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New HTPC / First Computer Build

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November 27, 2010 1:48:33 PM

Hey Pros,
I'm ready to ditch cable and dive into a new HTPC, but also have never built a system and figured this would be a good way to learn at the same time. I've got a 42" LCD (1080p) and a 720p DLP Mitsubishi Projector in the basement. I plan on using WMC from the HTPC with the 42", and use my xbox 360 to extend it to my basement, but would like this HTPC to potentially work seamlessly with both in case I change my mind.

I'd like to stay around the $500 range if possible, here's what I've got so far. Being my first attempt at a built, let me know if there's compatibility issues etc.

ASUS M4A785T-M AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor ADX640WFGMBOX

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
(I don't plan on storing a lot of video, probably just music)

Antec MicroFusion Remote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

I've already got Win7, a DVD Drive and a USB Tuner i'll try out before upgrading.

I really appreciate anyone taking the time to review this. I'm hoping to learn a lot from this, so thanks a ton in advance. Also, if you see any areas that are overkill, im open to saving money too :) 

More about : htpc computer build

November 27, 2010 2:07:43 PM

I have three comments:

#1 RAM?

#2 You might as well go with a 880G chipset motherboard since they are about the same price as the older 785G ones.

#3 Why do you need a quad core? That much CPU muscle is needed for video encoding, but for media playback I suggest you scale it down to a low power dual core CPU to save on heat/power/noise.

That's my 2¢
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November 27, 2010 3:23:51 PM

Sorry I forgot to mention RAM, i can shop around for that, but if there's anything to keep in mind, let me know. As far as the quad core goes, as I was shopping around, i saw I had a little extra room in the budget, figured that would be a good place to upgrade. Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it.
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November 27, 2010 5:33:20 PM

@ majonsey - welcome to the forums! Your good with any sort of ram - 2GB DDR3 1333MHz as you won't be gaming, rendering, overclocking or decoding on it. The same can be said about the CPU choice - IF you ARE planning on gaming than the most you'd need to find is a x3 (triple core) CPU

@ rwpitchett - agreed

Sounds like you've saved a good amount - then get a tv tuner card - rwpritchett suggested a Hauppauge 2250 MCE tv tuner for my HTPC build or two in my case :) 
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November 27, 2010 5:57:16 PM

of course, with 4 GB available so cheap, there really no reason no to:
Mushkin Essentials 4 GB DDR3-1333 kit is $49.99 with a $10 Rebate (so $39.99 after rebate)

I agree on just getting an 880

I would suggest getting a 1 TB Hard drive though. you might not store much, but even a little can eat things up.

Since you're looking at the 640 quad (though you could also look at the 445 Triple core) which gets more muscle for encoding, have you considered a Blu-Ray Burner?

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November 27, 2010 6:39:41 PM

I think I'll take rw's advice and go a little smaller on the processor, maybe something like this?

I never really got into blu-ray, but my humble dvd collection could be digitized on this drive, so upping the HD space isnt a bad idea. Blu-ray drive though? Not sure, don't own a singe blu-ray, but it does look like netflix is continuing to add to their blu-ray offerings.

Thanks again for the help. If I chose another case, what kind of power supply would i need for this rig?
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November 27, 2010 6:52:26 PM

majonsey said:
I think I'll take rw's advice and go a little smaller on the processor, maybe something like this?

I never really got into blu-ray, but my humble dvd collection could be digitized on this drive, so upping the HD space isnt a bad idea. Blu-ray drive though? Not sure, don't own a singe blu-ray, but it does look like netflix is continuing to add to their blu-ray offerings.

Thanks again for the help. If I chose another case, what kind of power supply would i need for this rig?



a Blu-Ray burner would let you copy off HD video recorded on the HTPC onto disc to save hard drive space (A single Blu-ray disc holds 50 GB! and that's usually about 3-3.5 hours of video in HD). Netflix and HTPC are really about video streaming. (personally I use my PS3 as my blu-ray).

The CPU you suggested is fine, but you can get an extra 100 MHZ for just $1 more!:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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November 28, 2010 1:38:02 AM

So with all of this feedback based on my original post, is this build looking like it will do what I need it to? Any other thoughts?

Thanks again for the input.
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November 28, 2010 2:00:27 AM

sorry, can you repost your new build idea in a separate post?
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November 28, 2010 10:57:14 PM

Sure thing, here's what I'm thinking now:

Mobo: ASUS M4A88T-M LE AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 250 Regor 3.0GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor
HD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Memory: CORSAIR XMS 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Desktop Memory
Optical: SONY Black SATA DVD-ROM Drive Model DDU1681S-0B
Case: Antec MicroFusion Remote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

At newegg, this build puts me at $480.00, which is a great. Staying under or right around $500 is ideal.

I really like this case better: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811204035 , but I see some mixed reviews, and a higher end power supply puts me a little over budget. Unless you guys have additional feedback, this is my last decision to make.

Also, since this is my first PC Build of any kind, any tips or suggestions? I know where all the components will go, but is there anything special i need to know about installing an OS etc.?

Thanks for all the help!

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November 28, 2010 11:31:24 PM

congrats, it looks good.

just acwarning that loading an os, drivers, and software wil be time consuming
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November 29, 2010 1:59:57 AM

lol - yeah thas my experience as well , its always like that in the beginning :)  I'd side with the Antec micro but adding the nmedia case would also need another PSU...so you'lll probably save another $10~$15
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November 29, 2010 1:04:31 PM

majonsey said:
Also, since this is my first PC Build of any kind, any tips or suggestions? I know where all the components will go, but is there anything special i need to know about installing an OS etc.?
The biggest typical newb mistake that I see is installing the OS before switching the hard drive controller to AHCI in the BIOS, so be sure to take care of that before getting started. Also, here's a nice application setup tip: use ninite to select, download, and intall all of your common apps in one step. It saves a bit of time, and it automatically deselects undesirable things like Yahoo toolbar, or other opt-ins that programs like to sneak in.
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November 29, 2010 5:41:23 PM

Check out this CPU/Motherboard/RAM/HDD combo.
i3-540/H55 micro-ATX/1TB HDD/4GB RAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I... ($267)

I just bought this to put into one of these too (the Antec 350 @ Amazon saves $10 shipping)
http://www.amazon.com/Slim-Media-Center-Pc-Case/dp/B001... ($130)

Add in your existing DVD drive and USB tuner and you've got an HTPC for $397 that'll even support HD audio bitstreaming over HDMI.

My main HTPC is in an nMediaPC 1000b case with a Antec EA380D PSU. Those are very good also but it's a bigger case. The nice thing about the Antec 350 case is it's very small -- I'd say VCR size which is what I was looking for anyway.
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November 29, 2010 11:28:41 PM

Dougie, good find, but im at the same price (398 with 4 gig memory, rather than 8) with my original build, and i dont see anything that's a big upgrade to what I have...maybe im missing something.

What about this case:
nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 5000B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

With this power supply:
SeaSonic S12II 380B 380W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

(of course it would be out of stock...)

This gets me the case i think i would prefer, and allows me to stay on budget. Thoughts? I'll leave everyone alone after this :) 
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November 30, 2010 12:36:15 AM

hello everyone,

i just wanted to say thank you to majonsey and everyone that comment this thread. i'm also looking to build my first htpc and the info are greatly appreciated.
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November 30, 2010 8:53:16 PM

I like the nMediaPC case that I have and I would buy another one. Check out this one also:

nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 1080P Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This PSU would be a good substitute for the Seasonic:

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D 380W 80+ Bronze
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
10% off with promo code CORTENBF, ends 11/30 puts it just under $40 + shipping

The only feature the i3/H55 combo has over the AMD/880G combo is that if you have any Bluray rips with Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio sound, you'll be able to bitstream those formats over HDMI to a compatible receiver without dropping in a discrete graphics card. I have both -- an AMD/780G with a HD5670 added and the aforementioned combo from Newegg.com. I think you go for what you feel is the best value and has the features you want. For me, the preference is one less component to get the HD audio.

BTW, no need to leave anyone alone -- happy to help.
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December 1, 2010 9:01:44 AM

@ majonsey - your not annoying us, we're keeping up with your posts.
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December 5, 2010 12:20:44 PM

Thanks everyone, it looks like i'll be pulling the trigger after christmas, but this gives me a great head start. I'll keep everyone posted after the build out.

Thanks again!
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March 8, 2011 5:26:48 PM

Hey everyone, I've finally got a working build. I took a little longer than I thought, but thought I'd get back here and let everyone know how it went. First off, after all of the great feedback I got from here, I price shopped a bit over the last few months, but here's my final component list.

1) Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
2) PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
3) HD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
4) Memory (x2): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
5) CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
6) Mobo: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
7) Optical Drive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

My only experience putting a system together had been swapping out drives here and there, so this was a little daunting going into it, but I was able to get it all working with a little patience. Now shopping for tuners / remotes which will push me a bit over the 500$ mark, but losing 100$ / mo in cable costs a month will make up for it in no time.

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their input, already looking forward to coming back on here for my next project :) 
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