Advice on building an HTPC

I'm looking to build an HTPC. I don't necessarily want the fastest PC on the planet, noise and aesthetics will be the main issues as I plan on having it in the living room by my TV. Mainly used for -

DVD/CD playback
TV recording (PVR)
Web Browsing
Some work (word etc)
Light gaming (not cutting edge - my current fave is the non-steam version of day of defeat, not very taxing for any current video card)

I envisage a single box - while a NAS solution is attractive to keep noise down the only place far enough away so I wouldn't hear the NAS would be my bathroom (small apartment :wink: )

I'm looking to use stock cards / air-cooling. Not really one for extreme modding so water cooling etc is out.

Anyone out there have any thoughts? Anyone built an HTPC, what did you do and what would you do differently if you had another chance?


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  1. Silverstone LC16b Case
    Silverstone SST-ST60F 600watt PS
    Asus A8N-E
    Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego Core
    1 or 2 gig Corsair ValueRam
    ATI x800 Pro 256meg
    DVD Burner - Mines a pioneer DVR-110
    A few hard drives - I've got 4 WD 320JD's on a Highpoint 2320 RAID controller. Edit: in a RAID 5
    And the most important part, the keyboard and mouse, I can't recommend the Logitech MX5000 enough, it's just awsome.

    Cost around $1500 when I bought it 4 months ago.

    Not sure what'd you'd want for a PVR card, I don't use them. Do a search here, there are a lot of opinions to read about them though.
  2. ? Mind reader

    I was thinking of the LC16b case - it looks incredible. I already have the MX1000 mouse, but that keyboard is looks good too.

    Few questions - the A64/3700, how hat does it run, is the fan noise intrusive? I really want this thing to be as near silent as possible.

    Raid - yeah, raid5 would be good, and would provide data security but more drives = more heat = more cooling sound. What is the case fan noise like on the LC16 with that many drives?


  3. Think "Low Power"

    For your TV capture card, be sure it has a hardware encoder. This will reduce the load on the CPU.

    Use a (low-voltage) mobile processor if possible, since these produce less heat and can operate at higher temperatures. Pentium M's are great but expensive and so are the motherboards that will support them.

    A more cost effective option would be either the 25w MT series turions or the 25w sempron mobile 3100+. Both can be dynamically clocked and volted to reduce the low load power down to around 8w. (Any of the above CPU's are more powerful than the XP2200 mobile that I am using currently for the same application.)

    If you choose a motherboard such as the MSI RS482M-IL you won't even need a graphics card since this board has a TV out jumper on the board. Albatron has also announced the KM51PV-754 which can output HDTV from the IGP, but I haven't seen this one on the shelves.

    Add just enough fan(s) to keep thing cool (which isn't that hard). I also found it beneficial to semi-isolate the power supply's ventilation from the other heat sources to keep the power-supply fan running slowly.

    You could even use a 2.5 inch HD, but now we are getting into diminishing returns.

    My HTPC
    Athlon 2200 XP Mobile (35 watts stock - 8w-25w thanks to CrystalCPUID)
    DFI KM400-MLV (with whitewire mod to get correct FSB)
    XGI V3XT Graphics Card (crappy gamer but good video and passive cooling)
    Kworld MCE-200 TV card (major dissappointment - spend more and get more)
    512mb generic pc2700 ram
    200GB Seagate drive
  4. Right... the stock fan can easily be replaced by something quieter, or that can be adjusted to be quiet, like the Zalman CNPS9500. That can be adjusted to be very quiet, yet not compromise too much on cooling. And concerning cooling HDDs, you can easily get a 120mm fan which is quiet and yet powerful (Like one of the Vantec Stealth fans) enough to cool 4 HDD's. Besides, the processor itself, being an AMD chip, runs a lot cooler than Intel's P4 chips, so cooling it isn't a problem. Overall, the system that has been suggested will suit you fine.
  5. I've got it in my stereo rack and it's barely noticable unless I'm playing doom3 for an hour and the fans kick in.

    The fans on the back of the case are basically silent, the cpu fan is the only one you can really hear, the ps has a 120mm one so it's silent. I have 2 90mm fans in the front blowing over the 4 hd's and they don't get terribly warm. The air coming out the back is warm but not as hot as my athlon 2600xp system which is in a full tower!
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