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Need advice for HTPC - Newbie builder

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January 18, 2010 5:57:39 PM

Hello.

I'm pretty new to the whole homebuilt system thing so I need some help choosing parts for an HTPC I want to build.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This is the tricky part. I live in Mexico, and finding parts down here is tricky and expensive. BUT, I'll be traveling to the US (in Illinois) towards the end of March, and staying there for about a month, which should give me enough time to order the parts and test the system before I leave.

SYSTEM USAGE: This HTPC will be strictly for movie watching. Blu-ray, DVD, all sorts of video files (HD and SD). I'll probably be using XBMC or Boxee software. It will also be used as a torrent download machine and as a media repository that other TV's in the house can access through extenders through my 802.11N network. It will be connected to a 55 inch LCD through an Onkyo receiver (HDMI, 1080p, HD audio) and controlled with a Harmony One remote .
I WON'T be using it for gaming, DVR, live TV.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Gaming level cards, tuner, cablecard, keyboard or mouse,

PARTS PREFERENCES: I've been somewhat curious about the new Clarkdale processors and the H55 chipset, which all seems perfect for an HTPC. I prefer a Micro-ATX motherboard and appropriately sized case. I'm leaning toward the Antec Fusion Remote Black, but I haven't researched many casess so I don't know if its appropriate for my needs. I've also wanted to try an SSD but it might be overkill for an HTPC and might kill my budget. Big and power-efficient HDD. 802.11n card.

OVERCLOCKING: NO

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: NO

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1080p LCD TV

BUDGET: Around $1,000. Could go a little higher but wouldn't mind lower as long as it gets the job done.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

The most important aspects I'm looking for are
-Low power consumption (running 24/7)
-Smooth HD playback
-Stability (I'm not an overclocker)
-Some transcoding muscle (for when using as a media center with extenders)
-Capacity, by having at least two slots for SATA HDD and an eSATA port would also be good.

Things that aren't important to me:
-Noise. The room the Home Theater is big, and usually empty (when not in use) and some fan noise is not a problem.

I appreciate any advise anybody might give me.
Thanks in advance.

Best solution

January 19, 2010 3:09:38 AM

It's tough with the Clarkdale stuff being so new to know. The weakness is going to be the drivers. Maybe by March they'll be ironed out. There's a good thread going at www.avsforum.com on the Clarkdale processors.

I think that case you've chosen is great (I love Antec) but also check out what nMediaPC cases have to offer. I have the 1000B and I am really happy with it. It's a good $50 cheaper than the Antec but if you can afford the Antec get the Antec.

Anyway, here's a Clarkdale build based on my own looking. I actually haven't built this system.

Intel Core i3-540
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($145)
(If you think you need more muscle for encoding, step up to the i5-650 for $50 more or if there's a deal running - I got one for the same price as the i3-540)

ASUS P7H55-M PRO LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($110)

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($115)

CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX 450W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($60 after rebate)

2 x Western Digital Caviar Green WD15EADS 1.5TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($110 x 2 - trust me get 2)

Antec Black Aluminum / Steel Fusion Remote Black Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($140)

That comes out to around $790 w/o shipping or the wireless card and anything else I forgot.

Think about picking up a good media center remote/keyboard too. Lots of people love the Logitech diNovo Mini. I am about to start looking around for one myself. I have the Microsoft IR one and it's not the greatest but it works and can be had for $29.

!Buenas suerte!
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January 25, 2010 11:09:59 PM

Best answer selected by peyote2k.
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