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HTPCs, Mini ITX or Micro Atx?

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June 21, 2011 2:06:47 PM

I am looking at making 3 Htpcs for the house towards the end of the year and I am wondering If a mini ITX computer can hold up for multimedia appications such as online internet streaming like Hulu plus along with be able to playback video like blu-ray disks or be able play back video off the hard drive up to 1080p. Or if I really should look into a Micro Atx with a lower end (current generation) video card. Each HTPC will be hooked to a 1080p tv.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 21, 2011 2:36:38 PM

Mini ITX and Micro ATX are case standards. It's what's inside that matters.
But yes, you should be able to build a mini ITX HTPC for $300 or so.
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June 21, 2011 3:04:54 PM

You may (I stress -may-) find that M-ITX are slightly more expensive than the equivalent power M-ATX, but they really are TINY, making for easy-to-hide stuff. (VESA mount etc).

Check itxgamer.com - they have a lot of info about HTPC uses as well, along with a nice friendly forum who love their SFF.
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June 21, 2011 3:44:26 PM

Yea i understand they are case standards. I am just throwing around some ideas. I am really leaning towards a micro ATX build. Since I don't really care if there is a tower of sorts near my tvs. Actually a nice conversation piece when people come over and say "WTF is that thing?". I just don't want to go M ITX unless I know it would be powerful enough/ sufficient. M-ATX isn't really limited to low end-cpus/ Gpus. So I know it would be more than powerful enough. M-ITX is just cheap and small. From what I am reading they just can't handle the video stresses I would put on them.

I love the Input though. After working in Electronics in Walmart all day it is nice to have some intelligent computer conversation. :kaola: 
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June 21, 2011 3:48:13 PM

Just trying to think of how not to have a 300 dollar electric bill. Save by not having cable service and raise my electric. That would be backwards lol. What is everyones take on Media Centers? Linux (example distro [Ubuntu 11.04]) or Win 7? I use both constantly I am just wondering what you guys think.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2011 3:11:02 AM

Well with something like an E-350 build, you'll only be pulling 18 watts or so on idle from the wall, which is extremely low. You might see a .20 cent increase in your bill, nothing big at all. And I love ubuntu, running natty on my old tower. Things runs faster than XP! I'm having some driver issues though....

But seriously, I can whip up a $350 build for an HTPC easily. $400-450 if you like to game a bit.
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June 22, 2011 4:50:59 AM

Personally I love the mini-itx form factor for the HTPC. It allowed me to put a nice e-350 board into an old NES, which functions beautifully as a HTPC streaming local media as well as Netflix and Hulu. I do run the occasional old NES/SNES game on it, as well as a bit of Portal as well.



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June 22, 2011 10:20:47 AM

So the E-350 has been good to you? That is something I like to hear! In your NESbox where did you manage to stick the SSD/HD? I don't even see it lol! Beautiful job on the mod/case.
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June 22, 2011 10:33:10 AM

Also Liking the Big Bang Theory being up on the tv!
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2011 11:02:50 AM

That's a nice build max40watt.

However I'd be concerned that there is very little ventilation. How hot does this box get if you leave the system on for say 10 hours?
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June 22, 2011 1:38:47 PM

From some quick searching it seems possible to have a pretty decent, and power efficient, using the 1155 chipset. I am leaning towards An ASROCK H67M (B3) mobo and it seems to keep the features I need. Price, although an issue, is not as important as efficiency vs power. I am torn between a 64gb SSD or a 120gb SSD and then the not so impressive 2tb dump drives for mass video storage. I am torn on the ssds because I want to dual boot Win 7 and a undecided-as-of-yet distro of Linux.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2011 2:09:24 PM

Oh well I thought we were going for cheap :lol:  If you can afford to put $600-700 into each system, that's a different matter.
And for HTPC use, you don't need more than a E-350 build. You don't.
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June 22, 2011 2:21:26 PM

striker410 said:
Hahahaha dude, that is freaking amazing. Post it in this thread. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/310222-31-hardware-me... Do it.

But seriously, that is super sexy. I WANT ONE!


I'm glad you like it, I might go post it in that 'showing off the build' thread later today.



So the E-350 has been good to you? That is something I like to hear! In your NESbox where did you manage to stick the SSD/HD? I don't even see it lol! Beautiful job on the mod/case. said:
So the E-350 has been good to you? That is something I like to hear! In your NESbox where did you manage to stick the SSD/HD? I don't even see it lol! Beautiful job on the mod/case.



The E-350 has been great. I've wanted to do a HTPC in the NES for awhile now, but there just hasn't been a power/heat efficient cpu that was capable enough for my liking. I had considered going with a dual core Atom with Ion board, but eventually decided it just wasn't quite there yet. The E-350 with it's APU has proven more than capable enough for all the HTPC duties I throw at it, which is mostly HD streaming, web browsing and some light gaming.

In that picture the 2.5" HD is under the motherboard.

I would say if you want a 24/7 HTPC then the E-350 is a great place to go for that mix of power efficiency and usefulness. If you're looking at something that you might want to do more than just some light gaming with, upgrading to the 1155 series isn't a bad idea. Certainly it will use more energy, but you could also have a full featured gaming rig at that point.


That's a nice build max40watt.

However I'd be concerned that there is very little ventilation. How hot does this box get if you leave the system on for say 10 hours? said:
That's a nice build max40watt.

However I'd be concerned that there is very little ventilation. How hot does this box get if you leave the system on for say 10 hours?


The NES was designed to be passively cooled, so heat was a major concern of mine. I originally built this during the winter, at which point the apartment was fairly cold most of the time. The original build had no case fans, just a single APU fan as a test at which point I let it run playing full screen Hulu desktop in HD for around 6 hours. With that setup it was getting to almost 80C for the gpu/cpu, which was within tolerance but still a bit hot. As the weather has warmed, I've taken it apart again, moved the HD to a more ventilated side, enlarged some of the cooling vents and added a case fan as exhaust on the upper right side of the NES. Now it seems to top out at around 65C for the gpu/cpu, which was after streaming Hulu for several hours as well as playing some Crysis.
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June 22, 2011 2:22:18 PM

Yea I am not really too worried about price. When I build them I will have a large amount of money coming from my brother (gotta love family that owes you big!). My major thing about an E-350 is I have been hearing they seem to have some issues rendering full HD when streaming from online. I have no issues personally with an E-350 if it will handle it. Frankly save myself some money. I have 40Mg internet so I could disregard it as being an issue with bandwidth. I also would probably run a cable for one of them. I am not looking at playing games with them at all. I have a gaming comp that is right next to the main TV. If i wanted I could just run an hdmi cable from the gaming comp to the TV.

Main issues to address,
1. Has to be able to handle full HD and even 3D content when it becomes more available
2. Has to be able to run all forms of video media without hiccups.
3. Has to be able powerful enough to Stream HD content.
4. Cannot catch on fire!
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2011 2:29:17 PM

Ahh, ok. I think we can work around that. The big thing there is 3D. You will need to choose NVidia 3D or ATI 3D. Do a little research and decide what you want. I'm thinking we should go with an athlon dual core and 880g motherboard. This will allow us to add a video card when you decide what you would like. Now, you will have to go MicroATX if you want a video card instead of mini ITX. But that would negate all worries.

I've got something in mind, awaiting your response.
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June 22, 2011 3:47:30 PM

I was figuring Micro from the start. It just doesn't sound like a ITX is up to par for what I need it to do. I have used Nvida's 3d befoe so I am familiar with it. Although in the case with AMD boards i like to stick with ATI cards. The 350 (or maybe is successor) sounds better for the bedroom tv. whereas the bigger one would be in the living room. The nice thing is that these two/three comps won't be built till around November so this leads some time for new tech to come out. :bounce:  :D 

As far as gaming the bigger machine would have the power but not its designated purpose since I have a computer for that reason already built. (I would still 3d mark it for giggles lol)
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June 29, 2011 1:27:47 AM

Best answer selected by Gamedragon11290.
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