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First ever build. HTPC/Gaming ~500 Is it possible?!

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May 13, 2010 6:51:48 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE:
Looking to purchase everything in a month or or two, ultimately having the computer alive and kicking in early August when I move into the new pad.

BUDGET RANGE:
400-600 Before Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE :
The system is gonna be used for a theater and moderate gaming. In terms of theater, i want to be able to watch and burn bluray movies, be able to record TV shows (I am not gonna purchase cable so if anyone has any recommendations how to get the most programming aside from over the air channels that would be great.) The main priority in these terms is picture quality I guess.

For gaming, I would say the standard would be to play Starcraft 2 and Diablo 4 with ease when they come out, if it can handle these games well, I think it should cover any other gaming I would be getting into.

I also want to use this computer for 3-5 years. So having room for upgrading and a foundation that can support that would be important.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED:
keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, and graphics card(since this is a pretty substantial purchase, would not want it to be included in the total cost of the system)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg and frys

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA, I am from Texas.

PARTS PREFERENCES:
Ok this is where I am torn, I have such little knowledge compared to individuals on this board, I am hoping y'all can help me out here. I do not know whether to go with AMD or Intel. Apparently the i3 is a very solid all around processor with strong gaming benchmarks when compared with the phenom x4 065.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i3-gaming,2588...

but then again intel CPUs and motherboards seem to be a little bit more expensive. Howeva, I have read that the i3 is really good in overclocking(though i dont know much at all about OCing) it seems like that would help a year or two down the road if I need a little more juice.

I really am lost. There is soo much to consider, I don't think I would be able to cover all the bases by the time i have to make a decision. Which processors should I get and why?


OVERCLOCKING: Maybe, if I need it.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe, I want to be able to crossfire, it just sounds like a good idea. say i get a 1gb card now, and a year from now i want to up the system, instead of pouring in money into a new 2 gb card, and have to deal with selling my old card, I can just get another 1gb card(which would be really cheap) and have relatively comparable performance.

An issue I see with this is that I have to find a board that would be ready for crossfiring, which would cost more, and i dont know what other implications it would have.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: I will be getting a 1080p plasma or LED or sumn. so that would be my primary resolution I assume.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I appreciate the time and insight. I just found out about tomshardware about a month or so ago, and the amount of knowledge and expertise has truly been amazing. The non-bias perspective I am able to discern from the users here is truly commending, and is also the reason why I have come here for the advice I seek. So thanks in advance.

More about : build htpc gaming 500

a b 4 Gaming
May 13, 2010 7:07:17 PM

To start off, here are a couple of thoughts.

Thank you for starting with the new build formatting. :) 

The problem with the chart you linked is that it's percentage-based. If you go back and look at the actual fps numbers, you see that most of the results are within 1-3 fps of each other, which is probably not noticeable in real life.

The i3s are excellent HTPC processors, especially when using their integrated graphics, but they're not as awesome for full-on gaming machines, as most of the advantages of i3+H55 are nullified when you add on a discrete video card.

Another factor to consider with processors is that Starcraft 2 is reported to do better the more cores it has. While the i3s have hyperthreading, it's not the same as 4 physical cores.

Parts that you are including in $400-600 budget:
CPU, Mobo, RAM, HDD, PSU, Case, Blu-ray burner, TV tuner card

What is likely to cause problems is the Blu-ray burner. The cheapest one I'm aware of is $150, which is 1/4th of your top-end budget.

I'm afraid I don't have time for a full build at the moment, but at your budget, I would think that your best option is an AM3 build, 4GB RAM, a $55 500 GB hard drive, and spend about $100-150 on the case + PSU.

This should be doable at $600, but $400 is unlikely to produce satisfactory results.
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May 13, 2010 7:53:11 PM

coldsleep said:


The i3s are excellent HTPC processors, especially when using their integrated graphics, but they're not as awesome for full-on gaming machines, as most of the advantages of i3+H55 are nullified when you add on a discrete video card.

Another factor to consider with processors is that Starcraft 2 is reported to do better the more cores it has. While the i3s have hyperthreading, it's not the same as 4 physical cores.


Good point, this is the cheapest quad core processor on newegg and the reviews seem to be stellar. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I am just wondering about its gaming performance. and for 10$ more
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

coldsleep said:

Parts that you are including in $400-600 budget:
CPU, Mobo, RAM, HDD, PSU, Case, Blu-ray burner, TV tuner card

What is likely to cause problems is the Blu-ray burner. The cheapest one I'm aware of is $150, which is 1/4th of your top-end budget.


Now that I think about it, I don't need a bluray burner. Especially, at that price. Howeva, being able to play bluray is a must.


Thanks for the quick input Coldsleep, looks like I am starting to lean towards AMD.

Anyone else have any input on motherboard and CPUs?
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Related resources
May 15, 2010 5:38:29 AM

So I believe I have narrowed down my CPU and motherboard choices to 2 a piece.

The CPUs I am looking at are both athlon II x4s:

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

and

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

which one should I get? If I will be overclocking eventually would it matter?

In terms of the motherboards:

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

and

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

I think I am leaning towards the gigabyte motherboard because of its onboard video. Howeva, the Asus card actually says "Xtreme Design w/ CrossFireX" in red on the title, while the gigabyte card has no proclamation of being crossfire ready, even though apparently it is. Would it make a difference vs "crossfire approved" boards vs not? I dont know....

Now that that is out of the way.

I think the next aspect for me to focus on would be RAM and the hard drive. I have a 1 TB external harddrive which I will be using. So I am assuming a 250-500 gb HD will be good for internal and I will have that to allocate files when the internal drive is getting filled up. Any insight? For RAM it seems like most of the users on TH show confidence in Gskill and corsair.

If anyone has any recommendations that would be great. I will start looking at those and post what I conclude. I would love some feedback on the CPU/Motherboard combinations, especially with the crossfire issue. Thanks!
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a b 4 Gaming
May 15, 2010 1:24:46 PM

The sweet spot for HDDs right now is the 500GB. Go for a single platter drive, of which there are two on the market: Seagate 7200.12 and the Samsung F3

Single platter drives will be faster, quieter, and cooler.

If you can stretch your budget a bit, you may also want to consider an SSD like the Intel 40GB since you can store all of your media on your 1TB drive. SSD's are much faster, have zero noise, and stay way cooler than any mechanical drive but you'll pay a premium for it (the 40GB Intel is $60 more than the 500GB drives listed above).
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May 15, 2010 5:08:42 PM

rwpritchett said:
The sweet spot for HDDs right now is the 500GB. Go for a single platter drive, of which there are two on the market: Seagate 7200.12 and the Samsung F3

Single platter drives will be faster, quieter, and cooler.

If you can stretch your budget a bit, you may also want to consider an SSD like the Intel 40GB since you can store all of your media on your 1TB drive. SSD's are much faster, have zero noise, and stay way cooler than any mechanical drive but you'll pay a premium for it (the 40GB Intel is $60 more than the 500GB drives listed above).


Thanks for the response! Even with the 1TB, I think I want to go to with a 500gb. It will only be a matter of time till both of them will be full. This will be a HTPC, so I will be saving alot of movies and tv shows. Not only that but samsung is 55$ and throwing down 60$ more would more than double the resources I am allocating for a HD. I really like that samsung so I think I will be going with that, I appreciate the reference!
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a b 4 Gaming
May 15, 2010 5:15:55 PM

The Samsung F3 is a good choice for a mechanical drive. It can hit 140+ MB/s sequential read! :o 


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May 17, 2010 3:55:03 AM

ok update! I seem to have decided upon a CPU, HD, RAM and motherboard which are the following:

motherboard:
GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$120.00

CPU:
AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model ADX620WFGIBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$96

HD:
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$55

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...
$110

total thus far: $381.

Next step would the the a case and power supply. In terms of power supply I am trying to figure out how much I would need. I plan on eventually crossfiring 2 HD 4770s or a card somewhere round there. For the case, I would like a HTPC case but honestly whatever is the best product for hte best price. I would love some input on what kind of case and power supply. Would 500W be enough for what im doin? There are a few HTPC cases that come with a 500w supply, but i think thats the max for ones with a psu.

any input would be appreciateD!

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