First time builder here. Tinkered with upgrades over the years but never built from scratch. Kind of trying to learn a lot on the fly here. At the moment I am just in the design phase and trying to figure out where to go.
I plan on streaming torrents to my HDTV via HDMI (avi, mp4, etc etc basically a wide range of file types). Watch some internet vids via chrome. Netflix/hulu/vudu/amazon streaming services (i'd like to get the most out of these streams that I can e.g. 1080 quality when/where available). At the same time my HDTV has those same apps built in. Its a panasonic viera st30 but I am not sure if I would get a better feed from streaming through the actua websites. Also stream services like justin.tv and ustream. I will not be gaming or pushing blu rays or anything like that. So I am not trying to break the bank. I am also not interested in using this as a dvr/pvr or for watching cable. I have a set top box that I barely watch as it is so its just not that important and I would rather try to keep the price down.
This machine will also serve as a server or sorts. I will be storing my movies/tv shows and music library. Thinking in the nieghborhood of a 1.5 Tb HDD to store them on and another to back up. Don't need a ton of space cause I tend to erase the shows/movies after they have been watched. Essentially anything stored on the HDD I would like to be able to access wirelessy on my laptop.
Only other applicatons I can really see using are bittorrent and itunes.
So on to the choosing the CPU. AMD vs Intel? How many cores? Clock speed? Would an integrated CPU/GPU have enough juice to stream HD (and not bluray/dvd). Or do I need a discrete GPU? Do I really need sandy bridge?
Like I said I am definitely a novice when it comes to understanding how much processing power I really need to for what I am trying to achieve. Afraid of under/overbuying. Trying to dial in the right CPU for the job at the right price. With that said I really ahve no particular price in mind just trying to find a good value so to speak.
Here's a couple of things to consider.
As far as the build goes, it doesn't matter Intel vs AMD. Intel integrated GPU will handle movies and streaming and what not. Gaming at 1080p won't work.
With AMD, the video is superior and some light or casual gaming can be done with the APU. For this I would look at the A8 processors.
If int3erested in wireless technologies, the core i5 CPUs are capable of wireless video if you buy a kit. Wivi is very cool.
Number one thing you need to know about all of this is the biggest bottleneck will be your network. Here's where you should invest some money, get a dual band N router. You can use the 5Ghz band for the media streaming, and the lower band for regular internet traffic. This is going to be key for the streaming and inter-connectivity you have planned.
I am going to be running just about everything wired ethernet if possible. Router>ethernet>HTPC>HDMI>HDTV. If I use the native apps(netflix/hulu/etc) on the tv the router wil be wired to the HDTV. Only thing wireless is the laptop and that's mostly for web browsing anyway (as well as utilizing the HDD's in the HTPC at times). I have verizon fios 35/35 with wireless N and 10/100 action tec MI424 router.
I have considered (not in much depth) the possibilty of just buying a widi adapter and using a NAS for my server. A cheap NAS will run me like $160 and widi adapter is roughly $100 so I still end up spending roughy $260 and I just wonder how much I am giving up in terms of performance/customization vs building a HTPC.
You don't need an NAS. Your HTPC can serve as a media/file server for the whole network quite easily, even under WIN 7. But if you chose WHS it would be even easier. The point is you don't need special hardware for this, and a modest machine in terms of performance makes for a perfect server. The network infrastructure as I mentioned is the major bottleneck here, it looks like for now the wired connections will be affordable and fast.
Unfortunately hard drives are not a good buy right now. If you have a 500GB or 1TB drive it should serve well for now.
I know I don't NEED a NAS. I was just using it as an example alternative to building a $500+ HTPC.
Also in terms of wireless I am somewhat handicapped in what hardware I can use as I have fios and the included action tec router is required for the interactive guide for the cable service.
Anyhow all of this is a bit off subect.
If I do build an HTPC I am mainly interested in a wired rig and so for the purposes of this thread I was trying to get an idea of what processors would be appropriate for what I was trying to do (stream 1080 sources/internet feeds/bittorrents/server functions) vs what I am not trying to do (gaming/ripping dvds and blu rays/pushing said blu rays to HDTV/typical desktop applications like word/etc)