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[HTPC] ZBOX vs home build

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Last response: in Systems
April 10, 2012 12:35:35 PM

Greetings folks,

I have been researching the implementation of an HTPC into my new man cave for a few months now and I always seem to get stuck on the following: pre-built (ZBOX/ION system) or a build of my own? I am not a novice builder; I have built my last 3 PCs spanning 11 years of gaming. But this one is a new foray that has me a little worried. I wonder if building my own unit will get me that much more performance/$ when compared to something like the following:

My alternative would be a miniATX build with an nMEDIA PC case. I am not a stickler for any brands in particular when it comes to this build, so feel free to hit me with AMD/Intel/nVidia until the cows come home. Budget is in the range of the above link ($350-$500).

For further info, this rig will be 100% media only. Movies streaming wireless, some TV and music to my HDTV. There is a good chance that my wife will choose to hit the bean bag chair and surf the web on it as well, so there may be some light, browser based gaming. I would like to stick with a high-end mobile GPU (like the HD6000 series) just in case this branches out into something much more. That is why the ZBOX above is pretty heavy in that department. Additionally, I have a 2TB external for storage and I would most likely be running Ubuntu over Windows. I have a friend who is a Ubuntu fanboi/guru who has offered to help me out with that.

Any build advice that you guys can offer is much appreciated!

More about : htpc zbox home build

Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
April 10, 2012 12:53:04 PM

You are much better off building yourself over that Atom setup. Look toward the AMD FM1 platform. It is perfect for an HTPC setup, and some light gaming at 1080 resolution. You can opt up to a higher A6 or an A8 if you prefer higher clock speeds, but for media purposes this tri-core is more than enough...

MB - ASRock A75M-ITX - $90
CPU - AMD A6-3500 w/ HD 6530D - $80
GPU - Integrated HD 6530D
MEM - GSkill 4GB DDR3-1600 CL9 1.5v - $30
HD - Samsung F3 500GB - $80 + $7 shipping
OPTICAL - LG 12x BD-RW - $65 after Promo Code EMCNFNE24
CASE & PSU - Thermaltake Element Q mITX w/ 200w - $65 + $10 shipping
CARD READER - Rosewill - $15

April 10, 2012 2:01:06 PM

Thanks, sadams04. Quick question, my local supplier (canadacomputers) seems to me lacking in the ITX form factor motherboards but I was able to find this:

Still think it is a good idea at the mATX scale? Also, is there a case that you would recommend with this board? I was looking at:

Here's the build so far:

MBAR000375 ASRock A75M-HVS Socket FM1 AMD A75 FCH (Hudson-D3) Chipset Dual-Channel DDR3 2400+(OC)/1866(OC)/1600(OC)/1333/1066/800Mhz 6x SATAIII 6.0 Gb/s 4x USB 3.0 Micro ATX $79.99
$69.99 In Stock 69.99

CPUA001735 AMD A6-3500 Triple Core 2.1GHz APU , Socket FM1, 3Mb L2 Cache, 65W 32nm (AD3500OJGXBOX) $89.99 In Stock 89.99
RAMS000938 G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series DDR3 1600MHz (PC3-12800) 4GB (2x2GB) Dual Channel Kit (F3-12800CL9D-4GBXL) $32.99
$25.99 In Stock 25.99

HDSG002084 Seagate Barracuda (ST500DM002) SATA3 6.0Gb/s 500GB 16MB Cache (OEM) $84.99
$79.99 In Stock 79.99

DVLG000820 LG CH12LS28 Black 12x Blu-ray Read 16x DVD+/-R/RW Write Combo Drive LightScribe SATA $69.99 In Stock 69.99

CSCO000727 Cooler Master Elite 343 Black Micro ATX w/ 420W PSU (RC-343-KKR2) $54.99 In Stock 54.99

ACSS000019 SilverStone FP35B premium 3.5 drive bay card reader with full featured front I/O ports $39.99 In Stock 39.99

Total = $430.93

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a b B Homebuilt system
April 10, 2012 2:13:29 PM

MB - My recommendation for the ASRock motherboard was for lack of other options in the ITX form factor. Don't get me wrong... it is a good board, but outside of ITX I look for ASUS, Gigabyte, then ASRock. For the FM1 platform I would opt for A75 over A55. There is a Gigabyte for $5 more than the ASRock (link below). ASUS would be the first choice, but not at a 30% premium over your ASRock and Gigabyte options.
Gigabyte FM1 A75 =>

Card Reader - You should be able to find one for half that price.

The rest looks good!
April 10, 2012 2:23:23 PM


I switched out the card reader for a cheaper one from Bytecc (the only other brand they carry in stock). Worse comes to worse, I will order something closer to what you linked and add it in later; I may purchase the components today.

Thanks for your help on this one!
April 10, 2012 2:23:33 PM

Best answer selected by notagiant.