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HTPC Build for under $500

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May 8, 2012 7:25:50 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Over time. I plan on purchasing parts here and there and building it myself

Budget Range: $500 - $600 I couldn't go much more than that though.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Watching Netflix/Hulu/etc., downloading movies and music, playing a few games like World of Warcraft/Diablo III, surfing the internet

Parts Not Required: Monitor (plan on hooking this up to my 40" LCD Television (1366 x 768 )), Keyboard/Mouse, Computer case (I plan on using the nMEDIAPC HTPC 5000B, OS (I have Windows XP Pro but if there is money left, I wouldn't mind upgrading to Windows 7

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: anywhere that guarantees their service really. Newegg.com, Directron.com

Country: US

Parts Preferences: No preferences really. I've had great experiences with both AMD and Intel, nVidia and ATI. I've been out of the loop on tech for the past 7 years or so. I'm going to have to trust a lot of your opinions on things.

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No idea what this is, so probably no.

Monitor Resolution: 1366 x 768 (My Samsung 40" 720P LCD TV)

Additional Comments: I prefer to have a quiet, lower temperature HTPC. Airflow won't be a problem where I plan on putting this system. It's very open under my TV stand. Thanks for any input you guys can give. I really do appreciate it!

More about : htpc build 500

May 8, 2012 8:35:48 PM

Since you mention WoW/Diablo III this is the CPU+GPU that comes to mind:

AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano 3.0GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU (CPU + GPU) with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD 6550D AD3870WNGXBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$119.99

I prefer Gigabyte for HTPCs because the LED doesn't blink in S3 sleep
GIGABYTE GA-A75M-D2H FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$61.99 after $10 MIR and 10% off coupon GIGABYTE504510

Also very good: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... but $84.99 after MIR. It has a bit better ratings and personally I like ASUS boards too.

Fast RAM is important for Llano, so look for 1866MHz, maybe 8GB to support the games. Budget around $50-$60 here. I don't have a specific recommendation.

As for SSD/HDD, you don't say how much media you have. I would at least start with a 128GB SSD ($100-120) for the OS/programs/games. Then add whatever HDDs you need for media. You've got a good bit of room in your nMediaPC 5000b case for a couple at least.

This is where I'd start given your requirements.
May 8, 2012 9:16:03 PM

Thanks for the quick reply! I figured 8GB of RAM would be the minimum I'd want to go. I've never thought of a SSD to run the OS and programs. I currently have a 120GB HDD that I use to hold some media, but that will be replaced down the road. Would it be wise to add a graphics card (maybe down the road) to boost game performance? I've only read one online review of the CPU you mentioned and it stated that it was "ok" in the gaming department. I'm not a hardcore gamer or anything. I do like to play WoW casually and was interested in getting Diablo III but if you think that the CPU you mentioned will work, I'll take your word for it. =) What about a quiet PSU? Any recommendations there?
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May 8, 2012 9:25:05 PM

I've read that WoW and Diablo play well with Llano but I have no personal experience. I would definitely look into the review to understand if you need a discrete GPU. It seems a lot harder to get a definitive answer about Diablo than WoW.

Diablo's recommended system requirements:
Windows® Vista/7 (latest service packs)
Intel® Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 5600+ 2.8 GHz Intel® Core 2 Duo
2 GB RAM 2 GB RAM
NVIDIA® GeForce® 260 or ATI Radeon™ HD 4870 or better

The A8-3870K definitely betters these requirements.

You might want to look at this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pentium-g620-amd-a8...

You do have a full-height HTPC case so you could go discrete GPU if you wanted. It depends on your priorities, really. If you do, then I would go with the Intel CPU as recommended in the linked article and the HD6670. If you have more budget i3-2100 / HD6750.

A gaming rig will be a fine HTPC but a fine HTPC will not necessarily make a good gaming rig.
May 8, 2012 9:26:09 PM

you can add a 6670 video card later if its too slow, and it will work in conjucntion with the 3870. SSD currently costs too much for what you get, SSD improves game and windows load times but only slightly increases performance when actually playing.

SSD ~$1/gb, HDD ~$.10/gb

Also, this is a pretty good mb+cpu combo deal, $25 off. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

BTW, Diablo III is not very hard on the cpu. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/diablo-iii-performa...

During the beta, I was hitting maybe 50% cpu usage.
May 8, 2012 9:32:07 PM

noob2222 said:
you can add a 6670 video card later if its too slow, and it will work in conjucntion with the 3870. SSD currently costs too much for what you get, SSD improves game and windows load times but only slightly increases performance when actually playing.

SSD ~$1/gb, HDD ~$.10/gb

Also, this is a pretty good mb+cpu combo deal, $25 off. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

BTW, Diablo III is not very hard on the cpu. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/diablo-iii-performa...

During the beta, I was hitting maybe 50% cpu usage.


On the HTPC side of the equation, SSD makes a big difference in browsing media libraries, bringing up the EPG, menus, picture slideshow, music library, etc. Same for surfing the web -- bringing up the browser, etc. Having used both now and gone back and forth, there is no going back :) .

A G620 / HD6670 might be a good combination here given the budget, HTPC and gaming requirements, your CPU findings, the articles and the max resolution of 720p/1366x768. For HTPC, 5670/6670 does a very good job at post-processing (de-interlacing especially) which is important for SD/interlaced (1080i) material.
May 9, 2012 6:06:37 PM

Thanks guys! All really solid advice! I hope to get started on this this weekend!
!