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Advice on budget HTPC

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May 3, 2012 5:20:03 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP

Budget Range: $500 or less

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Watching Movies and Streaming media

Parts Not Required: Logitech Harmony 650 Remote Control on the way (if compatible) http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Harmony-Remote-Control-S... , Keyboard, mouse: IOGEAR Long Range Media Center Desktop Keyboard and Mouse http://www.amazon.com/IOGEAR-Desktop-Keyboard-Wireless-...

I have a Preferred Website(s) for Parts: amazon.com because of fast shipping speeds to apo and newegg.com if you have to because I believe they have longer shipping/procesing times to apo.

Country: APO in Germany

Parts Preferences: Would like a case that fits in tv stand,

Overclocking: N/A

SLI or Crossfire: N/A

Monitor Resolution:n/a

Additional Comments: automatic downloading, remote access, quiet pc, low power usage.

I have a Windows 7 Home Premium disk but not sure if i can use on more than one pc. Also going to hook up to 5.1 surround sound via optical cable.

More about : advice budget htpc

May 3, 2012 5:41:10 PM

I really Cant Help you Much Because of the Country you live But The E-350 Do wonders with Hd Content, 1080 and 720.
May 3, 2012 6:15:03 PM

chulex67 said:
I really Cant Help you Much Because of the Country you live But The E-350 Do wonders with Hd Content, 1080 and 720.


My Country wont matter, an apo is a US address.
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May 3, 2012 6:15:32 PM

The E-350 will work but it's a bit weak in terms of processing power. I would go for an AMD A6. You could get this for $500 on www.amazon.com

AMD A6-3500
ASRock A75-M ITX
2x2GB Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 1333Mhz
Crucial M4 64GB OR Samsung 470 Series 64GB
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 5400RPM OR Seagate Momentus 750GB 7200RPM
Antec ISK 300-150 with 150W PSU
Samsung SN-S083C/BEBE Slim Internal DVD Burner

Total ~$500

That would be a speedy little system with your optical port and loads of storage. Much more powerful the the E-350 and power consumption shouldn't go over 80-100W or so.
May 3, 2012 6:22:53 PM

jmsellars1 said:
The E-350 will work but it's a bit weak in terms of processing power. I would go for an AMD A6. You could get this for $500 on www.amazon.com

AMD A6-3500
ASRock A75-M ITX
2x2GB Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 1333Mhz
Crucial M4 64GB OR Samsung 470 Series 64GB
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 5400RPM OR Seagate Momentus 750GB 7200RPM
Antec ISK 300-150 with 150W PSU
Samsung SN-S083C/BEBE Slim Internal DVD Burner

Total ~$500

That would be a speedy little system with your optical port and loads of storage. Much more powerful the the E-350 and power consumption shouldn't go over 80-100W or so.



I should have added that I want a blu ray player but If I wanted to rip blu-rays and transcode/encode, how much more would that be if any.
May 3, 2012 6:41:56 PM

jmsellars1 said:

Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 5400RPM OR Seagate Momentus 750GB 7200RPM
Antec ISK 300-150 with 150W PSU


Not going to happen...that chassis doesn't accommodate 3.5" drives, unfortunately.

As far as I know, the E-350 is perfectly fine for an HTPC. Yes, it's a weak CPU for processing, but this PC's task is to play back HD content. It's more than enough for that, from what I've read online. You don't need a beefy machine for an HTPC. Alternatively, go for a build along the lines of what's in my sig. How is your 5.1 hooked up...do you use an amp? If so, HDMI will be better as optical doesn't have the bandwidth for DTS-HD and TrueHD soundtracks that you get on Blurays.

For a silent HTPC, minimise the moving parts. An SSD is good for that, as is a fanless PSU...my setup has all the movies ripped on a server, so I don't have HDD noise to deal with. Perhaps something worth thinking about for you?
May 3, 2012 6:44:18 PM

hova said:
I should have added that I want a blu ray player but If I wanted to rip blu-rays and transcode/encode, how much more would that be if any.


Sorry for the double post, forgot to reply to this...

A Bluray drive won't cost much...£40 / $60 or thereabouts. The problem is more the transcoding...that needs CPU power. I rip the Blurays uncompressed which minimises the workload on my server and HTPC. All you need is HDD space, and IMHO putting more space in is less hassle than trying to work out what codecs to use and the time it'll take to encode a ripped movie to the required format.
May 3, 2012 6:57:58 PM

diellur said:
Not going to happen...that chassis doesn't accommodate 3.5" drives, unfortunately.

As far as I know, the E-350 is perfectly fine for an HTPC. Yes, it's a weak CPU for processing, but this PC's task is to play back HD content. It's more than enough for that, from what I've read online. You don't need a beefy machine for an HTPC. Alternatively, go for a build along the lines of what's in my sig. How is your 5.1 hooked up...do you use an amp? If so, HDMI will be better as optical doesn't have the bandwidth for DTS-HD and TrueHD soundtracks that you get on Blurays.

For a silent HTPC, minimise the moving parts. An SSD is good for that, as is a fanless PSU...my setup has all the movies ripped on a server, so I don't have HDD noise to deal with. Perhaps something worth thinking about for you?



How much was your build? My 5.1 is a 3 or year old samsung HTIB that only has an "optical IN" but will upgrade in the future and use HDMI. I dont know much about ripping movies on a server though is it something like using Dropbox?..if you could lead me in right direction thats something I could consider.
May 3, 2012 9:23:52 PM

diellur said:
Not going to happen...that chassis doesn't accommodate 3.5" drives, unfortunately.

As far as I know, the E-350 is perfectly fine for an HTPC. Yes, it's a weak CPU for processing, but this PC's task is to play back HD content. It's more than enough for that, from what I've read online. You don't need a beefy machine for an HTPC. Alternatively, go for a build along the lines of what's in my sig. How is your 5.1 hooked up...do you use an amp? If so, HDMI will be better as optical doesn't have the bandwidth for DTS-HD and TrueHD soundtracks that you get on Blurays.

For a silent HTPC, minimise the moving parts. An SSD is good for that, as is a fanless PSU...my setup has all the movies ripped on a server, so I don't have HDD noise to deal with. Perhaps something worth thinking about for you?



Yeah I know it doesn't accommodate 3.5'' drives, I suggested 2.5'' drives. The Scorpio Blue and Momentus are laptop drives.


You would be looking at replacing the DVD burner with something like this.

If you plan to do transcoding then the E-350 is a very bad choice, an Intel (i3) or AMD fusion (A6) chip would be best.
May 3, 2012 9:58:28 PM

jmsellars1 said:
The E-350 will work but it's a bit weak in terms of processing power. I would go for an AMD A6. You could get this for $500 on www.amazon.com

AMD A6-3500
ASRock A75-M ITX
2x2GB Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 1333Mhz
Crucial M4 64GB OR Samsung 470 Series 64GB
Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 5400RPM OR Seagate Momentus 750GB 7200RPM
Antec ISK 300-150 with 150W PSU
Samsung SN-S083C/BEBE Slim Internal DVD Burner

Total ~$500

That would be a speedy little system with your optical port and loads of storage. Much more powerful the the E-350 and power consumption shouldn't go over 80-100W or so.



I guessing you mean the 65 watt version of the amd A6-3500?
May 3, 2012 10:02:05 PM

Yeah that's right.
May 3, 2012 11:17:44 PM

Went with this

AMD A6-3500 65watt
ASRock A75-M ATX instead of M ITX
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
Crucial M4 64GB
Seagate Barracuda Green 1.5TB 5900RPM
PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 400W Modular
ASUS Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS - OEM
G606B case


How about this?
May 3, 2012 11:28:50 PM

Can't find any info on that case but the rest looks OK.
May 4, 2012 12:43:31 AM

jmsellars1 said:
Can't find any info on that case but the rest looks OK.


Make that the GD06B. Thanks
May 4, 2012 7:39:47 AM

jmsellars1 said:
Yeah I know it doesn't accommodate 3.5'' drives, I suggested 2.5'' drives. The Scorpio Blue and Momentus are laptop drives.


Well, that's just OK then. ;) 


jmsellars1 said:
If you plan to do transcoding then the E-350 is a very bad choice, an Intel (i3) or AMD fusion (A6) chip would be best.


Agreed. The E-350 is fine for playback, but transcoding is heavy lifting. You could still get an E-350 HTPC and have a server transcode on the fly as you play...this would be better, as it keeps the workload (and hence heat / fan noise) on the HTPC to a minimum. However, again IMHO, if you have a server you therefore have the space to store a lot of info and the hassle with transcoding is outweighted by the convenience of storing the movie rips in lossless format.

hova said:
How much was your build? My 5.1 is a 3 or year old samsung HTIB that only has an "optical IN" but will upgrade in the future and use HDMI. I dont know much about ripping movies on a server though is it something like using Dropbox?..if you could lead me in right direction thats something I could consider.


I'm in the UK, so it cost me about £450...that's circa $700.

Ripping is pretty much exactly like Dropbox, except instead of the data being held in the cloud it's held on a PC in your house. You'd need to set up a home network capable of gigabit speeds, which is quite easy nowadays but would need you to get a suitable router if you didn't have one already. You'd also need to connect the HTPC and server to the router using ethernet...sadly, wireless doesn't quite have enough bandwidth for Bluray. You can build a server very easily...an old PC does the trick. I use Windows Home Server as the OS, but there's also FreeNAS which is a Linux distro. I've no experience with it myself, but others on Tom's may have and if not then there's t'internet. Have a look at MediaBrowser, which is a plug-in for Windows Media Centre...I use that, alongside Total Media Theatre 5, for the software. It may sound like a lot, but it's a fun project. Once you have that hooked up to an HD TV and a 5.1, your friends will have media-envy. ;) 

jmsellars1 said:
Can't find any info on that case but the rest looks OK.


The GD06B is a great case, and the one I use. It can be cramped inside, but some clever cable routing can sort that. Plenty of ventilation and good filters to prevent dust build-up. The hot-swap bays can be a nuisance and I ended up pulling them out, as they took up space and didn't give a lot of room for the cabling going into the PSU. Also worth noting is that unless you don't have an optical drive in the case, you can't mount a large heatsink as they clash. However, it looks great, has solid construction and is well-ventilated.
May 4, 2012 7:13:56 PM

diellur said:
Well, that's just OK then. ;) 




Agreed. The E-350 is fine for playback, but transcoding is heavy lifting. You could still get an E-350 HTPC and have a server transcode on the fly as you play...this would be better, as it keeps the workload (and hence heat / fan noise) on the HTPC to a minimum. However, again IMHO, if you have a server you therefore have the space to store a lot of info and the hassle with transcoding is outweighted by the convenience of storing the movie rips in lossless format.



I'm in the UK, so it cost me about £450...that's circa $700.

Ripping is pretty much exactly like Dropbox, except instead of the data being held in the cloud it's held on a PC in your house. You'd need to set up a home network capable of gigabit speeds, which is quite easy nowadays but would need you to get a suitable router if you didn't have one already. You'd also need to connect the HTPC and server to the router using ethernet...sadly, wireless doesn't quite have enough bandwidth for Bluray. You can build a server very easily...an old PC does the trick. I use Windows Home Server as the OS, but there's also FreeNAS which is a Linux distro. I've no experience with it myself, but others on Tom's may have and if not then there's t'internet. Have a look at MediaBrowser, which is a plug-in for Windows Media Centre...I use that, alongside Total Media Theatre 5, for the software. It may sound like a lot, but it's a fun project. Once you have that hooked up to an HD TV and a 5.1, your friends will have media-envy. ;) 



The GD06B is a great case, and the one I use. It can be cramped inside, but some clever cable routing can sort that. Plenty of ventilation and good filters to prevent dust build-up. The hot-swap bays can be a nuisance and I ended up pulling them out, as they took up space and didn't give a lot of room for the cabling going into the PSU. Also worth noting is that unless you don't have an optical drive in the case, you can't mount a large heatsink as they clash. However, it looks great, has solid construction and is well-ventilated.


Thanks for the info. The home server looks like something I could do in the future.
!