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HTPC for $400

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Last response: in Systems
April 30, 2012 6:03:03 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: During the summer

Budget Range: 400-450. Can go up to 500 if it means better parts

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Watching movies at 1080p, light gaming (Minecraft, Morrowind)

Parts Not Required: Monitor, HDD, DVD Drive

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg

Country: United States

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Needs to have a small case that would fit on a large shelf.

More about : htpc 400

a b C Monitor
April 30, 2012 6:29:24 PM

I would go for something based on an AMD A8-3870K. It's a decent quad core CPU with the best integrated graphics available. Pair that with 4GB of RAM and a Mini ITX A75 board with a ~60GB SSD and you should be set. If you are willing to up the budget a bit though, an i5-3570K based build would be a lot better. The integrated graphics are almost as good but the CPU power is vastly superior. It means if you go with a case that can support it, you can add a graphics card later for nice gaming performance too.
a b C Monitor
April 30, 2012 8:20:32 PM
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April 30, 2012 9:23:23 PM

agreed, a A8 3870K has great IG

with 4gb ram 400W decent cpu from decent brand for longer life well at least it wont blast your system to pieces.
good old win 7 home premium.

or you can go intel pentium, but imo the Llano still sounds nicer
a b C Monitor
April 30, 2012 10:31:33 PM

Agreed, the A8 is fine for his usage in terms of CPU power, I should have specified that the i5 route is only necessary if he plans to add a graphics card and play more demanding games in future.

Something like this should be great:

AMD A8-3870K
Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
Intel 330 Series 60GB
IN WIN BP655.200BL Mini ITX Case with 200W PSU

Total - $390.95

That should do you fine but that PSU may be a bit questionable so it may be worth upgrading it to something like this:

That only has 2 x SATA connectors though so I'd grab a molex to SATA adapter.

You would then be looking at around $440.
a b C Monitor
April 30, 2012 11:16:29 PM

I think "questionable" is being kind :) 

But the PSU upgrade makes it good. Since he has an HDD though and needs an OS I think it has to go a little differently.

If you drop the GPU and MB/CPU combo from my build and add this:

you are just a bit over $450. Which is better? Well, the unlocked APU and board that can deal with it seems like a better combo, but you do sacrifice a little GPU power, I think.

On the other hand, you did say no to overclocking, so maybe the Intel build is better.
a b C Monitor
April 30, 2012 11:30:28 PM

Silverstone Milo is BY FAR the best case for this. You want something low and wide that will fit in with the home stereo, etc. Milo takes a full size power supply, yet is still shaped like a cable box. They also make more expensive versions if you want more.

Don't cut corners on the PSU -- this PC will run all the time, so needs to stay cool and quiet. This Antec 380D listed above is as cheap as I would go.
( the rear fan works better on a HTPC case -- bottom fan isn't great in a small enclosure)

I agree that some of the AMD integrated chips would be a good choice. I also think that a low end Intel processor and a $40-50 low profile video card would work nicely too.

If you have room in the budget, a nice heatsink for your CPU will allow the fan to run a lot less, keeping everything quieter. I have this in my milo case -- its awesome and silent.

Good luck.
a b C Monitor
April 30, 2012 11:39:11 PM

That's a nice case for the money... USB 3.0 ports too.
a b C Monitor
April 30, 2012 11:56:12 PM

I took a shot at this just for fun. I haven't seriously considered in a while, so I'm sure there are better deals than this on particular parts...

MSI R6570-MD1G/LP Radeon HD 6570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card
Item #: N82E16814127611
Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy
$20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ...
Item #: N82E16817371033
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
-$15.00 Instant $59.99 =$44.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBXM
Item #: N82E16820231438
Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy

ASUS P8H61-M LX PLUS (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
Item #: N82E16813131793
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
-$5.00 Instant $74.99 $69.99

Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I32120 Item #: N82E16819115077
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy

SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum skin reinforced plastic front panel, 0.8mm SECC body MILO Series ML03B Micro ATX Media Center ... Item #: N82E16811163174 Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

Subtotal: $392.94