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Need advice on first home built HTPC

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Last response: in Systems
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February 15, 2011 4:41:27 PM

I am looking to build my first computer for a HTPC, and I could really use any help ya'll can give. This site is great and filled with all kinds of good info. Unfortunately most of it is over my head.

Approximate Purchase Date: Next couple of Days

Budget Range: ~$800 after rebates (including keyboard)

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
1. Watching Movies/TV Shows
2. Recording OTA TV
3. light photo and video editing
4. Surfing the internet
5. Itunes


Parts Not Required: Monitor, Speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, but I'm open to anything

Parts Preferences: No real preference. Leaning toward AMD CPU's for cooler operation and cost savings

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe (could be used down the road but not a priority)

Monitor Resolution: 720p 56" Toshiba

Additional Comments: Quiet, ability to be controlled by a remote for WMC functions

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This system is being put together to eventually replace my DVR and satellite subscription, and this is the setup I am currently looking at. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me to keep me from wasting my wife's money. :) 

Case:
nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Steel HTPC 2000B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU
AMD Athlon II X4 645 Propus 3.1GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor ADX645WFGMBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard
ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU
COOLER MASTER Elite 460 RS-460-PSAR-J3 460W ATX12V V2.31 Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6402AAEX 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

TV Tuner
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner 1213 PCI-Express x1 Interface
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Drive
LITE-ON Black SATA DVD-ROM Drive Model iHDS118-04 - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Keyboard
IOGEAR GKM561R Black 2.4GHz Wireless HTPC Multimedia Keyboard with Laser Trackball and Scroll Wheel
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



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Best solution

February 15, 2011 5:05:07 PM

There are a couple of things here I would change.

I would go with this PSU. The one you have is not 80+ rated and you don't need that much power.
Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W 80+ Bronze
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And this hard drive:
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I think the quad-core is probably overkill for light video and photo editing but it won't hurt either at that pricepoint. You could drop to the Athlon II x4 640 or even the Athlon II x3 450 and not lose any noticeable performance but save yourself some money.

You should look for some combos with your components. I see at least one on Newegg with your OS.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 15, 2011 5:17:31 PM

^I agree with every thing dougie says.

I have a WD black in my HTPC and hate it. Very noisy drive. I can hear it spinning constantly. Samsungs are much more quiet.

If you do go with the Earthwatts PSU, don't forget to pick up a power cable... Antec doesn't give you one with that PSU.

BTW, your CPU link takes us to the Coolermaster PSU.
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February 15, 2011 5:34:52 PM

Thanks. I was looking at the WD to get the 6gb/s. Does that make a difference, or is it even worth looking at? I am definitely changing the PSU and I'll probably drop to the x3 to save $40-50.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 15, 2011 5:46:57 PM

6gb/s is only needed for future SSD's. A fast platter drive barely saturates 1.5gb/s SATA. SATA2 (3.0 gb/s) is all you need for a platter drive (and most current SSDs).
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February 15, 2011 6:36:53 PM

Got it. Thanks again.
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February 16, 2011 1:40:24 PM

Placed the order this morning with the suggested components and I went with the x3 CPU. Now to see if I can actually put this thing together.
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February 16, 2011 6:29:05 PM

Congrats and good luck! Feel free to come back and post some pictures, ask questions, etc.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 16, 2011 11:02:08 PM

After you get it all set up, try to unlock the dormant 4th core on the CPU. You may get that quad core you originally wanted!
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February 16, 2011 11:12:41 PM

I was planning on giving that a try. That was one thought I had with the MB I picked out.
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February 18, 2011 10:51:02 PM

I am learning myself. Looking to build an HTPC in a month or two. Please let us know how it goes. I would be interested in hearing your experience on a first build.
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March 1, 2011 8:50:33 PM

Best answer selected by raneyj.
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March 1, 2011 9:03:56 PM

Had a short hiatus there. Sorry for the delay.

Alright, I set the whole system up the day after I got everything in, and so far I am very pleased. I will be going to Newegg site to rate some of the equipment I used later. Building the system wasn't as difficult as I had thought. Of course not really knowing anything about it, there were a few unexpected things, but really nothing for any new user to shy away from.

The motherboard had excellent directions that really helped with the whole setup. Very good pictures and write-up, so even a complete noob like me can get through it. I did have to figure out a few things with the case. Pathetic instructions but solid case. I am very pleased with it. The only real gripe is that the PSU was a little tight against my exhaust fans so the fourth screw wouldn't go in to the PSU. I don't think it's a huge issue and I'll probably tap it to allow the screw to go through the case.

As far as an HTPC, my wife and I are loving it. The only downside is that I've lost my bigscreen at times to her looking at her pictures and writing her blog, but happy wife happy life right???

I'm using Media Center to run almost everything. It doesn't work as seamlessly with the remote as I had hoped, but most functions are completely controlled without having to use a keyboard. Hulu+ and Netflix are both loaded into MC, and the internet TV is a nice way to watch CBS. The over air is also working very well. Very happy with the tuner and setting up a recording schedule for the TV shows. I believe our satellite subscription is a couple of months away from being obsolete.

Again, thanks for everyone’s help here. Wouldn't have turned out as well without all the support.

*I haven't unlocked the fourth core yet, but it is on the to-do list. I'll see how that goes. (assuming I can still unlock it with the system up and running)
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March 1, 2011 9:36:33 PM

Thank you for the post. Congratulations on the build. I will be following your footsteps in a month or two. I will definitely consider an Asus mother board based on your feedback about the instructions. I am also considering a Blue Ray drive and a bigger hard drive.

Were the PSU issues related to the size of the case or the size of the PSU? Any idea on how to avoid this problem?

What is your experience with HTPC hard drive size for far? Is the size you got plenty?

How long did it take? Did you use something to avoid static electricity?

Post some pics if you can.

LK
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 1, 2011 9:39:42 PM

Great success story.

Here's a thread that has a bunch of HTPC software tips I gave someone a while ago:

What is the best free HTPC Software?

Oh, and here's another good tip I have about TV recording: Do you hate it when you have two sequential TV recordings on the same channel and the beginning of the second program is at the end of the first recording? Even if you set WMC to record 5 minutes after the first, and start the second 3 minutes early, it refuses to use both tuners at the same time and only starts recording the second program after it has stopped recording the first.

Here's how you can prevent this: Set your default recording end time to "10 minutes after if possible". For some reason, any setting below that (like 5 minutes, 5 minutes if possible, etc.) will not make use of both tuners during the overlapping time between sequential TV programs on the same channel.

It used to drive me nuts until I figured this out. My wife would watch the first recorded program and erase it when she was done, thereby erasing the first 5 minutes of the second program which was usually one of mine. Now I don't have to worry about it.
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March 2, 2011 1:32:22 AM

Fantastic! Enjoy and have fun!
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June 27, 2011 5:03:18 PM

lifeking said:
Thank you for the post. Congratulations on the build. I will be following your footsteps in a month or two. I will definitely consider an Asus mother board based on your feedback about the instructions. I am also considering a Blue Ray drive and a bigger hard drive.

Were the PSU issues related to the size of the case or the size of the PSU? Any idea on how to avoid this problem?

What is your experience with HTPC hard drive size for far? Is the size you got plenty?

How long did it take? Did you use something to avoid static electricity?

Post some pics if you can.

LK



Well nothing like being 4 months late on a reply. Sorry about that LK.

I don't know if the issues were with the PSU or the case. I didn't try any other PSU's. It really wasn't that big of a deal, and I haven't had any problems with it. The only way to avoid the problem would probably be to try and get the exact measurements of both the PSU and the case, or contact either manufacturer to see if they have any information on the fit.

Hard Drive size has been fine. I don't store a huge amount of recordings, so it's been plenty big enough. The nice thing is I have several free bays, so if I need to I can always add.

Just took me an afternoon. I used some latex gloves that I had to try and keep my hands off the parts any more than neccessary. I also made sure to touch the case or some other metal object to discharge any static before i touched some of the sensitive stuff.

I'll try to pull it all out and get some pics to post soon.

No regrets though. I even have the wife fully on board. We haven't missed the cable subscription at all. And now, I'm even enjoying the College World Series thanks to ESPN3.

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