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Just another HTPC build

Last response: in Systems
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February 9, 2012 7:36:11 PM

I have this existing old desktop build which is a little noisier than I want it to be.

- Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
- BIOSTAR TA790GXB A2+ AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX ATX AMD Motherboard
- G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK
- AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition Deneb 3.0GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ940XCGIBOX
- Western Digital 750 GB Caviar Black SATA 7200 RPM 32 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive WD7501AALS
- Antec earthwatts EA430 430W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
- LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model GH22LP20 LightScribe Support - OEM

I also have a backup PSU which I'm not currently using.
- CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply

I basically want to convert it to a quiet HTPC for DVR recording and dump my existing cable and I'm not really planning on playing any games, just stream media and watch TV from it.

My first thinking is to:

- Replace the internal HD with SSD for faster booting.
- Add external 1 TB USB 3.0 drive for saving DVR recording.
- Add IR receiver so I can use my existing Logitech Harmony.
- Add Ceton InfiniTV 4 for my existing cable feed.
- I know im still missing something...

Don't know if I need to replace the processor/board and add a silent GPU and I was hoping that I can reuse some parts that I have here to save a little bit.

Any thoughts or help is highly appreciated.

Thanks,
Kim

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a b B Homebuilt system
February 9, 2012 10:11:58 PM

I don't understand. If the intent is to dump cable, then why are you dropping $300 on a Ceton Card?

As far as your system goes, I don't see anything that needs replacing. It's a far better system than my HTPC (see specs below). I'd say just add the Ceton card, the IR Receiver and a single slot HD6450 and call it a day.

-Wolf sends
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February 10, 2012 4:09:36 AM

Sorry. I mean, dump the DVR rental from the cable company. I'm sick and tired of paying $16 a month and I'm always running out of HD space whenever I record some channels through their motorola box.

Thanks for the input Wolf. Do you have a link for the HD6450?

What about the CPU noise. I'm moving this PC to our living room, is there anything I can do to make my system quiet?

-Kim
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2012 12:22:57 PM

Unfortunately, I'm no expert on making the system quieter. About the best advice I could give would to be to look at Scythe case fans as I understand they tend to be very quiet.

An aftermarket CPU Heat sink/Fan to replace your stock one would also help, but again, I'm out of my league here.

HD6450's on Newegg - Generally, I prefer ASUS, Gigabyte, HIS, or XFX as manufacturers. I'm a little leery of those smaller fans as the HD4650 I have was very noisy (went with an HD4670 instead in my HTPC), so you may want to consider using a fanless design.

-Wolf sends
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2012 2:32:35 PM

If your CPU cooler is the noise culprit, there are plenty of quiet options out there. Many HTPC'ers like the Scythe Shuriken and Sycthe Big Shuriken for quiet CPU cooling.

For case fans, you can either purchase quiet case fans (Noctua, Enermax T.B., Scythe Gentle Typhoon, & some others), or you can volt mod your current fans to run at 5V or 7V instead of 12V thereby running them slower and quieter.
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 10, 2012 2:39:32 PM

In addition to getting quieter fans you can also get noise blocking foam, pads and mats that will help your pc to run quieter. Try a quick google search.
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February 10, 2012 3:06:39 PM

Thanks all for giving their suggestions. Keep it up!
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February 10, 2012 3:07:35 PM

Best answer selected by ruvic.
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February 10, 2012 3:14:22 PM

I personally loathe the Scythe Shuriken...it was a pain to mount onto the mobo due to its low profile. I eventually gave up and used the stock cooler on my G620, which is hardly warm to begin with. I can scarcely hear it.

+1 on getting a fanless GPU. A 4xxx AMD card is fine for HD playback, but it won't bitstream lossless audio (if you have an A/V receiver). A 5xxx AMD card will bitstream but can't do 3D. A 6xxx AMD card can do the lot...the 6450 is rated pretty well for HTPCs (apart from on Anandtech, and I have to say I don't agree with their review IMHO).

The main trick in minimising noise is to minimise the moving parts. An SSD is ideal...I use one on my HTPC build (see sig) and stream from a server in my study. My PSU is low noise, and you can get PSUs that won't spin up the fan below a certain power draw (most big-name PSUs are like that, I believe). You could even get a fanless PSU...wish I could afford one, but if I have £100ish lying around, you can be sure I'm not getting a PSU!

The fans you do use, make sure they're 120mm if you can (exception is the CPU fan). You can minimise the CPU fan speed (which tends to be PWM-driven) by underclocking your CPU. You don't need a lot of GHz to run a HTPC. Also, the chassis can be a factor...cheaper chassis' don't have as high a build quality as more expensive ones. That seems blindingly obvious, but vibration does make noise and thin metal panels vibrate due to low stiffness.

Your best bet is to put your HTPC build together and see what the noise is like. You can go from there. I've spent a fair bit of time reducing noise, and I can still hear mine...a little. If I'm being honest, I'm not 100% happy with it but when a movie kicks off I can't hear it. But before you shell out more cash, test what you have. It can be quite easy to determine what is contributing to the noise...pull all the fans and see what the noise is like. Even the CPU fan, for 5-10s. Put the fans back in and then hold the chassis panels to dampen any vibration. Test, tweak and narrow down the causes of noise.

Keep posting to let us know how you're getting on...PM me too, if you prefer.
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February 10, 2012 3:47:33 PM

Great advice diellur!

Yeah, I have a Yamaha receiver but not 3D capable so most likely I will get a fanless 5xxx GPU, it's so nice of you to differentiate the capability of each GPU series. I really appreciate it.

I will definitely get an SSD for faster booting and I'm sure it will minimize the HD noise to some degree and I will try to isolate what's causing the majority of the CPU noise and post my results here.

Happy weekend to all and thanks again.
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February 10, 2012 6:07:35 PM

You're welcome...I found it to be a bit of a minefield to navigate (fun though it was) so any help I can offer, I will.

You might find a 5xxx to be more expensive than a 6xxx card...compare to two to make sure you don't pay over the odds.
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