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HTPC help needed

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December 10, 2009 6:13:45 PM

Hello everyone, new to the forums here, and any help is welcome and appreciated!


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: In the next month or so. Sooner the better.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Recording standard and HDTV, Streaming Video, Watching Movies, maybe gaming

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: OS, HDTV, 2x WD 1TB hard drives

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg, tigerdirect, buy.com, amazon.com, (any really)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel or AMD

OVERCLOCKING: ?

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not sure

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Apex 40 inch 1080p LCD HDTV with HDMI and VGA possibility

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
My budget is about $800-$900 before or after rebates. I want the option to expand to gaming later on. I'd like a smaller receiver-looking case, and the ability to record HDTV and convert it to more manageable formats. Streaming would be nice, and wireless connectivity is a must. Remote is also a must. Would like to run Windows 7.

A MOBO I am considering is:
ZOTAC GF9300-G-E LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300 HDMI Mini ITX Intel Motherboard

I'm interested in the All-in-Wonder HD card, but don't know if it's Windows 7 compatible.

More about : htpc needed

December 11, 2009 12:05:37 PM

I just built about the same thing, without the recording.

To start, you won't be overclocking. That will only add heat and noise to the system, which doesn't help an HTPC.

I recommend an AMD Phenom II X4 955. This is an excellent CPU, and will run well very well in an HTPC.

The new ATI HD 5750 and 5770 work very well in HTPCs. They might be a little underpowered for strict gaming, but well be usable for most games.

For RAM, there's a nice set of G.Skill Eco DDR3 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7 sticks on newegg for $98. These will perform very well, and will use less power.

For a motherboard, I like to recommend the ASUS M4A79XTD EVO. This is a great board, at a great price.

Do you intend to watch BluRay on this? If not, pick up any name brand SATA DVD burner for about $30. If so, expect to drop $100 for a reader or $150 for a burner.

For a PSU, I'd recommend a Corsair 550W if you don't think you'll add a second GPU later. The only need you'd have for a second card is if you want to do some intense gaming. If you do want to add a second card, get a 650W.

I don't know a whole lot about recording, but I believe you'll need 2 TV tuners to record as you watch. I think they run about $100 each. Can someone else help out with these?

As far as cases, just go to Newegg and look for media center cases. You'll need one that fits an ATX board. You could also look at small mid towers if you don't see anything you like.

All the pieces I have above (5750, no BluRay, 650W) is ~$650. The 5770 will add $35 to that. BluRay reader will add $70, burner $120. 550W PSU is $20 less.

EDIT: Added the links.
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December 11, 2009 12:41:38 PM

For a HTPC you might want to get the Phenom II X3 720 instead. The 720 has a much smaller heat signature. You will have to get a new motherboard to use the 720. I wouldn't recommend a socket 775 as its officially obsolete.

Go AM3 or 1156. AM3 would save you more money and you won't really lose any real time performance.

PII X3 720
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gigabyte UD2H Micro ATX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sapphire 5750
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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December 11, 2009 12:57:31 PM

I would've gone done to a X3, but he wants to game later. Same reason I went with the 5770.

The Gigabyte board is good, except it handcuffs the upgrade potential. If you wanted the option to play more intense games later, you will want to be able to Crossfire GPUs. The Gigabyte board only has 1 PCIe slot.
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December 11, 2009 1:05:01 PM

Currently, anyone can game just fine with an X3 and a 5750. The eye candy won't be amazing but it's a HTPC not a gaming rig. I selected hardware that will game better than any console while being smaller than a desktop.

If he is looking for a dual card setup he mine as well look at getting a desktop. If he wants something to fit into his entertainment center he should stay with a HTPC.

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December 11, 2009 2:50:47 PM

Yep P2X3 720 is also cooler running and my experiences with SFF/HTPC DIY for my clients shows it an ideal chip for this purpose hehe In fact i am looking at the A2X3 4xx with under volting for my next builds for the ultimate cool multicore HTPCs :p 
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December 11, 2009 4:32:01 PM

Thanks for the suggestions folks.

I've been told I should select a case first, so I'm looking at these two first options. I'd like to keep the size down. Would the suggested components work for either?
AeroCool M40-BK Black 0.6 SECC Steel MicroATX Cube case Computer Case - Retail
Antec NSK1380 Black/ Silver Steel MicroATX Cube Computer Case 350W Power Supply - Retail

I also noticed that the MOBO doesn't have onboard HDMI... I guess it's not really necessary if the video card or TV tuner will? Found this review interesting on newegg:

Cons: PLEASE READ: I've never given out a one egg before. Most of the time I think it's childish and you get reviews like "Did not POST, DOA, etc.", that make you want to flag the review as not being helpful. **This is very important** As of this past month (11/07), AMD released new revisions to their top line of processors (starting with the 965 125w). DO NOT PURCHASE THIS BOARD WITH THAT (OR ANY OTHER C3) PROCESSOR. AMD supports these chips in the most current version of the BIOS (v.2002). However, in order to flash your BIOS, you have to have another AM3 processor. The board will NOT boot at all with these new processors. This should be fixed in the next 6 months for this board. I say 6 months for the fact that it takes about that time for the new BIOS to be implemented into current shipments.

Another question, ATI has a Cablecard tuner.... would that be a viable option to solve the encrypted cable dilemma? I snagged the All-inWonder HD card at Fry's today for $70, will this be suitable as my main video card?
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December 12, 2009 2:13:49 AM

I would go with the M40 with a modular 80+ 400-500 watter for neater cable management :p 
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December 13, 2009 5:11:42 PM

So I decided on this case on sale at Frys Electronics:

SILVERSTONE Black 8.0mm aluminum front panel, 0.8mm SECC body GRANDIA GD04B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail

It can hold a Micro ATX board, and the primary reason for getting it is I think I can fit two 3.5 hard drives in it, in ADDITION to a 2.5 solid state drive for the OS. I also got the All-in-Wonder HD card which has a Radeon HD 3650 video card on it.

Will I need another video card or will this be adequate?

Any additional MOBO/CPU suggestions based on this case?
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!