Not sure if this is where to start this thread. Maybe the moderator can confirm that or point me to the right forum.
I'm cheap. I like to build systems with the minimum capability to do the job. I keep systems going for several years by upgrading. I think that MacWrite is more word processor (application AND OS on one floppy) than 90% of the people need.
I'm planning to build a HTPC in the next few months. I'm also planning to replace 2 PCs, my laptop and 2 portable DVD players with three new notebooks (not netbooks since I want them to have optical drives), so I'd like a NAS system to back them up and store shared files.
Can I build an HTPC with NAS capabilities and have the best of both worlds? None of my family is or will be into gaming.
Will hard drive sound be a factor if I use one drive for the HTPC function and a couple of TB drives for the NAS?
I'm not too worried about aesthetics since I can put the sytem in a cabinet. I would like a desktop style case and not a tower. Size isn't a big factor.
Will heat be a factor?
Based on what I read on Tom's I'm thinking I can accomlish all this for well under $1,000. Is that realistic?
If I actually do this, where do I post my proposed system configuration to get input from others?
Hey BlueCat, this is the right forum this sort of post. There is a sticky at the top of the forum with a template for asking for build assistance, but you for the most part covered everything it would ask.
Since your not gaming on this computer, a simple integrated GPU will be plenty sufficient, and this system can be build for well under $1000, probably closer to $500.
I took advantage of Newegg’s Black Friday Sale and free shipping to purchase the following for my HTPC/NAS system build. I paid shipping on two items and will get rebates on two.
Case: $59.99 - nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 5000B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case – I chose this case for its price, size and number of drive bays since I will use this system as my home server.
PS: $29.99 - Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC – I used Antec’s online calculator to figure out if this PS has enough watts. The calculator estimated 163W for this build if I entered the selections right.
CPU: $72.99 - Intel Pentium E6300 Wolfdale 2.8GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80571E6300 – I chose this processor based on research at Tom’s. I think it was picked as a best for gaming under $100 and a couple of other places. This might not have been the best choice for an HTPC, but it seems like it has a good price/performance ratio and offered some future potential should I decide to tweak the system.
Motherboard: $77.99 - ASUS P5N7A-VM LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300/nForce 730i HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard – This was an Open Box item. I couldn’t find where I saw the review that made me decide this was a good choice for an HTPC. I thought it was on Tom’s but I didn’t find it there. If I find the source I’ll let you know. Based on research at Tom’s the NVIDIA chips will provide all the power I need for watching TV shows and enough to do some basic gaming. It has plenty of slots and connections for what I want to do.
RAM: $79.98 - OCZ Reaper HPC Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2RPR800C44GK – I tried to get the Corsair (at $65) that Tom’s highlighted in the 4GB Gets Cheap review but Newegg was sold out. This was the next cheapest RAM and since it has a 4 CAS I thought it might be a good choice. Yes, I’m flying blind here even though I worked for SimpleTech many years ago. I did some research on Tom’s and took a guess.
Hard Drives: $99.98 - Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA – I chose Black over Green based on a number of reviews that kept saying they had problems with the Green and wish they bought Black. Hopefully these won’t cause an heat or noise problems. And, bottom line, they were the version on sale.
DVD Burner: $26.99 - LITE-ON CD/DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 – OEM – I chose this over the same priced LG because several reviews mentioned being annoyed by LG’s free BlueBirds software. I didn’t have time to research that software but a bit a research on Tom’s found recommendations for both. I don’t watch Blu-Ray discs so that feature wasn’t needed.
I am curious about the performance difference between 4x and 8x Blu-Ray drives. Newegg had a 4x drive for $50 and 8x for $100. Is the speed difference worth the price difference for the casual viewer?
Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate – Chose this over Windows Home Server for two reasons. First I have access to it at low cost. Second, I can use it on the other systems in my home network and don’t have to learn more than one OS. I asked about both OS in a forum on Tom’s and got several good replies. It boiled down to wanting to spend time watching on my new HTPC instead of learning about a new OS.
Display: $403.39 – Sony Bravia 720p HDTV Model KDL-32L504 approx. Bought at Best Buy by someone else and received as an early Christmas gift. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I had decided to go with a Vizio 37” SV370SVT for $649 from Costco. With 1080p, 120Hz refresh and some other features including something to cut glare (where I watch has the sun streaming in for most of the evening in summer), I felt this Vizio would meet my needs for several years and 37” is the largest size that would fit in my cabinet.
The total cost: $447.91 for the PC and $851.30 with the display. Well under my $1,000 budget. If I paid full price for Windows 7 it would have been about $50 over my budget. With the larger TV I would have been another $292 over budget.
I still need to add some software for media management and maybe some other applications. I’ll be researching suggestions for that. And of course once I actually build the system next weekend I’ll let you know if it even works!
To follow up on some of the other items I mentioned in my initial post I’ve decided to simply install Windows 7 on all the other systems. I’ll move some other hardware around but I’m going to keep all my other systems as they are except for the new OS. I’m just going to add this one system to the network as the HTPC and backup server.
I’ll let you know if sound or heat are a problem with the new system and how Windows 7 does as a backup server. I’m excited about many of the new media features in Windows 7 (actually Windows Media Player) and will comment on my experience with those as well.
OK folks have at it. For the benefit of others let me know the rookie mistakes I’ve made. This is my first complete system build. I’ve built a barebones system, upgraded my PCs and replaced parts in my laptop so I have some experience but still consider myself a rookie compared to the experts here at Tom’s.
For completeness and pricing I felt the need to add pricing for Windows 7 Ultimate, a Blu-Ray drive and wireless keyboard since other users building their own system may want these components.
OS: $319.99 or less - Windows 7 Ultimate.
Blu-Ray: $49.99 for 4x, $89.99 for 8x. I found an article on Tom's that basically said you'll probably just want to play discs. I'll have to go to the Blu-Ray forum to find out if 4x is fast enough to enjoy movies.
Wireless Keyboard/Mouse: $19.99 - Microsoft M7A-00001 Black Wireless Standard Optical Desktop 700 v2 - OEM - You can find several brands at this price or a little more.
Remote Control: I know nothing about how these work with the HTPC but it sounds like some cases offer connectively via remote. I don't know if you can use a standard universal remote or need to buy one that works with PCs.
Please add any other components that may be needed for a complete basic system.