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[Build Help] Cheapest possible HTPC, old case?

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October 20, 2011 4:22:07 PM

Alright, I know this post comes up pretty often, but there are a couple of twists that make my situation a little bit different.

I can't afford to build this thing at all, but I'm doing it anyway - price is the most important factor. I currently have an old dell tower (from like, 2005?) hooked up to a crappy projector (hoping to upgrade to HD one day). I'm planning to just use the old dell case, which must be ATX(?), so there's that. I imagine I'll need a bigger power supply, though it would be sweet if I didn't (the one in there is 300 watts). Also, it would be nice if I could get the thing running a few older games at low resolution (think TF2) and maybe the PS2 emulator. I'll be running Windows 7.

Onboard Optical SPDIF out would be great, otherwise I have a Turtle Beach Riviera PCI card that I'll be using.

Thanks guys!!
a b B Homebuilt system
October 20, 2011 4:36:59 PM

Could you give us the full specifications of the old Dell tower?

-Wolf sends
October 20, 2011 5:01:47 PM

Well, it's a P4 2.8 GHz, but I'm planning on getting rid of the Mobo entirely, just want to use the case. Form factor is ATX, has a DVD R/W
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 20, 2011 6:09:24 PM

First, I would make absolutely sure that your case is ATX (and not BTX) compliant. If it is, this is probably what I'd recommend at a minimum.

Motherboard: Foxconn AM3 AMD 790GX - $60 (ATX Motherboard, HD3300 HDMI output, S/PDIF Optical Output)
CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 250 - $62
Memory: Kingston 2x1GB DDR3-1333 - $16

Total Cost: $138

Optional
GPU: Gigabyte Radeon HD6450 - $47 (before $15 rebate)

Even with the graphics card, your 300 watt PSU should be sufficient for this system.

-Wolf sends

a b B Homebuilt system
October 20, 2011 7:00:38 PM

Take a close look at your Dell case's front panel pinout (you know, where the power switch, LEDs, & stuff plug into the motherboard). From my Dell experience with my in-laws' desktop computer, the pinout has a proprietary connector that would require modification to work on an aftermarket motherboard.
October 20, 2011 8:21:49 PM

rwpritchett said:
Take a close look at your Dell case's front panel pinout (you know, where the power switch, LEDs, & stuff plug into the motherboard). From my Dell experience with my in-laws' desktop computer, the pinout has a proprietary connector that would require modification to work on an aftermarket motherboard.



Hmm, thanks for this. I also have an old eMachines case I could use, though I suppose the same problems could arise. Is there an easy way to identify a proprietary connector? I'm not sure what I'm looking for.
October 20, 2011 8:37:21 PM

My Dell had a ribbon cable (looked like a small IDE cable) for the front panel that incorporated everything on the front of the case including the USB ports. For a standard motherboard you need separate wires and connectors for each button/light.
October 20, 2011 8:39:49 PM

Also, the motherboard tray had some kind of clip that connected to the board instead of the regular stand offs.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 26, 2011 2:47:24 PM

A couple things come to mind:

1) Does your case accept a Micro-ATX motherboard?
2) There's no optical S/PDIF out on the motherboard you linked.

If you're ok with this set up, then I see no reason not to get the motherboard you linked.

-Wolf sends
!