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Budget HTPC build help

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Last response: in Systems
January 23, 2013 5:34:34 PM

Hey guys, new on tom's hardware hope this forum post follows the rules :) 

Basically I am looking into building a low budget HTPC (less than $400) that will have a 1TB hard drive and be as quiet as possible. The main use will be to stream videos and music on the local network straight from the internal hdd.

The case I'm interested in is the Realan e-mini e-i7
(Requires 17x17cm board and radiator below 54mm)

So what i need is mobo/cpu/cooler/RAM that will fit in this case, stream local 1080p movies without any glitches and cost less than $200!

Lastly I will be getting the 120w power adapter with this so the build needs to run under 120w.

Hope you guys can help


More about : budget htpc build

January 23, 2013 6:09:52 PM

The cheapest and also lowest power option would be a combo CPU/MB with Intel Atom, AMD E350 or AMD E450. My impression from this board is that the AMD options are better for HTPC because of better integrated graphics. I have a netbook with Intel Atom

Here is a Biostar AMD E350 combo for only $60:

As far as I can tell, an E450 combo would give you a slightly higher clock speed, but at almost twice the cost:

According to this, total system power of these is about 35 watts:

I am pretty sure these would work for playback as long as you are streaming locally (ie not from Netflix or similar websites).

The next step up would be AMD A4 or Intel Celeron G540, but 120W might not be enough. I ran a PSU calculator and got 134W minimum, 184 recommended.
January 23, 2013 6:31:34 PM

Thanks for the reply :)  I've had a look at the products you mentioned and i think i've got an idea of what i need the only thing is i forgot to mention i'm in the UK so those particular products aren't avaliable.

I've been looking at the Asus C60M1-I Motherboard

Do you think this will cope ok? and would this fit in a e-mini e-i3?

Seems like it'll be a tight fit (but i read on a review that someone got it in a slightly smaller case than this one) and i'd have to get a 2.5" hdd instead but it'd be worth it if it's possible! :) 

Thanks again!
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January 23, 2013 6:45:34 PM

Just to make you aware, I have an AMD E-450 in my laptop and it can't play 1080P video smoothly. It is OK for web browsing and the battery life/power consumption is amazing but I wouldn't get it for a desktop/HTPC.

You say you're in the UK but your budget is $400? Does that mean £400 or ~£250?

EDIT: This should be pretty good.

Intel Pentium G2100T
2x2GB Corsair XMS3 1.5v 1600Mhz
1TB Seagate 2.5'' 5400RPM HDD
AKASA AK-CC7118HP01 K25 CPU Cooler (extremely quiet and only 29.5mm high)

Total - £217.05 on Scan
January 23, 2013 7:06:35 PM

i used $ because that's what everyone on here seems to be using :p  i meant £250 budget, at the moment i've got a 10 year old computer with ubuntu server installed on it and plex media server which streams videos over the local network fine. I just wanted to build something that was small, low power consumption and looked good.

This will purely be used to store files and act as local media access point so it is unlikely i'll be playing 1080p movies from the actual rig itself, i'm not sure if that makes a difference?

This is what i got so far:

Case: e-Mini i3 E-i3 Mini-ITX Slim PC Case with 120W Internal PSU Board £64
Mobo/CPU/GPU: Asus C60M1-I Motherboard £64
RAM: 4GB Corsair DDR3 1333 £20
HDD: 1tb 2.5" Sata II Drive (i'll probably get a SATA III in the future) £70

Total: £220 including postage :p 

What you guys think?
January 23, 2013 7:09:43 PM

I'll have a look at that build now! looks great :D 
January 23, 2013 7:20:59 PM

Ahh if it's more of a NAS, the E-350 is fine.
January 23, 2013 7:28:39 PM

haha yeh sorry my description was rubbish, i guess it is going to be used as a NAS more then a htpc!

can you tell if the Asus C60M1-I Motherboard will be ok? or is the E-350 much better? (only because i like the idea of a large heatsink and 60mm fans on the case)

January 23, 2013 7:54:32 PM

For a NAS, the C-60 is probably fine. It would be sluggish for even web browsing though I think. I would go for the E-350.
January 23, 2013 8:05:50 PM

Ok mate thanks for the help! :) 
January 24, 2013 4:39:26 PM

That's great i'll be ordering one now then :)  Thankyou for all the help!
January 26, 2013 3:12:42 AM

If you need any help with your E-i3 I have quite a bit of experience with them. I'd like to know what you think of it once you get it.
January 27, 2013 6:54:37 PM

That case won't fit those, It is designed for 80mm fans. It says 80x15mm though, those are quite specific.

Honestly I don't think you will need extra fans anyway, that CPU is only 17W and won't be put under any major strain by the sounds of it. Most laptops have more power hungry CPU's with inferior cooling and still cope fine.
January 29, 2013 1:42:15 AM

The E-i3 and E-i5 take 40mm while the E-i7 takes 80mm fans. The OP in the 5th post changed to the E-i3.

Since the C60M1-I has a passive heatsink, it'd be good to have some air moving across it. My E35M1-I runs pretty warm despite being the same 17W TDP. You can always try it first and see what your temps look like. If you do get them, I would put them in a push/pull setup in the E-i3. That seems to work well in the e-mini cases.

BTW, if you're wondering the standard 60W AC adapter is plenty for the C60M1-I.
January 29, 2013 4:02:40 PM

Ahh fair enough, sorry about that.
February 4, 2013 11:55:43 AM

Ok had an issue with a faulty DC board but a replacement should arrive tomorrow! :) 

The final build is:

e-mini e-i3 case
asrock e350m1 motherboard
4gb corsair RAM
sata II 1tb hdd

for anyone that's interested with this setup there was plenty of room might squeeze in a 60gb ssd for the os in the future!

(if it runs hot ill be adding 2 x noctua 40mm fans)

i'll be setting it up this week so i'll let you know how it goes and if i run into any difficulties :p 
February 4, 2013 11:58:09 AM

also forgot to add the case is exceptional, exactly what i was looking for, great finish and just enough room for my build while still being sturdy, small and stylish! :) 
February 11, 2013 2:38:21 PM

Got the part back and everything went smoothly from there :) 

Got it running as a seedbox to download all my tv shows and store all my home movies automatically

also running xbmc on it with an awesome tool called voxcommando that allows me to navigate through my music etc with voice commands!

it's currently running at 55°c which is a little too hot for my liking and the cpu fans running at 4400 rpm trying to keep it cool haha

so i've ordered the 2 noctua 40mm fans to use in the push/pull setup you recommended :) 

Thanks again for all the help!

If anybody's got any questions or queries just drop me a message and ill try to get back to you!