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Budget HTPC - motherboard?

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October 17, 2006 1:02:29 PM

I have a Dell that's on it's last leg as a general use PC. I'm looking to salvage a lot of its parts to make a budget HTPC. It won't be doing any capturing/encoding. All I need it to do is play DVDs and video files and output to an analog TV. Also am considering using it to run Stepmania, a free PC version of dance dance revolution. So I'll also be wanting decent sound for a 2.1 speaker setup.

So I need suggestions on a motherboard. I know I'll probably have to search on eBay, doubt manufacturers make socket 423 boards anymore! Here are the components I wish to salvage:

P4 1.3 Ghz Socket 423 Willamette core
4x 128 MB RD-RAM
NEC DVD Burner
120GB IDE drive
SB Live! PCI sound card
ATI Radeon 8300 LE

I will be discarding the horrible case, PSU, mobo, heatsink. Need to buy new (again, suggestions?). Will also buy a 320GB drive for storage.

As for budget, I want to spend as little as possible. This PC is secondary to a new general use/gaming PC I am also building.

So my basic requirements are:

Socket 423
4x Rambus slots
1 PCI slot
AGP slot
2 IDE controllers
October 17, 2006 2:44:18 PM

You'd be better off buying an AM2 µATX card with a cheap AMD CPU to do a video box (includes TV-out) with some RAM (Rambus stinks): it will run cooler and more silently. Intzegrated sound on newer boards has gotten really excellent quality-wise (CPU load is another story, but of no concern in your case).
Recent Intel Core2 would do the trick too, but yours is a platform solution, and in this area AMD still has Intel beat on the avg.performance/low-heat/low-price front.
October 17, 2006 3:17:56 PM

The only reason I am building is because I have parts to salvage. I don't need to buy all new. Want to reuse or not do it at all. I don't care if Rambus sucks. It's what I have and I'd rather get some use out of it. Really, it meets the requirements for what I want to do. I've used all of these parts to do TV-Out before with no ills. Basically just need a new mobo, case, psu, heatsink, and more storage. Mobo is what I'm not sure about. I figure the storage will be $100. Don't want to spend more than $150 for the rest. This should be do-able.
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October 18, 2006 7:30:50 AM

frankly, you can have mobo (with video and sound integrated)+cpu+ram for less than $150 - so it'd fit. Now I understand that you want to salvage your hardware, but you'll spend maybe half as much on an old rambus-capable mobo and get a noisy (due to CPU and PSU fan speed), underpowered (old P4 + Rambus=slug, everybody would agree there), bulky (no integrated sound nor video, 4 RAM sticks, big heatsink) system.

I was just telling you that by doing away with the P4+Rambus, you wouldn't have to spend much more but you'd get a definitely more TV-ish system. Believe me, I tried.
October 18, 2006 8:21:01 AM

Are you sure you don't want to do TV capturing/encoding? My 1Ghz Pentium III used to run MythTV just fine with a nice TV tuner card that does hardware encoding. If your thinking about TV capturing/encoding I would spend my money on that, otherwise I would save my money.

Your current setup should work fine whether or not you do TV capture, I wouldn't spend anymore money on it. Just do a fresh install of windoze or linux. I hate to throw good hardware into the closet... but sometimes its cheaper than trying to upgrade. Save up to get a dual or quad core HTPC.
October 18, 2006 8:53:23 AM

i agree with everyone else about ditching the cpu and ram... the following parts are at least transferrable over then, replacing whatever youd like from them, if any...

NEC DVD Burner
120GB IDE drive
SB Live! PCI sound card
ATI Radeon 8300 LE

you can spend under $100 total for a s754/s939 amd cpu and motherboard if you look around, on newegg, tigerdirect, or outpost.com even... DDR1 ram can be had for pretty inexpensive as well, you can get a single 256MB module for around $20 or so, be sure to get brandname though (mushkin comes to mind for being that inexpensive, but reliable in my experience)... total for all 3 will put you still fairly close to $100 (under or over) depending on what you purchase...

im sure you know... but the choice of cpu and motherboard you have are restricting your choice of parts (what you have already will work just as well in that case), making it fairly difficult to locate parts even (unless theyre used, whichcase you might have DOAs if theyre off of ebay even, and they dont exactly have an excellent return policy)

a new cpu will come with a HS+F, so unless you want to invest in a 3rd part heatsink, for reduced noise and what not, itll work...

cases can be had for cheap <$40 for basic beige ATX towers... all the way up to what you would want to spend... SFF/HTPC cases closer to $100+... give or take... the case you have might work just fine in that case, unless you really need a new case for this... like, form factor incompatability and such

for the psu, as a general rule, you want to spend a minimum of $60 on it, if you go much lower, and you are almost guaranteed degraded reliability, stability, efficiency, sufficient power, and what not... plus its nice to not have to worry as much about it failing on you (possibly taking your other parts with it if/when it does fail, typically no safety mechanism built in when theyre cheaper quality)

the cheapest route, if youre wanting to keep all of your existing hardware, and have it be used as a HTPC to where it looks like one, would be to just invest in just a HTPC case, as the hardware itself cant get much faster at all, or capable of doing much more... and just transfer all of your existing parts into it, motherboard and all.

it just occured to me, that it may even be better, to devote your new PC to being a HTPC, to be an all around functioning PC... HT gaming and all... your existing computer is on its last legs like you said, you could take parts from that, and put them in your new pc, and that might even end up saving you money too.
October 18, 2006 8:54:33 AM

your 1 GHz P-III is slightly more powerful than his 1.3 GHz P4, and runs half as hot - so it is indeed very good for a MythTV box.

No, really: early Northwood P4 were SLOW. Latter P4 were not much faster on a clock for clock comparison.
October 18, 2006 12:25:59 PM

Quote:
Are you sure you don't want to do TV capturing/encoding?
I hate to throw good hardware into the closet... but sometimes its cheaper than trying to upgrade.

I do have an ASUS PCI capture card that I used to use on this system. The hardware worked okay, but the software was really buggy. ASUS provided no support for it. There were no manuals, no phone support, no software updates.

I hate to throw away this hardware too. The HTPC was just an idea of what to do with it. I'm long overdue for an upgrade.
October 18, 2006 12:40:35 PM

Lots of good suggestions, thanks. No such luck on moving the motherboard. It has a proprietary design. A new motherboard would also mean a new PSU, since Dell's is proprietary as well. I don't like this motherboard and I really really don't like this case.

Motherboard has inexplicably crippled two sound cards already.. basically killing some of the outputs, but not all of them. The case has terrible airflow design. Only one fan, in the back, devoted to the CPU. CPU doesn't have it's own fan. There is a plastic shrowd around the heatsink that connects to the back fan. Needless to say that fan get's a run for it's money (burnt out after only 2 years). Well, the heat killed the HDD as well. I've jimmy-rigged another fan in there. Really I need a new case.
October 18, 2006 12:59:05 PM

Get a mobo with integrated sound - at least it's supposed to work. Now since no Northwood-era had a sound chip integrated worth anything (horrible harmonics and high background noise), you're in for an upgrade.

Just consider that if you get the config I told you, you can fit it in a low-profile, almost silent case.
a c 435 V Motherboard
October 18, 2006 7:24:22 PM

Ebay has several listings, including a new Dell 8100 board. You might also find an abit th7-II, which I would recommend for socket 423.
May 5, 2009 6:32:37 AM

try newegg.com and just search for mobo processor package deals. Those are generally cheaper than the mobos themselves and they come with a better processor. they may have one that suits your needs. You would spend more on an outdated 423 motherboard than you would a new mobo and processor package due to the fact that 423 wasn't used for all that long, and new technology has allowed really good stuff to be cheaper.
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