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HTPC / workstation with an i3? - Advice welcomed

Last response: in Systems
April 21, 2011 6:46:07 AM

I'm looking for some feedback on an HTPC I'm about ready to pull the trigger on:

PURPOSE, in decreasing order of importance: OTA HD DVR, Blu-Ray, Streaming (Netflix, mkv, etc.), dual monitor (HDTV & DSUB or LCD), browsing, occasional transcoding, maybe some light gaming (after a dedicated GPU upgrade)

Timing: W/in the next week

Budget: < $800

Parts not required: PSU. I have a 450 watt Antec modular I'll pull from an older system; Windows 7

Preferred websites: Any but I usually shop Amazon & Newegg

Country: USA

Monitor res: 1920 x 1080, 67" DLP HDTV, primary; 1280 x 1024 old school CRT, secondary

Overclocking: no

SLI / crossfire: no

Additional comments: I'm looking for budget but with decent performance and the capability to upgrade. I'm unsure if the i3 is powerful enough since I haven't built a system in 5 years but I'm fine upgrading it later if it's just "ok" for now. I multitask a fair amount and will do some Java development (Eclipse, etc.) as well as VPN / work from home occasionally so I've went a little overboard on the RAM but that's cheap anyway.

Intel Core i3-2100T Sandy Bridge 2.5GHz LGA 1155 35W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I32100T

ASRock H67M (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL - if it's really too much then I'll create a 4gb RAM disk.

HDHomeRun DUAL - High Definition Digital TV Tuner (Network Attached) HDHR3-US (Black) by SiliconDust (no driver issues & no encoding strain on the cpu)

2x SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive 2TB - I'll probably do RAID mirroring on a system partition and striping on a data partition.

IOGEAR GKM561R Black 2.4GHz Wireless HTPC Multimedia Keyboard with Laser Trackball and Scroll Wheel

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

SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / 0.8mm SECC Grandia Series GD05B micro-ATX / Mini-DTX / Mini-ITX MB, 1x5.25", 2x3.5"+1x2.5"HDD ...
AeroCool M40 MATX Cube Case

Total = just under 800.

Thoughts, suggestions? The i3 is my biggest concern at the moment but I'm really liking that price. I could lose a HDD, fork over a little more, and go to an i5 2500 but most of my apps aren't optimized for more than one core anyway and I know how quick I can fill a TB. Plus, I saw an article here on Tom's that suggested there isn't that much bang for the buck with the extra cores even vs. an i7. I could move on up to an i3 2120 and get 3.3 gHz instead of the 2.5 if that clock speed will make much difference. I just picked the 2100T for the power consumption benefits (heat & noise). I didn't list TMT5 because I'll add that later & use the PS3 for now. Will it do what I'm asking it to?
a b B Homebuilt system
April 21, 2011 2:01:57 PM

Are you aware the 2100T is a low power 35w cpu? The regular 2100 is cheaper.

I'm thinking you don't since you said you could move up to a 2120 or 2500K. Why not i5-2300?
April 21, 2011 8:17:14 PM

Thanks Geek. I realize the 2100T is low power and I'm certainly not against a 2100 or 2120. I do wonder if I'm going to have heat issues because the entertainment center I'll be using doesn't have great airflow and the 360 & PS3 heat it up pretty well themselves if they're going. That's the only reason I was thinking the T version, assuming it'd still perform ok. How well does your 2100 do? Do you ever feel like it's taxed? Part of me thinks I should just give up a hdd and get the i5 2500k for the HD 3000 but then I think if the 21** will do what I want and I need better 3d at some point, I can just add a discrete gpu for that $100 price difference in processors.