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Low Power Consumption HTPC

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March 4, 2010 3:34:40 PM

Hey all...I'm finally ready to build my HTPC here at home. The main use is actually this...

I'm going to be streaming HD from a Slingbox in another area of the country to my 42inch 1080p 240hz LCD here. The upload bandwidth where the slingbox is runs at a steady 10MB, and my DL bandwidth here at home runs at a steady 15MB, so I should be getting maximum quality. I may also be streaming some Hulu videos, playing old Emulators/Roms, and I expect to be dual booting Win7 with WinXP so I can install some old school games like Football Pro 95 too. I'd like to keep costs as low as possible just because it wont be my main computer (I use a Gateway i3 laptop). I'd also like to keep the power consumption to an absolute minimum, ideally as to not eat up much more power than your general DVR from the cable company. Recommendations?

Right now I'm torn between running an AMD X3 Rana or an Intel i3...anybody know which requires less power? Also if you think another chip would be better, please feel free to chime in. I'm also looking at the following PSU. I'm willing to go even lower on wattage if at all possible, all the while keeping in mind that I'm going to need a moderate GPU for the 24/7 HD 1080p streaming/output.

430W Energy Certified Rosewill

What would you guys recommend?

Win7
Keyboard/Mouse already purchased
Approx Purchase Date ~ 5-7 days
Speakers Not required
Tower Already Purchased ~ Antec Three Hundred (no limit on mobo size)
OC'ing an option, however not really sure if it would be necessary considering usage

Price Range? This is what i've spent so far...Keyboard/Mouse $40, Case $70, HDD $60...I'd like to keep the rest at a minimum. I'm sorting on Newegg by lowest price for everything, and judging it based on Power Consumption and ratings.

By the way, I have built a good dozen or so rigs in my time. From $3k gaming monsters to $300 celeron budget machines. Feel free to use "in the know" terminology.

More about : low power consumption htpc

March 4, 2010 3:44:05 PM

Rosewill sucks. Don't touch that PSU. Stick to the major brands (Corsiar, Antec Earthwatts, SeaSonic, Silverstone or OCZ Z Series). You want to pay more for an 80 Plus Bronze, Silver or Gold Certification.

The cheapest/smallest Gold PSU is the SeaSonic 650W for $160. The cheapest/smallest Silver one is the OCZ Z Series 650W for $100. Both of these will be way more power than you'll need.

The lowest PSU I would get is the Antec Earthwatts 430W 80+ Bronze for $40 after rebate.

The i3 requires less power. In addition, if you pair it with an H55 board (like this combo for $215), you don't need a discrete GPU for HD playback.
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March 4, 2010 3:54:27 PM

I'm loving the Bronze Certified PSU's. I'll definitely pick one of those up, more than likely the 380W.

Regarding the CPU/Mobo combo, is there any advantage to going with a H57 setup for $10-20 more?
March 4, 2010 4:05:34 PM

Excellent...That will save me $150 or so. Very good advice. Thank you.

I've always been big on using only Corsair or Kingston RAM as they've almost always shipped me good sticks...has this changed in the last 2 years?

I was planning on running Dual Channel 4 GB, would you agree with that being enough?
March 4, 2010 4:06:51 PM


As the others have said, the IGP on the i3 would be plenty for full HD content playback, as to power draw, take a look at this build by Toms, the i3 530 and i5 661 draw just about the same.

A good PSU for your setup could be SeaSonic S12II 330 Bronze 330W.
March 4, 2010 4:07:18 PM

Corsair is overpriced, and Kingston is not the highest quality. 2x2 GB would be fine. Check out G.Skill. Right now, they have the best and cheapest sets (they recently won 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th place out of 10 places in a memory competition).
March 4, 2010 4:15:56 PM

Ok...I've read good things about the ripjaw series, but I've been hesitant to veer outside of my comfort zone on RAM. How about this pair?

G Skill Ripjaw

I know the two PSU's recommended (Antec 380 and Seasonic 330) look nice. I am afraid of going too low and finding out that 6 months from now I feel like sliding a standalone mid-low level GPU in there for an extra added boost, maybe one that doesn't require a PCI-E 6 pin or something...you know...just in case :) . I noticed they both have 17A on the 12V rail, would that be too low for anything half way respectable anyway? Would a mid-low level GPU have any performance gain over the IGP in the i3? Just wondering...
March 4, 2010 4:25:00 PM

Sun Tzu said:
Ok...I've read good things about the ripjaw series, but I've been hesitant to veer outside of my comfort zone on RAM. How about this pair?

G Skill Ripjaw

I know the two PSU's recommended (Antec 380 and Seasonic 330) look nice. I am afraid of going too low and finding out that 6 months from now I feel like sliding a standalone mid-low level GPU in there for an extra added boost, maybe one that doesn't require a PCI-E 6 pin or something...you know...just in case :) . I noticed they both have 17A on the 12V rail, would that be too low for anything half way respectable anyway? Would a mid-low level GPU have any performance gain over the IGP in the i3? Just wondering...

Yes, that RAM will work great. You can get faster CAS 7 RAM for slightly more money, but it also runs at a higher voltage. I would stick with that kit you've got since it runs at the DDR3 standard 1.5v.

You could go with a 500W PSU to allow for future upgrades, but it will raise the price of the build.

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-500D Green 500W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $89.99

SeaSonic SS-500ES Bronze 500W ATX12V v2.31 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply - OEM $66.99
March 4, 2010 4:25:22 PM

Exellent...thanks for the heads up on the RAM. I'm really trying to stay away from getting a bigger PSU. I feel like that would just open the floodgates..

What are your thoughts, as an alternative, to bump up to a i5 650/gigabyte combo like this one for $60 more? I'm having trouble finding the performance differences anywhere online between the i3 and i5 in regards to graphics.
March 4, 2010 4:25:41 PM

EDIT: shortstuff answered.

The problem with the i5 dual cores is that they're so expensive. You can get a quad core i5-750 for the same price. I would stick with the i3s.
March 4, 2010 4:28:52 PM


The i3 530 is capable of running two full HD streams as to the newest blu-ray specifications, if you want to game with decent resolution and settings, you will need a discrete video card no matter which of the i3 or i5 CPUs you choose.
March 4, 2010 4:31:35 PM

edit - saw all of your responses after I posted this.

OK, and what kind of difference would I see between the 530 and 661? Like...percentage wise. 10% 20? more? less?

Thanks again :D 
March 4, 2010 4:35:58 PM

I'm going to reiterate that I wouldn't touch either i5 dual core CPUs...
March 4, 2010 4:42:11 PM

MadAdmiral said:
I'm going to reiterate that I wouldn't touch either i5 dual core CPUs...


Would you say this just because of the pricepoint?

lothdk - thanks for the link. It looks like the performance difference varies from 10-20% depending on the application. This will be a headscratcher definitely, right up until I hit the "confirm order" button.
March 4, 2010 4:43:23 PM

Yes. The i5 dualies would be perfect if they were a little lower priced, like possibly around $150-175. However, where they are, they can't stand up against the i5-750.
March 4, 2010 4:46:23 PM

Excellent, on all accounts. That should be good for what I need to pull the trigger. Thanks a lot gents, I'll post the final specs when it's in transit.
March 4, 2010 4:58:19 PM

Newegg doesn't have them any more, but an AMD 4850e CPU is a 45W CPU that, paired with a 780G or 785G, will handle this application nicely, and sip from the wall.
That particular Rosewill PSU is a new model, and absent a competent technical review saying it sucks, at the very least its 80+ certification means it could output its labeled wattage, albeit at a lower than typical ambient temperature.
Still, the 380W Antec Earthwatts would be my choice, if only for the extra efficiency of 80+ bronze, and the more solid reputation of Antec.
For old-school games, the otherwise slow 4850e should not have any trouble.
As to power usage, I ran this CPU 24/7 with a HD4670 for about eight months and did not notice a change on my power bill; although it was mostly idle as it was primarily used as a Teamspeak server.
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