Approximate Purchase Date: This week - two weeks out
Budget Range: $400-$600
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Online streaming live sports, Blu-Ray/DVD playback, Media library playback, over-theair-antenna TV station playback
Parts Not Required:
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, ncix
Parts Preferences: I was thinking Intel's i3/i5/i7...if they will be powerful enough
SLI or Crossfire: No
Additional Comments: My main focus with this build is for control of all of the listed usages. Also, I want to be sure when I stream and play Blu Ray that they play on my 55" Bravia in perfect 1080p quality. Will I need a strong processor and graphics cards to pull this off? This is where I am getting confused - how powerful do I need to go?
Lastly, would a Tv tuner card benefit me for the over the air stations or can I just leave the cable fed straight to the TV?
In terms of CPU power an i3 is more than good enough, plenty of people run HTPC's on things like AMD E-350's and they aren't much more powerful than Intel Atom D525's. You could basically for for almost any Sandy Bridge or AMD Llano CPU and use the integrated graphics.
The i3-2105 would be a good option for Intel since you get Intel HD 3000 graphics rather than the standard 2000.
Your AMD option would be something like an A6 or A8. In terms of CPU power these should be pretty close, maybe the i3 would be slightly better but they should be a bit cheaper and have much better graphics.
If I were building a mid to high end HTPC I would go for the A8-3800 personally. It has the best graphics of the AMD Llano CPU's while still having a 65W TDP and a decent CPU which should be roughly equivalent to a Sandy bridge i3.
EDIT: The A6-3500 is also a fantastic option, it's a lot cheaper and will basically do the same job. Slightly weaker on both CPU and GPU fronts but still more than fine for a HTPC
Thanks JM. So you're thinking that the graphics card is not even needed as long as I go with one of the suggested CPUs you listed, correct? That they should be more than capable of handling the picture on their own?
That's right, the integrated graphics on Intel Sandy Bridge CPU's are specifically designed for this purpose. Intel HD 2000 does manage HD OK but only just, if I were to go Intel I'd go for the i3-2105 like I said. I wouldn't go Intel for a HTPC though, I'd go for the A6 I mentioned.
EDIT: Reason being that the graphics are way better and it's cheaper.
That gives you a speedy little machine in a nice case and tons of storage. Personally I'd throw a Scythe Shuriken on there too since it would bother me than the only thing there really making any noise will be the stock HSF.
Wow....thanks for the advice. I actually came up with something similar after your initial suggestions. The only thing I did not have in mine was the 40GB HD. Were you thinking to put that in for the OS to go on and all the media goes onto the 2TB?
That's right, the SSD would make the thing feel a lot faster. Don't worry about the low transfer speeds, any SSD is way faster than a HDD and the Intel 320 drives are probably the most reliable drives on the market.
EDIT: Just realised that Silverstone case doesn't come with any fans, it would be wise to add one or two 80mm fans there as well I think. This one looks pretty good.