i'm actually on the fence about... so far the only thing I've used it for in my current setup in the last 2 years is to install OS, which could probably be done via jumpdrive or something else. Rarely play movies on DVD, but I considered throwing one in for the $15 bucks just in case... probably should. Only real reason not to is if i go with a stylish case that doesn't offer a bay for it I guess.

OS also in question. I may be able to pull over my installation of Win8. Have given about 2 seconds of thought to Ubuntu, but all my other computers (work and home lappies) are on WIndows, so might be nice to stick with what im familiar with... consider that a sunk cost in terms of budgeting I think.

THe wifi piece is critical... i guess i assumed all these Mobo's had the wifis on board, but I do want to make sure they are up to snuff and will last me through the next 1-2 iterations of the 802.11 iteration (n, now?) Given that i'm using this as a media server, seems like it would be pretty important to have that component be rock solid...

out of curiosity why the switch in memory brand and PSU . The Mushkin seems to be highly recommended in other builds, but i didn't research exactly why. And PSU seems to be the most widely varying component so I'm always curious... not to mention one of the components i know the least about.

thanks for the great info already!
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April 23, 2013 6:32:28 PM

Honestly, I just picked the cheapest RAM on the list. It's really hard to go wrong with any decent branded RAM. Mushkin and Crucial are both great.

As for motherboard, you would probably want to change out the one I listed to this one with wifi:

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($101.99 @ Newegg)

As for power supply, the Corsair offers a little extra wattage, but the Antec unit is more reliable and efficient. You will likely never use more than 100 watts in this build so I would probably go with the Antec. Again, it was just me going to the cheapest reliable unit. In this case, the efficiency is probably more important to you.

The CM case is really nice. I've looked at it in person several times. It's a little longer than a shoebox but not much wider. Really well built and good quality.
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April 23, 2013 11:50:06 PM

JD88 said:
Honestly, I just picked the cheapest RAM on the list. It's really hard to go wrong with any decent branded RAM. Mushkin and Crucial are both great.

As for motherboard, you would probably want to change out the one I listed to this one with wifi:

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($101.99 @ Newegg)

As for power supply, the Corsair offers a little extra wattage, but the Antec unit is more reliable and efficient. You will likely never use more than 100 watts in this build so I would probably go with the Antec. Again, it was just me going to the cheapest reliable unit. In this case, the efficiency is probably more important to you.

The CM case is really nice. I've looked at it in person several times. It's a little longer than a shoebox but not much wider. Really well built and good quality.


Awesome, so I think my build has evolved to this...
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2120 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($77.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($101.24 @ Amazon)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($63.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 64GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($97.98 @ Outlet PC)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced (Black) Mini ITX Tower Case ($39.99 @ Microcenter)
Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 380W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($48.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $528.13
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-24 02:36 EDT-0400)

Couple other questions:
CASE: [edit] I see that it has 2x2.0 and 1x3.0 so that's ok, but it looks like it might me just a SHADE too tall for the space I want to shove it in... Is there any other cases that I might want to look at?

COOLING: the fans that come with the case, and the standard CPU fan should be enough you think? I wonder if those case fans are super loud - i guess I can probably control them a bit via the BIOS right?

MOBO: is the only advantage of the one you reco'd (the Gigabyte) over something like the ASRock H77M http://pcpartpicker.com/part/asrock-motherboard-h77mitx that it has WIFI on board? I'm starting to think if that's really a necessity. I probably want to hard wire the HTPC to the router anyway, so maybe Wifi isn't that important.. if that were the case, is there a better mobo option?

SSD: I'm struggling over the add'l storage capacity. I mean I'm currenlty sitting at about 30GB in my current setup with just about all the software I can think I'll need for the foreseeable future... do you find yourself putting anything else on the SSD that I may not be thinking of? I mean I would think that the 2TB Seagate holds all my ever growing collection of media pretty handily and I could always upgrade that or slap another drive in there someday pretty easily... I guess it's only about $20 to double my SSD storage, but is it overkill...
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April 24, 2013 3:41:25 AM

-why would you drop down to itx when it costs you more money in the end but doesnt improve anything?
-the ram sticks i picked out are cheaper
-small SSDs are plain useless. anything under 120gb isnt worth it at the $/gb.
-gigabyte board is better but it wont help you
-the xfx is a superior unit
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April 24, 2013 7:53:09 AM

TheBigTroll said:
-why would you drop down to itx when it costs you more money in the end but doesnt improve anything?
-the ram sticks i picked out are cheaper
-small SSDs are plain useless. anything under 120gb isnt worth it at the $/gb.
-gigabyte board is better but it wont help you
-the xfx is a superior unit


-It doesn't really cost anything more. The cheaper case makes up for the slightly more expensive motherboard. The case is smaller and nicer looking.

-He likes the high rated Mushkin RAM. Doesn't really mater as the cost isn't much more.

- That's simply not true about the SSD's. They really make a big difference. I've put one in every PC I own simply because I can't stand waiting on normal HDDs. I do think it's worth spending the extra money on the 120GB 840 series though. It's quite a bit faster.

- Maybe about the power supply, but it doesn't matter for this build. I would probably get the Antec too just because I always buy Antec power supplies.

There are a lot of nice mITX cases out there, some of which are a lot smaller than the CM Elite 120.

Honestly, I wouldn't change the motherboard as losing the WiFi wouldn't lower the cost much. You might use it down the road, who knows.

Intel stock cooler is fine. It's a little loud on boot, but after that it's nearly silent. You won't be putting a lot of load on the CPU anyway. As for the case fans, I doubt you would even need the ones that are in there. That CPU simply isn't going to be generating much in the way of heat.

This Antec case is pretty nice and has the PSU included:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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April 24, 2013 8:23:27 AM

the itx motherboard + case still ends up costing 10 bucks more in the end. you can throw that towards a proper 128gb SSD

it doesnt matter if its a muskin stick or a crucial stick. they perform the same and serve the same function. why pay more for a useless heatspreader that you cant see any ways

i know SSDs make the difference. but im talking about the fact that for a few bucks more you can get yourself a proper 128gb SSD

the xfx is a seasonic unit. from what i know that antec is made by CWT which isnt as good. and if the xfx ends up being cheaper in the end and being a better unit why not make the upgrade

its fricken loud for any htpc rig. anything aftermarket can easily beat it. a aftermarket sink is definitely a necessity for HTPC builds

included psus in cases are always bad.
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April 24, 2013 8:41:35 AM

Regarding SSD, it makes a big difference if you boot up the computer every time you use it. Many people leave their HTPC on 24/7, in which case you might as well go with HDD only. I do think 64 GB is plenty for Windows or Ubuntu/XBMC--again, as long as this is strictly for HTPC use.

Regarding CPU, I agree, Pentium is more than enough for strict HTPC. Even Celeron would be fine and would save additional $.

I personally would rather go with Silverstone case+micro-ATX mb than Coolermaster+micro-ATX at the same price. This is for HTPC and the Silverstone looks nicer and has the classic HTPC form. This will be much more versatile for putting in a home theater cabinet with other AV components.

This would get you down to $450 with about the same performance:

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/SKM7
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/SKM7/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/SKM7/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Celeron G1610 2.6GHz Dual-Core Processor ($34.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L12 37.8 CFM CPU Cooler ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($29.83 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Crucial M4 64GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($72.51 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 300W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($35.44 @ Newegg)
Total: $442.72
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-24 11:41 EDT-0400)

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April 24, 2013 8:52:03 AM

would not go as far down as a celeron. they are really slow.
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April 24, 2013 11:57:20 AM

JD88 said:
TheBigTroll said:
-why would you drop down to itx when it costs you more money in the end but doesnt improve anything?
-the ram sticks i picked out are cheaper
-small SSDs are plain useless. anything under 120gb isnt worth it at the $/gb.
-gigabyte board is better but it wont help you
-the xfx is a superior unit


-It doesn't really cost anything more. The cheaper case makes up for the slightly more expensive motherboard. The case is smaller and nicer looking.

-He likes the high rated Mushkin RAM. Doesn't really mater as the cost isn't much more.

- That's simply not true about the SSD's. They really make a big difference. I've put one in every PC I own simply because I can't stand waiting on normal HDDs. I do think it's worth spending the extra money on the 120GB 840 series though. It's quite a bit faster.

- Maybe about the power supply, but it doesn't matter for this build. I would probably get the Antec too just because I always buy Antec power supplies.

There are a lot of nice mITX cases out there, some of which are a lot smaller than the CM Elite 120.

Honestly, I wouldn't change the motherboard as losing the WiFi wouldn't lower the cost much. You might use it down the road, who knows.

Intel stock cooler is fine. It's a little loud on boot, but after that it's nearly silent. You won't be putting a lot of load on the CPU anyway. As for the case fans, I doubt you would even need the ones that are in there. That CPU simply isn't going to be generating much in the way of heat.

This Antec case is pretty nice and has the PSU included:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I think I'm pretty dialed in on the memory barring anything definitive. We're only talking a few bucks there anyway. I'm glad you pointed out that the 120GB SSD is actually a faster series, i thought it was just the same speed just a little bigger. Definitely worth $10 IMO.

The case, MOBO and PSU are still up in the air I feel. I see so many builds using the ASRock Mobos - what's the draw there?

And it seems like the Antec PSU would be more power efficient, but the Corsair seems to be all over the place... it also looks like the cabling is more streamlined with Corsair, but I'm not sure if that's just custom cable covers or something that people are getting??!? The Antec screenshots of people's builds definitely appears to be more old school individually delivered cable wires...

The case - this is killing me! It's actually a really important component for me and I really like both the CM 120 and even the Fractal Node 304 (though this nixes the optical drive - probably not a big deal anyway, I am struggling to think of a reason I really need it). But both are just about a half inch too tall. I live the Silverstone as well that I originally had but it seems a little too big if I go ITX - kind of a lot of wasted space. That flatter wider design might make more sense for me, but is there something that's in between these two designs that anyone has seen? I haven't been able to uncover anything in my own investigation as it seems like it's CM 120 or SS all around (with a few also-rans). That Antec case would be awesome if it had USB 3.0 instead of 2.0 on the front and it didn't come with some random PSU I think...

As far as CPU, I don't think I want to drop down as far as Celeron. I may never need even the Pentium Dual Core, but I certainly would rather have it and not need it than come wanting for it later. Seems like I wouldn't save anything but a few bucks dropping down to celeron right?

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April 24, 2013 12:02:13 PM

JD88 said:

Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($54.99 @ Newegg)


Looking back at this memory recommendation, it looks to be lower speed DDR3-1333 vs DDR-1600 of Mushkin... Will I not ever notice the difference in those speeds? Some others have recommended only 4GB but seems like I'd rather have 8 and never have to worry about that...

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April 24, 2013 12:45:24 PM

How set are you on an optical drive and front 3.0 ports?

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2020 2.9GHz Dual-Core Processor ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($101.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill NS Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($28.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Green 2TB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($179.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $505.95
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-24 15:42 EDT-0400)

and this case:

http://www.amazon.com/ANTEC-OEM-ISK110-VESA-Antec-Mini-...

Comes with it's own 92% efficiency 90w laptop style power brick.

Could be mounted behind the TV or put in an entertainment center.

It would be so small the you could access the rear USB 3.0 ports pretty easy.

Only drawback is you need a 2.5" 2TB HDD which isn't cheap, but money was saved elseware.

4GB of RAM is plenty for this build. I went with a single 4GB stick so it could be easily upgraded later if for some reason deemed necessary.
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April 24, 2013 1:31:59 PM

JD88 said:
How set are you on an optical drive and front 3.0 ports?

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2020 2.9GHz Dual-Core Processor ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($101.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill NS Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($28.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Green 2TB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($179.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $505.95
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-24 15:42 EDT-0400)

and this case:

http://www.amazon.com/ANTEC-OEM-ISK110-VESA-Antec-Mini-...

Comes with it's own 92% efficiency 90w laptop style power brick.

Could be mounted behind the TV or put in an entertainment center.

It would be so small the you could access the rear USB 3.0 ports pretty easy.

Only drawback is you need a 2.5" 2TB HDD which isn't cheap, but money was saved elseware.

4GB of RAM is plenty for this build. I went with a single 4GB stick so it could be easily upgraded later if for some reason deemed necessary.


That certainly is thought provoking. Technically, I already bought that Seagate 2TB drive yesterday cuz I got an email and picked it up for $84.99 at NewEgg, but I could always just return it.

Easy access to USB 3.0 and future use of speedier external devices is kind of important, though obviously not CRITICAL. The optical drive I'm completely on the fence about. It seems like I could live without it though if I buy an OS, won't I need it to install from the disc I get? I guess I could maybe just copy contents of the disc to a bootable jump drive or something with my work laptop?

Other than making it all fit in a nice tiny case, are there any advantages to this system? Seems like it's going to be a much slower HDD, which could affect performance of video (streaming?), not to mention slower processor and less memory (probably not really a concern for my needs?) and is the PSU actually any better as that laptop brick situation? Is this system any more efficient/low-power, and is that trade-off going to be noticeable from a performance standpoint?

It definitely is intriguing.... but if I'm compromising on other things just for the case, I'd probably much rather just go with the silverstone or the CM (or Fractal 304 if it came to it, probably CM over that though).

Would I bet doing myself a favor in the long run by moving to a platinum rated PSU like this one http://pcpartpicker.com/part/seasonic-power-supply-ss40... since i plan on running this thing 24/7? over a long time would I end up getting my money's worth in my electrical bill savings or not really? (bonus: it's fanless, so quieter, right?)

[afternoon edit] getting closer here... starting to think that the standard flatter HTPC case design is probably a better fit for me. Here's a few of the cases I'm considering (in some sort of ranking)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - this one i'm especially curious about. I worry about that quality of that included PSU... but the case itself seems like a nice option. 17" may be a little deep i'll have to measure when i get home
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - super pricey, but pretty clean looking; no optical drive i guess
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - ugh if only USB 3.0 up front

So let's assume here that I move back to this size case, does it make sense to go back to micro ATX form factor mobo, or am i still doing myself a favor from a power consumption perspective sticking with the mITX stuff??

thanks for all the advice so far. I think i'm getting close to dialing this in. Power Consumption vs performance seems to be the last little piece here...
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April 24, 2013 7:30:07 PM

Heath Bradbury said:
10712802,0,1106985 said:

[afternoon edit] getting closer here... starting to think that the standard flatter HTPC case design is probably a better fit for me. Here's a few of the cases I'm considering (in some sort of ranking)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - this one i'm especially curious about. I worry about that quality of that included PSU... but the case itself seems like a nice option. 17" may be a little deep i'll have to measure when i get home
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - super pricey, but pretty clean looking; no optical drive i guess
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - ugh if only USB 3.0 up front

So let's assume here that I move back to this size case, does it make sense to go back to micro ATX form factor mobo, or am i still doing myself a favor from a power consumption perspective sticking with the mITX stuff??

thanks for all the advice so far. I think i'm getting close to dialing this in. Power Consumption vs performance seems to be the last little piece here...
said:


I have a similar Apex to the one you have as #2. I am happy with it, no issues with the PSU. Only problem is it is a slim PSU so I am not sure if you could replace it with a standard one if you ever needed to. Also the fan is noisy, so you would want to replace it. With those caveats, I would not hesitate to recommend it, especially at that price point.

If you go with a true HTPC case in Micro-ATX size, there is no reason to get ITX motherboard. It will just be smaller with fewer expansion slots. I can't imagine it would consume any more power as long as you have the same components in each build.

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April 26, 2013 5:45:13 PM

Looks like I may have burned everyone out, which is fair enough - i tend to overthink anything and everything anyway haha. In any case, I appreciate all the help and advice and I feel a lot better about where this build is heading. Here's where I"m currently sitting:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2120 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($77.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($64.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($47.20 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($97.98 @ Outlet PC)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($54.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 380W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($48.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $500.09
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-26 20:31 EDT-0400)

I stuck with the recos on the CPU (makes perfect sense) and the SSD. Also decided that the silverstone case would be the best fit for me, so no need to go with ITX mobo. In considering the gigabyte, decided that i'm gonna run a hardline to this thing forever anyway, so really no need for weefees. So I went back to the ASRock mobo. Only thing i'm hoping is that I'm not shooting myself in the foot on that somehow. Seems like the only consideration I'm not 100% clear on is the wattage required for mobo, but it seems to be more a factor of all the components as opposed to mobo, so I'm hoping I'm fine there. Decided to go with Antec PSU due to efficiency ratings and lower wattage... still open to recos on that front in case there's something that's more reliable/powerefficient/quiet but otherwise it seems like a solid unit. memory i just went with the cheapest while it's on sale i'll probably pick it up tonight... and I may actually pass on the optical drive and see if i even need it.

so basically, i've only purchased the case and the seagate HDD so far. Probably will pick up the memory today or tomorrow so i don't miss the sale. and unless i hear anything back before monday will probably pick up the rest of the parts on monday. altogether looks to be closer to $460 as i got that seagate on sale for $85 and i'm passing on the optical drive, so not bad at all i think. Hopefully i can transfer my Win8 license from the lappie to new build, but that might be tough from what i can tell...

looking forward to ditching my lappie HTPC solution since it keeps crashing if i try to run peerblock, utorrent, plexMS, chrome, windows explorer and XBMC at the same time (almost without fail). Not to mention iTunes seems to bring that thing to an absolute halt.

Any parting thoughts are more than welcome this weekend. otherwise, thanks again for the help!
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April 26, 2013 6:05:44 PM

change the SSD to a plextor m5s 128gb. its faster, more reliable, and has more capacity for less

the xfx 450w is slightly bigger and better for around the same price after a MIR
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April 26, 2013 6:17:03 PM

TheBigTroll said:
change the SSD to a plextor m5s 128gb. its faster, more reliable, and has more capacity for less

the xfx 450w is slightly bigger and better for around the same price after a MIR


plextor eh? i see that there as the cheapest /GB , but no ratings? where can i tell it's faster/more reliable? it's a few bucks more (I don't really want to deal with MiR to be honest if it's only $10)...

XFC unit seems overkill? seems like it will just cost me more money on my electric bill in the long run? seems like power efficiency and noise level are really my main considerations given i'm only pulling 147W as it stands... I don't know a whole lot about PSU features, so what exactly is better about the XFC?

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April 26, 2013 6:20:47 PM

there isnt many ratings as its a bit newer. an equivalent product would be the crucial m4, but then plextor does some tweaking to make it go a little faster. and for the record, a m4 is faster than the 840 non pro

it wont run you more electricity. larger psu doesnt mean more power consumption. it might even run you less given its a seasonic unit
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April 26, 2013 6:27:56 PM

TheBigTroll said:
there isnt many ratings as its a bit newer. an equivalent product would be the crucial m4, but then plextor does some tweaking to make it go a little faster. and for the record, a m4 is faster than the 840 non pro

it wont run you more electricity. larger psu doesnt mean more power consumption. it might even run you less given its a seasonic unit


interesting... be curious to see where you found that. looking just at the specs on NewEgg it seems as though speeds are comparable in terms of sequential read (even a little slower than Samsung), a bit faster at writing, random read/write performance seems about the same ratio. the power consumption on the plextor seems to be 10x what it is on the Samsung though... =/

looking into the xfc ... what features should I be looking at to determine one PSU over the other in terms of efficiency and actual draw?
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April 27, 2013 4:30:01 AM

power consumption is negligble when you are comparing 2w to 5w.

kind of
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April 29, 2013 3:06:22 PM

TheBigTroll said:
power consumption is negligble when you are comparing 2w to 5w.

kind of


After doing a little more research, I'm down to my last component (everything else has been purchased and will arrive on Wednesday!!)... on to the PSU

I've narrowed it to 4 choices I think:
1. Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - still seems like a great little psu, lots of comments about the efficiency (which is a TOP factor for me); not modular, nor does it appear to have any sleeving or other such cable management benefit
2. CORSAIR CX430M 430W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - MODULAR, great aesthetic appeal. seems to be pretty popular... is this actually a seasonic unit? the thermally controlled fan seems like a big plus! and it's technically the least expensive after MiR - though i may order from Amazon to take advantage of Prime
3. SeaSonic S12II 380B 380W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - highly rated, Seasonic brand; some preinstalled sleeving; nothing seems to be unique here...
4. XFX ATX 450 Power Supply - P1450SX2B9 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005FPT38U/ - BigTroll i know you like this one, but it's the priciest of the 4, has beyond any wattage I'd need, doesn't appear to be modular...

looking for any other opinions on the direction here... so close I can taste it!

[updated] starting to lean towards the Corsair or Seasonic... a little more research into ratings and reviews reveals that both of these units have Active PFC and their 120mm fans may actually be more quiet than that of the 80mm in the Antec... can anyone confirm? Having a hard time choosing between those 2... About the same price, seem very similar. Corsair has the semi-modular cables but i'm not sure if that's the only major difference...
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April 29, 2013 7:16:11 PM

its 42.99 after a MIR at us.ncix.

as for the cx unit, its not seasonic nor is modularity necessary for such a low wattage unit
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September 10, 2013 1:34:39 PM

Heath Bradbury said:
Looking to build a stylish, quiet, power-efficient HTPC box that can last a while. So far, I've put together this build:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($133.79 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($63.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 64GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($97.98 @ Outlet PC)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 380W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($48.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $554.70
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-23 18:40 EDT-0400)

I'm not particularly tied to any component, and I'm especially interested in other case options if there are some nice cube looking setups. I'm primarily using this as a XBMC-powered Media Center, as well as a Plex Media Server, playing mostly locally stored media (tv, movies, music).

My considerations:
Budget: < $600 ideally, but willing to splurge on something a bit more if it's worthwhile.
Noise: It sits in my living room so the quieter the better
Style/Size: Again, it sits in my living room (entertainment center) and I'd like to showcase it (at a minimal level). I liked the Coolermaster mITX case but it sounds like the mITX components are just too pricey at this point (maybe not true anymore?)
Efficiency: This is important to me as I will have it on 24/7 for downloading and the plex media server. Would be happy if I didn't notice a bump in my PG&E (though I'm already basically doing this with a laptop sooo...)

Looking to purchase and build pretty soon, and would appreciate any feedback that might help me be more satisfied with my purchases.

thanks in advance!


Could this HTPC also act as a DLNA Client and receive wireless audio in a FLAC format from a DLNA Server? The audio would be present on the analog audio out connectors.
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September 10, 2013 5:25:06 PM

why the heck are you replying to a 4 month old thread
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