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DesktopPC or HTPC... Need advice!

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April 22, 2011 9:44:06 PM

I currently have a pretty big but powerful desktop PC. Q6600, GTX260, 8GBDDR2... it does most things I want it to, but it's big and bulky. The case I have is the NZXT Hush.

I've been browsing around a bit and I'm really interested in the new ASRock 3D Vision HTPC's. I've read some reviews and they seem to be pretty good.

My requirements:

  • I've no particular need for either blu-ray capability or 3D vision (I don't have a 3D tv/monitor)... thus I would choose one without blu-ray.

    Whilst I'd love to have a SSD in my new PC I understand I don't have that option with that particular HTPC and I'm also used to having 2 HDD's (OS/Data) and I realise I would have to go external for one of them with this particular HTPC, but I see them as fair sacrifices.

  • I'm not a heavy gamer, but I like my machine to be capable.
  • I like the odd bit of graphic design.
  • I watch alot of HD movies streamed over my network.
  • I've always had dual-screen and that's a must. I like to be able to multi-task massively, so something that can handle that is important.

    I'm really seeking advice, your opinions on the matter. I know not of any other HTPC's and they're may be others out there more suited to my requirements that you know of.

    Any help would be really appreciated,

    Thanks in advance,

    Mike
  • More about : desktoppc htpc advice

    April 23, 2011 12:02:29 AM

    What kind of budget are we looking at here?

    Would you be open to building yourself or are you set on prebuilt?
    April 23, 2011 11:16:37 AM

    I was looking at a budget of around ~£650 but I saw the i3 Asrock 3D Vision on Amazon for £540 and it'd be nice to come in under budget but I'm equally willing to stretch to a bit more if needs be.

    I'm looking at replacing my current build- I'm keen on having something smaller, quieter and less hot, whilst still maintaining the power that my current PC has. I've never had an SSD before and I've been fine without one, so it's not a must- would just be a nice luxury as I've heard they're great at improving boot times. In terms of gaming/graphics performance...use my current build as a base. The power of my current PC is more than enough, I don't need a graphics card nearly as good as what I have, but I do need a good CPU.

    As far as an OS goes, that doesn't matter. Any new build I'll be reformatting it with my image set-up on arrival anyway to be honest.

    The PC is for my bedroom, where my current one is. It sits on a desk and I have a cable that runs from my TV to the PC and when I want to watch a film or something I just take out my secondary monitor and put in the TV cable.

    I could build it myself probably- I built my current PC from individual components. I'd quite like the convenience of a pre-built one but if building it myself had significant advantages then I would definitely do so.
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    April 23, 2011 3:13:12 PM

    The ASRock is a nice little setup. I can't tell if it comes with Windows 7 though. That would add another £70 to the overall price, unless you are linux savy.

    Building yourself would maybe save you a little bit of money and give you some DIY satisfaction. Something with the new i3-2100T and H67 motherboard would work for you. I recently completed a bedroom HTPC build (see the link in my sig), but the case I went with is a bit bigger than what you seem to be looking for and I went with a low power/performance Zacate.

    If you were to build, you could go for one of these cases:

    Habey 800:


    Wesena ITX7:


    Antec ISK100 (no optical drive, but room for 2x 2.5" drives):


    Just briefly shopping on the scan.co.uk and wesena.co.uk websites, you can get into the above ITX7 chassis + 120W PSU, i3-2100T + H67, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVD, Windows 7 HP for £598 after VAT. The ASRock is £540 ( what about VAT??) and might need another £70 for an OS license . So it's about even. It comes down to instant gratification with a pre-built, or a sense of accomplishment in building it yourself.
    April 23, 2011 3:22:38 PM

    Hmmm... how does my current PC specification to compare to that of the best Vision 3D? At first sight I thought an i5 has to be better than my Q6600 but i've heard it isn't that simple in this case?
    April 23, 2011 5:38:59 PM

    It will depend on a number of factors. First, the £540 ASRock 3D Vision that you are looking at has an i3-370M mobile processor that is a dual core. Your Q6600 is an older quad core. Both are at 2.4GHz.

    So on multi-threaded apps, your quad core will be better. On everything else, the new architecture is faster clock-for-clock and will be better.

    Here's a list of CPU's and their Passmark scores: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php

    The Q6600 scores 2981 and the i3-370M scores 2230. I'm sure the Q6600 gets some bonus points for multithreading.

    I think it's safe to say the ASRock will "feel" faster to you on mostly everything as far as CPU's are concerned.

    April 23, 2011 6:10:12 PM

    If I moved up to the i5-560M or the i5-460M model how would they compare? Are these quad/dual cores etc? Thanks :) 
    April 23, 2011 6:15:16 PM

    The i5-560M and i5-460M are dual core processors, but they have hyperthreading so they can process 4 threads at once. (a pseudo-quad core).

    April 23, 2011 10:03:49 PM

    Oh I see- would you say they would outperform a Q6600 then?

    Also- as far as my desire for an SSD goes... if I were to get the Vision 3D for example which can only house a single HDD. What do you think to me replacing the internal HDD with a SSD and then storing my data on an ExtHDD (possibly using the internal one with a caddy) through USB3.0?
    May 4, 2011 3:39:52 PM

    Right thanks very much guys- I've given it some thought and I think I want to build my own rather than buy the Asrock. It seems that the CPU's in the Asrock PC's really are not that powerful after-all (seems to be the vibe I'm getting). I don't need something exceptionally powerful... I'm very happy with the specification of my current PC- I'm just looking for something fresh, smaller, and a bit newer.

    Could you help me spec out a machine?

    The machine above (£624.01) looks good... could I save some money on the graphics card maybe? I'd quite like to change from nVidia to Radeon: I've heard that they tend to consume less power and are smaller? Oh I also need a card with at least 2 DVI/D outputs (for dual monitors) and preferably a HDMI as well (so I can have 2 monitors and my TV plugged in).

    As far as the SSD goes, do I put all my software installation or just my OS on it? Because I thought most software had to be installed on the same drive as the OS, and I thought I had more than 60GB of software?

    4GB DDR3 seems great. An i5 CPU is great (assuming you think I'll notice it as massively more powerful than my current CPU?)

    Thanks guys :D  Any help would be really appreciated!

    Mike
    !