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A N00b's Budget HTPC-Office Hybrid

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November 16, 2012 9:20:34 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: In the next few days (hopefully some BF or Cyber Monday deals)

Budget Range: $450 before rebates, taxes etc. fo0r the remaining components (probably $200 for the processor, $90 for windows7)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Media streaming (through XBMC) to home theatre, Office, web surfing, torrents, some light video editing, but NO GAMING

Are you buying a monitor: No, outputting via HDMI to AV Receiver for now.

Do you need to buy OS: Yes, probably windows 7 64 bit, unless 8 is significantly cheaper or better

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: No preference

Location: Bellingham, WA

Parts Preferences:
- i-5 3570K
- Motherboard with USB 3.0 and HDMI connectivity
- A case that is attractive
- DVD-R drive doesn't have to be fancy, just functional

Overclocking: Maybe, although I've never done it, nor know how yet

SLI or Crossfire: No idea

Your Monitor Resolution: I think it can pretty much output most resolutions

Additional Comments: would like a case that is attractive and I want the computer to be fairly quiet when functioning as a HTPC.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: Old computer is old and slow, wanna get with the times.

Thanks to Newegg's BF sale, I have already puchased RAM, a SSD, and a PSU based on recommendations. Already had the 3.5" hard drives to throw in there.
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/oGiS
November 17, 2012 12:46:16 AM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($149.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock B75M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Patriot Viper 3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($28.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($103.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced (Black) Mini ITX Tower Case ($37.74 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($15.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($91.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $553.66
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-16 21:44 EST-0500)

Was a bit of a difficult choice between the i5 with HD2500 and i3-3225 with HD4000.
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November 17, 2012 1:15:09 AM

i recommend getting a 64 SSD if you will use it only for OS if for other stuff to get 128.
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November 17, 2012 3:56:31 AM

You don't want to have to deal with shifting software on to other drives etc. 64GB is pretty tight if you have office and some of adobe CS, or pretty much anything else with built-in stock content.
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November 19, 2012 7:50:01 PM

So my current video card should be sufficient, ot should I upgrade to something else with HDMI out?
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November 19, 2012 8:06:21 PM

Your graphics card requirements depend upon the media you will be streaming to the AV receiver and the software you will be employing. You should provide the exact model of the graphics card or it's technical specifications.
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November 19, 2012 8:10:42 PM

Updated OP-scrapped the graphics card and upped the budget. In my N00Bness I forgot that many have integrated processors.
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November 19, 2012 8:26:39 PM

I am assuming you have a PS3 and you are using the PS3 Media Server to transcode the mkv files to play on the PS3. I am curious where your computer is going to be located in respect to your television. It sounds like you will be using your television as an output device for your computer, hence the HDMI output to the AV receiver.

So I guess I'm curious what your whole set up looks like. Are you going to be using this computer as an HTPC of sorts, where its located in the living room and will be used by your primary television, or will this computer serve more like a traditional computer/media server where you are using the PS3 as an extender of sorts.
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November 19, 2012 8:31:39 PM

You are correct. I have a PS3 and an using the PS3 Media Server to transcode the mkv files to play on the PS3. My computer is in a pseudo media cabinet (with my Ps3, xbox, AV receiver, etc.). From the media cabinet I have an HDMI outputting to a TV, and Logitech bluetooth mouse/keyboard, so I guess you'd say I have more of a HTPC set up.

Only reason I bother with the PS3 is it seems to look and sound better than when playing on my 5+ year-old PC.
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November 19, 2012 8:42:48 PM

I would abandon the idea of using the PS3; in the setup you described it is an unnecessary. What I would do is purchase a mid-level discrete graphics card and install XBMC.

I have a dedicated HTPC in my living room and I use XBMC to watch movies, TV shows, and to play music when I have people over. XBMC is a very slick has a very sharp GUI. It plays all of my 1080p mkv files flawlessly using a Radeon HD 4670 graphics card running on an AMD Phenom II 955 BE CPU. (This was my old PC.)

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November 19, 2012 9:15:21 PM

Will a HTPC give me enough room for a SSD and a couple of extra hard drives?
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November 20, 2012 12:35:58 AM

It really depends on the type of case you want to use. You can either use a typical HTPC case or you can opt for a more traditional computer case (as Someone Somewhere listed in his list.) If you do not care much for aesthetics and do not want to strictly adhere to the height restriction of 13", than I would choose a traditional computer case. Usually these will have more room, greater storage capacity, are easier to cool, and are usually cheaper than HTPC cases.

For my HTPC in my living room I have an Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case sitting next to my entertainment stand. The case is black and so is my entertainment stand. When I play emulators on Windows 7 on my projector screen people always ask where the computer is, even though it is quite literally sitting right in front of them. It has six internal drive bays, air intake with the option of adding two 120mm fans to keep the hard drives cool, and plenty of space for an aftermarket CPU cooler (which you will eventually want to get if you are going to be using Handbrake to re-encode your mkv files.)

Everyone's tastes are different, but if I had to build a computer that was going to function as both a HTPC and a computer, I would start with a list like this:

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K Intel HD Graphics 4000 $220 (I am assuming you will be encoding mkvs and building a respectable media library)
Motherboard: ASRock Z75 Pro3 LGA 1155 Intel Z75 $79.99
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 $39.99
Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower $54.99
PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA-380D Green 380 $43.69
SSD: OCZ 60GB Vertex Plus R2 Series SATA II 2.5-inch SSD $54.99
Hard Drive: Western Digital 2 TB WD Green SATA III $109.99

Without the operating system you are looking at $603. With the operating system you are looking at about $700. Someone Somewhere's list had some pretty good components, except I do not agree with the CPU. The Intel Core i5-3470 has lousy onboard graphics. The Intel Core i5-3570K has more powerful onboard graphics.

I would start with the components above, or components that are similar. What I do is create wishlists on Newegg.com and Amazon.com and plan my build a few months out. I set up price alerts on the components I want, and I have Newegg send me their Shell Shockers and daily deals. You can save over a $100 on a new build by going this route.
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November 21, 2012 8:58:26 PM

Updated for parts purchased and modified requirements.
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November 21, 2012 9:47:27 PM

It is going to be tough to build a HTPC under $450 with the Intel Core i5-3570K processor. I am actually in the process of building a complete home theater for my father. I have already built the HTPC for around $400 (I have several Windows 7 keys, so he did not need to purchase an OS). I used a traditional HTPC case because all of the AV equipment will reside in a media cabinet with limited height per shelf. Below is a list of the components:

Intel Celeron G540 Sandy Bridge 2.4GHz LGA 1155 65W $44.99
4 80mm fans $11.44
SeaSonic SS-300ET Bronze 300W $47
ASRock H61M-DGS LGA 1155 $44.99
Pareema 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $18.99
ASUS GT610-SL-1GD3-L Silent 1GB DDR3 $48.27
SilverStone Aluminum/Steel Micro ATX Media Center $57.21
OCZ 60GB Vertex Plus R2 Series SATA II 2.5-inch SSD $59.99
Western Digital WD Green WD20EARX 2TB $87.99

For the price the Silverstone case is excellent. There are mounting holes on the bottom of the case for a SSD, and two additional hard drives can be installed easily.

The grand total is $411.31. If you want you can skip the SSD for now, and just find a good 1TB hard drive. That right there will easily save you $100, which you can put towards buying Windows 7. And remember, you can always upgrade to better components later.
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November 21, 2012 11:20:32 PM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Case: nMEDIAPC HTPC 6000B HTPC Case ($86.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $692.91
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-21 20:19 EST-0500)

This is what I have come up with. Any suggestions on anything but the SSD, PSU and RAM (which are already purchased) are welcome.
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November 22, 2012 6:24:31 PM

Wish I had a Microcenter or Tiger Direct near me.
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!