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Minimal cost HTPC

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September 28, 2009 8:00:28 PM

I have an older computer with decent parts that I recently replaced for my new system. The old system has a pair of EIDE 160 gb WD HDDs, an EVGA 7600GT 256mb video card, a 1.9 GHz CPU, and 3 GB of DDR 800 memory. It needs a new motherboard as the previous one is fried.

Is this build in any way viable for an HTPC? If so, what motherboard should I buy to go with this? (I'll repost specifics of the CPU and memory I already have later, the old motherboard is an ASUS A8N32-SLI)

If not, let's assume I have a pretty tight budget after having just bought my new gaming rig (the TV is too far from the gaming PC to double it as both). What do I need to buy to get a viable HTPC? I assume more hard drive space to allow for more recorded programs (even 320gb will be an upgrade from my 120gb DVR, but more is better) but what else? Any software I'll need to buy?

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September 28, 2009 8:57:27 PM

it really depends on how much you are willing to put into the system, and if you are ok with the idea of going with a linux build. You could probably rescue an old XBOX from a dumpster somewhere and turn it into an HTPC with an install of XBMC. Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration as an XBOX in the dumpster probably doesn't work at all, but if you weren't going for 1080p content, it would work. While on the subject of Xboxes, assuming you'll be going to windows 7 for your main system, the Xbox makes a really good streamed media player, for about $250 these days.

If you get a motherboard and reuse your old stuff, it would be a fair system. You might want to upgrade to a SATA II drive though. You didn't specify what socket type your cpu is, but if it's LGA775, there's plenty of mini-itx boards that would fit the bill, and be nice and compact.
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September 28, 2009 9:17:37 PM

it's way pre-775 - as mentioned i'll have to wait until i get home to provide more specific details on the equipment. i have a feeling that case/psu and video card will be all i can salvage but we'll see.
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September 28, 2009 9:22:14 PM

well, there's still options to save you at least a little bit of the cost if you go with something like a barebones Atom + Ion. You won't be able to do any gaming on it really, but the Ion GPU is optimized for pulling 1080p content off blu-ray, or previously recorded sources and getting it on screen. That puts you at $150-$200 for the motherboard/CPU/GPU.
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September 28, 2009 9:31:17 PM

sounds cool, i'll have to find out what my specs on the old hardware are and do a bit more homework for what i should be buying... i've not yet really done any research in how to build an HTPC i just know the concept is interesting
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