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New Micro-ATX AMD HTPC Gaming Build (first timer)

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May 18, 2009 5:26:03 PM

So this is what I have come up with so far:

Purchase Date:
next month or so...

Price range:
500-1000(ish)

Usage:
Gaming and movies. Possibly some Adobe CS4 usage.

Parts preference:
AMD based.

Parts:
Case:
Antec Mini P180 Black Steel MicroATX Mini Tower (purchased)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129041

Mother Board:
ASUS M3A78-EM AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131324

Processor(s):
AMD Phenom 8650 Toliman 2.3GHz or AMD Phenom II X3 (definitely a triple-core, I feel like a quad would be overkill)

Video Card:
I was going to wait to see how the onboard video holds up, but i did add a card i was thinking of the Radeon HD 4850 series. Can't really tell the difference between the various companies so any help would be greatly appreciated. These are a couple i have been looking at:

HIS Hightech H485QT512P Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported IceQ4 Turbo Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161244
Or
SAPPHIRE Vapor-X Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102833

Ram:
G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231098

Hard drives:
Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s x2
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136320

CD/DVD:
SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE 22X DVD±R DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151175

PSU:
I have boiled my choices to these two:
CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139005
Or
Antec EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371015

Overclocking:
i will definitely try it.

Moniter:
I will be viewing this on a 37 inch television, that may get upgraded to a 40-something incher.

Comments:
I would prefer a quiet-ish build that can stay on for the most part and not run my electric bill up too much. I will probably install XP Pro on this build. And i think thats it.

Thanks so much for any input that anyone may have.
May 18, 2009 5:39:32 PM

If you want to overclock, then you should avoid the first generation phenom processors, you would be lucky to get 200mhz extra out of them. Best to go with a Phenom II processor. Get the Phenom II 720, or if you can afford it for a few bucks more then PII 940 is a great deal. I know you said you thought a quad would be overkill, but you would be surprised how much some apps use, and CS4 will definitely see a benefit from having more cores.
Look at a combo deal like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Either PSU would be great, although possibly overkill. This one would do fine and cheaper:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You will need a CPU cooler if you will overclock, look at this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This hard drive is faster and larger for only $5 more:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The onboard graphics won't be able to play any games that came out in the last couple years, so if your list of games includes newer titles you will want a discrete GPU. If you are going to be running them at 1080P resolution then you probably want to look at a GTX 260 or 4870 or better, the 4850 probably will be a little lacking.
My recommendation: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
May 19, 2009 3:31:22 AM

So thanks a bunch for your suggestions. The only one that I would want some extra input on is the video card. I know you suggested one that was a GeForce one, but I was wondering if you had any suggestions for a Radeon based video care within your suggestion of the 4870's, particularly which company to go with. I dont really difference btwn HIS or Sapphire or MSI. Does one company make better cards than the others. Thanks again.

xthekidx said:
If you want to overclock, then you should avoid the first generation phenom processors, you would be lucky to get 200mhz extra out of them. Best to go with a Phenom II processor. Get the Phenom II 720, or if you can afford it for a few bucks more then PII 940 is a great deal. I know you said you thought a quad would be overkill, but you would be surprised how much some apps use, and CS4 will definitely see a benefit from having more cores.
Look at a combo deal like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Either PSU would be great, although possibly overkill. This one would do fine and cheaper:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You will need a CPU cooler if you will overclock, look at this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This hard drive is faster and larger for only $5 more:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The onboard graphics won't be able to play any games that came out in the last couple years, so if your list of games includes newer titles you will want a discrete GPU. If you are going to be running them at 1080P resolution then you probably want to look at a GTX 260 or 4870 or better, the 4850 probably will be a little lacking.
My recommendation: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Related resources
May 19, 2009 1:34:54 PM

Thanks for the feedback, you guys are awesome. One more quesiton(I think) about the PSU. So you think the above suggested PSU would be sufficient even if I decide to add more ram (8-16gb total) and a couple more hard drives (3 total), plus any additional upgrades in the future?
May 19, 2009 5:18:32 PM

Yeah it should do alright, as long as you don't crossfire.
May 19, 2009 9:54:57 PM

Not to be a pain but if I did intend on one day going down the CrossFire route, what would I have to do then to provide the build adequate power.

xthekidx said:
Yeah it should do alright, as long as you don't crossfire.

May 19, 2009 10:25:51 PM

I've built a few HTPC's and found myself getting quite obsessed with the noise levels. Build looks good, but you might want to budget for some low-noise fans to replace the case fan(s) / heatsink fan, and the WD 'Black' drives can be a little loud the 'Green' drives are quieter and will save some cash if this HTPC is on a lot.

Stuart
May 19, 2009 11:06:16 PM

jekel35 said:
Not to be a pain but if I did intend on one day going down the CrossFire route, what would I have to do then to provide the build adequate power.

Well first of all you would need a game and a screen with the resolution large enough to merit crossfire. Like Crysis on a 19x12 res screen, or I think samsung makes some 20x14 screens too. Any lower resolution wouldn't ever need crossfire for another 4890.

For Crossfire 4890's, I would want at least a 750w PSU from a good brand, like the Corsair 750tx. Better would be the Corsair 850tx.
May 20, 2009 2:05:04 PM

Thank xthekidx,
So I think I may moved towards a crossfire setup, although not immediately I will move in that direction. Just as a FYI, the television this comp is going to be hooked up to is 37in Toshiba that supports 1080p and 1080i so I believe the the resolution would be 1920x1080i/p. So two quesitons one is if got on card that was CrossFire ready and double uped with another one, do they have to be the same card or can they be different cards from different companies. The second question is if I went with a high powerd PSU to be ready for the CrossFire setup would that be at all problematic if its too much for my build? Thanks again
May 20, 2009 5:32:44 PM

1. Any two cards can crossfire as long as they are the same card, the brand/company doesn't matter. Just make sure they say "crossfire ready" and have the little gold fingers. Most cards do, but once in a while you find one that doesn't.
2. No it won't be a problem. The PSU rating is supposed to be its maximum output, PSU's do not have a minimum output rating.

Honestly a 4890 does pretty well at 1080P resolution, two would be a waste of money IMO. You might think about just getting two 4770's right off the bat. That will perform better than one 4890 by a good margin, it will be cheaper, and consume less power.

Look at this review. Crysis is the most graphically demanding game out at this point, and two 4770's got 43FPS at 19x12 resolution, which is larger than 1080P. You wouldn't need more than that. Only if you really like AA would it be necessary to get two 4890's.
May 24, 2009 1:17:29 AM

I was wondering how to find a CPU cooler that will fit my MB?
May 24, 2009 1:44:11 AM

Check to make sure its compatible with the socket; AM2+ is the one you are looking at. I linked a very good cooler up above in my first post.
May 24, 2009 3:14:24 AM

This would be my suggestion:

$646.13 after ship and MIR
Suggest using Vista or even better Win 7 RC to take full advantage of Hybrid Power where the discrete is almost powered down when not in gaming mode ^^


June 12, 2009 2:55:24 PM

Just wanted to updated with the final purchase of the build. Thanks for all the help from everyone that chimed in. Just FYI I will be adding a CPU heatsink that will most probably be the one listed above, just depends on the height. Also I will most probably add a Radeon HD 4860 video card. Haven't decide just yet which one but will most probably go with a H.I.S. product. Thanks again.

!