I have built computers previously, but decided it was time for a HTPC. I want to build a HTPC to display HD content on my HD TV. I don't have a lot of money to spend ($400-$500), and thought I could save using a dual-core atom processor and the nvidia ion chipset. Plus, the unit well be nice and quiet since I will need few fans to cool the low energy components. Is the integrated graphics on the ion platform powerful enough to display HD content smoothly? Is the processor going to be a bottleneck, or is it powerful enough to display HD movies, possibly from a blueray drive? I don't expect this pc to do much more than display online content, blueray movies, and other down loadable content (movies). I won't be using it for any gaming (maybe super mario ). Does anyone have recommendations? Should I invest in a core2duo?
The 9400 graphics in the Ion can play Blue Ray video with the Atom easily. Install the Windows 7 RC with it. I doubt it'll cost more than $400 to build. Also, with anything more powerful than an Atom, you would need cooling fansthat are audible. With Ion you can get a big, very low RPM fan and won't even hear it.
Thanks for the replies. Not being able to smoothly play HD movies from Hulu is a downer, though. I realize I would have to buy software like PowerDVD since even retail Blueray drives include poor or stripped-down software. Would I be better off getting a more powerful low-end system, maybe with a new Athlon X2 processor? Not as powerful as a core2duo, but the power isn't really necessary. How much heat would this processor produce? Would it need heavy cooling. I would down clock it, but prefer not to. It should be able to play back Hulu content smoothly, and any other content that can not be accelerated by a gpu.
I like your processor choices. They seem to be liked by those creating HTPCs. It is also more powerful that the atom, so should not have as much of an issue with HD content that can not be accelerated by the GPU. Plus, it's cheap. May be even cheaper than the atom in the end. Thanks!
Intel Celeron E1400 Allendale 2.0GHz 512KB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6819116069
Cheapest dual core at 50$ with free shipping. I bought for my HTCP a 45W AMD dual core processor (2300-BE) for less, but it's not available anymore at newegg.
GIGABYTE GV-R435OC-512I Radeon HD 4350 512MB 64-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814125251
35$ - 15 rebate= 20$ and free shipping can't get better than this. I bought this one and got the rebate after around a month. It's a much better solution than onboard graphics, more support, and up to 8 channels of LPCM audio.
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBNT http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820231207
45$ Free shipping. 2GB is enough
Both ram run at 800 MHz, so even if you overclock 100% your CPU (2 GHz to 4 GHz at 10x multi) it'll still work. By the way I'm a fan of kingston in terms of reliability and durability, and you don't need the fancy RAM you proposed.
Any 500-640 GB HD you like for 50-70$ and Free Shipping (I have a 640 WD caviar green and love it (68$)).
you choice of DVD burner (28 + S&H) or the plextor (more reliable) at 50$ with free shipping
if you chose this option, maybe you'll need to buy some low noise 80mm fans (maybe 1600rpm) and you'll have a noiseless option. since these components don't make a lot of heat, you'll be fine with low rpm 80mm fans.
I think a case that accepts an ATX psu may be too large. I prefer a smaller unit. Are their any good power supplies that fit in a micro atx case? I looked at Newegg, and the power supplies didn't seem to be from any respected manufacturer I know of (PC Power and Cooling, Antec, Corsair,etc...). Do smaller power supplies have their own respected brands?
I believe that rosewill psu (that comes with the case I suggested)will hold for a while. There are not much to choose from anyway.
I have an athena PSU and besides a faulty fan (which I was going to replace anyway for a low noise one) It's been running almost 24/7 for 6 months now.
Usually cheap brands won't make the psu die very soon, they are cheap because aren't very efficient and make more heat than the others. At least that's my experience (with a lot of PSU that don't even have a brand)
P.S. You only have to make sure to get a case with a common PSU size, so you can buy a new one if yours die.
P.S.2. By the way the CPU I suggested now sells for 45$
I'd like to add, that if you are interested in the ION platform, the Zotac Series A mini-itx board uses an external power brick for power, allowing for VERY small cases. It also includes basically everything you need for a simple HTPC machine (especially if being used as a simple client). Even includes wireless-n on the board, if you prefer to go that route.