Well he is trying to convince me that it would be a great idea to make the computer both a HTPC and a pretty decent gamer. I've been doing the majority of my gaming on a notebook that is a few years old. It was a powerhouse when I got it(it's a Sager), and still manages quite nicely. I haven't done any major testing on it but it's windows score is 5.6 which I figure ain't too shabby for a 3 year old laptop.
So my main concerns are noise, noise, noise and finally aesthetics. It's been awhile since I built a powerful PC but the fans were not loud but noticeable, the energy was enough to heat the room. I figured with a HTPC only I would set it up to eat as little energy as possible since it would be on all the time. However even though energy is a concern building two computers would amount to ~2400 (900 for the HTPC and 1500 for the gamer) while I could probably get away with a pretty decent dual PC for a ~1800.
So people with HTPCs do you use them as your main system as well? Or is it much better to separate the two? I like the idea of saving money (well not really saving, but not spending as much, lol). I however also like the idea of not trying make a machine something it shouldn't be.
And for those who combine the two, do you use some kind of energy management to decrease the high power demands of a gamer when you're not at home. Also how do manage the noise? And finally as for aesthetics I would prefer a PC that isn't a two foot tower with a million glowing badges and fans. I never understood why this became popular. Is it geek gangsta? Are there cases out there that are not as obnoxious that are nice enough to fit comfortably a few drives a couple video cards etc with nice breathing room and cable runs?
Oh and I appreciate other thoughts and suggestions as well!
More than likely you would build the pc to your needs for gaming (since they're higher), then select some components that could help with the aesthetics and noise.
There are some truly classy looking cases out there that, while they are towers, wouldn't scream "NEEERRRDDDDD" when seen in a living room. I use a HAF X for my rig, but am slightly embarrassed deep down when my wife has friends over and they go into the office. On the other hand, I find the Corsair Obsidian models sleek enough that they would blend in with modern electronics (though they are large and do have a side panel window)- I wouldn't mind having one in other rooms.
Noise- gaming components make a bit of noise and since most of those parts have higher TDP's than less powerful htpc oriented parts, they will also generate more heat. That being said, you should be able to find some kind of balance. I doubt you'd run high temps while using the pc for htpc stuff, so you could manually lower fans speeds and just accept the higher temps with lower fan noise.
You can put together one hell of a rig for $1,800. It would certainly meet your performance needs- you just need to decide whether you can live with a larger case and work around the load noise. Cheers.
Personally, I prefer dedicated systems. I like the aesthetics of my HTPC case (NMediaPC 200BA - see spec in my signature), but the cable management is rather messy. I could clean it up with a modular PSU.
Given the size of the case (only micro-ATX compatible), the location (lowest shelf of my oak media center), and the components installed (graphics card, Ceton TV tuner card, non-modular power supply), air flow isn't the best situation right now, but the interior of the case is stable at 31C. The CPU is generally stable at 36C.
I won't say it's dead quiet, but I cannot hear it over the sound of watching TV or playing a movie.
I used to have a dedicated gaming system as well, but having three computers on, all at the same time (HTPC, All-Purpose, and Gaming) was a bit ridiculous, so I merged the gamer and all-purpose system. I don't game that much anyway. I liked having a system that I could do anything I wanted to and not have to worry about having it affect my games or TV recordings.
Hmm well I am going to put out a call to see what answers I can get for a conventionally cooled, non 'glowing', quiet dual use machine. I feel if I can keep the aesthetics within reason and the noise to a minimum while 'entertaining' but still be able to get some great fps later, then it can be a win win. Of course I'll still examine all options as I don't want a TV show not to record because of overextending te system. (especially if said TV show was not for me)