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Need help for living room HTPC

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February 22, 2010 2:19:57 AM

Well I finally decided that with the advent of so much great HD media that I'd like to build a HTPC for the living room the only problem is I am very new to the hardware game and have only put together one gaming PC before while this time I am looking for a different set of parameters (video, HD video, HDMI) and I am not even sure where to start. If anybody could give me a few suggestions or perhaps point me towards a killer HTPC setup they built themselves that would be great!

STATS
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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP

BUDGET RANGE: $800

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Watching HD movies on the Samsung

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Wireless Mouse/Keyboard / Samsung LN32B530 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV / OS (open to suggestions..) / BASIQ 500watt new PSU (but I am willing to switch it out if neccisary)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Amazon is preferable but if Newegg.com has a much better price/free shipping, I have no problems with them either.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: I'd like the parts to be shipped from state-to-state in the USA.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Mid-ATX Case by Lian Li, BluRay drive, room for 2 3.5" (believe that is the normal size) hard drive bays, quality fans

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920×1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Should be relatively quiet. Willing to sacrifice some sound to stay under budget.

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More about : living room htpc

February 22, 2010 2:28:49 AM

I'm not much of an Amazon shopper. My suggestions from Newegg:
nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 5000B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail
Nice little HTPC case.
$60

GIGABYTE GA-785GMT-USB3 AM3 AMD 785G USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
785g mobo with USB 3.0.
$95

HIS H557F1G Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Low Profile Ready Video Card - Retail
The "perfect" HTPC card, according to this.
$85

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner / Encoder 1229 PCI-Express x1 Interface - OEM
Dual-tuner, so you can record and watch simultaneously.
$110

AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
Quad-core, low power consumption.
$96

G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO - Retail
Low volts, CL7.
$115

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3EG HD203WI 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
2TB Samsung F3. Fast drive, low power consumption. 1TB out of stock.
$180

LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Reader SATA Model iHOS104-06 - OEM
Just a BR reader. You might want to look at a BR combo drive if you want to burn CDs and/or DVDs, or a BR burner.
$62

Rosewill Windows 7 Certified Media Center Infrared Remote Control RRC-127
A remote.
$28

Total: $831

EDIT: Even if you take out the remote, a Lian Li mid tower will exceed the budget by a bit. But personally, I think an HTPC case would fit better in a living room. :p 
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February 22, 2010 5:51:02 AM

Thanks for the reply! It gave me some ideas... I used your input as a starting point and came up with something significantly cheaper that I think might work just as well. I have a laptop with a BluRay player that I could use to send media to the HTPC. As such I decided to forgo the BluRay reader and TV-Tuner for now and wait until a big sale comes up. Here's what I picked out...

GIGABYTE GA-MA78LM-S2H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 760G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $59.99

AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX240OCGQBOX - $56.99

ZOTAC ZT-94TEK3M-FDL GeForce 9400 GT 1GB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - $49.99

APEX TX-381-C Black Steel Micro ATX Tower Computer Case - $24.99

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ - $84.99 - I was wondering if I could get by with just 2GB....

Basiq 500watt Power Supply (unopened) - Already paid for - Will this fit or do I need a specially designed PSU for a micro ATX case ?

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136073]Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - 55.99

Rosewill Windows 7 Certified Media Center Infrared Remote Control RRC-127 - $27.99

Total Price : $360.93

Am I missing anything crucial ? An Infrared card? Or underpowered anything so that I could not view full 1080 HD video without stutter ? Any input would be appreciated... I've got this rolling Micro-Mid ATX case holder thing that I'd like to use to set right next to the television. Hence going against a 'box' which would need to be placed on the ground (no space on the entertainment center) and collect dust like crazy.
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February 22, 2010 8:00:57 AM

Everything is compatible and the it will work fine as an HTPC. I do have a few suggestions though. First of all, Nvidia is not a good option ATM, at any price point. For $50, you can get a much more powerful HD 4650. The 4650 is faster than a 9500 GT, which naturally is faster than that 9400 GT you listed.
Two GB RAM should be fine for now, if you're on a tight budget. Adding another 2GB would be the first upgrade I would make to this system though.
One other thing, why are all those HDDs Western Digital?? :pfff:  I know there are many people who religiously buy Intel/Nvidia/WD systems, but these past few years have seen a lot of change from other vendors. Intel is falling behind on the low-end, Nvidia and WD are falling behind across the board. Right now, the best HDDs are the Samsung Spinpoint F3s and the Seagate 7200.12s. They have 500GB per platter, so they're faster and run cooler, while using less energy. And they're no less reliable than Western Digitals.
Otherwise, the build looks good.
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February 22, 2010 2:04:54 PM

I would suggest that you look into an i3 530 with a H55 motherboard, this will give you lower power draw resulting in less heat produced.

The integrated GPU on the i3 CPU is capable of running two HD streams used in the newest blu-ray specifications.
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February 22, 2010 3:28:20 PM

You could do something like this

i3 530 + ASUS P7H55-M PRO $215

Kingston 2 GB $55

If you can return that PSU do so, the Basiq models are not that good, and is more than is needed, you could get a better PSU for the system cheaper.

Add a generic SATA DVD ~$20 if you are not going for a blu-ray.

HDD, hmm will you be storing media files on the system? If so, go with a 1-2 TB WD Caviar Green or Samsung F3 drive ~$85-190.

Cordless keyboard/mouse?
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February 23, 2010 6:51:30 AM

Pumps up the price about $100 but it's possible. Will the setup I have now for $100 less still give flawless bluray/HD playback ? Or is the upgrade pretty neccisary ? I am not going for multiple streams running at once, just something to watch films.

Unfortunately the PSU is bought and paid for a long time ago so no returns are available. As for the SATA DVD player I can't believe I forgot one! Thanks for the reminder, I almost pressed order without it. Kind of hard to install the OS without a DVD-R!

As for the HDs I have a few laying around besides the one I plan to use for the main drive. I don't have much to worry about there.

I'm willing to put in the extra $100 if necessary, but not for 'super performance' I just want perfect quality.
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Best solution

February 23, 2010 7:34:38 PM

The AMD system you have listed would suffice, though it is building on old parts, if the ~$50 extra (to upgrade to 4 GB) for the i3 is too much, then go with what you have listed.

AMD build

Motherboard - $59.99
CPU - $56.99
GPU - $49.99
RAM - $84.99

Total - 252

i3 build
CPU + GPU + Motherboard - $215
RAM - $55

Total - 270

* i3 using only 2 GB, AMD 4 GB

The con for the i3 system would be that the integrated GPU is not fast enough to play games, pro would be much stronger CPU, lower power draw, using current RAM standard.

For watching movies, here is a guide on how to configure MPC - HC for DXVA decoding.

A good place for information on HTPC would be the AV Science Forum.
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February 23, 2010 9:28:42 PM

You sold me on the i3, it's not that much price difference and from the sounds of it, and it's the cpu that does all the work sending out HD video anyways. I could use the extra power.

Not to mention I have another PC sitting here that I built especially for gaming so the gpu on the HTPC is of little importance. I just didn't want to burn out the gaming computer running videos 24/7.

This whole system ends up working out quite well I think... 2 computers (one HTPC, one gaming) connected to the Samsung and one DVI output going from the gaming computer to a 20" monitor. This way I could play games and watch HD movies at the same time.

Thanks for the advice I think this is going to be a good setup. I plan on adding more quiet (and large) hard disk drives in the future as money/time permits. As well as a speaker system, but that is to come.

The money I save building this verses my original price point of $800 lets me go up to the mountain one more time before the season is finished! So thanks!
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February 23, 2010 9:32:38 PM

Best answer selected by Tylerrr.
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