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Need advice - i3 or i5? $600-$700 for movies, HD audio, HT, surfing

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February 3, 2010 2:50:34 PM

Hello All,
This site is amazing! I wish I had the time to go through and find all the information that I need but don't have the time right now.

I'm open to all suggestions and recommendations.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Sparky


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: this week

BUDGET RANGE: ~$600-$700 with some flexibility. After Rebates. This price does not include a tv tuner or high-end sound card, both of which will be purchased at a later date.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: watching movies, HD audio, home theater, surfing the Internet

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Amazon, newegg.com
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US

PARTS PREFERENCES: Here are my thoughts so far. I’m open to all suggestions.

CPU: Intel i3 Clarkdale or i5 Clarkdale (is i5 overkill or money well spent?)

MOBO: I want to make sure there are plenty of expansion slots for tv tuner, audio card, IDE card for legacy hard drives. Support for USB 3.0. HDMI output. 8 channel audio.

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE: COOLER MASTER HAF 922 ATX Mid Tower
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MEMORY: 4GB (I’m open to recommendations)

GPU: I’m not a gamer. I want to output video (occasionally) to my 52” LCD at 1080p and watch movies on my 22” LCD monitor. Suggestions?

DVD: I would like a dual-layer DVD burner for now and will likely add a Blu-Ray player and/or burner at a later date.

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: OS - Windows 7 Home Premium. Quiet would be nice. It’s been over 15 years since I built a PC and a LOT has changed regarding audio/video on motherboards. I want like to support for HDMI, digital audio outputs (coax and optical), and 7.1 sound. Will most of the better mobos take care of my needs for now?

Best solution

February 3, 2010 3:26:13 PM

techmo34's suggestions are good, but you don't even need the 5670 GPU. The onboard GPU on the GA-H55M-USB3 is plenty for your stated use.

I would step up to this set of RAM. It's faster and cheaper since it has free shipping.

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail $114.99
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February 3, 2010 3:36:30 PM

Thank you tecmo34 and shortstuff_mt for your advice.

A couple comments. I would like an ATX mobo for the expandability.

Sounds like you are both in agreement that I don't need to go to i5.

Thanks,
Sparky
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February 3, 2010 3:44:08 PM

There are only three full-size ATX H55 motherboards on Newegg and I wouldn't buy any of them.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

The micro-ATX board should allow plenty of expandability. The board comes with a good 8-channel sound chip, so there's no reason to add a separate sound card. The board also has an IDE slot, HDMI output, and SATA 3.0. You can add a TV tuner in either a PCI slot or the extra PCI-E slot depending on what card you get.
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February 3, 2010 3:44:41 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
techmo34's suggestions are good, but you don't even need the 5670 GPU. The onboard GPU on the GA-H55M-USB3 is plenty for your stated use.

I would step up to this set of RAM. It's faster and cheaper since it has free shipping.

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail $114.99


shortstuff_mt,
Do you feel the onboard GPU is sufficient for 1080p video output to 52" LCD?

Thanks,
Sparky
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February 3, 2010 3:49:07 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
There are only three full-size ATX H55 motherboards on Newegg and I wouldn't buy any of them.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

The micro-ATX board should allow plenty of expandability. The board comes with a good 8-channel sound chip, so there's no reason to add a separate sound card. The board also has an IDE slot, HDMI output, and SATA 3.0. You can add a TV tuner in either a PCI slot or the extra PCI-E slot depending on what card you get.


Any recommendations for ATX P55? I don't mind paying the extra money as long as I'm getting something back for it.
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February 3, 2010 4:56:39 PM

Just wanted to add/support that the HD5670 is redundant with the GPU on-board the Core i3-530. It will easily handle 1080p HD video. You've also got enough CPU horsepower that video rendering that doesn't take advantage of the GPU can be handled by the CPU. You also won't need an audiocard if you plan to just passthrough sound to a receiver. It just all depends on where you want the digital-audio decoding to happen. If your receiver is going to do it, the audio in the Core i3-530 will be happy to passthrough whatever formats you specify.

To be honest though, the DACs in my motherboard (192/24) are better than the DACs in my older Onkyo receiver (96/24) so I am happy getting multi-channel PCM into my receiver when listening to music and letting the Dolby/DTS passthrough for watching movies.

If this is going to accompany your TV, what kind of case do you want? Something that looks like an AVR or a tower like suggested above? That will help narrow suggestions. Antec has some really nice HTPC cases in additional to the very good suggestion above.

Oh, and if you don't go the discrete video card route, you won't need a 550W power supply. Something closer to 400W will be more than sufficient even with a couple of tuners, more harddrives, etc such as:

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($35 after MIR and coupon code EMCYNYN53)
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February 3, 2010 5:07:53 PM

SparkyInMaine said:
Any recommendations for ATX P55? I don't mind paying the extra money as long as I'm getting something back for it.


To use the GPU that is onboard the Core i3-530 you need to use an H55 motherboard. The GPU is part of the Core i3-530, not part of the motherboard, and therefore you need the H55 to make it work.
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February 3, 2010 6:07:14 PM

Dougie Fresh said:
Just wanted to add/support that the HD5670 is redundant with the GPU on-board the Core i3-530. It will easily handle 1080p HD video. You've also got enough CPU horsepower that video rendering that doesn't take advantage of the GPU can be handled by the CPU. You also won't need an audiocard if you plan to just passthrough sound to a receiver. It just all depends on where you want the digital-audio decoding to happen. If your receiver is going to do it, the audio in the Core i3-530 will be happy to passthrough whatever formats you specify.

To be honest though, the DACs in my motherboard (192/24) are better than the DACs in my older Onkyo receiver (96/24) so I am happy getting multi-channel PCM into my receiver when listening to music and letting the Dolby/DTS passthrough for watching movies.

If this is going to accompany your TV, what kind of case do you want? Something that looks like an AVR or a tower like suggested above? That will help narrow suggestions. Antec has some really nice HTPC cases in additional to the very good suggestion above.

Oh, and if you don't go the discrete video card route, you won't need a 550W power supply. Something closer to 400W will be more than sufficient even with a couple of tuners, more harddrives, etc such as:

CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($35 after MIR and coupon code EMCYNYN53)


Hello Dougie Fresh,
Thanks for the help. I'm used to going "overkill" with most everything I do. It's nice to hear your reassuring comments that you feel the CPU will handle the graphics and audio that I'm looking for. I would be curious to see how the DAC in the motherboard would compare to my stand-alone DAC.

I've looked at the HTPC cases and they look nice but I don't think I'll be putting the computer in the HT rack. I need to use it (computer) for other computing needs and it just wouldn't work in the HT room. On the other hand I can run my HDMI and Optical Audio out from the desktop to the HT without and problems. I'm also concerned about noise from the PC in the HT room. I might find it distracting at low volume levels.

What do you think of this "Green" PSU? Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thanks again to all. I'm getting close to pulling the trigger based on the recommendations given here.

Sparky
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February 3, 2010 6:27:59 PM

That's a quality efficient PSU at a good price. It would work very well with this build.
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February 3, 2010 6:44:53 PM

Another PSU for you to consider would be CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX at $40 using mail-in rebate.

Also, as has been stated, the integrated GPU on the i3 would be sufficient for running 1080p video (currently having some driver issues, causing tearing).
If you were to buy a discrete GPU, I would rather go with a nvidia GT 220 or 240, at least if you will be using MPC-HT for playing HD content, as ATI cards currently suffers from tearing.

- edit -
gah, guess Dougie listed the same PSU..
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February 3, 2010 6:49:37 PM

Links for your ATI and Intel "tearing" problem?

I haven't seen this issue in my use of ATI cards. I also haven't seen any of the competent review sites mention it.
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February 3, 2010 7:00:36 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
Links for your ATI and Intel "tearing" problem?

I haven't seen this issue in my use of ATI cards. I also haven't seen any of the competent review sites mention it.


lothdk,
I'm not sure what "tearing" is but is this something I should be concerned about if I want to use this setup for 1080p output?

Thanks for the help,
Sparky
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February 3, 2010 7:01:23 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
Links for your ATI and Intel "tearing" problem?

I haven't seen this issue in my use of ATI cards. I also haven't seen any of the competent review sites mention it.


Anandtech have mentioned it, and let me see if I can find the other site on which I read this.

-edit -

The Intel issue has been reported on several sites, I think even here on toms, the ATI issue may have been fixed, as it was some time ago I last read of this.
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February 3, 2010 7:02:42 PM

I wouldn't worry about it. Like I said, I've read a lot of reviews of the i3 chips and H55 motherboard from all the reputable review sites and none of them experienced any problems displaying 1080p content. I've also used many ATI GPU's and never experienced a problem with HD content.

They said there were a few problems with pre-release hardware, but the production models were fine.
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February 3, 2010 7:03:19 PM

SparkyInMaine said:
lothdk,
I'm not sure what "tearing" is but is this something I should be concerned about if I want to use this setup for 1080p output?

Thanks for the help,
Sparky


I would not be too concerned about it, as it is just a driver issue, just annoying until a fix is issued.
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February 3, 2010 7:11:51 PM

Ok, here's where I am right now with this proposed build. Is there anything I'm missing for the build? Cables? Fans? HSF?

Thanks to all for your help.

CPU / MOBO Combo: Intel i3 530 & GIGABYTE GA-H55M-USB3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

PSU: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OR

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817139008

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822152185

CASE: Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: Built in

DVD: LITE-ON CD/DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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February 3, 2010 7:27:22 PM

Looks like you are all set, if you want a tower and not a more AV looking case, another for you to consider would be the LIAN LI Lancool PC-K58 cost is $80 but with free shipping.

The ram you have picked is very nice, but for your intended purpose, going with looser timings would not make a difference, something like these at CL 9 for $85.

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February 3, 2010 7:34:10 PM

lothdk said:
Looks like you are all set, if you want a tower and not a more AV looking case, another for you to consider would be the LIAN LI Lancool PC-K58 cost is $80 but with free shipping.

The ram you have picked is very nice, but for your intended purpose, going with looser timings would not make a difference, something like these at CL 9 for $85.


Thanks for the help lothdk. I'll consider it.

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February 4, 2010 12:32:21 PM

Does anyone feel a CPU cooler would be good insurance or would it be overkill for this system?

Thanks,
Sparky
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February 4, 2010 1:07:09 PM

SparkyInMaine said:
Does anyone feel a CPU cooler would be good insurance or would it be overkill for this system?

Thanks,
Niles


As you will not be overclocking, the only reason for you to get an aftermarket cooler would be to lower the noise generated compared to the standard cooler.

I would first try the system with the standard cooler, and should you find that it generates more noise than you find acceptable, then I would look into an aftermarket solution for CPU cooling.

- edit -

A site for you to check would be Frostytech.com and read up on low-noise aftermarket coolers.
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February 4, 2010 1:07:54 PM

SparkyInMaine said:
Does anyone feel a CPU cooler would be good insurance or would it be overkill for this system?

Thanks,
Niles

If you don't plan to overclock, the stock cooler will do the job just fine and you don't need a HSF. If you do want to overclock and get more out of your CPU, I would go with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus, as your HSF.
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February 4, 2010 1:14:21 PM

Thank you tecmo34 and lothdk. I will take your advice on the cooler and the other recommendations. Looks like I'm ready to place my order.

Thank you all for the advice and help.

Sparky
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February 4, 2010 4:15:07 PM

BTW, the aforementioned tearing problems (at least the ones I've read about) are with 1080p24. I haven't seen complaints about 1080p60.
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February 4, 2010 4:59:04 PM

Dougie Fresh said:
BTW, the aforementioned tearing problems (at least the ones I've read about) are with 1080p24. I haven't seen complaints about 1080p60.


That's good news since I'm running 1080p120.

Thanks Dougie Fresh!
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February 4, 2010 7:54:42 PM

I'd be curious if the GPU will support that refresh rate. I don't know either way.
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February 4, 2010 8:24:01 PM

Dougie Fresh said:
I'd be curious if the GPU will support that refresh rate. I don't know either way.


I'll let you know next week. My order is shipping out today.

Sparky
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February 14, 2010 10:35:28 AM

Best answer selected by SparkyInMaine.
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March 27, 2011 6:40:28 AM

I am an old audio video buff but I am new to the computer thing. So if I am an idiot please tell me. I have spent several years and a whole lot of money building my home theater system so quality is very high on my list. I am currently trying to learn quickly about moving the use of a computer in my system. I have been looking around at some stuff and seeing that I am a mega novice at this I could use advice myself. So far I am looking at the i7 900 series chip for the cpu the HT Omega Claro Plus soun d card and the HIS Radeon HD 6970 for the video card. I am not afraid to spend money for the stuff but I am not the mega high ender either. I just want to have great affordable quality for audio video. I really need suddestions on the total package. CPU motherboard audiocard video card memery power drives the works even the media player that I need to use for HD audio. And for my old recordings is something like the DFX or SRS plug ins good for playback?
SparkyInMaine said:
Hello All,
This site is amazing! I wish I had the time to go through and find all the information that I need but don't have the time right now.

I'm open to all suggestions and recommendations.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Sparky


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: this week

BUDGET RANGE: ~$600-$700 with some flexibility. After Rebates. This price does not include a tv tuner or high-end sound card, both of which will be purchased at a later date.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: watching movies, HD audio, home theater, surfing the Internet

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Amazon, newegg.com
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US

PARTS PREFERENCES: Here are my thoughts so far. I’m open to all suggestions.

CPU: Intel i3 Clarkdale or i5 Clarkdale (is i5 overkill or money well spent?)

MOBO: I want to make sure there are plenty of expansion slots for tv tuner, audio card, IDE card for legacy hard drives. Support for USB 3.0. HDMI output. 8 channel audio.

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE: COOLER MASTER HAF 922 ATX Mid Tower
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MEMORY: 4GB (I’m open to recommendations)

GPU: I’m not a gamer. I want to output video (occasionally) to my 52” LCD at 1080p and watch movies on my 22” LCD monitor. Suggestions?

DVD: I would like a dual-layer DVD burner for now and will likely add a Blu-Ray player and/or burner at a later date.

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: OS - Windows 7 Home Premium. Quiet would be nice. It’s been over 15 years since I built a PC and a LOT has changed regarding audio/video on motherboards. I want like to support for HDMI, digital audio outputs (coax and optical), and 7.1 sound. Will most of the better mobos take care of my needs for now?

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