First build: HTPC + NAS setup for $850, what do you guys think?

Hi guys,

I'm focused primarily on HTPC function. I grabbed a great deal on my data plan (200 mbps u/d) and I decided to punt my cable + internet. I'm putting the savings toward a new HTPC that will hopefully also be able to handle my backup needs, host some of my dev projects with occassional VM, and maybe some light gaming.

I just bought the following gear from Microcenter (i5 + Z68 sale) and Newegg and before my return window ends, I thought it best to run my build by the experts first. I bought the minimum I'd need to get up and running, but I still need to buy HDD(s) for backup.

I'm fairly new to the build process and I'm wondering what type of backup arrangement is the best balance of price + performance for the build I have so far. I've been thinking of trying out RAID 1 with two HDD's. I've done some cursory research (hardware and software based RAID) and I'm wondering if you guys wouldn't mind making a recommendation (if this is the right place).

I decided to get a 650W PSU to provide space to maybe add a video card. Outside of the budget I listed above, what video card might you guys recommend that would enhance HTPC (is it even needed for HTPC?) and support light gaming for under $200?


Approximate Purchase Date: complete the build this week.

Budget Range: $600-$900 after rebates (not including video card and router)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: HTPC (streaming video, occassional video encoding), NAS, light dev work (web host and VMware, light gaming (Civ, maybe more in the future).

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS. Running Windows 7 Ultimate.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg (ShopRunner), Amazon (Prime), no preference for the right gear.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: no preference.

Overclocking: maybe?

SLI or Crossfire: maybe?

Monitor Resolution: 1920x 1200

Additional Comments: ideally very quiet and low power consumption


So here's what I've bought so far:

CPU: Core i5 2500K LGA 1155

CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R2 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm

Motherboard: P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Z68 ATX Intel Motherboard
59.99 = 109.99 - 50.00 (Microcenter i5 2500k + Z68 sale)

RAM: Crucial 8GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) CL9 U-DIMM Desktop Memory Kit (Two 4GB Memory Modules)

SSD: Intel 520 Series Cherryville (been burned in the past with SSD's, wanted the most reliable)

Case: H2 Classic Silent Mid Tower ATX Gaming Computer Case

PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA-650 GREEN 650W ATX12V v2.3 SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

HDD: Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 2TB 5900 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5"
109.99 x 2

Sub Total


Additional Notes

I live in a pretty small space so range isn't that much of an issue. WAN to LAN is probably big, plus Qos configurability. I've been torn between the Asus Black Diamond and the Asus Dark Knight. I've researched a bit on smallnetbuilder, but I wanted to see if you guys think the additional money is worth it or if these are even the best choices out there.

Asus Black Diamond

Asus Dark Knight

Thanks all!
3 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    I'll give you my thoughts on all this, in the order they came up:

    You don't need a discreet GPU for HD movies. "light gaming" needs to be defined a bit, but for instance a 6670 is relatively inexpensive while allowing you to play most games on low settings.

    650W is massive overkill. You do NOT really want that much power, as your day-to-day usage will be so much lower. Depending on the exact PSU, you could see serious efficiency drops, thus wasting energy. At this point in the discussion a good 450W would do nicely.

    Ah. I would not consider Civ V light gaming.

    I think that motherboard doesn't have an internal USB 3.0 header.
    The case is OK, but a Fractal Design case is about the same price and better.
    Other than that, the list is good.


    Here's the build at just newegg with a few changes:
    ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
    Fractal Design Define R3 Titanium Grey w/ USB 3.0 ATX Mid Tower Silent PC Computer Case
    HIS H675FS1G Radeon HD 6750 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
    Sega Gift
    SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
    COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R2 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Compatible with latest Intel ...
    Intel 520 Series Cherryville SSDSC2CW120A3K5 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
    GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
    Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model 996995
    Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 ...
    Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 2TB 5900 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    TOTAL: $988.90

    Although I think there's a promo code or two hidden in there that brings it down some.

    Those routers seem like quite a bit, but perhaps you have needs I don't understand... still, I saw some Cisco routers in that price range recently. At Office Depot as I recall.
    I think this is the one I'm considering for the office:

    I'm quite happy with this D-link at home
  2. Thanks so much for the reply!

    Yeah, I'd be interested in playing Civ, Starcraft, Diablo etc. at medium to high settings. My main use is for HTPC, but I figured I'd build in some gaming capability with a low powerish, but capable enough graphics card. My primary machine is a Macbook Pro 15 i7 with Radeon 6750, which from a gaming perspective I'd set as the baseline for performance.

    Is 520W enough to power a card running a game at medium/high?

    Right, no internal USB 3.0 header. I may route from back to front.

    Nice, thanks for the recommendations.
  3. Best answer selected by grtscott.
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