HTPC for architecture student

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: before new year (willing to wait for after xmas sales)

BUDGET RANGE: aiming for >1000 besides the parts i've found but very open to suggestions

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: hdtv cable box replacement, media center, architecture programs (autocad, revit, 3dsmax), general computer tasks, minimal gaming

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: need everything including mouse/keyboard


PARTS PREFERENCES: intel quad core


MONITOR RESOLUTION: samsng 40" lcd 1080p


ill try to keep it short and to the point. my last desktop pc was 3.06ghz p4 with 512 mb ram bought about 6 years ago. i've tried to read others posts and mix and match but it gets too confusing since we got different needs. i am hoping to get rid of my cable in the next few months and replace it with this system primarily. im also a college student and would like the system that can handle architecture programs without upgrades for the next 3-4 years. preference to intel i5 or i7 but i won't lie, i don't know the benefits besides its new so it should be more futureproof. so let me know if my wants are greater than my needs but im a little stubborn on it so an explanation would be helpful. i'd also like it to be silent and fit into a htpc case if possible (not too big of a deal) here's what i've found so far or an idea of what im looking for..



his isilence video card $102


ASUS Xonar HDAV1.3 Slim $150


SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB $84

next part im open to suggestions..

cpu - intel i5 or i7

mobo - matches with above cpu

power supply - quiet

ram - 4gb

case - hoping that parts will fit into media case but willing to go as big as mid tower since i want to hide it and be able to move it since i have no permanent residency yet.

blu ray drive - hoping for burner but willing to wait for lower prices in future

tv things - tv tuner..not sure what else is needed

am i missing anthing? thanks for the help.
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More about htpc architecture student
  1. You may want to look at the newer nvidia gt 240 cards with gddr5 memory. They have low power requirements like the 4670 but are faster. And 8 channel LPCM audio over HDMI. May not even need the Zonar card.

    If you do not have an entertainment center you could prolly save money by going the mini tower route. Maybe upgrade to htpc case when more settled. I found a great case that is well built and unobtrusive and comes with a handle for easily moving around:
    If the price scares you, I can attest to its quality and it was a pleasure to work with too.

    However there shouldn't be a problem if you want to spend a bit more on the htpc case, this stuff should fit if you choose your parts carefully. (such as low profile video and sound.)

    With your needs I would go with the core i5-P55 route. Its cheaper and I don't know that there's a lot more coming out for LGA1366. I think there are some really nice P55 boards in the mico-atx form factor.

    Currently I would prolly get a combo bluray reader/dvd burner. How much bluray burning are you planning on doing?

    For the tuner, I think Hauppage has the best ones. plan on spending 60 for a low end model, but spring for about $100 for a feature rich card. (dual tuners, radio, etc)

    The samsung HD is an excellent choice.
  2. There's a challenge here because your software requires some high-end components; however, you also need this system to be quiet (HTPC as you specified).

    Have you considered water cooling? How much is your budget specifically? You simply said >$1000, so how much are you looking at all-together? (or did you simply reverse the >< signs :))

    The budget will really help dictate what we can do. For the higher-end software you're looking to run, you will see performance increases from the i7-920 which may make it worth the extra money; however, it all comes back to your budget.

    PS - the difference between the i5 and the i7 is Hyperthreading. Read this article: (read through every page, as it is a very good comparison between all the new intel platforms). The i7-860 does have hyperthreading, but uses the 1156 socket (same as the i5) so it's kind of a best of both worlds... The i7-920 uses the 1366 socket.
  3. thanks for replies. im looking for htpc first then architecture, which im still in school for so i won't be doing hardcore 3d work. but i meant hopefully under $1000 besides the video, sound, and hd i listed.
  4. Oh well if u open to a non Intel solution:

    Since you mentioned minimal gaming - consider just chugging along on that integrated HD4200 video on that 785G mobo? Even though it is passively cooled that is one pricey HD 4670 :ouch:
  5. Since the real usage here will be HTPC, and then architecture programs, your #1 priority will be quiet cooling solutions.

    Lower-power processors (95W or even 65W) are your friend as they will generate less heat. A good heatsink, and good quality fans are also items you should budget extra for. With your budget, watercooling is not an option.

    Look at for good heatsink reviews.
  6. some revisions i've made to your input so far. i think im getting close. tell me what you think and if im missing any essential hardware..

    okay so specific questions:

    1. are the onboard sound + video good enough that i don't need to buy the extra cards? i just added those parts from previous threads i've read as quiet fanless + hd sound/picture
    2. would i honestly notice any significant difference between amd quad core and intel i5? (more general use than custom tweaking, i just usuable pc i won't have to worry about for years [sorry being redundant about that and silence])i also can't seem to find a i5 mobo w/hdmi..
    3. i plan to use my student discount for windows 7 or do i need the specific oem version since im building the computer?
    4. wil the remote included with the keyboard work with tv tuner?
  7. 1. For nil to minimal gaming good to go
    2. Nope - for your needs i would have gone A2X3 425 but a quad it is....
    3. Err what sort of Win 7 does that discount entitle u to i.e OEM/Retail/etc?
    4. That transmitter is only to send signal to kb/mouse - check range to see acceptable to your needs ^^
  8. talked to the guy i was gonna build this for me and he told me i should actually wait to build a envd computer because the tech is about to change. he said something about 8 cores and new ram and usb 3.0 all confusing things but i decided that 3 cores is enough for this build.

    1. does this setup fit in this case i gave?
    2. will this be able to handle 1080p content?
    3. handle sketchup? autocad 2d drawings? 3dsmax still models?
    4. any improvements that stay in same price range?
    5 black friday, cyber monday, or day after xmas sale is best?


    edited for newegg price updates.
  9. Looks good to go but do note that 'flatbed' HTPC cases may limit you to low profile discrete GPUs - hence my choice of shoebox/cubes/mATX mid towers for these rigs for my clients to remove GPU limitation in case clients wants to game in future hehe
  10. dang newegg is really slow right now but im down to final choices after finding black friday deals. now just need to mix and match best cpu/mobo combo and ram.

    cpu/mobo combo:

    $89 mobo + $89 processor - 10 = $169
    GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 micro atx board + a2x3 435 (only $10 more than seperate mobo + a2x3 425)

    asus alternate mobo w/GPU SidePort Memory - onboard 128MB DDR3 1333 memory *changed*

    $109 processor + $84 mobo - 20 = $173

    ECS Black Series A785GM-M AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard + amd phenom II 710

    kind of ticky tacky and i know price doesnt equal performance but the question is better processor + lesser'ish mobo (phenom II + ecs mobo) or equal processor + mobo (a2x3 435 + gigabyte mobo)

    A-DATA 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333G (PC3 10666)
    supplied $88]
    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)
    black friday sale $69]
    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
    black friday sale for $79 with lower latency/timing/voltage higher and better specs??
  11. Negative for the Asus combo (incompatibility issue) - it is on AM2+ with DDR2 so for the same budget range better to go AM3/DDR3
  12. wow my cart keeps getting cheaper everytime i check..

    the computer setup ($644)

    + logitech air mouse ($69)

    + iomega wireless media keyboard($49)


    windows 7 pro 64 bit for students ($35)


    mail in rebates ($60)

    = $737

    this nmediapc case is essentially a mini atx case laid on its side so i can expand if i need to. im also assuming that the sythe fan fits inside even though the cases specs only talk about one 90 mm and 2 60mm fans..i've read that gskill ram > adata and with the black friday sale it leads to me to my last question..

    will the DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) ram in my order work fine with my setup?

    i couldn't fully understand what i was reading but supposedly 1.5v and 1.6 do mean something so i don't wan to fry my computer the second i start it nor do i want to buy ram that my computer is too underpowered for and cant utilize the difference between DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) and DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
  13. Haha no it won't fry your comp at most u have to manually set settings for RAM in BIOS If you want to 100% ensure it works no issues email Gigabyte if it isn't specifically in the supported memory list for that board ^^

    Edit: User input
    Seems RAM and mobo u picked out play ok but ya like i said u have to know how to manually set timings in BIOS so looks good to go hehe
    Antec Fusion
    AMD 925 Phenom II running at 3.5 GHz
    Gigabyte MA785GMT-UD2H
    Cooler Master GeminII S
    G. Skill Ripjaws F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM
    Apevia 700W

    Not too hot on this dude's PSU choice though hehe

  14. ok here's my final order for a nice sub $650 htpc (sub keyboard + mouse price for price of hdd + cpu cooler). missed out on the samsung f3 harddrive since everyone else must be getting that drive with their builds.

    im just wondering how to find a heatsink/cpu cooler because the one given here (shruiken big) had bad reviews on other sites. i also need smaller one since scythe mini ninja supposedly fits with only ~3mm clearance. some specific questions are what socket should i look for? and does fan size matter?

    here's my case, cpu, and mobo for reference

    cpu + mobo:

  15. Well i have also seen those bad reviews and mostly the reason why peeps get dissapointed is it is not designed for big TDP chips like say i7 920 and these peeps expect a cooler like this to keep an OCed i7 cool zzzz For your chip of choice and i take it you will run it at stock all its life you could even do away with an aftermkt HSF and stick to stock 1st and see if the noise is fine and having built with these chips meself it is (but your tolerance levels may differ hehe)
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