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Budget HTPC

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August 16, 2009 10:06:39 AM

Hello,

I've put together a spec for a HTPC and was hoping from some advice from some experts!

My general requirements are:

1. Storing all my music/video on HDD and playing through amp/tv
2. I don't have a HD TV right now so I'm not looking for Blu-Ray
3. I want something that's a solid build at not too much cost, so I can upgrade in the future
4. No gaming requirement

Here's my current plan:

Case: Antec NSK1280 OR Antec NSK2280 OR Antec Minuet 350 (really not sure on this one as all are similarly priced)
Mobo: Intel DG45ID
CPU: Intel E6300, 2.8GHz 65W
RAM: KINGSTON 4GB 800MHz DDR2 KHX6400S2LLK2/4G
HD: WD 3.5 CAVIAR GREEN, 1TB
DVD/R: ASUS DRW-22B2S
Remote: Logitech Harmony One

Future plan would involve buying a HD TV, BluRay drive and a dedicated graphics card such as a SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4670.

Does this look ok? Does anyone have any experience with Atec cases and could recommend one of the ones I mentioned?

Cheers,

Jonny

More about : budget htpc

August 16, 2009 10:27:46 AM

the 775 socket is on its way out on the budget i'd go amd the antec cases are ok but i find the lian li an sugo cases more stylish but on amd get a 785g am3 board with athlon 240 or 245
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August 16, 2009 12:12:58 PM

The AMD 240 or 245 is a good choice and will work fine. Motherboard and cpu's for AMD are going AM3 and ddr3. If you have an AM2+ motherboard you will still be left behind eventually as the backwards compatibility will not be supported in future AMD cpu's.

So with that said, unless you go with an AM3 board you can go either Intel or AMD. Tbh, and current Core 2 duo/Quad will run an HTPC smooth as butter.

If you go AMD and you can afford to go AM3 all the way to take advantage of future upgrades then do so. If you are budget limited then AM2 (cheaper ddr2 ram) or Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad will work great.

If I were you I would go with the Seagate 1.5T hd's due to specials that are frequently ran for only 119.99 and its 50% more space and if you are going with imaging your DVD's you will definitely need the space. I have 4 of these now and you will find yourself wanting more internal SATA ports and larger hard drives.

I ordered this motherboard from Tigerdirect:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Keep in mind this is a full ATX motherboard and some HTPC cases support that. This motherboard has a ton of features:

8 SATA ports
9300 onboard graphics (with HDMI/DVI out, ok to start with until you get more dough for a good video card)
DDR2 (lower cost)
2 PCI-e 1x slots (above video card for tv tuner/sound card add on)
7.1 onboard audio

I am recommending this board/brand because EVGA has support like no other brand. I have their number in my cell phone and can call them anytime, any day and get someone withing 2-15 minutes and get an answer to my issue immediately.

I love Gigabyte boards but recently had an issue that forced me to get this board. The only support you get from Gigabyte is an online request form that took 3 days to get a reply to tell me to do what I already did and request an RMA which is fine. It will take up to 3 weeks for me to get that board back and my system has already been down for about 1 week waiting for support and my testing. As long as you have no issues Gigabyte is hard to beat.


There are a lot of things to consider when building an HTPC. How much space you have for the case is a biggie. If your area is tight then you will need to go with a micro atx board and case.

Read a lot of reviews to find what best suits your needs and pay attention to issues they point out and see if its important to you or not.

You will learn as you go but you will likely make mistakes about things you didn't think about. Some of what I pointed out was issues that effected me so you may have different issues.



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August 16, 2009 7:59:26 PM

A E6300 is a great HTPC chip, I think it should do fine. Antec cases are very good quality so that should be good. Have you picked out a PSU? A Corsair 400CX can easily power that system. Or opt for the 450w if you plan to upgrade to performance GPU.
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August 16, 2009 10:45:28 PM

@obsidian86 - I looked into the 785 chipset motherboard's but none are on sale yet. Any idea when they would be? How long until stable drivers are released?

@englandr753 - what you've described looks great but a lot more expensive than I'm looking for. I also don't need this for gaming and want to keep the PC energy efficient and cool.

@AKM880 - the cases I'm looking at all come with a 350W 80 PLUS certified PSU. I hope this is fine for now unless, as you suggest, I upgrade to a beefy GPU...

Does the E6300 CPU come with a decent fan/heatsink or is it good to buy something better?

Would 4GB DDR2 RAM be good enough for now and future? Would DDR3 actually give me any discernible performance improvement for playing music and video?

Thanks everyone for your replies!
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August 17, 2009 12:19:36 AM

jonny162 said:
@obsidian86 - I looked into the 785 chipset motherboard's but none are on sale yet. Any idea when they would be? How long until stable drivers are released?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

There's a nice list of 785g motherboards for you :) 



jonny162 said:

Does the E6300 CPU come with a decent fan/heatsink or is it good to buy something better?


Stock heatsinks are more than adequate.

jonny162 said:

Would 4GB DDR2 RAM be good enough for now and future? Would DDR3 actually give me any discernible performance improvement for playing music and video?


4gb is a good amount of RAM. You would most likely notice an increase in performance upgrading to DDR3, but DDR2 would still be plenty fast :) 
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August 17, 2009 12:49:20 AM

4GB is enough for HTPC. Well even 2GB is enough.....

Sotck Intel heatsink is already good enough for the HTPC. You probably won't need to OC.
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August 17, 2009 12:51:03 AM

AKM880 said:
4GB is enough for HTPC. Well even 2GB is enough.....

Sotck Intel heatsink is already good enough for the HTPC. You probably won't need to OC.


Agreed. 2GB is generally more than adequate, but with how inexpensive RAM has become, why not go for 4!

The stock heatsink is even good enough to do some mild overclocking :) 
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August 17, 2009 3:04:40 AM

^ LOL, I'm still partially on Socket 478 :( 

Can't wait till the i5's "are out"
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August 17, 2009 4:19:43 AM

So for the AMD crowd or those with knowledge of AMD vs Intel; how would the following compare for mobo/CPU/memory/price:

AMD
* Mobo: Asus M4A785TD-V-EVO AM3
* CPU: Athlon II X2 3GHz 65W
* Memory: Kingston 4GB ( 2 X 2GB ) 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9
KVR1333D3N9K2/4G
* Price: AU$366

Intel
* Mobo: Intel DG45ID
* CPU: Intel E6300, 2.8GHz 65W
* RAM: KINGSTON 4GB 800MHz DDR2 KHX6400S2LLK2/4G
Price: AU$336

So AU$30 cheaper for the Intel setup, but the AMD looks better on paper. These are the best prices I can find in Australia using the price comparison website www.staticice.com.au.

Also, I'm definitely going Windows 7.
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