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Advice on budget HTPC

Last response: in Systems
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December 27, 2009 1:02:21 AM

Hi all,

I'm looking at building a HTPC. I'll try to fill out the standard formula here as best I can, but notice that I live in Denmark so I can't really link to the site where I'll be buying components from since that will be in danish.

Edited: Put on some links for items from newegg, notice that I wont be buying from that site, but just so that we know what we're talking about.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Probably within a month or so

BUDGET RANGE: Around 600$, however notice that components are a little more expensive for me (Denmark) than if I bought in the US.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Media on the Internet (Youtube, news broadcasts, last.fm, ...), general internet surfing,

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: monitor, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Using multiple danish sites, don't want to link...

PARTS PREFERENCES: I'm considering the following parts:

Motherboard: MSI 785GM-E51, AM3, DDR3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 785GM-E51

CPU: Athlon II X2 250
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OR Athlon II X4 620 (not sure if I need the extra performance, but the price gap isn't that big)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case: Antec NSK3480-EC (it has a 380W PSU, and has noise reduction features as well as a nice price)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GFX: Perhaps a Radeon HD 4650 based one, if the integrated one isn't good enough

OVERCLOCKING: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: It will be plugged to a 720p TV.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: It's for the living room so should be quiet. Not sure if I should just go for the Acer Aspire Revo3600, but I'm concerned about the HD video playback reviews it's getting. It doesn't need to be extremely small, but I would prefer a micro atx case, because that's not too large either.
I wonder if the PSU is good enough? Also, the motherboard I'm looking at has an integrated gfx card. Will that do? Or should I get a decent seperate gfx card? Not sure if that's necessary since I don't need 3d gaming capabilities. Would I need a better PSU if I went for a seperate gfx card?

Any advice much appreciated
-Vanvid-

More about : advice budget htpc

December 27, 2009 9:21:30 AM

As for the GFX card, I've now looked through the list of recommended cards, and I might just go for the cheapest upgrade: A Radeon HD 4650 based one.

But again? Will it help me much? Perhaps the CPU is powerful enough that I don't need a gfx card. I think I might be planning on just trying without one at first, and see if the system performs well enough on its own.

Also I'm a little intrigued by the smaller Antec NSK1480 - EC case. But I'm concerned if there will be enough room in that one for adding a GFX card should I need one. Any advice on how to find out?

Thanks
-Vanvid-
December 27, 2009 11:40:45 AM

Okay I personally own the older aspire r1600 and with the right software its more than enough as a HTPC. Mine is only a single core 1.6ghz. The r3600 is a duel core 1.6. If you look around you can find a program to OC the processor to about 2.0 ghz thats where I have mine atm. Get the adobe flash 10.1 beta or the release when it comes out after the first of the years. That fixes 99.9% of the flash issues. As to running mkv's etc. Yet again look around theres a nice program called WMP:media center that offloads to the ION chipset. Mine does everything I wanted it to and it only set me back about 200 dollars US. Just wish I could turn off the damn power button light. Hell I even have a hacked up blu ray drive that I use with it.
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December 27, 2009 12:58:01 PM

With that said, the 785g's built-in graphics processor is also more than capable of handling your video-playback needs no matter what dual-core Athlon II you plop into it :)  I don't think the board you've picked has any dedicated memory for the graphics processor, however, and I think you might want to get a board that does, eg the ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO.

I'm afraid I can't comment on the rest... but good luck! :) 
December 27, 2009 4:16:43 PM

Hiawatha> Alright, changed the mobo to the one you recommended. Doesn't affect the price much anyway so it seems like a good move, thank you.

jdavis> Interesting. So actually the R3600 might fullfill my requirements. Also I just noticed that it now comes in an R3610 version that's bundled with Windows7.

I now have the following parts, should I choose to build my own (this time with danish links and prices in DKK, 1$ ~ 5kr)

MOBO:
ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO - 596kr
http://www.edbpriser.dk/Product/Details.aspx?pid=639378

CPU:
Athlon II X2 250 - 492kr
http://www.edbpriser.dk/Product/Details.aspx?pid=585408

RAM:
Kingston ValueRAM 1 x 2 GB - 327kr
http://www.edbpriser.dk/Product/Details.aspx?pid=447681

CASE:
Antec New Solution NSK3480-EC - 673kr
http://www.edbpriser.dk/Product/Details.aspx?pid=392420

DVD:
LG GH22NS50 Super Multi - 242kr
http://www.edbpriser.dk/Product/Details.aspx?sp=all&pid...

HD:
Samsung SpinPoint F1 Desktop Class HD753LJ 750 GB - 483kr
http://www.edbpriser.dk/Product/Details.aspx?pid=407108

Total price is ~562$ (2813kr)
I can get the R3610 for ~ 532$ (2663kr)

The custom build will take up more space (which doesn't matter much) and use more power. But it will be upgradeable.
The R3610 should just work out of the box.

Damn, have to think a bit more about this. But thanks for your input :-)

-Vanvid-
!