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Help with HTPC Build

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May 1, 2011 4:37:31 PM

I've been out of the computer building game for about 5 years, so I was looking to get some advice on the components/compatibility given the purpose of this system. I appreciate the help!


Approximate Purchase Date: Anytime between now and the next few weeks.


Budget Range: $400-$500 (I'm keeping in mind that I'll be adding a Blu-ray drive and some sort of remote in the coming months, which are not to be considered a part of this budget)


System Usage from Most to Least Important: Movies, streaming HD Netflix/Hulu/Etc, music, possibly web surfing


Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Display, OS


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon, Fry's...any reputable vendor with a good deal.


Country of Origin: USA


Parts Preferences: No preference but quality & stability are important, obviously.


Overclocking: Probably not.


SLI or Crossfire: Nah.


Monitor Resolution: I have a 40" Samsung LCD 1080P HDTV, so presumably up to 1920x1080


Additional Comments: This is going to be an HTPC for my living room, so I'd like it to be quiet with low power-consumption. I want to be sure that I'm able to play movies with no lag. Movies will be stored on the internal hard drive (which will likely be partitioned until I can afford an SSD just for the OS) and in a month or two, I'll purchase a Blu-Ray drive to add to the case. So, I'll need smooth Blu-Ray playback capability as well. I'm also interested in a remote of some sort (not sure if IR, Bluetooth or something else would be best), so I'd like to hear suggestions on this, though I'll likely purchase it at a later time.

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Here are the components I've come up with so far...they seem like the best combination of quality and performance but I'm not locked to these parts.

CPU
Sandy Bridge i3-2100 3.1 Ghz LGA 1155 65W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOBO
ASRock H61M/U3S3 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MEMORY
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 2TB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
is 5400 rpm fast enough?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE
SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum/0.8mm SECC Grandia GD05B Micro ATX HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU
Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Thanks again for the help!

More about : htpc build

May 2, 2011 4:29:01 PM

I apologize for the bump (I'm not one to typically bump posts) but I've decided to make the purchases in the coming day or two. Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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May 2, 2011 5:45:54 PM

Looks good, can you add a video card later, Intel's graphics is not so great
If your TV has display port
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
If your TV has HDMI or DVI
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

UVD 3.0 featured on the AMD video cards:
http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-6450-review/4

Alternative for the RAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The HDD is good.
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May 2, 2011 9:09:51 PM

Thanks for the input. I've read decent things about the Intel on-board graphics if it's solely used for movies and not for gaming (I have no intention of using it for the latter). Do you think otherwise?

Newegg has a Shell Shocker deal on the memory I posted, so I think I'm going to jump on that now.

One other thing I forgot to mention is that I don't have cable, so I won't have a need for a TV tuner card (but I'm open to adding a graphics card later if I'll be limited by the on-board graphics capabilities).
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May 3, 2011 3:30:36 PM

Any thoughts on going with an AMD Phenom II over the Sandy Bridge? Both of these look decent but I'm not sure how they might compare...

AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Desktop Processor - C3 Revision
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Phenom II X4 840 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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May 3, 2011 3:44:43 PM

Either the Intel or AMD build would easily do the HTPC job. I have done a few X2 555 / 560 builds and they are fly along with no problem at all. I would opt up for the Athlon X4 for a new build as the L3 cache really doesn't buy anyting for playing media and the two additional cores is more "future proof" if your processing needs change. Any AM3 motherboard with onboard HD 4200 through HD 4290 graphics will do 1080 resolution with audio bitstreaming. As with the Intel solution, you can add a graphics card later if needed.

The Intel build is a great solution as well. This is more of a personal preference thing... The AMD build will come in a bit cheaper, but the Intel build would be "faster" if you were to start gaming or doing anything past playing media, browsing the web, etc.
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May 3, 2011 5:22:30 PM

Will the i3-2100 not handle 1080HD? I was under the impression it would...in which case, as you said, it would come down to personal preference and potential future uses.
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May 3, 2011 5:28:53 PM

Yes. The integrated graphics on the i3-2100 will do 1080 as well.... I was just laying out the AMD option with integrated graphics.
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May 3, 2011 7:19:01 PM

Any suggestions for a good mobo to go with the AMD Phenom II X4? Preferably something comparable to the Intel board I was considering. Thanks!
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May 3, 2011 9:41:10 PM

So, it sounds like the on-boards graphics for the AMD are better than the Intel chip and it's more cost-effective, but the Intel chip is more powerful and "future-proof".

I've never gone with an AMD chip before but while overall quality & performance are obviously critical factors, cost is still a consideration for me. If going with the AMD (and a compatible mobo) will save me $20-$40 (which I can put towards a future Blu-ray drive purchase), it seems like that might be a good decision.

What about a remote/keyboard/mouse option? Since the primary use will be watching movies & listening to music, I would probably only use a keyboard/mouse for the initial setup and light web surfing. Has anyone found an all-in-one solution they really like or is best to consider the remote separately from the keyboard/mouse?
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May 4, 2011 12:12:16 PM

If you go with an AM3+ motherboard as mosox suggested you will be "future proof" as well. This motherboard platform will accept the new Bulldozer processor being released soon. This would give you a nice upgrade in 2 or 3 years down the road...

For a mouse and keyboard, I usually find Dell bluetooth keyboard and mouse combos on ebay or other sites. They have media controls and are fairly inexpensive. You will also need a USB bluetooth adapter, but they are cheap. I have used the Dell IR combos as well (USB IR adapter included)...
http://www.amazon.com/Dell-Wireless-Keyboard-and-Mouse/...


EDIT: Get the blu-ray drive now instead of later.
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May 4, 2011 12:29:06 PM

only 6 channel audio on that motherboard...

i am buying one soon and I am going with this build:

I understand it's not the best PSU, but the system at 90% peak is only going to be using about 107W. I think that's hardly going to be stressing a 275W PSU.
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May 5, 2011 6:50:01 AM

If I go AMD, here's what I'm thinking:

ASUS M4A88TD-M/USB3 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Phenom II X4 840 3.2GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mosox, I liked your board reco too, the Gigabyte and Asus are pretty identical, though I've used Asus boards in the past and they've worked out well. Anyway, the AMD combo comes out to about the same price as the Intel combo I was initially considering. So, does it really just come down to preference? Decisions, decisions... :) 
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May 5, 2011 9:26:38 AM

You don't need a quad. That Asus is AM3 not AM3+.
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May 5, 2011 10:04:55 AM

Ah, right you are, sir. If a quad is overboard - no pun intended :)  - will the tri-core be overdoing it as well? Should I opt for a dual-core? Or for the price & performance, does it make more sense to go with the tri?
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May 5, 2011 10:31:04 AM

Get a triple core if you can, you don't really need it but it's not much more expensive than a dual core. Intel's IGP can't handle the 23.976 fps movie standard it's rounding it up and gives stuttering.
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May 6, 2011 12:06:04 AM

You guys are missing the point, the new generation intel processors have video built-in, and the new amd's coming up here in june (i hope), will as well. It's not gaming video, but it certainly more than enough for your HTPC. I don't see, then, why any AMD processor would be the way to go considering an i3 sandy bridge may be had for $125. Not only that, but the system itself is only requiring ~110W of power, you can opt for an itx or matx build for under $400. Check it out. :) 
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May 6, 2011 7:58:19 AM

mosox said:
Intel's IGP is not as good for playback quality. Also can't output the 23.976 FPS standard.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridge-rev...


You get a 1 in 40 frame stutter that is only noticeable on a fast panning shot, which is furthermore smoothed out by a monitor at 60Hz refresh, its not that big of a deal, and if it is, spend another $60 on a gpu.
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May 6, 2011 3:33:27 PM

I work in computer animation, so the frame stutter will definitely be noticeable to me. I have no intention of doing any gaming with this system. The mobo and cpu that Mosox suggested can be had for $30 less than the i3-2100 and the mobo I was originally looking at...I can put that money towards getting a Blu-ray drive sooner.
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