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Multi Purpose HTPC $500-$750

Hi all - thanks in advance for all your assistance. I'm finally getting around to upgrading all my A/V equipment by the holidays and need a replacement for my XBOX classic XBMC that is more robust with HD video.

Honestly, I think if XBOX360 had Blueray I might just get one of those and use as a media extender - but alas, I'll just build my own to my specs!

I'm not tied to any particular brand over another, and willing to go with anything that will meet my criteria, which are listed below. I've read some of the other threads re: cpus, etc - and I think I probably need more guidance on the correct case, input device, and level of video card I need (integrated enough?).

Approximate Purchase Date: now-1 month

Budget Range: $500-750 (after rebates)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: HTPC Audio/Video, Gaming, see below for details

Parts Not Required: monitor

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, but really don't care

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: case and input would be my biggest concerns (see below)

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: Output to an as yet to be determined 720 or 1080 TV and a 720 projector.

Additional Comments:

1) Video/Audio - this machine will primarily be used to play video (netflix, hulu, encoded and native dvd and blueray). It will need to output to my receiver, preferably over a single HDMI connection for 7.2 audio and video.. Additionally, i would like it to have (though not a deal breaker) the ability to output to a second monitor simultaneously. So, for instance I have a video running up on the TV and e-mail open in another monitor.

2) E-mail and light web browsing - I know that any machine I build will have this functionality. The point here is that I don't see too many posts addressing the ideal input device. A full wireless keyboard seems overkill for A/V operations, but obviously better for typing out e-mails. Input device is very important to me, and I need some good suggestions.

3) Encoding/Transcoding - as above - I plan to rip physical media and to transcode it to different sources for use on other mobile equipment. I need a system that has decent rates to do this, preferably in the background while doing other things.

4) Storage - I have some network storage currently, and plan in the future to upgrade to a larger NAS. However I think I want to have more than an SSD worth of storage on the device. I would want at least 2-4TB of local storage, preferably in a RAID1 or 5 array as I probably won't be backing up my transcoded data for a while. However, I may also be convinced that an external eSata or something is preferable...

5) Gaming - I am not a huge gamer - but every now and then I like to get lost in a game. I don't have huge expectations here. My current gaming systems are classic XBOX, Wii, and my Laptop with a GEForce8400M-GS card. I would however like a system that can play current generation games at a level close to what the XBOX 360/PS3 would be. If I have to sacrifice on budget, this is probably where I would sacrifice - but not forsake entirely.

6) DVR - I think that for my initial build I am not going to worry too much about DVR/TV tuner capability. Since I get most of my content now online (and don't have a cable/sat provider). However I would like a case that gives me the ability to expand to this functionality later if desired.

7) Case - As with the input device, the case is very important. I need something that is big enough for the expand-ability and local storage I want, but is still sleek looking and will fit in with my other a/v equipment. Running quiet and cool is of course very important too.

12 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about multi purpose htpc
  1. updated to include proper format.

  2. Thanks for giving some initial suggestions. So far this is what I have come up with:

    Processor: AMD A8-3850 - $130.00 - Went with the high end llano

    MoBo: ASUS F1A75-V EVO - $120.00 - I didn't want to go with ITX for upgrade reasons. I hope that this isn't a bad move in terms of heat/noise issues? With the ATX it seems a toss-up with reviews between the different manufacturers. I went with this one for all the ports/upgrade paths. Comments please...

    Case: Lian Li PC-C33B - $160.00 - Seems to have very good build quality and is rated very good in terms of noise. I'm open to suggestions that would be near as good, but cheaper? Or any positive/negative comments on this case.

    RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1866 - F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL - $70.00 - 8GB may be overkill, but I also hear that with the llano you want to go at least 1600. Is the extra $15 or so worth it to go to this 1866? I chose this particular model as it was on the compatability list for the chosen Asus mobo.

    HDD: OCZ Solid 3 SLD3-25SAT3-120G 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC - $165.00 - Decided to do an SSD for boot and throw in a spare SATA II drive until prices come down. Then I can consider adding a small RAID internally or an external NAS. Welcome for comments on this drive. I chose it because it seemed to be a well priced SATA III.

    Optical : LG WH12LS30 - $80.00 - Drive seemed better rated on access times and on Dual layer speeds. LG is supposedly pretty reliable too.

    Power Supply: ??? - Still need a suggestion here. Need something that will be beefy enough to power the SSD and 1 HDD, plus possibly up to 2 more HDD in future. Also, may add a discrete graphics and TV Tuner card down the road. Perhaps a modular is the way to go?

    Total is $725 - and will probably be closer to $800 with the power supply and miscellaneous. Could probably shave $300 off the price dropping to 4GB and an A4 CPU and ditching the SSD (just using a spare HDD) and a cheaper case. I think however that the extra cost will be shown in the performance - but would like other's opinion. Again, still need a power supply - and any suggestions for a different case. Also open to all other comments.

  3. I like the llano APU idea , but you probably wont need the A8.
    An A6 3650 is a quad clocked a little lower and will be fine .

    Suggestion for a case is the Silverstone GD 05 [ or GD 04]. much cheaper and takes a standard ATX power supply . You will need a 400 watt psu . Modular ideally
  4. Outlander_04 said:
    I like the llano APU idea , but you probably wont need the A8.
    An A6 3650 is a quad clocked a little lower and will be fine .

    Suggestion for a case is the Silverstone GD 05 [ or GD 04]. much cheaper and takes a standard ATX power supply . You will need a 400 watt psu . Modular ideally

    The A8 will only end up being like $30 more and I have read it can have as much as 25% improvement over the A6 - for such a small fraction of cost, I think it may be worth it. I already needed to resolve myself to step down from the i5 for the better video performance of the AMD, and not sure I want to keep sacrificing more power. It is only an HTPC, but I will probably offload some tasks onto it as well.

    I looked at that silverstone - haven't read through all the reviews. It clearly isn't as polished as the LianLi, but I wonder most about heat and noise. Do you have first hand experience with it? Also, you say it takes a standard ATX power supply - doesn't the LianLi as well?

    Also, I'm concerned 400 watts isn't enough for the growth of a discrete video card and several more drives. I though I might need to go up to 650 or that overkill?

  5. Best answer
    It Looks Good To Me, I Was Just Trying To Keep It Cheap But Sufficiant, And No You Shouldnt Have Any Problems With Heat Or Noice Moving Up To mATX, Actually Anything Over 500Watt Would Be Overkill For An HTPC And 400 Should Be Plenty You Wont Put Too Powerfull Of A Discreet Card In A HTPC Anyway And SLI Is Overated
  6. Nice build.

    Definitely stick with the A8 -- it's the best bang for the buck and has the best iGPU.

    Lian-Li is a great choice. I've buiit several system using Lian-Li cases and they are by far my favorite. If you have the $$$ then go Lian-Li -- you won't be disappointed. Definitely get the nicest case you can afford because it's not easily replaceable.

    As for a power supply, my favorites are Antec and Seasonic. If you're thinking discrete graphics such as GT440 or HD6670 in the future, something that doesn't need a 6-pin PCI-e power connection, a 380W PSU will be plenty such as the Antec EA-380D or Seasonic S12II 380B. The Antec can usually be found between $39-$45. The Seasonic is $65. If you can spend more and want to go modular, Seasonic has their M-series such as the M12II 520W for $87. The king of them all though is the fanless Seasonic X-400 modular but it's $125.
  7. Thanks guys, yeah I have been having debates in some other threads to stick with llano of not - and I believe it is the right choice for me at this point.

    My last few questions (and maybe these are best addressed in different threads) are:

    1) Additional fans/cooling - I haven't built a case in about 10 years. I assume that this case will come with some fans, but even if it does - should I look at replacing them? How many fans to I need at a minimum to keep cool - yet still quiet? PS will have one fan on it...should I get a CPU fan like a coolermaster or scythe? And a single 120mm case fan? I hope I don't need more than that, but is even that too much?

    2) Need to find a good input device. I will probably end up using either an Onkyo learning remote or even buy a Harmony. Will these be sufficient for most tasks - or should I look to buy a wireless mouse/keyboard combo as well?

  8. The Lian Li case is no good since the DVD door is not covered with any aluminum and thus detracts aesthetically.

    I need to find a different case. I opened a thread here but have not gotten any feedback.

    Any suggestions?
  9. I also have built using the nMediaPC cases, one of which I own. They have a drive door and it's been very good and solid. The nMediaPC 1000b perfectly matches my Onkyo receiver in shape, width, color and texture.

    The nMediaPC 1000b comes with one 92mm intake fan and 2 x 60mm exhaust fans. I replaced the 92mm fan and added another 92mm with Artcic Cooling 92mm PWM fans. They are great. The 60mm fans seem fine noise-wise. You can always try out what you get stock and if it's running too hot or too noisy, replace then.

    I haven't tried using my Onkyo remote. I prefer the Microsoft WMC remote but it's very hard to find. The Logitech Harmony will work well. You just need to get a USB IR receiver. Believe it or not, as far as WMC remotes go, the Rosewill remotes are actually very good.
  10. Thanks, I did see that 1000b but for some reason looked it over. I just re-read the newegg reviews and it seems that a couple people had some minor quality issues, but overall if had good rankings.

    It also sounds like i'll need to replace the fans - too bad it doesn't take 120mm instead.

    Do you have the optional LCD panel? Worth it?

    EDIT: Bit the bullet and made my purchases. Please see here for my final configuration and offer any final words of wisdom.

    thanks all!
  11. Best answer selected by bhendin.
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