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First time builder - HTPC

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November 6, 2010 8:00:34 PM

Hello...

Approximate Purchase Date: within the next week

Budget Range: 1000-1400 (After Rebates… After Win7… After Keyboard/Mouse)

System Usage: HTPC, TV Recording, Streaming/Netflix Watching, Music Playback, Video Capture (to run Wii and music at same time).

I have a Marantz NR1501 receiver.

Parts Not Required: External Hard Drive (2TB)

Preferred Website: newegg.com

Parts Preference: Intel

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 54" Plasma HDTV 1080p

Additional Comments: General desire for this to act in augment the current set up and be able to use internet content, be able to play music over TV programming/console gaming… understand the 2nd one isn't nearly as straightforward. I'm not looking to record games.

I have about 7 inches available to me on my shelf. This should work for many HTPC cases. Visual appearance is a slight concern… but I know that inside build and case are by and large interchangeable.

Quietness is preferred. BluRay playback is ok… but i already have a BluRay player… I see no need for a writer.

This is a first time build, so we'll see how this goes. Forgive me for any stupid questions.

OK… all that said, I am good with tech but I don't have the wherewithal to spec out computers to the ends of the earth… I think it then makes sense to use this as a base/starting point.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

This combo appears to have a complete system… only thing left would be keyboard/mouse and other options. Given what I've written, should I modify/break this combo and tweak certain parts? Anything particular I should add? What of video capture? What are my options?

I'm not against doing different things but having this combo as a base does help me mentally straighten out motherboard/processor and other items and at least it gives me a starting position.

Any input is appreciated. I've been looking to build my own since 2002... and its good that I'm finally getting around to it. I want to make sure I get it right.

--Pat

More about : time builder htpc

November 7, 2010 9:25:51 AM

You won't be gaming on that HTPC, right? if not instead of a way too strong (overkill) CPU and video card you should concentrate on getting other better parts.

ASRock H55M/USB3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel Core i3-540 (plenty of power for any HTPC)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
LG WH10LS30K 10X Blu-ray Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SAPPHIRE 100293L Radeon HD 5570
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SeaSonic S12II 430B 430W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
URC RFS200 Universal Infrared / RF
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / 0.8mm SECC Grandia Series GD05B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$936.21
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November 7, 2010 4:37:25 PM

Deleted. Sorry.
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Related resources
November 7, 2010 7:45:11 PM

Here would be my ultimate HTPC. One of the things it has it 2 dual tuner cards so there's always enough tuner availability for recording and watching TV. It also has the HD5670 GPU which is great for watching HD video. All this necessitated an ATX mobo but the case is the same size as the one in your combo. There's also a SSD boot drive and a 2TB drive for recording. That'll match your 2TB external drive for backups. There's a wireless keyboard (the one I use - love it) and one of the tuner cards comes with a remote.

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD204UI 2TB 5400 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$79.99

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner 1213 PCI-Express x1 Interface
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$124.99

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner / Encoder 1229 PCI-Express x1 Interface - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$114.99

HIS IceQ H567Q1GD Radeon HD 5670 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card w/ Eyefinity
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$94.99 before $10.00 Mail-in Rebate Card

IOGEAR GKM561R Black 2.4GHz Wireless HTPC Multimedia Keyboard with Laser Trackball and Scroll Wheel
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$49.99

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL8D-4GBHK
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$69.99

Intel Core i5-760 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80605I5760
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$208.99

Kingston SSDNow V Series SNV425-S2BD/64GB 2.5" Desktop Bundle 64GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$129.99 before $25.00 Mail-in Rebate

nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 6000B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$69.99

GIGABYTE GA-P55-USB3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
$199.98

LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader SATA Model iHOS104-08
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$54.99

SeaSonic S12II 430B 430W ATX12V V2.3/EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$59.99

Subtotal: $1,258.87 before rebates, taxes and shipping
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November 7, 2010 9:05:56 PM

I use DirectTV and Comcast Cable at two locations. Very little can be viewed off cable without the use of a set-top box. And of course DirectTV requires a set-top box. Since both have perfectly fine DVRs, I'm not sure I would major on recording that content on a PC, even if it weren't scrambled.

On one of those networks, I've found that a set-top box isn't necessary for the major networks, the shopping channels, and a couple of other useless channels - previously known as "Basic Cable". Dunno how long that will last, but I suppose for the time being a tuner is somewhat useful for cable, and (yeccch) antenna.

To the extent that it is, I'd really rather have a TIVO lol.

So to me, an HTPC doesn't need a lot of tuners. In most applications (cabinets, racks), it can't have a lot of local disks, so it needs network or external storage (which the OP seems to have). If its strictly an HTPC (no real gaming), it doesn't need a graphics card. It doesn't need a lot of cpu horsepower.

So here's a minimalist approach, both in size and cost:

CPU: i5 530. You could use a 540, but why bpther?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Heres a review of the grapbics capability:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/2901/3

Mobo: A Gigabyte ITX mobo, because we're going to use a very small case and not put much in it:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: Because it needs some, well, 2x2GB Mushkin 1333 CL9 is fine:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case & PSU: Cooler Master Elite 100. Looks great, tiny (12.50" x 10.30" x 2.70"), runs cool:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD/CD Burner: No BluRay, because OP has one connected to his system:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Tuner: OK, one tuner . . . just in case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS: Win7 64-bit, why not:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HD: Just to complete the configuration, a 1TB Samsung:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total Cost: $645 including shipping.

If you want really cool and quiet, use an SSD as "C" . . . maybe add a 2.5" HD as "D" . . . or use 2x1TB 3.5" or larger . . . your call.

I built one of these for my wife; I can assure you it runs, is invisible, and inaudible. Well, except when the DVD is running, but you probably won't use it that way, right?

Not saying the other configs aren't fine. Just wanted to work for once from the other direction lol.
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November 8, 2010 3:59:44 PM

Funny, yesterday the price difference between the i3-530 and i3-540 was $3 at NewEgg.com. Today's it's $10. So, yeah, no longer worth it for the i3-540 unless you can get the $99.99 one at Microcenter.
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November 19, 2010 1:03:35 AM

mosox said:
You won't be gaming on that HTPC, right? if not instead of a way too strong (overkill) CPU and video card you should concentrate on getting other better parts.

ASRock H55M/USB3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel Core i3-540 (plenty of power for any HTPC)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
LG WH10LS30K 10X Blu-ray Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SAPPHIRE 100293L Radeon HD 5570
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SeaSonic S12II 430B 430W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
URC RFS200 Universal Infrared / RF
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / 0.8mm SECC Grandia Series GD05B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$936.21


My apologies for a late reply... busy busy busy... but not next week... taking it off...

OK... Let me use this as a basis... I'll probably take out the blu-ray burner unless I can be convinced otherwise. I may go with a standard blu-ray drive... I haven't needed a DVD burner as long as they've been in existence... and I'm not sure if that will change so much.

As for the tuner... am I better going with one or going without one and wait to buy say a Ceton CABLECARD tuner at a near point? Not being able to record digital channels would really defeat the purpose of the whole deal. Would these configurations handle such a device... I really am ignorant of what would tax/restrict upon what... hell, it took me several months of research just to find out that TV tuners are rather impractical... which is disappointing.

I also want to be careful about remotes for now... if I get a universal it better run everything and be able to interface with the computer.

Somebody else mentioned a SSD. I've seen them, the concept sounds cool... how easy/hard are they to execute? My computer-fu is good but not great. I'm a research scientist by trade so I do my own share of computer work... but I don't want to be confused by the whole deal having to work into the bowels of the computer's software.

I'll be more active in this as I'd like to get this done before I go back to work... though clearly, if I don't buy until this weekend I may not be able to get the parts until later in the week.... which is my own fault... just been busy.

I know I'm probably one of the few that's not looking to game... so I appreciate those who provided some "back off" specs.

I see what you guys have given me here... I'll take a close look... mix and match some things and provide a new iteration.
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November 19, 2010 1:25:31 AM

Alright... combining some of the above... thanks guys...

Case -- SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / 0.8mm SECC Grandia Series GD05B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~100

Motherboard -- ASRock H55M/USB3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~85 (185)

Processor -- Intel Core i3-540 Clarkdale 3.06GHz 4MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80616I3540
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~120 (305)

RAM -- G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~70 (375)

Vid Card -- SAPPHIRE 100293L Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Low Profile Ready Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~90 (485)

Keyboard/Mouse -- IOGEAR GKM561R Black 2.4GHz Wireless HTPC Multimedia Keyboard with Laser Trackball and Scroll Wheel
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~50 (535)

Hard Drive -- SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD204UI 2TB 5400 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~100 (635)

Power Supply -- SeaSonic S12II 430B 430W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~60 (695)

OS -- Windows 7
~175 (870)

The only obviously missing item is the TV Tuner. So, lets say hypothetically I opt for the Ceton Cablecard (again, hypothetically... far as I understand they're like backordered to the end of time). Is there anything ostensibly wrong with the above? Anything I should do differently? Is SSD worth the $$$/hassle?
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November 19, 2010 6:22:13 AM

The tuners are a major pain since there's so many standards. I live in Europe so I don't really know what you need in there. Read this maybe it helps
http://www.hdtvtunerinfo.com/

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November 20, 2010 12:05:46 AM

mosox said:
The tuners are a major pain since there's so many standards. I live in Europe so I don't really know what you need in there. Read this maybe it helps
http://www.hdtvtunerinfo.com/


I appreciate the input... I think I've gotten fairly knowledgable at this point... but that's because I've been researching this purchase for six months :??: 

Anyhow... if somebody could chime in I'd appreciate it... otherwise though, how is the current build? Add? Subtract? Change?
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November 20, 2010 7:06:57 AM

The build is a bit redundant, I and Dougie Fresh made it this way to take some load off the CPU and get a video card to handle the graphics but as Twoboxer pointed, that CPU has integrated graphics so you can do without a video card. You can add one later if necessary.

That 5400 rpm HDD is rather slow. What $175 Windows is that, you can get the $ 100 Home Premium.

You don't need an SSD, you can get a smaller HDD for your OS and a larger one for storage
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For the storage I would get the 1T spinpoint F3.

You can read customer reviews about that remote here, might get it later
http://www.amazon.com/RFS200-PowerPak-Bundle-MasterCont...







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November 20, 2010 10:27:39 AM

You linked to the universal remote again. (Which reminds me, I forgot to include a remote... bah!)

I understand this build is probably rather pedestrian, boring, etc.

Any harm in going for one big one as opposed to two smaller ones?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Do two smaller ones work together to make them faster in conjunction than you would see with a single drive?

edit: with any luck i can this all together by later Saturday (a lovely 7:30 AM right now on the east coast of the US) or early Sunday. I appreciate the help.
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November 20, 2010 10:33:53 AM

It's best to have the OS on a separate drive.
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November 20, 2010 10:55:41 AM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Is where I'm seeing home premium... the only one I see for $100 is an upgrade kit. If anybody is selling it for 100 USD I'll happily take a look.

I'm going to take a look at the hard drive combinations to see what I want... part of me says "bigger, better"... but that's not the rational part of me :)  I'll post the whole configuration at the end before I purchase. May be a tad meticulous, but I don't want to screw it up. :) 
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November 21, 2010 12:55:47 AM

You got the link for the right OS buy,

your memory is faster than you need - you wouldn't notice using 1333 cl9, but the savings is only like $11,

I'd delay on buying the vid card - if you decide you need it and the extra heat you can quickly add it, and

If I were using an SSD, I'd have no prblem with the slow HD. But using a single 2TB drive, I'd go WD Black instead.

In any case, good luck with the build.
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November 21, 2010 1:23:03 AM

OK... I think some of my issues (having been researching for months... initially it was a lot looking at HP and other semi-customizable options) is that my last desktop was bought in 2003... I suppose I'm surprised that one does not need a graphics card unless one is looking to game.

When does one need it... I can certainly see myself doing some minor graphics editing (GIMP software)... I'll probably pick up a CABLECARD capable device at some point... would one be needed for say recording programs? What of editing videos?

As you say, if I don't need it for all but the last one then it would be something to pick up only in the time that I decide I need to edit personal videos or things of that nature.... I suppose its just confusing me that one would not be needed.

I know I'm getting closer to a final build (still messing with some options). I wouldn't mind pocketing the cost of the card... just want to make sure I'm doing it right.

edit: right now, I've decided to go with one of the 2 hard drives mosox put up... the first one and I upped the other to 1TB. I think the only other item different from the list I gave this morning was a Blu-ray drive... I just plain forgot.

and while I'm asking stupid questions... should I have a wired keyboard on hand for the install?
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November 21, 2010 1:38:59 AM

It's possible you may run into some application that just doesn't perform well enough on the IGA and you will need a vid card. But here's the deal . . . if/when that app appears, you will know what is causing the need and therefore you know what you need to buy.

From the time you make the decision to the time you buy/ship/install the vid card is like 3 days :) 

It's not necessary to have a wired keyboard on hand for installs. Wireless KBs I've used all function well enough with Windows drivers - they work like standard KBs out of the box. I suppose there's always the odd ball . . . . nah, it should work fine :) 
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November 21, 2010 5:15:54 PM

ok... build is on order... as before, its a combination of various suggestions though not the last iteration I posted... thanks guys. Hopefully I'll be able to put it together without goofing it :) 
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November 21, 2010 5:33:56 PM

Enjoy the build! Go slow, don't try to do two things at once, and don't hesitate to dismantle a bit to make installing the next piece easier. Every build has its own ideal sequence.
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November 27, 2010 1:58:24 PM

Maybe I need a new thread for this (if so, let me know)... I can get my system to boot with one stick of ram (either stick), but it wasn't booting with both. I saw something in the troubleshooting guide in regards to setting voltages or something along those lines... but honestly I don't know enough. With the computer in this state, what should I be doing with my computer before I go to work on installing the operating system.
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November 27, 2010 2:07:20 PM

If you bought that 1.5V RAM you don't have to bother with setting the voltage but check in the BIOS to be sure (motherboard manual - how to get in the BIOS). It should be 1.5V.
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November 27, 2010 2:16:27 PM

mosox said:
If you bought that 1.5V RAM you don't have to bother with setting the voltage but check in the BIOS to be sure (motherboard manual - how to get in the BIOS). It should be 1.5V.


I'll look around... but if I "don't have to bother" then shouldn't it boot with both sticks in place?
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November 27, 2010 2:21:19 PM

Yes, it should. Maybe your mobo gives the wrong voltage, not very usual but it's easy to check and fix. Have you tried booting with one stick in each of the slots, slot 1 and then in 2? I mean maybe the second RAM slot is defective and you'll have to RMA the board.

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November 27, 2010 2:34:22 PM

mosox said:
Yes, it should. Maybe your mobo gives the wrong voltage, not very usual but it's easy to check and fix. Have you tried booting with one stick in each of the slots, slot 1 and then in 2? I mean maybe the second RAM slot is defective and you'll have to RMA the board.


I tried the other slot... for whatever reason it doesn't like both sticks at the same time. I think the only thing I can try is to set the voltage... that's "DRAM voltage", right? BIOS has it set to "Auto" right now.

So again, 1 stick of ram in either slot will work, but not if both slots are filled.

edit: changing the DRAM setting to "1.5" did the trick... its been a frustrating 24 hours. One last check and then its time to put all the screws back in place and to see if I can do any kind of wiring management so its not just a tangle (they seem to assume to think you've done this before so you know where all the wires are going :)  )
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November 27, 2010 3:04:48 PM

Hmm, this can be a compatibility issue but there's no way to know this beforehand. Some mobos don't like some RAM and the producers test them with only a very small part of the existing models. Usually there are no problems but things like that happen. Could be the mobo, could be the RAM.

This is the ram list they tried and known to be working with the mobo, I see in there
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Tpk=KHX1600C9D3K2%2f4GX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
nd more.

http://www.asrock.com/mb/memory/H55MUSB3.pdf

Basically if you don't get it to work you'll have to RMA the RAM and get something else. If not it's the mobo.
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November 27, 2010 5:49:49 PM

Patman: Sometimes the mobo just doesn't get the correct settings from the memory stivks themselves. You corrected this issue by just changing the voltage, but sometimes you have to enter the other "timing" specs as well . . . just something to remember.

Don't forget to stress test your build before considering it complete. This involves:

- running Prime95 (to drive max cpu usage and stress memory) while using CPUID's Hardware Monitor to watch temps. Do not let core temps exceed 75C for too long.

- running Furmark to stress graphics, again watching with HWM. Do not let temps exceed 95C for too long.

- If successful, run both stresses, same time, for 15 minutes if you can.

You can download those utilities from links here:

http://forums.tweaktown.com/gigabyte/30530-latest-overc...
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November 27, 2010 6:49:32 PM

Twoboxer said:
Patman: Sometimes the mobo just doesn't get the correct settings from the memory stivks themselves. You corrected this issue by just changing the voltage, but sometimes you have to enter the other "timing" specs as well . . . just something to remember.

Don't forget to stress test your build before considering it complete. This involves:

- running Prime95 (to drive max cpu usage and stress memory) while using CPUID's Hardware Monitor to watch temps. Do not let core temps exceed 75C for too long.

- running Furmark to stress graphics, again watching with HWM. Do not let temps exceed 95C for too long.

- If successful, run both stresses, same time, for 15 minutes if you can.

You can download those utilities from links here:

http://forums.tweaktown.com/gigabyte/30530-latest-overc...


Thanks for the stress test advice... I just got internet working within the hour... time to stream a hockey game... in good conscience, I should stress test... but I've got media I want to get operating and some SSD things that I ought to look up so that I'm running optimally.

In general though, thanks everybody for tolerating my questions. :) 
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November 27, 2010 6:56:10 PM

NP! Glad all seems to be working. Just remember to do those stress tests. Its an essential part of the build process, and the only thing that can assure you your hardware is likely OK when the first (software) failure hits.
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November 27, 2010 9:44:30 PM

Alright... another dumb question. I'm re-installing windows because it wouldn't notice my standard 1TB hard drive... i installed windows to the SSD.

That being said... BIOS notices the 1TB hard drive. Is there a tutorial on getting SSDs and standard hard drives playing nicely under windows7? If not, how do I get Windows7 to notice my standard hard drive and put objects into that bucket and leave the SSD alone?
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November 28, 2010 12:41:08 AM

I don't know what you mean by "didn't notice". Is it not there in Windows, or not being used?

If you installed Windows to your SSD, the SSD would be the "C" drive, and the 1tb would be "D". Windows will do nothing with the "D" drive unless you tell it to during any program install dialog.
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November 28, 2010 8:14:12 AM

Did you format the HDD, you always need to format a new one (control panel/administrative tools/Computer management/disk management.

Right click on it and format quick NTFS.

For the downloads it's in your browser an option to put the downloaded file wherever you want (Firefox->Tools->Options->Main

"save files to..." or "Always ask me where to save files".





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!