Help me upgrade my non-gaming HTPC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 04-15-2013, 10:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I built this thing back in 2010 with the intention of just watching movies. Now I want to do some light gaming, and want to upgrade this as best as I can.

Parts I'm using from current HTPC:
Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-H55N-USB3
CPU: Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale
RAM?: 2GB DDR3 SDRAM

My case is currently too small and can only hold a 250W PSU. I want to buy a video card, upgrade my PSU, buy a bigger case to hold all of this, and upgrade (or change out RAM). Basically want to maximize my output using the current CPU and MOBO.

This case seems to be able to fit any PSU COOLER MASTER Elite 120.
Instead of upgrading RAM, probably better just to replace it all together and get 8GB total.
I don't really know much about GPUs. I really just want one of the best that I can handle given the current hardware, and make sure it'll fit in a case built for my motherboard.

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 12:44 AM
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One of the smaller (shorter) yet still very decent gpu's is the Zotac 660ti AMP edition.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500268&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleAdwords&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-_-pla-_-Desktop+Graphics+Cards-_-N82E16814500268&gclid=COSLwc7YzrYCFSNyQgodW2wA8Q

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post #3 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 05:34 AM
 
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http://www.amazon.com/Silverstone-Tek-GD05B-USB3-0-Aluminum-Computer/dp/B008J0ZOV8/ref=pd_sxp_grid_i_0_0

Get a micro ATX case instead. The mounting holes for mini ITX match up, so you can still use your current board, while having much greater board flexability in the future.

And yes, my Zotac GTX660 is tiny compared to my Gigabyte GTX660. Super-short. The Ti version is pretty wasteful overkill combined with your current gear. The GTX650 Ti Boost version is probably an even better match.
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post #4 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 06:25 AM
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When I hear light gaming I think of the 650 or 7750. Your 250w psu might be fine for these.

If you let us know what your budget is or what you consider light gaming then we can make better suggestions.
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post #5 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darklordjames View Post

http://www.amazon.com/Silverstone-Tek-GD05B-USB3-0-Aluminum-Computer/dp/B008J0ZOV8/ref=pd_sxp_grid_i_0_0

Get a micro ATX case instead. The mounting holes for mini ITX match up, so you can still use your current board, while having much greater board flexability in the future.

And yes, my Zotac GTX660 is tiny compared to my Gigabyte GTX660. Super-short. The Ti version is pretty wasteful overkill combined with your current gear. The GTX650 Ti Boost version is probably an even better match.

Wow, that's good to know. Kinda hate being restricted to mini ITX cases. Thanks!
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Originally Posted by macks View Post

When I hear light gaming I think of the 650 or 7750. Your 250w psu might be fine for these.

If you let us know what your budget is or what you consider light gaming then we can make better suggestions.

Maybe light gaming wasn't the right phrase to use. I mean, right now, I want to just play games like Super Meat Boy, but I would like the option to play higher end games if possible. By "light" I guess I just meant I don't want to play the newest games on max settings, but there could be a chance in the future that I'd want to play one of the newer games and I simply want it to run smoothly. While I would love to use as much existing hardware as possible, I think I'd be better off just upgrading once and doing it right. So basically I plan to just play some arcadey Steam games, but there is a chance I'd want to play the latest games (just not on the highest settings).
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post #6 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 02:56 PM
 
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"Wow, that's good to know. Kinda hate being restricted to mini ITX cases. Thanks!"

The case I linked to is what I built my recent living room machine in. It is very much the size of a normal audio receiver and laid out in a fantastic fashion. I give it a big thumbs up as a great value if it will fit where you want to put it. It takes a Micro ATX board, a full ATX power supply, and gives you the entire depth of the case for a video card install. I put that pretty small Zotac 660 there, but the much larger Gigabyte 660 would also fit just fine. The only thing that wouldn't fit is the GTX 680 that we have laying around work that I almost snagged before realizing it won't fit in any of my cases.

"there could be a chance in the future that I'd want to play one of the newer games and I simply want it to run smoothly"

I picked a $190 GTX 660 for each of my systems for a reason. They are both paired up with FX-8350s (8-core 4.0ghz) and I find them to be a great sweet-spot. Same memory bandwidth as the $70 more expensive 660 Ti, with 3/4 the GPU performance. Taking Tomb Raider as the current example, it put out a minimum of 50fps at Normal settings when paired up with my Phenom II X4 3.0ghz. Paired with the FX-8350 I dropped in last night it spits out a super-smooth 60fps with High shadows. Turning on the rather intensive TressFX fancy-hair it drops back down to 50fps.

The GTX 650 Ti Boost (note: the Boost version is very important!) is the same card with 4/5 the GPU power. Same memory bandwidth. With your current CPU you'd likely be hard pressed to find much of a difference between a 650Ti Boost, 660, 660Ti, 680, or Titan. You'll be very CPU bound, as I was on my X4 3.0. Drop an i5-3570 with new motherboard in to your system as the next upgrade, and you'll find some pretty nice differences. Anything $160 GTX 650 Ti Boost or higher though and you'll be able to get some very nice 50-60fps gaming, it's just a matter of how high you can crank up the settings. Moving from Low to Medium usually gives some very nice quality improvements. Moving from Medium to High tends to be much less pronounced.

Below the $160 price of a 650 Ti Boost you start to make some pretty heavy sacrifices in rendering. At half the price of a good Xbox though, $160 isn't an unreasonable price for PC gaming.
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post #7 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 07:53 PM
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I have a similar situation. I am thinking about converting my current HTPC to a "gaming" HTPC.

This is my current setup:
Mobo: GigaByte GA-H67MA-UD2H-B3
Case: nMedia 1000b
CPU: Intel i3-2100 3.1 GHz 3 MB Cache
PSU: RoseWill 530W
Ram: PNY 4 GB
Primary HDD: Samsung SSD 128 GB
Secondary HHD: 3 TB Seagate Green (for Data)

To convert it into a gaming HTPC, I am looking to add a EVGA GTX 660. I chose the EVGA because it seems to be the only 660 that will fit my case (maybe).

I am looking to play newer games like Bioshock infinite, etc...

What do you think? Would it be worth the purchase considering I have a PS3 and 360 already? Would the system be too loud with the added card?
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post #8 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darklordjames View Post

"Wow, that's good to know. Kinda hate being restricted to mini ITX cases. Thanks!"
I picked a $190 GTX 660 for each of my systems for a reason. They are both paired up with FX-8350s (8-core 4.0ghz) and I find them to be a great sweet-spot. Same memory bandwidth as the $70 more expensive 660 Ti, with 3/4 the GPU performance. Taking Tomb Raider as the current example, it put out a minimum of 50fps at Normal settings when paired up with my Phenom II X4 3.0ghz. Paired with the FX-8350 I dropped in last night it spits out a super-smooth 60fps with High shadows. Turning on the rather intensive TressFX fancy-hair it drops back down to 50fps.

The GTX 650 Ti Boost (note: the Boost version is very important!) is the same card with 4/5 the GPU power. Same memory bandwidth. With your current CPU you'd likely be hard pressed to find much of a difference between a 650Ti Boost, 660, 660Ti, 680, or Titan. You'll be very CPU bound, as I was on my X4 3.0. Drop an i5-3570 with new motherboard in to your system as the next upgrade, and you'll find some pretty nice differences. Anything $160 GTX 650 Ti Boost or higher though and you'll be able to get some very nice 50-60fps gaming, it's just a matter of how high you can crank up the settings. Moving from Low to Medium usually gives some very nice quality improvements. Moving from Medium to High tends to be much less pronounced.

Below the $160 price of a 650 Ti Boost you start to make some pretty heavy sacrifices in rendering. At half the price of a good Xbox though, $160 isn't an unreasonable price for PC gaming.

Great, that GPU looks perfect for me then.

I think I will go with this case instead. My entertainment center has really narrow shelves and this will seem to just barely fit:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811204030

Now just need a PSU and RAM.

Thanks for all the help guys!
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post #9 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 11:30 PM
 
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"To convert it into a gaming HTPC, I am looking to add a EVGA GTX 660. I chose the EVGA because it seems to be the only 660 that will fit my case (maybe).

I am looking to play newer games like Bioshock infinite, etc...

What do you think? Would it be worth the purchase considering I have a PS3 and 360 already? Would the system be too loud with the added card?"

Make sure to get a GTX 660 with a dual-fan setup. They tend to be a lot quieter than the single blower style fan.


"I think I will go with this case instead."

Before you get the nMedia case, look at where the card slots end, toward the top of the case. Now look at where the six-pin power cable hooks up on the GTX 660 / 650Ti Boost. There is not going to be that much clearance between the top of the case and the card, meaning the supplemental power cable may not fit. In my Silverstone that is very nearly a big problem, but my Zotac card is just small enough, and the power cable is just flexible enough that I was able to fold the wires around just enough. The plastic on the wires is still a bit squished, and it simply would not fit if the difference was another 1/8". I'm concerned that the Nmedia is just too short.


Now to see if we can find a card with it's power connector on the end, for both of you. smile.gif
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post #10 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 11:38 PM
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This If you want modular or this if you don't.

For ram grab something like this or this.
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post #11 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 11:39 PM
 
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I do not see any with end connectors like my old 7600GT and GTS250 had. They seem to be a rare species. There is also only like a single person on the whole internet making a right-angle adapter that is really just some bent wiring and a zip-tie.

Some serious measuring needs to be done before either of you grab a card, or that case. Check reviews to see if 6-pin power was an issue in the case in question.

dpatel - You can pop the feet off the Silverstone I linked to and put thin rubber feet on, if the 1/4" of height is really the deciding factor.
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post #12 of 20 Old 04-16-2013, 11:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darklordjames View Post

I do not see any with end connectors like my old 7600GT and GTS250 had. They seem to be a rare species. There is also only like a single person on the whole internet making a right-angle adapter that is really just some bent wiring and a zip-tie.

Some serious measuring needs to be done before either of you grab a card, or that case. Check reviews to see if 6-pin power was an issue in the case in question.

dpatel - You can pop the feet off the Silverstone I linked to and put thin rubber feet on, if the 1/4" of height is really the deciding factor.

I completely agree. According to nmedia, the maximum height of the heat sink is 4.8". According to EVGA, the height of the card is 4.4". Do you know the height of the secondary power cable connection? A

Also, it should be noted that the nMedia 1000b can only fit cards with a length under 10" which leaves out a lot of 660 cards
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post #13 of 20 Old 04-17-2013, 01:01 AM - Thread Starter
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I'll give the case you recommended a try then, darklordjames. I know it'll be a squeeze for my shelf, which kinda sucks. Didn't really think things through when I bought it.
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post #14 of 20 Old 04-17-2013, 01:36 AM
 
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Tom - I don't know off the top of my head, but you can open up your case to look at your 6-pin PCIe power connector to check yourself. If I were to estimate off of memory, I'd say a bit over half an inch.

Dpatel - Bust out the tape measure and double check. smile.gif It doesn't need any vertical space, but this case does like a bit of space on the sides for exhaust, though you can work around that with rear mounted fans if need be. If its an 18" wide shelf, I'd say you're fine.

Order it from Amazon so that returns are super-easy of you decide it doesn't fit. Newegg is great, but sucks when it comes to returning anything.

I fully endorse these small Zotac cards for tight fits like we are talking about. I just wish that someone made a card with a rear-facing power plug, for these situations.
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post #15 of 20 Old 04-17-2013, 04:18 AM
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http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161426

They still make cards with rear-facing power connections it just isn't as common as it used to be. This card is probably too tall for the nmedia 1000 though.

If you can find a place to hide a desktop case that is another option. I realize this is difficult for a lot of people.
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post #16 of 20 Old 04-17-2013, 11:16 PM
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I did some measuring today and found that the 6-pin PCIe connector needs a little over 0.5" to accommodate the bent wires and plug. This makes the EVGA GTX 660 approximately 1/8" too tall. Are there any shorter cards out there with similar performance?
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post #17 of 20 Old 04-18-2013, 12:03 AM
 
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When I was flipping through the 650 Ti / 660s last night, it looked like they were all the same height in terms of PCB. They all seems to stop a bit over the end bracket height. You may want to look at Radeon 7850/7870 cards with the PCIe power connector on the end, like what Macks linked to. I don't like Radeon drivers at all, so I was trying to avoid recommending one.
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post #18 of 20 Old 04-18-2013, 09:09 AM
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When you stuff video cards into tiny spaces they get loud and hot. A 7850 might be fine in the 1000b, I just really don't know. No fans that can push air to or from the video card makes this look like a no-go to me, you might have to leave the top of the case off to not overheat things. 60mm fans aren't known for being quiet and pushing a decent amount of air.

If anyone has a 1000b with a video card in it then feel free to tell me I'm wrong.
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post #19 of 20 Old 04-24-2013, 05:32 PM
 
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dpatel - Did you end up ordering that Silverstone case? How'd it work out for you?
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post #20 of 20 Old 04-25-2013, 03:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darklordjames View Post

dpatel - Did you end up ordering that Silverstone case? How'd it work out for you?

He posted a similar thread in the htpc forum. I think he can't decide what to do.
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