First HTPC Build, pls Help

Approximate Purchase Date: This Week

Budget Range: $500

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Watching TV (Cutting the cable)

Parts Not Required: Monitor, DVD/BluRay Player

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, amazon

Country of Origin: US

Parts Preferences: by brand or type : Intel

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: HD Toshiba Ragza (1080P)

Additional Comments:

Long time lurker, firt time post. I am looking to get rid of ATT Uverse and go with a HTPC with Netflix, Hulu, and an OTA antenna. I have a Toshiba Ragza HD tv that the video will be output to and an Onkyo receiver that I will connect the sound to with a optical cable. I have an external Blue Ray so I will not need a optical drive. Bleow is what I am thinking as of right now, any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am looking to keep the price resonable, but I want to make sure the performance doesn't suffer.

Mobo – ASUS LGA 1156 Intel H55 DDR3 2133OC mATX
CPU – Either
Intel Core i3-530 2.93GHz 4MB LGA1156
Intel Core i3-540 3.06GHz 4MB LGA1156

HDD – Samsung 1 TB Spinpoint 7200RPM 32 MB Cahce SATA - 1 maybe 2
Ram – Patriot G Series ‘Sector 5’ Edition 4GB
OS - Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Need ideas/thoughts on
TV Tuner - want to be able to record one show and maybe watch another
Case - something cheep, it will be hidden so it doesn't have to be sleek
PSU - ???

17 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about first htpc build help
  1. After getting burned by 4 Asus mobos in a row, I'll never buy one again. But the two Gigabyte models I have now are flawless, I'll be buying their new mini ITX model for a new NAS build in a few weeks.

    Have you thought about a small SSD for the OS? They can be had for cheap on sale and will give your system a speed boost. I've always been of the belief that OS and storage should never be on the same drive.

    The only TV card I've been looking at is the Ceton one. It's pricey but also the best of breed. I think it's worth it.
  2. You motherboard and CPU selection looks great. You should consider an ATX size motherboard though -- see below about tuners for why.

    For OS and storage, I would select a 64GB SSD for the boot drive and a Samsung F4 2TB drive for media storage.

    For the RAM, I would verify the compatibility with your motherboard but usually if the voltage and timings are the same as QC'd RAM it should work. You can find a list of tested RAM on the ASUS website page for your motherboard. I am a Kingston or G-Skill guy for RAM so I cannot say anything about Patriot from experience.

    As for the TV tuner, there are two choices. You can go with a networked tuner that sits next to your router or a switch. I have one of those (SiliconDust HomeRun dual-tuner) which works well for me since my router and everything sit right where the cable comes into the basement. This means a much shorter coax run to my tuner. The 2nd choice is internal. The Happauge 2250 is a dual-tuner card. You then have to run your OTA coax to your PC. I think the answer will be about where your OTA is going to come in and how long the run will be to your tuner whether it's internal or external.

    As for a case, even though it's hidden I would not go too cheap. my favorite "cheap" case is the Antec 300. I'd couple that with a Seasonic 350W or Antec EA-380D 380W PSU. Both are high quality and 80+ or better rated. The Antec 300 will take a ATX board which you should think about if you are going to have internal tuners since it will give you more room to add another tuner card in the future. You want as many PCI-e x1 or larger slots as you have room for. You'll find quickly the ability to tune 2 channels at once is never enough. You'll have two recordings going on and no way to watch TV at the same time. Trust me that this will happen more often than you think.

    Something further to give consideration to is the new LGA1155 / Sandybridge chipset/CPU that's just been released. See how a i5-2400S with ATX 1155 H67 motherboard compares in cost to the i3-540 / H55 ATX motherboard in price and how the newer stuff fits into your budget.

    [Edit] Just noticed you changed your original post to a budget of $500. That's not going to cut it for what you want to build and that parts you want including the tuner.
  3. Thanks for the reply's so far.
    I will add a few other items I forgot to mention in my first post. I do have a seperate smaller HDD already for the OS. The Computer, TV, Router, and OTA signal will all be in the same area so either an internal or external tuner will work, just looking for the best tuner for the money. $500 is just a ballpark to let people know I am looking to keep it cheeper and not go overboard on the system, just need it to work for media absolutly no gaming. That being siad I think the new i5 would be a little much for me.

    Would this mobo work better (ATX size)?
  4. I think you are in trouble with your $500 budget if you want to go i3 / H55.

    CPU + mobo: ~$200
    Tuner: ~$100
    Win 7 x64: ~$100

    That leaves you $100 for RAM, HDD, PSU and a case. A good PSU will eat up at least $40 of that. $30 for the cheapest RAM (your Patriot) after rebate. Now you've got $30 left for a HDD and case.
  5. Dougie,
    This may seem like a noob question but is there any real difference between the i3-530 and i3-540


  6. The difference is just the clock speed and by very little (2.93 vs 3.06). Whichever one is cheaper is the way to go. Looks like it's the i3-540 that's cheaper even though it's the faster one.
  7. You can save $5 over the i3-540 / ASUS board you chose by going i3-550 / ASUS board you chose with this combo deal @ Newegg:

    Again, only difference is faster clock.
  8. I've talked with my CFO and the budget will be allowed to increase enough to cover the parts needed. As of right now I am looking at the following;

    Case - Antec 300
    PSU - Antec EA-380D
    Mobo - Gigabyte GA-H55-USB3 (ATX Form Factor)
    CPU - Intel i3-540
    Memory - Patriot G Series

    Can someone tell me if this will work with the mobo? The mobo calls out for 1.5v memory and the patriot is listed at 1.65v. Thanks

    HDD - Samsung 1 TB
    Tuner - Hauppauge 2250 w/ Remote
    OS - Windows 7

    Dougie, Thanks for your help/comments, any other comments on the build here?
  9. The 1.65v memory will be fine in that motherboard. 1.5v is the minimum for that board...

    What you are looking to do is a very minimal task for any newly build PC. I have built three for this exact purpose in the past few months. It seems like you are in good shape with your Intel build, but I will throw out an AMD option to consider as well. Any AM3 motherboard with a minimum of HD 4200 onboard video will have good blu-ray playback and do 1080 resolution to your HDTV. There are LOTS of options out there, but my recent pick has been from MicroCenter. $100 covers your MB+CPU+IntegratedGPU... The rest of your parts stay the same as your Intel build. The Athlon X4 640 + MSI 758GM-P45 has been a good combo for me as has the X2 560 with the same board. Either of the AMD or Intel builds will EASILY perform the tasks you are wanting it to do. Just something to think about... or browse the NewEgg combos...
  10. I dont know much about the AMD's but will look into them today. How is the quality of the MSI boards compared to the Asus or Gigabyte boards, they seem alot cheeper in price. Also I was looking for a board with an optical output for the audio and an ATX form factor. What are you thoughts on the MSI 785GT-E63 mobo? If that along with either of the two AMDs listed in your post would work that would save me a nice little bit of money on the build. Thanks
  11. MSI makes a fine board, but I would rate Asus and Gigabyte above. The MSI 785GT-E63 is an older AM3 motherboard that uses DDR2 memory. Best to pick up something newer supporting DDR3 memory. The NewEgg filter below is for boards having an HDMI output, DDR3, and optical audio output to give you an idea...

    BTW - You may not need optical audio out if you have HDCP compliant HDTV and can do both audio and video over HDMI (similar to a XBOX 360 or PS3).
  12. Looking at those AMD deals they are in store only specials, I do not live close to a microcenter, having to pay for gas to drive to one would negate any savings in buying from there.
  13. Any thoughts on the Avermedia tuner instead of the Hauppauge Tuner?
  14. I've been an Avermedia A188 duet user for a while now. If you google around you'll see many complaints about the tuner disappearing. I had the same problem and had to RMA the tuner. The replacement tuner works great, however.

    I don't know if the stock of "bad" A188 duets has been depleted (I purchased mine in Nov '09), but just be aware that there is/was a well-documented problem with that particular tuner.
  15. Best answer
    I would take a look at this RAM / motherboard combo. I've had good luck with A-DATA for memory and SSD.

    A-DATA 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model AD3U1333B2G9-DRH
    GIGABYTE GA-H55-USB3 LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
    Combo Discount: -$21.00
    Combo Price: $131.98

    There is also a $5 off combo with that Samsung drive and Win7 x64

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
    Combo Discount: -$5.00
    Combo Price: $154.98

    Every little bit counts :D
  16. Thanks for all the help I went ahead and went with the following setup;
    Parts are on the way and I wil post pictures after the build.

    Mobo - Gigabyte GA-H55-USB3 w/ the A-Data Memory Combo (Thanks for the combo savings Dougie, newegg also had 15% off memory)
    CPU - Intel i3 Core i3-540
    Case - Antec 300
    PSU - Antec EA-380D
    HDD - Samsung 1TB
    OS - Windows 7

    Currently my build is just over my 500.00 budget (534) and I am still trying to pick my tuner. Anyone else have thought suggestions between the Hauppauge 2250 and the Avermedia A188 Duet?
  17. Best answer selected by red_raider.
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