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Low budget HTPC for Cable TV

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April 13, 2012 4:33:46 AM

I am looking to build a quiet HTPC to replace the host of devices (DVR, Roku, Dvd player) on our TV stand. This is the first computer I have ever built, and while I have done some research, I still don't know too much about finding good deals and such, so I was looking for some advice on my proposed build.

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Approximate Purchase Date: Soon, this summer (2012) at the latest

Budget Range: 700-900 After Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Watching and recording HD & SD cable TV, Watching DVDs/Blurays, Watching Web Content (Netflix, Hulu)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon (Free shipping is nice), but I'm fine with just about anywhere else

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (Sony 46 in TV)

Additional Comments: It needs to be quiet, low power is preferred, but not necessary. I'd use a mouse and keyboard for setup, but daily use would mostly involve the remote I've linked to below.

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AMD A4-3300 APU
http://www.amazon.com/AMD-A4-3300-Graphics-Dual-Core-Pr...

ASRock A75M-HVS FM1
http://www.amazon.com/ASRock-MB-A75MHVS-Socket-USB3-0-M...

Corsair XMS3 1600Mhz DDR3 4 GB
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-1600mhz-PC3-12800-platfor...

Samsung Black SH-B123L
http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-SH-B123L-RSBP-Internal-DV...

WD Caviar Green WD20EARX
http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Caviar-Desktop-WD...

Ultra X4 ULT40276 
http://www.amazon.com/Ultra-X4-Micro-Modular-Supply/dp/...

Silverstone Grandia series GD05B
http://www.amazon.com/SilverStone-Aluminum-Steel-Comput...

Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe Card
http://www.amazon.com/Ceton-InfiniTV-Digital-Cable-Quad...

Windows 7
http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Premium-64bit-System-Buil...

Windows 7 MCE PC Remote Control
http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Control-Infrared-Receiver...

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a b x TV
April 13, 2012 12:53:43 PM

Looks like a decent build with a couple of exceptions:

1) The power supply. I understand the desire to go modular and if it's within budget, you should, but you should never let that be the deciding factor. ALWAYS go with a trusted brand power supply (Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, PC Power and Cooling, etc...). Your selected case is large enough that cable management shouldn't be much of an issue.

I'd probably recommend going with this Corsair 430watt PSU - $43.71

2) The motherboard. Nothing wrong with your choice except it's not in stock (2 to 5 weeks for delivery???). Maybe get it from somewhere else. While you're at it, maybe pick up a better APU. Newegg has that motherboard and the A6-3500 APU as a combo for only $5 more than your current selection. It's a triple core with slightly better graphics.

I'd recommend the AMD A6-3500 Llano 2.1GHz bundled with the ASRock A75M-HVS FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) - $134.98
Besides, the extra core might come in handle if you ever want to dedicate one of the tuners to another computer/extender (Google Ceton Echo).

If you're dead set on the APU you have selected, you can get the same from Newegg for $5 less - AMD A4-3400 Llano 2.7GHz Bundled with the ASRock A75M-HVS FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) - $124.98

3) Any reason you're not going with a Blu-Ray Drive?

All in all, it's a good build. Most of my comments are just fluff. My only real concern is the power supply.

-Wolf sends
April 13, 2012 1:49:49 PM

Thanks for the advice Wolf

1) The big reason I went modular was because I was concerned about having enough space in the case for airflow. I don't really know how individual parts translate into actual size in a case. But if there is enough room for cable management I'd be glad to get something better.

2) Thanks for the heads up on that deal, I didn't see it before. Will the difference in clock speeds (2.7 Ghz on the A4 vs 2.1 Ghz on the A6) be noticeable? Or will the third core make up for it?

3) Isn't the Samsung SH-B123L a Blu-Ray drive?
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a b x TV
April 13, 2012 2:56:01 PM

1) I currently have a similar sized case (NMediaPC 200BA) and while a modular PSU would benefit me, I do have standard PSU installed with all the extraneous cables tucked under my hard drive.

Again, the main point here should be quality of the PSU. If the power supply blows, it has a fair chance of taking other components with it. Power Supplies from the manufacturers I mentioned previously not only provide better insurance against a failure, but some even have built in protections on the off chance it does fail. If you're willing to foot the bill, some of these manufacturers do make modular PSUs as well.

2) The extra core will make up for the clock speed. You really do not need a lot in the way of clock speed for your purposes anyway, but that extra core may come in handle later on down the line.

3) No. It's not. Samsung SH-B123L/RSBP which you have linked is the DVD Writer. You're looking for the Samsung SH-B123L/BSBP, which is the Blu-Ray combo drive.

-Wolf sends
April 13, 2012 3:15:19 PM

Yeah that makes a lot of sense. And the drive thing was a fail on my part. Thanks for clarifying that.

One more thing: I was only planning on putting 4 Gb of ram in. Should I spend the extra $20 and go for 8Gb? The ceton infinitv recommends 4, but I thought 8 would be overkill. Now that I look back at it, it seems like it might be worth it.

Thanks so much for the advice Wolf
a b x TV
April 13, 2012 4:01:09 PM

I've never needed more than 4GB (see the specs of my HTPC in my signature), but with the APU, it might not be a bad idea when recording three shows and watching a fourth. :kaola: 

-Wolf sends
April 13, 2012 4:15:31 PM

Lol yeah I think it'll be worth it
!