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Small media PC build

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November 13, 2010 4:34:50 PM

Hi,

I'm looking to build a home media center to use solely for connecting to HDTV and playing videos (planning to put Linux and Boxee on it). It needs to be powerful enough to smoothly play 1080P HD videos without lagging and sound getting out of sync. The case needs to be small enough to fit under the TV (i.e. be horizontal) - something like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... The hard drive should be as large as possible, as I want to store a lot of movies locally.

I would love to spend no more than $400 on everything.. but it's been a few years since I last built a computer, so I have no idea what video cards, processors, motherboards are good now.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you!

More about : small media build

a b B Homebuilt system
November 13, 2010 8:07:56 PM

Ok, what you are looking for is probably a Mini-ITX or Micro ATX build (motherboard size) with a really small desktop case. i3-based, with like 2-4 GB of DDR3-1333 memory.


Here is my suggested build.

CPU: Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor

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

Motherboard: BIOSTAR TH55B HD LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Comes with a REMOTE.

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

Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel

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

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31500341AS 1.5TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

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

Case: Rosewill R379-M Black/ Silver 0.8mm SGCC Steel Slim MicroATX Computer Case with ATX12V Flex 300W Power Supply

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

TOTAL COST (Newegg.com, Nov 13th) $403


It will need an Operating System and a Disk Drive.

Note: The Core i3 CPU has built in Graphics that supports 1080i/1080P.
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a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 13, 2010 8:29:05 PM

Instead of the Seagate, since they actually fail/break a lot more often than WD or Samsung, a faster and equally as good drive. (Probably faster) is the Samsung F3 1TB, sure it's a smaller size but the platter size is great and you should probably wait till Thanksgiving because the F3 is usually on sale around that time for only 55$.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 14, 2010 1:09:14 AM

4GB is really excessive for a HTPC with a Linux build go with 2x1GB DDR3 and save 40-50 bucks.

Ive never met anyone to recommend the Seagate 7200.11 series until now. Buy the Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB as an OS drive and a meaty 1.5-2TB HDD as the Data drive. Feel free to reference my information for my HTPC set up.
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November 14, 2010 1:25:56 AM

Thanks guys!

I'm feeling slightly nervous about the i3-350 CPU - I've never seen a CPU or onboard graphics card handle 1080P video well.. but I guess that's the whole point of this CPU?

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a b B Homebuilt system
November 14, 2010 1:28:29 AM

I use an Athlon IIx3 425 with onboard graphics of the AMD motherboard and I watch HD TV and record HDTV.

I have also burned over 100 DVDs onto my 1.5TB HDD.

I can say with certainty than the onboard graphics can handle 1080i/p perfectly fine.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 14, 2010 1:29:03 AM

I'll throw a quick AMD build together for you. Be aware that a good TV tuner card runs $100, which is 1/4 of your budget.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 14, 2010 1:36:39 AM

My AMD build came out to $480 and down to 465 w/ MIR. But that includes a top of the line Happauge 2250 Dual TV Tuner Card.

You will also want a good wireless keyboard with a trackball to run it all from your couch. Lemmie know if you can budge on your budget and I'll post the build.
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November 14, 2010 1:42:14 AM

cmcghee358 said:
My AMD build came out to $480 and down to 465 w/ MIR. But that includes a top of the line Happauge 2250 Dual TV Tuner Card.

You will also want a good wireless keyboard with a trackball to run it all from your couch. Lemmie know if you can budge on your budget and I'll post the build.


Sure, I'll take a look - I'll probably wait until Thanksgiving when prices drop anyway. Please post it :) 
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 14, 2010 1:45:12 AM



This only has a 500GB HDD, and honestly it has alot of quality components. I personally don't trust a 39.99 HTPC case that also comes with a PSU.
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November 14, 2010 1:47:03 AM

Re: TV tuner card - I'm not planning to get cable subscription - that's why I want to build this.. so I don't think I'll need a TV tuner card.. unless there are purposes for it other than recording TV?
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 14, 2010 2:02:45 AM

Quote:
I'm looking to build a home media center to use solely for connecting to HDTV
and playing videos


I misconstrued this as receiving OTA HDTV, now after re-reading it I see you are going to download/save media and stream from the internet. In that case, yes the TV tuner card isn't necessary.

I would recommend getting a 1.5-2TB HDD for the same amount though, pretty much keeping your budget at 480ish.

Also a note on the PSU. It's a good PSU and most importantly for a small form factor case is that it is modular so you keep the inside uncluttered for good airflow.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 14, 2010 2:20:31 AM

Yeah, go with a SAMSUNG Spintpoint F3, I wasnt thinking when I posted about the Seagate.

If you are iffy on onboard graphics, I might sat go with an pretty cheap dual-core AMD CPU, and just get a low profile Radeon HD5550 or something similar to it.

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November 14, 2010 2:21:47 AM

Thank you everyone!

I'm gonna look into all of this and choose, this helped a lot!
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 14, 2010 2:48:58 AM

Once again if all you're concerned with atm is 1080p and 7.1 surround sound I can personally say that the onboard HD4200 that is on the AMD motherboards is plenty.
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