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post #1 of 25 Old 01-07-2010, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello! This is my first foray into forums, so my apologies if my etiquette is not up to par... I am currently looking to build an HTPC and would really appreciate some advice.

I've been doing quite a bit of research over the last several days, and have come up with a list of components I think will work for my application. They are as follows:

-CPU: AMD Phenom X4 9350e Agena 2.0GHz
-CPU Cooler: GELID Solutions Slim Silence AM2 65mm Ball
-Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H
-RAM: G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 800 SDRAM
-HDD: Western Digital Caviar Green WD7500AADS 750GB SATA 3.0Gb/s
-Case: Antec Black M FusionRemote 350 Micro ATX HTPC Case
-GPU: (On-board AMD 785G HDMI)
-Optical Drive: Sony Optiarc 24X DVD/CD Rewritable
-Keyboard/Mouse: Adesso 2.4 GHz Wireless Mini Keyboard w/ Trackball
-OS: Either XP Pro or Windows 7

I will be plugging this system into my Toshiba 46" 720p LCD TV and using an embarrassing audio config(a 5.1 setup is on the list to come).

What I'm looking to get:

-Quiet/Energy efficient (will spend a lot of time on)
-Reliable performance (don't want to be constantly messing with components)
-Good DVD playback (will upgrade to Blue-Ray later)
-Good Hulu Desktop performance

The main reason I'm doing this is that my wife and I are tired of paying $60+ a month for satellite when we only watch a few channels (mainly the major networks and Comedy Central). I know almost all the shows we watch are available online for free, and if not we can rent each season when it comes out on DVD. However, my wife won't approve a big expenditure(yes, she controls the money ), so I'm trying to keep it budget friendly while still getting the performance I need.

Please give any advice/opinions you may have on my selections. I have been out of the PC building game for a while, and I'm finding I have to relearn what's good, bad, and down-right ugly out there in the world of components. Thank you all for your help.
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post #2 of 25 Old 01-07-2010, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I know many of the individual components are listed under other threads, this is nothing groundbreaking, but I really would appreciate it if someone would post an opinion...
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post #3 of 25 Old 01-07-2010, 09:54 PM
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I just built a similar htpc on a little tighter budget, but a lot of the components are the same. Posting from it right now..

CPU - Sempron 140 unlocked to dual core Athlon II 4400e (45nm) OE cooler
HDD - Segate 1.5tb sata 7200
Case - Apex DM-387 MATX
Mobo - Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H
Ram - 2x1GB Gskil DDr2 PC6400
GPU - Onboard 4200HD
Optical - DVD-RW Liteon sata
TV Tuner - HD 650 ATI PCI-E
Wifi - PCI Wireless N (Dont remember the brand)

Did it on a little less than $300 total, pretty darn cheap if you ask me..

For mouse and keyboard I am using a normal ps2 keyboard and usb mouse for setup, and my Iphone with the Air Mouse app for HTPC functions, it works pretty well.

As for performance, I am pleased with the efficency I dont have a killawat meter for it, but the heat it generates is minimal, and plenty of power for Hulu Desktop, running windows 7. and flash 10.1 beta 2. Just getting all of the codecs setup and media center setup with the TV tuner, but so far so good. With the quad core you have more processing power, but for me the dual is enough even with hulu 720p.

DVD playback is great, replaced the case fan with a ball bering unit and it is very quiet, and so far no hickups as far as reliablity, I have not built a computer in 5-6 years and it went smoother than I remember.

You should be good to go with that setup.
LL
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post #4 of 25 Old 01-08-2010, 06:35 AM - Thread Starter
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That's great Bill, thanks. You really do have most of the same components as I do, but mine prices out at about $600, twice what you spent. Can you post some links to your buys so I can see if I can get my price down? I pretty much went with Newegg, as I remember their quality of service to be outstanding, but I'm guessing there are other good retailers out there that I don't know about.
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post #5 of 25 Old 01-08-2010, 07:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragoon8087 View Post

That's great Bill, thanks. You really do have most of the same components as I do, but mine prices out at about $600, twice what you spent. Can you post some links to your buys so I can see if I can get my price down? I pretty much went with Newegg, as I remember their quality of service to be outstanding, but I'm guessing there are other good retailers out there that I don't know about.

Mine's a bit different, but I put together this budget AMD build for around $320

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/Pu...Number=8711669
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post #6 of 25 Old 01-08-2010, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
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That's great. Gives me a couple more ideas to work with, thanks microhedge.
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post #7 of 25 Old 01-08-2010, 09:24 AM
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Well I lied (its the internet right).. I just ran the numbers of what I paid and I spent a shade more than $320 on it with a few extras. The dvd drive and hard drive I got about a year go, so the prices arnt current, I got somewhat lucky seeing the amount of not new stuff I got, but been up for about 16 hours, no problems what so ever.

The attachment has the list of parts and suppliers, I cannot post links since I have less than 3 posts. I also mis typed the ram I have 2 sticks of 1gb ea.
LL
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post #8 of 25 Old 01-08-2010, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Well nevermind then, that $20 extra is a deal breaker...
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post #9 of 25 Old 01-09-2010, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Anybody else care to weigh in? Perhaps with some personal experience with any of my proposed parts? Do they work well, work together, live up to specs, etc?
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post #10 of 25 Old 01-09-2010, 06:47 PM
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I did a mini-ITX build with the following components:
Intel E5300 Core2Duo here
2GB RAM (just some I had laying around)
120GB SATA 2.5in HD (another spare part that was lying around)
Zotac motherboard w/integrated wifi here
This case here
This remote w/built in mouse here
Running Windows 7 w/Boxee, XBMC, ZeeVee Zinc all run great on it, but I mainly use ZeeVee.


Altogether cost me about $260.
I prefer Amazon over NewEgg b/c living in TN I would have to pay 9.25% sales tax...and I am an Amazon prime member, so 2nd day s/h on everything for free. Also, I didn't need an optical drive as I already have a PS3 in the room, so it just seemed pointless.
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post #11 of 25 Old 01-09-2010, 07:05 PM
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My HTPC is alot more expensive than others listed but I use mine for a variety of things. Specs:
COOL MASTER HAF 932
Ultra 1000w psu
Intel i7 920
Intel BOXDX58SO
6 gigs OCZ DDR3 1600
2x 150 gig raptor
2x 1tb Hd's
1x 1.5 tb hd
2x 8800 GTX oc2
LG Blu ray drive
Sony Burner/ dvd-rom
Windows 7 64 bit Ultimate
Built all this for 700 Bones

I'm gonna be getting some intel 80 gig ssd's for 120 and run them in RAID 0 for the i7 rig.
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post #12 of 25 Old 01-11-2010, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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I did a lot of research, and AMD seemed to beat out Intel on most of the graphics tests. Anybody have an opinion on one over the other?
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post #13 of 25 Old 01-12-2010, 12:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Anyone??
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post #14 of 25 Old 01-13-2010, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Alright, well, thank you to everyone who commented. You gave me some good things to consider. If anyone else has the desire to reply, I'll be checking back every so often. I must say, I expected a little more activity from those of you with more knowledge and experience with building an HTPC, like I've seen on other people's forums. There have been over 600 views at this point, with only 5 comments, a little disappointing. Again, thank you to those that have replied, I really do appreciate it.
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post #15 of 25 Old 01-13-2010, 04:52 PM
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Ive been researching on building a HTPC rig, based on similiar specs to yours.
But lately, Ive been looking into the ION based nettop systems.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16883103228

Granted, my rig is aimed at running xbmc....and from what I could gather so far, it seems to run 1080p vids (I think only thru linux for the hardware acceleration) and serve as an all in one solution for the front end. This could be a possible solution for you since you wont be using it as a DVR from your post.

OR you could also hold off and wait for the boxee box to be released....under $200...
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post #16 of 25 Old 01-15-2010, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow, I'm not sure how I missed that little item. It looks like a nice little system. Seems to get good reviews as well, minus a few inevitable lemons. I'll have to think a bit more about that...

Also, who's going to be releasing a boxee system? I looked rather intently at the Dell Zino, its still not off the table as a money saving option, but that's about all I heard/read about.

I am by no means against buying a pre-packaged system, especially since it is usually cheaper. The main thought for my on building a system is that I can get better components that will keep me from needing an upgrade in a year or two to maintain capability. But I definitely still up in the air about it...
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post #17 of 25 Old 01-15-2010, 12:14 PM
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Here's my setup:

nMediaPC 1000B HTPC Case
Antec Earthwatts EA380D PSU
AMD Phenom II X3 705e 2.5GHz CPU
Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H (AM3/DDR3/785g/128MB sideport) MOBO
G-Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1333 RAM
WD 320GB Caviar Blue (AAJS) HDD
Lite-On Blu-ray ROM ODD

What I would change with today's prices:

AMD Phenom II X4 925 2.8Ghz (+$16 over 705e now)
Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H (drop the sideport, save $5)
OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W 80Plus Modular PSU (same prices but +120W and modular)

Or, if I knew then what I know now I would have waited for:

Core i5-650 CPU
ASUS P7H55-M PRO LGA or Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H Intel H55 MOBO

Plus the other stuff, including the OCZ PSU.

* = same as AMD build

BTW, if you want to save a little $$$ go with the stock cooler for your CPU. You can always replace it later if you decide it's too loud. I find the AMD stock coolers I've had so far are up to task for an HTPC (cool and quiet).

 

 

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post #18 of 25 Old 01-15-2010, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
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I was just looking at the Phenom II X3 705e with the Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H. That is quite a step up without much of a cost increase. I've also read that the Phenom II X3 720BE is a good choice, as you can under-clock it to get the 65W rating if you want, or crank it up if you need the extra speed. Is that something you can do with the 925? Or the 945? I must admit, I've never messed with clock speeds before, so I don't know much about it.

Thanks for the advice on the CPU fan, I'll probably just drop it if the stock fan is quiet. When I was building PCs 8+ years ago, stock fans were pretty bad usually. I even had some that would barely keep the CPU cool enough. Glad to hear that has changed.
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post #19 of 25 Old 01-15-2010, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Newegg has a nice offer that includes the 720BE right now. See here.
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post #20 of 25 Old 01-19-2010, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Note on previous post: NO processor fan is included in package. Wouldn't want to miss that little detail!
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post #21 of 25 Old 03-12-2010, 07:20 AM
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This is the setup I'm thinking about now:

AMD Athlon II X2 255 3.1GHz
Zotac GF8200-C-E GeForce 8200-ITX WiFi AM2 DDR2-1066 Motherboard
Kingston HyperX Memory 2x1GB 1066MHz DDR2
Hitachi 1 TB Deskstar SATA 7200 RPM 32 MB Cache Internal Hard Drive
LITE-ON 4x Blu-ray Disc SATA Internal Optical Drive iHOS104
Apex MI-100 Case w/PSU
IOGear Multimedia Keyboard with Laser Trackball and Scroll Wheel, 2.4GHz Wireless
OS: Ubuntu

That puts me at about $465. Also, $350 for the 27" LCD HD display.

I would go with the Athlon X3, but I it's a different socket type, which would necessitate a more expensive motherboard.
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post #22 of 25 Old 03-12-2010, 07:35 AM
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Honestly I'd go with DDR3 and AM3. This would atleast make upgrading in a couple years a lot easier, but saving cash on this build will allow you to upgrade sooner.

If you're planning on ripping dvd's I'd suggest getting a 2TB drive. 1TB of space holds about 125 DVD's. You can always add a drive later when it fillsup though
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post #23 of 25 Old 03-13-2010, 12:06 AM
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Thanks for the feedback. You're right, but I can't even find a AM3/DDR3 ITX motherboard with iGPU and wifi. I could do wifi a la carte, but I've never built an ITX before and I don't know how much room I'm going to have. I'm not crazy about those USB dongles either.

Also regarding the AM2/DDR2, I think the slightly older tech might have more support under Ubuntu, don't know. Whatever, it beats a 1.7Ghz/1GB HP laptop with a noisy-ass fan (with which I am currently rollin').
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post #24 of 25 Old 05-10-2010, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, I built a slightly scaled down version of the system I originally listed(had to appease the wife), with an AMD Phenom X3 chip in a Gigabyte MA785GM-US2H MB, 2Gb G.Skill DDR2 800 RAM, WD Green 500Gb SATA HD, all in a APEX DM-318 Black Steel case. Took me a while to get everything talking, again I haven't done this in a LONG time, but now everything works... Mostly.

I built this thing for cool, quiet operation, but my processor fan literally screams. I went with the advice above to stick with the stock cooler, but so far I am supremely disappointed. Last I checked, my CPU was running around 50 deg C, and my processor fan was spinning around 5000 rpm. Screaming. And here's the kicker, it does this even if I just start surfing the web. It's quiet on startup, then gets ridiculous when I do anything and never slows down after that. I turned on all the power saving settings that the MB gave me, no change. I've replaced the stock cooler thermal paste pad with Arctic Silver, no change. The fan is very close to the top of the case where there is a really nice grate, so its mostly getting air from outside the case. I don't get it, it should be working better than this. At the very least it should slow down when the system is idle, but it just keeps going.

Anyone have any ideas as to what might be wrong here??
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post #25 of 25 Old 05-10-2010, 02:34 PM
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I didn't even think HSF's usually spun that fast unless it is a 1u server fan... Sounds like you don't have that great of ventilation. You can go with a larger fan that will be quieter. It is larger so won't need to spin so fast to move the same amount of air as the OEM HSF.
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