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Need help with HTPC decision

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August 7, 2010 4:26:13 PM

So I'm assembling my first HTPC setup, and I've narrowed my choices down to two options. I'd like to know what the tom's community thinks. My budget is whatever, but I'd like to not waste money. My requirements (mostly in order of importance) are:
  • HDMI output to TV
  • Netflix streaming
  • TV Recording
  • Ripped/Recorded DVD/BD/TV playback
  • Lots of media storage
  • Console Emulators (NES, SNES, Genesis, possibly MAME, N64, PSX) + 4 USB Gamepads
  • Small footprint
  • HD Hulu

    So, with that in mind, here's what I've narrowed it down to:

    Storage:
    Mediasonic HF2-SU2S2 3.5" Black USB2.0 & eSATA Pro Box 4 Bay Enclosure - $110
    Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2TB - $120 (Already own)

    Recording:
    SiliconDust HDHomeRun Network-based Dual Digital HDTV Tuner - $90 from Woot (Already own)

    Accessories:
    2x Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 - $62
    Ultra Aluminus 4 Port Powered USB Hub - $20

    Tower:
    Jetway JBC600C99-52W-B - $270
    RAM/HDD Combo - $125
    --WD Scorpio Blue WD3200BEVT 320GB 5400 RPM 2.5"
    --G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800

    Total Cost: $797

    Future Upgrades:
    2x Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2TB - $240
    2x Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 - $62

    Future Upgrade Cost: $302

    Important Specs:
  • Atom D525 (1.8Ghz)
  • Ion 2 video
  • 4GB Dual Channel DDR 800

    Will this be good enough to run N64/PSX emulators? What about full screen flash video?
  • More about : htpc decision

    Best solution

    August 7, 2010 5:39:12 PM

    The Zotac is a barebones (no OS) while the Asus is a complete setup so there goes another $100 towards the Zotac unless you plan to use linux.

    IMO, the Asus is the better setup. I've never used an Ion setup, but some newegg reviews for the Zotac say it can't handle netflix HD very well. Can the Asus? I don't know but you should look into those complaints if netflix or hulu is important.

    Sorry to add to the confusion, but there is also the nearly released Dell Zino HD 410 which has several AMD processors available that have more muscle than the Intel Atom, though it is a little bigger than your two original choices. Read about it here. No word on pricing though. :( 

    Edit- I see that newegg has bundled the Zotac with Win7 Home Premium 32-bit for a $40 discount. So I guess the OS will only add $60 to the Zotac.
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    August 9, 2010 3:07:33 PM

    I looked into the Zino HD 410, and it looks okay. It's a little bigger than I'd like, but that's not a deal breaker. There's not a lot of info out yet that I could find, but I'll keep it in mind. I'll probably buy in the next month or so, so if it's not at least solidified by then, then I'll have to pass on the Zino.

    I forgot to mention, but I don't need an OS. I haven't decided between Linux and Windows, but I've got a full MSDN subscription, so they're both free for me.

    And finally, I replaced my Zotac with a Jetway that has the Atom D525 to take that difference out of the equation. It puts the prices closer to each other, but at this point, I'm not seeing any reason to go with the Asus. *removed*

    I also added 2GB of ram since the Jetway has an extra slot for it.
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    August 20, 2010 12:15:35 PM

    Best answer selected by Kanenfawder.
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