Your Top Picks: Tom's Hardware Forums' Q4 2013 BestConfigs

Home Theater PC

Five Tom’s Hardware forum members entered builds in the Home Theater PC BestConfig this quarter.

In the end, A little bit of blu-ray, a little bit of couch gaming stole the show, earning nearly half of the vote.

Congratulations to A little bit of blu-ray, a little bit of couch gaming for suggesting the build picked by Tom's Hardware's community this quarter! 

Unlike the previous HTPC build, which sacrificed computing power for a TV tuner card, this quarter’s winner went back to basics. The HTPC’s Ivy Bridge-based Core i3-3220 handily beats its predecessor’s Sandy Bridge-based Pentium G860.

A Gigabyte H77M-D3H motherboard keeps things modern with GbE, USB 3.0 connectivity, SATA 6Gb/s and a pair of PCIe 3.0 slots. 

A cheap 8GB set of Wintec DDR3-1600 modules gives the HTPC more than enough memory for living room tasks. A 64GB Adata Premier Pro SP900 SSD serves as the system drive in this machine. Meanwhile, a 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green provides ample room for movies and music, all while keeping power usage low. 

The updated version of hapkido’s same low-profile Radeon HD 7750 from Sapphire is the center of attention, adding mainstream gaming capabilities, accelerated video decoding and plenty of display I/O. In another repeat, hapkido’s Blu-ray burner from LG makes an encore appearance this quarter.



The third hardware choice that carries over from the previous configuration is SilverStone’s MILO media center and HTPC case.

Powering it all is a 360W 80 PLUS Gold-certified power supply from Seasonic, a marked step up from the 300W 80 PLUS Bronze unit featured in last quarter’s winning HTPC.

A little bit of blu-ray, a little bit of couch gaming's setup was priced at $696.08 when it was originally configured. The current prices can be found in the BestConfigs shopping tables.

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  • antemon
    now I'll admit that I'm no expert, since I'm not in any way shape or form, but wtf?

    The office PC has a better GPU than the HTPC? Flashy case for office use. I get that the CX430 is used here since it's a solid PSU, but branded memory?

    1000USD for 'budget' gaming builds? you should at least aim to be a little closer to console prices since we're talking about budget gaming
    28
  • Other Comments
  • SR-71 Blackbird
    That's a nice budget build.
    3
  • antemon
    now I'll admit that I'm no expert, since I'm not in any way shape or form, but wtf?

    The office PC has a better GPU than the HTPC? Flashy case for office use. I get that the CX430 is used here since it's a solid PSU, but branded memory?

    1000USD for 'budget' gaming builds? you should at least aim to be a little closer to console prices since we're talking about budget gaming
    28
  • Hutchinman
    The total for the budget based AMD gaming system is wrong. There is no way in hell Amazon is selling the MSI Twin Frozr 7950 for $105.

    Your system mistakenly links the Amazon page for the MSI AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB. Fix your system Tom's.
    5
  • Anonymous
    budget creep strikes again.

    Is it still a budget PC if it can max out every game you own at 1080p? if it costs a lot of money (relative to the gaming market) and places well in the top 10% of peers?
    8
  • lancelot123
    What in the hell happened to the prices for the Intel Office PC? Says it was originally built for $500, but now it is saying $714. That is a HUGE difference. Not even sure what would be discounted, especially by that amount, unless the CPU was free.
    1
  • Drejeck
    Office PC like that impacts a lot on power consumption, assumed your office goes a lot away from just excel, java-browser administration tools, powerpoint and the likes. That AMD office build is more like a budget multimedia machine with gaming purpose. The HTPC obviously suffer from the case price and thus goes with a lower performance videocard.
    All builds underestimated SSDs and had just an HDD.
    Ok, I get this. There are a lot of hardware prejudices.
    DVD burners in 2013? From what country are you? I spent 4000 euros on my PC and the Asus BD usb3 I got came 6 months later...
    0
  • Sangeet Khatri
    In the Bugdet AMD Based Gaming PC. I would have the || Asrock Extreme 3 board + Corsair 300R + 128GB SSD with a 3GB 7970 || from my build as compared to the || Asrock Pro 3 + Rosewill Case + No SSD with 770 2GB ||

    Also most games now are starting to push more than 2GB VRAM. Hence this is where the extra 1GB RAM of the 7970 would be much more useful.

    Just an opinion..
    1
  • cats_Paw
    MixroATX gaming section:
    40% people chose "AMD" Radeons build... wich happens to use.... an INTEL! :D.

    Toms is starting to be my favorite humor page.
    0
  • bemused_fred
    Anonymous said:
    The total for the budget based AMD gaming system is wrong. There is no way in hell Amazon is selling the MSI Twin Frozr 7950 for $105.

    Your system mistakenly links the Amazon page for the MSI AMD Radeon HD 7770 1GB. Fix your system Tom's.


    Ha ha! Now's my chance!

    Anonymous said:

    Also most games now are starting to push more than 2GB VRAM. Hence this is where the extra 1GB RAM of the 7970 would be much more useful.




    2GB seemed to be fine for 2550x1600 in the gtx 770 review.

    'Grats on your entries, BTW!
    0
  • Yuka
    An office PC would rather have a discrete Video card than an SSD or some HDDs in RAID 0 or 1? For real?

    Other than that, pretty standard choices, which makes them good choices, I guess.

    Cheers!
    1
  • Sangeet Khatri
    The voters might have thought that there are a lot of OpenCL accelerated softwares, hence the 7770 might have some advantage there.

    But seriously speaking, there is 1 in a 100 office PC that would use OpenCL accelerated software. Most of them never go beyond Excel and connecting to the Internet or some Database software. So, 7770 is of no use there.

    I would have liked to see Jinayhvora's build win that one, but nevermind...
    3
  • annihilatorg
    The home theater system won't work. The MILO doesn't support full-height PCI cards and that sapphire card is full-height.
    2
  • rwpritchett
    Anonymous said:
    The home theater system won't work. The MILO doesn't support full-height PCI cards and that sapphire card is full-height.

    The stock photo of the video card used by Tom's is not the model listed in the build. The build uses a low profile card that will fit in the MILO.

    On a side note, the home theater system forum member didn't get credit.
    0
  • g-unit1111
    Anonymous said:
    An office PC would rather have a discrete Video card than an SSD or some HDDs in RAID 0 or 1? For real?

    Other than that, pretty standard choices, which makes them good choices, I guess.

    Cheers!


    Yeah I don't get that one at all. I'd use an AMD A10-6800K, a Samsung 840 Evo (which mine had), and a Bitfenix Prodigy Red (as a tribute to Milton's red stapler from the movie Office Space), also a Seasonic PSU.
    0
  • anbello262
    On page 9, High-End AMD-Based Gaming PC, the writer didn't specify exactly which AMD processor is being used, it only says "the lowest-end FX chip out of the five contenders"
    If you can, specify that please (it IS actually pretty hard for me to look personally on the forum and linked threads, because I'm at the moment using only a 2001 PC, that's a 12 year old PC, so even browsing is hard ._.)
    3
  • ojas
    I wish i could have adjusted the 770's price to better compete with the 280X :(

    But anyway, it's still a good build that got selected, congrats! :)
    0
  • Avro Arrow
    Poor Rafeed. He committed sacrilege (nVidia in an AMD build?) and spent $1200 on graphics when as it turns out, he only got $800-worth (at most) in the end. What a crazy industry this is.
    1
  • Maxime506
    The AMD Office PC looks like my gaming PC instead...(The only difference is that I am using a HD 6970 gfx) For me, if I put up an Office PC, athlon II 250 or celeron / pentium still exceed a little bit of my need. (I found out my laptop's celeron 1007U runs quite fast that's why)

    @anbello262, what's ur configuration of your 12-yr-old rig? I'm quite curious how slow it could be. For now I still have an 12-yr-old laptop which has a Pentium III CPU and 384MB RAM, but I feel it runs still OK (w/ XP SP3 OS)
    1
  • Haravikk
    Does the NAS box really need to cost so much? Three 3tb WD Red's costs about $450, you should be able to get everything else you need for less than that, even accounting for a premium PSU. For example, 12gb is mentioned as being easily more than the last build's 8gb, but did either build actually need that? IMO 1gb of RAM is plenty unless you're determined to run ZFS with de-duplication enabled, though personally I wouldn't. Any decent cheap CPU should be plenty for running ReadyNAS with software RAID which is more than adequate for a solid three-disk RAID-5 set.

    Also, I just don't see the benefit of the case; it's huge for what this machine is. If you were loading up on RAM for ZFS then why not go for a case with lots of external bays? A case with enough 5.25" bays can load hot-swappable back-planes, which would be ideal for expanding/repairing always-on storage, and would seem more reasonable for this kind of price point.

    I guess I'll just have to try to come up with my own offering for the next best configs result =)
    1
  • Patrick Tobin
    Getting kinda sick of not seeing any kind of OS on the configs...
    0