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$400-600 HTPC (Hulu, Netflix)

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June 1, 2009 2:04:53 AM

Approximate Purchase Date:
June-July 09

Budget Range:
US $400-600

System Usage:
The motivation for the box is to drop cable and go to all on demand TV viewing from the internet. Thusly, displaying Hulu (via Hulu desktop) and Netflix are the primary purposes of this HTPC. Next up would be playing various files like MKVs that I and my wife have downloaded pushed out to 1080p.
No BlueRay or DVD playback is necessary at the time, but it may not be terrible to have the ability to as an upgrade.
As an HTPC I’m also looking to make this as cool, quiet and power efficient as possible.

Current Build:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5050e Brisbane 2.6GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2 45W Dual-Core Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-US2H AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Blade Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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 SATA 22X DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec earthwatts EA380 380W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I’m probably going to go with Vista Home Premium as my OS, so 4gb of RAM is probably desirable. I haven’t totally settled on a case just yet, so the DVD burner may change if a slim style drive is necessary.

Resolution:
46” 1080p LCD (Samsung LN46A650)

Other:
This build doesn’t buck the trend of what I’ve been seeing lately. Most people seem to go for something of this caliber/price range, but I don’t see too much of what they’re goal is and whether or not this chipset/CPU is doing the desired job.
More food for thought:

DFI LP JR 790GX-M2RS AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Is going to a 790gx board going to get me somewhere that the 780 won’t?

What would I need to do if I wanted to do BlueRay playback (besides, of course, add a BlueRay drive)?
June 1, 2009 2:14:07 AM

It looks like your system should be able to handle it, add a BD player and find out.
If you wanted to stay safe, a Phenom X4 9600 and a 450W+ PSU would be a definite upgrade.
Although the Phenom is a pretty decent price jump, a 450W PSU should be cheap, you don't really need corsair quality for a HTPC.

-k0unit

Edit: 790GX has native support for 125W Phenom II's for the mostpart as well as a HD 3300 IGP. (Not a big jump from a 3200 though)
For a HTPC it's not much of a necessary upgrade.
Related resources
June 1, 2009 4:57:46 AM

+1 ^. Altho the HD3200 could handle it........I've seen it in person.
June 1, 2009 7:17:39 AM

They should work since your CPU can already handle HD content by itself, you wouldn't need a strong GPU to do DXVA. So you can just plug the HDMI into your HDTV.
June 1, 2009 7:59:18 AM

there was a th's review on htpc using you current specs which played 1080p without any problems, can't seem to find the link though
June 1, 2009 3:50:30 PM

Your original build looks very solid and would play blueray just fine if you desired. Not worth the extra money for the 790gx. You can try overclocking the igp for a little better graphic performance. It should do 850mhz pretty easy. There's no need for a power hungry quad core cpu. Stick with the low power dual core.
June 4, 2009 4:01:53 PM

Just curious, but would a 300W high-efficiency power supply work just as well? From what I've read, to get the lowest power consumption you want to aim for a power supply that is only a little bit more capable than what is needed.

I plan on building a HTPC that is very similar to the one specced here, but I plan to leave it on 24/7 as a torrent box as well so I'm really interested in getting power consumption as low as possible while still remaining responsive when I need it to be.
June 4, 2009 9:28:38 PM

Katsushiro said:
Just curious, but would a 300W high-efficiency power supply work just as well? From what I've read, to get the lowest power consumption you want to aim for a power supply that is only a little bit more capable than what is needed.




Not true. Most power supplies have a max efficiency around 50-60%.
http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/181/9
June 9, 2009 1:56:26 AM

The thing is, I want this to be most efficient when it is in idle (0 - 25% utilization) and I imagine that is going to be somewhere between 40-70 Watts (newegg reviews of Athlon X2 4050e say entire system idles from 33 - 55 W, but that is slower processor). I don't care how much less inefficient the rig is when its churning away at 50+% utilization because that will only be a fraction of the time that the machine is running.

So given that information I would think a 250-300W power supply would give me better overall efficiency.

What do you think?
June 9, 2009 6:48:29 AM

Then you would need a 100W PSU wouldn't you?

When your system is idle it should be asleep, not idling. 5-10w, all of which are from the +5VSB rail that has it's own efficiency.

Are you sure that at those times when the system is really idling you need efficiency?

80% instead of what, 70? A 10% savings of 50W would be 5W. Meanwhile the PSU, when pushed at load, would get very warm and inefficient, burning far more wasted watts.
June 24, 2009 1:45:57 AM

Thanks for the convincing Proximon, I bought the Earthwatts 380 and am happy with the quietness that it provides.
!