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HTPC-light build

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February 6, 2008 3:25:54 AM

I'm going for a HTPC-light build ("light" in power, function and wallet). This system will be connected to a 38" 720p LCD TV and will be primarily used to play ripped DVDs, downloaded TV shows, DVDs and, eventually, Blu-ray/HD DVDs (when I buy the drive). I won't be recording any shows, so a tuner isn't necessary.

I'm not audio/videophile, so I'm not looking for the sharpest picture or the clearest sound. I'm OK with MP3s and DviX/XviD :) 

With that said, here are the parts...

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-MA69GM-S2H AM2 AMD 690G HDMI MicroATX
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128056)

Video card: SAPPHIRE 100237L Radeon HD 3650 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102725)
I'm only buying a video card to handle the Blu-ray/HD DVD playback when I buy the drive in the future.

Memory: Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146565)
I considered G.Skill, but read reviews and found myself pushed in this direction.

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Birsbane 2.6Ghz
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103194)

CPU Cooler: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835185125)

Case: Silverstone LC17B
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163055)


As far as storage is concerned, I'll most likely go with some Seagate drive.

I'm unsure about the OS, though. I'm still using XP and I find myself wondering if some flavor of Vista is the way to go - if so, which flavor? If I went the Vista route, I should probably bump my RAM to 4GB?

EDIT: I completely skipped over the PSU. It doesn't appear the case comes with a PSU, so if you have a suggestion, I'll be more than willing to listen. :) 

Thanks for taking the time.

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February 6, 2008 9:53:33 PM

Given what you're doing not sure bumping the RAM to 4GB will make any difference. If your running the sound card through a receiver would suggest one of these sound cards. Have the HT Omega and significantly better than the onboard audio, the chipset is designed for music/video. I just tried an 8600GT on an aATX mobo and it eliminated on of the 2 PCI slots so put in a 7600GT. Newer video cards seem to have pretty big coolers. If your not overclocking, could get some A DATA RAM, less expensive and very good. If you're not overclocking the standard HSF will work fine. Would agree with the XP rather than Vista. They're supposed to be releasing Vista SP1 soon, which will make reinstalling Windows a pain especially when SP2 is eventually released and see any advantage for what you're doing

http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...
February 6, 2008 11:26:46 PM

Only buy that CPU if you want to give a donation to AMD, they need to get their act together ASAP. Go with Intel.
February 6, 2008 11:54:38 PM

Get your OS from Bestbuy or Circuit city. the upgrade version of Home Premium is $99.99 and there's a 10% off coupon floating around drops the price to $89.99.

If you want Ultimate, they ahve it for 199.99 (before 10% discount) and you may be able to buy it there, then go to Circuit City and use a pricematch to get it down to around 171 before tax. That's 179.99 after 10% coupon - the CC 110% pricematch (CC's ultimate price is 259.99).

As for your CPU, I'd just make sure that it's the most energy efficient model. If all your'e doing is watching video/listening to music, there's no need to go overboard.

I personally prefer Intel these days, but I'm not sure whether the Intels are more efficient (total pull, not just the CPU).
February 6, 2008 11:55:59 PM

nilepez said:

As for your CPU, I'd just make sure that it's the most energy efficient model. If all your'e doing is watching video/listening to music, there's no need to go overboard.

I personally prefer Intel these days, but I'm not sure whether the Intels are more efficient (total pull, not just the CPU).


CPU's never draw that much power unless you overclock them anyways, ergo Intel wins.
February 7, 2008 12:26:23 AM

all looks good. and kudo's for recognizing that you dont NEED a big, badass video card for normal stuff... but maybe the blue ray. i'm not sure.

I run a HTPC using

300w power supply
amd athlon xp 1800+ (1.53)
1 GB ram
Vista Ultimate
ATI radeon 9600 128 mb card
chaintech 7.1 192 khz soundcard with toslink spdif out.
2 IDE hard drives.
Linksys USB wireless internet stick

it works for everything using Vista Media center. (reason i dont get stutters is because of Hauppauge 1600 card and its hardware encoding/decoding)

I have it on a 42 inch LCD and looks great. records regular and HD without problems.

so as you can see... your specs are WELL above those, and should provide very useful
February 7, 2008 12:45:28 AM

Thanks for your replies guys. I'm going to give the onboard audio a go, see how that is and if it's lacking, I'll pick up a card. Probably stick with XP because a)price and b) more experience with that OS and I haven't had any problems networking XP systems before (with my luck, I'd spend half a day just trying to get Vista to say hello to XP all friendly like - ha).

Anyway, like I said before: thanks for taking the time. :) 
February 7, 2008 12:52:29 AM

I have a related question. I'm thinking of switching to Verizon FIOS, but their DVRs only hold 40 hours of programming, and my self-upgraded ReplayTVs (like Tivos, sort of) hold 137 hours of programming. Not to mention that the DVRs cost around $20 per month, and my ReplayTV costs nothing per month. But I don't think the ReplayTV, which is several years old (before digital tv), is going to work with FIOS.

Are HTPCs the way to go? Anyone have FIOS? Anyone have any suggestions?
!