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New Steambox / Music Server / HTPC

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December 12, 2012 6:24:32 AM

Hi All,

Been reading the forum for a while and thought I would put my first post on and track the progress of my new PC build.

The last one I built, 6/7 years ago, was a full height tower case and at the time a really gaming beast, but then marriage and kids came along and things have changed slightly!

The new machine is going to sit under the TV. Currently a 720p 32" LCD. This will function as the display when it is needed. I would like the machine to be able to power a 1080p TV up to around 42" at a future date.

The PC will mainly be used for a few rather different things. It will not be used much for the internet or office work due to the display being the TV.
Having read an excellent article of Steam's new Big Picture mode I am planning to wirelessly connect an xbox remote and use it for living room gaming. It will also be used to stream music to a Sonos music player and show off photos to the family etc when they visit. So to an extent it will be a media server. A few months after build I aim to fit a bluray player and remove the standalone DVD player.

Restrictions are cost - it needs to be below c. £500 ($800 although with comparable parts this is probably more like $600-$700 as things cost more in the UK!) - visual look of the box (it will be on display under the TV and I have to get it past the wife) - noise, I want it quiet.

Currently I have the following components on my list to buy. I would appreciate an appraisal anyone can give on where the bottlenecks might be and where I might be spending to nil gain for powering a TV.

Case:
Silverstone ML03 £ 55.68
Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4-M Intel H77 (Socket 1155) DDR3 £60.46
CPU: Intel Core i5-3450 3.1GHz £140.42
HDD: 1TB Seagate Barracuda 3.5 inch 7200 RPM 64MB 6GB/S Internal SATA III Drive £58.50 (x2 for RAID1)
GPU: Sapphire HD 7750 1GB GDDR5 DVI Micro HDMI Mini DisplayPort PCI-E Low Profile Graphics Card £83.78 (Restriction of case for low profile card - considering two utilising crossfire)
RAM: Corsair 16GB (2x8GB) XMS3 DDR3 Memory 58.96
PSU: Nexus NX-5000 R3 530W Real Silent 80+ £70

Total Price: £472.12 - 614.40

Price Excludes shipping, Windows 8 Pro with Media Centre, wireless card and an XBox controller and these I already have available (or will have available at build).

Cheers

Josh
December 12, 2012 6:34:17 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: January 2013
Budget Range: £500 - 600 Before Rebates; Before Shipping
System Usage: Gaming, Music Server, Bluray player
Are you buying a monitor: No
Parts to Upgrade: New Build
Do you need to buy OS: No
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon.co.uk for guide
Location: United Kingdom
Parts Preferences: Intel, Micro ATX
Overclocking: No
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: 1280 x 720 (current TV) 1920 x 1080 (future TV)
December 18, 2012 7:01:51 PM

Looking around 16gb may be overkill on the RAM! I think the GPU may be the bottle neck but little choice for low profile cards. Would have two using crossfire overcome this?

Any views on any other parts such as the motherboard?
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December 18, 2012 7:38:58 PM

16GB is a little overkill, and you can do better on the GPU. Lower down to 8GB and go for the Radeon HD7770.

EDIT: Forgot you need low profile. One 7750 should be enough. What sort of games are you trying to play?
December 18, 2012 7:52:24 PM

I think looking around and from what you have said I will drop down to 8gb. Just seemed liked only a small amount more for 16gb but is a waste if makes no difference.

Hoping to play some of the recent big releases, CoD: Black Ops 2, Skyrim etc.

Another option is upping the CPU to an Intel Core i5-3570k 3.4GHz.
December 18, 2012 8:20:08 PM

Well, the CPU wouldn't do much in a HTPC, as its the overclockable version, and you probably wouldnt be overclocking.
December 18, 2012 8:24:21 PM

But isn't HTPC just a name we apply to small slim form factor pcs? I would like it to run current games well. Or because it is only running on a 720/1080p TV is this why it isnt of too much concern?

I could always go with one of the Silverstone LaScala cases which allow full size GPUs.
December 18, 2012 8:29:53 PM

HTPC is kind of a PC that is used for like streaming, videos, and media on a large TV. This might also apply to gaming.

The 7750 would be perfect for 720p, but for 1080p, it would definitely struggle.
December 18, 2012 8:38:53 PM

Hmmm. Really I want a gaming PC in a small case to get it past the wife! A big server case sat next to the TV in a room 12" x 12" doesn't go down too well.

Probably will be 720p for some time so may have to stick with that.
December 18, 2012 9:11:07 PM

Well, as I remember, the 7750 is the quickest low profile card.
December 19, 2012 7:47:13 AM

Just out of interest would 2 7750s using crossfire more adequately power a screen at 1080p?
December 19, 2012 4:48:02 PM

Eh, I don't think it would be worth it, but it would be better than one.
December 19, 2012 6:31:52 PM

A couple of HD 7750's should give similar performance to the GTX 560Ti/HD 6950. Not the best value for money ever but power consumption is still not that high and at least it fits into a low profile case if you get the LP versions. I would max out your case fans to cope with the heat though.
December 19, 2012 6:37:57 PM

Am actually looking at a slightly larger htpc case such as the Silverstone gd05 and going for an HD 7850 2gb. Other than an SSD( which I can't afford) I think this is the bottleneck in the system.
!