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Tentative Budget HTPC build w/ Blu-ray, WiFi, Wireless KB

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November 8, 2010 7:26:10 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: within 2 weeks

Budget Range: Under US$500 if possible (ignoring mail-in rebates; "instant savings" is ok though)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: pure htpc: watching movies/tv series, some on DVD or Blu-Ray, some streamed via NetFlix, CrunchyRoll, Funimation.com, etc.

Parts Not Required: monitor/speakers (will be connecting to existing Olevia 537H TV)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1366x768

Additional Comments: I don't think I need extra performance beyond what's required for blu-ray playback. I'll be putting it on a shelf below the tv, so a horizontal case would work better for me than a mid-tower type case.

Background: I have a JVC DVD player, which I originally only had one complaint about, which was that it didn't make it easy to determine what aspect ratio a given dvd was using. To convert the aspect ratio without dropping pixels, I'd have to get an upscaler, and it seems like I might as well get blu-ray support while I'm at it. However, in many cases I'd lose the closed captions (some dvds have closed captions instead of subtitles) and the multi-disc resume capability that my current player has - it made me want to scream every time I found a line in online manuals that indicated ejecting would clear the resume point. I realize there are BD-Live discs that don't allow stopping and resuming, but IMO that's only appropriate for video games, not movies and TV shows. My second complaint came up recently, which is that many times when I try to eject a dvd from the JVC player, it will only eject by about 5mm or less, then slide the tray back in. After several attempts, it will finally eject properly, but I'm scared it might get worse to the point that I'd have to disassemble the player to recover a dvd.

Here's what I'm considering buying:
Hardware:

APEX DM-317-A Black/ Silver Steel Micro ATX Media Center / Slim HTPC Computer Case w/ ATX12V Flex 275W Power Supply $39.99

BIOSTAR COMBO6P1250 AMD Sempron LE1250 AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6150 Micro ATX Motherboard/CPU Combo $64.99

Crucial 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model CT2KIT12864AA800 $34.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250318AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $34.99

ASUS Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model BR-04B2T - OEM $39.99

AZiO AWU354 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter $10.99

GIGABYTE GV-N84S-512I GeForce 8400 GS 512MB 64-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card $32.99

ione KBP20 Silver & Black RF Wireless Ultra slim size design Keyboard $31.99

Total: $290.92

Software:
Corel WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-Ray Downloadable Software $29.99

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM $99.99

Total: $129.98

Grand Total: $420.90

Does this build look like it would work? If not, please suggest alternate items.
November 8, 2010 10:17:01 PM

For the video card, I recommend the HD 5450 because it has integrated audio (unlike nVidia cards) so all you need to do is install the ATI video and audio drivers, then connect the HDMI cable to your HDTV.

Additionally, it scored pretty decently in terms of video playback quality. The 8400GS is not part of the review, but it is older and slower than the GeForce 210 which is part of the review. The HD 5550 scored better than the HD 5450, but also costs more (~ $70). Here's the review:

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/htpc-gra...

This Sapphire HD 5450 is the best deal for $26 after a $15 mail-in rebate. And apparently it is also the best deal without the rebate... Well there's another one that sells for $0.79 less @ Newegg.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



November 8, 2010 10:35:05 PM

I do not recommend a single core CPU for an HTPC if you want to watch Blu-Ray or other HD video. HD video actually requires a bit of processing power so a dual core is recommend. A fast single core CPU is doable, but you may get stuttering here and there. The AMD Sempron LE is not considered fast. I do not have a Blu-Ray player, but I have done my research.

I recommend the following:

AMD Athlon II X2 210e Regor 2.6GHz ===> $44
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Foxconn M61PMP-K AM3 ===> $44
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Yer gonna need a fan for the CPU. The following is the only one available on Newegg that I know will fit inside the case for $22 + $3 shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The above works out to $113. That $48 more than your single core CPU combo, but you will still be under $500.
Related resources
November 9, 2010 1:12:58 AM

The case is 3.9 inches wide (or high when mounted horizontally) on the outside according to the specs, which is about 99mm (I don't see specs at the manufacturer site for max heatsink height). The Alpine 64 Pro is 84mm high, so I seriously doubt it would fit. The Scythe SCSK-1100 at 64mm has a chance of fitting, but it's more expensive than the GELID you mentioned in the previous post. Also, I notice the Foxconn motherboard you're suggesting takes DDR3 ram, while the one I was previously considering took DDR2 ram, so I would probably have to switch to something like this for $2 more:

Kingston ValueRAM 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR1066D3N7K2/2G
November 9, 2010 4:38:12 PM

You got prices on those? I think they'd drive me way over budget, and it looks more like a gaming rig that doubles as an HTPC, while I'm trying to build a separate HTPC. I've already got a gaming rig that meets my needs, details in my profile.
November 9, 2010 9:15:05 PM

Using some coupons I can get this build down below $500. It doesn't include the keyboard however.

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Coupon code EMCZZYX23: -$15.00
$39.99

ASUS Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model BR-04B2T - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$39.99

Antec MicroFusion Remote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$89.99

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
GIGABYTE GA-880GMA-UD2H AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Combo Discount: -$20.00
Coupon code EMCZZYX74: -$10.00
Combo Price: $179.98

Kingston ValueRAM 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR1333D3K2/4GR
AMD Athlon II X2 260 Regor 3.2GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor ADX260OCGMBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Combo Discount: -$10.00
Combo Price: $127.98

ASUS USB-N10 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$19.99

Subtotal: $487.92 before tax & shipping
November 9, 2010 9:57:23 PM

Dougie Fresh said:
This is the best HTPC keyboard I've found:

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


I have that keyboard. Of all the keyboards I've used, that is the best one yet. I've spent around $300 on various keyboards alone for my HTPC over the course of 3 years.
November 9, 2010 11:21:51 PM

Dougie Fresh said:
Using some coupons I can get this build down below $500. It doesn't include the keyboard however.


Or the blu-ray playing software for that matter. Replacing the iOne keyboard with the Iogear keyboard and using jaguarskx's suggestions brings my grand total to $493.67. Adding the Iogear keyboard and WinDVD download to your list brings the grand total to $567.90 even counting the coupons, so I have to ask you to justify the higher total.
November 10, 2010 2:14:35 AM

Some notes and and an updated list of the parts I'm now considering (I had to switch to a different wireless adapter because the one I had included in my initial list was out of stock when I checked today):

1. In case it wasn't clear in my initial post, I'm not looking to get maximum performance within my budget or better "bang for buck"; I'm looking to keep the price as low as possible while still having sufficient performance for blu-ray playback. If there's a part in my list that has inadequate performance for blu-ray playback, reliability issues, or compatibility issues with other parts in the list, I'll probably accept a slightly more expensive substitution (provided you explain one of those as the reason for substitution), but I'm very unlikely to accept expensive substitutions for other reasons.

2. I'm not dead set on Newegg for the website to buy the parts from, but I figure the shipping will come out less if I buy all the pieces from one site, I've already got an account at Newegg, and I like that it lets me specify FedEx shipping (I've had trouble with UPS lately). I suppose I could try to save even more on shipping by purchasing the parts at a local store like Frys or Central Computers, but I think that would limit my selection.

Updated parts list:

Hardware:

APEX DM-317-A Black/ Silver Steel Micro ATX Media Center / Slim HTPC Computer Case w/ ATX12V Flex 275W Power Supply $39.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

AMD Athlon II X2 210e Regor 2.6GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 45W Dual-Core Desktop Processor AD210EHDK22GI - OEM $43.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

Foxconn M61PMP-K AM3 NVIDIA MCP61P Micro ATX AMD Motherboard $43.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

GELID Solutions Slim Silence AM2 65mm Ball CPU Cooler $21.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

Kingston ValueRAM 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR1066D3N7K2/2G $36.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250318AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $34.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

ASUS Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model BR-04B2T - OEM $39.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

Rosewill RNX-G1LX IEEE 802.11b/g USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter Up to 54Mbps Wireless Data Rates 64/128-Bit WEP, WPA, WPA2 $11.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

SAPPHIRE 100291L Radeon HD 5450 (Cedar) 512MB 64-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card $40.78
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

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

Total: $364.69

Software:
Corel WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-Ray Downloadable Software $29.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM $99.99
(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

Total: $129.98

Grand Total: $494.67


November 10, 2010 2:43:00 AM

MauveCloud said:
Or the blu-ray playing software for that matter. Replacing the iOne keyboard with the Iogear keyboard and using jaguarskx's suggestions brings my grand total to $493.67. Adding the Iogear keyboard and WinDVD download to your list brings the grand total to $567.90 even counting the coupons, so I have to ask you to justify the higher total.


1) much better case and power supply
2) much better motherboard (with integrated graphics that remove the need for a discrete graphics card)

1 & 2 are not the things you skimp on.

3) Your 2.6GHz OEM processor + aftermarket cooler costs more than the 3.2GHz processor I suggest that comes with one
4) Your 250GB HDD costs $5 less than my 500GB drive suggestion
5) You've got 2GB less RAM

You also don't need to buy software to play blu-rays. Google "DVDFab HD Decrypter" and "Media Player Classic".





November 10, 2010 3:11:47 AM

I was skeptical last night, but I re-examined things this morning, and Newegg's PSU calculator says I need about 262 Watts for a build like this, so the 275W power supply with the case I originally chose might be cutting it too close, and when I calculate in the combo and coupon savings for the motherboard, it does come out cheaper than the discrete video card. I'm still a bit hesitant about the cpu+memory combo, since it's $25 more than the oem cpu+aftermarket cooler+memory I was looking at.

Dougie Fresh said:
You also don't need to buy software to play blu-rays. Google "DVDFab HD Decrypter" and "Media Player Classic".


I'm not so sure about that - I was originally thinking about making this an Ubuntu system so I wouldn't have to pay for a copy of windows, but when I looked for blu-ray playing software for linux, I found indications that there are legal issues with decrypting blu-ray discs in the US, which made me give up on that idea, but as far as I can tell, playing blu-ray discs with Corel WinDVD is clearly legal.
November 11, 2010 1:39:33 PM

Okay then, does anybody see any serious issues with this list of parts (aside from the fact that it's a bit over my original budget):

Antec MicroFusion Remote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case $89.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Athlon II X2 210e Regor 2.6GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 45W Dual-Core Desktop Processor AD210EHDK22GI - OEM $43.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM $99.99
GIGABYTE GA-880GMA-UD2H AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard $99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Combo Discount: -$20.00
Coupon code EMCZZYX74: -$10.00

GELID Solutions Slim Silence AM2 65mm Ball CPU Cooler $21.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Kingston ValueRAM 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR1066D3N7K2/2G $36.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $54.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Coupon code EMCZZYX23: -$15.00

ASUS Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model BR-04B2T - OEM $39.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS USB-N10 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter $19.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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

Corel WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-Ray Downloadable Software $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $543.89
November 11, 2010 3:18:45 PM

MauveCloud said:
Corel WinDVD 9 Plus Blu-Ray Downloadable Software $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I know you're already a bit over budget, but look into your playback software. Read the customer feedback here, here, and here.

A lot of the same complaints. I recommend you go with the tried and true TMT3 Platinum for $60, or switch your blu-ray drive to a model that comes with bundled playback software like PowerDVD. Here is one example for $90. BTW, your ASUS drive is showing $59.99 today on newegg, not $39.99 :( 
November 11, 2010 3:30:20 PM

rwpritchett said:
I know you're already a bit over budget, but look into your playback software. Read the customer feedback here, here, and here.

A lot of the same complaints. I recommend you go with the tried and true TMT3 Platinum for $60, or switch your blu-ray drive to a model that comes with bundled playback software like PowerDVD. Here is one example for $90. BTW, your ASUS drive is showing $59.99 today on newegg, not $39.99 :( 


Those certainly qualify as serious issues. I hadn't realized there were that many complaints about WinDVD, and the Asus drive probably had a promotion that ended recently. LG is a good brand, but I'm having trouble confirming that the model you suggest actually comes bundled with PowerDVD.
November 11, 2010 6:55:32 PM

MauveCloud said:
Those certainly qualify as serious issues. I hadn't realized there were that many complaints about WinDVD, and the Asus drive probably had a promotion that ended recently. LG is a good brand, but I'm having trouble confirming that the model you suggest actually comes bundled with PowerDVD.


That is a retail Blu-ray drive, which means it comes with software to play Blu-ray discs. If you read the reviews, you will see that many of them mention the included software.

The Micro Fusion comes with an IR panel, it doesn't look like the In Win case does, if that's a feature you want/need. Obviously, you can add an IR port, but it won't look as clean. Other than that, the reviews seem ok.
November 11, 2010 7:25:24 PM

coldsleep said:
That is a retail Blu-ray drive, which means it comes with software to play Blu-ray discs. If you read the reviews, you will see that many of them mention the included software.


I saw mentions of it in the reviews, but it doesn't mention the software in the overview or details.

coldsleep said:
The Micro Fusion comes with an IR panel, it doesn't look like the In Win case does, if that's a feature you want/need. Obviously, you can add an IR port, but it won't look as clean. Other than that, the reviews seem ok.


I think the wireless keyboard would avoid the need for the remote. If not, I've got some remote from Keyspan (I think it's RF instead of IR, but not 100% certain) from when I was trying to wirelessly send video from my computer in my bedroom to the TV in the living/dining area. I think http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... is the product I was using for that, but I couldn't really get it working. If there is a better item along the same lines, I'm willing to consider it as an alternative to the HTPC build (though I'd still need the blu-ray drive and software)
November 11, 2010 7:46:19 PM

MauveCloud said:
I saw mentions of it in the reviews, but it doesn't mention the software in the overview or details.


The fact that it doesn't say "OEM" in the item title/description indicates that it comes with software. You're just going to have to trust us on this one.

You certainly don't need a remote, and a wireless mouse & keyboard will take care of it. Just pointing out the feature of the Antec that was most noticeably different from the In Win case.
November 11, 2010 9:09:32 PM

Here's another idea that just hit me: I can connect an external blu-ray drive to one of the lower-end Dell Zino HD models, which comes out less expensive than buying a Zino with a built-in blu-ray drive - if I start from the "entry-level" Zino HD model, bump the processor up to an Athlon II X2 2.2GHz, and select the wireless keyboard with trackball, the price it shows me is $362.99, and I found an external blu-ray drive for $99.99: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
December 3, 2010 4:56:47 PM

I hope it's okay for me to talk about this in my existing thread, but I have a few problems with the build I went ahead and ordered (the Zino HD plus external blu-ray drive), and would like some advice.

1. The trackball on the Dell keyboard is difficult to use - sometimes it goes slower than I want, like when I'm trying to move it out of the way, other times it goes faster than I want, like when I'm trying to select a small button in the middle of the screen. I hesitate to just get a different trackball keyboard like the IOGear that was previously suggested. I've used touchpads before, so I'd be willing to consider a keyboard with a built-in touchpad, but due to where I put it while watching a movie (and often eating a meal), I don't want the keyboard to be deeper than standard, due to a touchpad below it, a non-removable wrist rest, or media buttons above it. All the wireless keyboards I've seen with built-in touchpads have had one or more of those problems. I'm starting to consider wireless keyboard/mouse combos (preferably with one reciever for both), such as this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Verbatim-Wireless-Keyboard-Mouse-...
Does that look like a good buy?

2. For some DVDs, it pops up some warning message about not supporting Dolby Digital 5.1 unless I upgrade. I admit I'm a bit annoyed that Plextor didn't package the best edition of the PowerDVD software, but I'm only hooking it up to a stereo tv - I don't feel the need for a 5.1 speaker setup. Is there some way to get PowerDVD to shut up about the 5.1 support, short of actually buying the upgrade for it?
January 11, 2011 10:12:28 PM

jaguarskx said:
For the video card, I recommend the HD 5450 because it has integrated audio (unlike nVidia cards) so all you need to do is install the ATI video and audio drivers, then connect the HDMI cable to your HDTV.


Unfortunately, ATI is useless for an HTPC since they don't support VDPAU.

Someday, maybe...
!