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Opinions on HTPC update now / Server later build

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May 30, 2012 9:05:23 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: 3 days

Budget Range: $1000-1500

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
- Today: HTPC
- watch movies (BR, HD-DVD, DVD), TV
- watch/record multiple TV shows simultaneously
- rip-n-play music
- play slideshows
- play simple games
- Use RD to do admin, some work while system is in use
- 3 Year's time: Recommission MoBo, CPU, RAM, cooler as a central file / processing server with transcoding duties. Case and tuners stay behind.

Currently have, and plan to use:
- Seasonic SS-II 600W PSU
- Silverstone LC16M case, maxed out with case fans
- Hauppauge 2250 tuner card
- ATi HDTV Wonder tuner card (ugh)
- 2 x 1.5 TB HDDs (for local TV recordings and other large-n-slow data)
- CNPS9500 cooler
- TV (monitor)
- kbd / mouse (RF via USB, not BT; BIOS-friendly)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com

Country: USA

Parts Preferences:
- Intel Z77 chipset, i7 series CPU (I want the hyperthreading for handling multiple processes more smoothly, and the additional processing power for future transcoding and serving needs; otherwise, I would have shifted to an AMD APU)
- 8 GB RAM sticks (I don't want to have to replace 4 GB sticks down the road)

Overclocking: No, but possibly underclocking short-term, if it makes sense to do that. I want the IB-series GPU, so a 3770K might make sense if I underclock it now to make it run super-cool (system runs inside a cabinet!), and then O/C it when it transitions into a server.

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 (1080p60 and 1080p24)

Current part selections:

Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Professional LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Reasons:
- I still use an IDE device, and I don't want to use up another internal slot (IDWTUUAIS)
- I still use front-panel 1394a, and IDWTUUAIS
- For server use, I may want a lot of internal and external SATA ports, and also dual-NIC support (and IDWTUUAIS)
- For server use, I want PS/2 kbd/mouse connections for KVM switch support (I know, I'll need a VGA adapter. I already have one)
- For server use, I may want to use one or two PCIe-x8 RAID cards.
- For both HTPC and server use, I may be using that COM port after all, and would prefer not to use a USB dongle.
- I need something in the house that can still read a floppy.

I also considered the ASRock Z77 Extreme6, but I have no use for a mini-PCIe slot and prefer the slot arrangement on the Pro, because it sacrifices a PCI slot to GPUs first. I also looked at a variety of other Mobos, but none had the 1394 header, SATA port count, IDE port, and COM port that made this choice compelling. It's a mix of old and new, and that makes it somewhat unique.

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 65W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000 BX80637I73770S

Reasons:
I don't have any good ones. I'd probably be better off with an underclocked 3770K, but don't feel like giving TD or AMZ the biz. If I'm making a glaring mistake, please speak up!

RAM: G.SKILL Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C10D-16GAO

Reasons:
Again, I don't have any good ones. I tried to choose RAM that was low-profile (no big heatsink fins), supports PC3 12800 with decent latency, and comes in 8 GB sticks at a decent price.

SSD: Mushkin Enhanced Chronos MKNSSDCR480GB-DX 2.5" 480GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Reasons:
Recorded TV is fragging my current 4-disk RAID 0 landing pad to death. Also, certain O/S tasks are taking far longer than I want them to; I want the system to be responsive for the WAF. I want to put O/S, swap (if it's even needed), temp, programs, and temporary / transient TV recordings on an SSD that isn't RAIDed, so that O/S install and restore are easier. Permanent TV recordings go elsewhere, so this just needs to be big enough to hold the above for a week or two until an automated recorded TV migration task moves recorded shows to a different volume. 240 GB is not big enough, so I'm looking at 480 or more.

Other Stuff:

Front Panel Ports: Silverstone FP35B USB 2.0 Card Reader with extra silver front panel

Reasons:
Has 1394, eSATA, FP audio and multiple card support

Please recommend differently if you know of a better one. I intend to test the output voltages and ground offsets before I try to use them...

5.25" to 3.5" bracket: BYTECC Bracket-35525 3.5" Mounting Bracket Universal Adaptor For 5.25" Drive Bay or Enclosure

Reasons:
The front of this 5.25" bay is blocked by a VFD panel and an IC, so I couldn't use an adapter that has a non-removable front plate.

3.5" to 2.5" Bracket: Scythe 2.5 Twin Mounter RC HDD/SSD mounting for up to two hard drives

Reasons:
None really. If it works, that's good enough. I didn't want plastic, and I didn't want problems with hole locations, screw sizes, etc.
May 31, 2012 1:32:17 PM

Looking for comments on:
1) CPU: Is 3770K underclockable, so that I can use it now in one role, and later in another?
2) MB: Anyone have good / bad experiences with the named board? Anyone have an alternative suggestion?
3) RAM: Anyone have good / bad experiences with the named memory sticks? Anyone have an alternative suggestion?
4) If you were building this, what would you do differently?
!