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Building an NES PC - improvements?

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November 17, 2012 5:20:53 PM

Hello,

I recently got an extra NES case (a story on its own) and I've decided to shove a computer into it. I'm basically looking to do an HTPC-like build that can run some games. My goal is getting TF2 running well, and if possible, Scribblenauts Unlimited.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next month, Black Friday deals welcome

Budget Range: Around $300-$350

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Low-end gaming, emulators, streaming media from main desktop/Netflix

Are you buying a monitor: No

Do you need to buy OS: Yes, will get Windows 7 from university for dirt cheap

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Anywhere is fine, Newegg, Amazon, NCIX, etc.

Location: Norfolk, VA

Parts Preferences: Any non-sketchy brand. Motherboard must be Mini-ITX, it's the only thing that fits in an NES.

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: Main TV is 1366x768, though I will probably take it around to places with 1080p TVs

Additional Comments

Here is my parts list so far:
Case: NES, already acquired. It will need a small fan though.
CPU: AMD A4-3400 2.7GHz Dual-Core Processor ($45.24 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock A75M-ITX Mini ITX FM1 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($19.99 @ Newegg)
PSU: picoPSU-150-XT + 150W Adapter Power Kit ($69.50)
SSD: Waiting on Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals, but something with 128 GB

This is good to go, but I want to see if I can do better. My main thoughts are:

-Should I wait for FM2 socket motherboards? The Trinity APUs are a bit better than the Llano APUs for the price, but FM2 Mini-ITX boards are hard to find. Asus already launched one, but it apparently had BIOS issues. A couple other companies announced FM2 boards but I can't find them anywhere.

-If I stay with Llano, go with the A6-3500 instead? I get a better graphics chip (6530D over 6410D), but a 2.1 GHz triple-core over a faster dual-core. I figured faster cores would be better than an extra one since I'm not multitasking much, but the bump in graphics would be nice. It's also $25 more.

-Go with Intel instead? I've mainly looked at AMD since I heard their integrated graphics were much better than Intel's, but if Intel is a viable alternative I'll look into it.

-Can I go a bit lower with the PSU? I saw some HTPC-focused builds running on 90 W PicoPSUs, but since I'm gaming I figured 150 W would be more comfortable. Though if I can do fine on 102 W, I can knock $15 off the PSU cost.

-Add a hard drive? I won't have a lot of videos stored on it since I can stream from my desktop, and I can be frugal with Steam and whatnot to stay within 128 GB, but I could go with a 60 GB SSD and 320 GB laptop drive for more room at a higher cost.

-DVD drive... I need something to pop out of the cartridge slot :p  . I'll buy one after everything else is assembled to see whether I need a slim drive or if a full size will somehow fit.
November 17, 2012 8:46:19 PM

Quote:
-If I stay with Llano, go with the A6-3500 instead? I get a better graphics chip (6530D over 6410D), but a 2.1 GHz triple-core over a faster dual-core. I figured faster cores would be better than an extra one since I'm not multitasking much, but the bump in graphics would be nice. It's also $25 more.


FM2 motherboards are already here - no need to wait. The A10 is supposedly excellent from what I hear .

Quote:
-If I stay with Llano, go with the A6-3500 instead? I get a better graphics chip (6530D over 6410D), but a 2.1 GHz triple-core over a faster dual-core. I figured faster cores would be better than an extra one since I'm not multitasking much, but the bump in graphics would be nice. It's also $25 more.


No stick with Trinity. The Llano is a lot slower and if you get the integrated graphics get the best you can get.

Quote:
-Go with Intel instead? I've mainly looked at AMD since I heard their integrated graphics were much better than Intel's, but if Intel is a viable alternative I'll look into it.


If you're going to use integrated graphics definitely go with AMD. Intel makes excellent CPUs but the onboard video is terrible.

Quote:
-Can I go a bit lower with the PSU? I saw some HTPC-focused builds running on 90 W PicoPSUs, but since I'm gaming I figured 150 W would be more comfortable. Though if I can do fine on 102 W, I can knock $15 off the PSU cost.


Not entirely sure about that one. I've never built an mITX system before.

Quote:
-Add a hard drive? I won't have a lot of videos stored on it since I can stream from my desktop, and I can be frugal with Steam and whatnot to stay within 128 GB, but I could go with a 60 GB SSD and 320 GB laptop drive for more room at a higher cost.


This is one area where I'd actually say to use a Seagate Momentus. The Hybrid drive will solve both the speed and storage complications.
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November 17, 2012 9:26:40 PM

If you're planning to game from just an APU I would suggest you get the best Trinity processor, search for the review on Trinity, it offered very good gpu performance. You should also consider a mini-ITX mobo that has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, though that will up the price a lot in the end it will be a lot better. I have been eyeing specs and hardware components for quite some time now as I plan to build a mini-itx system myself but am still short on cash for what I have planned.

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November 17, 2012 11:03:19 PM

Trinity it is then. I've been looking at the A4-5300, now I just need a mobo. FM2 mobos are available, but only in ATX and MicroATX sizes.

I already have a USB Bluetooth dongle, so I can use that. As for Wi-Fi, I don't need one at home since my router is on my TV stand. When I take it places, Wi-Fi could be nice. I may just go with USB for that as well, unless USB Wi-Fi is terrible.
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