New $400-500 PC Build - HTPC / Media Storage / Video/Photo Editing

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next three months

Budget Range: ~$400-500

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
• Media storage (pictures, home videos, DVDs, etc.)
• Video/photo editing/encoding

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, DVD burner

Preferred Website(s)/Store(s) for Parts: MicroCenter, newegg, fry’s

Country of Origin: US

Parts Preferences: I’m open to any and all brands

Overclocking: No (but possibly in the future)

SLI or Crossfire: No

Additional Comments:
Hey everyone! I’m looking to build a new pc that will be used as an HTPC, media storage server, video/photo editing and encoding. Eventually, I’d also like to add a TV tuner and have it set up as a DVR.

The pc will be stored in our office (basement). I plan on using my XBOX 360 as a windows media center extender in our family room, and also connecting the pc to a HDTV in our bedroom via HDMI cable (wired through the wall less than 30 ft).

Here are the parts that I’m currently looking at:

CPU/MB Combo: AMD Athlon II X4 640 & ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/U - $175.98

Do any of the other CPU/MBO combos look like they would be better options? I was thinking that the Phenom’s would be overkill for my build.

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2x2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) - $48.99

Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W - $44.99

Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB - $54.99 (w/ $15 of promo code)

Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower - $49.95 (after rebate)

I’m not really set on a case yet, but since the pc will be in the office, it does not need to be an HTPC case. Any recommendations are welcome.

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium - $99


Like I mentioned earlier, I’d like to add a TV tuner card at some point and have the pc serve as a DVR so I can record shows and stream them to my TV. I will most likely add a few more hard drives and a BluRay burner in the future.

So, some of my questions are…
1. Would any of the other MicroCenter AMD CPU/MB combos be better options?
2. Will the integrated graphics on the MB be good enough for streaming HD video?
3. Does the power supply have enough power for adding a tv tuner in the future or possibly a Ceton InfiniTv 4 and additional hard drives and BluRay burner?
4. Would a SSD drive be of any benefit for this build for the OS?
5. Would it be better to wait for the new SandyBridge i3?
6. Am I missing anything?

Any other comments/recommendations are welcome.

5 answers Last reply
More about build htpc media storage video photo editing
  1. Well, first of all, I think an HTPC doesn't really require some of the parts you listed.

    Here's what I think:

    CPU MB Combo: I never played HD video on an HD monitor before, but relying on IGP might be risky. Since even the best IGP (Sandy Bridge's i5) can't keep up with a moderate performing GPU such as the HD4650, moreover the better HD5570.

    Based on this consideration, I suggest to get the top on the list MSI's 785G+Athlon II X4 combo.Reasons are, they're a lot cheaper with performance only slightly inferior to the 880G and if it fails to meet your standard (which means the 880G will also), you can use the $75 for a graphic card, preferably an HD5570.

    The CPU is a wise option, so I'll just skip that.

    Memory: You may not need a heatsink on a memory module if you're not OCing. Any standard DDR3 RAM like these ones will be enough:

    But since the price difference is only $10 to justify the heatsink, then it's fine.

    Power supply and HDD: Wise choices :D

    Case: Since you're going to put it in the basement, just use your old case or get a cheap $20-30 one if you want to save money (Hint: the cheapest in my country is less than $10, and they work just fine at my customers internet cafe. :lol: )

    Just make sure you keep the dust away. Some out-blowing fan (exhaust) should do the trick. ;)

    Answering your questions:

    1. My above suggestion.
    2. Not sure, that's why I suggest a precaution plan.
    3. The total power consumption with all the peripherals is a approx. 200-250W. So it's a yes.
    4. Not really. It only speeds up your boot up time and OS response by a few seconds. But if you really want to, why not go for it?
    5. That depends. If the price's is as high as I think it will be, then I'd prefer not to if I were you.
    6. A Blu-Ray player?
  2. Thanks for the reply and recommendations!

    So, you think getting a dedicated graphics card would be better than the integrated video? From reading the other posts on this board, it sounded like integrated graphics would be good enough. But, I guess if I opt for one of the cheaper/free motherboards (i.e. msi 785GM-P45), I can spend that $$$ I save on a dedicated graphics card.

    I’m not too familiar with graphics cards, so any recommendations are welcome.

    I see that the following has pretty good reviews on newegg: SAPPHIRE 100293L Radeon HD 5570

    The only thing that worries me is that in the system requirements, is states “400 Watt or greater power supply recommended”, and the one I chose is only 380W.

    I think I’ll stick with the memory I selected in case I choose to OC, and like you said, it’s only a $10 difference.

    I plan to buy a LG or LiteOn BluRay burner at some point.
  3. Dont worries..5570 only consume about 45 Watts TDP..
    Let say,, your PSU efficiency arround 70%..HD 5570 45watt + Athlon II X4 95watt + another accesories 50watt .. total rounding all about 200watt at max load..
    200 / 70 x 100 = 285watt
    In conclusion,,its more than enough..
  4. To OP:

    The integrated video is perfectly fine for media duties. A discreet card is only necessary over modern integrated video for three reasons:

    #1 You want to play games
    #2 You want to add HD audio bitstreaming over HDMI
    #3 You watch a lot of interlaced content and want to add vector adaptive deinterlacing to smooth it out

    On the flip-side, a discreet card adds heat and noise to your HTPC both of which are undesirable. Even a passive video card may increase noise output as the case fans generally need to increase speed to compensate.

    So, before buying a discreet video card, make sure you fall into one of the above scenarios or you are wasting your money.

    About the power supply, 380W from a good manufacturer is plenty. Minimum system requirements are written to cover the manufacturers ass when builders use low quality power. A 400W crap PSU may have the same output as a 200W top brand PSU.

    For your SSD question, I personally run SSD's on all systems now, even my HTPC. They run cooler than platter drives and are completely silent (again, heat and noise are critical in HTPC setups). That being said, the speed increase in boot time is not a big factor for an HTPC because a properly setup HTPC will be in S3 mode when not in use and comes up in about 2 sec. I would say if your budget allows an SSD, then go for it. Otherwise, just stick with a traditional HDD and put the money into other parts.
  5. unfortunately, the cheaper MSI boards aren't available at the MicroCenter near me.

    so, my question to everyone out there is... which of these motherboards would be best to get with the Athlon II X4 640 CPU/MB combos at MicroCenter...

    ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/U AM3 880G - $175.98 for the CPU/MB combo

    Biostar TA890GXB HD AM3 890GX - $145.98 for the CPU/MB combo

    Gigabyte GA-880GM-UD2H AM3 880G - $140.98 for the CPU/MB combo

    of course the ASUS board is probably the best of the bunch, but is the $30-35 extra worth it?
Ask a new question

Read More

New Build Photo Systems Product