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Build or buy HTPC

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November 6, 2011 5:35:11 PM

I've build a lot systems before but never a home theater pc. I'm not sure if I should build one myself or buy one.

This is a rough list of parts from New Egg:

Thermaltake Black SECC Japanese steel LANBOX Lite VF6000BWS Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASRock A75M FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
AMD A8-3850 Llano 2.9GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU AD3850WNZ43GX - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
XFX HD-687A-ZHFC Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Corsair Force Series 3 CSSD-F60GB3A-BK 2.5" 60GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9S-4GBRL
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CORSAIR H40 120mm High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Rosewill HIVE Series HIVE-650 650W Continuous @40°C, 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified, Modular Design, Single +12V Rail, ATX12V v2.31/EPS12V ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Assuming all that will fit in the case it's about $750-$800. Am I over building for a HTPC?

Or I could spend less and get this
ASRock Vision 3D 137B Intel Core i3-370M Mobile Processor Intel HM55 NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Or much slower(but also much cheaper)
Acer AspireRevo AR3700-U3002
http://www.amazon.com/Acer-AspireRevo-AR3700-U3002-Comp...

I want to play 1080p flawlessly, Netflix/Amazon, NHL Gamecenter, music, and maybe a few games(nothing high-end). BTW I can play bluray through my PS3.

I've never had an HTPC so any advice/tips would be greatly appreciated.

More about : build buy htpc

November 6, 2011 5:50:54 PM

Get the top of the line 16X video card, that fits in a 16X socket, big difference in video quality. Yes there is a difference, no matter what "experts" say. Definitely quad core for theater PC!
No you do not need liquid cooling, unless you plan to overclock the computer. Use Hyper 2X12 cooler.
Overclock does not belong on a theater PC. Or for that matter, most PCs!
An Antec earthwatts 650 can save a lot of power and heat compared to a conventional power supply. You get $$ payback from more efficient design, power savings.
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Best solution

November 9, 2011 6:11:25 PM

soundguruman said:
Get the top of the line 16X video card, that fits in a 16X socket, big difference in video quality. Yes there is a difference, no matter what "experts" say. Definitely quad core for theater PC!
No you do not need liquid cooling, unless you plan to overclock the computer. Use Hyper 2X12 cooler.
Overclock does not belong on a theater PC. Or for that matter, most PCs!
An Antec earthwatts 650 can save a lot of power and heat compared to a conventional power supply. You get $$ payback from more efficient design, power savings.
I'm going to respectfully disagree with soundguru's advice, with the exception of the no overclocking comments.

For an HTPC build:
You don't need a top-of-the-line video card for best video quality
You don't need a quad core
You don't need a Hyper 212 cooler
You don't need a 650W PSU

The HTPC mantra is keep it cool, keep it quiet with parts that will get the job done.

Video: If you need video post processing such as vector adaptive deinterlacing then you may need some extra video muscle. This only applies to interlaced content though. Your post-processing needs will highly depend on your source material. A high-end video card is not needed in any case unless you plan to play graphically intense 3D games. Keep in mind that this will add heat and noise to your setup. Read the HTPC mantra again.

CPU: Most video rendering is handled by the graphics card (hardware acceleration) as long as the source material is compliant and the player supports HA. You may, in some rare cases, need to fall back on the CPU to decode video (software decoding). Any modern dual core is up to the task, though the AMD Zacate and Intel Atom processors will not be able to handle high bitrate sources. Neither Zacate or Atom can handle HD Neflix because it does not support HA. If you plan to transcode video sources, only then should you consider a beefier CPU with more cores.

Cooler: The stock cooler is sufficient in most cases. Only swap it out if you want something more quiet, or if you find that you are overheating. Again, read the HTPC mantra above.

PSU: Go for one of the reputable brands with high efficiency (Antec, Seasonic, Corsair, Enermax, etc.). Depending on your parts, you most likely need something in the 300-400W range. I have a kill-a-watt meter and my "big" HTPC with 6TB of hard drives, quad-core processor, 4 tuner cards, and more doesn't even top 200W when used. A PSU is most efficient at around 50% load BTW.

With all of that said, your original parts list is pretty good. I'd recommend you go for a different PSU than the Rosewill and only keep the HD6870 if you plan to play games. Also, skip the water cooling since your selected case does not have a 120mm spot to mount the radiator.
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November 9, 2011 6:40:41 PM

+1 ^ on what 'rwpritchett' said -> no need for discrete video card, quad-core, after-market cooler or a PSU >400w

based on your components -

i'd swap the CPU with a higher clocked dual-core:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- AMD A4-3400 Llano 2.7GHz Socket FM1 65W Dual-Core

and the PSU with this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W

..then lose the after-market cooler and video card - now you've got a much quieter (and cheaper) balanced HTPC

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November 18, 2011 11:10:31 PM

Best answer selected by SSilver.
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November 25, 2012 4:52:45 PM

I got an HTPC from dhubcomputers.com. For what I got, there isnt really anywhere that I know of that will give you more for the price. I think their systems start at around 999 or something like that.
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