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Very low budget HTPC build, Intel or AMD?

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May 21, 2012 9:38:34 PM

Hello everyone,

I have been thinking about building a HTPC computer in a month or so, now the big question to me is: AMD or Intel? Now this is one of my first 'official' computer builds although actually I have some how replaced every part of a computer :)  I was thinking of using the HTPC approxiametly most of the hours of the day (about 8hours+) therefore it should have no problem with that also it should not overheat which is a major problem right now with my old AMD dual core laptop since when I play a game it overheats and basically turns off after an hour or so and the temperature actually goes up to about 100C! Hmm-.- Other than that the HTPC's purpose out of those 8 hours is also going to be a bit of gaming now and then (was thinking about GTA 4).

Anyway, so because I want to do some gaming I was thinking about picking up the AMD A8-3870K since I don't have to worry about getting a graphics card. However, I am worried about the temperature and whether it is able to cope with the hours (no overclocking). But, what about Intel? So, are there any processors (intel) out there that you would recommend to me over the apu or do you have any other suggestions for me because right now I am a bit puzzled :) 

Alright, thank you very much guys your help is highly appreciated.

Shad
a b B Homebuilt system
May 22, 2012 12:51:22 AM

The A8 sounds like a good idea, I would grab a CPU cooler like the Scythe Shuriken if you are worried about overheating.
May 22, 2012 12:57:30 AM

is your on a budget AMD
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 22, 2012 5:51:34 AM

The A8-3870K is a superior choice. The i3 has onboard graphics as well, however they are nowhere near on the level of Llano. Even Intel's brand new Ivy Bridge HD4000 onboard graphics cannot touch Llanos onboard.

However, when you talk about adding a discrete graphics card, this completely changes the dynamics of course. But for an HTPC in the truest sense, you should not have the need for a discrete graphics card.

I would consider an inexpensive cooler as well, as suggested by jmsellars, simply because the Llanos do run a little hotter (They are basically an Athlon II with onboard graphics) Shouldn't cost you more than 30 bucks. I'm not so much concerned about the Llano overheating as I am that, for an HTPC you want a quiet fan. Stock fans are generally noisy tiny high RPM fans.

I have one of these, its definitely not the best CPU cooler on the market, I can vouch for its quietness, make sure you use a case it will fit in, (check your clearance)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a b B Homebuilt system
May 22, 2012 6:43:38 AM

It depends on how intense the gaming is that you're planning to do. I'd call the A8 ok but not great for serious gaming. For an HTPC and low-level gaming, it's aces.

If you're on any kind of budget, definitely go with the A8 and just be content with OK gaming performance. Upgrading to a CPU and video card that are "good to very good" for gaming will easily run you an extra $200.

As for an aftermarket CPU cooler, I'd say it depends on what kind of case you get. A lot of HTPCs built in "HTPC cases" have heat problems because they're built in cases that are too small, laid out sideways, and components get in the way of airflow. If you build it in a normal tower case, you'll probably be fine as long as you have adequate ventilation through the case. Keeping the noise level of the fans down while maintaining good airflow is the critical issue. Pick up a couple of these and you'll be golden:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

May 22, 2012 8:21:27 PM

Oh alright, Great advice. Thank you very much everyone. The only thing that I am worried about on terms of the AMD's A8 is that it will overheat just like my laptop does and turns off all of a sudden. Capt_taco, nekulturny: I didn't plan on buying an aftermarket cpu cooler because I didn't know that it would be needed, but now I think that I will make a slight change in plans and get one :)  Thanks for that one. I didn't actually think about noise in the built as well :D 

Also the aftermarket cooler you guys are suggesting is a good that I have been using my self as well, although in this build I will not be using a full tower case but instead since it is a HTPC I will be getting a HTPC case. Lately I have been thinking about getting Thermaltake's Element Q HTPC case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... . Newegg has a video on this case and it seems like in the video that the Cooler Master CPU cooler wouldn't fit in there :(  or would be a big risk if I would get it. So, the question is: are there any other CPU cooler that are smaller but cheap? Preferably water-cooled.

Thank you very much for you time guys, it is appreciated.

P.S. I heard that the new Trinity series is soon coming in hitting the market. Does anyone know when it will be release since I would be willing to wait if it is worth it, what do you think I should do? Thanks
a b B Homebuilt system
May 22, 2012 8:59:58 PM

shadasinger said:
Oh alright, Great advice. Thank you very much everyone. The only thing that I am worried about on terms of the AMD's A8 is that it will overheat just like my laptop does and turns off all of a sudden. Capt_taco, nekulturny: I didn't plan on buying an aftermarket cpu cooler because I didn't know that it would be needed, but now I think that I will make a slight change in plans and get one :)  Thanks for that one. I didn't actually think about noise in the built as well :D 

Also the aftermarket cooler you guys are suggesting is a good that I have been using my self as well, although in this build I will not be using a full tower case but instead since it is a HTPC I will be getting a HTPC case. Lately I have been thinking about getting Thermaltake's Element Q HTPC case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... . Newegg has a video on this case and it seems like in the video that the Cooler Master CPU cooler wouldn't fit in there :(  or would be a big risk if I would get it. So, the question is: are there any other CPU cooler that are smaller but cheap? Preferably water-cooled.

Thank you very much for you time guys, it is appreciated.

P.S. I heard that the new Trinity series is soon coming in hitting the market. Does anyone know when it will be release since I would be willing to wait if it is worth it, what do you think I should do? Thanks


That's the problem with HTPC cases - they look neat, but they're usually too small, or they're poorly laid out, or both. So airflow suffers and you're unable to use a good heatsink (You are absolutely right that a large heatsink will not fit in that case.) Note also that you will be severely limited in other respects: specialized STX power supply only, and you are constrained to Mini ITX motherboards, of which there is exactly one that I can find with the FM1 socket you need: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As far as smaller heatsinks for limited-space situations, my favorite of all time was the Thermaltake Silent 775, which really did an awesome job for its size:
http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/product.aspx?c=1148&id=15...

Unfortunately, that wouldn't fit your motherboard without some kind of mounting bracket, which may be more trouble than it's worth. I think the closest "modern" equivalent is this: http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1151&ID=18...

At any rate, this is why I really really don't like HTPC cases. They're like the hot blonde cheerleader that you really want to date, and then when she starts talking you're just repulsed and go "what was I thinking?" I've got a machine that I use as an HTPC sometimes, and I found it much easier to just build it in a regular case, keep it next to my desk like a regular computer, and get a couple of 25' HDMI cables for 14 bucks at Fry's to extend it to my TV. Solves all the technical difficulties and if you're worried about having a big clunky-looking machine next to your TV, it keeps it out of the way.

May 22, 2012 9:06:00 PM

Haha :)  Thank you very much, will be going with the thermaltake cooler as long as it is cool and quiet. Anyway, if the HTPC wasn't aimed for gaming as well, would you think that you would suggest an intel CPU to me? If yes, which one would it be? :D  Thanks you very much
a b B Homebuilt system
May 22, 2012 10:15:49 PM

If you took gaming out of the equation, that only solidifies the AMD Llano CPUs as the right choice IMO. Especially if you're being budget-conscious.

If money were no object AND gaming was a factor along with video, that's when I'd recommend an Intel CPU (i7-2600k or i7-3770k) plus a standalone graphics card. But you're going to easily spend an extra $400+ for that.

So if HTPC and light to moderate gaming is your purpose, you will not do much better for the price than the A8 you already had selected.
May 23, 2012 1:01:42 PM

capt_taco said:
If you took gaming out of the equation, that only solidifies the AMD Llano CPUs as the right choice IMO. Especially if you're being budget-conscious.

If money were no object AND gaming was a factor along with video, that's when I'd recommend an Intel CPU (i7-2600k or i7-3770k) plus a standalone graphics card. But you're going to easily spend an extra $400+ for that.

So if HTPC and light to moderate gaming is your purpose, you will not do much better for the price than the A8 you already had selected.


Alright, thanks for your advice. Will do, before I was deciding to get the A8-3870k I was thinking about getting an i3 processor after the accident of my laptop I though Intel would be better in this sort of thing. Although the thing that bugged me with i3 is that it was dual core instead of a quad core also the i3 wasn't that great in gaming on it's own (intel 3000 graphics -.-). Although right now I am pretty confident by your advice that I should go with the A8 :)  Thank you very much
a b B Homebuilt system
May 24, 2012 10:46:30 AM

The Scythe Shuriken is a good quiet cooler that should fit in almost any case.
May 24, 2012 5:52:50 PM

jmsellars1 said:
The Scythe Shuriken is a good quiet cooler that should fit in almost any case.


Oh great :)  Thank you very much, will do.
July 8, 2012 9:29:07 PM

Have you finished the build can you let us know how it performs ? Any photos? Details ?
July 9, 2012 4:06:24 PM

Yeah, sorry for not telling you guys about the build. First of all, the a8 3870k I got for quite cheap on some offer for about £80 and I have to tell you guys... it is amazing! You would not image that such a small chip consists of such a beast graphics card! The processor is enough for my needs and rarely get 100% CPU usage, about the graphics card; I can run battlefield 3 believe it or not on Medium settings having around 38fps (overclocked, if not overclocked I get around 26fps on med) average on multiplayer, it is sick! I had no problem with the build, although unfortunately I did not receive any cables at all with the motherboard which is a great disappointment therefore I had to buy these myself (such as SATA cables), apart from that the motherboard is slick as well and I haven't had any problems at all with it. Everything went nice during the build and the Scythe CPU fan did a great job by being so slim and with that even stuck it there, I still had about 4cm of free space above that which is great for airflow.

In conclusion, I am really happen that I went for the AMD choice in this situation eventhough I usually by intel based PCs. AMD has blown my mind with a8 CPU since it was easily overclockable which made a significant difference. Overall, I can't describe how great this home theater build is to realize its performance yourself I think you just have to give it a try :D 

a b B Homebuilt system
July 9, 2012 7:08:05 PM

Sounds good!
!