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Cheap, low-end Mini PC for use only as a music source?

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June 19, 2011 5:46:38 PM

Hello!

I have around 500gb of .FLAC files that I'd like to store on a digital source that I could then connect to my Cambridge Audio 'DACMagic'.

Although there seems to be a number of options available, many of them seem to involve spending lots of money on features that I really don't need (e.g. internet access, high performance processors, etc), and I was wondering whether anybody knew of a decent solution that would fulfill the following criteria:

1. Has at least 500gb storage (ideally upgradeable)
2. Has an Ethernet port, or at some other means to transfer large amounts of music reasonably quickly
3. Small and quiet (so that it will sit underneath my TV without making a racket)
4. Boots very quickly, or is efficient enough in terms of power consumption to remain on 'standby' at all times
5. Supports an OS that won't require me to convert my .FLAC files
6. Has enough power to run the latest version of WinAmp, or whatever
7. Will allow my to use my TV (or some sort of small in-built screen) to access the GUI


And that's pretty much it. In terms of processing power and disc speed, I need only enough to run a decent GUI and stream the music over USB into my DAC without any juddering or skipping, etc.

To put things in perspective, my crappy 10 year old laptop with 256mb ram has enough power to run WinAmp and send the music to my DACMagic, but I'm looking for something smaller (no flip-up screen), quieter and hopefully more energy efficient.



I hope that I've provided enough info here, and I'd be very grateful if somebody could help me out.




Thanks :-)
June 19, 2011 8:11:57 PM

Hi there, welcome to the forums.
I think I have just the solution! It's an AMD Fusion APU E-350 build, which is an intergrated CPU/GPU/Motherboard. It's an excellent low power solution, and only draws like 18w.

GIGABYTE GA-E350N-USB3 AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) AMD Hudson-M1 FCH Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo $135 (with HDMI to use with your TV)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $60 (only 1TB, but VERY fast)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Crucial 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Desktop Memory $22 (really all you need)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sony Optiarc CD/DVD Burner With Lightscribe $22 (we could substitute for a blu-ray player if you like movies)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I have however, left out the case. This is up to you. I found some I would pick, but they were about $100 (power supply included, though) Here's the case I liked:

Silverstone Sugo & 300w 80+ PSU $105
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Now with all these parts it comes to $343. We could probably find a cheaper case, knocking it down to $300 or so. Tell me what you think!
June 20, 2011 4:58:22 PM

Thanks, striker410!


That looks to be exactly what I need :) 

I'm UK based (which I probably should have mentioned), but I can get my hands on all of the components at prices very similar to the ones on newegg.

The "Silverstone Sugo & 300w 80+ PSU" would look pretty cool underneath my TV, and since I've just forked out quite a bit of cash for some fairly high-end HIFI separates, the aesthetics are definitely important.

I've built a couple of PCs in the past, but I honestly thought that I'd be able to pick something up straight off the shelf nowadays. Never mind though; problem solved :D 



Thanks a lot for putting the research in on this!!
June 20, 2011 5:10:13 PM

No problem! I just realized a small issue though. The case requires you use one of those slimline DVD drives. No biggie though, they are pretty readily available.

For UK, some of the sites I use to price are
www.ebuyer.com
aria.co.uk
scan.co.uk

They all have pretty good pricing. If you run into any issues, be sure to mention them.
!