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Budget HTPC with room to grow

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Last response: in Systems
August 16, 2010 4:38:39 AM

So, I put my slimline HP PC in an entertainment center and fried the thing. The video started to perform very poorly, so I think I fried the CPU or possible the video card. The fan got really loud, so I think it was the CPU. The next day, the power supply went out. The good news is, I think I still have quite a few usable parts.

The computer was a slimline s3430f:

It had a good run...

I bought a couple of fans. I'm going to cut 2 holes in the back of the entertainment center to get some ventilation to the entertainment center.

I am hoping to reuse the Blu-ray drive, video card, capture card, mouse/keyboard that I already own.


BUDGET RANGE: $600 After Rebates. If this has to budge, it is ok. My wife feels super guilty for buying the entertainment center.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Watching movies, Blu-Ray, HD MKV files, expandibility

PARTS Already owned:
Blu-Ray drive (SATA)
Video Card PCIe GeForce 8500GT w/256 MB GDDR3 memory (should i keep this)
Tuner Card PCIe
Win7 Ultimate
Samsung 46 inch LCD TV 1080P
wireless mouse and keyboard

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg or microcenter


Case - Antec New Solution NSK2480 Black/Silver 0.8mm cold-rolled steel MicroATX Desktop Computer Case 380W Power Supply $120 thoughts?
MOBO - USB 3. I don't want to skimp because on this because if I want to upgrade in the future, I can a part at a time if I have a nice MOBO. I7 support would be good.
CPU-According to a recent article on this site, the i3 is the most efficient.
Harddrive - 1TB+ for video files. Cool would be good, possibly 2 HD, one at 7200 or solid state for OS, 5400 for video files. This may not be possible now given my budget and I may just keep the SATA 7200 500GB Hard Drive in the HP Slimline.
Fans/heatsink - quite but effective.
SD card reader accessible from the front.
USB accessible from the front

OVERCLOCKING: No - since heat is an issue, i want to keep this as cool as a cucumber

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Doubtful. Not at this time.


Don't want to get burned again.
Optical of coax digital sound out
Any other suggestion of a possibly better case would be appreciated. This is going into a entertainment center, so i want a desktop type case.
Doesn't need to be super powerful, as I am not a gamer.
Might do video encoding every now and then.
quiet would be nice

More about : budget htpc room grow

Best solution

August 16, 2010 5:18:41 AM

nmedia pc has some nice budget cases you may want to take a look at. I think $120 is kinda high with no lcd display, however I am a fan of antec and you can be assured of quality and quiet operation.
nmedia page:

That video card is not bad, but for future proofing I would look at an HD 5570. This includes support for the latest hi def audio over HDMI, more ram and would get you into some newer games too.
Here's a few:

I think the i3 is a good choice for low power, cool operation. The motherboard I would actually look for an H55 micro atx.
Check for latest on low profile/quiet heatsinks if the intel retail HS is too loud for you. Usually scythe has some of the quietest.

For this application, I'm not sure I would go with an SSD. I would look at a fast and large hard drive.

The WD black 1TB is 90, but the 2TB is 180 but has a $20 promo code:
pretty good deal, 5 year warranty.

Finally one of the biggest areas of bottleneck for streaming video is your wireless connection. If you have draft N and a decent router, then you should be fine.
August 17, 2010 4:15:19 AM

Thanks buzznut. I just spent some time looking at parts, and I came up with a build. Still not sure about the case, though. I am thinking the case I may have originally chosen and most others I am seeing are too large for the entertainment center. The dimensions of the entertainment center are:
depth:16 inches
width: 20 inches
height: 7inches

Any suggestions? I'm going to post this in the cases section as well.

August 27, 2010 3:31:37 AM

Best answer selected by kcroke.