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Need advice for HTPC Build

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January 20, 2010 3:12:42 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next couple of weeks – Not urgent but itching to get something going BUDGET RANGE: $600 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: TV/Movies – Media Center (720p for now but would like to keep it updatable to 1080), Office applications (large excel workbooks), Web Surfing, Pictures and music. No gaming. Maybe some future simple photo or video editing.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor,

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Anybody with good reputation and deals. Not much B&M nearby though. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US, Michigan

PARTS PREFERENCES: Not sure yet
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe – Probably not needed SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Dual View - 1024x768 on side used for video, 1920x1080 on non video side.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Would like to keep it reasonably fast and upgradeable but not at a huge expense. This will be my first build.

Here is what I am looking at.

CPU - AMD Athlon II X4 630

MOBO - ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

Hope to use the onboard graphics if possible. Will it run both monitors?

RAM - G Skil F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL - Retail

PSU - OCZ StealthXStream OCZ700SXS 700W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply

Case - nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 5000B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit - Best now for media center?

Sticking with the cheap LG DVD for now. Might upgrade to a blue ray later.

Probably taking the tuner card out of my old HP.

Still looking into hard drives but leaning towards the 1TB Spinpoint.

Anybody got anything I am missing or anything that I might want to change.

Thanks in advance.









More about : advice htpc build

January 20, 2010 11:27:55 AM

Mobo: Onboard will not allow both monitors to my knowledge. You can always try it out first and stick in a GPU later. That's still a good board though.

HDD: Good choice on the Spinpoint. Just make sure it's the F3.

GPU: If you find you need one, I recommend the HD 5770. It is a good gaming card, but I'm recommending it for the low temperatures, quiet operation and the Eyefinity (up to 3 monitors). It's also fairly cheap at $160.
January 20, 2010 12:04:11 PM

700W is WAY overkill, but them, it's a steal after rebate.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

No, you don't crossfire or sli a HTPC. It doesn't need that much GPU power. The IGP in the mobo will work on even 1080p.
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January 20, 2010 12:09:09 PM

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Dual View - 1024x768 on side used for video, 1920x1080 on non video side.

The problem isn't the 1080p. It's the dual monitors. I don't think that onboard will allow more than one, or am I wrong?
January 20, 2010 2:27:29 PM

If I remember correctly, the onboard video can do DVI/HDMI & VGA simultaneously but it cannot do DVI & HDMI simultaneously. In short, you can do one digital and one analog at the same time.
January 20, 2010 5:27:09 PM

Thanks to all for the replies.

I think it is a good idea to just try the on-board and see. I will be OK if it will do one analog and digital. Both the TV and the monitor have both. I have an nvidia card that I can put in (I don't remember which one but it was fanless for about $10 a year or so ago) that I am running them both with now and the video works adequately. I agree the power supply is overkill, but hopefully I can use it for a couple of generations and it is a good price with good reviews.

On the change front, it almost looks to me like it would be worth the extra $50 to go to the Phenom II. It seems to beat the Athlon noticeably on most of the benchmarks. Not sure if I need it for my usage.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor - Retail

I think I am close. Thanks again.
January 20, 2010 6:12:49 PM

You don't really need it, but if you can afford the difference, there is no reason not to get it.
January 20, 2010 6:20:14 PM

gojackets said:
Thanks to all for the replies.

I think it is a good idea to just try the on-board and see. I will be OK if it will do one analog and digital. Both the TV and the monitor have both. I have an nvidia card that I can put in (I don't remember which one but it was fanless for about $10 a year or so ago) that I am running them both with now and the video works adequately. I agree the power supply is overkill, but hopefully I can use it for a couple of generations and it is a good price with good reviews.

On the change front, it almost looks to me like it would be worth the extra $50 to go to the Phenom II. It seems to beat the Athlon noticeably on most of the benchmarks. Not sure if I need it for my usage.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor - Retail

I think I am close. Thanks again.


I don't think the L3 cache in the Phenom is going to make much difference, unless you really are going to game on the thing. Even the quad-core is a bit much - you could run a decent dual-core and have a solid HTPC system.

The DDR3-1600 isn't going to get you any real-world benefit over 1333 with tighter timings. 1333 with 7-7-7-20 is pretty inexpensive, and probably a better value (unless the Ripjaw is cheaper).

I've got an HTPC with a Gigabyte GA-MA690-S2H, 5000+ BE dual core, 4GB of DDR2, and 4TB of storage. It's running Vista Ultimate x64 SP2. It outputs to an analog 60" TV, however. It's got enough power to handle the media needs of 5 people, and it's quiet and unobtrusive. HTPCs don't need to be fancy, they just need lots of storage :) 
January 20, 2010 6:29:54 PM

I agree that the CPU isn't really needed, but if you've got the cash...

On the RAM: I didn't even notice they were the CL 9 variety. The only problem I have with going with the 1333 mhz sticks neoanderthal mentioned is that the 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 ones are the same price.
January 20, 2010 6:51:23 PM

MadAdmiral said:
I agree that the CPU isn't really needed, but if you've got the cash...

On the RAM: I didn't even notice they were the CL 9 variety. The only problem I have with going with the 1333 mhz sticks neoanderthal mentioned is that the 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 ones are the same price.


if they're the same price, then there isn't much choice :)  I'd go with 1600, too.
January 21, 2010 3:31:52 AM

OK, great advice all. I will stick with the cheaper processor. The last thing is settling on the RAM.

I can get a combo deal on the OCZ platinum but none of the OCZ RAM has great reviews. It is 1333

I am looking at this, but is seems to be specific for intel builds without some bios work. Is it a good idea.
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail

There are also some crucial options in the 1333 range that seem priced right.
January 22, 2010 12:24:14 AM

I am ready to pull the trigger. Here is where I stand:

CPU - AMD Athlon II X4 630

MOBO - ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

Hope to use the onboard graphics.

RAM - G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail

PSU - OCZ StealthXStream OCZ700SXS 700W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply

Case - nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 5000B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail

HD - SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Already ordered LG DVD.

Probably taking the tuner card out of my old HP.

I think the only other thing I need to put it together is a couple of sata cables. Any thoughts on those. Seems like every one on Newegg is $2 but $5 shipping. Seems like a rip.

Any last minute issues or advice?

Thanks again.

I am planning on pulling the trigger before bed.
January 22, 2010 1:08:17 AM

I don't think you'll need more SATA cables. Typically, the motherboard comes with a few. The picture of the packaging at least 2. I know my last one came with 4.

Everything looks alright. If this is your first build, you might want to check out the "Step-by-Step Guide to Building a PC".
January 22, 2010 2:38:37 AM

I have both a 780G and 785G board (Gigabyte) and I believe the Asus runs the same. You can run two monitors: one off either the DVI or HDMI and the other off the VGA. This is likely something you can confirm on the Asus website but I'd be shocked if it were otherwise.

I have a 1680x1050 monitor off the VGA and 1920x1080 off the DVI on my office setup with the 780G.
January 22, 2010 1:51:53 PM

Thanks again to everyone. I have ordered. I will update again when I start building.
January 28, 2010 4:30:01 PM

So the last of the parts I ordered arrived last night. Of course I had to start right away. Forget my gym plans. Newegg was great and everything seems to be as expected. I followed the tutorial (Thanks Proximon) and most everything went pretty smoothly. Had a few alignment issues with the HD cage and the DVD but for the most part, everything went smooth. I am a little concerned that I did something wrong on the rear face plate. Do all those little tabs just sit there on top of the MOBO ports? When I plug things in, it seems like there is more movement than I would expect but I think it looks ok. Just worried about stress on the board. The PSU definitely has too many cables but maybe one day I will need them. I realized as I was going through the tutorial that I didn't have an internal speaker. I booted anyway and everything seemed OK. I have not made the RAM BIOS adjustments yet. I ran a Window install and the system locked up about 75% of the way through the unpacking. I do not know what caused it. I did a hard reset and started over and it seemed to go smoothly the second time. It is now up and running Windows!!

The next steps will be:

Fix the BIOS for the RAM

Install anti-virus: I have an AVG that I bought about a year ago but never installed. Will this work with 7 or do I need to find something new.

Connect to the internet and get windows/driver updates

Install tuners and second HD

Run system tests

Clean up the assembly

Have fun.

Am I missing anything?

One more question. Where can I get an internal speaker? I can't find one on Newegg.

Thanks again for the great help and resources.

January 28, 2010 5:58:06 PM

If you're up and running, I say no need for the mobo speaker. It's only used for diagnostics.

I switched from AVG to Microsoft's own Security Essentials. It's free and I found it less obtrusive than AVG on my HTPC. YMMV.

Keep us updated on your progress.

January 28, 2010 6:12:00 PM

I too would just use Microsoft Security Essentials, on the PCs I have installed it on, it runs great, and seemingly light on resources, one of which is a HTPC.

As for your lockup during install, that is most likely due to your ram, as they are rated at 1.65 and is right now probably running at 1.5 (default).
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