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HTPC AMD Build - Need Advice on Silence vs Price

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November 20, 2009 11:03:52 PM

After many hours researching suggested HTPC/Silent Builds at review sites, I've come up with a reasonably priced (<$1,400 before mail in rebates...) HTPC which is capable of full 1080p Blu Ray playback and DTS HD passthrough to my AV Receiver. :D 

But, as always, I have doubts about certain items and technologies and whether or not they are the best decision for my hard earned dollar.

So, if you have any comments on why I should or shouldn't include any of my below components, given the nature of an HTPC build, please reply to this post with your advice and reasoning.


List of Components and Reasoning:

CPU - AMD Phenom II x4 945 Deneb 95w : Under 100w but somewhat future proof that can be run silently w/ an aftermarket HSF. I didn't go i7 route mainly because of power consumption and price.

MOBO - Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT : It was a toss up for me between Gigabyte and Asus, but I went w/ ALC889a integrated sound over the VIA solution as there has been more coverage on ALC in the forums and I want a mATX form factor due to space limitations of the case.

HDD - (1) SSD Intel 80 GB and (2) WD Caviar Green 1.5 TB : OS/Application load time was very important to me as well as noise level and heat, so I decided to scrap together some extra $$$ for the SSD (which I felt was barely justified, given the performance controversy and the relative youth of the Tech), and go for cheap w/ 2 Green drives Vs 4 Caviar Black drives.

RAM - (2) Crucial 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333 : I went w/ Crucial because I don't plan on OC'ing this rig, and after reading Tom's Value DDR3 review, I felt comfortable with the quality/price ratio of these modules.

VIDEO - Integrated Radeon HD 4200 : I was debating a move to the Radeon HD 5750 or 5770, since these also provide HDMI 1.3a to my receiver, but I was too tempted w/ the SSD HDD and couldn't justify both. I also didn't want the extra heat in my case and felt that if I ever wanted to expand my gaming horizons in the future it wouldn't be a problem to upgrade.

PSU - Corsair CMPSU 750w 80 Plus Certified : This is from an existing machine, and runs fairly quiet. I didn't feel the need to invest in another one, but open to suggestions.

CASE - Silverstone LC17-B Black HTPC Case : I wanted a decent sized case w/ good airflow and aesthetics which also had 2 CD Drive bays. I couldn't find cases w/ fancy LCDs that didn't blow up my budget.

HSF - Scythe SCKTN 3000 : I wanted something very very quiet and would also fit my case. I felt getting an aftermarket HSF would reduce sound when the CPU is at load even though I'm not OC'ing it. I definitely want suggestions about Aftermarket VS Stock HSF

Please check out a full list of components at my Public Wish List at newegg. If you have any build comments, you can also post it directly to the wish list.
Newegg HTPC AMD Build Public Wish List

I appreciate everyone's help in advance. Looking forward to settling the any doubts about this build! :bounce: 
November 20, 2009 11:34:25 PM

What are you going to be doing with this system that you need a quad, a SSD, and 8GB of ram for?

A 400CX will provide more than enough power for the IGP and plenty of HDDs, it will also run more efficiently than the 750TX would at such a low load
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This antec case will run quieter and keep things cooler with its 120mm fans.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I would suggest dropping down to 4GB of ram, 4GB is plenty for gaming, a HTPC needs even less.

What do you plan to do with this that you need a quad? A good dual core is all that is needed in a normal HTPC.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You can save a ton by opting for faster convential HDDs instead. A couple of Samsung F3 drives in RAID will provide excellent performance, obviously not close to that of the SSD but also nowhere near as pricy.
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November 20, 2009 11:39:54 PM

Peeps have done HTPC on the old K8 X2 4850e more than adequately and if u looking for slightly more processing power have a look at A2X3 4xx series ^^ Hmm why not get 2 Samsung F3 1TBs and KIV SSD when the prices/tech settle down?



Mobo review
http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/785g_preview/3....
Quote:
To cool the 785GM-E65, MSI chose a heatsink and heatpipe combo. Of the three boards previewed today, MSI's offering is the only one to cover the voltage regulation area, which should be a must so that enthusiasts can get more performance while overclocking. The heatsink from the VRM area connects to the fin style heatsinK over the Northbridge to aid in transfering heat. There is a smaller heatsink over the Southbridge to help keep it cool as well. MSI also uses all solid capacitators for stability and employs an Active Phase Switching design to save on power loss and works with any operating system.

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November 21, 2009 12:09:28 AM

You bring up some really good points which I think make a lot of sense.

1. CPU : The x4 CPU is likely overkill for what I need, and with a lower price tag and power consumption, I may change over to and intel. My only concern is software compression if I'm recording TV or ripping a DVD, though I'm not sure the difference of power between the two would make much of a difference.

2. RAM : If i'm going to be running Win 7, I figure y not get more RAM to help w/ application loading. As I mentioned, one of my goals is reducing OS/Application load time, but if the difference between 4GB and 8GB of Ram doesn't make that much of a difference then I'll definitely pocket the extra $90... (So far my current dated PC has 2GB running XP, so I was err'ing on more when it came to this build).

3. The case is something I have absolutely no experience in, so thank you for giving some input here. I initially went with a larger case w/ 2 drive bays since I'm used to working on full and mid sized towers in my other builds. If this case works well and there aren't too many installation issues, then I'm more than willing to give it a shot.

4. HDD vs SSD - Main concern here is noise, I know the WD Greens are quiet as Kitten Mittens, but I've seen a lot of bad posts about setting these up in a RAID. Conventional HDDs are a lot louder, especially when booting up, but then again I'll be sitting on a couch 6 ft away talking to my friends about how sweet my new HTPC is... Switching this one is definitely something I'm considering.

5. PSU : I agree I probably wouldn't buy this component if I didn't already have it for this build. But since I'm already stuck w/ it, do you think it's worth dropping another $50 for one that's more efficient? The main reason I think I would switch out is for the noise factor, so if you think there would be a significant difference between the two in that arena I will absolutely consider it.

Thanks for the advice. I appreciate any responses or further comments.
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November 21, 2009 12:27:37 AM

Thanks hunter and batuchka for your input.

It looks like I'll likely be downgrading my CPU and moving to some more affordable HDD's with hope of upgrading too SSD down the line. (I really like that SSD PCIe solution, thanx for suggesting!)

One question though: because I'll be able to knock off a couple hundred from the suggestions, should I go w/ a Radeon 5750 HD to open up some doors in gaming? I'm a fan of FPSs and wouldn't mind occasional play on my HDTV, even if not at max resolution and detail...

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November 21, 2009 8:26:57 AM

Well if gaming's on the table i'd try to hit a HD 5770 really
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November 21, 2009 10:29:20 AM

1. If you are going to be doing encoding then an Intel Quad Core is definitely especially if you will be using the x.264 and eventually want to encode Blu-Rays. Intel CPUs generally perform better than their AMD counterparts, but also tends to cost slightly more. When I decide to upgrade my current PC (see sig below) to an i7 (or whatever comes out in 2011) basically all the components (except the HD 5850) will go into my HTPC case.

2. I will have to agree that 4GB of RAM is sufficient.

3. Since I want my HTPC to be as powerful as possible, but also as quiet as possible, I would probably go with the SSD to reduce noise; but budget is always a concern.

4. If RAID is a concern, then go for WD Black 1TB drives. Yeah, less storage space, but RAID-able. I'm looking at a few Western Digital RE4-GP WD2002FYPS 2TB drives for a minor upgrade, but they are $290 each.

5. Keep your Corsair PSU, yeah it's overkill vut you already have it anywaste...

6. I just want to say that for my HTPC I stuck with a full size ATX HTPC style case so that I can basically transfer the parts from my primary PC to my HTPC when I upgrade. My first HTPC case was mATX, and when I decided to upgrade I had a problem. My full size mobo still worked, and I wanted to fit as many HDDs in my HTPC style case as possible. Well, my mATX Antec Aria was retired after 3 years.

7. As for the video card, I would go with a HD 5770 since many still use the reference heatsink design and exhaust hot air out the rear of the card. All HD 5750 and some HD 5770 has a heatsink design which does not exhaust are out the back.
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