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
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.
- 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)
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.