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Your thoughts on this Proposed HTPC Build. Thanks!

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March 2, 2011 12:58:11 AM

CURRENT THOUGHT IS TO GO WITH:

Asus P7H55-M Pro
Intel i3-530 Clarkdale
Corsair XMS 1333 2x4GB (my main PC doesn't have 8GB, but when you can get it for $50, why not.
Corsair HX 650w PSU (Overkill, I know. But I trust Corsair and I like the HX modular!)
OCZ Agility 2 60GB SSD (my main PC doesn't have one. I want fast boots!)

Price is $480 after mail-in rebates, BEFORE a case. I haven't decided if I want to squeeze into an HTPC case or buy a full tower and a 30' certified HDMI cable and keep the box in the media closet.

My goals:

MUST have DTS-HD and TrueHD capability.
MUST have quality comparable to a stand-alone.
MUST be able to utilize HDMI out of PC carrying audio and video to Denon receiver
MUST be able to play m2ts files with HD audio intact, created from original discs with DVDFab.
MUST be cheaper than a Kaleidescape system otherwise what's the point in an HTPC ... hahaha!

Unless I need to, I'm going with the in-chip graphics. Should be adequate, right?

I don't like PS3 Media Server, Twonky, the WD Live Hub. They all have their shortcomings, but the WD Live was awefully close! I was originally going to accept the shortcomings of the WD and use a NAS but then realized the WD Live Hub is $200 and a quality NAS is $350+, so I might as well just build an HTPC.

So, what do you all think? Good enough?
March 2, 2011 1:05:36 AM

You could check out my build in my siggy. I'm pretty sure overall you would save a lot. You also don't need a Corsair HX 650. Waste of money IMO for an HTPC build. HTPC's do not need to have a lot of money put into it. If you really like modular I highly recommend this PSU with the same efficiency and cheaper. Silverstone is a solid brand.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

March 2, 2011 1:38:09 AM

This is definitely going to be a nice system for what you are planning.

However, your PSU is WAY overkill and more than you'd even guess. I have an i3-540 / GA-H55N-USB3, 64GB, 4GB DDR 1333, ASUS DVD and TP-Link PCI-e wireless N card in one of my machines. It maxes out at 84W with Prime95 Torture Test, idles at 31W and sleeps at 5.5W (measured at the wall with a Kill-a-Watt). The problem with the power usage vs. the PSU wattage is that at such low loads, the PSU is going to be very inefficient. You will be wasting a lot of electricity in heat.

Something a 300 or 350W Seasonic PSU or Antec 380W would be a much better choice and will still have the headroom for adding a few 3.5" HDDs and even a video card like an HD5670 should you decide to do so later.

Related resources
March 2, 2011 1:49:43 AM

1) I think I would look at a sandy bridge build; they are faster and cooler. The integrated graphics is better than the clarkdale's. They have hdmi output. Spend this month planning.
2) How much hard drive space will you need? 60gb is not much, unless you have a server somewhere.
3) Have you considered a mini-itx based system? There are some very nice cases from lian li. I am using a V351 micro-ATX cube case which I love.
4) A 100w psu will do the job.
March 2, 2011 3:09:55 AM

I'm not going to be doing much with the SSD other than booting the system, which is why I only went with a 60GB. All media files are on networked drives. I don't think I will need the massive bandwidth...

However, how 'bout the Biostar TH67+ and the i5-2500? That combo is about $100 more than what I was originally thinking, but would help to futureproof the HTPC for a while longer, if I ever decided to grab a 3D TV (not likely).
March 2, 2011 3:28:01 AM

^ You wouldn't need to do the 2500 w/ H67. You getting a dedicated card (5450) would save you money in the long run if you don't want the onboard. Plus with the 5450 you get bitstreaming audio, it's only 30$ too. So yeah.

Want to save some money on the SSD? Then a 32gb would be enough too.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's only 85$ for pretty close speeds to the Agility (well sorta). But cheaper by about 60$.
March 2, 2011 3:28:43 AM

Reviews on the chip have people saying IT'S AWESOME, but I might just stick with the i3 and keep the money in my pocket. I'm not going to be playing games... just playing 1080p movies. Tempting though to go with the H67.

I already ordered the SSD and it's on its way. I went with the 60 to make it more versatile ie. installing CS3, etc, in case I love it so much I had to switch it with the WD 750 Black in my office PC.

You mentioned bitstreaming... I never use that word for some reason, but that's pretty much what I described as a MUST. The 530/H55 combo allows that right? Everything I read says it does.

Thanks for all the replies guys (and maybe a geeky gal too)!!
March 2, 2011 3:44:23 AM

Nice find GeoFelt! That case looks real sweet. Silverstone also makes some nice ones too. Like this on the Egg.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As for the bitstreaming audio. Be it as it may, I'm not sure if the i3 530/540 does offer bitstreaming, but the AMD setup would total out cheaper. 255 (62$) + Asrock 880G (60$) + Sapphire 5450 (30$) = $152. It's your choice though.

March 2, 2011 4:17:27 AM

That ECS card is SWEET! Thanks for the link. Now to exercise patience waiting for it to be back on the market. I think that's the way I'll go. And I LOVE that little case you showed us.
March 2, 2011 5:06:37 AM

Polarbear,

I'm not sure how the rest of the world views HTPCs, but I view them as computers that look just like a nice Home theater receiver that's 100% silent. If I can hear a faint whisper of noise, it's too loud.

I just build one over the weekend, here's what I used. (Keep in mind that i'm lucky enough to live 2 blocks from a microcenter.)

CPU = AMD phenom x4 840 at 3.2ghz for $99
Mobo = ASUS microatx motherboard, came free with cpu purchase.
RAM = corsair xms3 1333mhz 4 gig kit of ram for $39
Videocard is an ASUS silent/fanless 210 1GiG of ddr3 for $29
PSU is a Seasonic silent/fanless gold certified 400W for $110
SSD is a microcenter re-branded a-data 64Gig with 285/275 specs for $99
CPU cooler is a shythe fanless lowprofile cooler for $35
Case is the silverstone case that Aznshinobi posted 2 posts up for $99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total was $515 before taxes.

I even picked up a remote control kit from centralcomputers for $12 that works awesome! No more keyboard or mouse! Woot!

In case your wondering, my passive cpu cooler keeps my cpu at 38C, and my silent videocard is about 46 when movies are playing. the case has so much breathing room that heat just rises up and goes away :) 

Also, might I suggest XMBC software for your media center software? I personally find that it runs great, after a bit of tweaking, addons, and customizations.

Again for me, noise is not an option. My HTPC is meant for 24x7 use. Never to be turned off. Just walk over and hit the remote to un-standby it and watch movies.

Not that noise is a factor when playing movies, but to leave it on 24x7, no fans means no noise and very little dust. Besides, I have tried many silent type fans and PSU's with huge 140MM low rpm fans, and it just bugs me to hear noise from my audio/video devices in my living room when I get-up in the middle of the night for a snack.

Please note that this setup of "must be extreme silent" came at a small cost, and is a personal preference. I speak for noone else besides myself in regards to my post.

I think many of the posts so far for your build have been great, i'm just a very anal SOB.
March 2, 2011 12:14:54 PM

I have never set up a non-Windows systems. I may in the future, but as of now HD audio is not supported in XBMC. ffdshow only recently started supporting it, which is why the HTPC is finally being built.

I'm not too worried about total silence. My Denon receiver has a fan in it. The 58" Panasonic plasma has a fan (or two) in it. My house has a fan in it... heating and AC.

The HD audio is a must. Build a theatre in your basement and spend no less than $7K on B&W speakers and you would feel the difference.

PS - Also blocks from a Microcenter, but after a buddy and I got off work and headed over to pick up a supposedly new XBox 360, setting it up, and finding previous saves from 3 months ago on it, he and I don't shop Microcenter. Would have been a liveable mistake had they just exchanged it without hassle, but they insisted we were at fault. There are too many great online stores for me to give a dime to a B&M like Microcenter, but Newegg and Amazon are all I need.
March 2, 2011 3:45:20 PM

Polarbear,

I didn't mean to install XMBC as the OS (which you can do) I meant to install it as an auto starting app on windows.

I too have a denon reciever and have a 58 Panasonic V10 Plasma. (I work for Panasonic.) And i'm here to tell you that even if your only fan was the stock cpu cooler, it's way louder than the denon. Besides, as I mentioned before, noise is not an issue when things are turned on, it's when they are turned off that I have a problem. As my computer never gets turned off.

My knowledge is with PC's and not so much HD audio. So when you say that xmbc doesn't support it, i'm not sure what you mean. When I play bluerays from xmbc, my denon switches to DTS-HD mode. (I run HDMI from my videocard to my denon.)

So in regards to not playing or supporting HD audio, I want to cry foul on it, but I'm not sure what you mean with your request for HD audio.

You also must remember that my purpose is different as I stated in my previous post. An HTPC should be a work of art, and act like a device designed for one task only. (Like being an htpc, not web surfing etc etc.) When you have hundreds of music, pictures, bluerays on a 8TB NAS, you want a way to play them clean and well. (Like with a remote) Besides, it wows all my friends.

But again, if your purpose is to use a keyboard and mouse and run a specific app for a specific need, then that's something different than I thought.

B&W speakers? Dude i'm jealous. My wife won't let me as we have a baby..... dang women....

Don't knock microcenter too much. I'm in there 4-5 times a week. On occasion I have had a few hick-ups with them, but nothing serious. Nothing that stops me from going back. Besides, they can beat all CPU prices by $50-$100 24x7. Additionally, I only suggested the AMD route as they have a killer quad-core with free motherboard for $100. (your pick on mobo brand) Now fry's i'll never set foot in again......

I want to wrap up this long post by saying that my suggestions are only that, suggestions. I have different needs that you apparently. You should build whatever works for you and performs the tasks that you need it to perform. If you hate microcenter dispite the cost savings, or prefer intel vs AMD, etc etc, it's really all about what does the job you need it to do the way you need it done right?

Get whatever you need my friend. I only made my suggestions because of cost, dust/noise, and ease of use. If you need something different, then get it!

P.S. - I wish I could get my hands on some nice B&W speakers. I have a very overly priced Denon attached to some junker $500 7.1 in-a-box onkyo speakers. Because my wife hates anything too loud and truly believes that Bass will hurt the baby. BAH!

March 6, 2011 7:31:31 PM

Thanks for the Microcenter plug. I finally decided to go with the i5-2500k and Microcenter had it for less than Amazon and Newegg's prices for the i5-2500. I picked it up this afternoon. The store in Colorado looks like a thrift shop, with crap thrown all over the place. It certainly isn't what I'd call organized, but I got a new chip for $199.

I ended up going with the i5-2500k due to benchmark numbers comparing it to the $120 i3-530 and the i7-930 in my main rig. Numbers say it's twice as fast as an i3-530. It also has Intel HD Graphics 3000 instead of Intel HD Graphics. Supposedly, that'll really come into play for 3D graphics. For $80 more, I figured I'd rather embrace the new tech and somewhat futureproof the new machine. For $80 more, I now have a decent PC instead of just a decent HTPC.

I think I have also decided on the Biostar TH67+. I have never bought a Biostar. Besides it being the only H67 board available RIGHT NOW, I am VERY, VERY curious about the Bio-Remote 2 feature, which will allow me to use my Evo 4g smartphone as a remote control via WiFi.

I still haven't decided on a case. I either need a micro ATX under 4.25" tall and as wide as it pleases or one no more than 8.75" tall and no more than 13" wide (for current location.) I will be buying a house at the end of the year and will then frame a dedicated a/v area in the theatre room. In the current theatre, I have a fireplace in the way :( 

Thanks to all with all the great suggestions.

PS -- When I started this thread I was unaware of TMT5 and Blu-ray ISO playback! NICE! Full disc ISO takes up more HDD space than main movie m2ts but having TrueHD and DTS-HD Master bitstreaming over HDMI (with my current rig) is AWESOME!


EDITED: Of course the day after I purchase the i5-2500k from Microcenter, they drop the price another $20. So, I reordered and returned the first one unopened. New price... $180.
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