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Build Advice: $800 HTPC & Low-End Gaming PC

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January 25, 2010 8:23:32 AM

This is my first build, so I'm really not sure if I've chosen the correct hardware to match up here. Any feedback at all would be much appreciated. If you see something that doesn't make sense, it's probably because I picked the wrong parts.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next 30 days
Budget Range: Between $700 - $900
System Usage From Most To Least Important: Primarily a HTPC running xbmc, occasionally will be used to play games (TF2/MW2/KoToR)
Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, OS (Will be using Win 7 64 bit)
Preferred Websites For Parts: Newegg
Country Of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: None
Overclocking: Not intending to, but if you think it would benefit, I'd take the time to figure it out
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not now, but I want to add it later
Monitor Resolution: 1280x720 (720p HDTV)

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Case: Silverstone Black 8.0mm aluminum front panel, 0.8mm SECC body GRANDIA GD04B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail - $99

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail - $84

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model ADX620WFGIBOX - Retail - $100

GPU: SAPPHIRE 100284L Radeon HD 5750 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail - $145

PSU: SILVERSTONE ST75F 750W ATX 12V 2.2 & EPS 12V SLI Ready Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Retail - $160

RAM: CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model VS4GBKIT667D2 G - Retail - $82

HD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $90

BluRay: LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader SATA Model iHOS104-08 - Retail - $70

Remote: Rosewill Windows Vista Certified Media center Infrared Remote Control RRC-126 - $30

Total Build Price: $820

More about : build advice 800 htpc low end gaming

January 25, 2010 9:13:05 AM

I saw that you would like to crossfire eventually. With this current motherboard, that will be impossible. To utilize crossfire you will need a mobo that has at least two "PCI express 2.0 x16" slots. I would recommend:

ASUS M4A78-E AM2+/AM3 AMD 790GX - $109
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

Otherwise everything checks out. Don't forget to pick up some thermal grease also! (actic silver 5 ftw!)
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January 25, 2010 12:15:49 PM

Try a smaller PSU, 750w is WAY over sized. This OCZ is 550w and should be plenty. Too large a PSU costs a lot and kills your power bill It is also 80+ silver certified which should help out your power bill:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This ram runs at a higher speed with tighter timings:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

With some of the money saved on the PSU upgrade the video card to the 5770. It has more stream processors, a faster core clock and a faster memory clock, but wont use much more power:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

Last but not least, you say you want crosfire, but the board you specd doesn't support it. The board atomsk specd is ATX, not microATX. I propose using a jetway microATX board that supports crossfire, this way you can add another 5770 when you see the need. The board is not from one of the major brands but the review seems very good and the feature set looks great. I have used jetway boards before and never had a single problem. Heres the board:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


As for overclocking, you should try it at the stock voltage. this way you wont kill the efficiency of your system and wont make everything in the case run hot. you can also do this on the stock heatsink with no worries. With this approach its essentially free performance.
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January 25, 2010 12:54:19 PM

Thanks for the responses!

I completely missed that the motherboard wasn't crossfire compatible. Thanks for that head's up!

As for the PSU, I had a feeling that it was overpowered, but I wasn't quite sure about how to calculate that, so I figured better safe than sorry. But lowering the PSU and upgrading the GPU sounds like a great idea to me. I'm going to look through those pieces and update my first submission when I pick new pieces.

Thanks again!
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January 25, 2010 5:57:06 PM

Ok, so I've made quite a few changes.
- After realizing that most micro ATX motherboard's don't support crossfire, I decided to go ahead and jump to the full ATX motherboard and case.
- This had me springing for DDR3 support, and finally I bumped up the CPU.
- GPU upgrade for just a few bucks more and a lowering of the PSU.

I think this rig will be more of a HTPC/Medium gaming rig, and a bit more expensive, but I think it's worth the costs. If anyone has any further advice I'd love to hear it. I'm not sure if a 650W PSU is too much for this configuration, even assuming that I'd like to add another 5770 eventually for Crossfire.

If anyone has ideas on cutting costs on this rig, feel free to let me know. Thanks!


Case: nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Steel HTPC 2000B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail - $118

Motherboard: ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail - $129

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX - Retail - $159

GPU: SAPPHIRE 100283-2L Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail - $165

PSU: SILVERSTONE OP650 650W ATX 12V 2.2 & EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail - $80

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ - Retail - $105

HD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $90

BluRay: LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader SATA Model iHOS104-08 - Retail - $70

Remote: Rosewill Windows Vista Certified Media center Infrared Remote Control RRC-126 - $30

Thermal Paste:Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM - $8

Total Build Price: $925
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January 25, 2010 7:38:36 PM

That PSU is $90 w/ shipping. Here are two better power supplies that are cheaper:

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC ($90 - $10 MIR + free shipping)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC ($85 + free shipping)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I have the micro-ATX version of that case (nMediaPC 1000B) and I think it's great. I am not a fan of the 60mm fans in the back though. I got a slot cooler and turned them off and all is well and quiet(er).

This is one way you can cut costs, especially if you can overclock it:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... You also get a lower power and cooler running processor which is a good thing in an HTPC case. I think you had the lower clocked Propus CPU in your original post and it was a good choice.

Worth reading: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/athlon-l3-cache,241...
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