Comments on my HTPC proposed build

I'm putting together an HTPC system that will primarily be used as a media jukebox/DVD player. I'm not including a tuner card at present time, the multi-room DVR provided by Verizon works just fine for me right now. I'm trying to keep costs down but have some room for future upgrades (especially in terms of storage, I have a lot of music in FLAC format). Currently I don't have an HDTV set so I need a card that will output to my standard definition TV.

Anyway, here's what I'm thinking about:

Case - Silverstone LC17-S:

Has six internal drive bays which will give me plenty of room for expansion. I'd prefer the black finish but not enough to spend the extra $15.

Power Supply - Seasonic SS-400ES

Motherboard - MSI K9NBPM2-FID

Processor - AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+

Memory - 2 GB of PC6400 Wintec AMPO memory:

Storage - Western Digital GP Terebyte drive:

(I'll put two of these in for starters in a RAID 1 configuration. I'll drop in a spare 80 GB IDE drive for the OS and programs files).

Graphics - Gigabyte 2400XT card:

Most importantly, this has composite video out to connect to my TV.

I'm planning on installing Windows Vista 64 Bit Home Premium as the OS, I'll throw in a media center remote as well and an IDE DVD burner.

Is there anything I should change here? Again, the primary use will be as a media jukebox, I don't need a tuner card at present time. I plan on expanding hard drive capacity as time goes on which is why I like the Silverstone case - it has 6 internal drive bays.
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  1. Do you mean Raid 0 for those HDDs? Don't really see why you would need either that much space (2TB) nor the redundancy for a HTPC. Spending $500 on storage seems a bit excessive when the money could be much better spent on a better video card and CPU. Buy a 500GB internal and 500GB external for backups. Even if you don't need a better CPU/video card you can save some of that money towards a TV that doesn't require a composite connection (good luck reading text on that).
  2. Well, with that many internal drive bays, you might consider using more smaller drives. WD has a 500MB drive for $100 (; a pair of them will cost less than a single 1TB drive.
    A coworker of mine has / had a computer store, and maintains that MSI makes crap. I would choose Gigabyte or Asus.
    Smaller cases are more likely to have cooling problems, so anything to not reduce airflow is good; you may wish to consider a SATA optical drive over IDE. Get a Retail version in order to get the software (including decoder for movies).
  3. For your current setup this system is more then powerful to handle what you're looking for. This thing should blast through any media you've explained here

    For HD content only:
    If you are planning on using HD content in the future the 2400XT will handle 720p. I'm not sure about 1080p though, as far as I know the 2400's are limited to 720p or just dont have enough juice to handle full 1080p. You'd need a 2600 series to run 1080p output.
  4. You really don't need a dual core for an HTPC, if you don't mind going with a Skt775 and saving a few bucks at the same time, check out the ASRock ConRoe1333-D667 R1.0 paired up with a Intel Celeron 420 Conroe-L 1.6GHz 512KB L2 Cache LGA 775 35W Single-Core Processor. If you don't think a single core Celeron will have enuff power then maybe get a Pentium E2140 Allendale 1.6GHz 1MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core . Still cheap for a dual core and 65W like the X2 4000+! Regardless of which proc out of these two, this mobo and either proc will be cheaper than the parts you spec'd. Just my $.02...

    My HTPC is an old Skt478 P4 533fsb @ 2.4GHz on an aBit mATX board with 1GB DDR400 and I use it for everything from MAME, DVR, web surfing, and even playing Starcraft and Vice City:San Andreas. Even with an old single core P4 it has more than enough juice to do what I want, so I beleive that the Celeron would do the job well.

    Overall, looks like it will be a kick-a$s machine and will make a fine HTPC. Good luck!
  5. Just some things I noted... The case you selected has 6 internal 3.5 inch drive bays; supposedly for 6 hard drives. The motherboard you selected only has 4 SATA ports.

    Looking at your case from the rear, you've got two 80mm fans on the left side of the case, but (once fully upgraded) six hard drives on the right side of the case. With a full size graphics card installed in the top slot of the motherboard, it's going to lock most of the heat from your hard drives in the right side of the case where there is little cooling.

    The case you selected accepts full ATX motherboards, so why go with a micro-ATX motherboard?

    I'd probably look at a different case with a better cooling solution for all those hard drives.

    I would probably recommend changing the motherboard to one with two PCI-Ex16 slots; the first being used for your graphics card and the second being used for a PCI-Ex4/x8 RAID Controller card (future upgrade).

    I would not recommend going with any type of RAID solution off the bat; not if you intend to swap it out to a RAID 5 solution later on. Use the 80GB drive for your OS and program files. Use one 1TB for your media files. Use the second as your back-up drive. When you're in a position to add drives (and a RAID controller), you can freely blow away your media drive and add it to a RAID 5 array. Once the array is built, copy files over from your backup. Then install the back-up drive as a hot swap drive for your array.

    Other notes: I encode videos for my HTPC. I prefer having a better processor to decrease encoding times. I'd also recommend nothing lower than an HD2600 series graphics card (HD3850 preferred) for high-def playback.

    Just my $0.02

    -Wolf sends
  6. I plan on using an IDE drive as the system drive so I'll probably only use a total of 5 drive bays eventually. The advice on using one drive as a backup instead of RAID is one I'm considering, I'll probably decide at build time whether to use RAID 1 or just use one as a backup. There's an option to add fans to the front panel (which could then cool the hard drives), I've also selected the Western Digital "green" hard drives because they run cooler.

    When I get a HD TV set I'll upgrade the video card, until then there's no real need for it. What processor would you recommend? I'll probably do a little DVD authoring (from my digital camcorder to make DVDs for my son's grandparents) but that's a minor task overall, high-quality music storage and playback is the primary purpose of this build.
  7. Understand that most newer motherboards only come with a single PATA connector, so you'll only be able to connect one optical drive if you intend to use an IDE hard drive.

    If you're going to be doing only a little DVD authoring, then pretty much any CPU will do. I would still recommend getting a dual-core processor (E2160/80 or the X2-4000 you listed previously).

    I didn't notice the case allowed for front mounted case fans (though I don't see any front vents for air intake). Adding those will, at the very least, keep the air moving.

    -Wolf sends
  8. Quote:
    If you're going to be doing only a little DVD authoring, then pretty much any CPU will do. I would still recommend getting a dual-core processor (E2160/80 or the X2-4000 you listed previously).

    Definitely going with a dual-core, I currently have a single-core processor for DVD authoring and it's s l o w. I won't do enough DVD authoring to justify much more than the E2160 or the X2-4000.

    I didn't notice the case allowed for front mounted case fans (though I don't see any front vents for air intake). Adding those will, at the very least, keep the air moving.

    They have what Newegg calls "stealth" vents on the front, from reading the documentation and a number of reviews it sounds like a viable option. I'll probably only put a total of four drives in the six bays (eventually) to leave more space between them, storage after that will be in another box (or on bigger drives which will become available, of course).

    thanks for the advice.
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