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My first HTPC: <$500 performer with room to grow

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January 8, 2013 8:04:40 PM

Hi all,

I'm looking into building my first HTPC. My goal is to use a combination Usenet/SABnzbd/SickBeard/CouchPotato setup, and while I'm more comfortable with Windows, I'm not afraid of Linux. See below for my requirements and a link to a first pass at a parts list. Any and all input much appreciated! Cheers, Bill

Approximate Purchase Date: January 2013
Budget Range: <$500 all-in
System Usage from Most to Least Important:
1. Downloading and viewing content from a Usenet server on my HDTV via an HD receiver
2. Streaming Netflix, etc. to my HDTV
3. Connecting my music library to my Sonos system
4. Replacing my cable box and DVR with a TV tuner and HD antenna (future upgrade, but needs to be accounted for in initial design)
5. Replacing my blu-ray player (future upgrade, but needs to be accounted for in initial design)
Parts Not Required:
I'm looking for advice on what minimum parts I need to obtain a powerful system in my price range; I don't require any bells and whistles above and beyond the above requirements.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: 1. Amazon (I have a Prime account), 2. Newegg, etc.
Country: USA
Parts Preferences: No preference, but I'm slowly developing a liking for AMD A8's and A10's based on what I've read.
Overclocking: Not there yet.
SLI or Crossfire: No idea. You tell me.
Monitor Resolution: N/A; My intention is to connect to my HD receiver via HDMI
Additional Comments: Here is a first pass at a parts list that I just put together based on my initial research. Am I on the right track? --> http://pcpartpicker.com/p/wyl5
January 9, 2013 3:40:45 PM

One quick comment: Don't get that PSU if you go with the ML03B case. It's too long (160mm) if you want an optical drive:



You need a shorter 140mm PSU for that case, combined with one of the shorter optical drives like LiteOn.

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January 9, 2013 7:06:06 PM

AMD A10 and 500W PSU both seem like overkill for HTPC use. From what I have read, AMD's A4-3400 would be sufficient for streaming Netflix, and Celeron G540 if you want to go Intel.
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January 9, 2013 10:39:19 PM

rwpritchett said:

You need a shorter 140mm PSU for that case, combined with one of the shorter optical drives like LiteOn.


Thanks for the catch there. So, it seems like on Newegg the dimensions are measured in inches. Am I looking for a length or width less than 140mm (~5.5")? For example, dimensions for CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 430W ATX12V are 5.9"(W) x 3.4"(H) x 5.5"(L). Would that work for me or is the 5.9" length what I'm worried about?

I'm new at this. Thanks!

Bill
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January 10, 2013 1:25:26 AM

By the way, if you can save some money on the CPU, I would invest the balance in an SSD for your OS. I think it will speed up your system much more than a faster CPU. You won't regret it!
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January 10, 2013 3:20:17 AM

That makes sense...only I did not realize that the case only allows for one HDD. SSD will be great for speed, but will 60GB be enough for storage?

Alternatively, you could get a different case to accomodate both SSD and HDD. This one looks decent and it's in the same price range:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Or something like this in a small tower configuration:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Then you can get both the HDD and the SSD and have your cake and eat it too.
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January 10, 2013 3:41:56 AM

I have a Linksys WRT610N router with an attached external networked HDD. Right now that drive is relatively small, but I plan to upgrade before I fill it up completely.

My theory is that I can have a quite fast HTPC with the SDD holding the OS and necessary software, and then access the network storage for playing downloaded movies and shows. Does that seem like a reasonable approach? If not, I will reconsider.

I have a fully enclosed media cabinet (that I'm very proud of!) that has only a pair of bookshelf speakers on top. So, space is a concern. And so is power draw and heat.

Thanks for the suggestions!
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January 10, 2013 12:04:50 PM

Then yes, that absolutely makes sense. My own system (running Ubuntu) has a 32GB SSD with my storage on a detachable external HDD, since I do most of my downloading and ripping at my office desk. You could use a networked HDD the same way. It's a good solution if you want a case with the HTPC size and look.
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January 10, 2013 2:10:39 PM

Awesome. I'm glad you said so, because I placed the orders last night!

Thanks again.
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!