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Need a second opinion on this HTPC/Gaming build [updated]

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December 1, 2013 8:50:01 PM

Update1 based on 12/02/2013 feedback. Changed Mini-ITX case to Lian-Li and upgraded RAM to 8GB.
Update2 based on 12/26/2013 feedback. Switched 1x8GB @ 1600 RAM to 2x4GB @ 1866. Added Zalman CNPS8900 Quiet CPU Cooler. Considering replacing the PSU with a picoPSU-160-XT but cannot find any evidence it's enough for the AMD A10 APU @65W TDP...

Hi everyone,

I'm new here and while I have experience building my own towers I have never designed a HTPC, so thanks in advance for your feedback!

Goal
I plan to build a HTPC in Q1 2014 and I'm starting to think about the design.

Design Principles
Small - shouldn't feel out of place sitting next to an LCD display mounted on an otherwise empty wall
Silent - should not distract from watching a movie
Gaming-able - should be able to run recent games in 720p
Upgradable - should be partly refreshed 2 years from now without causing a headache
Cheap - should be under $600 in total

Reference Builds
Ends up pretty similar to:
(1) The "Super Budget PC" from the BestConfigs Poll - Budget AMD-Based Gaming PC
and
(2) The "A little bit of blu-ray, a little bit of couch gaming" from the BestConfigs Poll - Home Theater PC

Design Decisions
Build around a Mini-ITX case
Go for AMD APU at 65W TDP for medium gaming capabilities (either A10-6700 or wait for "Kaveri" A10-7700K)
Focus on a small single SSD drive for silence and gaming capabilities (a NAS may be added later on)

Detailed Build

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-6700 3.7GHz Quad-Core Processor ($144.27 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS8900 Quiet CPU Cooler ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A88X-ITX+ Mini ITX FM2+ Motherboard ($105.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($98.98 @ OutletPC)
Case: Lian-Li PC-Q09FNB HTPC Case w/300W Power Supply ($125 but currently out of stock...)
Total: $580
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-01-02 15:11 EST-0500)

Questions
Does this design make sense to you? How would you improve it?
Is the default PSU in the Lian-Li case silent enough?
Would a picoPSU-160-XT be enough to power the config? (with a different, even smaller mini-ITX case)

Thanks!
a b 4 Gaming
December 1, 2013 9:04:35 PM

i get this power supply.
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/corsair-power-supply-cx600
http://www.bitfenix.com/global/en/
get one of the newer bit itx cases.
the issue with antec or other small atx cases with there built in low wattage power supplys. if the power supply craps out your dead till you can get one. a lot of these cases use there own or use cheap units. with the apu at 70w your almost at 1/2 the rated output of the power supply in the case. (if there made to output 150w max). the bit cases or other that can use a standard power supply. with a slightly larger one then needed you have room to drop in a gpu if needed. for the cpu cooler look at toms roundup for low hight coolers.
also should use 8g of ram.
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/corsair-memory-cml8gx3m1a1...
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a b 4 Gaming
December 1, 2013 9:16:27 PM

There is a huge difference in scale between one of the cases Smorizio is suggesting and the Antec though. It really depends on usage.
A dedicated HTPC is absolutely fine in the Antec case, but then you are better off with a 65W TDP A6 or A10 from the Richland or even Trinity lines.
If you want to play games on it, then scaling up slightly is probably wise. A Coolermaster Elite 120/130 is still pretty small (and the 130 especially looks very similar to the Antec but bigger) and takes standard sized components, meaning you can add a graphics card at some point if you want, or use mechanical HDDs, and a standard ATX PSU.
Some of the Silverstone SUGO range might be appropriate, some include decent quality PSUs, though they tend not to be cheap.
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December 2, 2013 7:32:49 PM

Thanks Rammy and smorizio!

I upgraded the RAM to 1 stick of 8GB.

Regarding the case, I agree the Antec 300-150 may be slightly too small (and ugly ?).
While the FT03 Mini is beautiful, it is also incredibly pricey ($140 without a PSU?) so I've decided to go with the Lian-Li PC-Q09FNB instead.
I just hope the integrated PSU (now 300W instead of 150 with the Antec case) is not too lood...

I'm wondering whether I should try my luck with the stock CPU cooler or go straight for a real one.
But I don't even know what the "cooler bracket" is on the new FM2+ socket...
I'm positive I won't need a dGPU or more HDD so I actually have plenty of room which should help with the air flow.

What do you think?
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December 26, 2013 5:56:07 PM

AMD A10-6700 3.7GHz Quad-Core Processor
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($72.15 @ Amazon)
Questions
Does this design make sense to you? How would you improve it?
Is the stock CPU cooler good enough?

So, I am working on the same kind of build in the same time frame. I am considering the same processor, and have already purchased the mobo and some pc1600 ram, and would like to ask about using pc1600 ram with a proc rated for pc1866. I also have the same question about the stock heat sink.
Don't mean to thread jack, but my build is almost identical except for micro-atx instead of mini-itx.
To stay on topic, my $.02 would be to use a dual channel ram kit over 1 stick. Not a huge improvement, but more memory bandwidth is always better.
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January 2, 2014 12:08:08 PM

Lydaan,

You're right, it makes sense to swap the 1x8GB RAM stick for 2x4GB.
I updated the build accordingly.

Also added a Zalman CNPS8900 Quiet CPU Cooler.

Finally, I'm considering using a different case + a picoPSU like this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Mini-Box-picoPSU-160-XT-Power-Min...

Do you have any experience getting an AMD APU to run on a picoPSU?
I wonder if the +12V rail would hold...
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Best solution

January 3, 2014 12:35:28 AM

Plugged your build into http://support.asus.com/PowerSupply.aspx?SLanguage=en and it recommends a 200W PSU. Could just be the minimum reco, though. Not too familiar in watt counting. My gues is it would get extremely hot inside that case with that PSU.

I posted my build if you want to take a look, its changed a little.
http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1961147/build-ye...
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January 5, 2014 9:20:31 AM

lydaan said:
Plugged your build into http://support.asus.com/PowerSupply.aspx?SLanguage=en and it recommends a 200W PSU. Could just be the minimum reco, though. Not too familiar in watt counting. My gues is it would get extremely hot inside that case with that PSU.

The picoPSU relies on an external power brick so it generates heat outside the case.
But yeah, 160W might not be enough for a system rated at ~120W.
Especially on the +12V rail.
I don't know if anyone could confirm...

lydaan said:
I posted my build if you want to take a look, its changed a little.
http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1961147/build-ye...

I really like your build. The SilverStone Grandia case is really neat.
I assume all this RAM is for SolidWorks?
For the CPU cooler, have a look at the Zalman CNPS8900 Quiet. It got very positive reviews on this very website.
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