OK, so building my second HTPC. My first was just mostly experimentation, getting to know the hardware and making some dumb mistakes along the way. =) But I had fun.
Now, I'm ready to do it again. The only hard limitation is that I want to use the Moneual Moncaso 312 case, I'm absolutely sold on its looks. No real budget to speak of, but nothing too crazy either. I would, however, like a few recommendations :
1. Motherboard/chipset. I am still not even sure if I should go i3, AMD X2 or even Atom/Ion! This will be for living room duty, on a 2.1 system, so I'm not too concerned about HD audio bitstreaming. I only intend to run XBMC, surf the internet and rip Blu-Ray's/DVD's using MakeMKV (no encoding, straight to MKV). Right now, I am actually leaning towards the passively-cooled Asus Atom/Ion or Atom/Ion2 boards;
2. Further to that, what is the current status with the "Intel Bug"? Honestly, i3 is kind of last in my list due to some known issues (green-ish images) with some of the MPC:HC filters, and now this Intel bug thing (framerate jutter, is it?). Have those been addressed? Plus, it's a lot of money, and a lot of power I won't need;
3. Power supply. Thing is, I'd like to run a 40G SSD for the system (not decided yet on W7 or Linux, kind of leaning towards XBMCLive, so another plus for the Ion platform, although I've never worked with Linux before and I'm a bit scared), and TWO additional 2 TB drives. Later, I might build a file server with all those drives and only run the HTPC with the SSD, but that's later. So - I was thinking PicoPSU.....? Would that work with three hard drives? That'd be about all, really;
4. There's some known issues with the Moncaso 312 IR sensor (not RC6 compatible). I remember that I had very little trouble configuring a generic MCE remote to work with XBMC with a simple RegEdit file plucked from the forums. (I hear Dharma now has MCE remote support built-in, I was working with the Beta on my previous build - the DSPlayer version, actually....). Would you know if there would be a way to just plug in a regular, RC6 sensor? Another option, I know, would be to buy another generic remote, not connect the built-in sensor, and just use the remote's USB IR sensor, but I'd like an elegant solution where the sensor is hidden, just like in the case. Any options?
5. You guys think I'd need case fans if I used a passively-cooled platform?
That's about it. If you have any more suggestions, shoot them this way! Thanks in advance!
First off, welcome to the forums. You're in good HTPC company here.
Second, I like where you're going with this build. Although I think with the case you've selected you might as well get a good quality ATX PSU. A picoPSU would work, but you've got the room, so might as well fill it up with a PSU. Otherwise, you'll have a hole in the back where the PSU should be. You can get actively cool PSU's that are dead silent... look for anything made by SeaSonic, like Corsair, or some of the Antec Earthwatts series. BTW, I have a Moncaso, great build quality and great service from the company. My power LED PCB board burned out and they sent me a replacement for free, no questions asked.
Third, if you plan to stream any high bitrate media (1080p flash, for example), you may want to forego the atom/ion setup. If anything is not perfect in the hardware acceleration, the atom is too weak to do any software playback smoothly. Plus, ion boards are mini-ITX and your case can fit up to a micro-ATX... so you've got the room for a slightly bigger motherboard and the extra slots that come with it for expansion. I suggest you go for a low power Athlon X2 and match it up with a 880G chipset motherboard.
Yeah, I am actually a fan of AMD as well. The only reason I suggested the Pico PSU unit (and mini-ITX) is because of an owner's thread of sorts over on avsforums.com where some people report having a few issues with the case, depending on chipset, with fitment and stuff. Either way, this is what I'm thinking now :
Case : Moneual MonCaso 312
Mobo : Asus M4A88T-M/USB3
CPU : Athlon II X2 250;
PSU : Nexus value 430 (again, based on recommendations from thread above, this PSU is slightly shorter than most, and fairly silent);
ODD : Probably LG, due to its being a tad shorter (I have to get the exact model from thread above);
SSD : Intel 40 gig (with StarTech 2.5"->3.5" adapter)
2 X WD Caviar Green 2 TB drives
Probably a remote as well, so I can use its IR USB sensor if things go to s**t with the 312's built-in one.
Before you get the keyboard/mouse, take a look at the matching Moneual keyboard/trackball that would go well with the case: MK701
It's a little cheaper here, but even though the model # says MK701, the picture is of the MK700 so I'm not sure which you'd get. The MK700 does not have a scroll wheel.
I have the older model (MK700) and it works great and matches my Moncaso case and remote nicely.
The Intel SSD should come with the 3.5" adapter. My 80GB Intel SSD came with one.
For the blu-ray drive, are you planning on getting a drive that comes with software or get the playback software separate? You have to do your research on that one because some drives that come with software have some features missing.
RAM should be good. I've had good luck with G.Skill.
GREAT call on the Intel SSD coming with the adapter, you just saved me 30$!! =)
I'll have a look at the MK701 - although I LOVE the idea, I'll have to see how much it is to ship this thing to Canada. Thanks for the suggestion.
Blu-Ray : not sure. My previous build had a Lite-On that came with PowerDVD 8 or something, that could play Blu-Ray only in 2 ch (BUT - my receiver lit up with Dolby Digital 5.1....????). I upgraded to Ultra 10 back then. I'm not sure which features I'd be missing if I chose that one again. Honestly, it worked fine. That's why I was hoping to have some software included, although I usually just rip the Blu-Ray's (even rentals) before watching them, but I'd see. It'd be fun to have the option of just popping it in and watching it. Again, a lot of the weight in the drive selection will come down to the fitment in the 312 case; but, from what I've read, it's not a big deal really.
Sounds like I'm getting close to a final build! =)