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HTPC chipset selection

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August 28, 2009 1:18:18 PM

I am planning to build an HTPC and am having difficulty choosing a motherboard. Initially I had chosen:
1. ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
2. AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX240OCGQBOX - Retail
3. Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model CT2KIT25664BA1339 - Retail
$212 (canadian)

The problem is, after I chose this I found out that there are some limitations to the audio output of the AMD chipsets, per reviews from both Anandtech and tomshardware, stating that they do not output 7.1 channel audio, and I am not even sure if it ouputs multichannel audio at all (5.1):
That said, our conclusion about the 785G chipset remains true, but for now, we cannot recommend it to the serious HTPC owner looking for an all in one solution. Our recommendation for this audience continues to be the GF9300/9400 motherboards paired with an E6300 or E7200 processor.

Eventually I will be adding a pci express video card when their HDMI ports start outputting uncompressed 7.1 HD audio formats (which none do yet except an exceedingly expensive one from Xonar I think it was).

Because of this I have been looking into motherboards with GF 9300/9400 chipsets but have found the total cost to be MUCH higher getting one of these and an intel processor than the price I found above for the AMD option.

Functions I'm looking for:
mobo - onboard HDMI output to my Yamaha rx-v1900 receiver
processor - does not matter, as long as it will handle 1080p output and prefer lower power consumption
hard drives - probably 2x1tb for now, future expansion likely
blue ray drive
case - probably this one due to ESATA front port for external backup as well as card reader and will add an IR port for my harmony one remote:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Would appreciate any thoughts. At first I will primarily be playing DVDs with DD/DTS 5.1, but my blue ray collection is slowly growing.

More about : htpc chipset selection

August 28, 2009 1:51:51 PM

the board you chose does have 7.1 sound the review was refering to lower spec 785g boards
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August 28, 2009 4:49:25 PM

so people who bought earlier revisions of this chipset did not get the same results? I'd be pissed at that! thanks a lot for the reassurance, I could really use the cost savings.
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August 29, 2009 6:21:09 AM

You want more savings go with a DDR2/AM2+ setup with a GF8200/8300 ^^
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Best solution

August 29, 2009 5:46:02 PM

If you go Intel I'd recommend a G45 chipset: like the GIGABYTE GA-EG45M-UD2H
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $129
or Nvidia 730i
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $119

for CPU I'd recommend the Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 Wolfdale 2.5ghz for $65 on newegg or E5400 @2.7ghz for $89
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If virtualization is important to you I'd recommend the E7600 3.06ghz Core2Duo for $145
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Ok if you go AMD I'd recommend getting the Phenom II X2 550 3.1ghz and is actually a quad core with 2 cores locked. they can be unlocked and turn it into a $100 3.1ghz quad core phenom black edition! Here's a how to:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huKVYW4duiU
GIGABYTE Ga-MA770T $79 motherboard will work to unlock the two cores.

I'm currently building my own htpc with the unlocked phenom II X2 550 (quad core lol) and the GIGABYTE GA-MA790FXT-UD5P

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September 8, 2009 11:34:18 AM

I appreciate the quad core unlock advice, I was not aware of that, sounds like a good value. That would help with any blueray ripping I want to do down the road to back up my collection.

Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to control the thing. My first thought is I want my Harmony One remote to be able to power on the HTPC somehow, but I think controlling it after that would be awkward unless I have it boot into whatever media browser software I choose to load automatically. I know I can get a USB IR receiver to send it commands, but hopefully any of these mobos will allow powerup via USB and that ends up working with the harmony one.

Besides the media management software (which I still have to decide on), I will have a bluetooth dongle connected so I suppose using a bluetooth mouse/keyboard would make sense.
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