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Home Theatre Affordable PC

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September 20, 2011 9:33:44 PM

Hello again all,
I have a friend at work who wants me to build him a computer that can stand alone and act as a computer to do all his normal work on, which doesn't require a whole lot out of a computer, and then also be able to plug in an hdmi to his big screen and watch movies on it. He wants something affordable, obviously, so, we don't need to go overkill. Any suggestions for a build to meet these needs? No blu ray drive needed. Graphics card to watch 1080p movies on through hdmi without any issues, ram, psu, mobo that are all compatible. Thank you to anyone who takes the time to put some input in. Oh, and he wants about 1TB for a hd. Thanks again!
September 20, 2011 9:48:06 PM

also
Seagate barracuda 1TB
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 20, 2011 10:29:46 PM

The above build doesn't have a motherboard. Also, you can make a build without a discrete graphics card and it will use a lot less power.

CPU/GPU - AMD A4-3400 - $79.99
Motherboard - ASRock A75M-HVS FM1 AMD A75 - $69.99
RAM - 2x2GB DDR3-1333 - $25
HDD - Seagate Barracuda 1TB - $54
PSU - Antec Earthwatts 380 - $40
DVD - LG DVD burner - $20
Case - Any Micro ATX case $30-whatever

base price - $320

Of course that leaves out the OS ($100 for Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium OEM)

You could also upgrade with a 60GB or bigger SSD, but if budget is the goal the build above is cheap.
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September 22, 2011 4:04:15 PM

Is mini ATX preferred for this? I personally don't like working in minis... my hands are too big. :p  Haha, just feels so damn congested in them. If it is referred I can role with it, but if not is there an alternative for ATX? There a huge price difference with going miniATX over ATX?
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September 22, 2011 4:26:45 PM

Budget is the goal, and he thinks this sounds good, he doesn't know any better, but the price sounds good to him. Dual core, 4 GB ram, and a 380psu will be good for running 1080 movies though? Sounds so dinky, I've built myself some gaming rigs, and in comparison the numbers just sound small. I'm also hesitant about mini's cause I worry about the heat and everything being so compact, wouldn't it heat up a lot more? I mean obviously with the right airflow it's going to help that, but, I just feel in a regular atx things aren't as close in proximity and multiplying the heat output?
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September 22, 2011 4:28:55 PM

I also just want to make sure the PSU is good, saw some good reviews, but I had one of my PSU's go out and burnt up some other hardware in the process. I'm sure you wouldn't suggest a crappy PSU, there's just the stereotype of if you're spending less the quality is also less. Thanks for the suggestions so far!
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September 22, 2011 4:54:32 PM

Also, is EPS12V another way to say MicroATX? Sorry, I have no experience in building in anything that ATX. Will a standard CD/DVD rom drive fit in there or is there a micro atx set of cd drives to choose from?
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 22, 2011 5:29:55 PM

In my HTPC I'm running an AMD 2.8GHz dual core with integrated HD4200 graphics and the exact same PSU and I have no problem playing HD content. The A4-3400 runs Blu-ray 3D, so it can handle any HTPC tasks thrown at it.

MicroATX is just nice because it means your HTPC will be small. My HTPC looks significantly smaller than my main desktop PC and if I had a mid-tower ATX case it would just be too big to sit nicely between furniture. I'm using a Hec 6T case since it is all black and was really cheap. You can get a fancy HTPC case, but I can never justify the budget myself. You might be able to go slightly cheaper with regular ATX motherboard, but the savings aren't enough in my opinion.

I have a single fan in my HTPC (excluding CPU and PSU) and it runs cool. I wouldn't worry about heat buildup unless you live in a really hot environment or get an extremely small case. My house never really gets above 86F thanks to AC in the summer, but I'm sure it can handle hotter temperatures fine. You have to remember this is a low power HTPC, not a high power gaming PC. There is no dedicated graphics card and you won't be stressing the CPU.

EPS12V is a power supply specification.

The Antec Earthwatts 380 is a good stable relatively quite PSU. Another option would be the SeaSonic SS-300ES for about the same price. These PSUs are cheap because they don't put out a lot of power. If you were paying $15 for a 500W PSU then I'd agree you were paying for garbage PSUs.
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September 22, 2011 5:31:23 PM

Dont worry about heat problems
There is a huge difference between htpc and game rigs.
A gamer pc needs to be powerful and be able to play games that will appear in the next 2 years So you need power and a lot of power.
For a HTPC You dont need the cpu power or a very powerfull VGA. You focus on peripherals that has a lesser power consumtion. So the there is also less heat to take care of. This helps you to get rid of moving parts in your case such as stock cpu coolers.., the more fans the more RPMs the more noise.
A big FAN that has a low rpm will do great on a 35watt cpu. I had a shuriken ninja on a 72 watt amd., That just didnt work out. temps > 130 F
Then i bought a 35 watt amd cpu. This is a great new cpu cooler Cooler Master GeminII M4 Ultra-Low CPU more specs on http://www.besthtpc.net/hardware-reviews/

Ofcourse you can buy a atx case but they are so huge if you put it in your media center/.
The configureation posted by nordlead is very good. The GPU is integrated in the CPU. so no extra heat building when you have an onboard gpu.
You will not have any problems playing any type of media on the machine.








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a b B Homebuilt system
September 22, 2011 5:35:05 PM

As another note, someone pointed out that you can go slightly cheaper (like maybe $15) with the Intel G620 and an appropriate motherboard. However, I'm yet to see any solid information on how Intel's integrated graphics hold up for HD playback.
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September 22, 2011 6:18:47 PM

Awesome, thank you both for explaining the choices to me. Helped me understand a bit better. So, if I snag the Hec 6T case, what fan/s would be optimal to keep it cool? Also, looking at the CPG/GPU listed, it says the Heatsink and Fan are included, great, cool... but you guys have any suggestions for a thermal compound?
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September 22, 2011 6:47:22 PM

Nevermind, thinking I"m going to go with the Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM, unless there are any objections or better suggestions. I've just been informed though that he may be interested in a blue ray combo drive, not a burner, if it's not too much of a price jump. Anny suggestions on that would also be greatly appreciated. He's also possibly looking into a monitor but he hasn't given me any specifics as to size or type.
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 22, 2011 7:13:41 PM

The stock heatsink comes with thermal compound already applied. Since you aren't overclocking just stay with stock. No reason to spend $10 for no real benefits.

As for a case fan, again, I'd just go with stock. You can upgrade to a slightly more quite 120mm fan like this one - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - but I don't think it is necessary since budget is one of the primary concerns. Plus if you aren't happy with how quite the PC is you can always upgrade the fan later.

As for bluray drives, I really don't know much about them to say which are better as I've never done any research on them. I do know that a PC bluray drive isn't really worth it though unless you are buying a burner. You have to spend ~$80 for the reader and then another $50 for software to watch bluray movies. You can buy a quality standalone unit for less money and less hassle.

Oh, in case you didn't notice, the Antec PSU doesn't come with a standard power cable to plug into the wall socket. The idea is that everyone already has tons of them so they don't ship it with the green unit. It was an oversight on my part since I have a ton of them in a box so I never even care. Other than that all the cables and screws you need should come with the motherboard and case. At most you'll be short 1 sata cable and a few screws.
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September 22, 2011 9:24:18 PM

Awesome! Thank you so much for your help! Ordered basically the suggested setup with the case you mentioned and an extra sata cable ;) 

Thank you guys again for the pointers and feedback :D 
...and thank you nordlead...
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September 22, 2011 9:24:31 PM

Best answer selected by NorCalLion.
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 23, 2011 12:52:15 PM

just as some more reassurance that you won't have heat problems.

I was using my Kill-A-Watt last night to determine if I could use a Pico PSU and my HTPC uses 90W max and 60W ideling (not a stress test, but under all of my normal operations). I couldn't figure out why it was so high, but then I realized it was because I installed a Wireless n PCI adapter. I believe if I took it out it would idle closer to 40w.
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