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Help with HTPC "hybrid" system

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May 5, 2010 9:41:21 AM

Hi all,

I'm looking at building a windows7 MC based HTPC to add to my entertainment cabinet connected to the TV. I'd also like it to be able to do some video encoding on it and light gaming to replace an old (and very hot/noisy) Athlon 6000+ desktop tower. My number one concern is noise. I want to to run silently or as close to silent as possible. It also has to be efficient and cool as I plan to run it 24/7 downloading/serving media and a DVR capturing TV. Thus, I don't plan on overclocking anything.

So far I have:

CPU: Intel Core i3 530 w/ Scythe Mine Rev.B HSF
Mobo: Asus P7P55-M
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 1333 8GB (4x2GB)
VPU: PowerColor Go! Green Radeon HD 5670 passive
HD: WD Caviar Green 1.5TB
PSU: SeaSonic X-650 Gold
Case: Antec Fusion Remote MAX
OS: Win7 64bit

As far as I can tell, this CPU should basically make no noise even under heavy load. I plan to add the TV Tuner/Capture card, Blu-ray drive and more hard drives later. I like the Antec full size case because it'll be easier to keep cool/quiet and it has lots of room for expansion.

Few questions...

1. Gaming wise, this computer should be able to run WoW, SC2, Civ5, Diablo3, upcoming next-gen MMOs pretty painlessly?

2. Does anyone have experience with the PowerColor HD5670 passive video card? I'm worried that it'll have heat problems running games. However, the case should have good airflow, and I can add a silent Nexus 120mm fan blowing directly onto the video card if necessary.

3. On a similar note, would a regular video card with a big/quiet aftermarket cooler installed be a better idea?

4. I'd like 8 GB ram, but I'm not sure that I really need it? I'd like to take advantage of Win7 64 and I guess it can't hurt.

This is about the limit for my budget (~$1000) but if you have any recommendations I'd love to hear them. Thanks.

More about : htpc hybrid system

May 5, 2010 10:51:30 AM

CPU: Intel Core i3 530 w/ Scythe Mine Rev.B HSF
Mobo: Asus P7P55-M
RAM: OCZ DDR3 PC3-12800 1600 MHz Gold XTC 6 GB (3x2GB)
Comment : i3 + the mobo support only 2 channel. Get 2x2GB or 4x2GB. 3x2GB or 6x2 is for 3 channel.

VPU: PowerColor Go! Green Radeon HD 5670 passive
Comment : If you want it also for gaming, I would choose HD5770 better.
BTW : You might not want to have PowerColor in your system. This brand is cheap and with cheap quality also.

HD: WD Caviar Green 1.5TB
PSU: SeaSonic X-650 Gold
Case: Antec Fusion Remote MAX
OS: Win7 64bit


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Best solution

May 5, 2010 10:56:47 AM

Well the setup looks good, but I dont see the need for such a powerful PSU for that setup though...I do agree that you want a very silent PSU, but even a good low powered PSU should do...and nowadays the fans that come with quality PSUs are silent too as they are PWM...
A good silent, modular PSU -
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Non-Modular-
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As for your questions -
1. Depends on the resolution and the settings...The 5670 is powerful, but at high resolutions and very high settings it might not be powerful enough...

2. Well it is always the case with the passive cooled cards that there should be very good airflow inside the case...So installing the 120MM fan to blow directly onto the card would be a very good idea...

3. Yes...if it comes with an aftermarket cooler, then it would be comparatively quiet and cool...And then you wouldn't need to have the extra 1200MM fan right...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4. NO, dont get 6GB(3 RAM sticks) these CPUs have Dual-Channel memory controller, so populating 3 or 1 slot will not make the RAM work in Dual-Channel mode...So always try to populate 2/ 4 RAM slots for the RAM to work in Dual-Channel mode...
And also for general usage and gaming, anything above 4GB is not useful...

Though you have a high budget, I dont think you would need to spend that much to get what you want...
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May 5, 2010 12:00:46 PM

About the PSU: I'm kind of in love with that PSU (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). My line of thinking was if I added more components ie. TV Tuner card, a few hard drives, etc. later it'd consume more power. However, you're completely right, I just did a worst case scenario calculation with 30% capacitor aging and it came up just shy of 400W.

My other reason for choosing it though is that it has 80 Plus Gold status and has been reviewed to be the most energy efficient PSU. For an HTPC running 24/7 I thought maybe I'd save the extra 50 bucks or whatever over the course of a couple years in energy bills. It also seems to be extremely quiet, if not the quietest I could get, so it's easy for me to justify a bit more cost up front.

I don't really like the non modular ones but that OCZ model looks like it could be an excellent cheaper alternative. I'll look into it.

1. re: 5670 - I think I'll stick with it. I don't really care about max settings, just as long as it run the occasional games in decent resolution with playable FPS. I don't think the extra heat and noise from a faster card would be worth it for me.

2-3. I see. Do you know which of those cards would be best from a noise perspective? I'm having a hard time finding reviews of their acoustics outside from the newegg comments which I'm not sure are so accurate. I noticed that there's a Sapphire Radeon 5550 Ultimate passive coming out soon this month. (http://www.anandtech.com/show/3683/sapphire-announces-t...) Is this better than the 5670?

4. Doh! I knew there was something wrong with that RAM. So to get dual channel with 4 pieces of RAM I can just buy two of the same 2x2GB kits right? Maybe I will just start with 4 then and upgrade later.
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May 5, 2010 12:13:35 PM

I repeat : Powercolor tends to have short life.
But it is your call..
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May 5, 2010 12:29:18 PM

Well its you call for the PSU...

As for the graphics card, NO I dont think 5550 will be powerful than the 5670 - notice the naming scheme...
And as for the reviews, here are few...
Sapphire
http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-r...
http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/sapphire_hd5670...
the noise level should be similar to the Visiontek as they have the same Artic cooling fan...
And here is 1 for the MSI
http://www.ocia.net/reviews/msi5670cyc/page1.shtml
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May 5, 2010 3:33:38 PM

If you're not going to overclock, you really don't need an aftermarket cooler...the stock i3-530 cooler works just fine...

If you want it...go for it...but it's not required...could save a few bucks there
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May 5, 2010 5:24:32 PM

Best answer selected by filp.
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May 5, 2010 5:31:56 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Shame about PowerColor, they're the only ones that make a passive 5670. I'd prefer a brand with a good reputation. I'm going to look into the Sapphire 5670 and the MSI Cyclone 1G 5670 some more. I'm leaning towards the MSI card but we'll see. It seems to be newer so there is less information on it.

The aftermarket cooler is purely for noise reasons. The Mine Rev.B should be able to keep that processor cooler than stock and be virtually silent even at 100% CPU load. Plus, a local store carries it pretty cheap :) 
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May 6, 2010 4:21:40 AM

^ Good Luck with your build...
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