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HTPC - Build or Buy

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November 7, 2010 7:24:10 PM

I have been mulling over building an HTPC versus buying one (think Asrock Ion 330) for some time - and I'd much appreciate any input anyone has on this.

What I'm looking for is a system with the following generic specs:

- HDMI and the ability to play high bitrate video seamlessly
- Onboard network adapter (wifi not a priority though)
- HDD expandability (a couple bays would be nice) - i do realize this would increase the size of the unit
- Optical drive (BD not required)

Those are my hard and fast requirements - but I'd also like to run XBMC and some lightweight apps i.e. utorrent and the like.

Should I build or buy a system with these specs? I do have build experience, but not with an HTPC. My budget is probably somewhere in the 500-700 range.

Any input from people would be awesome! Thanks in advance!

More about : htpc build buy

November 7, 2010 8:35:57 PM

This build includes Windows 7, a wireless keyboard/trackball and a remote. Not sure if you need those. The case and motherboard leaves lots of room for expansion (tuner cards, discrete GPU, etc.) There are 5 x 3.5" bays. The IGP will play 1080p video and supports HD audio like DTS-MA and Dolby True-HD over HDMI.

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

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$44.99

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 i3-540 Clarkdale 3.06GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80616I3540
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$119.99

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

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-H55-USB3 LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI 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...
$189.98

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

Rosewill Windows Vista Certified Media center Infrared Remote Control RRC-126
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$24.99

Subtotal: $704.90 before tax & shipping

If you don't need the HD audio bitstreaming you could probably substitute an AMD dual-core processor/880G motherboard and save some money.
November 7, 2010 9:11:23 PM

Thanks for the reply! HD Audio bitstreaming isn't required - but DTS playback is preferred definitely.
November 8, 2010 1:50:59 PM

You could save a little money going with an AMD setup like this:

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

The IGP would have no problems rendering HD video.

Then, later, if you wanted a little bit beefier video or decided you did want HD audio, you could go with an AMD setup and a discrete graphics card like the HIS HD5670.

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