First time builder seeks HTPC build advice

Hello Community,

I'm hoping to build my first PC. It's possible, if not likely, that this will become a new hobby. I recently became a father and I'm trying to substitute old vices for new, more productive habits.

I've considered replacing our cable tv with an HTPC for a while, but I've always been hesitant because I like to watch sports (any suggestions about reliable sports streaming means would be appreciated also! I realize that a true substitution is impossible.) I'll be picking up NBA League pass for the $99/season - but NFL Sunday Ticket is criminally priced and I won't be purchasing that .

A few weeks ago our cable/internet provider terminated the somewhat tolerable "deal" we were getting. This confirmed my plan to cut the cord and transfer our ISP to a local-reseller.

So, my first PC is going to be an HTPC. At this time I'm probably one step, possibly two, above clueless.

I've been lurking around here as well as some other forums for the past month or so, crash-coursing myself in everything from "what is motherboard" to "what is RAID" to "how could choosing a computer case be such a complex decision." I've read a number of Assassin's guides but haven't yet purchased the package. I expect to do so when I get to the setup/software considerations.

I think I'm looking for either one of two things: a decent rig that can serve as a htpc/storage pc and hopefully allow for some gaming (COD is probably the most intense, I've also always wanted to check out LA Noire, and when GTA V comes out I'd really like to grab that) that I'll be able to upgrade over the years.

At the same time I need a new laptop (my 6 year old Dell Inspiron, to which I've made minor upgrades over the years, is literally falling apart now - but kudos to Dell for making it this far). Between the two systems my budget is 1100-1300.

So, i could either buy a good HTPC/game rig for use on my plasma tv, and a cheapo laptop for browsing/work, or, build a cheaper HTPC and purchase a Y580 for laptop/games (I've considered Sager, but I don't think I know enough gto trust it - plus I'd like better battery life then they can seem to produce.).

I'll be purchasing a second tv within 2 years - would like the PC to serve both. At this point I'm leaning against a file server and looking for an all-in-one.

I'd like to hook up HDHomerun (for OTA sports), but I believe that I'd need an antenna for my roof. This is not feasible until June 2013, so I suppose this is a future interest.

I have a 7.1 surround with an Onkyo receiver and many HDMI in. I'd like to run everything through that and out to my tv. I learned from assassin that I'd like to bitstream audio into the AVR, even though I'm not sure what that means yet, entirely.
- currently I'm just running a 5.1 setup so 7.1 is not required. 7.1 will occur in Jun 2013, when we move out of our apartment into a bigger house.

I have a ps3.

Sorry for yammering on.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within next 1-2 weeks. I'd like to have all up and running by end of month to coincide with us cutting cable. I expect setup/tuning to take longer for me than it would for most, so I'd like to give myself some extra time.

Budget Range: (e.g.: 300-400) See above. HTPC + laptop = 11-1300. Not sure what to prioritize. The below assumes higher-end PC.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Storage, streaming (videos and music), downloading (videos and music), ripping (music), gaming

We stream netflix and I'd like to stream sports games if its possible.

I'd like to be d/l ing and uploading as background processes to the above if feasible - sometimes via bittorrents.

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade: N/a

Do you need to buy OS: Yes
I'd very much prefer to stick with Win7

Please note that if you're using an OEM license of Windows, you will need a new one when buying a new motherboard.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Where possible I'll order from, which also price matches + 25% of difference, and I can pick up locally w/o shipping.

I'm in Western Canada (Vancouver, BC).

Overclocking: I'd set everything on fire.

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: Currently just a 42" 720p plasma. Would like to upgrade within the year.

Tentatively I've put together the following. It's a bit over my budget for a decent HTPC because it only leaves about 400 for the lappy, but maybe the OS and keyboard puts it over the top (which I'll need). Any advice or feedback would be appreciated. Praise it, hate, rip it apart, give it a golden shower, all comments are welcomed and appreciated.

CPU Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core $119.99

CPU Cooler Scythe BIG Shuriken 2 Rev. B 45.5 CFM Sleeve Bearing $29.99

Not sure if this is really necessary.

Motherboard ASRock H77 Pro4-M Micro ATX LGA1155 $104.99

Memory G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 $34.99

Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" SSD $99.79

Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM $139.99

I'd like to add to the capacity over the years. I realize that I don't need the 7200 RPM, but the HDD seems to be best bang for buck right now. I can get same drive 5400 RPM for the exact same price, so I figure I may as well get the 7200. Is the extra power consumption/noise enough to prefer the 5400?

Case Silverstone SST-PS07B MicroATX Mini Tower $78.99

This has been the toughest and most confusing choice of all. I chose a tower because I think it might benefit someone new to the field in terms of assembly, and might allow more/better upgrades over time.

I do really like the idea of a true HTPC case though and alternatively I've been thinking SILVERSTONE Grandia Series GD05B-USB3.0 - which is about $30 more. - 109.99

Power Supply PC Power & Cooling 400W ATX12V $39.88

Optical Drive Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer $69.98

Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) $96.99

This is OEM, which makes me believe that I need a mobo that I want to keep.

Keyboard Logitech K400 w/Touchpad $40.99

Total price: $856.57

Is this at all reasonable for an HTPC that can play non-intensive games and is upgradeable in the future?

Is it best to buy a far more basic HTPC and look for a higher end laptop? (I'm not going to be playing games on the road, if I'm carrying the lappy around it's for work, but I suppose the convenience of possibility is nice).

There's no need for a sound card, correct?

Is it true that I'd need a rooftop antenna to get OTA tv via HDHomerun? I'd really like to add this at some point.

I have no idea what kind of front-end I'd like, yet.

Thanks kindly in advance for all of your/anyone's help!
2 answers Last reply
More about first time builder seeks htpc build advice
  1. Further, anything I'm missing? I realize I'll need a remote. I do need WAF.
  2. About the storage... You really don't need 3tb. Here is what I have in the past recommended as a HTPC. This build doubles as a good computer and a great HTPC. No need for a sound card. This build will also allow for some gaming.
    PCPartPicker part list:
    Price breakdown by merchant:

    CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 640 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($89.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: ASRock 880GM-LE FX Micro ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($59.99 @ Amazon)
    Memory: G.Skill 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($24.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.99 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card ($129.98 @ NCIX US)
    Case: Silverstone GD05B HTPC Case
    Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($55.99 @ NCIX US)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($91.99 @ Amazon)
    Keyboard: Logitech Wireless Combo MK260 Wireless Standard Keyboard w/Optical Mouse ($26.97 @ CompUSA)
    Mouse: Logitech M310 Wireless Laser Mouse ($23.75 @ B&H)
    Total: $633.63
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
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