Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Need input for quiet low power home theater PC

Last response: in Systems
Share
January 22, 2012 5:59:46 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: by end of Feb

Budget Range: willing to pay for quality parts.. but my initial estimate is in the $500-$600 range

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
watching movies either in DVD/blue ray form, netflix streaming, or on HD... serve as file server. There will be no gaming.

Parts Not Required: I do not need any external peripherals

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:
No real preference but have used newegg.com in the past.

Country: Calif, USA

Parts Preferences:
Intel Sandy Bridge CPU... looking at i5-2500k because I can get it cheaper than i3s. I believe the onboard 3000 GPU will handle streaming duties.

I've used ASUS motherboards since 97 but am open to other board manufactures.

Overclocking and SLI/Crossfire: No

Additional Comments: Needs to be quiet, reliable, and small form factor (considering mini ITX or micro ATX) Intend to leave on 24/7 so lower power would be nice.

I am considering this case for mini-ITX

I am mainly looking for recommendations on the motherboard.

Also, any comments about the quality/reliability of the Intel 320 SSDs?
January 22, 2012 10:14:31 PM

Quote:
Also, any comments about the quality/reliability of the Intel 320 SSDs?


Well the Intel 320 is a good drive (it's what I use) but it's a generation older than, say, the M4. It's a SATA-III drive and if you want to get the best read-write times on your SSD you'll want the drive to be SATA-6. The main choices are the Crucial M4, the Samsung 830, and the Mushkin Chronos.

Quote:
I am mainly looking for recommendations on the motherboard.


That depends on what you really want the system to do. Do you want to use a central graphics card or run things low power. If you want low power I'd heavily suggest going with an AMD Llano. This has a built-in Radeon 6670 on the chip and runs the GPU off the motherboard, and this eliminates the need for a central graphics card. Alternately you could go with an Intel H61 and an i3-2120. Either way the demand for HTPCs has gone way up and has created a huge market for it, and there's lots of good solutions out there now than there used to be, say 5 - 6 years ago.

Quote:
Additional Comments: Needs to be quiet, reliable, and small form factor (considering mini ITX or micro ATX) Intend to leave on 24/7 so lower power would be nice.


The hard part with mini-ITX is finding a good PSU for it.

Quote:
System Usage from Most to Least Important: watching movies either in DVD/blue ray form, netflix streaming, or on HD... serve as file server. There will be no gaming.


Go with an inexpensive BD-R burner (I really like the LG one) and you'll definitely want a good one or two TB hard drive to take advantage of 7 Home Premium's DVR capabilities. I know HD prices are ridiculous right now due to the shortage but when prices go down get one or two.

Quote:
I am considering this case for mini-ITX


I don't know if you're going to do much better for mini-ITX.
m
0
l
January 22, 2012 10:31:27 PM

i3-2120 is the cpu to use because of its low power usage means low heat output. You can slap a fanless heatsink on it and you'll be good. Then you throw down $120 on a fanless modular PSU. Grab an ASRock z68 motherboard and 4gb DDR3 1600. Plextor makes a great/quiet bdr drive. I would recommend getting a samsung 830 boot drive and a tb or two of storage if you want. I personally am thinking of using only an ssd drive and store my digital media on a cloud. The cases I like are in the $120 range.. This puts you at about $800-850 w/o hdd's but it will make you happy for a long time
m
0
l
Related resources
January 22, 2012 10:33:31 PM

Thank you for your input.

In your opinion, will the Intel HD 3000 graphics be sufficient for a HTPC? Or would a dedicated video card still be needed? My concern is the added cost and noise from the dedicated video card.

As mentioned earlier, one of the big concerns is the sound level. I could turn up the sound on the TV but I'd rather keep it quiet :pt1cable: 

My preference is to go with an Intel CPU because of the deal I can get on one. Unfortunately, the i3-2120 wasn't one in my list but it appears to have the "earlier" 2000 graphics.

From the reading I've done, it appears that the H67 has 6gb sata while the H61 does not.

I'm not stuck on doing a mini-itx... the thing I have seen is the lack of quality MBs in that size.
m
0
l
January 22, 2012 11:19:25 PM

Zotac makes pretty cool looking ITX board with integrated dual channel wireless, an integrated Geforce GT 430, and a PCI-e card slot too. Plus it's on a Z68 board so you can use a small SSD as a cache drive and use either the built in Intel Graphics or the GT 430 board.

It's a bit spendy at $220 though. Especially considering the H67 version is $100 less.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
m
0
l
January 22, 2012 11:47:45 PM

You can really get by with much less for a simple htpc. I went with a nice little e350 board for mine and was able to shove it into an old NES console. It makes for a fine HD streaming machine.



m
0
l
January 23, 2012 12:13:43 AM

LilJohn said:
Thank you for your input.

In your opinion, will the Intel HD 3000 graphics be sufficient for a HTPC? Or would a dedicated video card still be needed? My concern is the added cost and noise from the dedicated video card.

As mentioned earlier, one of the big concerns is the sound level. I could turn up the sound on the TV but I'd rather keep it quiet :pt1cable: 

My preference is to go with an Intel CPU because of the deal I can get on one. Unfortunately, the i3-2120 wasn't one in my list but it appears to have the "earlier" 2000 graphics.


The Intel HD graphics are a bit underpowered (which is why I recommend the Llano) but if all you're going to be using it for is videos and internet the Intel generic graphics are going to be just fine. The i3-2120 is an excellent CPU for the price, it's the same one I use in my workstation build and it handles everything I need it to without putting huge strains on the CPU.

What concerns are you having about sound? I'm not sure where you're going with this. The onboard audio on motherboards has improved to the point where you don't need a sound card. And if you're concerned about the fans being too loud that's another thing altogether.

Quote:
I'm not stuck on doing a mini-itx... the thing I have seen is the lack of quality MBs in that size


Yeah I think I would stick with a Micro ATX build because not only are the MBs not that great, there's no good mini-ITX PSUs out there. There's a couple of decent micro-ATX PSUs out there, but most cases now give you the option to use a full ATX PSU.

Quote:
From the reading I've done, it appears that the H67 has 6gb sata while the H61 does not.


Yeah with the H61 you're trading features for price. The H67 has them, the H61 is very stripped down.

Quote:
You can really get by with much less for a simple htpc. I went with a nice little e350 board for mine and was able to shove it into an old NES console. It makes for a fine HD streaming machine.


That is unbelievably bad ass, but I don't think everyone has an old NES lying around that they can use. :lol: 
m
0
l
January 23, 2012 7:53:43 AM

The Nes is very cool.
I would go for a llano too.
On my site i have a configuration of a silent low power using HTPC.
For me the case depends on personal taste.
m
0
l
January 26, 2012 2:10:10 AM

I may actually have an NES hanging around. lol

So, from a movie playback/NAS, I'm better off getting a quality graphics card than worrying about the cpu.

I'm still in the debate about converting the "old" desktop(Core 2 Duo E6420 – 2.13 GHz) to a htpc versus buying new parts for one.
m
0
l
!