Need help on HTPC


I need a little help on an HTPC build. What I'm trying to do is build something that does a few basic things.

1. Connect to my 37" flat-screen TV via an HDMI cable.

2. Play online video and Blu-Ray smoothly, inclduing HD video from Netflix.

3. Allow me to burn DVDs.

4. Serve as a central repository for my family's music, photos, and videos, which we can then access from our laptops.

That's it - no encoding, no intense gaming. I'm not looking to cheap out though - I want something reliable and quiet that won't cause me headaches.

So here's what I was thinking about (I want to buy from NewEgg since I have store credit there):

CASE: Antec Black Aluminum / Steel Fusion Remote Black Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case --- $134.95

POWER: SeaSonic SS-350ET Bronze 350W ATX12V V2.31 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply -OEM --- $42.99

MOBO: ASRock 880GM-LE AM3 AMD 880G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard --- $59.99

CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 440 Rana 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX440WFGIBOX --- $74.99

GPU: HIS Silence H557HR1G Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card -- $74.99

RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model --- $56.99

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive --- $69.99

OPTICAL DRIVE: LG Black Blu-ray Disc Combo SATA Model UH10LS20 LightScribe Support - OEM --- $84.99

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM -- $99


Thoughts? Any place I can perhaps save money without sacrificing quality?
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  1. You're list looks good to me. If you truly want to save some money, you could drop to a dual core CPU since you said encoding and gaming are not intended.

    Also, why don't you use the motherboard video? Can you define "no intense gaming"?

    That would save you another $75, not to mention heat. If you need the card to bitstream HD audio, just change your build to an Intel setup with a Clarkdale CPU. If you have some games you want to play, you may want to step the card up a bit since you might be running at a fairly high rez. Is your TV 720p or 1080p?
  2. Thanks for your response! My TV is a 1080p. What I meant by "no intense gaming" is that I would not be playing graphics intense games like Medal of Honor, etc. I may play some basic web-based games. So I may take your advice to step back the CPU to a dual-core. I don't think I need to bitstream HD audio; the audio is just going to my TV.

    I'd love to not have to buy an additional video card, if I can be sure that the motherboard video/CPU alone could handle BluRay and other HD video, and if the motherboard has an HDMI output. I think the motherboard I selected doesn't have that. But if I change to this MOBO it should solve that problem, right?

    GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
  3. Have you looked into getting an Core i3 and use the embedded graphics on it. It has like a 750Mhz GPU, and it with some good DDR3 memory you should easily crank out some 1080p videos. I have put together an 1TB Core i3 build with an HDMI out, for like $450.
  4. Only thing I noticed is that your video card recommends a minimum 400 Watt PSU. Here is a nice Corsair for $50 from Newegg.
  5. I think you should definitely start out with the on-board GPU and then see how it goes. Even the HD3200 on my older 780G system handles HD video with no problem. The exception would be if you need Dolby TrueHD/DTS Master Audio bitstreaming over HDMI right now.

    This motherboard has HD4200 graphics and 128MB of dedicated GPU memory:
    ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

    This CPU is 2.8GHz but is only 45W - perfect for HTPC/server duty
    AMD Athlon II X2 240e Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 45W Dual-Core Desktop Processor AD240EHDGQBOX

    As for a PSU, even with the 350W you'll be able to run up to a HD5670 if you don't have too many cards/HDDs going on in there. I'd shop prices between the Seasonic 350W, the Antec 380W/430W and the Corsair 400W -- all are very good. NewEgg is running a special on the Antec EA430D - $34.99 AR with free shipping.

    This is nice case (I got one for myself this week) that comes with a 350W 80+ PSU:
    Antec MicroFusion Remote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
    $89.99 + free shipping (this is an amazing price for this -- it's usually well over $100)

    Otherwise, I think the rest of your build looks fine.
  6. Welcome to THG.

    We need an idea as to how you will handle your audio.

    AsRock makes good stuff BUT I would suggest the Asus M4A785TD-M EVO noted above. It will sleep at 2-3w and boot in a matter of seconds -- not sure how well the AsRock handles sleep states.

    My M4A785TD sleeps for days (weeks!) at a time. The integrated Radeon HD 4200 graphics will stream your video fine -- just make sure to install the Avivo UVD2 decoder for IGP hardware acceleration to reduce CPU utilization.

    I hate to keep pounding you with *specs* but the IGP 4200 will handle h.264 (your Bluray) and VC-1 (your Netflix) -- UVD2 also does PiP IIRC. And just so you are not surprised, Netflix streams are only in stereo - didn't know if you were aware of that.

    I pass my audio through the 'analog-outs' on the mobo to my receiver -- video directly to the screen. Works like a champ and sounds great.
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