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HTPC Style Build for new Simcity

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June 25, 2012 4:56:31 PM

Looking for an HTPC style computer to hook up to my current setup, that includes a 1080p HDTV, 5.1 surround sound with receiver via HDMI. I actually do most of my gaming on a Playstation 3, so I won't really be running many games other than SimCity and Civilization.

Approximate Purchase Date: Mid-August

Budget Range: $700-$1,000

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Playing SimCity (5), Organizing and playback of music collection, Playback of Video (DVD's, possibly BluRay, ripping to ISO's).

Parts Not Required: Monitor, Speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: 1. Amazon.com, 2. Newegg.com

Country: United States

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: None

SLI or Crossfire: None

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments:

My current setup includes a 55" LED LCDTV, a 5.1 surround sound system through a Yamaha A/V receiver, and a PS3/Wii. Most of my gaming and movie watching is done through the PS3, but it's horrible at managing any kind of music collection over a few CD's, so I'm mostly looking to play non-console games and a good way to organize and play music. Because of it being an HTPC style computer, I'm hoping to keep the noise at or below a game consoles level. I don't have a Windows disc (all I have is a Toshiba laptop that has the recovery partition), and am looking for a wireless keyboard for playing the games from the couch.
June 25, 2012 7:32:06 PM

Here is my list for your HTPC for $757 w/ SSD

Core i3-2120/H61/8GB/1.5TB HDMI SuperCombo $366
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...

LITE-ON Black 12X BD-ROM w/ software $70, because you need the blu-ray if you want to watch 3d you need the 3d playback software.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 6670 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 $75, this card is basic games card also is good for 3D BR if you want to upgrade 3D TV.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you want you can add the SSD in your HTPC for Intel 520 60gb $70 or SanDisk(120gb)/Crucial M4(128gb) about $120.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...|20-171-567^20-171-567-TS%2C20-167-092^20-167-092-TS%2C20-148-442^20-148-442-TS


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June 25, 2012 8:05:37 PM

I don't know about SimCity but I do know about Civilization V. My current build has a difficult time playing the game at Medium/low settings. I am upgrading to an i5 2500K because my processor is so weak. But I don't think you would have to go with the best gaming cpu just not something in the tier 5 section of the "best gaming cpu's for the money" column. Have you read those? There are two columns on Tom's that talk about cpu's and gpu's. They rank them in tiers. Just go up to the tabs at the top of the sitte and click articles and look for "The Best of... for the money."

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-review-o...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

I would assume, based on my experience that 3rd or 4th tier Cpu would be fine to play at least medium. I wouldn't go anything lower than a 7th tier for the GPU. In fact in my new build I am sticking with my current card until I get the money for a 3rd tier one. I've learned the hard way.

Another thing is Ratios. Tom's does build articles (that are great reading) where they are putting 40 to 50% of their money in the GPU. It's that important. So just keep in mind that, in your budget range, $300 to $350 is a great target for a GPU.

Best of luck!

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June 25, 2012 8:21:28 PM

The key for a HTPC is to start your search for a case. Most will be ITX or M-ATX based.
The rest of your parts will be determined by that.

Here are two M-ATX cases.
Antec New Solution NSK2480 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Silverstone Grandia Series GD05B http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I know there are others, and some are particularly beautiful(and expensive).

Inside, any sandy bridge dual core cpu should do the job. I might pick the G850 @$88, up to the i3-2125@160.

I know civ2 and civ4 run well on integrated graphics. Don't know about civ5 or sim city.
It might be a good strategy to try integrated first, and add a discrete card later if you really need to.
The HD3000 graphics on the 2125 is stronger than the HD2000 graphics on the G850.

Any M-atx motherboard with a Z77 chipset should do. Pick your favorite brand.

I do like a ssd for the os and a few apps. 60gb is minimum, 80gb or 120gb is better. Look first to Intel or samsung.
The number of hard drives on these cases is limited. If you are storing video files, buy a 2gb or larger drive.

Can't help on a good laptop style remote keyboard. No experience there.How would you handle mouse actions?
I think there are some such keyboards with a trackball for that.
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June 27, 2012 1:04:52 AM

I decided to add in the shown requirements for SimCity for when it's supposed to launch:

Quote:
Processor:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+ or better
Intel Core 2 Duo Processor 2.0 GHz or better

Operating System:
Windows XP/Vista/7

RAM:
Windows XP: 1.5GB
Windows Vista and Windows 7: 2GB
PCs using a built-in graphical chipset are recommended to have 2 GB RAM

Graphics Card:
ATI X1800 or better*
nVidia 7800 or better*
Intel 4100 Integrated Graphics or better*


I don't know the first thing about the newer processors; the laptop I'm on now has a Core2Duo ULV clocked at 1.3ghz and I know plays SimCity 4 and Civ 4 just fine, but are well below the listed requirements here. What worries me most is when SimCity 4 was released, it had understated some of it's requirements, really limiting play. How much more powerful is something like an i3 processor than the older Core2Duo? And would it be too weak under a game cranking lots of data like SimCity versus a more graphics intensive game such as Battlefield?

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June 27, 2012 2:31:41 AM

The newer Intel chips are much stronger, both from a processing power point of view, and also the integrated graphics capability.
For compute,
The Athlon 64 x2 4000+ has a passmark number of 1081.
The lowly G530 is 2273.
The G850 is 2801.

On the graphics side, I think you are looking at a bit more than integrated graphics.
Something like a 6670, or a GT440.
But, it is so easy to add a graphics card later that I would try out the integrated graphics first. You might end up saving yourself $65 that a 6670 or GT440 would cost.
Or... you might decide to splurge on a much stronger card.
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June 27, 2012 11:24:17 PM

geofelt said:
The newer Intel chips are much stronger, both from a processing power point of view, and also the integrated graphics capability.
For compute,
The Athlon 64 x2 4000+ has a passmark number of 1081.
The lowly G530 is 2273.
The G850 is 2801.

On the graphics side, I think you are looking at a bit more than integrated graphics.
Something like a 6670, or a GT440.
But, it is so easy to add a graphics card later that I would try out the integrated graphics first. You might end up saving yourself $65 that a 6670 or GT440 would cost.
Or... you might decide to splurge on a much stronger card.


I was completely surprised by just how much more powerful the newer processors are, thanks for the passmark! Here's a list of components that I've picked so far:

Case: Silverstone GD05B
http://www.amazon.com/SilverStone-Aluminum-Steel-Comput...

Motherboard: Asus M5A88
http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-M5A88-M-6Gbps-Micro-Motherbo...

Processor: AMD FX-8150 Black Edition (Is there a non-black edition of this?)
http://www.amazon.com/AMD-FX-8150-8-Core-Edition-Proces...

XFX AMD Radeon HD 7770 Black Edition
http://www.amazon.com/XFX-FX777AZDB4-Edition-1095MHz-Gr...

ADATA DDR3 1600Mhz 8GB Kit
http://www.amazon.com/ADATA-Gaming-1600Mhz-Desktop-AX3U...

Antec EarthWatts 380 Watt 80 PLUS Bronze
http://www.amazon.com/Antec-EarthWatts-EA-380D-BRONZE-S...

WD Caviar Blue 500GB
http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Caviar-Cache-Desk...

Asus DVD-RW
http://www.amazon.com/Asus-24xDVD-RW-Serial-Internal-DR...

Windows 7 Home Premium:
http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Windows-7-Home-Premium/...

I calculated the power supply needs using http://extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine and it came up to 233W Minimum and 283W Recommended. The total price for everything as is it is now comes to $895.00
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June 28, 2012 12:26:36 AM

I think the FX-8150 would be a mistake for you.

The passmark numbers have to be looked at knowing the application.


Gaming, for example rarely uses more than 2 or 3 cores, making most of the cores of the FX 8150 useless.
The cores on the intel chips do more work per clock cycle. Bulldozer was a disappointment for gamers. It does represent good value if you will be running multi threaded apps.
Here is a comparison of the FX8150 and a comparably priced 2500K: For you, look at the gaming benchmarks in particular.
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/288?vs=434
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June 28, 2012 10:12:56 PM

geofelt said:
I think the FX-8150 would be a mistake for you.

The passmark numbers have to be looked at knowing the application.


Gaming, for example rarely uses more than 2 or 3 cores, making most of the cores of the FX 8150 useless.
The cores on the intel chips do more work per clock cycle. Bulldozer was a disappointment for gamers. It does represent good value if you will be running multi threaded apps.
Here is a comparison of the FX8150 and a comparably priced 2500K: For you, look at the gaming benchmarks in particular.
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/288?vs=434


Thanks for the benchmark information; you're not kidding, especially on single threaded applications and 3D. It's looking like the price of the 3570k and the 2500k i5's are the same currently (not sure if it's just a sale, or what, but I'm not getting it til August so I'll have to just see it then!). I replaced the AMD motherboard and processor with the following:

MSI Z77MA-G45
http://www.amazon.com/MSI-Computer-Corp-Motherboards-Z7...

Intel Core i5 -3570K
http://www.amazon.com/Intel-Core-3570K-Processor-BX8063...

Would bring the total build (including Windows OS) to about $912
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