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First HTPC attempt

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Last response: in Systems
August 11, 2011 5:10:05 AM


After all the great help and advice on my newly bought games rig, I’m turning to an HTPC that will replace my age old Acer Aspire iDea 510 which is getting a bit long in the tooth in terms of upgrade options. Happy to advertise it for sale in the sale section once my new rig is complete.

So I have been using some ideas on a kit list below if anyone would care to give me their opinions on it and offer any other suggestions for alternatives?

Connecting to a 5.1 surround system via Optical out and playing on a 46” FULL HD Pioneer Plasma TV via HDMI (1080p) (HDMI version 1.3 cable not sure if this is relevant!)

CASE: looking at a few options, but want USB 3 only
Mobo : ASUS P8P67-M or the ASUS P8P67-M PRO (like the ASUS range)
CPU: Intel i3 2120 Dual Core (might go for the i5 but not sure if needed!)
PSU: 450w – 500w unless this is too high?
RAM: 8GB (4x2 or 2 x 4 modules)
CPU Cooler: Any suggestions for a quiet unit
SDD Boot: OCZ Vertex 3 - 120GB SATA-III 6Gbps
HDD Storage: 1 x Seagate 2TB 5900rpm SATA-III 600 Barracuda Green
1 x Western Digital 2TB Intellipower SATA-III Caviar Green
Digital Tuner: Hauppauge HVR-2210 Dual Tuner PCI-e (1x)
GPU: 1 x AMD Radeon HD6570 1GB (HDMI version?)
1 x AMD Radeon HD6670 1GB (HDMI version?)
Case Fan: Suggestions for a very quiet HTPC?
Blu-ray: Pioneer maybe?

I will use Windows 7 Pro media Centre and the TV guide to record my TV shows to the Local Hard Drive, the SDD will be used for Windows O/S only.

All DVD rips, music, photos and music videos etc are kept on my 2 x 4TB Promise Smartstor NAS NS4600 on a gigabyte network home LAN via Cat 6 around the house. This connects to a Netgear DGND3700 ADSL 2+ Modem and wireless Router for DHPC addressing and reservations for all the PC’s and other tech devices.

My Daughter will be getting a dumb down unit in her room and I’ll be putting a simple HTPC in the main bedroom to stream films and TV shows via DLNA devices around the house once the main living room HTPC is done and I have a little more experience doing this.

So is this system suitable for the main living room HTPC or do I need to beef it up a little?


More about : htpc attempt

August 11, 2011 5:20:53 AM

Id look at a system based on AMD's A8 Fusion cpu's

Better graphics and blu ray playback , at a lower cost . Plus its a quad core and less likely to be affected by slow downs when other windows services want system resources
August 11, 2011 5:38:03 AM

Hi, I'm new to AMD, just aboutr got my head around the Intel chipsets but have no idea what the AMD standards aare for chipset and mothboards. Is it AM3+, I'm looking on the ASUS website and looking for a suitable small form factor mobo but have no idea what to look for! :-(
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August 11, 2011 5:40:54 AM

Seen a few motherboards with built in Graphics, are these any good for simple HDMI output to the Plasma to save on the dedicated GPU?
August 11, 2011 6:00:43 AM

Thats the processor , but they have the name wrong . Its not a "phenom" is an A8-3850
The 4 cores are nearly identical to athlon/phenom , and it has a graphics chip built in that can help with processing tasks as well .

The big advantage is that you dont have to buy a graphics card to get really good performance

But it wont fit that motherboard !
Its not AM3 , its socket FM1
August 11, 2011 6:29:34 PM

My advice would be to a Creative Xfi card as your soundcard as the HTPC cards generally dont support DTS & 5.1 outputs by optical to your home theater setup.
If great sound is important - X-fi card by Creative or Auzentec
August 11, 2011 9:45:40 PM

HTPC cards meaning the motherboard on board audio does not support DTS & 5.1 thru optical cable?
August 11, 2011 11:52:30 PM

I don't know what johncmos is on about. I've never come across an onboard optical connection that couldn't pass 5.1 DD/DTS. IFAIK, sound cards are only needed for audiophiles using analog.
August 12, 2011 12:22:29 AM


Been looking at a few other mobo options like the Asrock Z68 Pro3 - M but torn between what graphics will be good for the HTPC. Use on board or via additional GPU PCI-e slot?

Not going to use this for games only web surfing and films / TV so as long as it has a newer HDMI 1.4 or 1.4a format then ill go with whatever offers the best combination to future proof the TV upgrades. I have a spare Creative Xfi card from an old PC that I can use as I have a DTS and THX system at home for audio.

August 12, 2011 6:27:01 PM

Thanks for labeling me an audiophile, I'll take that as a compliment.
Check your specs, DTS has only recently been added to X-fi - so dont expect an inbuilt to perform magic.
Why deprive yourself as great sound is as important to the wow factor as a great picture.
October 9, 2011 10:12:23 AM

Apologies for the delay in getting back to everyone that has kindly added their experiance but I've had a few other pressing things to attend to which has put this on the back burner

Back into this project in full swing but have a few additional requests so i you have any ideas would be great.

Am looking now on the following short list:

AMD F1 board with on board GPU - F1A75-M PRO

CPU: AMD Phenom II A8-3850

OCZ Vertex 3 120GB boot drive SATA III
8GB RAM (sensible speed and price!)
500W PSU but not sure if this is overkill or the best place to start? Fanless or just a good brand and quiet?!
Onboard Optical OUT for sound
Onboard HDMI for Display to TV (NOT 3D!)
Ok so the bits I'm still looking for and need advice on:

HD TV Recording card - 2 channels at least

Case -

1 x 5.25" Blue Ray Drive
1 x 2.5" SDD for boot drive (already have this)
5 x 3TB Drives in RAID 5 - is it worth getting a dedicated RAID contolller card or use the onboard one? looking at:

Looking at this amount of storage as I plan to sell both my NAS boxes and get it all internal in one box. Its a little cluttered under the TV at the moment so want to go for a nice case big enough for it all so I only have one device to turn on.

Currently have the 2 x 8TB Promise NS4600 boxes (RAID 5 so around 5.5TB usable on each)

So basically need a nice big case that looks good, quiet and has the space to put all the fans, storage and drives in. ATX or mATX is fine, just nice to get it all in the one unit.

Any suggestions or advice on what I've gone for would be great.