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Rate My HTPC Build

Last response: in Systems
September 14, 2010 12:36:26 PM

Hey guys, I want to build an HTPC. Here are the components I have so far...

ASUS M4A88TD-M mobo

SilverStone GD05 case

AMD Phenom II 965 BE CPU

Corsair Dominator DDR3 RAM 1333 (2x4gb)

I'm looking to do a little video transcoding (marginal), downloading, and streaming. I don't really feel the need to shell out for the i7s, but might be swayed toward the 6-core Phenom II CPU. I'm fine with onboard Graphics.

Thoughts/suggestions/comments? Really appreciate it.

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September 14, 2010 12:50:16 PM

Hello and welcome to the forum :) .

If you are only doing "marginal" video encoding then the Phenom II 965 is overkill. Why do you think you need this, any special other reasons?

I'd say an Athlon II X4 if you want to do a fair bit of encoding and maybe an X2 if your barely doing any like you said. Also an i3 is a nice HTPC processor, the IGP is good, its cool and low power.
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September 14, 2010 1:00:38 PM

Thanks guys!!

Good call on the eSATA port. Although I've heard USB3 might get comparable speeds?

And while I would describe my video encoding as marginal, I'm considering regularly converting video for a portable device. And I'm a little battle-worn from doing so on a P4! Hahaha. Also hoping to offset a little of it on the built in GPU using ATI Stream/NVIDIA CUDA.

I suppose the 965 might be slight overkill, but the price seems reasonable, especially compared to high end processors. Do you think it would be wasted in such a machine?
September 14, 2010 1:13:35 PM

^ Yes USB3.0 would speeds similar to eSATA, but for ~ the same price or less, if you get it, then why not...

As for the CPU, even IMO the Athlon II X4 would suffice like the_punkinator pointed out...And would be ages ahead of the P4 ;) 
But if you still want a Phenom, then the 955/ 945 would be good, especially the 945 as it is a 95W TDP compared to the 125W 955/ 965 - Lower power, lower heat hence good for HTPCs...

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September 14, 2010 1:20:11 PM

It sounds like you'll be doing a fair bit of encoding. On a P4! That musn't be fun :( .

I'm don't now much about GPU processing unfortunately, though I didn't think you could really use IGP or at least there wouldn't be much performance increase.

Ok heres a nice chart (note that the best processors start from the bottom and that the score is seconds (I think)):

Here you can see that in encoding (x264) the Phenoms don't really have much of a lead over the Athlons in performance per clock. The 945 (3GHz) scores 225 whereas the 640 (3GHz) scores 233. Therefore with a bit of OCing of the 620 (2.6GHz) for $90 you'll be able to get near the performane of the Phenoms. But if your not too comfortable with OCing (especially on the stock cooler) then I'd suggest the 635 (2.9GHz) for $99.

Anyway thats just be babling on, have a look at the chart to see if you would mind something like 25% less performance for $50ish less.

Also why are you getting 8GB of RAM (only just noticed), is there a good reason for his?
September 14, 2010 2:55:59 PM

Ok, so I'll probably spring for a motherboard with eSata. I get caught in these cycles of obsessing over negative reviews though. Any brands you always use or would never buy again?

As for processor, I understand the value of the Athlon, but looking at the rest of the benchmarks, I might go for the 945 Phenom. The general benchmarks are decent and it's 30bucks less than the 965BE and 30 bucks more than the Athlon. Question: Will the Watt-count really make a difference temp-wise? Cause that'll seal it for me.

I plan on using stock cooling (or a Scythe Shuriken cooler which I heard was good for the case layout). What do you think I can expect in terms of OCing? I've never OC'd before, but I hear it's pretty much child's play in the Bios today.

As for RAM, I just wanted to cover my bases. Will 4GB be sufficient?
September 14, 2010 3:58:03 PM

Oh, and what kind of Power Supply should I get if I'm not feeding a big ol' graphics card?
September 14, 2010 4:48:54 PM

For a build with just IGP, I am a fan of the Antec EA-380D or the Seasonic 350W, whichever is on sale. If later you decide to upgrade your graphics to something like an ATI HD5670 it will still run that without issue.
September 15, 2010 2:30:29 AM

Agreed on the Antec EA 380W. That will even give you enough power to feed a HD 5770 when the time comes.

4GB will be more than sufficient, and if you need more any time you can just upgrade.

If you want to OC then why go with the 945? If you OC the 635 you will out do the performance of the 945...I think the Athlons are a better choice for you. Phenom II sees a big increase in performance when gaming but not for CPU intensive tasks much.

And yes the wattage should make a different temperature though not too much.
September 15, 2010 1:24:04 PM

So if I OC the 635, will I get significantly better performance in archiving, photo/audio/video, processing? Is the Athlon particularly OC friendly? What about the L3 cache?
September 15, 2010 1:32:38 PM

^ It would increase in performance/ value - i.e., getting more for the price which is the reason for overclocking any CPU...
September 15, 2010 2:53:47 PM

Yes you will get a large increase in performance which will allow it to match the performance of the $30 and $60 more expensive Phenom II's. As I said the Athlon and the Phenoms are pretty much the same performance for encoding so you can use that as a guide.

I'm not sure about "OC friendly" but I'm sure its a standard OCer. The Athlons don't have L3 which is why they're different, though as you see it doesn't have much of an affect on the encoding performance. In games it shows majorly though.

It seems they can get to around 3.2/3.3GHz with the stock cooler. < 60'C is preferred.
September 16, 2010 3:16:36 PM

Here's the final list I'm looking at. How does it look?

A-DATA 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

Crucial RealSSD C300 2.5" 64GB SATA III SSD

AMD Athlon II X4 635



Scythe Big Shuriken SCBSK-1000 120mm CPU Cooler

Grand Total: $569.95
September 17, 2010 2:25:38 AM

Hey, your build looks pretty good. But I'm not specced up on SSDs so I don't know about your choice.

With your RAM 1600MHz is not really required but generally it is not much more expensive then the 1333MHz. Still I would get a better brand (not sure about ADATA) like Mushkin's set below:

Heres some 1333MHz ones which will save you a few bucks as you don't need the 1600MHz:

Hope that helps a bit.
September 17, 2010 1:03:38 PM

Ok, so pick a brand name for the RAM? I think I'll just go with the better performance of 1600Mhz if the price difference is so small. Might wait for deals, but I think I'm going to go with those components. Thanks for all your help! Anything else I should be aware of?
January 4, 2011 10:21:03 AM

Best answer selected by seedubs.