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1st Time build: HTPC for the next 5+ years

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March 5, 2011 10:50:27 PM

I'm asking here because you guys/gals know your stuff

Approximate Purchase Date: within ~30 days

Budget Range: $800 but flexible
System Usage from Most to Least Important: streaming videos, local videos, web, productivity (Office etc)
Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor, DVD drive
Preferred Websites: newegg, amazon
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences:
Mobo $130
MSI 890GXM-G65 AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX
Processor $110
AMD Phenom II X4 840 Propus 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W
RAM $45
4GB kit (2GBx2), Ballistix Tracer 240-pin DIMM (with LEDs), DDR3 PC3-10600 memory module
Video $0
onboard
SSD $125
Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAC064MAG-1G1 2.5" 64GB SATA III
HD $55
HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.C HDS721010CLA332 (0F10383) 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
Case $110
Antec NSK-3480
PSU
with case
OS $95
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

Total $670

Overclocking: No
SLI or Crossfire: No
Monitor Resolution: 1080p

Additional Comments: I plan to keep this setup for 5+ years or as long as it lasts. Quiet would be nice so I would prefer to go with onboard video and it saves $$. I'd like to have SATA 3 and USB 3 as well.

Best solution

March 5, 2011 11:52:41 PM

An alternative you might not have thought about yet.

CPU: Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz Dual-Core CPU $150
BIOSTAR TH67+ H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Motherboard & RAM combo $145
G.SKILL RipjawsX 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 RAM
~$295 CPU/MB/RAM combo here vs $285 for the same combo above.

Onboard video comparison: HD 2000 graphics vs ATI Radeon HD 4290 graphics

CPU multi-tasking comparison

and keeping the rest of your list of parts.



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March 6, 2011 2:11:14 AM

Thanks for the suggestion. I had ruled out Intel onboard graphics due the shitty Intel graphics on my 7 year old Celeron I'm using now (don't laugh) and the shitty graphics on the various netbooks I've used but maybe that's not fair. And I had figured that Sandy bridge was too expensive but it I could be wrong.

Passmark gives the AMD Phenom II X4 840 a 3,893 and the Core i3-2120 a 3,510 so slightly worse but the price is more for the i3.

I guess that board/CPU gives more room for upgrades down the line since the AM3 line is ending so it has that going for it.
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March 6, 2011 2:49:43 AM

That's correct. We've read the next gen Ivy Bridge will be a drop in compatible chip together with a BIOS upgrade.

Passmark is handy but you're better off with benchmarks that are closest to what ever you intend to do with your new system. I think the quad i5-2300 is just like $35 more. Not that I think you'd need it.
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March 8, 2011 1:48:57 AM

Hello - I am thinking about making an HTPC for my mother's birthday, and this seems like a very good build!

A quick question: What is the point of having the SSD? From what I understand, people use it to install the OS for a super fast startup right? I am assuming that my parents would just leave the computer on 24/7, so I may leave out the SSD if it does not effect the quality of actually watching the videos.

Thank you in advance for your guidance!

*Edit - Just noticed that the BIOSTAR TH67 is out of stock; any alternative that you would suggest?
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March 8, 2011 1:54:20 AM

Head I think you should wait for Bulldozer, Llano has shown that AMD's APUs can kill Intel's integrated graphics.
Source:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-llano-demo-cebi...

Granted, you want to build in 30 days and BD/Llano doesn't release till July, well after, it's just an option you may want to stick in when you decide your HTPC.
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March 8, 2011 2:04:45 AM

Hello bin82;

Yes you can leave it out and still have an excellent HTPC. The SSD alone does not improve the quality of the video playback.
A SSD is a bit of a luxury but you can get super fast program response if you put your OS and 4 or 5 of your most often used programs on it.
Think Window Media Center on the SSD, a web browser, email, etc.
A SSD is super quiet and that can be an asset in the Home Theater.
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March 8, 2011 12:34:23 PM

Thank you for the heads up! I suppose that I can install it later as an upgrade if the HTPC seems a little slow.
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March 11, 2011 10:42:12 PM

aznshinobi said:
Head I think you should wait for Bulldozer, Llano has shown that AMD's APUs can kill Intel's integrated graphics.


I actually specced out a similar build last summer then decided to wait but this Celeron I have now isn't getting any faster.

Since I plan on keeping the new build for a long time I'm willing to wait another few months for Llano if it's worth it terms of value. The performance is better, and the power draw too, but does anyone know about the cost yet? And does it makes sense to buy 1st gen boards?



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March 12, 2011 2:43:20 AM

1st generation boards? What does that mean?

No cost has not been announced.
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March 13, 2011 1:03:21 AM

aznshinobi said:
1st generation boards? What does that mean?

No cost has not been announced.



I mean 1st generation as in untested, containing unknown bugs, and more expensive. Look at the issues with the new Sandy Bridge Boards. It's tough to make decisions now when so little is known about the new Llano chips. I would hate to buy now and then be kicking myself in July.
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March 13, 2011 1:13:52 AM

Best answer selected by Head.
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March 22, 2011 1:57:20 AM

Warning: newbie questions, I just started building systems so bear with me, please.

So I have been looking across the forums about HTPC configs and am most intrigued by this post. I recently built a system using with the same CPU, the Gigabyte equivalent of the same board, a 64GB SSD with a 1TB WD Blue HDD, and 8MB of Samsung PC1060 RAM for my desktop. I also just built a HTPC with a i3 550, an ASUS P7H55 mobo and 4 GB low-end PC800 RAM, a LiteOn BluRay drive, and a WD Blue 6400 HDD. Both boxes are similiar to the OP and the first suggested alternative.

My first question now is what hardware I need to add to the Intel system to really call it a HTPC. I would like to put a tuner card in it but it would need to be low profile.
Next, what network configuration should I set up. I have a Cisco E-3000 with a WRT54G cascaded and run the HTPC off Wifi for now. I will eventually hardwire it but can't drill in the walls at my current house.
Third, What OS should I use? I was looking through the Linux forums to see if I could use Ubuntu to boot the HTPC and easily get to Netflix, play DVDs and BluRays, run Pandora, and occasionally surf the internet.

I have W7 on the HTPC that my wife can run but I want to change to Linux to avoid the possible problems with needing to activate. She doesn't know anything about Linux and I know a bit but don't have the patience to teach her a lot.

Thanks for any input.
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