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Buy or Build HTPC?:Acer AX3910-U3012 Desktop

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December 18, 2010 9:29:48 PM

I happened to see this at Office Max and started wondering. Its $349 with free shipping. I'll paste in the specs below.

I was looking to build a small quiet modest priced PC to stream Hulu and record OTA channels. What am I missing? It even has a PCI x16 Express slot so I can add a video card if necessary. If I need that slot for a video card, I will have to use a USB tuner, but why not?

Would appreciate any comments you might have.


Key Features

Intel Pentium E5700 dual-core processor with 3.0 GHz CPU speed, 2 MB of L2 cache, and 1066 MHz FSB (front-side bus).
640 GB SATA hard drive (7200 RPM)
4 GB of installed DDR3 RAM (1333 MHz; upgradeable to 8 GB)
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500HD provides a rich media experience, delivering smooth playback without add-on video cards or decoders. Intel Clear Video Technology combines video processing hardware and software technologies to enhance the visual experience. And Intel HD graphics assures sharper images, richer color, and lifelike video and audio.
16x SuperMulti DVD±R/RW drive can also write to CD, DVD-RAM, and dual-layer (DL) DVD±R discs--which can hold up to 8.5 GB of data.
High Definition Audio with 5.1-channel audio support and five audio ports
Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking capability provides up to five times the performance and twice the wireless range using 802.11n-compatible routers as you would with 802.11g networks. It's also backward compatible with 802.11b/g networks.
Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)
HDMI port for connecting to a compatible HDTV or home theater receiver for uncompressed digital audio and video via a single cable. Also includes standard analog VGA video output.

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December 19, 2010 5:48:07 AM

Specs and price sound decent. I always favor building as it lets me control the quality of the components of the system from one end to the other. The thing you may not know is that if you decide to put a video card with a moderate power draw you may have to upgrade the power supply at the same time costing you more money on the back end.

Thats why I like to build so I know what my limitations are when its upgrade time.

Otherwise, if that doesn't bother you and you don't have the desire or time to do it yourself then buy the prebuilt system. I doubt you will find a much more capable system for that price.

If you have a local microcenter you can get great combo deals on a motherboard and a quad core cpu for around 100.00 to start your build.

My advice is build but ultimately thats your decision...

***UPDATE*** After reading some reviews the power supply is 220 watts so you will definitely have to replace the power supply to add a video card. But whos to say, with the way you say you will be using it you may not need a video card anytime soon. If you decide to add gaming to the mix, you will have to add a video card...
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December 19, 2010 6:10:49 AM

I agree with everything englander said. If you pick this up just consider it to be cookie cutter. Not much will change in this thing. you should be able to put in an nvidia 9400 gt but anything bigger and you'll toast the PSU. But the only reason you MIGHT need to do that is if you added a blue ray player or wanted to play games at very low settings on you hd screen. Personlay I would probably get it the price is hard to beat the specs are simple but more than adaquete for your needs. Just drop in a real nice hapagge HD tv tuner and you've got a nice engergy efficient HTPC.
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December 29, 2010 11:59:43 AM

Best answer selected by brush.
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December 29, 2010 12:01:16 PM

Thanks guys.

I did order the Acer box and it works great for me. Hulu streaming is decent. The box is small and quiet.

Thanks for your input
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December 29, 2010 12:07:11 PM

Very nice! Glad you got it and its working well. If your streaming is only "decent" it could be a bandwidth issue or the wireless device if your not hard wired.

You could do a speedtest on your connection to see how fast it is:

http://www.speedtest.net/

Hit the pingtest link right after you complete the bandwidth test and it will tell you what grade your connection is after both tests...
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December 29, 2010 12:16:30 PM

My internet connection is wired and the download is about 4mb/s

I have read a gillion forums on this topic and see that hulu streaming is often imperfect.

In pan shots, I can see some dropped frames. I doubt most would notice but I am looking for it as a measure of how well the PC is working. On one Atom based PC and an older HP machine, the frame dropping was much more noticeable.

What's your experience? Any other thoughts/suggestions. Thanks much

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December 29, 2010 12:23:43 PM

I haven't used HULU in a while so I can't really say much in that regard. I use Netflix and I have 0 issues but I have on the avg of 14mb download rating. I have had a lesser connection before and had some issues as u mentioned you are having.

A faster connection would probably be better for you but it may or may not be worth it to you to pay the premium to get it. You could call your ISP and see if you can temporarily upgrade for a month or two to see if you can tell the difference.

I would try that if you don't mind switching back and forth and paying the difference...
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