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First Time Build, Budget/HTPC

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January 28, 2012 8:41:58 AM

This is my first PC build. Been out of the tech world for 2 years but am just now getting updated. I have upgraded RAM, video cards, and power supplies on past PCs, so I do at least have a little bit of experience opening the case up and moving stuff around. I have read a lot of guides on this site and others, so I've got a pretty good handle on it, but any advice is welcomed.

This PC is being built mostly for just overall speed quality with simple applications, along with an overall goal of being powerful enough to play Blu-Ray dics and any 1080p quality videos on an HDTV. I plan on running Windows 7 64-bit Pro

Approximate Purchase Date: Early February
Budget Range: $600 - 750 Before Rebates
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Watching and Streaming 1080p Video to 2 displays, Surfing the web, Very minimal gaming capabilities
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, amazon.com
Country: USA
Parts Preferences: None really
Overclocking: Don't see a need with the capabilities I'm looking for but open to the idea
SLI or Crossfire: No
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080
Additional Comments: Quiet would be nice but not a priority. I'm pretty set on most parts but the big question I have is with the case and PSU. If there are any additional purchases that I would have to make beyond these parts, or if there are any compatibility issues that I'm overlooking, that would also be awesome to know about. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Updated - Parts bought:

CPU - $210 - Intel Core i5-2500
Motherboard - $88 - ASRock H67M
RAM - $40 - 8 GB (2x4GB) G.SKILL Ripjaws
Case - $50 - Rosewill Challenger U3 Black Gaming Case
HDD - $120 - Seagate Barracuda 2 TB bought at local best buy
PSU - $32 - Antec 450W PSU also bought at local best buy
Optical Drive - $60 - Samsung 12x Blu-Ray Read DVD/CD Burner

Total - $600

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January 28, 2012 9:06:08 AM

For streaming HD content to TWO monitors I would go with something like the 6770 or 6850. I like the Antec EArthWatts Green series of PSUs, they are very good for the price. If you want a mid-tower I would suggest a Rosewill case like the Challenger-U3. If you want this PC to last 5 years, get an I5-2500K, you can OC it which will give you performance boosts.
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January 28, 2012 9:19:25 AM

:D  I think you should upgrade the GPU though, maybe to a 6670 or 6770
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January 28, 2012 9:22:00 AM

Also, drop the 2TB HDD and get just a 1TB. YOu can get another later, they r very pricey atm. Also drop to the i3-2100. It will do light-med gaming and will be more than enough for Blu-Ray needs. With the money saved, upgrade your GPU to a 6770 or 6850 and get an EarthWatts Green PSU with a bit more capacity:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 28, 2012 9:35:54 AM

I'm still not sure about getting the GPU at all. I'd rather use the on-board graphics from the CPU if I can. The more I think of it, there really isn't a need to stream to 2 displays simultaneously. I can always just switch off the output to the monitor while using the tv for display.
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January 28, 2012 12:10:28 PM

HD video will put a lot of pressure on the CPU. I would get a 6670 just to make sure.
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January 28, 2012 12:10:48 PM

also drop to the i3-2100
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January 28, 2012 3:28:22 PM

Alright, I'll look into the i3-2100 and if I feel like it's not a huge drop-off from the i5-2500, then I'll consider getting the 6670 with that. It's just a little odd to me that the i3 is $100 cheaper. I'm really looking for just overall PC speed with typical applications that still has enough graphics power to do 1080p video. The on-board video from the i5-2500 advertises that it's powerful enough to do 3D 1080p, which is more than enough for what I'm looking for. As the computer ages and starts to slow down a little bit, I can always add a graphics card later easily enough.

I am doing some research though on the i3-2100 to see if it is worth saving that $100 though
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January 28, 2012 4:10:15 PM

Check my HTPC specs in my signature. You certainly do not need to go above this for what you want to do. Also, look into the AMD Llano chips. I probably wouldn't go any lower than the A6-3650 if you intend to play any games.

Any reason you're not looking at HTPC cases (just curious)?

-Wolf sends
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January 28, 2012 4:42:16 PM

I do want to future proof this PC somewhat as well, so that's why I'm looking at the slightly higher end CPU and more RAM in particular without spending the money on a GPU just yet. I haven't looked at too many AMD set-ups yet, just heard a lot of good things about the i core series. I have heard that AMD CPU's don't really compete with the Intel line right now though, but obviously I need to do a little more research. This is going to be used for other typical PC usage as well, not just home theater. Will definitely be running the standards like itunes and Microsoft Office.

As far as the HTPC cases go, I haven't done any research on them. The case would be put in a typical PC set-up inside of a desk with a monitor on the desk, wireless keyboard and mouse, with an additional HDMI cord running to a HDTV connected on a wall. With that set-up, I'm not sure if I really see the need for a specialized HTPC case as it's still going to function mostly as a desktop PC.
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February 18, 2012 11:08:03 AM

Just an update, I've updated my original post with my final build. I got the PC up and running yesterday running Windows 7 Pro, and I am definitely pleased with its performance so far. It's running lightning quick, even switching between an HD netflix stream and a blu-ray movie instantaneously with no lag visible in either program. Obviously the i5 is the reason for such power, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has the money to spare for it.

The one problem I did run into with the build was the lack of the 19 pin USB 3.0 headers on the motherboard, so the USB 3.0 slots built into the case are useless to me. I find it odd that the mobo comes with USB 3.0 built into the I/O panel, but wouldn't support any additional ports. Oh well, I'll just buy a USB extension/expansion adapter and swing it over to the desk to avoid having to crawl around to the back of the desk to get to my USB's. Thanks for all the advice everyone. Much appreciated.
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February 18, 2012 2:47:20 PM

Best answer selected by dbiehl.
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