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First time build - HTPC

Last response: in Systems
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January 6, 2012 3:55:15 AM

Hey folks,
I see lots of people on here commenting on HTPC builds, if I could get similar guidance, that'd be great... I'm currently runnign an HTPC off my laptop Consumer grade HP, AMD 2.1 GHz, two cores, 2gig ram... it works but I'd like to step up to a dedicated system, with a bigger hard drive, and one that is designed to run all the time. My laptop runs very high in CPU utilization, about 75% when I'm doing anything HTPC related. When it's recording AND I'm watching, the CPU struggles big time. It's running Win7. I've tried Myth and want to stay with Win7 WMC, it has a much higher WAF.


Approximate Purchase Date: within 2 weeks

Budget Range: $400 CDN After Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: OTA TV watching and recording (simultaneously). Watching some movies... Netflix (maybe) No gaming at all.

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, Tuner Card (I have SD HD Homerun Dual), Hard drive (I have WD 7200 RPM 1TB, Optical drive...

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:Newegg.ca or NCIX.ca

Country: Canada

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Uhhhhh... huh.

Monitor Resolution: 1080p/i on 42" flatscreen

Additional Comments: Preferably fairly quiet... I've tried to keep my suggestions low power for that reason. ONE day (1-2 yrs out), I'd like to optical-link in my audio since my receiver doesn't do HDMI... but for now my apartment isn't set up with my receiver anyhow due to space issues so it's out there in the future...

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I have selected 3 systems... never done it before, so happy to be flamed/made fun of for making obvious mistakes. But I'd rather find out that way than when I have a box full of parts sitting in front of me...

I have read LOTS of posts about people building HTPCs on here now... The kicker is most people also want gaming. I don't need that capability - I'm not into any gaming. My main use is OTA watching and recording, plus maybe streaming Netflix. I've added in the triple-core so that the machine has some CPU space for OS overhead tasks... I threw down the Athlon as some people on these forums have mentioned it's "enough" for 1080p TV. ALSO... if needed, I have an NVidia GeForce 210 for HDMI out collecting dust if there's a better MB option but it doesn't have the HDMI out... I left it out to cut down on noise and since it looks to me like most of the CPUs can handle the video without a discrete card.

I sincerely appreciate any and all advice.

Thanks in advance for your time,
Gil

%------------------------------------------
OPTION 1
Item Description Cost
CPU
Intel Core i3-540 Clarkdale 3.06GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics BX80616I3540
$99.99

MB
MSI H55M-ED55 mATX LGA1156 H55 DDR3 2PCI-E16 PCI-E1 PCI SATA2 GBLAN Audio VGA DVI HDMI Motherboard
$71

RAM
Kingston ValueRAM 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model KVR1333D3N9/2G (x2)
$30

Video
None - On CPU

Case
Apex DM-317 mATX HTPC Case Silver Black 1X5.25 1X3.5 1X3.5INT 275W Low Profile Front Firewire
$45

P-S
None - Comes with Case

OS
Windows 7 Home Premium
$120

Total $365.99




%------------------------------------------
OPTION 2

CPU
AMD A6-3500 Llano 2.1GHz (2.4GHz Max Turbo) Socket FM1 65W Triple-Core Desktop APU with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD 6530D AD3500OJGXBOX
$89.99

MB
ASRock A55M-HVS FM1 AMD A55 (Hudson D2) HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
$69.99

RAM
Kingston ValueRAM 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model KVR1333D3N9/2G (x2)
$30

Video
None - On CPU

Case
Apex DM-317 mATX HTPC Case Silver Black 1X5.25 1X3.5 1X3.5INT 275W Low Profile Front Firewire
$45

P-S
None - Comes with Case

OS Windows 7 Home Premium 120

Total $354.98



%------------------------------------------
OPTION 3

CPU
AMD Athlon II X2 260 Regor 3.2GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor ADX260OCGMBOX
$75.99

MB
BIOSTAR A880G+ AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
$64.99

RAM
Kingston ValueRAM 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model KVR1333D3N9/2G (x2)
$30

Video
None - On Board

Case
Apex DM-317 mATX HTPC Case Silver Black 1X5.25 1X3.5 1X3.5INT 275W Low Profile Front Firewire
$45

P-S
None - Comes with Case

OS Windows 7 Home Premium 120

Total $335.98

More about : time build htpc

January 6, 2012 4:13:20 AM

If i were you i would pick the build number 2. But i would upgrade the cpu to a A6-3650 and i would change the memory for 4gb of PNY dual channel ddr3 1333.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And also keep in mind that you should maybe buy a better PSU that would be at least 80 plus for it to be more efficient and maybe fanless for noise reduction. A cheap power supply will create a more unstable system overall. But since you case as a very tiny power supply and it's hard to find a good power supply that big, i would maybe consider a bigger case like the nMEDIAPC 5000B.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For the power supply the Rosewill Capstone series 430W 80 plus Gold would be very efficient.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 6, 2012 4:21:25 AM

Thanks for the reply Xx... That CPU looks to use a lot more power - I was trying to use a lower power CPU for both heat/sound and energy consumption reasons. Am I wasting time with that concern?
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January 6, 2012 4:24:36 AM

Also re. case... I guess I should have mentioned this: I wanted a 4" high case max to fit into a slot on a side table we have... It would have about 1/2" of clearance across the top. Anyone have thoughts on if that is too little space to get enough air across the top? If it's way too little space, I'll happily choose a bigger case like the one Xx recommended.

Thanks.
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January 6, 2012 4:33:53 AM

You've got a point there but as far as i know the nMEDIAPC case looks to be pretty well ventilated. Shure the lower wattage CPU is going to run cooler but is also a LOT slower. If i were you i would take in considaration buying a small aftermarket cooler like the cooler master hyper 101. I have it in my own HTPC that has a 95w quad core Phenom 9650 and it runs really cool and quiet. Unfortunetly this particular one does not support FM1 and has a 3 pin power connector rather than a 4 pin (my htpc build is based on a old gaming build). But the cooler master gemin II looks pretty good for a HTPC.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 6, 2012 4:45:11 AM

The A6 3500 should be enough. I can fully agree that with an HTPC, power draw matters just as much as CPU power.

A couple considerations about the motherboard selection. Would you want to futureproof with USB3 and SATA3? The A55 usually doesn't have those features. I've also heard ASRock has an issue with the way some of it's BIOS are set by default, in that it's set to discrete graphics and would need a separate graphics card to be used long enough to change the BIOS.

Edit:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

I would recommend 1600 Mhz memory, as the APU will perform better with it. The heatspreaders might also help a bit in a tightly cramped case.

The Apex case looks "alright"

This is my usual HTPC recommend, but it would be a bit more expensive:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

If you need case fans in either case, Scythe tends to make pretty good quiet fans.

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January 6, 2012 12:14:17 PM

Thanks to Xx and Kinggraves for the great advice. I'll post my final build decisions here hopefully in the next 2 days.
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January 9, 2012 2:24:04 AM

Hey folks - here was my decision (with total cost)...

I went with option 2:

CPU (bought from Newegg)
AMD A6-3500 Llano 2.1GHz (2.4GHz Max Turbo) Socket FM1 65W Triple-Core Desktop APU with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD 6530D AD3500OJGXBOX
$89.99

MB (Bought from Newegg - this one I wish had come with the optical audio out, but that's a ways off for me wanting anyhow - I'll drop in a $20 sound card at that time if necessary). I think I'll end up with a NAS unit before I end up with a SATA3 drive inside the machine, but the point is duly noted - thanks!
ASRock A55M-HVS FM1 AMD A55 (Hudson D2) HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
$69.99

RAM (bought from ncix.ca - thanks to Xx for recommending the faster RAM).
Corsair CML4GX3M2A1600C9 Vengeance Lowprofile 4GB 2X2GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 Dual Channel Memory Kit 1 $30.99


Video
None - On CPU - Thanks to kinggraves for the heads-up on the BIOS/Video issue... I have an old PCIexpress video card I will use if needed during setup.

Case (bought at ncix.ca)
Apex DM-317 mATX HTPC Case Silver Black 1X5.25 1X3.5 1X3.5INT 275W Low Profile Front Firewire
$45

P-S
None - Comes with Case

OS Windows 7 Home Premium (bought at ncix.ca)
$99 on sale

Total (including shipping and taxes: $420). I already have a 1TB drive to drop in.
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