PC for playing 1080p videos well?

I know the answer is probably out there, but after spending ~2 hours searching for it and not finding a satisfying one, I kind of gave up :(

Only real requirement is ability to play 1080p videos (mkv, avi, and/or whatever else is common or easy to convert into). Must play the best sound and video quality that the said video file can produce (again, using common/standard formats/codecs/whatever, and simple players such as windows media player or VLC media player). Of course it must play the smoothly with no stutters whatsoever.

Recording capability is a bonus, but only if it doesn't add more than 100$ to the cost (as it will be used rarely if ever).

I've seen some HTPCs that cost 700$+, but I doubt I actually have to pay that much just to play good quality video? If there's really no way to getting away with something cheaper, I'll probably just give up on the idea, since it simply won't get enough use to justify such sums of money. But then again those builds seem quite overly fancy and way more than what I actually need, so again I'm hoping there are much cheaper ways to build a PC that will meet the requirements.

Thanks a lot!
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More about playing 1080p videos well
  1. An AMD based build would fit the bill nicely. You aren't asking for a lot of processing power... Any AM3 motherboard with integrated video of at least HD 4200 will do 1080 resolution, audio bitstreaming, and have smooth blu-ray playback. Typically, an AMD based HTPC will come in under $400. Do you have a Microcenter near you? Plan on buying from Newegg?
  2. Actually, I live in Israel. Where I buy stuff it's usually best to just come with a list of parts and they'll guarantee the best price in Israel (if you find cheaper they lower the price accordingly) and put the parts together for you as well. Prices here are a bit more expensive than US but usually more or less in the same proportions.

    What MB model are we talking about?
    Which AM3 CPU?
    How much RAM?

    Again, just looking for cheapest that will still give great video and audio quality.
  3. MB - Any AM3 motherboard with integrated video of HD 4200 and greater is fine. I perfer ASUS, but there are plenty of other good boards out there (Gigabyte, ASRock, etc...). For the money, the ASRock 870 Extreme 3 is a good board haivng SATA III and USB 3.0.

    CPU - An Athlon II X2 260 would be fine, but look for the price break. At a minimum you are looking for a dual core at, or above, 3GHz. You might be able to get into a X4 for not much more than the X2...

    MEM - 4GB is the standard these days simply for price reasons, but 2GB will get the job done. Be sure to install them in pairs to take advantage of the dual memory controllers.

    GPU - If the budget allows, adding an HD 5000 series graphics card will give you more options for audio bitstreaming and possibly a better picture. This is optional and I would recommend it only if you are not happy with the integrated video.
  4. Just to add things up, since the 6 series (due to the latest features) HD6450 is already out, you might want to consider using it. There's the more powerful HD6570, but I doubt that it will give you a significant performance boost over the HD6450 in terms of HD video playback. Just as sadam04 suggested, the parts are more than enough for HD video playback purpose. But since HTPCs purpose is low heat and energy consumption, you may opt to get a 45W TDP CPU such as the Sempron 180 (dual core) or the Athlon e-series. The motherboard, however, is a good suggestion. Can't argue with that.

    AFAIK, video playback is more GPU dependent than CPU. Which makes the CPU speed not a critical issue. 2,4GHz of the Sempron dual core is good enough for your needs. But if heat and energy consumption is not an issue for you, then go for a superior CPU. Good luck!
  5. Is the onboard sound supposed to be good enough for a good speaker setup?

    I suppose power consumption isn't all that important, since it won't be turned on most of the time, as long as the fans don't end up louder than the movie...

    Thanks again for all the help.
  6. Define: Good. Since everyone have different standards. Are you an audiophile? Casual MP3 collector? Trance music lover? But for most people without the "golden ear", the onboard audio should do just fine. You'll also need to balance between the several factors of sound reproduction. Audio file quality (lossless or lossy), Output device quality (speaker or headphone), and the software used for playback. Each has its part in producing sound. So it's not just the sound card alone. Buying a $200 sound card for playing 96kbps MP3 file will render the sound card useless, among other things I mentioned before. I think you'll understand my point. :)

    As for the CPU, AFAIK, video playback utilizes not more than 2 cores, depending on the software being used. So sadam's suggestion is a good start. Although the speed consideration is not that important. Even for a CPU below 3GHz, mere video playback won't be much of a burden.
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