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$600 Budget Gaming later into HTPC

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September 15, 2010 8:22:56 PM

I put together a set up and need a review and advice on the build. The idea is a temporary budget gaming PC of a year or so and later becoming a HTPC for the house. I do not want a full tower in the living room for a HTPC so I went with a Mini ITX build to fit into a SFF case and was even considering a nettop but scrapped the nettop idea because of lack of processing power for gaming. I have no problem going with mATX if someone recommends a decent build that doesn't require a huge case. I realize going with a similar mATX build may be cheaper, but they tend to be much bigger as well.

As a HTPC it will be playing mostly movies from storage or streaming. Probably will get a media center remote or wireless keyboard/mouse when that happens. BluRay and TVTuner will not be needed, DVD is sufficient.
Quote:
Approximate Purchase Date: October

Budget Range: $600 After rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, watch movies, internet

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, microcenter.com, directron.com, anywhere with good deals.

Country of Origin: TX, USA

Parts Preferences: AMD CPU/GPU (will consider Nvidia GPU), Small Form Factor Case

Overclocking: Maybe but probably not

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 native, may drop lower in games to go with maximum settings

Here is what I have for the build:

AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana and LG 22x DVD Burner Combo $87.89

ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe AM3 AMD 880G HDMI USB 3.0 Mini ITX AMD Motherboard $124.99 + $7.56 Shipping

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Laptop Memory $84.99

ASUS EAH5750 Radeon HD 5750 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 Video Card $109.99 + $20.00 MIR if before 9/30

Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB Hard Drive $59.99 + $4.95 tax

SeaSonic S12II 520W 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Power Supply $59.99 + $9.65 Shipping

LIAN LI PC-Q07 Black Aluminum Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case $59.99 + $4.99 Shipping

Total Cost: $595.07 ($587.92 + $27.15 Shipping = $615.07 and $20.00 MIR)

Some notes on the build:
  • Went with Mini ITX for small form factor.
  • Considered going with an Athlon II x4 but figured may as well give the core unlock on the MOBO a try and if unsuccessful then x3 would still be sufficient.
  • Motherboard selected has integrated wifi and bluetooth as a bonus for when HTPC with DDR3 (although SO-DIMM) and USB3 capable for future proofing.
  • Planned for a Radeon 5770 but it was too long for the case, settled for Radeon 5750 as it as the best Radeon card that would fit into the case. Even so I'm not sure if the fan will get in the way or not since it looks like it kwill stick into the HDD area of the case.
  • Case was chosen because it was the cheapest mITX case that allowed for a standard ATX PS/2 PSU you can choose instead of some no-name low power PSU. Would not have been able to power GPU otherwise. Also box shape gives enough head room for a discrete GPU whereas standard HTPC cases are not high enough.
    So what do you think? Any and all advice, comments and constructive criticism are welcome! Thanks!
  • More about : 600 budget gaming htpc

    a b 4 Gaming
    September 15, 2010 8:34:25 PM

    here's a different possibility for you:
    The Coolermaster Elite 360 is a mid-tower sized PC that lays on its side, and can take full ATX boards.

    It, for $39.99, plus an AS Rock 770 (Sata II and USB 2) for $59.99 saves you $85, which is enough to get a 768 MB version of the GTX 460, a much better gaming card.
    a b 4 Gaming
    September 15, 2010 10:06:07 PM

    First, I really like where your going with this project.

    Looking at the interior pictures of the case, it looks like there is no way any video card that isn't a short and single slot will ever fit in that case or you will #1 lose your only hard drive bay and/or #2 lose your front USB ports.

    I suggest you go for the Silverstone SG05 or 06. Yeah, I know they come with a SFX 300W PSU, but it should be enough to power your system. If you need more, there are replacement SFX power supplies you can swap to. Silverstone makes a 450W for example. If you do go that route, keep in mind that the Silverstone cases use slim optical drives.
    Related resources
    September 16, 2010 3:53:01 PM

    I want to keep it in a small form factor case because it will later be used as a htpc in the living room so a normal tower is out of the question but thanks anyways ScrewySqrl. I will consider the GTX 460 card but don't want to hike up the total cost much more than intended. I'm thinking the ATI 5770 will be good enough for most games I play.

    If I go with the Silverstone SG05, I will only be $35 over budget and will have the ATI 5770 I was looking at since it comes with the PSU but I'm skeptical if 300W will be enough. I've looked around and many people have said it was enough to power their overclocked [intel] set-ups but there were just as many who have switched out for another PSU, even modding the case to fit them. If I also go with the Silverstone ST45SF 450W PSU I will be over $120 over budget plus have a 300W SFX PSU just sitting there. I wish Silverstone sold the SG05 by it self or with the higher 450W PSU. I will look into this more as it seems the SG05 gives plenty of space for a HSF and a decent sized GPU, albeit the sacrifice of a weaker PSU.

    Looking at both the Lian Li PC-Q08 and Lian Li PC-Q11(bigger version of Lian Li PC-Q07) I would be able to fit the ATI 5770 and will be about $90 over budget if I keep everything else the same. Only thing is the case will be so much bigger than planned that a mATX build may be a better option. The Lian Li PC-Q07 is about 2/3 the size of the Lian Li PC-Q08 and only slightly smaller than the Lian Li PC-Q11.

    Another option I have is keeping the original set-up but going with a POWERCOLOR Radeon HD 5770 Video Card since it uses a 5750 pcb and remove the hard drive rack and use a 500GB laptop hard drive instead but I don't know of the quality of Powercoler. The HDD will probably the HITACHI Travelstar 7K500. I could also conjure up a HDD bracket to mount it vertically flush to the front panel right under the DVD drive as it seems there wil lbe space between the front panel and the MOBO. Either option will net me about $30 over budget but the latter one I will get double the HDD space. I don't mind raising the budget if needed because I want a reliable build, but being a budget build I don't want to invest too much money or I might as well just build a mid to high end gaming rig and making a HTPC later as planned.

    I'm seriously considering going with the Sugo SG05 or the Powercoler GPU. I just want to get the most performance per cost in a small form factor case without spending more than necessary for a budget gaming build. Since I won't be getting this build for half a month or so, hopefully prices will drop and more options will become available.

    I've also been following http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/292637-31-gaming-tight-spaces-mini being a mini-ITX Sugo SG05 build but I'm on the other end of the budget spectrum since he seemingly doesn't have much of one, if any.

    Also, just a short (7.4 in.) GTX460 card that can be an option should I find the need.
    Palit NE5TX460FHD79 GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 768MB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card



    Thanks for the suggestions! More will be great!
    a b 4 Gaming
    September 16, 2010 6:22:29 PM

    There's also the Silverstone SG07... but it is pricey. However, it does come with a 600W ATX PSU. It claims to be able to fit HD5970 cards.

    Oh decisions, decisions...
    September 17, 2010 3:56:39 AM

    The Silverstone SG07 seems pretty big for an ITX build. I could probably make a better/cheaper mATX build around the same size.

    I'm really liking the Silverstone Sugo SG05 for its size and possibilities but my mind will be more at ease with a stronger PSU. My pockets will be crying though.. Hopefully Silverstone will release a case with the 450W PSU or at least the case on its own in the near future.

    Perhaps I'll start looking into mATX builds and see which is better. Any suggestions?
    September 17, 2010 7:37:27 PM

    Thanks, interesting article. First time hearing of that AVADirect site. Anyways, from the review it seems AVADirect does some minor modding to the case (the PSU they put in is sloped down inside the case which leads to think there is a gap at the top of the PSU in the back panel) to fit the PSU and GPU. Using a higher wattage PSU doesn't help me much either. I'm trying to figure out if a 95W TDP CPU and a GTX460 will kill the stock 300W PSU. Most builds I come across run lower TDP "efficient" CPUs and/or a stronger PSU.

    I've been reading a thread in another forum and they've gone to great excents modding the case to fit things in and their budgets are much greater than mine. Maybe I should put off this project or just cough up the extra benjamins to make a decent mid-high end gaming mini-ITX build.

    http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1372339&page=46
    a b 4 Gaming
    September 17, 2010 7:43:06 PM

    kureme said:
    Thanks, interesting article. First time hearing of that AVADirect site. Anyways, from the review it seems AVADirect does some minor modding to the case (the PSU they put in is sloped down inside the case which leads to think there is a gap at the top of the PSU in the back panel) to fit the PSU and GPU. Using a higher wattage PSU doesn't help me much either. I'm trying to figure out if a 95W TDP CPU and a GTX460 will kill the stock 300W PSU. Most builds I come across run lower TDP "efficient" CPUs and/or a stronger PSU.

    I've been reading a thread in another forum and they've gone to great excents modding the case to fit things in and their budgets are much greater than mine. Maybe I should put off this project or just cough up the extra benjamins to make a decent mid-high end gaming mini-ITX build.

    http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1372339&page=46



    for wattage testing, I like the extreme power supply calculator.

    http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp
    September 18, 2010 5:29:41 PM

    Very nice site, thanks!

    I ran my setup through it and at 90% CPU TDP and 90% system load it comes down to 253W minimum and 303W recommended. Its 226W/276W if I don't use a DVD drive which would also cut costs. Plug in an external one when I need to use it or share another computer's drive through the network.

    Regardless if it will work or not, the life of the PSU will be very short when I'm running it at 80% load all the time. Definitely should go with the 450W PSU and have the 300W PSU as a backup when it wears down. Or should I do it the other way and run the 300W to death and upgrade to the 450W when it dies? Any recommendations?

    What can happen when you draw too much power from the PSU? And what are the effects of a PSU dying on you? Neither have happened to me thus far, I tend to avoid those situations if at all possible.
    !