Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Solved

$700 Dollar HTPC Build (Including Monitor): Would you change anything?

Last response: in Systems
Share
February 23, 2011 6:11:48 PM

I am building an HTPC for my dad so he can watch his movies on his big screen, listen to his jazz music, but also so he can do some spreadsheet work as well as possibly use it for some architectural design programs.

After all the mail in rebates, with shipping, this comes to about 732... is there anything you would change??

Thanks!!!

AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor ADX640WFGMBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PNY VCGGT4301XPB GeForce GT 430 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HT | OMEGA STRIKER 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

APEX AL-D500EXP 500W ATX12V Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Asus VE228H 21.5" Full HD HDMI LED BackLight LCD Monitor w/Speakers
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HP 24X Multiformat DVD Writer Black SATA Model 1260i
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
February 23, 2011 6:38:32 PM

Asus 24x DVD burner $18 $4 less

Already have an OS you can use?

I have a slight concern that 1920x1080 pixels squeezed into the 21.5" LCD might be a strain on older eyes when doing spreadsheets, e-mail etc.
The 23" ASUS VH236H 1080P LCD Monitor Built-in Speakers is only $10 with a larger Pixel Pitch of 0.266mm (vs 0.248mm in the 21.5")

Save a few bucks in shipping charges and get a better PSU choice: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W PSU
-> The 'earth friendly' part of the PSU is it doesn't come with an AC power cord. Hopefully you already have one you can recycle.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 6:42:02 PM

What type of speaker system will the HT OMEGA STRIKER be supporting?
Does the HDTV support a HDMI connection? Or are you routing audio through the sound card to a receiver and into the TV?
m
0
l
Related resources
February 23, 2011 6:43:29 PM

1) My parent's companies give them windows and MS office for free, so: check!
2) I can certainly see that being an issue, and I hadn't seen that monitor. I will look into that. Thank you.
3. I have a cable lying around here somewhere - if not, I am sure I can pick one up either online or at the used PC part store for a couple bucks.

Thanks for the input... keep it coming.

Also,

AMD Phenom II X2 555 vs AMD Athlon II X4 640... I decided on the Athlon because I figured that excel and some of the architecture programs could use the multiple cores. However, in single core processing, the phenom would be 0.2ghz faster.

Thoughts?
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 6:45:22 PM

WR2 said:
What type of speaker system will the HT OMEGA STRIKER be supporting?
Does the HDTV support a HDMI connection? Or are you routing audio through the sound card to a receiver and into the TV?


1) He hasn't purchased speakers yet - although, if he gets good speakers he will probably run them through a receiver which is then connected to the PC

2) The TV has an hdmi connection on the back, although, I have a feeling the audio will be connected to a receiver or something.
m
0
l

Best solution

February 23, 2011 6:45:41 PM

I'd switch the video card for an HD 5450. It's cheaper, and nothing indicates you'd actually need something with decent power. The other option is to drop the GPU altogether and go with either the onboard graphics of an 8xx AMD chipset or switch to Intel's i3 and H55 chipset.

Drop the sound card. It's completely useless. Onboard audio already supports 7.1 output and is excellent already.

Switch the RAM for these Corsair XMS3 1600 mhz CL 9 sticks for $40 (after rebate). If you're not overclocking, you don't need CL 7 sticks.

Ditch that crappy PSU. It's an absolute POS. Instead, grab a great Antec low wattage unit, like this Eartwatts 380W.

I'd also switch the motherboard. That ones an older model (a good one though, it's the one I'm using), and has features you're not going to use. I'd get something more like the Gigabyte GA-880GM-D2H or ASRock 770 Extreme3.

I'd go with the 1 TB model of that F3. It's only $15 more.

The 300 Illusion is a good case, but I'd also look at some smaller models. Check out some of the HTPC cases too.

I can go even cheaper on the optical: this one is $17. There is no real difference between brands or models, so don't pay more than the minimum.

I second the Asus 23" monitor. It's worth the extra $10. Of course, there's also the 23.6" model for $9 more (shipping), which I've heard is really 24"...
Share
February 23, 2011 6:53:36 PM

MadAdmiral said:
I'd switch the video card for an HD 5450. It's cheaper, and nothing indicates you'd actually need something with decent power. The other option is to drop the GPU altogether and go with either the onboard graphics of an 8xx AMD chipset or switch to Intel's i3 and H55 chipset.

Drop the sound card. It's completely useless. Onboard audio already supports 7.1 output and is excellent already.

Switch the RAM for these Corsair XMS3 1600 mhz CL 9 sticks for $40 (after rebate). If you're not overclocking, you don't need CL 7 sticks.

Ditch that crappy PSU. It's an absolute POS. Instead, grab a great Antec low wattage unit, like this Eartwatts 380W.

I'd also switch the motherboard. That ones an older model (a good one though, it's the one I'm using), and has features you're not going to use. I'd get something more like the Gigabyte GA-880GM-D2H or ASRock 770 Extreme3.

I'd go with the 1 TB model of that F3. It's only $15 more.

The 300 Illusion is a good case, but I'd also look at some smaller models. Check out some of the HTPC cases too.

There is no reason to spend $25+ on a DVD burner. Get the cheapest one you can find. Like this one for $17. There is no real difference between brands or models, so don't pay more than the minimum.



1) The only thing I really need graphics power for is the 1080p blue rays and such. I back all his movies up for him to his computer, and then he will play them through his computer to the TV. You think onboard video is enough to run 1080p blue ray videos??

2) Ram = Noted, thank you

3) Is 350w enough to run the gpu, cpu, etc etc.??

4) Motherboard - it's a bit overkill, but with the $15 rebate it actually comes out to less than the other boards.

5) Case - I just want something that is going to stay COOL. I figure for 50 bucks, I probably won't find much better.

6) Yeah, I just sort of grabbed that one on newegg without focusing too much, just to give my shopping cart a rough estimate.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 6:57:54 PM


Phenom X2 555 vs Athlon X4 640 For general purpose productivity the X2 slightly leads the X4. But an X4 just sounds more powerful and they're quite close.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 6:59:03 PM

You'll end up with an under 200W max load on the new system. 350-400W range is plenty.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:02:23 PM

Is there a chance you'll need a Blu-Ray player? or is there already one in the home theater? You know, friends dropping by with a movie they just picked up.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:04:48 PM

WR2 said:
Is there a chance you'll need a Blu-Ray player? or is there already one in the home theater? You know, friends dropping by with a movie they just picked up.


I am not going to put on in right now, but I might in the future. That's an easy add-on.

WR2 said:
You'll end up with an under 200W max load on the new system. 350-400W range is plenty.


Wow! That low? That's quite nice!
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:07:10 PM

oldsoulrevival said:
1) The only thing I really need graphics power for is the 1080p blue rays and such. I back all his movies up for him to his computer, and then he will play them through his computer to the TV. You think onboard video is enough to run 1080p blue ray videos??

2) Ram = Noted, thank you

3) Is 350w enough to run the gpu, cpu, etc etc.??

4) Motherboard - it's a bit overkill, but with the $15 rebate it actually comes out to less than the other boards.

5) Case - I just want something that is going to stay COOL. I figure for 50 bucks, I probably won't find much better.

6) Yeah, I just sort of grabbed that one on newegg without focusing too much, just to give my shopping cart a rough estimate.



1.) The newer onboard video (like that of the Gigabyte board I linked) is definitely powerful enough for 1080p video. The i3, with it's integrated graphics, was basically build as a general use/HTPC CPU and GPU.

3.) Yes. New GPUs are very low power.

4.) I know it's cheaper, but it also doesn't have support for USB 3/SATA III devices, which is becoming more and more important. If you're absolutely sure you don't want those features, I can find a board without them that only as a single PCIe 2.0 slot for less. You'll need a newer board if you want to try using only onboard graphics.

5.) You actually will. The Rosewill Destroyer is $40 (with promo) or the Rosewill Challenger for $55 both have a lot better cooling. Also, the 300 is $60 (plus shipping). The Antec 300 Illusion is also $60 (free shipping), and it's the same case with two more fans.

EDIT: I should add that I absolutely hate the X2 Black Edition CPUs. They'll be underpowered within a year. The cheaper true quads (the Athlon II X4s) will be more powerful in the long run, as would the even cheaper X3s.

Also, don't forget to check for combos. You can generally find at least one that will save a bit of money.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:22:02 PM

I think I will stick with the dedicated GPU - some of his architectural programs could probably benefit from it. They are similar to game design programs.

2) Didn't realize it doesn't support Sata III - I will look into that.

3) Case = changed

4) I forgot to ask - do you really think that onboard audio is fine? He is going to want to buy some good speakers to hook up, and I got him on the FLAC and/or 320kbps bandwagon a while back, so I want him to be able to take advantage of this high quality audio. I have an audiophile soundcard, but I really don't know much about the lower end cards these days.

I am pretty much sold on the Athlon II x4 at this point.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:22:40 PM

a few suggestions:

Sound card is not needed.

Get the AS Rock 880GM for $60 (Saves $24)

Drop the 7.1 sound card (8.1 is built into the mobo, and the video card will handle HDMI sound) (aves $90)

Get the Antec 380W 80+ Bronze PSU for the same price as the apex. Better quality parts.

Use the saved money for a 1 TB HDD ($65) and a Blu-Ray Player ($50).

Upgrade the GPU to an HD5670 or GTS 450 or HD5770 (all around $100-110)
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:28:15 PM

^Little late to the party there....

Fair enough on sticking to the discrete. I'd probably go with a nVidia card, as it's most likely to have the biggest impact.

Onboard audio has come a long way. I'd say that if you're looking at anything less than a high-end audio card, the extra cost isn't worth it. It's also not a final decision either. I'd at least test out the onboard when you first build it, and if there is a noticable quality difference, shell out for a sound card. After all, onboard is free.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:29:13 PM

An all digital signal to a receiver would make the speakers the key part of a near-audiophile setup, both for the HTPC pushing music and the HDTV pushing movies.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:31:10 PM

MadAdmiral said:
^Little late to the party there....

Fair enough on sticking to the discrete. I'd probably go with a nVidia card, as it's most likely to have the biggest impact.

Onboard audio has come a long way. I'd say that if you're looking at anything less than a high-end audio card, the extra cost isn't worth it. It's also not a final decision either. I'd at least test out the onboard when you first build it, and if there is a noticable quality difference, shell out for a sound card. After all, onboard is free.


Very good point. With the extra money saved on a soundcard, I can also get him a better monitor, which he really wanted to begin with.

He can always upgrade later if he wants.

Also, you posted two motherboard alternatives. Which would you say has the best onboard audio? Since I am going with onboard, now the search is to find which has the best.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:34:11 PM

WR2 said:
An all digital signal to a receiver would make the speakers the key part of a near-audiophile setup, both for the HTPC pushing music and the HDTV pushing movies.


Please clarify. Are you saying that if I use an all digital signal from the PC to the receiver, the speakers he chooses are going to make the big difference in good audio (not an extra soundcard in the computer); also, when watching HD movies, the audio's quality will also be dependent on the receiver (again, not on an extra soundcard)?

^did I read that correctly?
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:42:48 PM

I have no idea on which onboard audio is better. I'd guess they're basically the same or that the Gigabyte's would be slightly better, as the chipset is newer.
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 7:49:35 PM

Thanks for all the help, folks...

I will post the specs I edit a little later after I work out.

This site never ceases to amaze me with the fast responses and expert help. Got me through my first build, and now, apparently, through my second.

WOO!
m
0
l
February 23, 2011 9:26:19 PM

It was more a comment about a better set of speakers so audio quality is enhanced for both the movies and music.
By using the $$ meant for the sound card to upgrade the speaker choice.
The receiver you mentioned would essentially take the place of the PC sound card.
m
0
l
February 24, 2011 1:27:56 AM

Okay so here are the components I think I have decided on:

ASUS VW246H Glossy Black 24"
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 AM3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822152181

Rosewill DESTROYER Black Gaming ATX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And a generic dvd burner

Total price with taxes, shipping, etc: $605.82 (includes prices from a local PC store with great prices)

-------------------------------------------------------------



Motherboard should provide enough video juice - I talked to him about his specific uses, and he said that his video requirements really are not that hard to accomplish. The onboard audio should be able to handle 1080 movies just fine, and any programs he uses for work. Audio should be okay too.

However, I spent a little extra on the MoBo so that I have ample room for expansion later on if he needs it.

I got the Phenom x4 just because I got it for 20 bucks more, and I have the processor and I love it. It's overkill for him, but I am okay with that.

Thoughts?

PS: Responses tonight would be great - I'd like to pick up/order things tomorrow.

Cheers!
m
0
l
February 24, 2011 1:35:27 AM

Best answer selected by oldsoulrevival.
m
0
l
February 24, 2011 1:35:36 AM

The ASUS VW246H might be in store at your local BestBuy.
If a phone call confirms that a run to check it out could be useful.

I noticed a Rosewill DESTROYER case owner posting in the forum tonight mentioning the front LED light is very bright and the fans on the loud side. I'll try and find that post for you.

I like the list for your purposes. Can always add a discrete video card if the onboard graphics just won't handle the Blu-Ray playback. But I think that quad CPU will power through anything.
m
0
l
February 24, 2011 2:01:29 AM

Thanks WR2.

The computer will be in an office somewhere, so the light isn't too much of an issue - plus I can always remove the LEDs.

The sound, on the other hand, is something I read in the newegg comments - I still don't know how I feel about it... I could always got buy some quieter fans. Still debating what I want to do with the case issue - I really wish I could test it out somewhere. I might find something at the store that is suitable for me, too.

Good call on the monitor - that was one of the three components I was going to get off newegg, but I found it at Kmart. I hate buying electronics online, b ut the prices are usually better. However, Microcenter actually beats newegg most of the time, so I use them all the time. And Kmart has the same price for the monitor.

I did a search and people said the onboard should handle the bluray just fine, but like you said, I can always upgrade for pretty cheap.


Thanks again for your input - it helped a lot.
m
0
l
February 24, 2011 2:12:14 AM

Microcenter nearby... I'm jealous. Let me see what Cooler Master has in cases. They have some pretty good bargains.
m
0
l
February 24, 2011 2:20:16 AM

I'm not bothered at all by it only having 1 rear exhaust fan.
With what you're putting inside it should have no problem keeping the system cool.
m
0
l
February 24, 2011 2:30:44 AM

Having a microcenter about 5 minutes away from me is FANTASTIC. I built my personal rig with them, and they price matched everything, and their customer service was fantastic.

I like the sound of that case except that people are saying it's really flimsy.. I need something a bit more stable.

I have a feeling that I am going to make the case decision about 2 minutes before I buy it at the store, and just call it a day.


Although, I did that with my rig and got the HAF 932... which was great and all, except that the thing sucks dust like no other! Case choosing is my least favorite part of building computers hahaha
m
0
l
February 24, 2011 2:34:35 AM

And it's the one part of system you have to look at and listen too - and everybody's preferences are different.

A lot of those cases seem flimsy till they're fully assembled, especially with the side panel off. Once they're loaded up and closed up they hold together pretty good.
m
0
l
February 24, 2011 2:43:38 AM

True.

Well, I am about to crash for sleep right now, but thanks again for all the help!
m
0
l
February 25, 2011 12:24:35 AM

I built the system today, and everything went perfect on the first try. I love it when that happens :) 


To everyone that helped, thank you so much! The parts you recommended really made a great 500 dollar PC, and the monitor aint too shabby either.

Tom's Hardware rocks!! :sol: 
m
0
l
February 25, 2011 12:30:07 AM

Good news.

Thanks for letting us know.
m
0
l
!