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First time HTPC Builder

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September 21, 2011 4:14:02 PM

Hi there,

My name is Tom and I wanted to ask the opinion of those who probably know much more on the subject of HTPCs than I do, as this is my first build. Why don't I outline the components first then I'll ask my questions:

Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I32100
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

MSI H67MS-E23 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 SATA 6Gb/s Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

HIS H557HO1G Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

SAMSUNG EcoGreen F4 HD204UI 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner 1213 PCI-Express x1 Interface
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

SeaSonic S12II 430B 430W ATX12V V2.3/EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBRL
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 5000B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

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Okay, so first off, I'd like to ask if this is a smart rig to be building. My primary concerns were the size of the rig (as it will be an HTPC in my room), the noise output (as a silent or very quiet rig is a must) and its performance in terms of playback of HD internet streams, cable shows, DVD's etc.

Secondly, I was wondering if anything is overkill. Also, is anything underkill (as in, will my PSU give enough power to the components etc.)? I realize I could have gotten a simpler CPU, or possibly one with integrated graphics, but is this options much better than a separate GPU?

Thirdly, am I getting a good bang for my buck. Are there any substitutions that you would make that would be smarter? I don't have an ego and this is my first build so I'm open to any and all criticisms.

I would appreciate any advice or comments on my build. If you guys can't see that I'm doing/buying anything stupid, then I will probably go ahead and put my order through.

Thanks in advance,

Tom

More about : time htpc builder

a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 7:07:41 PM

That's a pretty decent build you have there. A couple things:

1) Is this STRICTLY going to be a media playing device (no gaming/video editing)? If so, then you could drop down to an AMD dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM. My HTPC is based on an AMD AthlonII x2-250 processor and 4GB of RAM. It also has a Ceton Corp InfiniTV4 TV Tuner card installed for TV Recording.

If you do intend to do some gaming on this system, then the Core I3 processor and 4GB of RAM should be fine. If you're looking to do video editing (cutting out commercials from TV recordings and such), you may want to look at a more powerful processor and keep the 8GB of RAM.

2) I'm not sure how cable TV works up North of the border. Here in the US, many of the cable subscription levels require a device from the cable company, in the form of a set top box, in order to view the non-basic levels of cable TV. The problem arises when the cable company also includes decryption as part of the functionality of the set top box. The TV tuners like the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 cannot do this decryption. The cable companies set top box has to do it and, of course, it only outputs one channel at a time. This pretty much negates the TV Tuning functionality of the Hauppauge card.

The answer, here in the States, for this is one of the new Cablecard devices (like the afore mentioned InfiniTV4 card). These devices still require a cablecard from the cable company, but it essentially puts a set top box inside your HTPC.

So how does cable work in Canada?

If any of this doesn't make sense to you, feel free to ask more questions. That's why we're here.

-Wolf sends
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September 21, 2011 7:09:50 PM

I recently put together a HTPC. It will replace my WD TV Live media player as my family's entertainment device so I can have access to some more web based options.

The AMD E350 mITX borad/cpu is silent and works well for playing my HD avi files, Netflix, youtube, hulu etc...and the Sound through my existing Z-5500 speakers is awesome (don't forget to to use the optical/spdif for best results)

MSI E350IA-E45 AMD Zacate E350
http://www.amazon.com/MSI-E350IA-E45-Zacate-Mini-ITX-Mo...

Thermaltake Element Q Small Form Factor mini-ITX Computer Case
http://www.amazon.com/Thermaltkae-Element-Mini-ITX-Chas...

8GB DDR3-1333 PC3-10600 Desktop Memory Kit (Two 4GB Memory Modules)
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

I had a pair of 160GB Segate drives lying around that I put into RAID1. All my media is on my NAS.

Rii Mini Wireless Keyboard (Built-in TouchPad/Laser Pointer) - Black
http://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Keyboard-Built--TouchPad...

The overall system runs silent ... albiet a little warmer than I like.
The case does have room for an additional single slot PCIe card if the onboard graphics don't do it for you. Haven't hooked up a TV tuner yet...no need to.
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a c 136 B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 7:25:16 PM

The system is good . I dont understand why you'd use a graphics card as well when the graphics built in to the processor are strong enough for blu ray playback though


I'd also price a system based on the AMD A8 3850. Four cores can be very useful at times . Particularly when you are watching and recording at the same time
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September 21, 2011 8:14:53 PM

Wolfshadw said:
That's a pretty decent build you have there. A couple things:

1) Is this STRICTLY going to be a media playing device (no gaming/video editing)? If so, then you could drop down to an AMD dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM. My HTPC is based on an AMD AthlonII x2-250 processor and 4GB of RAM. It also has a Ceton Corp InfiniTV4 TV Tuner card installed for TV Recording.

If you do intend to do some gaming on this system, then the Core I3 processor and 4GB of RAM should be fine. If you're looking to do video editing (cutting out commercials from TV recordings and such), you may want to look at a more powerful processor and keep the 8GB of RAM.

2) I'm not sure how cable TV works up North of the border. Here in the US, many of the cable subscription levels require a device from the cable company, in the form of a set top box, in order to view the non-basic levels of cable TV. The problem arises when the cable company also includes decryption as part of the functionality of the set top box. The TV tuners like the Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 cannot do this decryption. The cable companies set top box has to do it and, of course, it only outputs one channel at a time. This pretty much negates the TV Tuning functionality of the Hauppauge card.

The answer, here in the States, for this is one of the new Cablecard devices (like the afore mentioned InfiniTV4 card). These devices still require a cablecard from the cable company, but it essentially puts a set top box inside your HTPC.

So how does cable work in Canada?

If any of this doesn't make sense to you, feel free to ask more questions. That's why we're here.

-Wolf sends


Thank you for your quick replies

Well, I can answer a few of those questions to help clarify things. I don't plan on gaming on this rig; I have a dedicated machine a built a few years ago that can still pack a punch when I want to play games. In terms of video editing, the only type of editing I would want to do is ripping (my purchased DVDs/Blu Ray) movies, burning them to storage media, but nothing intensive.

As for the tuner card, I've looked into the CetonCorp card, but we don't use CableCards in Canada, so the CetonCorp card is practically useless north of the border. I do have access to a Rogers (my cable company) box for decryption, but I only really need SD for the forseeable future. So as long as I can record basic cable, I will be fine with that.

From your comments, I take it that the video card is overkill and not needed. Is this true even if I wish to watch Blu Ray (subbing out my mentioned DVD burner above for a Blu Ray burner)? Will my Sandy bridge processor be able to handle all that? Are you saying that all I've mentioned above is also possible with a simple AthlonIIx2-250 processor as well?

Thanks,

Tom
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 8:22:44 PM

With all respect to Outlander, I'd keep the discrete graphics card. Your selected motherboard does not have native HDMI. I'd also recommend pricing out an AMD A8 3850 system. (I've not looked closely at them). That may be the better way to go.

Since you're only looking at standard cable from Rogers, I think the Hauppauge 2250 should work just fine.

-Wolf sends

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a c 136 B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 8:26:25 PM

I get a DVB-T UHF terrestrial digital signal broadcast at 1080p on most stations .

The first computer we used was an old Dell with a 3.0 GHz Pentium D / avermedia twinstar cant produce smooth 1080p play . Trying for play and record simultaneously from the two tuners made things way worse .

My guess would be that if you want 1080p you should buy the stronger i3 2100 , and if you want to record one channel while you watch another then the AMD A8 quadcore makes lots of sense .
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 8:27:22 PM

ITX is the way to go -- the E350 APU would be primo but if you wish to crank it up a notch check out the Llano APU with the ASRock A75M-ITX FM1

The graphics engine on the Llano APU (Radeon HD 6550D) is essentially an HD5570 [:jaydeejohn:5] and includes the UVD3 encoding engine.

Either way you should save enough money for extra beer ... and an SSD! :bounce: 


Rosewill has a nice ITX case that comes with a PSU -- you would need to 'engineer' placement of the SSD, however (not a biggie - I just did one). You could even use double-sided tape (SSDs are wunnerful and will have you booting in 20 seconds!)

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September 21, 2011 8:29:01 PM

Wolfshadw said:
With all respect to Outlander, I'd keep the discrete graphics card. Your selected motherboard does not have native HDMI. I'd also recommend pricing out an AMD A8 3850 system. (I've not looked closely at them). That may be the better way to go.

Since you're only looking at standard cable from Rogers, I think the Hauppauge 2250 should work just fine.

-Wolf sends


If I were to find a motherboard with similar specs and an HDMI port, say:

MSI H67MA-E35 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

would you still make the same recommendation to keep a dedicated graphics card?
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a c 136 B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 8:29:10 PM

Wolfshadw said:
With all respect to Outlander, I'd keep the discrete graphics card. Your selected motherboard does not have native HDMI. I'd also recommend pricing out an AMD A8 3850 system. (I've not looked closely at them). That may be the better way to go.

Since you're only looking at standard cable from Rogers, I think the Hauppauge 2250 should work just fine.

-Wolf sends



Good point Wolfshadw.
He doesnt need the discrete graphics card , but he would have to get a more expensive mb with an HDMI output
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September 21, 2011 8:42:32 PM

Outlander_04 said:
The system is good . I dont understand why you'd use a graphics card as well when the graphics built in to the processor are strong enough for blu ray playback though


I'd also price a system based on the AMD A8 3850. Four cores can be very useful at times . Particularly when you are watching and recording at the same time


Thanks for the reply,

Luckily, I'm in a situation where I've saved up ample amounts of money, so pricing isn't the biggest concern for me. If the prices are similar, would you recommend an AMD A8 3850 build or an Intel i3 Sandy Bridge build? I'm really looking for the better of the two.

If I've done my research properly, I believe you'll tell me that the AMD machine will have a stronger GPU power, while the Intel machine will have a stronger CPU. At which point in my watching/recording of tv/movies/blu ray, will this matter or be noticeable? I really don't want to pick one and kick myself for not picking the other when i get it all put together. Are there true pros and cons to either build, or are we merely splitting hairs because we know too much about each of the individual components? I'd like to hear your opinion, please.

Thanks again,

Tom
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 8:47:30 PM

tomcase7 said:
Thanks for the reply,

Luckily, I'm in a situation where I've saved up ample amounts of money, so pricing isn't the biggest concern for me. If the prices are similar, would you recommend an AMD A8 3850 build or an Intel i3 Sandy Bridge build? I'm really looking for the better of the two.

If I've done my research properly, I believe you'll tell me that the AMD machine will have a stronger GPU power, while the Intel machine will have a stronger CPU. At which point in my watching/recording of tv/movies/blu ray, will this matter or be noticeable? I really don't want to pick one and kick myself for not picking the other when i get it all put together. Are there true pros and cons to either build, or are we merely splitting hairs because we know too much about each of the individual components? I'd like to hear your opinion, please.

Thanks again,

Tom


It won't. Really.

Using the Llano APU is an example, the UVD3 decoding engine handles your video, even BR, and your CPU hangs around in a low-power state with minimal utilization.

Even while recording an HD stream [:jaydeejohn:5]

edit: Sorry ... I fergit.

You really don't want to use a 'green' drive for your operating system --- it will work but it will be painfully slow at booting and loading programs.

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September 21, 2011 8:55:19 PM

Wisecracker said:
It won't. Really.

Using the Llano APU is an example, the UVD3 decoding engine handles your video, even BR, and your CPU hangs around in a low-power state with minimal utilization.

Even while recording an HD stream [:jaydeejohn:5]

edit: Sorry ... I fergit.

You really don't want to use a 'green' drive for your operating system --- it will work but it will be painfully slow at booting and loading programs.


Okay, thanks.

If that's the case, I'm thinking I'll go with the i3 build without the dedicated video card.

Also, I've given some thought to buying a 30gb SSD to run my OS on. I'll use the 2TB drive as more of a storage drive. Would that help solve the booting/loading problems?

One more thing. What kind of wattage will I need? I get the feeling that 380w is overkill for my system. How low can I go without suffering?

Sorry about all the questionsand thank you for all your help!

Tom
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 8:59:32 PM

I wouldn't go under a 350W PSU... but there is an Antec Basiq 350W for $29.99
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September 21, 2011 9:27:03 PM

I just recently updated my HTPC - I went with the i3 2100 and it's a great HTPC proc (I also do a bit of gaming on mine, esp older console games using emulators).

Two changes I would make (I have both of these in mine) - first, I'd go for a Z68 board - access to the newest platform/chipset and Virtu. Second, I'd sub a low profile 6570 for the 5570. HD 6000 series added some new media decoding features and can bitstream audio over HDMI.

I have this video card: http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
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September 21, 2011 9:28:22 PM

Also wanted to note, I use a 60gb SSD as a boot drive in my setup and a 2TB hdd as a media drive - boot speeds are great (into Win7 HP in < 20 sec). Highly recommended.
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 9:32:13 PM

tomcase7 said:
Okay, thanks.

If that's the case, I'm thinking I'll go with the i3 build without the dedicated video card.

Also, I've given some thought to buying a 30gb SSD to run my OS on. I'll use the 2TB drive as more of a storage drive. Would that help solve the booting/loading problems?

One more thing. What kind of wattage will I need? I get the feeling that 380w is overkill for my system. How low can I go without suffering?

Sorry about all the questionsand thank you for all your help!

Tom


The advantages of an ITX-based system are they generally offer less power consumption and smaller power supplies. 380w is very much overkill for what you wish to do. Massive overkill, in fact.

The E350 APU will max at 40w under full load and process. System load with the Llano APU - sleep at 4w, idle at 35w, playback BR at 55w and max under Prime+Furmark at 140w.

There are now 2- and 3-core Llano APUs which will consume even less power. The i3-2100 will idle at around 70w - video decoding should not add much power to that. I'm not sure but figure 10w to be safe. Max load is probably 110w.

BUT you will never reach max wattage load with either the AMD or Intel system. It's just not going to happen with what you are doing. You could throw in Internet, word processing, and 2d games and you simply won't budge a modern processor much above idle.

And yes --- an SSD (probably a 60GB version just to be safe) would make quite a difference and your green drive will work well for storage.

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a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 10:15:30 PM

Something I've never understood about SSDs and HTPCs... If the system is on most of the time (or all the time like mine is), where is the need for fast boot times? Remember, the general idea behind recording is you don't have to be there, but the system does need to be on.

As for me, I don't mind a little over-kill. I have a 450 watt PSU and an HD 4670 in my HTPC. Why? Because I enjoy building systems. This system will eventually be replaced (and probably gifted to someone who can use it).

As far as power consumption, I have two systems that are on 24/7/365. In the dead of Winter (I don't pay for heating in my apartment), my bill is usually around $35/month. To me, that doesn't too unreasonable; especially when compared to my heat-of-summer (I do pay for my window air conditioning) where my bill can top out at $160/month (top floor/Southwest corner).

-Wolf sends
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 21, 2011 10:34:47 PM

no just fast boot times, but fast *load* times for your software
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 22, 2011 4:02:58 PM

I've gone from HDD to SSD, back to HDD, and then went running back to SSD on one of my HTPC's. It wasn't just the fast boot time that I missed. There's also the complete silence (my 7200 rpm WD Black HDD sounded like someone shaking marbles in a box), lower heat output, and with my media collection it loads cover art in media browser instantly where the HDD takes a bit of time.

Also, I've had the misfortune of needing a reboot to correct some HTPC quirk (I can't remember what it was) with people over to watch a movie. I was very glad that I could reboot in ~45s instead of having everybody wait 2 minutes for all processes to load and settle down before starting our movie.

By HDD, I mean platter drive, of course.
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