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HTPC advice

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June 2, 2011 3:51:08 PM

I'm looking to build an HTPC to take over my multimedia tasks in a few weeks now. I will also want it to do some gaming and basic desktop functions. I'm thinking of running an Linux system if I can find a software configuration that will work for my needs (any suggestions?). I have a budget of less than 700 and stuck on some hardware decisions. I have a 7.1 surround sound receiver as it is, so I'm not planning on a sound card other than the onboard.

Live in US
Don't care about who I get it from, mostly shop newegg

This is what I'm tentatively looking at:
*amd phenom II x4 955 black edition http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
*msi 880gma-e53 micro atx http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
* g skills 4gb pc12800 dual channel http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
* seagate 1tb sata 6.0 gbs http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
these are in a combo package
beyond this i'm still looking to figure out what will be the best fit for my system.
I want it to be a bluray player/burner so i can back up more effectively. also need a tv turner for over the air digital channels (thinking of: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)

I want to use an mythbuntu system with an ubuntu desktop loaded as well. so hardware would need to work with this os config, although I'm not opposed to windows mce..


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a b B Homebuilt system
June 2, 2011 4:40:52 PM

Hi Baskerva, welcome to the forums.
That build looks ok, but I see a few things that can be changed.
First off, I would switch to an Intel Sandy Bridge build. Sandy bridge is dominating right now, and it's an even better deal since you plan on using onboard it looks like.

Here's what I would suggest:

Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz $125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock H67M-GE (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $40
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W $44
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Xigmatek ASGARD II B/O CPC-T45UE-U01 Black / Orange 0.8 mm SECC / Aluminum and Aluminum Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $40
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAMSUNG Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-/+R 48X CD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-ray Drive Model SH-B123L/RSBP LightScribe Support $64
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That build comes out to $479 before TV tuner.

The i3-2100 is superior to the Phenom X4 in multimedia/gaming. It's also got integrated video on the CPU, which is designed for blu ray encoding.

The ram is pretty much the same, except cheaper.

The hard drive I listed is faster and I think more reliable.

And there you have it! Hope that helps ya out ;) 
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June 2, 2011 4:59:30 PM

I'm glad you brought up the Intel chip. I have been an AMD guy for a long time now, but haven't really been checking out the new stuff since my last PC build around 4 years ago. I am thinking of going with a separate video card, although I know that can be a difficult thing with Linux, part of the reason I hadn't listed a video card above. I will have to check out the intel chip a little bit more it sounds very promising, especially if i can get away without buying a video card to keep the cost down...
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 2, 2011 5:07:36 PM

Yeah I love my AMD to death, but it's kinda hard to deny that the Sandy Bridge cleans up.

I don't really use much linux (except for Lucid Puppy 5.2 running off a flash drive for an old laptop) so I can't really tell you what cards are compatible. I would ask in the OS section, or maybe the Graphics section about the drivers for your potential GFX cards.
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June 2, 2011 5:16:24 PM

Even though it is out of stock at the moment I would suggest the following combo:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.644144
The biggest advantage is that it has a full ATX motherboard and that gives you upgrade options.

As for a video card, I would suggest you get a single width one. The reason for that is because it will prevent you from covering up any expansion slots and if you do go with a micro ATX motherboard that is even more important. Tom's Hardware just did a review on some:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/af6850-1024d5s1-ngt440-1gqi-f1-n450gts-m2d1gd5,2949.html

For TV tuner card, Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner / Encoder:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116037&cm_re=15-116-_-15-116-037-_-Product

As far as I have been able to tell, you may be stuck with Windows to play Blu-Ray because I have no idea if the Mythbuntu distribution of Linux has HDCP compatibility.

USB 3.0 is also something you should make sure you have. If you download and/or rip a lot of HD video it will take up a TON of room. So external storage will sooner or later become required. USB 3.0 will deliver the speed needed for it.

As for a keyboard and mouse/trackpad, I highly suggest this one because you can keep it on an end table or coffee table with no problem:
http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/keyboards-mice/e0e7/

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June 2, 2011 6:07:27 PM

Striker: I have loved all 4 of my AMD's now thats where I was basing my search. After a little reading it seems that Intel has more than caught up. Personally I hope AMD has something better up their sleeve...

DJR: That keyboard/mouse combo is freakin' sweet. I'm not positive it will work for me, but I'm going to seriously think about it. As for the combo I think a hecta-core is beyond what I will be needing for awhile. The usb 3.0 is a must as well. thinking that the sata will also need to be a 6.0 gbs rate...
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June 2, 2011 7:42:04 PM

Striker's build is right on the money. Below are a couple of a complementary items to consider.

A couple of HTPC cases to consider:

nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 6000B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thermaltake Black SECC Japanese steel LANBOX Lite VF6000BNS Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Anoter keyboard option...

IOGEAR GKM561R Black 2.4GHz Wireless HTPC Multimedia Keyboard with Laser Trackball and Scroll Wheel
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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June 7, 2011 7:26:31 PM

Lifeking, good find with that IOGEAR keyboard. Have it bookmarked now for my own HTPC plans.
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June 9, 2011 11:50:51 AM

Best answer selected by baskerva.
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