Budget HTPC Build. n00b

Hey Everybody. Been thinking about building a HTPC, but am currently on a pretty tight budget... want to price some stuff out and see if it's worth it.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: In the next month or so.

BUDGET RANGE: $300-$400

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Playing HD/SD Video (mp4, avi, mkv, etc...) HDMI out to my 40 inch LCD TV. Some media serving to Xbox / PS3, web-based streaming to my TV. (hulu etc...) Ripping DVDS.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, keyboard, mouse. Don't need a blu-ray drive... but probably will want a DVD drive for ripping etc.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg (tax free, usually free shipping)

PARTS PREFERENCES: I'd prefer Intel for the processor. And would like to go with a small case, as I don't want to add a TON of bulk to my media center.

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe... not all that familiar with it, would rather stay away from anything that will bring reliability issues into play.


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Must be reasonably quiet, IR receiver would be great. Small case, but I would like to have the ability to add a TV tuner card for HD OTA video recording, as well as a better video card if i want to use the computer for light gaming. I've got a 2 TB usb drive that has all my media on it currently, and would like to hang this off this computer, but hard drives are cheap, so i'd like the ability to add an additional internal media drive in the case as well.

A case like this seems like the right fit, but might be a bit expensive for my budget.

Antec NSK1380 Black/ Silver Steel MicroATX Cube Computer Case 350W Power Supply - Retail

Thanks for your help guys.
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  1. Alright... i know i was a little vague. I have one question. based on some other "budget htpc builds i've seen on here, I put together this:"

    Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $29


    ASUS M4A785T-M/CSM AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard $62.99


    CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail $49.99


    AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX240OCGQBOX - Retail $58


    OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G10664GK - Retail $74.99


    Western Digital Caviar Green WD5000AADS 500GB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive $54.99


    Total: $330.95

    This system seems pretty good to me except for one thing. I'd like to have the option of running Mythbuntu, or some Ubuntu distro along with XBMC under linux and I've read that the ATI support for hardware accelerated decoding is just not there. Also I'd love to have the system under $300... but this isn't a dealbreaker.

    So here's my question... I want this system to be able to handle 1080p playback. Should I just scale down the MOBO, and get a cheap(ish) dedicated graphics card? Or should I switch to a GeForce 8200/8300 chipset MOBO for linux support? Looked at this as an option for a dedicated graphics card:

    SPARKLE SXG210512D2-NM GeForce 210 512MB 64-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail $39.99

    Would be great to get some integrated nVidia Mobo recommendations, or if you guys think i should just go with a graphics card, and what motherboard i should do instead, or just keep the one i have, which seems like a pretty good deal and just disable the onboard graphics.
  2. Sounds like you have the same goals I have with my current build. I did allot of research before buying the nvidia 8200 mobo you're looking at. Found it on tigerdirect for $49 and change, recertified. Also bought the AMD athlon 2.2 X2 500+ for less than $50. 2 GB kingston HyperX 1066 ddr2, was way overpriced around $60 usd. I gutted my old system, reusing as much as possible to get the system going and have been building on it. Just ordered a SEGATE 320mb 7200 rpm sata hdd, another stick of ram and an ATI 4350 dgpu. Another $145. So now I'm up to about $305. And I'm using my old case, power supply, and XP pro. If I had to by these, I'd be way over budget, but this leaves me some growing room for the future.

    It's been fun, and a great learning experience, sine this is my first build. I check allot of forums and reviews on items, research compatibility issues etc. before buying anything. I've got an AM2+ system going, but looking at the prices on your AM3 items, you're about in the same ballpark. I wouldn't rely on integrated graphics, they usually fall short of expectations, even on the nvida 8200 mobo, struggles hard at 1080p. I've also found that the geforce boost option, basically sli a geforce 8400 dgpu with the 8200 igpu, only improves performance by about 20%. For about the same price as the 8400 dgpu, I got the ATI dgpu with a free HDMI cable from newegg, and this is probably about the same level as your geforce 210 series dgpu.
    The geforce boost with the 8400 dgpu is claimed to be about that of an 8500 dgpu, a couple of series behind what were looking at and only a notch above the integrated system.

    Also, I found some PC remotes on ebay for only a couple of bucks, with a usb IR receiver. Sounds like china junk for only a couple bucks, but their actually pretty decent.

    I would recommend checking tiggerdirect and compusa as well as newegg. Sometimes their prices are a bit lower and I think if your order is over $100 you can get free shipping from them as well.

    Please keep me posted as to how your build is going, I'd like know how it turns out. I'm still working on mine, but it's up and running already and I add to a little here and there. I'm no computer genius, but I'll try and answer any questions to the best of my knowledge or maybe know where to find an answer. Maybe learn from each others experiences? I'm pretty hyped up about this HTPC setup, and I think the guys at work are probably tired of hearing about it, so it'd be great to talk about it with someone who has the same intrests.

    Also, I noticed you like the HULU thing, Isn't it great? Not sure if you already know or not, but they have an awesome desktop interface program similar to microsofts media center for free. I even think the resolution appears to be better than their website. Launches right from your desktop. FREE. I like free. If I remember right, I they offer it for lynux as well as MAC and Windows.

    Well, good luck, and I'll check back now and again to see how it's going for you, I'll let you know how mine is going as well.
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