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First Build, hybrid HTPC / Medium duty gaming; $500-$750

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July 31, 2012 12:10:53 AM

Hello everyone. I am new to this forum. I am looking to build my first PC. I am familiar with the general components, and my brother has built rigs before and we have discussed the basics. I have installed drives/cards/ram etc, but never built a machine from scratch. Below are my requirements. Thanks in advance, a lot of great info on this forum!

Approximate Purchase Date: next 3 months

Budget Range: $500-$750 After Rebates (could be more or less, I have the $$$ but dont want to waste it)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: FLAC audio player, auido, video, picture file repository, medium duty gaming, emulation, movies/general XBMC (rip DVDs, etc), general internet,

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: prefer newegg.com, anywhere reputable

Country: USA

Parts Preferences:
Intel CPU, Silverstone GD08 case (or something similar), blu ray

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Not sure what this means

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080, 55" Samsung Plasma

Additional Comments: I would like an SSD for the OS and critical programs to improve boot times. At least 1 TB of storage with room for future expansion. This computer will be used as a media center as well as a medium duty gaming rig. I would like to load all of my CDs as FLAC files and feed them into the home theater system I have recently built so I no longer have to rely on cumbersome CDs or lossy MP3s. I would also rip all of my DVDs (not very many). I will also house all of my photos/important files on here. Currently all of my files are scattered across a few machines with no real backups. I want this to be my "storage machine" and I will link it up to carbonite/crashplan to back up my files. My Blu Rays will probably stay on discs, since it is my understanding you cannot rip the full resolution audio files and ripping blu rays is generally a hassle, based on my research.

Ive also recently renewed my interested in PC gaming. I primarily game on consoles, but I have recently got sucked into some PC games. I have interest in the upcoming Sim City, Diablo III, etc. Any bigtime shooters will probably be played on a console, same with games like Skyrim, etc. I will be looking to emulate NES, SNES, and Atari systems, but that shouldnt be overly intensive.

I am willing to sacrifice some of the gaming performance to keep the cost down. I dont need to run games like skyrim, crysis, etc, if it means breaking my budget. Im 33, starting grad school, not a ton of time to game anymore.

Would like to have future upgradability, especially room to expand the storage. My totally random estimate is I have 500-600GB of "stuff" right now. I am picky about DVDs/games/music I buy, so I wont need 4 TB or anything, but I would like this system to last me for several years.

Thanks in advance and sorry for the long post. If anyone wants some Home Theater advice from a first time system builder, look me up on AVSForum or here and I will do my best to help.
July 31, 2012 4:06:25 PM

Ok i shall kick things off with a config on the lower side of your budget - no SSD and i would suggest putting the HTPC to S3 sleep and wake up via USB?
$539AR
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July 31, 2012 4:15:14 PM

batuchka said:
Ok i shall kick things off with a config on the lower side of your budget - no SSD and i would suggest putting the HTPC to S3 sleep and wake up via USB?
$539AR
http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q205/batuchka/Untitled-658.jpg


I think that PSU would be vastly underpowered for connecting to any sort of GPU. It's a good PSU no question - but underpowered.

I'd suggest something like this: PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3450 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77-DS3H ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($43.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card ($164.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($64.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair 600W ATX12V Power Supply ($61.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $653.90
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-07-31 12:07 EDT-0400)

This build gives you a bit more room for future expansion.
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July 31, 2012 4:37:10 PM

Thanks to everyone for the replies. A few thoughts and questions. Please forgive the noob-osity of some of these, my last desktop purchase was a single core Pentium 3.

1) I need a horizontally oriented case to fit in my media stand. Must be shorter than 7". Perfer black to match my other components, but its not a fashion show.

2) Also, I will be using it with my logitech harmony one remote. From what I read, the easiest thing to do is to buy a cheap WMC remote for the USB IR blaster. I recognize that I wont be able to wake my computer from being totally "off" (I believe that is S5?) but that should be a non-issue, it will be on almost all of the time anyways.

3) What kind of performance difference will I see between a dual core and a quad-core processor?

4) Dont I need to add a wireless network card? (sorry if I forgot to mention that in the template)

5) Can anyone provide a ballpark of what kind of gaming performance I would see out of these builds? That is part of where I am struggling, I am waaaaay behind the technology curve, so I dont really understand what the specs will produce in terms of performance.

6) How do I evaluate if a GPU has audio bitstreaming capability via HDMI? This is important to me, is it possible?

Thanks again... great forum!
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July 31, 2012 4:57:55 PM

g-unit1111 said:
I think that PSU would be vastly underpowered for connecting to any sort of GPU. It's a good PSU no question - but underpowered.

I'd suggest something like this: PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3450 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77-DS3H ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($43.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card ($164.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($64.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair 600W ATX12V Power Supply ($61.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $653.90
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-07-31 12:07 EDT-0400)

This build gives you a bit more room for future expansion.



Definately more processing power, but I still need to add storage, so we are looking at the top of my budget.
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July 31, 2012 5:10:23 PM

ptsawyer said:
Definately more processing power, but I still need to add storage, so we are looking at the top of my budget.


You could drop the CPU to the i3-2120 and then add a 1TB hard drive and that would come out to about the same.PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($117.88 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77-DS3H ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.98 @ NCIX US)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($43.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.86 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card ($164.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.49 @ SuperBiiz)
Power Supply: Corsair 600W ATX12V Power Supply ($59.49 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $632.65
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-07-31 13:10 EDT-0400)
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Best solution

July 31, 2012 6:00:40 PM

I know you want Intel, but HTPC and Medium-weight gaming is where a Llano APC completely SHINES!

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A8-3870K 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($114.98 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock A75M-HVS Micro ATX FM1 Motherboard ($69.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($40.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($66.21 @ eCost)
Storage: OCZ Agility 3 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($84.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 6670 1GB Video Card ($64.98 @ NCIX US)
Case: nMEDIAPC HTPC 1080P HTPC Case ($59.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec 380W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($37.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Optical Drive: Lite-On ihes112-04 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($54.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $595.08
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-07-31 13:57 EDT-0400)

quad core processor at 3 GHz, 8 GB of DDR3-1600, 120GB SSD, 1 TB Storage drive. the 6550+6670 in dual graphics approaches a 6770's capabilities (medium-low to medium settings for 1920x1080 in most games -- high for games from before 2009. very demanding games might be low only or need to go to 720p instead of 1080.)


for savings you could eliminate the 6670 (the on-board is sufficient for HTPC needs) and/ore drop the blu-ray drive to just a DVD burner.
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July 31, 2012 8:01:49 PM

g-unit1111 said:
I think that PSU would be vastly underpowered for connecting to any sort of GPU. It's a good PSU no question - but underpowered.


Depends on hardware specified - this same PSU was Toms choice in the 2010 System Marathon in the $500 cat with far more power hungrier hardware
System Builder Marathon, December 2010: $500 PC
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-a-pc-overcloc...
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July 31, 2012 8:07:10 PM

ScrewySqrl said:

Case: nMEDIAPC HTPC 1080P HTPC Case ($59.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec 380W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($37.99 @ SuperBiiz)
for savings you could eliminate the 6670 (the on-board is sufficient for HTPC needs)


More apt h/w for a HTPC hybrid rather than ATX towers that would clutter up/be an eyesore in the living room but with Llano IGP it would be ok if TS is willing to tone down res/settings i suppose
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July 31, 2012 8:18:10 PM

Question on the nMEDIA PC HTPC case... will the suggested Motherboard fit in this case? Also, will I have room to expand the number of drives in the future?

What about cooling for the GPU? I definately want some sort of graphics card.
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July 31, 2012 8:24:09 PM

Yep those cases are meant to house mATX/ITX motherboards and GPUs come with their own fans and the stock GPU cooling is good to go for the most part while the kind of GPU you'd be looking at depends on how high settings/resolution you want to take your games to - by medium gaming i take it that you are fine with toning res/settings or both?
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August 1, 2012 12:42:30 AM

batuchka said:
Yep those cases are meant to house mATX/ITX motherboards and GPUs come with their own fans and the stock GPU cooling is good to go for the most part while the kind of GPU you'd be looking at depends on how high settings/resolution you want to take your games to - by medium gaming i take it that you are fine with toning res/settings or both?


I guess when I say "medium gaming", I am saying that I wont be playing a lot of shooters/FPS/fast action games. Mainly strategy RTS or something like Diablo III.
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August 1, 2012 4:48:59 AM

the llano build will be perfect for that
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August 13, 2012 2:49:09 PM

Best answer selected by ptsawyer.
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