First time HTPC Builder

Hello all,

I'm new to the forums and am looking to build a new computer. I'm wanting to make a decent htpc/gaming set up that can fit in my av cabinet. I recently assembled a couple of computers for friends, but have never actually sourced the parts for myself. I have an idea of what I want, but wanted to run it by you guys.

My cabinet section for the PC will be 22"wX18"dX10"h

My main concerns for the parts i've pieced together are compatibility, keeping the system cool, and having a large enough psu, so here goes.

Approximate Purchase Date: Throughout this month

Budget Range: ~ $1100 before rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Watching movies, playing video games

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg

Country of Origin: United States

Parts Preferences: I'm wanting an HTPC case, i5 2500k cpu

Overclocking: Doubtful

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 47" lcd 1920x1080

Additional Comments: I'm going for a sleek look as it will be in a cabinet with my surround sound receiver. Basically I want to be able to set this computer up and it run adequately for my needs for several years. I'm not overly interested in overclocking, as I dont want to produce excess heat in my relatively small enclosure.

Western Digital Caviar Black WD5002AALX 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

TRENDnet TEW-623PI IEEE 802.11b/g, IEEE 802.11n (draft) 32-Bit PCI Rev. 2.1/2.2/2.3 Wireless N-Draft Adapter Up to 300Mbps Wireless Data Rates 64/128-bit WEP (Hex & ASCII), WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK

MSI R5770 Hawk Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBXL

MSI P67A-C43 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

LG WH10LS30 10X Blu-ray Burner - LightScribe Support - Bulk - OEM

Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAC064MAG-1G1 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 6000B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor

***I've found a local place that has this processor for ~$180 where I will be purchasing it.

Anyway, thats what I'm looking at guys. My total after shipping and tax would be ~$1105. Any insight into the above listed concerns will be greatly appreciated!

29 answers Last reply
More about first time htpc builder
  1. What you laid out is way past an HTPC. More like a very solid gaming machine meant to be overclocked. If this is what you are after I would say to upgrade the PSU to a good 650w (Corsair or Antec) and call it good. If the video games you play are older, or not very resource intensive, you can drastically drop this build down... What games do you expect to be playing?
  2. World of Warcraft Primarily, along with some FPS and sports games.

    I was curious about the PSU because I ran the system through a calculator and it said I would only need ~305W power supply, so I wanted to check on that. And I will overclock the machine IF heat isn't an issue. I want this system to be completely stable under whatever load I may throw at it without frying itself inside my cabinet. If thats doable with the cpu OCd to 4.3 GHz then I'm all for it, but it's not necessary.
  3. I also do some AutoCAD work occasionally, but not too often, and haven't gotten into the 3d or anything.
  4. Then stick with this build... Heat won't be an issue when overclocking as long as you add an aftermarket CPU cooler and maybe an additional case fan or two (seeing as the PC will be in a cabinet). The Hyper 212+ is often recommended. Upgrade the PSU to the one below.

    If you decide not to overclock, change the motherboard to an H67 chipset, the CPU to a non-K series, and scratch the CPU cooler. Everything else stays the same...
  5. Does he have enough space for a hyper 212+?
  6. What would be the advantage to having a solidly overclockable machine? I imagine it would stay somewhat "cutting edge" for a longer period of time with the ability to increase the cpu, gpu and memory frequencies?

    Also, all the parts seem as though they'll work together and fit? lol

    You've been a great help man!
  7. It's fun to overclock.
  8. @dingoman - Ya know... There might not be enough room for a Hyper 212+ in that media case. Good catch! Might be better to find a low profile one for this build.

    @66Rustang (Sorry... couldn't resist. I have a 70 Pontiac.) - Yes. More "future proof" for the reasons you laid out. With, or without, an overclock you will be set for several years. Maybe a GPU upgrade down the road if needed.
  9. Awesome, well thanks for the help!

    I'll go with your advice with upgrading the psu and get the ball rolling on this one. Those parts are going to be the initital build, then as I get more money I'll start upgrading cooling in prep for OC.
  10. Btw, 70 GTO?
  11. It started life as a Lemans Sport. 400 CID, 2004r OD tranny, 12 bolt rear end with 4.11 gears, oversized disk brakes all around... It is a beast!
  12. Just my three cents:

    1) Be very careful with that case. I have a similar case (nMediaPC 200BA). The front flip down port cover is very easy to break. Took me a couple years of being extremely careful with it, but it finally did break off.

    2) If at all possible, avoid going wireless on a gaming/htpc system. Losing a connection in the middle of a game or movie stream is really a pain in the posterior.

    3) I really don't see the need for overclocking this system. You're just playing WOW and some FPS. You don't need an overclocked CoreI5 Sandy Bridge for that and you certainly don't need it for watching movies. If you want to do it just because it's fun, like dingoman says, fine, but you really don't need to add all that expense and noise.

    -Wolf sends
  13. Adam, Awesome! I restored my 66 when I was 14 and drove it all through highschool. I'm waiting to get outta college to restore it again and take it from my parents. It's got a 302 with a C4 and 3.55s.

    Wolf, I saw those reviews and I am a little concerned, although it will be in a cabinet and I will rarely be touching it so I think itll be okay. I wish I did have the option to connect it with a wire but it's really not an option. I do have one of the pricier cable Internet packages though, and a nice router, and it hasn't been an issue with wireless xboxs so I think I'll be okay. And I agree on the latter part, I'll be trying to keep it cool and quiet but I do like having the option of overclocking in the future as technology progresses.
  14. I think you have a little room in your budget for a nicer Silverstone or Lian Li case.

    BTW, '73 fastback here with a 351C + C4.
  15. sadams04 said:
    It started life as a Lemans Sport. 400 CID, 2004r OD tranny, 12 bolt rear end with 4.11 gears, oversized disk brakes all around... It is a beast!

    As I like to say about those old muscle cars: It'll pass everything on the road ... except the gas station!

    In 1998, I had an auto-trans version of a Buick 442. I paid $900 for it, and in 6 months, I swear I put another $900 in gasoline into it. Got rid of it for a more fuel-efficient Cavalier
  16. Just for the record, mine is also in a cabinet (19x19x14 Width, Depth, Height) and it generally ranges between 35 and 39 degrees celsius (AMD Athlon II dual-core processor) when sitting idle or watching movies.

    I took my case out regularly for upgrades and/or cleaning. Even so, the front flip down lasted more than three years. It was sad when it finally broke off (me being careless after three years of no problems). I'm not knocking the case or the company. I just wanted to warn you that it is easy to break.

    -Wolf sends
  17. ScrewySqrl said:
    As I like to say about those old muscle cars: It'll pass everything on the road ... except the gas station!

    I am getting right around 16MPG with a good mix of highway and city driving. I will take that all day long with a car that wants to break into the 11s at the track...
  18. ^come on wolf... what are you driving??

    @Screwy-> isn't a 4-4-2 an Olds?

    Back to HTPC... my main HTPC is in a pretty tight space with about 3/4 inch to spare on each of the sides and not much room on the back. My temps get up to the 50's with my PII X4, and idles in the 40's.

    I killed the CPU in my previous HTPC in the same case and spot with the heat. It was an Athlon X2 5200+.
  19. Wolf, that's good to hear. It'll probably see about as much attention as yours. If it lasts a couple years I'll probably just upgrade to a nicer case with a cool LCD read out.

    Back when my mustang was my daily driver I would get 10mpg city and 15 highway. It loooved some gas.
  20. Thanks for all your help fellas! I just got it ordered after tweaking a few of the components to get the price down. My total shipped was 907 with 5 ne promo codes and I'll get the processor in the next couple days. I swapped the psu for the above mentioned corsair, the hdd for a 750gb Ed green the wifi for a USB wifi stock, and the crucial SSd for a 60gb ocz ssd. I also purchased windows 64 but for system builders. When it's all said and done I should have it up and running for ~$1050.

    Once again, thanks for all your help!
  21. I've got another couple questions and I didn't want to clutter the place up with another thread so here goes.

    Firstly, how should I configure the the SSD and HDD? I want to boot off the SSD and run windows related programs from it, and the HDD will be used for non-windows programs, music and movies.

    So should I configure the HDD as the primary storage and just tell BIOS to boot from the SSD?

    Also, looking towards the future and CPU cooling, I've been looking around at several coolers, but due to my narrow case (6.6" tall), I can't fit anything like the Hyper 212+, and was wondering if this would be a good replacement to the stock heatsink/cooler. It looks as though it should fit, but I ultimately won't know until I get the parts in and get it all together.

    COOLER MASTER Intel Core i5 compatible GeminII S RR-CCH-PBU1-GP 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler

    Any input is appreciated.

  22. check and look at their top 10 low-profile sinks. assiming you have 5.5" actual clearance in the case (139 mm), you could look at a few options:

    The scythe Big Shuriken is very short (only 65mm) and a good cooler for $34.99

    The Noctua NH-C14 is a low profile (130mm) and a top performer, but its $90.
  23. I just completed a build using the Gemini HSF. It's a nice cooler.

    You'll want to install Windows on the SSD for sure. Don't even have the other HDD plugged in while you do your OS install. After you get Windows installed, then plug in the HDD and partition/format it so you can use it for storage.

    Edit- the Gemini may interfere with your Ripjaw heatsinks on the first slot. I was able to squeeze the Ripjaws by it though and can share pics if you want to check clearance.
  24. Screwy, thanks for turning me on to that site. Looks like a different version of the gemini with similar build was top 5 quietest and top 5 coolest for low-pro coolers at 88mm so I think I'm on the right track there, but ill look around on that site a little more.

    rw, thanks for the tip. I'll be sure to do that when I get the thing up and running. When I DL music and such, will it default to my bigger hdd for saving things or will I have to switch it from my ssd to hdd every time?

    Also, I have read it's a real tight fit. From what i've heard, I'll have to have the memory sticks in before I put the cooler on. Is that how you did it rw? Really, as long as it fits, it's fine with me. And from what I understand nobody hasnt been able to fit it, it's just real tight.
  25. I'll go ahead and post pics when I get a chance at home to show you what to expect with a CM Gemini + Ripjaws.

    You can DL to any drive you want, you'll just have to set it up in the program options (whatever program you are using). You can add any folder to your music library in Windows 7, or redirect the default music library to pull from a folder on the storage drive. Either way, it works.
  26. OK, here's what to expect with the Cooler Master Gemini HSF and G.Skill Ripjaws RAM, or other tall heatspreader memory.

    With a 4-slot board like the one I was using, the Gemini could only be installed in one orientation. The heatpipes on the one side of the cooler would have completely blocked the RAM, and the cooler fins on the sides adjacent to the heatpipes extended fully over the first RAM slot. The side opposite from the heatpipes was the only side that did not fully cover the RAM, though it did touch the first stick's heatspreader:

    Here's a closeup of the Gemini touching the Ripjaw heatspreader. As you can see, the stick of RAM was sitting a little off center in order to fit:

    The computer worked fine with the RAM like this, but I went ahead and bent the last fin on the heatsink inward so it was touching the second-to-last fin and then the RAM stick was able to be installed straight. I was still able to remove and install the first stick without removing the Gemini, BTW.

    This was on a Gigabyte GA-H67MA-UD2H-B3 motherboard, so your experiences might be different if your motherboard layout is not exactly the same. Alternately, you could just use the other slots to install the RAM, or use regular sized RAM without tall heatspreaders. Personally, I like to make sure there is room for an upgrade so I made it work in the first slot.
  27. Thanks for the pics rw! I'll figure out some way to mak it fit when I get there. Chances are I'll probably just bend a few find to clear the ram if need be. That wouldn't hurt the cooler too bad and a cooler is a lot cheaper to replace then ram.
  28. You can always bend the fin back. I was tempted to just leave it alone but the motherboard was not mine and I didn't want to risk something going wrong with the person's computer down the line because of the stress on the RAM.

    That cooler worked great BTW. I ran Prime95 and maxed the CPU (i5-2500) out at only 53°C.
  29. Awesome. Well when I can save up the money for a round of upgrades that'll definitely be on my list. All the pieces for the system should be in on wednesday.
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