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HTPC: Nvidia Ion?

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June 27, 2009 4:42:21 AM

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?

More about : htpc nvidia ion

June 27, 2009 5:28:25 AM

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.
June 27, 2009 12:27:50 PM

for the downloadable content, make sure it is either mpeg2 or h.264 since those are accelerated by the GPU, if it is not, the Atom processor may not be able to cope with it at high resolutions
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June 27, 2009 5:04:52 PM

The ION platform should be able to accelerate H.264/VC-1 fine for both HD resolutions 720p and 1080p. You need software that supports DXVA for this to work, i.e MPC-HC or PowerDVD.

It will play Blu-ray's fine, but I've heard it has problems playing HD content from sites like Hulu. The Atom CPU will most likely not be able to play any high res. movie's with the help of the ION,
June 27, 2009 5:54:00 PM

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.
June 27, 2009 8:13:31 PM

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!
June 27, 2009 8:24:58 PM

im personally using 4850e on 780g mobo with integrated ati 3200gpu. plays 1080p movies in micro atx case with 1.5tb hd, 2gb ram and blu ray drive
June 27, 2009 8:29:54 PM

im also using a 4850e for a HTPC, works great. It even being passively cooled.
June 27, 2009 10:13:51 PM

Paired with a 780G motherboard that has the HD3200 IGP should be great for HTPC uses.
June 28, 2009 2:10:06 AM

Taken from: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...

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.


Foxconn G31MXP-K LGA 775 Intel G31 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813186167
43$+S&H.


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.


Kingston 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model KVR800D2/2GR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820134797
26$ Free S&H


or


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


Any case with PSU from 30 (if you don't mind a big one) to 80$
I like this one at 50$:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811147098


That would be 250 plus some S&H minimum
but I would pay about 300 - 330$ (shipping included to get the plextor DVD burner and the rosewill case I recommend.


How you like it?
June 28, 2009 2:13:28 AM

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.
June 28, 2009 2:22:43 AM

^ Never skimp on the PSU
June 28, 2009 2:54:12 AM

hunter315 said:
Also make sure you get a case that takes standard ATX PSU's that one does not seem to, you can go super cheap on a case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
But if you are going to go with a cheap PSU get a good brand
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$10 more than the rosewill after the MIR on the corsair but less likely to blow up and cost you more in the long run.


I agree with hunter, but if you want a thin case to sit horizontally, you wont get standard atx psu.

With the same money you get better case and PSU if you go standard atx, mini tower or mid tower than HTPC like case and psu
June 28, 2009 4:08:21 AM

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?
June 29, 2009 1:19:05 AM

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$
August 7, 2009 9:34:23 AM

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.
!