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Gaming HTPC

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November 7, 2009 11:07:26 PM

Hello All,

I'm considering building a gaming HTPC. What I'm hoping to do is kick my TV provider to the curb and watch TV shows from the internet AND drop my phone service and get a magic jack. I've spent the last few weeks trying to find components and the biggest trouble I've had is trying to find a computer case that will fit in my shallow TV stand. I have a fews option about which shelf to put it, but I'm generally limited to something that's 14" (L) x 17" (W) and 7" (H). Because of this, I've mostly been looking at mini-ITX cases because most micro-ATX cases are at least 15.75" long. Here is what I am looking for:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Between now and Christmas.
BUDGET RANGE: $1000-$1200
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Basic internet browsing, internet videos, and a few computer games.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor. Everything else is required, including OS, keyboard, and mouse.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, amazon.com, and any retail store
PARTS PREFERENCES: anything goes
OVERCLOCKING: no
MONITOR RESOLUTION: I am a building n00b, so I have no idea here, but the bigger the better I think if I am going to output to a TV.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The only games I want to be able to play on this computer are the HL2 series, which I have but can't play on my laptop, and Diablo 3 whenever (if ever) it comes out.


Here is what I've come up with so far and please let me explain a few things afterwards before you completely shoot this idea down.

Thermaltake Element Q - $74.99
ZOTAC GF9300-G-E Mini ITX Intel Motherboard - $139.99
Intel Core2 Quad Q9400 2.66GHz - $189.99
SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 - $159.99
G.SKILL 4GB DDR2 800 - $129.99
SeaSonic 350W SFX12V Power Supply - $47.99
LITE-ON iHES208-08 Blu-ray Combo ODD - $109.99
Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB Hard Drive - $55.99
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit- $106.99
Logitech S520 Wireless Slim Keyboard & Mouse - $59.99
Scythe 120mm "Slipstream" Case Fan - $8.99

Total Cost = $1084.89


What I wanted to explain is that I've looked at reviews for other mini-itx cases like the Silverstone Sugo SG05, SG06, and Apex MI-008 that make me think this is possible. A couple of people there have said that the've used those cases to build gaming HTPCs. With the SG05 and SG06, the product pages specifically say they can use a full-szied 9" long graphics card, and a few people have said the 300W SFX power supply that comes with the case works great. The SG05 is even featured in a Recomended Systems Guide at avsforum.com in a mini-itx gaming HTPC build. One of the reasons I think the SG05 and SG06 are so prominent are because they have a slot specifically for a 120mm whereas most mini-ITX cases I've seen have no fan. Well, several people who left reviews for the MI-008 said they mounted their 3.5" hard drive in the 3.5" external drive bay which then allowed them to easily snap a 120mm fan in the side bay where the HDD was originially supposed to go. If you then compare the Element Q with the MI-008, you'll see they are practically identical in shape, build, and size, so I am hoping I can do the same thing with the Element Q.

Basically what I want to know is if you think this is a good idea or if this is a bunch of bull-hockey. If you think this is bull-hockey, can you please suggest a good case that will fit in in my TV stand? If nobody can think of anything, then my next option would be to remove a shelf in my TV stand and go with an Apevia X-QPACK case and an Asus P5Q-EM micro-ATX intel motherboard.

Thanks,
CircuitsMan


P.S. Here are a few websites I've found that are helpfull or soon will be.
http://www.cpubenchmark.net/
http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/
http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp
http://camelegg.com/

More about : gaming htpc

a b 4 Gaming
November 8, 2009 5:53:23 AM

^ You idea is not bad...
The only problems here is the HD 4870...it would be pushing that PSU and that too with a Quad CPU...
I would suggest you change the GPU to this...
HD 5770 - It would consume less power, give out less heat...though not as powerful as the 4870, but for your needs, this is better...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

And you can drop down to a Dual-core...I dont see any good use of that Quad for your needs...
And another very good alternatives for CPU...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Mobo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
November 8, 2009 12:43:05 PM

Thanks gkay09. You prompted me to play around with the power supply calculator a bit more and I see what you mean about selecting a different GPU and processor. I assume you meant to say the Radeon HD 4770? According to the calculator and newegg, instead of going with the Phenom II 705e, for $50 more I could go with the Phenom II X4 905e and use the same amount of power.

Are you sure that AMD motherboard can use a Phenom II X3? The Intel MOBOs differentiated if they could use Core 2 Quad or Core 2 Duo. Would it also be worth it to go with a green SATA HDD? What is a green SATA HDD anyways? WD Caviar Green 640GB? According to the calculator, going green only saves 3W.
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a b 4 Gaming
November 9, 2009 2:12:37 AM

^ Sry for late reply...
And Yes I was about to suggest the X4 but like I said, for your usage I dint see the need...But it would last you longer...
And the 5770 is the better option as you could notice from that article...
Check out this HDD - It has a good balance of speed and efficiency...
Samsung F3 500GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Best solution

a b 4 Gaming
November 9, 2009 3:03:04 PM
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Hang on a minute, that AMD Zotac board does not have a PCIe-16 slot. The only ITX that does that I'm aware of is that Zotac 9300 board for Intel you originally selected. If you stay with AMD, you'll need to go micro-ATX to get a proper video card 16x slot.

BTW, I just upgraded to the 905e in my HTPC. Temps are incredibly low. Good CPU so far.
November 9, 2009 3:46:31 PM

I took some advice and posted in another forum. The case I was looking at only has one expansion slot, so it wouldn't fit the video card either. I might be able to go down to an HD 4770 which only requires one slot, but people there were stil saying the length and width of any card would be an issue.

Back to square one.

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?p=1034878681#post10...
a b 4 Gaming
November 10, 2009 2:46:50 AM

@rwpritchett, nice catch...dint notice that(A major blunder I would say)

And @CircuitsMan check this HTPC case - it has nearly the dimensions that you have been looking for and am sure can fit in the 5770 card and is mATX compatible...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hope this helps...
November 11, 2009 1:34:04 AM

gkay09 said:
@rwpritchett, nice catch...dint notice that(A major blunder I would say)

And @CircuitsMan check this HTPC case - it has nearly the dimensions that you have been looking for and am sure can fit in the 5770 card and is mATX compatible...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hope this helps...


I had seen that case before, but I think it might fit a little too snuggly. Do you think the case will be choking for air with only half an inch on either side of the case? Modred189 over at Computer Shopper thought it would be fine.

I just posted a rather lengthy reply over at HF which I'll copy below. I'd like to get your oppinion on computer cases as well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, I started looking into computer cases again but I still have the same problem. Most micro-ATX cases are too deep for my TV stand and for those cases that do fit, I have my doubts whether they'll have adequate low-noise cooling for a gaming/HTPC. I also double checked the mini-ITX cases and with the exception of the Sugo SG05 and SG06 all of them either have just one expansion slot or 4 slim slots. Here is a list of cases I found that would fit.

Apevia X-Qpack
Apevia X-Xpack2
Athena Power CA-1015IS40 or other models
hec 7k09
In Win BK623
In Win BK636
In Win BK644
Lian Li PC-Q07
Silverstone Grandia GD04
Silverstone Sugo SG05
SilverStone Sugo SG06

The hec case is just shallow enough to fit on the top shelf, but it only has one 80mm fan in the front of the case. The Grandia case is just narrow enought to fit in the other shelves of my TV stand, but there will only be about half an inch of room on either side which is where three 120mm fans are. Is that enough space for the fans to move air? (My TV stand is completely open in the back, and the front is usually open as well.) The two Sugo cases as everyone knows are min-itx cases. The only problem I have with these is they only take slim ODD, which means I won't be getting a Blu-Ray combo drive. The rest of the cases will fit just fine, but they mentioned very little about fans and cooling and there were very few customer review to read for information. Of these 11 cases which do you think is best for a gaming/HTPC?
a b 4 Gaming
November 11, 2009 1:52:07 AM

Of the above cases, I liked the Grandia...But even I too have the same oncern about the airflow...
But did yo9u check the rear side ? It has slots for additional fans most probably 80MM...So if you add 1 or 2, am sure there would be no problem with the airflow...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ImageGallery.aspx?CurImag...
a b 4 Gaming
November 11, 2009 2:31:21 AM

Seeing the image of that stand, I dont think you would have issues with air flow as it will be able to pull air from the front and rear on to the sides...And do add the rear fans if possible...
!