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Too much info still can't decide on HTPC build

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December 2, 2011 4:10:47 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: Within a week

Budget Range: $500-700

System Usaget: HTPC (local video files, streaming video), lite gaming

Country: USA

Monitor Resolution: 1080p (TV)

Hello,

So i've been doing a lot of research and have some idea of what I want in my HTPC build. I've come up with the following for the build and wanted to get some advice from you all. The main purpose is to build a HTPC so I can hook it up to my TV and use wmc, xbmc, or boxee to watch local as well as streaming media (netflix/hulu) and blu-ray movies. I am interested in gaming but not sure how much I will get into it so I figure I will build my system around an AMD A8-3850 and buy a discrete card in the future if I become a heavy gamer.

thanks!

CPU: AMD A8-3850
(I've been looking around for the retail box but seems like every site is out of stock!!!)

MOTHERBOARD: GIGABYTE GA-A75M-UD2H

CASE: Silverstone GD04b

MEMORY: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
(I've read that 8gb is overkill for a HTPC but I figure if I ever get into heavy gaming having more RAM is good?)

PSU: SILVERSTONE Strider Plus ST50F-P 500W
(Is 500W enough if I decide on getting a discrete graphics card later? as well as for minor OC'ing of the A8?)

OPTICAL: SAMSUNG Black Blu-ray Combo SATA Model SH-B123L/RSBP LightScribe Support

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

HDD: Need advice for a 500gb HDD... Cheaper the better but I know prices are sky high right now...









More about : info decide htpc build

December 2, 2011 4:49:32 AM

Looks like you are on the right track going with an APU, though pretty much any processor with on board graphics can do 1080p video these days (with the exception of Atom's gpu, but if you get an nVida ion then it would be fine).

500GB is not much space to rip movies to. It will last a little while, but count on it filling up quickly if you are going to save all your movies there. A better option to consider would be to build a 2nd computer as a home server and just load it full of HDDs and Windows Home Server. Home Server will then host all of your video files, provide redundancy and backups for all the windows computers on the network, and give a common space to save files on the network (also works as a print server). Then put a small SSD in the HTPC instead of a noisy HDD. The server could be just about any old computer that has a bunch of SATA ports in it, so long as it is a Pentium D or better it will have enough horse power to max out your ethernet throughput, and home server has built in redundancy so you dont have to worry about RAID.

With integrated graphics, and a single HDD a 300W power supply would be overkill, much less a 500W. If going with a discrete card for graphics then I would suggest building the rig around that card, and getting an appropriate power supply.

Also, 4GB of DDR1333 would be more than enough for movie playback and simple gaming, but ram is cheap right now, so 8GB would be nice to grab as a 2x4GB setup. There is barely any benefit to DDR1600 to begin with, and with an APU you would never know the difference. 1600 and up is mostly to give overclockers a bit more headroom to play with, and as an HTPC should be silent you ought not OC it.

Lastly, consider a board with a passive CPU cooler similar to this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
And then consider getting an SSD instead of a HDD. Add a few low RPM fans (preferably blowing across that passive heatsink), and you will have a near silent computer capable of HDMI and optical audio; Cant do much better than that for a cheap/small/quiet HTPC.
December 2, 2011 5:14:29 AM

I agree about the on board graphics and psu. Any current gen onboard video with a dual core should handle 1080p fine. And 500w is really excessive for no discrete gpu.

4GB ram is plenty. Even 2GB would probably suffice, but it's so cheap now, no reason not to get 4. Don't worry about overclocking. You want your htpc to be quiet and low power. Overclocking makes it less so and you won't get any performance gains out of it.

I disagree about the passive cooler and ssd. If the noise bothers you, get a quiet psu, 1 or 2 low noise case fans (exhaust if you choose only 1), and a quiet cpu hsf. You won't be able to hear it from 5 feet away. And there's no point to having an ssd in a htpc.
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December 2, 2011 5:48:00 AM

Thanks for the quick replies.

Just wanted to clarify but I decided on these components so that "IF" I do get into gaming and decided to get a discrete graphics card, I figure I will have enough from the 500w psu to power a decent card. I chose the A8-3850 b/c I read that it has decent capabilities to play some games so that I can try out some of the newer games, albeit it won't be on high settings or anything.

Maybe its a case of having one's cake and eating it? I guess my build reasonings were to 1)have a good HTPC and 2)have components that will allow me to upgrade to a decent game rig if I chose too. Anyway, let me know what you think about my logic/reasonings for choosing the components and thanks for the advice.
December 2, 2011 4:12:12 PM

I think it's counter-productive to build one system to do drastically different tasks, but if your goal is to eventually upgrade to a full desktop, I guess your parts look ok.

I still think you'd be better building cheap ~$300-$400 media pc (with no plan to upgrade the parts), then building a separate gaming pc if you eventually decide you want one.
!