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Need advice on mid-range HTPC - my first time

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June 16, 2010 6:24:00 PM

Hi Gurus,

I am planning to build my first HTPC, and I would appreciate any advice you can offer. Following the instructions on the *How To Ask For New Build Advice* thread, here are some guidelines.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: before June 30, 2010

BUDGET RANGE: less than AUD $2000, close to AUD $1000 would be nice, but not essential

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: storage for all my music, home videos and photos; backups of my DVD collection and CD collection; recording TV (free-to-air only as I refuse to pay for Foxtel)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I own a genuine copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, so I don't need to buy the OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Megabuy, but I'm open to suggestions (if not based in Australia, they must ship to Australia; unfortunately newegg.com don't ship internationally)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Australia

PARTS PREFERENCES: I have opted to go with an AMD based system because from what I have read they are a bit cheaper than Intel based systems, and are well suited to HTPCs. I have also opted for ATI chipset for the GPU because I have read that at the moment they are better than nVidia (but I could be wrong about that)

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: My TV is a full HD Panasonic Viera P50G10 with a resolution of 1920x1080.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Must be nice and quiet as it will be sitting in my lounge room

I have based much of my research on the Recommended Builds by Usage. Some of the parts listed under the HTPC build seem to be no longer available or are not available in Australia. I have compiled a price list of the recommended items, or where I couldn't find the exact item I have replaced it with what I think is an equivalent alternative. The total comes to about AUD $1280, which is pretty much what I would like to pay (although I am happy to pay a bit more if it gets me a significantly better system).

I decided to see what would happen if I replaced some of the items with components that were recommended for higher spec machines (ie: gaming). I figured that since the components under the HTPC build hadn't been updated for quite some time, perhaps I should look for newer or better components. I did a lot of searching on newegg.com because it has tons of reviews. After much searching and reading, here is my preferred list of components:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 945 AM3 3.0GHz - ($175.00)
MOBO: MSI 785G-E53 ATX 785G AM3 DDR3 - ($127.00)
RAM: Corsair TW3X4G1333C9A 4GB (2x XMS3 2GB) PC-10600 - ($160.00)
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 5570, 1024MB - ($115.00)
HDD (OS): Seagate SATAII 500GB 16m Cache(ST3500418AS) - ($70.00)
HDD (Storage): Samsung 1TB Spinpoint F3 SATA II 7200RPM 32M - ($99.00)
PSU: Corsair HX-650 ATX Power Supply, 120mm fan - ($150.00)
DVD: LG RETAIL CH08LS10 BLURAY COMBO - ($160.00)
Case: Thermaltake DH 101 (with Media Lab) - ($263.00)
Tuner: Hauppauge WinTV HVR 2200 - ($190.00)

It is a bit more expensive than the recommended build - it comes to just over AUD $1500. Most of that difference is in the case - I really like the look of the Thermaltake DH101 and it gets good reviews.

My Questions:

1. Is my preferred build going to give me a substantially better system than the HTPC build on the Recommended Builds by Usage thread
2. I have seen some videos of the Drobo in action, and it looks awesome. I am thinking of only having a single HDD in the case for the OS, and using a Drobo for all storage. Can anyone suggest whether this is a good option or not? Is the Drobo noisy? If I went with several storage disks inside the case, how easy is it to set up RAID?
3. Is the DVD player I have selected a good option for the Thermaltake case? If not, can someone recommend a better alternative?
4. I have a Logitech Harmony One remote control. Do I need anything else to control the HTPC? Should I also get a wireless keyboard/mouse? Any recommendations?
5. Have I chosen good components for my preferred build, or are there better options? Also, are there any glaring incompatibilities?
6. Is there a better (ie: cheaper) site than Megabuy which will ship to Australia? I don't mind buying from overseas, although I do want to buy from a reputable site.

Thanks in advance for any and all assistance,

Cheers,

Paul
June 17, 2010 6:33:08 AM

I should add that I want the TV Tuner card to be a dual tuner. Should I be getting the Hauppauge 1700?
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June 17, 2010 12:19:34 PM

You don't need a dedicated video card for a HTPC, the integrated graphics on the mobo is fine.

http://www.megabuy.com.au/gigabyte-ga-890gpa-ud3h-mb-p1...

That PSU is overkill but it's modular. There's a great need for less powerful modular PSUs for the HTPC IMO. The CPU is overkill as well and an aftermarket CPU heatsink would be nice.



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