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Recommendations for <$700 HTPC

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November 2, 2006 2:18:50 AM

My $700 budget is a little misleading. I'm getting a C2D E6700 for free (company perk :D  )

Anyway, below are the components I'm looking to buy. It excludes components I plan on reusing (capture card, DVD burner & IDE HDD). Would appreciate input on alternative parts. Again, it's an HTPC so no OC'ing or gaming will be done on this machine.

Mobo: Asus P5B-E $155 (gotta have an optical out)
Ram: Corsair XMS2 (2x512mb) DDR2 533 $130
Video Card: Asus EN7600GT HTDI $203 (HDCP ready )
HDD: Western Digital Caviar SE16 250GB $ 78
PSU: Enermax Noisetaker II EG495P-VE 485W $ 80
Total $646+shipping/tax

Thanks for any input.
November 2, 2006 2:42:38 AM

since its a HTPC your probably goong to want a bigger HDD other than that it looks good.
November 2, 2006 11:19:55 AM

Your probably right apt403. I'm planning on storing some HD content once that Blu-Ray/HD-DVD contest plays out.
Related resources
November 2, 2006 11:22:31 AM

well in that case, you need a lot of larger harddrives. I think dual layer bluerays can be up to 50 gigs in size. That is huge!
November 2, 2006 5:39:04 PM

yeah you should probably get at least a 500GB drive to start with then add to that as over time.
November 2, 2006 6:01:42 PM

Quote:
My $700 budget is a little misleading. I'm getting a C2D E6700 for free (company perk :D  )



Any job opennings for a financial analyst?
November 2, 2006 6:17:17 PM

Have you picked a case yet?

The PSU is pretty good, but is more than an overkill for your system.
November 2, 2006 9:09:02 PM

For a case I'm looking at the Thermaltake Mozart. I like the look. And I don't think I be generating a lot of heat to worry too much about ventilation. You think I can go smaller on the PSU? How low? I'd still like a little headroom for future upgrades.

As for a bigger harddrive, I was thinking I could get away w/ 250-300GB now and then add a second on once the HD situation settles.

Sorry Jaguarskx, as far as jobs go, we just laid of 3000 people. I squeeked by :) 
November 3, 2006 7:23:48 AM

Unless your recoring like a crazy person 250gb should be fine heck thats 46+ single layer dvds (4.3gb).

Dunno up to you i personaly only need about 200gb for downloading and games.
November 3, 2006 12:20:58 PM

I see you chose Corsair which is cool. 8)

IMO, since you are not going to OC, I'd compare prices on a 2gb kit of Value Select over the XMS. Prolly more bang per buck and 2 gigs is always nice. RAM prices have gone thru the roof recently but, I'd still go with 2gb if it was my machine.

FWIW, RAM prices has gone thru the roof lately. Is that price still good on the memory you picked?

There are other vendors of course so choose who you like. Just some examples:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...


http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
November 3, 2006 1:31:11 PM

Quote:
You think I can go smaller on the PSU? How low? I'd still like a little headroom for future upgrades.

As for a bigger harddrive, I was thinking I could get away w/ 250-300GB now and then add a second on once the HD situation settles.



The main concern is the power used on the 12v rails. If there is enough amps on those rails then the rest of your system will be fine. Based on what you have your power consumption the 12v rails will be as follows:

E6700 (Not Overclocked)..............................59w CPU Power Consumption Chart
Typical 7600GT.............................................39w GPU Power Consumption Chart
Typical 300GB Hard drive...............................20w
DVD Burner..................................................14w

Total Power Consumption (100% Load)..........132w
Total Amps..................................................11a (132w / 12v)

Add on another 2 300GB hard drives..............40w

Total Power Consumption (100% Load)..........172w
Total Amps..................................................14.3a (172w / 12v)

Since you are not gaming on the HTPC, it is unlikely you will drop in a very power hungry GPU. Also, because this is a HTPC you want a quiet power supply. If this was my own build I would by the:

Seasonic S12 330w PSU

Although small, it provides 22 amps on the 12v rails for a total of 264w. Click on the image of the sticker to enlarge for more details. However, at $59 it is not that much cheaper than the Enermax 485 PSU you have selected. I have a Seasonic S12 500 and I can definitely say it is quiet.

An alternative is the SILVERSTONE SST-ST365 ATX 360W Power Supply for $38 and has a 120mm fan to reduce noise. According to
Silverstone's product specs page , this PSU can provide up to 300w on the 12v rails, or 25 amps. That assumes no more than a 60w load on the 3.3v and 5v rails.

The Silverstone SST-ST365 is a consideration for my next HTPC because of the low price, but I am currently trying to research how quiet this PSU really is. If I can't find enough information to satisfy my curiosity, then I will simply go with Seasonic.
November 3, 2006 2:25:00 PM

Quote:
Unless your recoring like a crazy person 250gb should be fine heck thats 46+ single layer dvds (4.3gb).

Dunno up to you i personaly only need about 200gb for downloading and games.


If he wanted to start recording in HiDef in the future a larger HD is the way to go. Right now with my capture card, for max quality, my capture rate is 4 gigs/hr. HD DVD is 15 gigs single layer and 30 gigs dual layer. Blu-Ray is 25gigs single, 50 dual. Plus harddrives are really inexpensive now. You can purchase about 4 gigs for about a dollar.
Seagate 320gig HD for 80$
This drive is good bang for the buck considering it is made for perpendicular recording, which is the case in most HTPCs.
November 3, 2006 2:53:34 PM

Quote:
These guys are reputed to be the authority on quiet.

http://www.silentpcreview.com/

You may want to see if they have reviewed any of your potential choices.


Being the avid reader that I am I checked out that site and what I found was that a lot of the info on that site seems dated and some of it to the point of being obsolete.
November 3, 2006 3:50:18 PM

Quote:

Being the avid reader that I am I checked out that site and what I found was that a lot of the info on that site seems dated and some of it to the point of being obsolete

I was noticing that too, I wonder why their site is so "quiet" :?:
November 3, 2006 4:05:17 PM

I agree with the 2 GB recommendation. You should be able to find some DDR2-PC5400 (667 MHz) 1 GB stick pairs for around $200, such as OCZ on tigerdirect right now. My HTPC doesn't get to 2 GB, but I do go over 1 GB from time to time and you'll want to be able to run without a pagefile to help avoid stuttering.
November 3, 2006 4:55:02 PM

Quote:
These guys are reputed to be the authority on quiet.

http://www.silentpcreview.com/

You may want to see if they have reviewed any of your potential choices.


Been a member since last year.
November 3, 2006 10:06:57 PM

Silent PC review actually shows the Seasonic PSU as quiter than the Enermax I was considering.

Jaguarskx, you recommended the 330W Seasonic. Could I go as low as 300W? I have another HTPC case w/ a 300w PSU. The PSU is proprietary to the case maker so I can't upgrade it and I was thinking 300W was too low. It's a single rail 15A PSU.
November 4, 2006 3:01:11 AM

make sure your existing capture card is on MS"s list
November 4, 2006 3:43:02 AM

I'd get a faster board and faster card. I can't find a better sub-$200 motherboard than the Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2H. I can't find a better $200 graphics card than the Sapphire X1900GT.

Perhaps someone else can find a faster card, but I know this: The X1900GT kicks the crap out of the 7600GT.
November 4, 2006 3:12:19 PM

Any idea how hot the X1900GT runs? I'm worried that it will take quite a loud fan to keep a 580MHz chip cool.

I can't find the Foxconn 975X7AB at Newegg, Tigerdirect, Buy.com...who's got one?
November 4, 2006 3:20:40 PM

The X1900GT is relatively quiet, quieter than my EVGA 7600GT. Remember that besides being clocked fast, the X1900GT has reduced pipelines which actually helps lower the temperature, so that the fan is able to run slower than it did on my X1800XL (same cooler).

As for the motherboard, it sells out fast but here's a few venders:
http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php?masterid...
November 4, 2006 7:45:32 PM

Quote:
Silent PC review actually shows the Seasonic PSU as quiter than the Enermax I was considering.

Jaguarskx, you recommended the 330W Seasonic. Could I go as low as 300W? I have another HTPC case w/ a 300w PSU. The PSU is proprietary to the case maker so I can't upgrade it and I was thinking 300W was too low. It's a single rail 15A PSU.


Yes. In my previous calculations wit just one hard drive, the max amp load I calculated is 11 amps. That is assuming every single component is being stressed to the max.

For example, playing an intensive game which stress both CPU and GPU, in addition to defragging you hard drive so that it is being accessed 100% of the time, and burning a DVD at the same time. I doubt you will be doing them all at the same time. The PSU should have at least 14 amps on the 12v rail; enough for some wiggle room.
November 4, 2006 7:52:21 PM

Quote:
Any idea how hot the X1900GT runs? I'm worried that it will take quite a loud fan to keep a 580MHz chip cool.


Since you mentioned you will not be gaming, the X1900GT would be overkill for your needs. In fact even the 7600GT is overkill if you do not plan on gaming.

You can buy a fanless ATI X1600Pro or nVidia 7300GT for about $100 or less which are ideal for a HTPC with entry level gaming performance should the need arise.
November 5, 2006 4:07:22 PM

I agree, those two video cards are overkill. The only reason I was going with them is for futureproofing. They both come in HDCP ready variants so I can go Blu-Ray or HD-DVD in the future if I choose without having to replace the card.

On the powerfront, the 7600GT and X1900 cards say they need a 350W-400W PSU . Is that assuming some kind of max load so I can get away with less?
November 5, 2006 9:44:30 PM

Quote:

On the powerfront, the 7600GT and X1900 cards say they need a 350W-400W PSU . Is that assuming some kind of max load so I can get away with less?


ATI and nVidia recommends 350w to 400w PSUs for the 7600GT and X1900GT because they don't know exactly what components you are using. If you scroll back up to the post where I layed out your estimated max load and click on the CPU power consumption chart, you will note that the Pentium D 820 consumes 145w of power. That is 86w more than a non-overclocked E6700.

Like I said the GPU makers don't know what's in your system, therefore they slap on a generic recommendation that should fit most computer no matter what CPU the customer is using.

It is very unlikely that your proposed PC will draw the amount of power I estimated because my numbers assume every single component is being stress at 100%. That will not happen in real life even if you attempted to do so. Also, the 7600GT will draw less than the 39w measured by Xbitlabs.com because you will not be playing any games.

I'm not saying you should simply buy the Seasonic S12 330 just because I said so. You need to be comfortable with your purchase. If you are not going to be comfortable with a 330w PSU then a 350w - 400w PSU is the way to go. However, I am very confident of my recommendation.
!