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Core i3-2100T HTPC Build

Last response: in Systems
July 31, 2011 5:29:16 PM

Howdy All,

It's true! Another person seeking advice on an HTPC build. First, the intended uses:

1. Streaming media (mostly via NAS, definitely want 1080p / bitstream support)
2. Browsing
3. Light gaming (Lego games, not crazy-intensive Crysis-style stuff)

Next, the current Newegg wish list (at $525 right now):

CPU: Intel Core i3-2100T Sandy Bridge 2.5GHz LGA 1155 35W
Case: Thermaltake LANBOX Lite VF6000BNS Micro ATX
MB: ASUS P8H61-M (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
SSD: Intel 320 Series SSDSA2CW080G310 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC SSD
RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)
PSU: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W

And now for some reasoning about the above components:

I chose the 35w cpu only because of the low power. I haven't seen anything suggesting that it's graphics capabilities would be any less than the 65w versions. I did some reading about the Llano apu(s) but am leaning toward i3 since it's a stronger processor and should be able to handle 1080p. I know about the fps issue, but have read that disabling UPC can resolve that. If not, I'll look at adding a separate GPU in the future.

This case seems to have the best build quality / airflow / low-noise ratings among the mico-atx cases I've seen.

This is my first micro-atx build so I don't know anything about this. This board seemed to have good ratings. There's a Biostar that seems to have better ratings but I don't know anything about that company- and apparently their documentation is crap.

I plan to store almost everything on the NAS, but still want enough room on the SSD to be able to store some stuff in addition to the OS (Win 7 Pro).

This is straight from the MB documentation. I thought about springing for 8GB but have read that anything above 4 in an HTPC is way overkill.

PSU: I looked at the micro-atx offerings at Newegg and they all seemed pretty cheap (from a build quality perspective). Thermaltake's PSU calculator says I'll be running at about 153w for the above, so this is more than I need but I want something that won't crap out in a year. I also like that it's Bronze rated. The big question with this is whether or not it'll fit in the case. Do I have to look for a micro-atx PSU?

I'm going to borrow the disc drive from my desktop for OS installation and will consider adding a BR drive at some point.

It always amazes me that folks can read an endless list of 'help me build my system' posts, but I guess that's why the community is so strong. Any help is of course greatly appreciated.

Thanky :) 

More about : core 2100t htpc build

a b B Homebuilt system
July 31, 2011 6:02:02 PM

First, welcome to Tom's.

I like your build. You might as well just go for the regular i3-2100. The power consumption is nearly identical to the i3-2100T in real use. Read about it here.

That being said, perhaps you should reconsider a Llano setup. The CPU is not as powerful as the intel, but you don't really need CPU power from what you've described. Both can handle 1080p media without breaking a sweat. Your light gaming, on the other hand, will benefit from the much better video in the Llano. My son loves the lego games too and some of the later ones actually need some graphics muscle to play (Star Wars III Clone Wars, for example). If you are still wanting Intel, consider the i3-2105 which has the much better (but not as good as Llano) HD3000 graphics instead of the HD2000. Or, you can pony up for a discreet video card.

BTW, the Lanbox uses a normal size ATX power supply. The Antec you've chosen will fit. You might want to go modular with such a small case though. Perhaps the Silverstone Stider?

That's my 2¢

Good luck on your project. Post back your progress!
July 31, 2011 6:19:00 PM

rwpritchett said:

You might as well just go for the regular i3-2100. The power consumption is nearly identical to the i3-2100T in real use. Read about it here.

As long as the i3-2100 is underclocked to 2.5GHz which equals the clockspeed of the i3-2100T.
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
July 31, 2011 6:22:21 PM

jaguarskx said:
As long as the i3-2100 is underclocked to 2.5GHz which equals the clockspeed of the i3-2100T.
Check the link. It's surprisingly not too far off at stock speed. Full-on 100% CPU usage will be different though.
July 31, 2011 9:50:44 PM

Bueno, thanks for the suggestions! I'm going to put together a Llano build to find out what the differences might be. I'll hopefully be able to put up the new one tonight.

August 1, 2011 12:11:53 AM

Hey guys, here's the AMD build->

Parts that are different:

CPU: AMD A6-3650 Llano 2.6GHz
MB: ASRock A75M-HVS FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3)
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
PSU: SILVERSTONE Strider Plus ST50F-P 500W ATX 12V v2.3 & EPS 12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC

Parts that can stay the same (I think):

Case: Thermaltake LANBOX Lite VF6000BNS
SSD: Intel 320 Series SSDSA2CW080G310 2.5" 80GB

This comes to $537, or $12 more than the i3 build. The modular PSU accounts for most of the difference. I hadn't looked at modular PSUs before and am pretty happy that I'll be able to lose the extraneous cables.

So, I guess it comes down to a question of processors. It sounds like Intel doesn't care about people requesting support for 23.976 and that AMD is actively courting the HTPC market, so maybe that means firmware upgrades will be more frequent? I haven't built an AMD system before so I guess I'm a bit skiddish because of that, but obviously lots of people have and have said they're fine.

This article makes me a little nervous with phrases like "botched playback" and "AMD doesn't offer a way to take advantage of a discrete GPU (outside of CF) from a HTPC perspective."

But that's technology for you; there's always something that keeps it from being perfect. I just would like the peace of mind to know that one or both of these builds will offer smooth playback of streaming video and won't be obsolete in 6 months.

Thanks again for any comments or suggestions.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 1, 2011 4:42:02 AM

Sorry to muddy the water more for you, but one more option you could consider is to drop to one of the new Pentium CPU's like the G620, and with the money saved put towards a discreet video card... maybe an HD5670 which would perform better than any integrated video solution.

Just in case you weren't aware, the A6-3650 has slightly slower graphics than the A8-3850 that everybody reviewed at launch. Here is a good article that reviews the A6-3650. Oh, and with Llano the graphics can be sensitive to RAM speed. 1600 RAM is about the same price as 1333 RAM, so might as well go for that if you choose Llano. If you go intel, H61/H67 chipsets are capped at 1333 speed so wouldn't do any good to go 1600.