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1st timer new HTPC build - 810 vs 905e Anything you'de change?

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August 22, 2009 8:13:38 AM

First time building a system; primary use as a media center (existing 46" LCD TV 1080p / receiver, internet, audio, blu-ray, photo/video editing, light gaming, in an entertainment center). Seeking small, quick and quiet set up that will hopefully go together with no complications.

My build is below- purchase in 1 week, budget $650.

Look forward to your feedback and comments!

- nMEDIAPC HTPC 5000B Micro ATX Media Center HTPC 5000B $89.99
- OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS $59.99
- AMD Phenom II X4 810 2.6GHz $144.99 OR AMD Phenom II X4 905e 2.5GHz $184.99
- Gigabyte MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard $89.99
- G.SKILL 4GB (2x2GB)240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM 1600 F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ $79.99
- WD Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 SATA HDD $74.99
- ASUS Black 6X Blu-Ray DVD Combo SATA Model BC-06B1ST $89.99
August 22, 2009 8:57:19 AM

why those 2 processors?

AMD Phenom II x4 945 3.0 Ghz $169.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Cost is in the middle but performance is better than either! It has the same power consumption (95W) as the 810.

If you order your Blu-Ray ODD through newegg you will probably have to purchase software in order to watch Blu-Ray discs. Go retail and it comes bundled.

Nice build overall. What OS are you going with?
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August 22, 2009 9:08:12 AM

Appreciate the feedback. Selected the 810 and 905e based upon reviews that indicated these are quick and do not generate much heat. Is the 945 equally a good fit with the motherboard identified?

To confirm the blu-ray concern, the retail version purchased from tiger, fry's, etc. would come prebundled with software and the version identified at newegg does not- is my understanding correct?

Regarding the OS, I had anticipated obtaining the Vista Home Premium software that comes with the upgrade to Win 7. I am presently using XP service pack 3. Thanks again for your advise- look forward to further info exchange / suggestions.
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August 22, 2009 9:43:19 AM

As a media PC you should look for as much ROM as you can afford - 1TB+. 4GB of Lightning fast RAM is overkill. You will do fine with even 1 GB of DDR 667, but 800MHz seems to be the most abundant and best value right now. The CPU choice is questionable. If you are willing to pay for a quad core then choose a higher rating, so you will see the benefits over a fast dual core. And why stop at one dvd player? Why not have a cheap DVD/CD/rw drive also?
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August 22, 2009 9:53:08 AM

you can get a 955 or 720 an clock it down to lower speed even clocking down a 945 would do
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August 22, 2009 10:05:23 AM

bildo/obsidian just because a more powerful processor is available it doesnt make it the most suitable .

A media center with a hot running cpu will be noisey and suck more power than it needs to . These are things a that count against high end cpu's
Clocking down and undervolting a top end cpu . well why not just clock down and undervolt a midrange cpu and save some money ?

The 810 should be fine

And the wattage rating of a cpu is NOT the current it draws . Its the maximum it can draw without frying .Big difference
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August 22, 2009 10:10:37 AM

get the 720 an clock it down to 2.5 ghz same as the 705e for 65watt tdp the 720 is cheaper then the 705e
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August 22, 2009 2:03:45 PM

i would say get the 810, even at stock speed i have mine down to 1.1875v stable
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August 22, 2009 2:11:47 PM

I recommended the better processor because the op specified they will be doing video editing.... depending on what they are doing this can be a big blessing. I pointed out the price because it was in thier range given.

The modern Phenom II's have a power save mode which also allows them to run cooler when not being utilized fully.

I know it's max wattage! I mentioned it becase I didn't look up spec on his MOBO and his MOBO might have a limit on it (I know some that do).
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August 22, 2009 2:16:18 PM

billdo02 said:
I recommended the better processor because the op specified they will be doing video editing.... depending on what they are doing this can be a big blessing. I pointed out the price because it was in thier range given.

The modern Phenom II's have a power save mode which also allows them to run cooler when not being utilized fully.

I know it's max wattage! I mentioned it becase I didn't look up spec on his MOBO and his MOBO might have a limit on it (I know some that do).


well, he could go with the 95w 945, also what ever processor you decide to get, find out the minimum voltage needed for stock speed and use that, my 810 is normally 1.325 and like i said is down to 1.1875
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August 22, 2009 2:16:34 PM

As for the software bundle.... yes Fry's and Tiger are retail versions. Newegg also has retail (it will specify retail or OEM at the end of the product description). Just stay away from OEM even though it is cheaper. Software to run Blu-Ray can be expensive.
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August 22, 2009 5:23:30 PM

Thank you to everyone who responded and billdo02 for the tip regarding Blu-Ray retail vs OEM hardware.

Regarding choice of the CPU, I am a bit confused as this is my first build and I am not savvy regarding how to adjust voltage / the implications of what has been suggested. Would definitely need guidance.

The Legitreviews article seemed to suggest that for low power consumption, and assurance that the system would run cool, that the 905e would make a good choice. (Also considered the 705, but understand that for video editing applications the additional core is desireable. Should note that the PC will be on a great deal of the time.)

Unclear how much noticeable speed difference there might be for my application when comparing the 905e, 810 and 945. Some of the tests I reviewed did not show a great deal of difference between the 810 and 905e. However, I did not compare these to the 945.

Comments??
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August 22, 2009 9:15:34 PM

for performance comparisons have a look at the chart sections of this site .

reducing voltage will take a couple of minutes . All thats required is to enter BIOS [ start up ] menu and make changes . If you can type you can can do this .
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August 23, 2009 3:57:46 AM

Outlander_04 said:
for performance comparisons have a look at the chart sections of this site .

reducing voltage will take a couple of minutes . All thats required is to enter BIOS [ start up ] menu and make changes . If you can type you can can do this .



Outlander_04- thank you for the advise. Is there a particular setting that you would recommend? Also, any comments with regard to the RAM choice (4GB 2x2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM 1600) and does it matter that the 810 L3 Cache is 4MB versus the 905e's 6 MB? Thanks again.
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August 24, 2009 2:14:12 PM

finleyb said:
Outlander_04- thank you for the advise. Is there a particular setting that you would recommend? Also, any comments with regard to the RAM choice (4GB 2x2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM 1600) and does it matter that the 810 L3 Cache is 4MB versus the 905e's 6 MB? Thanks again.



more cache on the processor can speed up some operations , but at other times it makes very little difference . I dont think its a deal breaker for your usage .

I havent undervolted a Phenom but this article
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3621
shows the 965 Phenom quad . If you are heading down this track then try dropping the voltage by 0.1 volts and use the computer as normal . If it stable with no crashes or odd behavior maybe try a bit more ... at some point it wont run well but that wont do it any harm , and you will then have to add back voltage till its stable again

To change voltage you'd hit the DEL key as you boot to enter BIOS/ start up menu . Dont change this setting the first time you boot though . Wait till you are sure it all works well and then make changes in small steps .

This article
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-ii-ddr3,2319...
is quite revealing about RAM speeds and how they affect performance.
As suggested above the sweet spot for price/performance is probably
1333MHz and timings of 7-7-7-20 OR LESS .Make sure that it runs at that speed at the lowest possible voltage . One sure way to make 1600MHz ram is to get 1333MHz ram , slacken the timings [ make bigger ] and the feed it more volts ..... and this is essentially what the cheap 1600 MHz ram is
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August 25, 2009 2:49:29 AM

Outlander_04 Thank you once again, the insights you provided are tremendously helpful. Being a novice, have lots to learn. It appears from the feedback that the best option is the 810, with the Gigabyte motherboard identified, 500-600 W power supply and 1333 2X2 DDR3 ram. I would then apply the voltage settings following the suggestions you made to find the perfect setting. Do I have this right? In your opinion, a decent system for a media center and photo/video editing? (versus the 945 or 905e CPU)
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August 25, 2009 3:48:01 AM

Yes , I think you have summarized well .

The voltage changes are something you could consider once all is running and performing fine . They should give you a power saving , as well as less heat and noise .

The 905e doesnt make much sense to me since you pay a premium price and it doesnt save huge amounts of power .
The 945 is an option , and will increase performance but I suspect you just dont need all that much horsepower for your usage
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August 25, 2009 4:31:04 AM

The question is how labor intensive your video editing is..... If it is light video editing then by all means go with the 810.
If on the other hand you are doing some quasi serious editing then the 945 would be better as it does this work 10-20% faster depending on the program you are running.

If you ask around and provide the programs and settings you use, you will get more detailed responses.
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August 31, 2009 7:09:56 PM

billdo02 said:
The question is how labor intensive your video editing is..... If it is light video editing then by all means go with the 810.
If on the other hand you are doing some quasi serious editing then the 945 would be better as it does this work 10-20% faster depending on the program you are running.

If you ask around and provide the programs and settings you use, you will get more detailed responses.



Thanks billdo02- good suggestion.
The programs I will be utilizing include Pinnacle studio plus version 11 for video and Paint Shop Pro Photo XI as well as Adobe Photoshop 5.5 for photo editing. Welcome feedback on the best option for a media center that will also be utilized to convert VHS to DVD and edit photos. I am imagining the 945 can also be optimized much like the 810 to achieve the most quiet and energy efficient system possible to get the job done.
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August 31, 2009 7:40:23 PM

Sounds like you got lots of great feedback already, so just thought I'd add a couple minor things.

I have two of that exact PSU, and it is quiet and efficient. For the price, I think it is a great buy. I haven't really stressed it or had it very long, so I can't attest to its reliability or power rating, but it should be a fine PSU for your application.

I have the 500GB version of the WD Black. I really like it overall, but I should mention it may get a little warm if airflow over it is poor, but that is minor. Also, in my system (which has a large fron vent) you can hear a low (and very quiet) rumble like sound from the drive. Not annoying at all to me, but if you are going for absolute silence you may want to research farther.

Otherwise, it sounds like you are getting great feedback on the rest. The only other note is that although I don't have that MB, I have four somewhat similar Gigabyte MBs and that have all been great and almost without flaw.
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September 2, 2009 9:14:18 PM

Thanks for your post! I am also planning on building HTPC; in fact HTPC case idea I got from you.

I have been looking for building a HTPC / game console for my living room for a quite sometimes. Primarily I am going to use it to play DVD, Blu-ray, video/audio/picture media from local drive & NAS and some audio/video content from the Internet. Since this would be the most powerful PC in house, I will be using it for basic home video (mostly MPEG2, AVCHD, and some avi) editing using Pinnacle Studio 12. I am not a hardcore gamer but having reasonably loaded/upgradeable PC for games is a desirable add-on for living room PC.

Choosing the components, I was trying consider the low-voltage options as well as low/reduced noise solutions.
I am looking forward for your valuable opinion regarding my choices:

nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 5000B Micro ATX (5.4"x17"x16.3") $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This chassis appears to have good ventilation and enough room for everything. It comes with fine goodies like hdd rubber mounts to lessen HDD vibration, 4-1 card reader, audio jacks, eSATA, USBs and IEEE1394 on the front panel making the system look more appropriate to living room setup. I am a little bit concerned this case being too big and being able to find its thermal/air ventilation analysis. I also would prefer one with a volume nub and fans with a speed control at this price therefore I appreciate your feedback.


CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX 450W ATX12V V2.2 80+ $60
(used to be priced $40 after $20 rebate at newegg.com)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I was looking for a quite not expensive 80+ power supply with enough of juice for the current configuration and future upgrades like extra HDDs and mid range video card for boosting gaming experience. The original price $40 (after rebate) was a real bargain. If you know about the alternative quite 80+ power supplies please post them here. Please note that the GA-MA785GPMT has only two fan connectors (CPU+SYSTEM) therefore the power supply should have fan controlled by its own temperature sensor.


AMD Phenom-II X3 720 2.8 Ghz AM3 95W $119
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
From the start of my research I was considering building i7 based HTPC but soon I learned that it won’t be able to fit into my budget (<$800 incl. 9.5% tax). Therefore I decided to settle on Phenom-II line. I have chosen the X3-720BE because, as I learned from reviews, it provides enough processing power for HTPC applications and could have a 4th core unlocked and over-clocked when needed (e.g. when running video editing software or playing games). Meanwhile, it doesn’t generate too much heat and even could be underpowered saving energy as much as AMD e-series. I was wondering how much better the X3-720BE+785 comparing to Intel Core-2 Duo and atom based HTPCs within the same price range?


Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H AM3/785G/DDR3/MATX (1cpu+1system fan) $95
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Since I choose to go with the AMD CPU, I was looking at few chipset but somehow felt that AMD CPU would co-exists best with AMD’s chipsets and the 785 appears to win here over its siblings. This particular MicroATX motherboard stands out with DDR3, 128MB side video ram, and the Realtek ALC889A that claims to deliver “true-blu-ray-audio”. I was considering an alternative $5 less expensive MSI 785GM-65 but I decided to go with Gigabyte. It would be good to hear your opinion.


SuperTalent STT D3-1333 4GB (2x2GB) CL8 Dual Channel Memory Kit $64
http://www.memorylabs.net/sttd34gb2cl8.html
I suspect the DDR3 4GB memory kit fits naturally here. Although many were suggesting less expensive lower speed memory, I found the saving was not so great. Therefore I decided to have balanced configuration with 128Mb SidePort @ 1333Mhz


Western Digital 1.5TB SATA WD15EADS $120
http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=HD-W15EADS&c=pw
I recently have learned that the Western Digital has a line of “green” - power saving hard-drives. I did not see the test comparisons with Seagate or Hitachi drives. Originally, wanted to equip my HTPC with 1TB but 50% upgrade seems to be worse of extra $37. Although newegg reviewers are reporting issues that might be linked to bad drivers: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=2...
Please post comments and suggestions regarding the SATA HDD >1TB. Thanks in advance.

Lite-On 4x Blu-Ray BD-ROM SATA Drive –Retail $68
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I was looking for a reliable and fast Blu-Ray drive since I might use it for Blu-ray ripping as well. I would jump on 8x or 6x Blu-Ray drive but couldn’t find a good deal; while, 4x should be enough for watching Blu-ray movies. I also bothered about reports that buggies software that this drive comes with, therefore I could get an OEM version saving $8. What is your experience? What drive and software would you suggest?


Rosewill 104 Normal Keys USB 2.4 GHz Cordless Slim Keyboard and Mouse $30
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=N...
I never used this keyboard/mouse combo but it fits my budget and has OK reviews. I would love to get a Gyration Air mouse sometimes.


Vista Home Premium 64 bit $80
http://download-journal.com/shop/item/332/
I don’t know if I could trust the source and if the package comes with coupon for free Windows 7 upgrade. I will try to settle this when will be ordering the parts. Meanwhile, it would be good to know if the “Ultimate” is worse of getting and if 32-bit version would make system more reliable due to the fact that some software may still have unresolved bugs on 64-bit OS. I appreciate if you could share your opinion.

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September 2, 2009 10:58:09 PM

I'll throw my opinion in too, just so you get as much (hopefully non-conflicting) feedback as possible.

Case: that is a sweet looking case. Tell us how it does, as I might want to use it someday.

Corsairs are good PSUs. It is better to do as you did to get a lower wattage good PSU than a higher wattage bad one.

Processor: The 720 should beat Core 2s (and definitely atoms) when the program uses > 2 threads. Otherwise, it will be close to core 2 performance.

Excellent choice of motherboard. I think you will be really happy with it. I have several new Gigabyte boards and they have all been great. That one should be good with power too.

For the ram, get what ever fits your budget, don't worry about getting too fast of one. For example, I found it cheaper to get OCZ 1600MHz ram, even though I am only running it at 1066MHz. DDR3 also is good for power savings.

I've always had luck with WD drives, and that one looks pretty good on power (and thus heat) which is important for HTPCs. There is always a chance you will get a bad one. If you are worried you could just get a non-green drive. They don't use much more power and will give better performance.

I've had mediocre luck with lite-on. One was ok, and one was just terrible. I thought that it would shake my who computer to pieces. Since then, ihave only bought samsung drives, all of which have been great.

A keyboard is a keyboard, I guess. I'm not overly fond of wireless keyboards, but I am typing on one now, so I guess they work fine. I had one though that wouldn't work in games at all.

Vista: HP vs ultimate: don't know, I always get Enterprise since that is what I can get free, but I'd say ultimate probably isn't worth the extra cost. Compare the features and see if they are worth it to you though.
32 vs 64 bit: new software/hardware should be fine on 64 bit. If anything is old though, support is hit or miss. To make full use of your 4 GB of ram, you will need a 64 bit OS (and getting a 64 bit vista gets you a free 64 bit 7, I believe).

Hope that plus others' feedback helps. Let us know if you have any other questions/ideas.

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