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Looking for Advice on Cheap HTPC Build

Approximate Purchase Date: First few weeks in March

Budget Range: ~$400

System Usage from Most to Least Important: My PS3 died and I have all these blu-rays! Also, I used the streaming/Netflix a lot. I’d like the PC to host a small home file share (not a ton of use/files). I never played the games. That’s what the xbox in the basement is for! :)

Parts Not Required: Hard Drive (re-using a 1 TB Seagate Barracuda, 7200 rpm, 3.5"...I’m a little afraid of noise, but it's free). For cost reasons, not going for a remote, just iPhone apps.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon (Prime Member), Newegg

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: Cheap, but not total junk. Interested in Zacate, but open to opinions.

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: I have an older TV in my living room that only does 1080i, no hdmi, 1920x1080

Additional Comments:
My goal is to replace my dead PS3 with an actual PC for not much more than a new PS3. I'm thinking Zacate is a good fit for the price range.

I'm very interested in case advice. A lot of the tiny cases, which I would like to go for, only have slim optical drives and I didn't have much luck finding a cheap slim blu ray drive.
This (and the 3.5 " HD) has forced my hand into a case which is a little bigger than I'd like, but I do have a fair amount of room under the TV (once I trash the PS3!). ;)

Also, since I’m on a tight budget, I was going to try just using my iPhone for the remote for now. Anyone have any luck with the iPhone controller apps out there?

Thanks a lot for any advice! I don't have a ton of experience building systems (but I enjoy it), so I appreciate any help.

Tentative Parts List:

Mobo/CPU ($117 w/Shipping)
ASRock E350M1 AMD Dual-Core Zacate E350 APU Dual-Core AMD A50M Hudson M1 Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

Memory ($41.99)
Kingston 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333

Blu-ray ($49.99)
LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Reader Model iHOS104

Case/PSU ($64.99)
Thermaltkae Element Q Mini-ITX Chassis with Built-in 200W SFX Power Supply VL52021N2U

OS ($99.99)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit System Builder

Total (with a new ethernet cable/random stuff): $390
8 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about looking advice cheap htpc build
  1. You could check out my 300$ build. I actually think using my mobo and CPU would be a better option mainly because they did a review and desktop CPUs (Regor 255) pack a lot more CPU power. However the Zacate does offer lower power consumption so. Meh it's your choice whether to use that or not.
  2. Best answer
    That ASRock motherboard seems to be out of stock now. You could substitute the MSI E350IS-E45 for about $20 more.

    That motherboard is single-channel so I would start with a single 2GB stick and see if that works for you as an HTPC. That might save you a little money.

    I've used this case for mini-ITX builds and it's very good, comes with a 150W PSU and will fit a standard ODD and HDD.

    Rosewill RC-CIX-01 BK Glossy Black Steel Cube Mini-ITX Computer Case with 150W Power Supply and 1x 80mm Fan
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147133
    $49.99

    Overall, I think for "cheap" HTPCs the Zacate motherboards are the way to go.
  3. aznshinobi said:
    You could check out my 300$ build. I actually think using my mobo and CPU would be a better option mainly because they did a review and desktop CPUs (Regor 255) pack a lot more CPU power. However the Zacate does offer lower power consumption so. Meh it's your choice whether to use that or not.


    :D Thanks a lot for the link.

    I think I've mentally switched between Zacate and an Athlon build about 5 times now. The ASRock Zacate kept coming up like 20-30 bucks cheaper..but if I'm going to have a ~200W power supply anyway (mostly for the full sized blu-ray/HD drives), Athlon might be a safer bet performance wise? Still on the fence there.
  4. ^ Yeah, plus since there is no Asrock option and the next one would be the MSI (20$ more) might as well go Athlon. Plus the PSU is really efficient and cheap. :D Check it out!
  5. Thanks! I like that case better and it's cheaper!

    I was going to give newegg a few days to see if the ASRock came back. Going to MSI, makes me think I should just go athlon for the price difference.
  6. Yeah! Silverstone makes really nice cases, they're more expensive but the end result is a really nice looking build. Keep in mind my build doesn't include a BD drive into the mix, it just includes a normal CD/DVD drive. So if you want to include that it'll be 370ish. It should work out though.
  7. Best answer selected by greesha.
  8. Dougie Fresh said:
    That ASRock motherboard seems to be out of stock now. You could substitute the MSI E350IS-E45 for about $20 more.

    That motherboard is single-channel so I would start with a single 2GB stick and see if that works for you as an HTPC. That might save you a little money.

    I've used this case for mini-ITX builds and it's very good, comes with a 150W PSU and will fit a standard ODD and HDD.

    Rosewill RC-CIX-01 BK Glossy Black Steel Cube Mini-ITX Computer Case with 150W Power Supply and 1x 80mm Fan
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147133
    $49.99

    Overall, I think for "cheap" HTPCs the Zacate motherboards are the way to go.


    Thanks a lot for the advice. I went for the MSI board and this Rosewill case. I decided to give the new kid on the block (Zacate) a shot for the heck of it. I never plan on gaming or anything so it will be fun to see what the board can do. I appreciated the Athlon counterpoint though. :)
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