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Going from Mac Mini to new compact HTPC - need ideas

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October 14, 2009 8:14:05 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week

BUDGET RANGE: 0-$400 Before / After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Watching movies via Instant Play on netflix, streaming music/movies from LAN server, surfing internet.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, remote, optical drive

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com, ncix.com, tigerdirect.com, microcenter.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: I have no brand loyalty. Whichever works the best for what I need.

OVERCLOCKING: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: (e.g.: 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1440x900, 1600x1200, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: This is taking the place of a Mac Mini, so it should be the same size. The Mini gets very loud under load(excessive fan noise), plus the Mobo is getting long in the tooth (GMA950 chipset) and movies are getting very laggy. Currently it has the 1.83 core 2 duo and 2 gigs of ram. This HTPC will be hooked up to a 50" or larger LCD/Plasma/LED TV, so HDMI is a requirement. I really like the concept of the Asus Eee box but worry the video chipset does not have enough umpfh. Please help sort me out. I have done research but there seems to be so many choices and pros/cons I can't decide. What do you folks think?
October 14, 2009 10:35:59 PM

while you could go Atom/Ion i wouldn't recommend it.

i would suggest a micro ATX build with an AMD 785G chipset. the 4200 graphics core is well beyond the GMA 950

here is a basic build

Gigabyte 785G mobo - $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

corsair 2 x 2GB DDR2 800 - $70
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD athlon 620 X4 - $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital 320GB $48
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

450W Corsair PSU $65
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Cooler master Elite 360 $40
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

total: $403

overall the quad core, 4 gb of ram, and the 4200 GPU should all give a nice speed boost while staying quite. but not only that the motherboard's ability to expand with help it keep up as well. the case is just an option. change it do what ever. cases are total subjective to what one likes the look of.

anyways i hope this helps or at least gives you an idea of a direction to head.
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October 14, 2009 10:54:57 PM
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October 14, 2009 11:21:41 PM

Welcome to the world of possibility's.
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October 15, 2009 11:34:17 AM

Rammar16 ~ Why not go the Atom/Ion route? I have read pretty good things about it. Are you thinking there is not enough power to run 1080p programs?

Shortstuff_mt ~ Yeah, the Mac Mini was a pretty sweet package. Have any of you ever taken one apart? Talk about economy of space. Truly it looks like it was assembled by a team of engineers. I really like the Zotac systems, but i'm with you-can't find anywhere to buy it. The build you suggested is almost exactly what I was looking at. I will have to see how big Rammar16's suggestion is. I don't have a lot of room to work with-the build is going in a little recessed cubby above the fireplace (don't worry, doesn't get hot), which is pretty much filled up with my Harmon Kardon receiver, Panasonic Blu-ray player, and Comcast cable box. I had planned on bolting/strapping/gluing/duct taping this build to the back of my TV to save room. Wifi is not an option as I have an ethernet drop in the cubby.

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