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HTPC $600-$1,000. Need shopping list/tutorial suggestions.

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October 5, 2009 7:23:09 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: this week. today would be even better.

BUDGET RANGE: (e.g.: $600-1,000) After Rebates. Is this reasonable? This is kind of open. I just want the best solution possible with still being mindful of cost/benefit of what I am buying.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: (cable television replacement [streaming shows or downloading them to watch], watching blueray discs, watching downloaded movies, listening to music, viewing pictures from and SD card or USB, browsing the web on occasion). I would like the music and possibly the movies to be on an external hard drive if possible. I own a 1TB Western Digital World Edition My Book network storage system that I have never quite been able to get to work well as a sharing device (probably user error)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: um, I think I need everything, including the remote, keyboard and mouse, although I do have a Harmony 620 that seems to be on its way out. I also have a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, but will likely prefer to keep those for my laptop, unless they can be used for both. Also, the 1TB Western Digital World Edition My Book network storage system I referenced above.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: whatever is suggested. I am a Newbie. If I could pick them up for relatively the same price at Fry's Electronics or Micron Center, I might prefer that, as I could go do it today.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.S.

PARTS PREFERENCES: none. again, i'm looking for everyone's wisdom here.

OVERCLOCKING: help?

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: help?

MONITOR RESOLUTION: I also plan to be purchasing a new 50+ inch 1080P Plasma or LCD that would be going along with this system.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: This will hopefully be a full-fledged HTPC that I can hook up to a new TV and stereo that I also plan on purchasing. If I can keep the costs down, that would be great, but I do not want to sacrifice quality or functionality either. I am not a gamer, if that matters, but if the extra beef for gaming helps with video or audio, I'm inclined to go that direction.

I would be happy to post the results of the system here on the site if I can get some help with the items needed. Does anyone sell something like this already put together? If so, perfect! I don't need to build it, but would be happy to. What is the premium you pay to have it ready to go? Where would I buy a complete system, and which one would fit the bill?

I would like the PC to be quiet, if possible. Size is not a major concern, but a smaller form factor would be better. What I am looking for here is a shopping list and instructions or a tutorial of some sort. I have never built a computer before, but am generally good with following directions.

THANK YOU SO MUCH IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR ADVICE!

Best solution

October 5, 2009 7:44:06 PM
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SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / Steel LC13B-E ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($89.99 w/ $20 MIR)

Antec earthwatts EA380 380W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($44.99)

AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($62.99 + Free Shipping)

GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($89.99)

Mushkin 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 991585 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($43.99)

Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($84.99 + Free Shipping)

SAPPHIRE 100253HDMI Radeon HD 4650 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Low Profile Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($54.99)

LG Black 8X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA Internal Combo LG Blu-ray Reader & 16X LightScribe DVD±R DVD Burner - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($129.99 + Free Shipping)

Anyware GP-IR01BK Windows Vista Infrared MCE Black Remote Control
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($24.99)

Logitech EX 110 Black 102 Normal Keys 12 Function Keys USB or PS/2 Cordless Standard Cordless Desktop Keyboard & Mouse Kit - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($34.99)

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($109.99 + Free Shipping)

Total: $771.89

Tom's did a review of on-board GPU and HD playback, and ultimately, its well worth it to buy a low end discrete GPU, such as that HD4650 I linked. You will have great HD performance with it. The Caviar Green HDD is quiet and has a low power consumption. You do not need much CPU horsepower or RAM, unless you are doing encoding on this machine, in which case it would be worthwhile to look into the new budget AMD quad-core CPUs.
October 5, 2009 8:07:34 PM

Thank you. I believe I would be doing encoding. I will be imaging my DVD collection to a hard drive. I haven't figured out whether I will be doing ISO images or encoding them in a format of some sort (I haven't figured which route to take on this yet). I'm not sure if that helps clarify or change anything. Again, I really appreciate suggestions and responses.
Related resources
October 5, 2009 8:48:16 PM

I'm not sure Transmaniacon and I read the same article. Everything I've read has said that the 785G chipset is plenty for HD playback. Here's the most recent Tom's article on the subject:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/avivo-purevideo-cle...

I wouldn't waste $55 on a 4650 when the integrated 4200 GPU in the 785G is plenty for your use. I would use some of that money to upgrade to 4Gb of RAM and a better CPU since you're going to be doing some encoding.

The Athlon X4 620 would be a good option, like Transmaniacon said. The 95W Phenom II X4 945 would also be a great option if you want even more CPU muscle. You can get it in a combo with the GA-MA785GMT-UD2H.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Here's a 4GB DDR3 1333 kit for a good price:

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT - Retail $70.99
October 5, 2009 9:45:16 PM

The 785G is adequate, but still does not offer perfect playback, with each of the tested graphics options having shortcomings in one area or another.
October 5, 2009 9:52:26 PM

My lowly 2600XT handles all my 1080 HD content just fine in my HTPC.
October 5, 2009 10:25:03 PM

Sure, a discrete card is fine, but the benchmarks in that article showed that each of the different on-board GPUs struggled in one area or another. In the end it makes the suggestion that even the most basic of discrete GPU will provide more than enough power to provide great HD playback.
October 6, 2009 1:49:44 AM

Apple TV?
I hear it can do some fancy things if you crack it.

Im also now in the market for an HTPC, but i REALLY dont want the hassle and cost of another system.

I'll do some research and if i can get apple tv to do blu ray (which it should) and stream all formats, im sold.
October 9, 2009 7:28:50 AM

shortstuff_mt said:

The Athlon X4 620 would be a good option, like Transmaniacon said. The 95W Phenom II X4 945 would also be a great option if you want even more CPU muscle. You can get it in a combo with the GA-MA785GMT-UD2H.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Here's a 4GB DDR3 1333 kit for a good price:

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT - Retail $70.99

Ok, I'm sold on going up to 4GB of RAM. What would be the benefit from going to the Phenom II X4 945 over the Athlon X4 620? Can someone highlight the benefits, or possibly point me to a good resource on which processor to choose? I'm willing to spend the money on the difference for something that will gain me better performance and not get hot and noisy.

I want to order all of my parts in the next day or so, so if there are any other suggestions to get this into a smaller form factor than a full size ATX box, I would appreciate those suggestions as well.

Thanks guys.
October 16, 2009 12:13:41 AM

Thank you. That article, or more specifically, the comments, really helped me. I think I will go with the Phenom II, due to the L3 cache. It will probably give some more life to my CPU. Do you have any experience in knowing whether they equally as quiet as one another? I really want to make sure this system is quiet. To that note, is there any advice on other parts of the system to bring down the noise? Is there a certain size or configured case that helps with that?
October 20, 2009 7:45:10 AM

Transmaniacon said:
SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / Steel LC13B-E ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($89.99 w/ $20 MIR)

Antec earthwatts EA380 380W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($44.99)

AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($62.99 + Free Shipping)

GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($89.99)

Mushkin 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 991585 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($43.99)

Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($84.99 + Free Shipping)

SAPPHIRE 100253HDMI Radeon HD 4650 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Low Profile Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($54.99)

LG Black 8X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA Internal Combo LG Blu-ray Reader & 16X LightScribe DVD±R DVD Burner - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($129.99 + Free Shipping)

Anyware GP-IR01BK Windows Vista Infrared MCE Black Remote Control
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($24.99)

Logitech EX 110 Black 102 Normal Keys 12 Function Keys USB or PS/2 Cordless Standard Cordless Desktop Keyboard & Mouse Kit - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($34.99)

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($109.99 + Free Shipping)

Total: $771.89

Tom's did a review of on-board GPU and HD playback, and ultimately, its well worth it to buy a low end discrete GPU, such as that HD4650 I linked. You will have great HD performance with it. The Caviar Green HDD is quiet and has a low power consumption. You do not need much CPU horsepower or RAM, unless you are doing encoding on this machine, in which case it would be worthwhile to look into the new budget AMD quad-core CPUs.


What are your thoughts on your suggested build versus the option presented in this Engadget article?
http://www.engadget.com/2009/07/21/how-to-build-a-blu-r...

Obviously, there is over a $200 price difference (although I haven't checked current pricing for the Engadget options yet), and the Engadget article was written back in June. I am also wondering why you recommend Windows Vista over Windows 7. I would appreciate your thoughts. I do plan to order the various parts this week.
October 28, 2009 12:04:44 AM

This was created a while back before Windows 7 was released, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit is now the recommended option.
!