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Help me build a budget Media PC under $500

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May 29, 2013 8:49:15 PM

Ok, well I don't think I can hold on to my Dell XPS 400 too much longer so it's time for me to start researching a new PC. Looking to build in the next month or 2. I've decided I want to build one, but this will be my first build and I'm kinda clueless. The new PC will be used for web browsing, video and picture storage, as well as some home theater. I need a quiet PC, since it will be located in my bedroom, but I would like to connect to my 42 in LCD in my bedroom (via HDMI ?) for home theater. I also like to stream video to my PS3 and Xbox 360 which are located in another room. Also, I've always been interested in using the PC as DVR or other media source, so what are my options here? Most of the video's I have are currently stored on my My Book and are 1080p, which is why I am having major issues playing them on my XPS.

Sorry, for all the questions, but I would like to have something that is as future proof as possible or will allow me the ability to upgrade the existing system in the upcoming years.

Oh, I don't need a monitor, but I will need a new OS. I just recently picked up a Kingston HyperX 3K SH103S3 120GB that I should be able to reuse. I also have a 1 terabyte external WD My Book.

I don't know if I could use the HDD from the XPS which is a Western Digital 250GB WD2500JS-75MHB0 or if it would even be worth it.

Thanks for any help.

More about : build budget media 500

May 29, 2013 9:27:49 PM

Amd new richland apu would be the best right now for you. The four core CPU would be around 125. The mb would be 80 and looking at 70. For ram.
Cases like cosair r200 are on sale 30. Or there bitfex cases. A standard DVD burner is 20. A cosair 430w ps would be 30. You be using the apu video chipset for 1080 video. A wifi card runs about 20. Windows seven or eight runs about 100 online.
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May 29, 2013 10:22:19 PM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A6-5400K 3.6GHz Dual-Core Processor ($66.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75 Pro4-M Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Essentials 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($36.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($65.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($54.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.94 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $454.87
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-05-30 01:18 EDT-0400)

now... you have some options for tv tuning and dvr functions. here is a low profile dvr tuner, with a remote control.

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner w/ IR Remote PCI-E x 1 ($114.99@ Newegg)

i'd suggest you use your other hard drives as well with this setup. they should all fit, as that case has room for 3-5 hd/ssd
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May 31, 2013 7:11:11 PM

Thanks for the input. I'm really new to this, but want to understand some of the choices. Is there a reason you chose the AMD processor over an Intel? Also, I assume you chose a Dual-core processor because of price, but would I gain anything by spending a little more and picking up a quad core proessor?

Thanks again. Is there anywhere I can do some research on this stuff to better understand?
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May 31, 2013 7:18:47 PM

On Toms hardware look at there monthly builds. Where they set x mount for entry..mid..extreme pc. Intel CPU the i5 and i7 right now there no real amd chip that can match it raw horsepower in games. With amd CPU there not as fast in games yet but the trade off is they have high end gpu built into them. It saves people money on a low cost build to save money on a gpu. It always better to spend little more on a CPU with more real cores.
More cores the CPU can spread the load if the game is written for it or can muit task better. Things like photo and video editing get a boost with more cores.
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May 31, 2013 7:56:33 PM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($109.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($53.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($58.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Rosewill FBM-01 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($21.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($19.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG UH12NS29 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $354.93
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-05-31 22:43 EDT-0400)

at this price point, you could probably afford to upgrade to a 2tb hdd and add a 120 gb ssd as a boot drive
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May 31, 2013 8:22:46 PM

Thanks for the link.

ScreySqrl, that looks like a cool setup too.

Hopefully, I'm not asking too much but I've also started doing some searching on Youtube about Media server setups and alternatives to cable tv. I would love to see other options to cable. Right now we use Netlix pretty heavily, but my kids love cable because of nickelodeon and Disney. Are there an Legal options to watch live tv or some of the cable channels without paying out the nose for cable?
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May 31, 2013 8:26:26 PM

you can add a tv card, which should get basic cable and over-the air HDTV channels
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May 31, 2013 8:35:13 PM

So a card like the one posted above:
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner w/ IR Remote PCI-E x 1 ($114.99@ Newegg)

would allow me to watch basic cable without the subscription as well as HDTV channels? Or are you referring to a different type of Tv card? Sorry, I'm a complete noobie!
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May 31, 2013 8:41:46 PM

Gjohnson7771 said:
So a card like the one posted above:
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner w/ IR Remote PCI-E x 1 ($114.99@ Newegg)

would allow me to watch basic cable without the subscription as well as HDTV channels? Or are you referring to a different type of Tv card? Sorry, I'm a compete noobie!


no.. you'll have to pay for the subscription. it just will let you watch it on your computer, and use your computer as a dvr.
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June 1, 2013 1:40:57 AM

There are sights like amazon..hula..crackle...and other sights now that have tv shows. A lot of the tv channels on cable use iPad and other aps to stream there shows. There also the ruka I think that how it spelled last time I look on best buy web page. It a small device that lets you stream movies and tv from the Internet. There also streaming services from Xbox and other gaming consoles if you have one.
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June 1, 2013 8:12:45 AM

OK. The more research and planning I do the more questions I come up with.

Now, I'm not sure if a single htpc will be enough. Let me give you a quick run down. I have 4 TV's in my house. 2 of them are in kids bedrooms and 1 is connected to a Wii U which can stream Netflix so I'm not that concerned about them, but my main viewing TVs are a 47 in 1080p LCD in my living room and a 42 in 720p LCD in my bedroom. Now these 2 TVs share a wall, but are in different rooms. The living room TV has the Xbox 360 and usually the PS3 attached, so I can stream videos and watch Netflix, hulu and other services.
My initial plan was to leave the htpc in my bedroom where it has been for the past 10 years and connect to my 42 in for most viewing. With the TV card I could use it as a DVR and still daily browsing. Am I right in thinking I would still have a great veiwing experience in the living room with this setup? I was assuming I could stream video from the htcp via the Xbox or ps3 on a wired connection or would I be better off with an additional htpc?

How would you accomplish this if it was your house?
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June 1, 2013 9:07:37 AM

(Thanks for the link to the thread)

If it was my house I would want a seperate HTPC for each tv. As far as a build, futureproofing and a $500 budget are competing goals. Plan on the PC lasting 5yrs or less. With one you build you can swap out a couple of components and stay with the times. Dont flame me, but I like Intel builds. Throwing parts together on newegg for a rough guide you can hit your goal plus a couple bucks for shipping cost, including the 2250 and windows 7 home premium.

You still need to have some sort of cable subscription to stay on the up and up. Streaming from a roku is great, but if you are building an htpc, it would be redundant. I have had my htpc for 6 years and no longer miss cable, but it is an adjustment. I have to watch sports via an OTA antenna, but I am admittedly not a big sports guy. Kid channels would also be a challenge for things like Sat AM cartoons. It sounds like it would be a challenge for you to eliminate cable completely and an htpc may not be a substantial savings on your monthly bills.

What is going on with your xps 400? Specs? Can you simply add the 2250 to that build?

edit--> just looked up some general specs on the xps 400, and it looks like that was a 2005 model, so now (8 yrs) would be a good time to upgrade. Very little will likely be savageable from the old build. From memory dell's typically have a proprietary power supply, cases and dvdr drive are pretty cheap to replace so it makes sense to simply start fresh. ddr2 ram probably wont work as most ram these days are ddr3. You can use the 250 GB drive in the new build if you so desire, but definitely the SSD for the OS drive. What are your storage needs on the new build? If your are planning on streaming, then that will keep the storage needs low. Just consider your internet speeds if that is a direction you are going to go.
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June 1, 2013 11:59:24 AM

I see you found my other thread. Well, to answer your question. I'm having issues with my Dell XPS 400 playing 1080p MKV files. The video and audio stumble really bad and I've been told that the system just cant keep up.
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June 5, 2013 1:22:40 PM

Would this be a good intel option? It looks to be a little pricier, but would it make sense to spend the extra money? What would you change?

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/13jYA
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/13jYA/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/13jYA/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Pentium G860 3.0GHz Dual-Core Processor ($67.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock B75 PRO3-M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($84.99 @ Microcenter)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB Video Card ($87.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($54.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG UH12NS29 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $495.91
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-05 16:19 EDT-0400)
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June 5, 2013 2:14:59 PM

I would not recommend a dual-core for anything much more than basic web browsing these days, and a 500W PSU is major overkill for a pentium 830 and 7750
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