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My first HTPC, budget plus

Last response: in Systems
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July 11, 2010 8:30:12 AM

I am planning on cutting the Cable and I think the HTPC is the way to go.
I've read a bunch of questions and the options seem endless!

So, here's my project, hope you can help me.

Approximate purchase date: Starting in a few days

Budget range: $300-$400 usd for the mobo, cpu and case with PSU

System usage from most to least important:
1- play 1080p mkv and Blu-Ray (player and backed-up) movies from attached storage (USB, Firewire and network) with HD audio on XBMC
2- BitTorrent client on the background
3- HD Flash
4- Light browsing, RSS feeds, etc.

Parts not required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, wi-fi, external storage

Country of origin: Mexico

Preferred websites: None, as Newegg and Amazon won't ship to Mexico. I would most likely search for the parts locally or Ebay.

Parts preferences: Gigabyte and AMD, seem like a good match and are easy to find here, but I will take other brands into consideration.
I like this mobo: Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H

Overclocking: no

SLI or Crossfire: only in necessary

Monitor resolution: 32" Sony Bravia EX700 (1080p) and if there is any difference, a future upgrade to a 55 or 60 inch HDTV.

Additional comments:
- Silent or very, very quiet operation, if this means more RAM or a better CPU, then please note so.
- Nice, slim case, no leds or extra lights, plain is good. Micro-ATX for sure.
- I want to run XBMC on Ubuntu, but I am not familiar with drivers availability to take advantage of every output on the mobo, any experiences with Ubuntu?
- I would consider going the Hackintosh way, but drivers would be the main concern here.
- I would like to run the OS and XBMC on a USB flashdrive (in the near future on a SSD) and the media in external drives (USB, Firewire, network) and eventually on a NAS.
- I insist on the XBMC because it seems pretty demanding. My MacBook Pro (15 inch, 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo "Merom", 3GB RAM, ATI Mobility Radeon X1600), usually silent, turns on the fans all the time XBMC is running but quiets down when playing a movie. Go figure.
- Remote: something that works with XBMC, I haven't thought much about this.
- I've noticed on other post a "modular" PSU and seems to be external, am I right? if so, then yes please :-) I like the idea, less space and less heat.
- Although a budget set up, I need some future-proof. I like the Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H because it has USB 3 and 6 GB SATA, support for 16 GB of RAM and a very attractive price tag, all of which, seem to me (I might be wrong), make it a good investment to upgrade nicely in the future.
- Future addon: DVR, TV tuner (don't go into details for these, mentioned only for CPU specs and assume it's all HD)
Thank you

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July 11, 2010 9:06:34 AM

Ubuntu may not support that new MB just yet. You had best confirm that before buying.

I think you are refering to a Pico-PSU, similar to what would be in a laptop. You will need more power than that, but you can and should get a quiet PSU.

Here are a few suggestions from newegg for you to consider:

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

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

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

Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Not an overclocker, just a quiet low-profile cooler



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July 12, 2010 5:17:06 AM

Thank you Proximon.
The case has 3 fans and you are recommending another one, does this means that this set up heats up a lot?
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July 12, 2010 6:44:51 AM

Not at all. However, the more fans you have the slower they can spin. So more fans can mean less noise.

I did refer you to a triple-core CPU, just for longevity. It can also help with the whole "torrent in the background" thing. Anytime you add cores you are adding heat... a quad will be a bit hotter than a dual core.

I chose the case because of the clues I had regarding aesthetics... Silverstone makes some nice looking but simple cases... I use this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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July 15, 2010 7:39:05 PM

Best answer selected by transistor.
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