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First time build - HTPC - movies/shows only - $500?

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Last response: in Systems
May 21, 2010 9:22:55 PM

So I'm very interested in this HTPC scene and have enough movies/nice enough TV to justify it. Eventually, I see myself cancelling my satellite all together. Anyway, I'd like to build a HTPC to watch movies and watch TV shows. I have no real desire at this time to use it for anything else. That being said...


BUDGET RANGE: 500 (not firm) - I'd prefer to stay away from rebates


PARTS NOT REQUIRED: monitor, keyboard, mouse






ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: A quiet HTPC would be great!

As this will be my first HTPC build (and first comp build all together), I have no preference on parts. I simply don't know what is good/better/best. I will leave that in your capable hands. I read enough of these forums to know I'm not as versed in this stuff as the vast majority of the readers/posters. I've been reading these forums for a couple of years off and on and am finally ready to "bite the bullet," as it were, and try my hand at a build. I only put $500 because I didn't know what else to put. If I don't need to spend $500 to stream HD movies/show, great! If I need to spend a bit more, I'm ok with that too.

Please let me know if further information is required to assist. Thanks!

I sense a "cool software to have for your HTPC" thread in the future.

More about : time build htpc movies shows 500

May 21, 2010 9:33:33 PM

What type of content are you hoping to record? Current TV tuner cards only work well for recording OTA content without extras like an IR blaster or cable card. Do you want the ability for the system to play Blu-ray disks?

This build is considerably over $500, but would be an excellent HTPC:

Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz 4MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor

ASUS P7H55-M PRO LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard $209.98 (CPU + motherboard combo)

Antec Black M FusionRemote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case $99.99

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK $108.99

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $89.99

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner 1213 PCI-Express x1 Interface $123.99

LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader Model iHOS104-08 $64.99

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM $99.99

Total - $797.92

I use the Media Center software built in to Windows 7 for my HTPC and have been very happy with the results. I don't really see a reason to use anything different.
May 21, 2010 9:40:28 PM

I have a WinTV-HVR-1600 that is one of my other computers. I hardly ever use it, so I suppose I could put it in this build. Would that card suffice, or should I go with the 2250? I also have a Blu-ray player, but I like the idea of this build having one. Then I could move my current Blu-ray player to my bedroom. Good call!
Related resources
May 21, 2010 9:47:02 PM

I have both a HVR-1600 and a HVR-2250 in my HTPC. The HVR-1600 is a hybrid tuner which means it can only record one analog and one digital channel at the same time. The HVR-2250 has a true dual tuner. Its tuners can be used to record either two analog or two digital channels at the same time.
May 22, 2010 2:04:07 PM

To help meet your ~$500 budget, you can go with shorty's list with the following adjustments:

Save $124: Just use the HVR-1600 you already have, only watch/record one channel at a time
or save $66: Go with the AverMedia A188 Duet (a dual QAM/ATSC tuner, if you don't need the NTSC)

Save $80: Drop to an AMD combo with an Athlon II X2 250 and Asus 785G motherboard ($130)

Save $22: Purchase a license for Windows 7 Home Premium here and download the W7HP x64 disc iso from here

Save $45: Drop to a DVD drive

P.S. Isn't it about time Tom's had an HTPC specific forum section?
May 22, 2010 2:09:54 PM

Extra note on blu-ray:

If you decide to go with a BD drive, keep room in your budget for playback software as Windows 7MC can't play blu-rays natively. Look at TotalMedia Theatre 3 Platinum, PowerDVD 10, or WinDVD Pro. Some BD drives come with a copy of PowerDVD but it is a limited copy that does not have surround sound, although some retail versions come with a fully functional version of playback software.
May 23, 2010 8:08:43 PM

Great inputs! Thanks everyone. I like the idea of getting a BD drive. And I think I'll stick with my HVR-1600. I have a harmony 900, so I'm excited about the case (thanks shortstuff). I suppose the only "decision" I have to make is between the 2 suggested mobo combos. I don't mind spending the extra money, but it would be nice to "see" where that money went, i.e. am I going to notice a difference if I go with the Intel combo as opposed to the AMD combo? So keeping in mind the sole reason I'm getting this thing (watching movies/TV shows), I wouldn't mind hearing some arguments (for and against) on the 2 combos. Is it strictly a preference, or will the difference in performance be noticeable?

And yes, an HTPC-specific forum would be great! Thanks again for all the help.
May 23, 2010 9:13:47 PM

The only difference that matters is whether or not you have, or intend to upgrade to in the future, a receiver that is capable of HD audio. The Intel can bitstream HD audio tracks from blu-rays while the AMD setup is limited to Dolby Digital and DTS (the same audio you get on DVDs). The AMD motherboard can be upgraded with a discreet video card from the HD5xxx series that will allow it to bitstream HD audio, but that will add to the price.

Since you are looking at going blu-ray, the Intel may be the better option. If you plan to game at all on this HTPC, then AMD would be the better option because you would have to buy a video card for gaming anyway.
May 23, 2010 10:32:46 PM

Ok then, I think that about seals it. I won't be gaming on my HTPC. Never could quite get into it, and since I have a HD audio capable receiver, I'll go with the Intel. shortstuff... rwpritchett, you both have been extremely helpful. Time to buy my HTPC. Thanks again!
May 24, 2010 2:31:56 PM

Good luck with the build! Let us know how it works out.
May 24, 2010 3:04:12 PM

You are going to need a PSU too =P

I would recommend one of the new Green Antec Earthwatts power supplies. Also, I would suggest the new G.Skill ECO RAM, as it runs at a lower voltage which reduces heat, and while the power consumption is marginally lower, for something like an HTPC, every little helps.
May 25, 2010 6:42:13 PM

Is the 350 Watt power supply included in the case not enough?
May 25, 2010 6:48:19 PM

Ah I did not realize that case included a PSU, thats plenty of wattage.
May 25, 2010 6:51:52 PM

Plus that case cannot accept standard size PSU's.
May 25, 2010 6:54:58 PM

Whew! I think my wife may have blown a gasket had I told her I needed more.
May 25, 2010 7:06:41 PM

Ah yes, the W.A.F. is important.

What's your total $$$ up to now?

If you need some setup and/or software tips, come back or PM one of the HTPC regulars.
May 25, 2010 8:07:24 PM

I'm up to $613. Unfortunately, shipping to Hawaii is about $116 (so about $729 total).

When I was toying with the idea of purchasing a HTPC, I placed my current computer in my "entertainment cabinet." I noticed I was unable to get any reception with my wireless card, so I've added an Antenna Wireless Adapter. The 1TB isn't available right now, and to cite a Chuck Norris quote... "Chuck Norris doesn't like to wait. He could care less if patience is a virtue." That's a little how I feel about this build, so I've upgraded to a 1.5 TB Seagate Barracuda for $10 more.

Do these upgrades/additions seem ok?
May 25, 2010 10:56:56 PM

Fair enough. I'll stick with the Samsung F3 from a different e-tailer. I was trying to order it all from one place, but I suppose that doesn't really matter. Perhaps it was just my OCD kicking in.

Ok, so here are the final specs:

ASUS P7H55-M PRO Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i3-530 2.93GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
Samsung Spinpoint F3 3.5in 1TB SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive
LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader SATA Model iHOS104-08
Antec Black M FusionRemote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
Rosewill RNX-N180UBE IEEE 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Antenna Wireless Adapter

My wallet is out. Any last minute thoughts before I press the infamous "BUY NOW" button?
May 25, 2010 11:05:14 PM

I only see one problem with the build. I forgot to mention it earlier. The case only accepts low-profile cards. Your HVR-1600 won't fit. :(  The HVR-2250 will, but I don't know how the wife will like going that far over budget.
May 25, 2010 11:29:45 PM

No worries. I'll keep it in my current comp. I don't really use it all that much anyway. I certainly won't miss it. Oh, and Win7 was my first purchase.

Any other last minute catches?