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New HTPC/slight Gaming build... input welcome!

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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 1:33:57 AM

Here's what I have:
-Apex DM-387 MATX Black Micro Case
http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
-Patriot G 4096MB DDR2 800MHz
http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
-ASUS M4A785-M AMD 785G Socket AM3
http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
-AMD Athlon II X2 250 3Ghz 2MB AM3 CPU
http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
-WD Caviar 500GB Serial ATA HD 7200/16MB/SATA-3G
-Sony AD-7240S-0B Optiarc DVDRW

The case speaks for itself. It's a gorgeous and very sleek looking, with affordability in mind.

I went with the M4A785-M since it was a SMOKIN' deal on a very versatile mobo. I plan on using the Hybrid Crossfire tech to upgrade it later. I possibly may go quad core as well, later in the future.

The Athlon II X2 3ghz is quite an upgrade from my laptop's T7200 2ghz (Core 2 Duo). My current Inspiron E1505 has suited me well for the last 4 years or so. I also went with recommendations from this site to go with the 250 vs the 240 or 245, so I did.

What do you think? I know for standard computing it's just fine. Only gaming I plan on doing is playing Starcraft 2 (which I've waited 12 years to play lol) and possibly hop-on and see how WoW has changed over the last year or so.

I know "a few more bucks could get you...", but, I am trying to be as... hmmmm... cost-efficient as possible LOL!

Hit me back with thoughts folks!
-James

EDIT: Added links :) 
a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 1:56:26 AM

Hello jaydoubledub;
I like the parts you've chosen. Overall excellent choices.
But there might be an issue in your plan to use those parts to run SC2. And it's the video card (even with Hybrid Graphics).
The HD 4200 will run SC2 but what is your goal for graphics settings -medium? high? Will be your happy with the game running on low settings?
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:14:30 AM

Also the specific graphics cards you have to use to enable hybrid crossfire is not good enough. I'd suggest getting a HD 5570 at the least.

Why circuit city.com for parts?

Besides that, I'd personally go ebay for this. You'd get that much RAM for more like $30-50, a mobo for $30-50 and a 4200+ x2 Athlon 64 or higher for $30-50. That difference should give you enough for the graphics. Alternatively just the mobo and RAM from ebay and still get a new CPU, you'd just have to make sure the mobo is compatible with the CPU you wanna use. Or any other combination.
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:15:40 AM

As far as I know for HD 4200 hybrid graphics you're limited to a HD 4350 video card. Not what you'd want for SC2 on medium.
I think we're going to run into another limit on what video card you can use with the case's included 275watt PSU.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:19:00 AM

I think the 5570 should be able to fit into that power envelope. I think it comes with a slim profile bracket too.
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:21:15 AM

What monitor resolution will you be using?
This SC2 benchmark for 1680x1050 (22" LCD) shows you what's needed for max quality graphics
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:26:34 AM

A 5570 would fit in that PSU's power budget. So would a 9600GT and a 5670.
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:27:39 AM

I went with retail, since it comes with mfgr and optional extended warranties. I was thinking eBay, but, went against it.
The PS was something I was thinking about as well. I think I may upgrade to a 400-500w also. For that I will probably be going to Frys, with my blinders on :) 

Oh, and the hybrid... I thought that was with any Crossfire card, but, simply disables the onboard GPU?

Also, thanks for the rec on the 5570. It looks super sweet!
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:28:29 AM

The monitor will be my HDTV.... ummmm... 42" lol
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:31:40 AM

That 9600GT was something I skimmed past a few times recently... I drooled a little, I won't lie :) 
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:42:54 AM

Quote:
Oh, and the hybrid... I thought that was with any Crossfire card, but, simply disables the onboard GPU?
Hybrid Crossfile would let the HD 4200 IGP work with a HD 4350 in CF. It's just the range or Hybrid Crossfire choices are very limited, as in no HD 4200/HD 4650.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 3:40:29 AM

$390AR?
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August 9, 2010 6:54:35 AM

If you go with your original case, it only has a 275w PSU.

Do not, I repeat do not, install a 9600 GT.




http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/gf-gt240...


Your best bet is the HD 5670 which consumes just under 30w under full load. Generally speaking it's performance is about 25% better than the HD 4670.




http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/radeon-h...


Also don't bother wasting money on the 1GB version of the HD 5670 since the performance increase is so small, it will not be noticeable.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/axle-rad...


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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 7:05:28 AM

awesome... good info! Looks like a PS upgrade is definitely in order
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August 9, 2010 7:43:59 AM

Which video card are you looking at?

The 9600GT performs a little better than the HD 4670; 10% - 15% perhaps. As stated before, the HD 5670 is roughly 25% better than the HD 4670 so it is better than the 9600GT.

For better performance, consider the HD 5750 or HD 5770. They have come down in price a little. You should be able to pickup a HD 5750 for around $120 - $125 or a HD 5770 for about $140 - $145 after a rebate. You just need to wait for sales / rebates to pop up.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 8:46:57 AM

I was more asking why that site in particular. It's not one I would particularly think of to go to for component level stuff.

You still can RMA stuff to a manufacturer after something like ebay, you just don't have the 30 days return to store thing. As long as the guy sending the part isn't stupid it should survive shipping just fine, and since it is used you know it will work since it has been for however long they've had it. The only real worry would be the possibility of them lying about their item, but nobody really gets away with that without negative feedback and then paypal taking back the money.

I've bought and sold many a time random parts, it's worked like a charm every time. A few times I sell something for more than I originally paid for it which is always funny.

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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 12:03:07 PM

Are you still looking at that Apex DM-387 Computer case?
If so the full height HD 5670s jaguarskx is recommending won't fit. I haven't seen any low profile 5750s or 5770s either.
There are low profile HD 5570s out but they fall behind in performance to a 9600GT.

And I think jaguarskx's HD 5670 power requirement chart might be off a bit. Latest I've seen is that the HD 5670 and 9600GT consume nearly the same amount of power.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5670,2533...
http://www.techspot.com/review/240-ati-radeon-hd-5670/p...


In terms of SC2 performance the 9600GT is roughly equal to, or just a bit better than the HD 5670:
THG Medium: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/blizzard-entertainm...
THG Ultra: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/blizzard-entertainm...
Techspot SC2 review
Medium: http://www.techspot.com/review/305-starcraft2-performan...
Hight: http://www.techspot.com/review/305-starcraft2-performan...
Ultra: http://www.techspot.com/review/305-starcraft2-performan...

THG is saying that "StarCraft II recommends the ultra texture resolution for graphics cards with 1GB of video RAM and the high texture resolution setting for cards with 512MB of video RAM."
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/blizzard-entertainm...
But they also go on to say "As you can see, most folks with a 512MB graphics card can use the ultra texture resolution without concern. There is a slight performance hit at resolutions of 1920x1200 and higher, but it isn't significant enough to negatively affect gameplay."
So if you have a choice of 512MB or 1GB video cards and the price differential isn't significant to you, you can feel comfortable choosing either one.
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 12:38:41 PM

There are some low profile GT 240s available: eVGA GeForce GT240 512MB $80 and $30 rebate
It looks like they're doing really well in SC2 and that is a really nice price.

And there is supposed to be a HD 5670 low profile on it's way to market but I didn't find anywhere it was available for sale: MSI R5670-PD512 HD 5670 low profile
It kinda looks like it might be wider than the usual single slot video card.



And if you do opt for a more powerful TFX PSU there are some 9800GT low profile cards: SPARKLE GeForce 9800 GT
This is also a wider than single slot video card.
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:07:10 PM

A quick look at some TFX PSUs and a 2nd cup of coffee turned up a bit of a surprise.
If this APEX SL-275TFX 275W TFX12V Power Supply is the same PSU in the Apex DM-387 case, and I think it is, it's a bit weak on +12v power even for a 275w PSU. And it didnt have very good NewEgg customer reviews. The data label shows 16amps +12V.

EVGA recommends a 300W PSU with 16amps +12V for it's basic 9600GT. Which means this PSU could run a 9600GT but I don't think anyone in the forum would say it's a good idea (and a lot would phrase it different than that). It would tax the PSU to the limit which isn't a 'good thing'.

Compare that to a SeaSonic SS-300TFX Bronze 300W TFX12V v2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE Power Supply
It has 21Amps +12v. Thats 252watts divided by 12 watts - and not 18Amps + 18Amps the data plate might suggest.
Link to data plate picture

I thought I had a lead on a TFX Shuttle PC55 450W PSU but when I compared the size to a standard TFX PSU I was left wondering if it might fit - or not. Also not a good thing.
Shuttle PC55 450W PSU: 150 x 86 x 83 mm
SeaSonic SS-300TFX PSU: 175 x 85 x 70 mm
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 2:41:54 PM

Seasonic SS-300TFX Power Supply Review @ Hardware Secrets. Now this is the kind of independent review we like to see if we're recommending specific parts.

That low power low profile 9600GT I linked has a surprise on it's website. A recommendation for a 350W PSU with a 12v current rating of 26Amps.
Galaxy 96GFF6VIFCXU GeForce 9600 GT 512MB webpage
I looked at five or six 9600GT reviews and used the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Lite v2.5 to convince myself they're using an overly conservative recommendation.




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a b B Homebuilt system
August 9, 2010 4:01:16 PM

With that info I'd say to go with a different case than deal with this more rare, and expensive, power size. My HTPC is in a Elite 360 case and it takes normal ATX mobos along with normal ATX power supplies. It even manages to pull it off in a smaller form factor than the majority of cases.
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 4:33:25 PM

Okay wow, that is a ton of info.
So, the thread is my original post, but, I cannot get the account verification email for this forum. I just made a new account with a different email. anyways....

I put my system together last night and have it up and running Vista Premium, 32 bit. windows experience is getting lagged from the IGP. That kind of is a bummer, but, I am going through all of you GPU suggestions right now.

I prefer to stick with a crossfire card. This is mainly because if ATI doesn't come out with better Hybrid Crossfire cards, then at least I can find good XF cards and (hopefully) find a mATX mobo with full XF support.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 5:49:24 PM

A full crossfire setup? Not in that case. Especially not with that power supply.

But most stuff you would want to do that with would be dual slot which wouldn't fit physically in the case.
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 10:49:47 PM

I dunno, I've actually seen Intel mATX mobo's with full Crossfire. So I know they're out there. I like the case that I have and plan on sticking with it for a while. I don't mind upgrading the PSU. I expect to, when I install whichever GPU I go with. I am heading out to the field tomorrow, but, when I get back I plan on testing out SC2. THAT will be the deciding factor lol

Anyways, here's a pic of the setup and how I want the look to be..
http://www.mediafire.com/?eeqsn52bkrivk6d

I love the footprint and it's very sleek looking. Oh, and I'm still setting up/cleaning up cables sooo yeeeah...
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 10:50:30 PM

WR2 said:
There are some low profile GT 240s available: eVGA GeForce GT240 512MB $80 and $30 rebate
It looks like they're doing really well in SC2 and that is a really nice price.

And there is supposed to be a HD 5670 low profile on it's way to market but I didn't find anywhere it was available for sale: MSI R5670-PD512 HD 5670 low profile
It kinda looks like it might be wider than the usual single slot video card.
http://eu.msi.com/uploads/5_pictures/five_pictures5_20100720172329.jpg


And if you do opt for a more powerful TFX PSU there are some 9800GT low profile cards: SPARKLE GeForce 9800 GT
This is also a wider than single slot video card.


I totally reviewed that card And i really like it!
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 12, 2010 10:52:48 PM

...yeah I really need to cleanup the cables lol
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2010 10:51:23 PM

I had a lot of hope for Hybrid Crossfire early on. I was thinking at least you'd have the option of the big GPU powering down when not needed and then the hybrid boost when doing some thing 3D like gaming. It just never worked out since the only cards that work with Hybrid CF aren't ones you'd pick for anything other than very light gaming.

The best hybrid CrossfireX combo (HD 4250 + HD 4350) cant touch the 3D gaming performance of even a HD 4550 let alone a HD 4650 or better GPUs.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 13, 2010 10:55:09 PM

Like some laptops do with their IGP and discrete cards? That could be cool I suppose.
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2010 1:01:56 AM

Okay, new mobo incomming!
Check this out...
http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/searchtools/ite...
and I can still upgrade GPU to full crossfire and I believe an SLI combo.
I also can keep my memory, CPU, and all other stuff.
What do you think?
What type of PSU upgrade should I go with??
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2010 1:39:25 AM

Not SLI only crossfire.

You've got a sort of specialty size PSU in that thing. The biggest they come in is 300 watt. I don't think there are two cards with crossfire that you'd want to bother crossfiring that can fit in that power size. That's why I said to go with a diff case.
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August 15, 2010 4:50:21 AM

Yeah... I'm getting really tired of having to re-register every 48 hours.... Where's my confirmation email????

ANYWAYS, I really like the case I picked, but, the PSU thing seems like it is going to end up being an issue. I planned on changing the case, when I upgrade/add more GPUs. I just haven't found one that I really like yet.

I know this is a noob question, but, how do i go about calculating power reqs for the entire system?
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a c 90 B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2010 1:20:55 PM

Looks like a pretty nice motherboard. MSI 890GXM-G65 review

There are ALWAYS issues with small form factor (SFF) builds. Like heat build up in OC'd CPUs and use of gaming video cards with weak PSUs.

There are online 'PSU calculators' that let you get a rough idea of what size PSU is appropriate by plugging in your individual parts you'll be using. It's not the easiest thing to understand, some of those options aren't all that clear or easy to understand what the categories mean. It's still better than using a dart board like some people seem to do.
Of course it's a generic recommendation, and you have to consider other factors such as PSU quality too.
In larger desktop builds we can just toss a larger than required PSU at a problem build to cover some unknown or unusual condition. Not an option for a lot of SFF builds.

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August 15, 2010 5:18:57 PM

Awesome! Thanks WR2!
I used that calculator and went a bit overboard with specs. Meaning that I put "high-end desktop" for mobo. And I even put 6 USB devices (I don't even have 6 usb devices lol). For my GPU I used Radeon HD 4650, with Crossfire selected. That and all the other selections made the minimum at 252w and rec'd at 307w.
.......
Ah, I see what everyone was talking about power now.... I plugged in a QuadCore setup, with some HD5750's (XF) and rec PSU was above 400w. Something like that setup is what I wanna work up to, eventually.

Thanks again for the info. I see now that I am not a "Rig Master" yet. hahaha!
Onward with the case search!
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2010 5:44:25 PM

Do you already have that case? If not I'd say to find a case that can fit all the space, temperature and power requirements of what you need to do eventually. Instead of replacing power supplies and whatnot.
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August 15, 2010 7:13:51 PM

Yeah, I already have the case. I am kinda thinking along the same lines as you are. I am trying to plan ahead so I don't have a huge hassle to deal with later on.
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August 16, 2010 12:25:04 AM

I've seen that case before. Its a bit bigger than I expected. I like how much airflow it has though. I think it is sold at Fry's. I will probably check it out again when I get back Tuesday.
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August 16, 2010 1:01:03 AM

btw the r101-p-bk and the r102-p-bk have the same metal body. the only difference is that the 102 has a different front.
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August 17, 2010 6:24:43 AM

hmmm thanks for the 411 shovenose!
I looked at it and yea, it has a lot of cooling lol... I am just really looking for something a little more modern. I think that's the right word. Like, something discrete and not so "traditional" computer looking ya know?
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August 17, 2010 6:26:31 AM

WR2 said:
I had a lot of hope for Hybrid Crossfire early on. I was thinking at least you'd have the option of the big GPU powering down when not needed and then the hybrid boost when doing some thing 3D like gaming. It just never worked out since the only cards that work with Hybrid CF aren't ones you'd pick for anything other than very light gaming.

The best hybrid CrossfireX combo (HD 4250 + HD 4350) cant touch the 3D gaming performance of even a HD 4550 let alone a HD 4650 or better GPUs.


Yeah I totally changed my mobo. I looked into what you said and I was a little bummed. you're dead on though! I found a NICE AMD mobo with full crossfire support though and now it's a case race for the best one to fit the look that I want.
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August 17, 2010 6:33:09 AM

False_Dmitry_II said:
I was more asking why that site in particular. It's not one I would particularly think of to go to for component level stuff.

You still can RMA stuff to a manufacturer after something like ebay, you just don't have the 30 days return to store thing. As long as the guy sending the part isn't stupid it should survive shipping just fine, and since it is used you know it will work since it has been for however long they've had it. The only real worry would be the possibility of them lying about their item, but nobody really gets away with that without negative feedback and then paypal taking back the money.

I've bought and sold many a time random parts, it's worked like a charm every time. A few times I sell something for more than I originally paid for it which is always funny.

HAHA! now that's fresh! I am on the prowl for GPU's now. I'm almost to the end on my case hunt and the next, impatient thing to do is look for GPU's. Ultimately, I am leaning towards a pair of 5750's..... I think I can give Ebay a quick gander.
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August 17, 2010 6:14:54 PM

Okay, here’s the setup:

CPU-http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
Mobo-http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
Mem (4gigs for mow)- http://www.circuitcity.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
Case- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU- http://www.coolermaster.com/product.php?product_id=3738

GPU- I haven’t purchased my additional GPU card(s) yet, but, I want to eventually have a pair of HD5750’s or at least HD5570’s in the box.

I ended up getting the cube case for the airflow, PSU, and ventilation.
I also have 1 internal DVDRW drive and another external. I plan on making the external into a second internal drive. I’m also planning on putting a TV/Cable tuner in the system. If space doesn’t permit then I will use a USB tuner.

So, whaddya think?

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August 17, 2010 8:24:42 PM

Hmm... yeah I have actually lol. I'm actually playing MW2, while I wait for my mobo
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August 17, 2010 8:31:23 PM

I briefly read the review while in Fry's, on the way home. I decided on this one because I could easily just go to Fry's and replace it if it's bad. That and I was going for the name as well :-/
I'm not too concerned about the wattage, at the moment. Only as long as it's stable until I upgrade the GPU and, in-turn, the PSU.
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August 17, 2010 9:45:55 PM

Yeah! Mobo just came in! About time UPS! haha!
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!