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$1000 Ceton HTPC build - Please advise

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March 23, 2011 8:54:27 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: within next two weeks but can wait if necessary

Budget Range: $1000 before Rebates/shipping/taxes

System Usage from Most to Least Important: HTPC, recording and watch HD cable tv, streaming live and recorded tv and other video files to Xbox 360 extenders.

Parts Not Required: keyboard and mouse (for now), Windows 7 x64, remote control (need usb ir receiver tho).

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: will look at Amazon or NewEgg but I have to pay tax on Newegg so prefer Amazon (prime member too).

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: no preferences but think Intel sandy bridge will get the job done most effienciently. Pretty set on the Ceton Infiniti tv 4 tuner card though.

Overclocking: No, possibly underclocking but never done it before

SLI or Crossfire: no.

Monitor Resolution:1080p

Additional Comments: I think I am ready to take a stab at my first HTPC after dealing with the TERRIBLE Comcast DVRS and their fees for too long. Essentially what I want this machine to do is replace my DVRS using windows media center and act as a hub for xbox 360s to access its video files, music, pictures, recorded and live tv. In my living my entertainment system (TV + receiver that requires optical audio) will hook up directly to the HTPC and through my wired network use the xbox 360 in the bedroom as an extender. One concern I have is I don’t know what computers the xbox 360 media extenders would stress on the machine? Is my proposed build below enough to handle 2 or 3 xbox 360 extenders in the future or do I need to go quad core or something else? I also read that running onboard graphics for the h67 chipset can sometimes cause problems with codecs. I understand this but want to first give it a go with onboard graphics understanding I may need to through in a $75 discrete hdmi radeon card or something later on.

It should be quiet, cool, and will be on at all time so low power when idle. It has to look decent enough to convince my wife. Fortunately, she is used to the look of a receiver so it shouldn’t be a problem. Convincing her it’s worth a $1000 investment is another story so any tips there would be grateful.

One other thing I am worried about is the network setup. I am unfamiliar with a gigabit setup. I don’t know much of anything about this but from my reading I think the best choice would be to run Ethernet from modem to wireless router then to a gigabit switch which hardwires to all other devices (main computer, xbox 360s, HTPC). Is this correct? How much is a good gigabit switch? What about cat 5e?

Thanks in advance everybody.
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I will post Newegg and Amazon links below as I would prefer Amazon where I can find it cause I won’t have to pay 9.25% tax and I am an Amazon prime member

TV Tuner Card: pretty set on this.
Ceton InfinitiTV 4 - $400

Case: part I am most unfamiliar/unsure of.
Antec Black Aluminum / Steel Fusion Remote Black Micro ATX Media Center - $150

CPU: is dual core enough to be able to watch/record tv to multiple extenders?
Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz 2 x 256KB L2 Cache 3MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 65W - $125

Mobo: need hmdi and optical out as my receiver does not have hdmi but TV does
GIGABYTE GA-H67MA-UD2H-B3 - $130

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - $47

Hard Drives: 1 SSD for OS and possibly time shift buffer, 1 for media storage
OCZ Technology 60 GB Vertex 2 Series SATA II 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive (SSD) OCZSSD22VTXE60G - $116

Samsung Spinpoint F4EG 2 TB SATA2 5400rpm 32 MB Hard Drive HD204UI/Z4 - $90

PSU: never know if I have enough
Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W - $40

Remote: just need an usb receiver for the Logitech harmony xbox 360 remote I already have.
Windows 7 Vista XP Media Center MCE PC Remote Control and Infrared Receiver for Home, Premium and Ultimate Edition - $20

Total = $1118 and I think I like it enough to try and sneak by over budget. Thanks for any advice everybody and sorry for the long post.
March 24, 2011 5:04:47 AM

Good build, but is 5400rpm fast enough for you?

Yes, the CPU should handle all your needs easily.

http://www.antec.outervision.com/ <--- Use this to calculate how big your PSU should be.
March 24, 2011 10:36:49 AM

Martin9630 said:
Good build, but is 5400rpm fast enough for you?

Yes, the CPU should handle all your needs easily.

http://www.antec.outervision.com/ <--- Use this to calculate how big your PSU should be.


thanks Martin. Yeah I some reading here and it suggests you don't need more then 5400 rpm for any of it.
Related resources
March 24, 2011 3:45:54 PM

This is almost identical to my Ceton build. (You will want to add a media remote, I assume as well)

I do occasionally see some performance problems - generally on waking up. I have a 2GB WD Caviar Green AV instead of the Samsung (with an SSD boot drive - like you) and an i5-680. 8G RAM. No problem recording 4HD shows at one and playing another once things get going.

I don't see high CPU utilization, so I suspect it is the drive. You may want to try a faster one if you can tolerate the noise or 2 1TB 2.5" drives (extra $100-150) in RAID 0.

Overall - I'm very happy.
March 24, 2011 5:13:55 PM

I have a living room pc, its older. I modded a ibm desktop case to be a full atx case. It is the same size on the front as a standard stereo receiver.
They now make htpc cases that are that size. It stacks nice in the tv-stand and looks more like a stereo component than a pc.
My system has a crossfire board in it but i am using a single 4870, its cpu limited with a older 939 x2-4400+. I play games at 1080p. Games like fear2, dirt2, cod black ops, and most games run at max or high details with good framerates.
Of course with only a dual core at 2.4ghz the load times are sometimes a bit long. For the most part it is a pretty good htpc.

I seen this... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Foxconn R20-G3 Intel Core2 Quad/Duo (supports 65W $89.99 250 watt p/s.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel Pentium E5800 Wolfdale 3.2GHz 2MB $76.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PNY Optima 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 800 $54.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Radeon HD 4650 512MB 64-bit DDR2 Ready Low Profile $28.99

The old 65 watt core2 is faster than the competing 65 watt regor.
The core2 should overclock to about 3.6ghz and still be under 75 watts.
The 4650 has 320 shaders has enough power to play some games. It also has a video proccessor and hdmi that you need for a hptc.
March 24, 2011 5:27:03 PM

whole system $250.96 Lone Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz $224.99.
core2 clock 3.6ghz/ sb turbo dual core 3.7ghz. in a htpc most of the time you only do one or two things at a time. So most of the time the sb will be in dual core turbo mode in a htpc.
March 24, 2011 5:44:40 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 Low Profile Ready $65.99
Its a bit faster than the 4650.
Its hard to find single slot low profile cards that are higher end. But the pcie-x1 slot is next the the video card slot so you cant use a dual slot card cause the slot will get blocked.
March 25, 2011 8:37:38 PM

somehow I deleted the gmail thread of auto alerts to your responses or tomshardware didn't send them...

awolfe63 said:
This is almost identical to my Ceton build. (You will want to add a media remote, I assume as well)

I do occasionally see some performance problems - generally on waking up. I have a 2GB WD Caviar Green AV instead of the Samsung (with an SSD boot drive - like you) and an i5-680. 8G RAM. No problem recording 4HD shows at one and playing another once things get going.

I don't see high CPU utilization, so I suspect it is the drive. You may want to try a faster one if you can tolerate the noise or 2 1TB 2.5" drives (extra $100-150) in RAID 0.

Overall - I'm very happy.


I have the logitech xbox 360 harmony remote that my wife is quite comfortable with it now. But why would your storage drive be causing a problem waking up? Isn’t everything your waking up on the ssd? I haven’t dived into the software settings yet but I assume you never turn yours off and just set it too sleep after a hour or so of no input?

Need4speeds: that’s a pretty decent older low cost build but I am looking for something that will last a long time without upgrades and reliability. It has to work or the wife will never let me do this kind of thing again.

Thanks for the graphics card tho, if i do have trouble with the onboard graphics I will definitely consider that card.
March 25, 2011 8:59:34 PM

I have a 1st gen WD green 1TB drive and it does this thing where it parks the heads after a period of time to save on energy (hence the green label). When you try to access the drive, there is a 2-4 second pause as the drive has to re-initialize the heads. It can be annoying. I don't have that problem with my Samsung "green" drive.

Perhaps that is what awolfe was referring to?
March 27, 2011 3:05:58 PM

That 4650 is already sold out, that system was only so cheap cause it is old stock stuff and was being sold at below cost clearance prices. Its gone now anyways.
Says "out of stock" now.


March 27, 2011 3:15:09 PM

I put a 7200rpm 500 gig seagate that was on sale in my living room pc, its both fast and reasonably quiet. I would stay away from the low power 5200 rpm green drives altogether. Those drives are too slow for a media pc where you need fast hdd speed for video streaming. The p/s fans are more noisy than the drive anyway.
March 27, 2011 6:39:36 PM

You can get a gigabit router and then won't have to buy a router and a switch.
March 28, 2011 2:26:58 AM

need4speeds said:
... I would stay away from the low power 5200 rpm green drives altogether. Those drives are too slow for a media pc where you need fast hdd speed for video streaming. The p/s fans are more noisy than the drive anyway.
I don't know what green drives you've been using, but your comment about green drives is not correct. Green drives are perfectly fine for media playback.

For example, here is my WD Green 5400rpm drive recording three 1080i streams, and reading a fourth 1080i stream all at the same time (without any stutter or frame drops). The total I/O for this activity is only 7 MB/s:



Even streaming blu-ray is no problem. Blu-ray video reaches bitrates around 40 Mb/s in certain scenes with high detail and a lot of motion. Note the small "b". 40 Mb/s is 5 MB/s. Current green drives read in the 120 MB/s rage... with plenty of performance to stream any media. Today's green drives are faster than 7200rpm drives from a few years ago due to their increased density, though access time is still slower.
March 29, 2011 12:24:46 AM

rwpritchett said:
I don't know what green drives you've been using, but your comment about green drives is not correct. Green drives are perfectly fine for media playback.

For example, here is my WD Green 5400rpm drive recording three 1080i streams, and reading a fourth 1080i stream all at the same time (without any stutter or frame drops). The total I/O for this activity is only 7 MB/s:

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w319/rwpritchett/Forum%20Pictures/3Tuners1Watch.jpg

Even streaming blu-ray is no problem. Blu-ray video reaches bitrates around 40 Mb/s in certain scenes with high detail and a lot of motion. Note the small "b". 40 Mb/s is 5 MB/s. Current green drives read in the 120 MB/s rage... with plenty of performance to stream any media. Today's green drives are faster than 7200rpm drives from a few years ago due to their increased density, though access time is still slower.


Thanks rwpritchett, that makes me feel better bout the set up I am going to run. I don't think I will run into a problem.

@kValenti I have more than 4 ports that need to be wired and a non gigabit wireless N router. So I will go modem -->N router-->gigabit switch--->everything on network. That way all the extenders will share with the HTPC on gigabit speeds.

Whats teh best way to set up the xbox extender in the bedroom to get the most out of it (netflix, weather, mediabrowser, etc.?) Is there a list of what plugins can't be extended? What kind things will i be able to share from my main htpc to my main computer and wifes laptop? Live tv? Recorded TV? Plugins installed on main htpc? Thanks.
October 22, 2011 3:46:11 PM

Sorry to reopen such an old thread, but I just wanted to see how this build went! I was looking to building on myself and wanted to know about how well your build handled the stresses of being a full house media center PC (streaming to the others PCs in the house, to the xboxes, recording multiple channels at once, etc).

Anything you would have done differently if you could do it again (more HDD space, better graphics, etc)?

Thanks!
!