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First HTPC Build

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November 13, 2011 12:17:34 AM

Thanks for everyone's help in advance.

I'm looking to build a media center for my dad when he upgrades his TV at christmas. I've been looking around and I've come up with a couple things but I haven't quite found a build priced as low as I want, so I thought I'd ask you guys.

Usage: My dad and I would basically use this for 1080p Playback, streaming 1080p content from the web, blu-ray playing, torrent downloading, and browsing. I would also like to multitasking on the machine.

Here are the things I need for the build:

*Case: I want something that is compact and will look good. I want it do have enough space but also not look like a computer tower.

*CPU: I would like a Llano CPU because I have heard that is it good for HTPCs due to the very good intergrated graphics. Since I want it to be quiet, should I get a water cooling system or a heatsink without a fan to go on the CPU?

*Motherboard: The most important thing is HDMI output - I won't be using a discrete gpu. The only expansion cards I'll be adding are a wireless card and a possibly a TV tuner. A mini-ITX board with a mini PCIe slot and a PCIe 2.0 x16 or x1 slot would be excellent, but a micro-ATX board would also be acceptable. Also I really want USB 3.0 but its not totally required. Also, I don't need PS/2, firewire, eSATA, s/pdif, or coaxial ports.

*TV Tuner: I don't know anything about TV tuners. I might consider one if it fits my budget but I need to know more about them. What can they do? I have Dish network with a DVR.

*Wireless Card: Some mini-ITX boards with mini-PCIe slots come with these. Otherwise I'll need to buy one.

*RAM: About 4gb of RAM should do, right? .

*PSU: Most anything will do.

*Optical: A good blu-ray drive will do. Also, what software do I need to run them

*HDD: something at least 500GB

The rest of the details are given below.

***I WANT THIS TO BE A VERY QUIET SYSTEM***
--------------------

Approximate Purchase Date: My dad plans on buying the 60"-70" TV by Christmas (maybe on Black Friday) during the Christmas sales, so sometime shortly after that (maybe a little before)
Budget Range: Let's say $400-425 max, but I'm looking to get it closer to the $350 range. Lowest possible cost is the point of this thread.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: HTPC. MUST BE QUIET! 1080p playback, blu-ray playback. (From optical drive - like Red Box DVDs), I will be streaming video from a the web, downloading torrents, playing music, and other standard tasks like web browsing and office applications. Probably gaming.

Parts Not Required: I only need the box, so no monitor, keyboard, mouse, OS, etc. I also do not need a graphics card - I will be using the CPUs graphics (Llano).

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I usually use newegg but anything reputable is fine. I'd rather not buy used parts, but refurbished or open box products are fine.

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: The AMD Llano CPU and blu-ray drive

Overclocking: Maybe. I have never done it before so I am iffy on that.

SLI or Crossfire: No discrete graphics at all

Monitor Resolution: It will be 60"-70" Plasma TV in a moderate price range for that size.

Also, is there a remote I can use to start the HTPC and use it with XMBC?

More about : htpc build

November 13, 2011 12:55:34 AM

Thanks for the suggestion.

Now that I think about it, I can use a spare HDD for the time being and I dont really want to buy one now until I can get a deal on one because they are so expensive now.

Also, I prefer a motherboard with USB 3.0 and I really want a
Quad-core Llano CPU. Do you think that is overkill?
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November 13, 2011 1:28:23 AM

That good to know! And that is the APU I was looking at. Do u have any suggestions for the case, mobo w/ USB 3.0, PSU, or optical drive? That RAM looks solid.
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November 13, 2011 2:34:53 AM

What was wrong with the case that you listed before the edit?
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November 13, 2011 4:55:15 AM

As far as cases go, I quite like my Antec Fusion Remote Black - http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/MX23058
The remote's not the greatest and it's not mini ITX size but it blends well with A/V equipment.
I think it's been discontinued but if you can find it it would be worth considering.

Lots of bluray drives come with playback software (http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...). I haven't tried yet but from what I understand PowerDVD 9 will integrate with windows media center.

The other posters have covered most of the rest of it

It's worth considering that although both the i3's and Llanos have strong enough integrated graphics for an HTPC, idle power consumption is an important factor, especially if the machine will on 24/7. A high efficiency, low wattage psu would save some money on the power bill if the machine is always on because the unit will be close to peak efficiency more of the time (http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...).
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November 13, 2011 11:07:26 AM

redsoxboi21 said:
What was wrong with the case that you listed before the edit?


Reviewers were treating it like a cardboard box. Lol
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November 13, 2011 1:30:41 PM

@DodSno That looks like a good case, but that is a little more than I would like to spend.

After you guys suggestions, how does this HTPC Look?

A6-3650 $120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock A75M-HVS FM1 MoBo $70
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Blu-Ray Drive - Does not burn Blu-Rays $50
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL 4 GB 1600 RAM $20
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case + PSU $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: ~$320

So what do yall think? Is it a decent build for a HTPC. I am still open to suggestions on better components for the best performance or if I can save a buck that would be good too. I am still kind of iffy on the case and PSU. Anyone have any suggestions? I really dont want to spend more than $100 on both of those. My budget now, without the HDD, is around $350-360, but I might go a little over. I still need a decent wireless card also.
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November 13, 2011 2:10:49 PM

For an HTPC I personally would go ITX just because of the small size. Also I wouldn't get the 100W TDP processor if you want to keep it quiet. With a 65W Llano you could put just a heat sink on it and have a single case fan (in an ITX) and be fine.

For my HTPC build I use a 65W E5200 with a Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX in the Foxconn case below. I use the stock HSF on which I pulled off the fan. The only fan is that on the PSU and the Foxconn case. It has run stable (for general movies, bluray, netflix, etc.) for over 2 years.

Here are my suggestions:

CPU: A6-3500 (65W) ($90)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Or if you want a quad core with a slightly better integrated GPU go for this, although it's in short supply at the moment.

A8-3800 (65W) ($157)
http://www.amazon.com/AMD-A8-3800-Graphics-Quad-Core-Pr...

Mobo: ASRock A75M-ITX (w/ USB 3.0) ($90)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Blu-ray Drive: Keep the one you have from above ($49)

RAM: Keep from above ($20)

Case-PSU: Foxconn RM233 w/ 150W PSU ($45)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Wifi: TP-LINK TL-WN722N 802.11b/g/n USB2.0 ($19)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $313 if you get the A6-3500 or $380 with the A8-3800
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November 13, 2011 2:14:32 PM

150w on a llano is just pushing it too much bro. :o 
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November 13, 2011 2:55:19 PM

cutebeans said:
150w on a llano is just pushing it too much bro. :o 


A 150W PSU is more than enough to power an ITX mobo wtih a 65W TDP CPU, HDD, Bluray drive, and single case fan.

Admittedly, it doesn't leave room for upgrading, to say, a dedicated GPU but it will be enough to run that setup under load.

For reference my HTPC, built in the same, case runs stably with the following setup:

E7200
Zotac 9300-ITX
WD Black 1TB
G.Skill 4GB DDR800
Lite-on Bluray

For additional reference, based on this review (http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-a83800-llano-processo...), we can expect the a8-3800 (I assume a similar consumption for the a6-3500) to use ~110W (at load) with motherboard, ssd, and RAM. Add to that 20W for hdd and disc drive and you're running ~130W under load. This puts ~87% load on the PSU, which if we call this the maximum and take the other data from the review for idle (~38W) we can estimate ~58W at idle with hdd and disk. So the system would vacillate between ~60-130W or between 40-87% load which is well within the operating specifications of the suggested 150W PSU.
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November 13, 2011 3:54:48 PM

I might consider a ITX Board, but I would like a little more breathing room on the PSU. Also, how much louder is the 100W TDP than the 65W TDP? I really want a quad-core CPU and that 65W seems and lot more expensive then the 100W TDP. Does it really make that much of a difference?
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November 13, 2011 4:47:05 PM

redsoxboi21 said:
I might consider a ITX Board, but I would like a little more breathing room on the PSU. Also, how much louder is the 100W TDP than the 65W TDP? I really want a quad-core CPU and that 65W seems and lot more expensive then the 100W TDP. Does it really make that much of a difference?


If your goal is to maximize performance/price then definitely get the 100W CPU and go microATX. With the larger case and PSU you will have more head room for upgrades in the future. I only suggest the ITX because it is physically smaller (nice if you want to fit it in an entertainment center), would produce less heat, consume less energy, and require less cooling (ie with the 65W TDP CPU in an ITX case you can forgo a CPU fan and just use a heatsink).
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November 13, 2011 5:35:19 PM

That is my goal, but I also want it to be very quiet. Is that possible? I want the form factor to still be small. Does anyone know of any small HTPC cases and PSUs? I want to make sure the stock CPU fan will fit, too.
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