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HTPC build suggestions

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Last response: in Systems
June 2, 2008 8:00:22 PM

I would like to build a new HTPC and would love to get some suggestions. I have seen some specs for a few HTPC systems in other posts, but I'm afraid that they are already out of date for what I am looking for.

Here are my requirements:

cost goal $1500-$2000
slim form factor case with good ventilation
low noise
low heat
blue ray drive (1080p)
Vista (I actually like the media center)
will be connecting to a 5.1 A/V receiver using HDMI (hopefully single cable with sound - is this now an option?)
display is a 52" samsung 1080p LCD - single HDMI coming from the A/V receiver
my video provider is Dish so I don't need a cablecard or PVR or TV Tuner functionality
I just want to be able to play blue ray movies and other web video content from hulu, itunes, amazon etc...

Should I wait for this CPU?:

Other than those requirements, I am pretty flexible on CPU flavor, brands etc.. I just want the most bang for my buck. I don't expect to use this machine for gaming, but if I can - great.

I also plan on buying the Logitech diNovo mini for the keyboard - has anyone tried it?:

So - what hardware do you suggest?


More about : htpc build suggestions

June 2, 2008 8:37:24 PM

I just built a htpc system and I would highly recommend one of the AMD 780g chipset boards (mine is a Gigabyte). For hd playback its built-in video card is more than adequate and leaves the AMD 4450e (45watt, very nice/inexpensive set of cpus) chip at under 30% load. Hard drive ends up being the loudest part too with no extra fan/heat from a separate video card. Only drawback I can see is I don't know what codecs it is capable of for the built-in hdmi sound output. I run an optical(sound)/vga(video) at the moment.

For cases I went with the Antec Fusion, some people have issues with the built in display but the selling point for me is that the LG blu/hddvd drive I got is hidden behind a fold-down faceplate that gets popped open when you open the drive. That way the front stays silver and matches the rest of my AV setup. I also have heard good things about the Silverstone cases but I haven't seen them in person.

Whole setup for me was around $650 with no hard drive.

Best of luck, keep poking around these forums or for help deciding.
June 4, 2008 2:07:31 PM

Thanks! I found this mobo that is using the AMD 780g and has an HDMI out - great price too:

But, my guess is that the HDMI is going to be video only and I'll need to run a seperate wire for sound? Looks like I'll need a seperate sound card to run a single high def sound wire...

Is anyone aware of a board that has HDMI for both 1080p video and sound?

Related resources
June 4, 2008 5:43:19 PM

I hear the nVidia 8200 chipset has pretty much the same graphics and has better HDMI sound suport. it loods like a better featured chipset too.
my understanding is that only the better MSIs can suport the AMD 9850 in 780g or 8200 flavor

June 4, 2008 6:17:04 PM

I would recommend using Optical Out for the audio. Most motherboards around those specs will have it, or any decent add in card will as well.
June 5, 2008 5:04:21 PM

Looks like this is going to solve my problem - it has an HMDI 'in' to get the video from the video out and adds audio to it for a single HDMI out to my receiver with both audio/video... I just hope it is quiet - looks like it may have a fan? - probably not...
June 5, 2008 5:36:05 PM

I thought you wanted slimline
June 5, 2008 5:41:01 PM

Darn! Good point...
June 5, 2008 6:28:03 PM

Out of curiosity, why slimline?
June 5, 2008 7:28:30 PM

Oh - I don't know - I was thinking small, sleek, minimalistic...

But now I'm starting to consider the Antec Fusion 430... or maybe one of the silverstone cases...

I have liked the Antec cases I've used before...
June 6, 2008 6:12:20 AM

basicly if you get something like a 780g or an 8200, you don't need any cards at all, and could fit in in a 1u enclosure.
I think silversone and maybe some other make 2" thick cases. its all you need.
June 6, 2008 7:23:28 AM

Here's my HTPC that I recently built:

CPU: Intel C2D E6600 (from my old PC)

Mobo: MSI 975X Platinum v.2 (from my old PC)

RAM: 4GB Corsair DDR2 675 RAM (from my old PC)

DVD Drive: I don't remember, I think it's an NEC DVD burner (from my old PC)

Sound Card: Soundblaster Audigy 2 (from my old PC)

Power Supply: Seasonic S12 500w (1st generation) PSU (from old PC)

Video Card: ECS N9600GT-512MX-P GeForce 9600 GT 512MB - Silent video card and marginally powerful enough to play some games on this thing if I decide to do so. I play games on my primary PC. This card is actually a little faster than my ATI X1900XT 512MB, but the X1900XT is a bit too loud to stick in my HTPC. I'll replace my X1900XT with something a bit more powerful and quieter eventually.

CPU Heatsink: Tuniq Tower Bigger is better I suppose, I have one cooling my Q9450 as well.

Hard Drive #1 (for OS): Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250310AS 250GB 7200 RPM - Very quiet and slim hard drive.

Hard Drive #2 (mass storage #1) : Western Digital Caviar RE2 GP WD1000FYPS 1TB 16MB Cache - Enterprise class 1TB hard drive

Hard Drive #3 (mass storage #2) : Western Digital Caviar RE2 GP WD1000FYPS 1TB 16MB Cache - Enterprise class 1TB hard drive

Hard Drive #4 ("Thrash Drive"): An old 160GB IDE hard drive. This is a "Thrash Drive" 'cause all video capturing data will be written to this drive. Also, my DVD collection will be ripped to this drive to be converted over to DivX or H.264 codec. Since a mass amount of raw data is written to this drive, I expect this drive to die first. Of course all converted videos will be stored in one of the mass storage drive.

Keyboard / Mouse combo: Gyration Mini Keyboard and "Air" Mouse - Laptop like keyboard with only 88 keys (no number keypad), long range (I used it up to 20 feet away, rated for 30 feet). Mouse is great for typical usage (on a table) or in mid air.

Additional Case Fan: Scythe 92mm PWM fan #DFS922512M - Used to cool the hard drives.

Other miscellaneous wires (2): Zalman 56ohm Resistor wire Used to reduce voltages from 12v to 5v for the Scythe Fans which lowers noise by causing the fans to spin slower.

HTPC Case: SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum Crown Series CW02B-MXR ATX Media Center - This is a full size ATX case, a bit expensive, but it is the only case that meets my specifications.

- 6 internal hard drive bays.
- Fits ATX mobo
- 120mm case fan (smaller fans tends to be louder)
- Tall enough to fit a 6" high CPU heatsink
- Tall enough to fit a passively cooled video card as well
- Vents to install fans to cool hard drives; 6 HDs can be quite toasty.
- Black

OS: Windows XP Pro


A NAS is in the works to backup the Mass Storage drives.

A capture card will be installed once I decide to buy my HDTV.


All the new parts costs about $1,300. If I didn't the "old parts" from my previous computer that would probably add about $500 - $600 for a total of $1,800 - $1,900 for the entire HTPC.
June 6, 2008 5:06:58 PM

groo said:
basicly if you get something like a 780g or an 8200, you don't need any cards at all, and could fit in in a 1u enclosure.
I think silversone and maybe some other make 2" thick cases. its all you need.

How do the 780g and 8200 chipsets compare? I'm building a PC for Lightroom and eventually to be used as an HTPC.
Which has better on board graphics and which stays cooler?

June 8, 2008 3:59:32 AM

my understanding of it is.
the 780g performs better, mores0 with sideband memory
But the 8200 has better features

dont know about temp, but I'm guessing ati is better

a 790gx is suposed to be out b4 too long. something like a 780g w/ a better southbridge.