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HTPC component recommendations

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October 1, 2012 1:56:09 AM

Hello, I've had my current laptop (Dell Inspiron 1501) since sometime in 2006 with the 60GB hard drive. It doesn't do too well when I try to stream videos online, or listen to music while browsing the web. So I would like to try to build a computer and I was told about HTPCs.

I don't have much knowledge about computer components, so forgive me if I use any terms incorrectly or mix crazy components together.

-Hoping to purchase before Thanksgiving, but I don't mind waiting if projected costs will go down for Black Friday (budgeted around $500-600)

-Used for basic day-to-day activities: Web browsing (facebook, video/music streaming, etc.), torrents maybe?, VERY occasional gaming (SC2), occasional photo editing, storage (photos, music, videos).

-Planning to get a TV for this, maybe a 1920x1080 resolution and use HDMI.

-Probably using Ubuntu as OS. No foreseen overclocking/SLI/Crossfire.

-I would prefer a quiet PC and preferrably small to medium form factor. Would like the capability to play blueray (want, not need) and Raid 1.

So far I've decided on the Intel i3-3225 just using the IGPU. I'm stuck on choosing a motherboard. I've checked newegg and filtered my choices down to LGA1155, H77 motherboards. But I don't really know where to go from there. Can anyone give me some popular options/combinations that people are going for? Sorry if this is very vague.

Intel Core i3-3225 Ivy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155 55W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000 BX80637I33225
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LIAN LI PC-V354B Black Aluminum MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
~OR
SilverStone Temjin Series TJ08B-E Black Aluminum front panel, steel body MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(or something similar. don't want LCD display-- don't understand the purpose)

Hard drive: probably two 2TB HDD (for Raid). Not sure which one to go with. Will a 6.0Gb/s vs.3.0 Gb/s transfer rate make a difference with HTPC purposes?

LITE-ON Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA Internal Internal 12X Blu-ray Combo Model ihes112-04 - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Thanks for any help and suggestions!
October 1, 2012 3:52:20 AM

well u would be gaming SC2 with the Hd 4000 and its can also do 1080p videos and some light multi tasking. Looking at the case you choosed this is not a true Htpc.

Htpc are supossed to be Small, Light, low powered enough to play 1080p withtout hicups.

Anyway, Its a good build, Psu is fine, Memory ram is overkill for your use but meh, Memory is really cheap, everything is great, i would rather invest in a entry level video card like a 7750 just for the SC2, but that would add 90 usd to the price.

Now Harddrive, its really of no use to use 2 normal harddrives in raid at this time, even a 60 usd 60gb ssd is faster and you can use it as Os Hard Drive, and get normal hardrives for storage.

The Cases you choosed are good, and stilysh, but i would rather have a good pc than an extremly good looking pc. I recommend this case

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

It has enough room for all your system, 2.5 bays, support big coolers and video cards. You can re use it later. and the best part, Its Cheaper.


On the motherboard side, I would rather get a B75 model, i mean, u get the SSD as an OS DRIVE , and just use 1 2tb Harddrive Sata II as storage no problem.


Remember that ubuntu is a little picky with some drivers if you get it dont get the newer version, its still buggy and as of right now, it dosent accept more than 1 core..... and it maxes it. Waiting for the Fix.
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October 2, 2012 3:12:29 AM

Thanks for your input, chulex.

I think I need to emphasize that I'll be doing VERY occasional gaming, which means like once or twice every couple of weeks. The thing is, my friend bought me SC2 for my birthday and feel bad not playing with him. I'm not a computer gamer and am not building this computer for the purpose of playing SC2. How much $$ do you think I can save by building a system that doesn't try to meet the SC2 game standards? And how do you suggest I change the build? If the cost is considerably less, I may reconsider the option of building a system that will work for SC2. With that being said, that's a reason I didn't even consider a dedicated GPU.

Choosing 8GB of RAM is from my reading in the forums. Everyone says that 4GB is ample for HTPC, but also, many people just say go ahead and get 8GB of RAM because it will only cost a little more-- comparatively, it's only like $5-$10 more. Once I finalize the build, I may just do 4GB RAM if the saving is justifiable.

As for Raid, one of my friends suggested it as a backup solution for my data. I wasn't explained the details, so what I know is only from what I researched :( 
I guess Raid1 was what I was looking at and essentially mirrors the data from one drive to the other? Is there a more cost-effective solution to back up the data in case the drive fails? I'd hate to put all my eggs in one basket.
I understand that people use an SSD drive to have a faster boot time, I was planning on just putting it into sleep mode when not in use. And since they're much more costly, I can't use it to back up all my data. Is there something else I'm missing?

I didn't put enough time into picking a case. I really liked the look of those two. I picked them because they support the micro-ATX build and seemed like they can provide good airflow with the large intake fans while operating at low RPMs to keep the system quiet. Do you know of any other cases that look similar but maybe smaller?

Thanks again for your help!
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October 2, 2012 3:49:04 AM

A common misconception is that an SSD only speeds up boot time. An SSD speeds up every I/O operation from launching programs, navigating menus to starting slideshows. It's what makes an HTPC go from being another PC where you have to listen to the HDD grind away in response to the remote to something more akin to an appliance. I would give strong consideration to a 64GB SSD for your OS and those 2TB drives for media storage.

There are a few HTPC cases that look more HTPC like but can also hold at least a few hard drives.

Lian-Li PC-C50B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Silverstone GD05B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

nMediaPC 1000/5000/7000
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I like Gigabyte motherboards for HTPC since they do not blink the LED in S3 sleep. In the middle of the night you'll appreciate this

GIGABYTE GA-H77M-D3H
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Some alternatives:

ASRock H77M
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS P8H77-M PRO
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Your other components would go nicely with any of these cases and motherboards. The SSD will make all the difference in wife acceptance factor (WAF).

Be sure to budget for a good wireless keyboard/mouse combo and a remote.
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October 14, 2012 2:22:49 AM

well, i'm pretty set on the Lian-Li case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

right now, i'm just juggling between these two mobos.. the people i've talked to are half and half, so that makes it difficult for me to decide. but i guess that also means i can't go wrong with either one?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

i'm going to stick with 8gb ram as mentioned before. and i need suggestions for an SSD-- will a 60gb be enough?
for the hdd, i'm getting the 2tb seagate barracuda: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

also, any suggestions for modular power supplies? the reviews for the case made it seem like it's a necessity.
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October 14, 2012 3:04:48 AM

Thanks!
I actually read that (or a couple) guide when I was still researching on how to build computers! :) 

I ended up changing my build a little bit because I actually want this to be my main PC instead of only an HTPC. Because of this, I decided to invest a little more into the components.
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