First time build HTPC

I currently have an old hp 8330 "media center" computer that never was much of a media center. Well, I came back from vacation and the thing wouldn't start up. I was told that it was most likely the MB. I need a computer for my work so I just went out and bought a new hp for my day to day.

Now my question, can I use the AMD 9500 CPU, 8 G ram, and 2x320G HDs as a start on a HTPC? Im looking at replacing the MB with a used GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H or GA-MA78GM-S2H. Both these boards seem to have the specs to do the job and both seem to be well reviewed. I want to use a BluRay drive to play movies etc so thats part of my current plan. I'm not a gamer at all don't even own a game. Looking to really incorporate into this into my HiFi/Video system. Any thoughts?

BTW, this is all for fun as I have never done this before but would like to learn, gotta start somewhere right.
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  1. Get an Nvidia GTX650 (Trust me, it's worth it.), an SSD would be best, but isn't necessary, and an external audio card. (Also worth it.) Other than that, you should be fine reusing the rest of the parts.
  2. Oh, almost forgot. DO NOT buy used custom PC components. Way too risky. Trust me, buying new is always worth the extra cash, especially with mobos.
  3. You don't need a discreet card. If you can find either of those 785G chipset motherboards they'll be perfect for an HTPC using your existing parts. My old HTPC had a 785G Gigabyte board and it could handle anything you threw at it.

    My only concern is how certain you are that it was the motherboard that blew out on you? It would be a terrible waste of money if you purchased a used board and it still didn't work. Maybe consider selling off the parts you have and put the money towards a new build?
  4. She has a point. And a discrete card will absolutely help, and will greatly lengthen your PC's life.
  5. I have a bit older HP Media Center computer, that I upgraded the tuner to a Silicon Dust HDHR3 Prime (for digital cable using cable card). 3 tuners, HD channels, and I can watch and/or record up to 3 programs at the same time.

    It has an Intel Duo Core processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB WD Black Drive as OS and 1TB WB Black Drive as the recording drive. I use a ASUS Geforce 210 Silent for the video card - which works great for HD video. 2 Standard DVD drives that came with the system.

    I use an XBox360 as an extender, and all works great. Windows Media Center is the main "DVR" application - I also use it to watch DVDs. It does not support BluRay - you have to use 3rd party software for that purpose.

    With your hardware, you should be able to watch/record up to 4 tuners at the same time without an issue. Using separate operating system drives and recording drives are recommended to store data without "pixelation".

    I would recommend using the output video via HDMI into your audio system, then HDMI to the TV. (I use TV sound only - so I am skipping the audio system). If your audio system doesn't support HDMI - see if your TV has the digital audio out compatible with the audio system.

    If you haven't checked out GreenButton - here is the link: http://www.thegreenbutton.tv/forums/viewforum.php?f=7

    Great for HTPC support and programs to use. I would also suggest getting familiar with the tuner's forums as well before you start...reading a bit will save you time...
  6. djdraddy said:
    Now my question, can I use the AMD 9500 CPU, 8 G ram, and 2x320G HDs as a start on a HTPC?

    There's a strong temptation to reuse old computer parts for a new build to save money. But I try to discourage it with HTPCs, media centers, and servers. These systems are going to be on 24/7. Older components use more power. Power costs money.

    A quick Google search says that your CPU will draw 90 Watts idle, 150 Watts under load when paired with the lowest power motherboard they reviewed.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/21/review_amd_phenom_9500/page4.html

    The Sandy Bridge i5 (quad core 95 Watt TDP) server I put together only draws 35 Watts idle, 105 Watts at full load. That's with 16 GB and 4 hard drives which are set to never spin down. A regular i3 with a 55 Watt TDP will do even better. This 3.3 GHz Ivy Bridge i3 system Anandtech put together came in at about 27 Watts when idle, 60-90 Watts under load.
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6674/getting-the-best-out-of-an-ivy-bridge-htpc-windows-8-madvr-and-more/9

    Most of the time the system will be idle so figure a 60 Watt power difference between your system and a new i3 system. 60 Watts * 24 hours/day * 365 days/yr = 525.6 kilowatt hours per year. The average price of electricity in the U.S. is $0.12/kWh, so leaving your current system powered on 24/7 will cost you $63/year more in electricity than the newer system.

    What if you use a i3 laptop as a HTPC, say something which draws 15 Watts idle. That's a 75 Watt difference, so the laptop will save you $79 in electricity in a year. Probably more because the 15 Watt benchmarks include the screen powered on, while you can power it off. Nearly all laptops come with HDMI out now, and the HD3000 or HD4000 integrated graphics is more than enough for 1920x1080 @ 60 fps you want in a HTPC. They're frequently on sale for $300-$350, though a blu-ray upgrade or an external blu-ray drive will increase that significantly.

    In most cases, the extra cost of the electricity alone will pay for buying newer, lower power components. Obviously everyone's finances are different and some people won't be able to afford the up-front costs of a newer system. But newer hardware is almost always cheaper in the long run for things like a HTPC. So if you can afford it, that's the route I would recommend going. (This is also why you want to avoid discrete graphics cards on these systems if at all possible - those will usually burn an additional 50-100 Watts.)

    It's possible to reduce power consumption by aggressively putting the system to sleep and using the Wake on LAN function to make it power up when someone requests a file. But that's always been a bit dodgy in my experience, and it frequently takes 15-30 sec before the system actually responds to network queries. Even spinning down the hard drives adds a 5-10 sec delay to responsiveness.
  7. rwpritchett said:
    You don't need a discreet card. If you can find either of those 785G chipset motherboards they'll be perfect for an HTPC using your existing parts. My old HTPC had a 785G Gigabyte board and it could handle anything you threw at it.

    My only concern is how certain you are that it was the motherboard that blew out on you? It would be a terrible waste of money if you purchased a used board and it still didn't work. Maybe consider selling off the parts you have and put the money towards a new build?


    I believe most of the boards in my old system failed because of surface corrosion. I live directly on the beach in a city called Long Beach in New York, maybe you've heard of it. Well nothing lasts long here and computer components are some of the worst. The processor, heatsink and fan are fine and the two drives are in perfect condition and all work. The MB, Video card, TV tuner card and Power supply are all shot. I just bought the GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H new in the box and I ordered a rather cheap nmedia 1000 case. I'm going to need to pick up a good Blu-Ray drive and power supply but I haven't had alot of time to focus on this project during the last few weeks. Any thoughts on what i should focus on for these last two components??
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