Your Top Picks: Tom's Hardware Forums' Q1 2013 BestConfigs

Home Theater PC

The Home Theater PC BestConfig had five entries to choose from this quarter.

In the end, hapkido’s $700 “I should upgrade my media PC” beat the $500 Deep Dive by a single vote. The extra $200 in hapkido’s budget was spent on discrete graphics and a TV tuner. Good call!

Congratulations to forum member hapkido for having his recommended build picked by the Tom's Hardware community this quarter! 

Unlike 2011’s HTPC build, which concentrated more on living room aesthetics than functionality, hapkido set out to create a truly capable set-top PC. This build centers on the value-packed Pentium G860, a dual-core chip based on Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture.

An ASRock B75 PRO3-M motherboard provides gigabit Ethernet, so streaming HD content will never become a problem for you cable-cutters out there, while an optical audio output should play well with any high-end speaker system. 

A pair of 4 GB DDR3-1600 modules from Muskin gives this HTPC more than enough memory for any living room task. A 60 GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD accelerates boot-up, shutdown, and app launching, reflecting a marked improvement over the previous HTPC build. Meanwhile, the 1.5 TB Western Digital Caviar Green provides ample room for recording television programming, while keeping power usage low. 

The low profile Radeon HD 7750 packs plenty of punch for media playback. Meanwhile, Hauppauge's WinTV sports dual tuners for functionality comparable to most standard DVRs from your local cable company (sans the monthly fees). A burner from LG provides Blu-ray playback and recording capabilities.

SeaSonic 300W Bronze

This thoughtfully-designed build is concealed beneath SilverStone’s MILO media center and HTPC case, which shouldn’t draw any undue attention in your existing media rack. Powering it all is a 300 W 80 PLUS Bronze-certified power supply from Seasonic. 

This build was priced at $694.90 when hapkido originally configured it. The current prices of hapkido’s “I should upgrade my media PC” can be found in the BestConfigs shopping tables.

  • k1114
    Congrats to everyone!
  • echondo
    That is not a "budget" AMD system...
  • EzioAs
    10451168 said:
    That is not a "budget" AMD system...

    Still within a certain budget. Just not on the lower side for a gaming PC.
  • nevertell
    Why do all the builds use poser ram ?
  • nordlead
    A good thing I don't use these "forum best configs" as guides. It looks like every single one of them was built by a power hungry gamer rather than an economical engineer that builds to meet specific requirements.

    The NAS chosen here has WAY to much space dedicated to the OS drive (driving up costs), and all the benefits of the SSD are lost (you won't be loading new programs off the SSD) except for the low power. But that can be achieved for much less cash with a CF or SD card (or even a USB stick, but I don't care for those since they can easily be unplugged). You also don't need 4GB of RAM in a NAS, nor do you need a fancy case with a window when it will be stuck in a closet. I could shave $150-200 off of that machine no problem and cut the electrical costs, all while serving files via NAS to multiple machines at the same time without missing a beat. Heck, my Atom D525 does all of that at a measly 30W (measured at the wall) along with online backups, and serves web pages at a decent clip for myself and my close friends. Since I'm sure the intent of the 3x 3TB hdds was for RAID 5, you could put that $ towards a 4th and do RAID 10. Or you could put it towards actual backup instead of redundancy.
  • samwelaye
    budget AMD gamer: 1000$. budget intel gamer: 500$. wth is going on here. sure 1000 IS a budget by the definition of it, but this is by no means a "budget" build
  • internetlad
    nevertellWhy do all the builds use poser ram ?
    And what RAM would you suggest, Mr. RAM Expert? What's wrong with brands like Mushkin and G.Skill? They're incredibly popular.

    Honestly, does brand even make a difference in RAM besides warranty? You put it in and it works or it doesn't. As long as you have enough RAM to accomodate what's running, and it doesn't BSOD, I don't really care about the brand.
  • s3anister
    Interesting builds and over all decent. Can't say I agree with the choice of Motherboard and PSU for the High-End Intel build, though. Would have gone with the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5 TH or a similar Asus mobo and a Seasonic PSU myself.
  • g-unit1111
    The name of my AMD Office PC was a quote from Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. "Yeah I'm gonna have to ask you to work on Saturday, Sunday too. We lost a lot of people over the weekend and we need to play sort of catch - up. If you could get here around 9:00, that'd be greaaaaaaaaaaaat."
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    Why would you use the 5800k over the 65w 5700 for a mere office machine? Not to mention the mobo chosen for it has no VRM heatsinks and therefore cannot reliably overclock anyway, making the aftermarket cooler pointless in the first place.