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First HTPC Build

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Anonymous
November 24, 2009 4:10:35 AM

For the past week or so I've been doing some research on different components to put together for my first HTPC which is also going to be my first custom PC build. I'm somewhat familiar with understanding how to shop for parts for a PC and I am really hoping to find something that works for me although I really need an expert opinion on a list I came up with.

My budget is $1600.00 CAD (incl. shipping) and I'm willing to go up to $200 dollars over if necessary. I want the HTPC to be a powerhouse so that it can run flawlessly. I plan on streaming 1080p content (x264 .mkv's + huge ~30-50GB BDMV/M2TS/VC-1 BD rips) from a home media server (next investment), playback blu-ray discs + backup blu-ray discs to server, watch and record up to 1080i HD satellite, have an audiophile quality sound card (which can connect to my Sennheiser HD 650 headphones), have the system run off of an SSD, and hopefully have all of this fit into a microATX case even though I had to resort to building with an ATX mobo because the video card's heatsink blocked a PCI slot that the tuner needed to use. Another thing I have to had in is that I get confused when shopping for a case or cooling products for the case.

Without software being included into the build this is what I came up with (newegg.ca):

Processor:
AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core = $109.99

Mobo:
MSI 770-C45 AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard = $89.99

Memory:
OCZ Gold 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM 1333 = $88.99

HDD:
OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal SSD = $255.00
(+ ICY DOCK MB882SP-1S-1B 2.5" to 3.5" SSD & SATA Hard Drive Converter $24.99)

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST31000528AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive = $94.99

Video Card:
MSI R4550-MD1GH Radeon HD 4550 1GB 64-bit GDDR3 = $49.99 (fanless, low-profile card)
(PCIe 2.0 x16)

Sound Card:
HT | OMEGA Claro Halo XT PCI Interface Sound Card w/ a built-in HI-FI Headphone Amplifier = $262.49
(PCI)

Satellite Tuner Card (buying from ebay):
TBS DVB-S2 HD Satellite Receiver = ~$140.00
(PCIe x1)

Optical Drive:
LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader SATA Model iHOS104-08 = $73.99

PSU:
not completely sure but what I chose was
OCZ Z-Series OCZZ550 550W ATX12V 2.2/ EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Active PFC Power Supply = $109.99

Case:
unsure as well as to what I should get
APEVIA Black SECC Steel / Aluminum X-MASTER-BK/500 ATX Media Center / HTPC Case = $76.99

grand total = $1450.11 (incl. shipping from newegg.ca) + ~$140.00 (incl. shipping) for satellite tuner

I was just wondering if my choices for this build are ok or if I could maybe swap some parts out for cheaper ones and still have everything function smoothly etc.

Other helpful notes:
-I want to run Windows 7 x64 Ultimate on it and as for multimedia playback I'm not sure yet.
-for the time being this HTPC will connect to a 32" 1080p LCDTV (hope to look into buying a projector as well)
-until I'll have enough for a decent home media server, I'm going to be using the interal 1TB and an external 1.5TB for media storage.
-I have no idea how to properly cool a case using post-market fans and heatsinks
-I want to try and have the system be as quiet as possible

I am open to all suggestions as I'm really anxious in buying my first custom HTPC, thanks for taking the time to read this!

More about : htpc build

November 24, 2009 4:21:30 AM

Hmm i would suggest going IGP for the display part (and some juicy undervolting for the chip) while think u have to research a wee bit more with the audio portion as per your proposed/existing audio set up for best/optimal solution hehe

Newgg USA btw but the principle is the same
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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Anonymous
November 24, 2009 4:38:00 AM

thanks for the reply! in the beginning i was considering using a microatx board with integrated graphics but was not sure if they would play 1080p stuff no problem without hiccups or anything. Would the HD4200 be able to play the stuff i mentioned above without any issues?
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Related resources
November 24, 2009 9:50:58 AM

Quote:
thanks for the reply! in the beginning i was considering using a microatx board with integrated graphics but was not sure if they would play 1080p stuff no problem without hiccups or anything. Would the HD4200 be able to play the stuff i mentioned above without any issues?


http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-785g-chipset-review-e...
Quote:
Always worth a mention is UVD, short for Universal Video Decoder. With proper 3rd party software like WinDVD or PowerDVD you can enable support for UVD 2.0 which provides hardware acceleration of H.264 and VC-1 high definition video formats used by Blu-ray and HD DVD. The video processor allows the GPU to apply hardware acceleration and video processing functions while keeping power consumption & CPU utilization low.New in the GPU architecture of the series 4000 is an updated video engine. It's not much different opposed to the old UVD engine, yet has two new additions for post-processing, decoding and enhancing video streams. Dual stream decoding is one of the new features. For example, if you playback a Blu-ray movie and simultaneously want to see a director's commentary (guided by video) you can now look at both the movie and in a smaller screen see the additional content (like picture-in-picture). Obviously this is Blu-ray 2.0 compatibility here, and the additional content is an actual feature of the movie. But definitely fun to see.


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November 24, 2009 2:44:42 PM

I think there are a few things a bit excessive here for a HTPC. Naturally, these are my opinions and feel free to spend your money any way you choose.


My advice:

I wouldn't bother with the SSD. Not sure what its purpose is. HDD is not a critical factor (speed-wise) in a HTPC. Spend the money on capacity.

As far as the integrated vs discrete GPU, there are multiple factors to consider. The IGPs can play Blu-ray if you pick the right one, (i.e. not Intel) and will probably consume less power with the side benefit of less heat to remove from the case. However even a cheap discrete GPU will provide plenty of Graphics power for blu-ray. I used a Radeon 2600XT 512MB and it played blu-ray flawlessly. However I currently have a Radeon HD4850 because I do a little gaming with the HTPC too.

Can't really comment on the satellite card, I use cable and have regular analog tuners in my HTPC.

I use the ASUS Xonar D2X soundcard and think its amazing. Not familiar with your choice of card, but for listening on headphones I find it hard to justify such an expensive soundcard. I'm not sure you'll really be able to tell the difference. I have mine connected to an external amp and floorstanding Mission speakers. As good as any audiophile separates system IMO.


For a blu-ray player I've used Cyberlink PowerDVD ultra. I have an older version but it does the job. The new version I have been thinking of upgrading to, its about $90 online.


Final bit of advice - don't get hung up on fanless items and trying to make it a "silent" pc. It will never be truly silent. Even fanless, the HDD will still be spinning etc. And once you are playing any media at all, the small bit of noise it makes will be totally drowned out. Plus, usually you're sitting 6 feet away on the couch, so if it makes a little bit of noise, so what? Better to have a little bit of active cooling to ensure better lifetime of the components.

I recommend using good quality and quiet fans. Zalman coolers for CPU and GPU, and Scythe S-Flex case fans . Try to find a good HDD mounting system that isolates the drive to minimise drive noise.

Good luck. Hopefully you'll spend less than I have trying to make the "perfect" HTPC!!
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