Assassin's Simple/Beginner HTPC Buying Guide - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 15951 Old 01-03-2011, 09:47 AM
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I second all of Assassin's recommendations. Great choices and explanations.
Was that one guy serious about 8gb of RAM for an HTPC? lol.

This whole list may or may not be obsolete in a week, but as prices stand today, this is the list to have.

We should make one of these lists for game playing as well.
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post #32 of 15951 Old 01-03-2011, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tommyboy10 View Post

I second all of Assassin's recommendations. Great choices and explanations.
Was that one guy serious about 8gb of RAM for an HTPC? lol.

This whole list may or may not be obsolete in a week, but as prices stand today, this is the list to have.

Thanks. You have good taste.
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post #33 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 07:19 AM
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thanks for the write up assassin, I am looking forward to creating an HTPC and growing my media collection soon, so this will go a long way to help.

extremely noob question - does this set up include an HDMI out (to the TV for example)? is that built in with the processor or other part? I've never physically put a computer together (and will likely need help when i create my HTPC), so I am not sure how all of the in/out ports work.

Thanks!
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post #34 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by doubledownavs View Post

thanks for the write up assassin, I am looking forward to creating an HTPC and growing my media collection soon, so this will go a long way to help.

extremely noob question - does this set up include an HDMI out (to the TV for example)? is that built in with the processor or other part? I've never physically put a computer together (and will likely need help when i create my HTPC), so I am not sure how all of the in/out ports work.

Thanks!

The motherboard has a HDMI out for you to use.

So basically you connect a HDMI cable to your TV or AV Receiver and the motherboard's HDMI out and i3 CPU sends the video and audio through the HDMI.

That's it. Pretty easy.

If you look at the picture below at the back of the Gigabyte board that I recommended you can see the HDMI out in the middle of the third "column" of ports from the left. There is a digital SPDIF optical output above it and an eSATA port below it.

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post #35 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

BTW I forgot to mention that the lenovo remote frequently (as in just about every month) goes on sale.

Here is the current deal...

Bummer - missed the deal. You seem to be privy to those codes. Any chance you could post here if it shows up again?

TIA!
____
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post #36 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 09:05 AM
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I wouldn't hotlink images to if you want them to last. You should put them to an image hosting site.
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post #37 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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I wouldn't hotlink images to if you want them to last. You should put them to an image hosting site.

These are linked from monster websites such as slickdeals and techbargains. I doubt hotlinking from here hardly makes a dent in how long they last.
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post #38 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 12:36 PM
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So since im int he process and actually have a build similar to your recommendations....

How do you feel about sandy bridge? Is there a really point in switching to it vs the i3-540? obviously mobo choice would suck for the time being but basically is SB offering any real advantages to go for it over the current models?

At ~120 for the new i3's its not much of a price jump so just curious on your thoughts of SB at this point

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post #39 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by velillen View Post

So since im int he process and actually have a build similar to your recommendations....

How do you feel about sandy bridge? Is there a really point in switching to it vs the i3-540? obviously mobo choice would suck for the time being but basically is SB offering any real advantages to go for it over the current models?

At ~120 for the new i3's its not much of a price jump so just curious on your thoughts of SB at this point

Sandy Bridge looks to be a good option if you want (or are going to want) the following:
1. 3D playback
2. HDMI 1.4

You are most likely going to have to wait a few months to figure out what CPU and motherboards are going to be the best.

For me I don't want or need 3D playback so I am just as content with the current i3. And I don't have to wait.
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post #40 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 03:47 PM
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Personally if it were me building right now, I'd try to wait 2-3 months for SB to mature just a bit, in particular Mobo's but I think SB is the way to go and not really any more expensive then current Clarkdale builds.

Just me.

Scott
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post #41 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

There is a digital SPDIF optical output above it and an eSATA port below it.


Not to nit-pick but don't you mean DisplayPort below?
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post #42 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 04:17 PM
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For $600+, I would rather spend the money on a name brand PC and save the hassles. Maybe swapping the DVD-R with a BR-R if necessary. But then it is just me.
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post #43 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Sandy Bridge looks to be a good option if you want (or are going to want) the following:
1. 3D playback
2. HDMI 1.4

You are most likely going to have to wait a few months to figure out what CPU and motherboards are going to be the best.

For me I don't want or need 3D playback so I am just as content with the current i3. And I don't have to wait.

Hmm that is god points. i dont have the 3d tv or receiver so sound slike Sb is more or less a moot point for me. Least in the reviews ive read the i3-540 and SB i3 seem pretty comparable other than those features. Plus if i understand correctly if i wanted to upgrade to 3d in the future i could just toss in a GPU card correct?

PSN- Velillen
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post #44 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

For $600+, I would rather spend the money on a name brand PC and save the hassles. Maybe swapping the DVD-R with a BR-R if necessary. But then it is just me.

Name brand pc? You must be joking.
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post #45 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonscott87 View Post

Personally if it were me building right now, I'd try to wait 2-3 months for SB to mature just a bit, in particular Mobo's but I think SB is the way to go and not really any more expensive then current Clarkdale builds.

Just me.

From what I have read the current chipsets don't support the onboard gpu meaning that you may need to wait until quarter 2 for a motherboard/chipset that is fully capable.

That 2-3 months may turn into 4-6 months which is fine if you need what SB is offering.
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post #46 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

From what I have read the current chipsets don't support the onboard gpu meaning that you may need to wait until quarter 2 for a motherboard/chipset that is fully capable.

That 2-3 months may turn into 4-6 months which is fine if you need what SB is offering.

Well, it seems that is only the case if you want a clock unlocked K CPU which for HTPC needs is unnecessary. Still, I would wait until the Q2 boards start to hit the market as while I think the initial set of boards will be good, they do seem a bit "half baked" when compared to the rock solid boards at the Clarkdale launch a year ago. So it would be worth it to wait.

In the meantime if you need to build an HTPC a Clarkdale system is plenty fine and should last many years since it does everything needed today as it is.

Scott
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post #47 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Name brand pc? You must be joking.

No kidding. Pay twice as much for half as good. There is no hassle in building your own unless the person doesn't know how and doesn't want to learn.

Scott
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post #48 of 15951 Old 01-04-2011, 09:37 PM
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Sorry in advance if my questions sound dumb. I've been using a Seagate Freeagent Theater+ to stream/play my media files to my theater and after reading more on HTPC's feel that the Freeagent is a bit of a cheap waste of money. I'd like to build a budget HTPC and this guide is great, but I was wondering if I could cut corners here and there.

Does the motherboard have to be Asus or Gigabyte? Are there other brands or previous generations with HDMI out's that are still very capable of playing 1080p content? I know its only 59.99 for the cheapest one on your list, but 20-30 here and there adds up quick. Also, can the chipset be non-dual core? This would never be doing anything other than movie playback..no gaming, nothing.

I have a bunch of harddrives already around the house and work. They're probably generic, off brand ones, maybe a WD or two but would any one work?

My biggest concern regarding a HTPC is noise. This will be going into a dedicated home theater, onto a rack, exposed to the room on the side wall. Will I be able to hear the PC going? I know my PC right now is quite loud with the fans spinning and what not. It would drive me nuts to hear anything even half as loud constantly humming in the background. Would the noise be comparable to a laptop? ps3?...or just silent?

Finally, this may sound dumb, but I can plug this directly into the back of my AVR and it should work like a charm without any special setup or hacks, right?

Thanks a lot and sorry for all the questions.
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post #49 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 01:30 AM
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As an idea for a sample build to add to this post.. how about a budget HTPC? The processor price is killing my budget. I'm looking for a motherboard around 100 and a processer in the 50-60 range. I'm an AMD fan, but will do Intel. The processor you have is listed as 114 now, and that's what's killing me.

Thanks!
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post #50 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 04:00 AM
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Nice guide dude, can`t wait to see the outcome, i especially like the pics ideea, gives it a really nice pro look. Keep the good work.
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post #51 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapiozona View Post

Sorry in advance if my questions sound dumb. I've been using a Seagate Freeagent Theater+ to stream/play my media files to my theater and after reading more on HTPC's feel that the Freeagent is a bit of a cheap waste of money. I'd like to build a budget HTPC and this guide is great, but I was wondering if I could cut corners here and there.

Does the motherboard have to be Asus or Gigabyte? Are there other brands or previous generations with HDMI out's that are still very capable of playing 1080p content? I know its only 59.99 for the cheapest one on your list, but 20-30 here and there adds up quick. Also, can the chipset be non-dual core? This would never be doing anything other than movie playback..no gaming, nothing.

I have a bunch of harddrives already around the house and work. They're probably generic, off brand ones, maybe a WD or two but would any one work?

My biggest concern regarding a HTPC is noise. This will be going into a dedicated home theater, onto a rack, exposed to the room on the side wall. Will I be able to hear the PC going? I know my PC right now is quite loud with the fans spinning and what not. It would drive me nuts to hear anything even half as loud constantly humming in the background. Would the noise be comparable to a laptop? ps3?...or just silent?

Finally, this may sound dumb, but I can plug this directly into the back of my AVR and it should work like a charm without any special setup or hacks, right?

Thanks a lot and sorry for all the questions.

No, it doesn't have to be ASUS or Gigabyte. Those are just my 2 favorites and 2 of the best, imo.

You can use a non-dual core CPU but the whole point of the i3 is you can use the integrated GPU for your 1080p HD video and HD audio. If you go this route you will likely need to get a discrete video card which will likely offset the money saved by going with a cheaper CPU.

Yes, any hard drive may work although older drives may be louder which matters a lot with a HTPC.

Yes, you may have to do a few minor tweaks to get the picture just right but for the most part you should be able to plug this into your AV receiver or TV much like a stand alone bluray player.
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post #52 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 10:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cp59 View Post

As an idea for a sample build to add to this post.. how about a budget HTPC? The processor price is killing my budget. I'm looking for a motherboard around 100 and a processer in the 50-60 range. I'm an AMD fan, but will do Intel. The processor you have is listed as 114 now, and that's what's killing me.

Thanks!

To go the AMD route to get all the identical benefits of the i3 CPU you will need to add a discrete video card which will offset any money saved. The i3 is the way to go for multiple reasons.
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post #53 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 10:47 AM
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Not to get into a AMD vs Intel debate but I am just not a fan of the AMD.

And there is no reason to purchase a seperate video card for HD video and audio playback. The i3 can do it all by itself.
Hey Assassin!

Just wanted to thank you for the effort you put into making this thread and for putting me in the right direction.
I'm going to follow your build for my first HTPC and i'm planning to get it put together by NCIX.

I just have a few concerns regarding my needs for this HTPC and parts that were chosen.
Can you recommend a graphics card I could get with this whole setup that will let me play PC games? Would this completely change the build?
I'm definitely looking into an SSD for my main. And a secondary one for all my HD movies etc.

I have about $600-800 to spend. *if being able to game will break the budget then I won't even bother..getting too old to game anyway :P
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post #54 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 10:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey Assassin!

Just wanted to thank you for the effort you put into making this thread and for putting me in the right direction.
I'm going to follow your build for my first HTPC and i'm planning to get it put together by NCIX.

I just have a few concerns regarding my needs for this HTPC and parts that were chosen.
Can you recommend a graphics card I could get with this whole setup that will let me play PC games? Would this completely change the build?
I'm definitely looking into an SSD for my main. And a secondary one for all my HD movies etc.

I have about $600-800 to spend. *if being able to game will break the budget then I won't even bother..getting too old to game anyway :P
I definitely think you can get a card for gaming given that budget. What is your remaining budget for the video card given your other choices?

Edit: Also, I would probably go with the larger Corsair PSU if you are adding a video card.

Edit: Here are a couple of recs for you. I like the ATI 6850 series if your budget allows. These are 2 of the quieter cards...

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 - $165 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814102908


Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 - $180
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814125348
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post #55 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 11:08 AM
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To go the AMD route to get all the identical benefits of the i3 CPU you will need to add a discrete video card which will offset any money saved. The i3 is the way to go for multiple reasons.
Intel has issues with open source decoders like ffdshow DXVA, the MPC-HC ones and XBMC, especially VC-1 playback. Also, no 24p playback.
A HD5xxx series card or a Nvidia GT430 (which also supports 3D Blu Ray with HDMI 1.4) are a better solution IMO.
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post #56 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
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I definitely think you can get a card for gaming given that budget. What is your remaining budget for the video card given your other choices?

Edit: Also, I would probably go with the larger Corsair PSU if you are adding a video card.
I'll have to get back to you on that, i'm at work trying to multi-task haha!
Will give you an update of all the items including links.

thanks for the tip on the PSU!

Off Topic:
I actually just got a laptop a couple of days ago.
It's got an i3-370M @2.4Ghz w/ a dedicated ATI HD5650 and 4GB DD3 Ram.

Unfortunately there's EM interference coming from the left side of the speaker and its already my 3rd unit! (Returned twice for the exact same problem ) and it's really annoying.

Cost me $594 CAD taxes in.

It's a Gateway 15.6
So I decided to scrap the whole idea of getting a laptop and spend money on a HTPC which is probably a better idea!

Edit: Dude you're quick! haha glad to have you around!!!! no lie!!! I just hope NCIX has similar prices as Newegg
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post #57 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 11:20 AM
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To go the AMD route to get all the identical benefits of the i3 CPU you will need to add a discrete video card which will offset any money saved. The i3 is the way to go for multiple reasons.
that's true only if you want HD audio, correct?
otherwise you can just do the cheaper AMD route and not get a discrete vid card.
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post #58 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
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that's true only if you want HD audio, correct?
otherwise you can just do the cheaper AMD route and not get a discrete vid card.
Sure.
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post #59 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Tapiozona View Post
Sorry in advance if my questions sound dumb. I've been using a Seagate Freeagent Theater+ to stream/play my media files to my theater and after reading more on HTPC's feel that the Freeagent is a bit of a cheap waste of money. I'd like to build a budget HTPC and this guide is great, but I was wondering if I could cut corners here and there.

Does the motherboard have to be Asus or Gigabyte? Are there other brands or previous generations with HDMI out's that are still very capable of playing 1080p content? I know its only 59.99 for the cheapest one on your list, but 20-30 here and there adds up quick. Also, can the chipset be non-dual core? This would never be doing anything other than movie playback..no gaming, nothing.

I have a bunch of harddrives already around the house and work. They're probably generic, off brand ones, maybe a WD or two but would any one work?

My biggest concern regarding a HTPC is noise. This will be going into a dedicated home theater, onto a rack, exposed to the room on the side wall. Will I be able to hear the PC going? I know my PC right now is quite loud with the fans spinning and what not. It would drive me nuts to hear anything even half as loud constantly humming in the background. Would the noise be comparable to a laptop? ps3?...or just silent?

Finally, this may sound dumb, but I can plug this directly into the back of my AVR and it should work like a charm without any special setup or hacks, right?

Thanks a lot and sorry for all the questions.
Here is a sample budget build for ~300 not including OS and controllers:

Dynapower ATX Mini Tower with 430W PSU 22.99

Hitachi Deskstar 1TB 3.5" 54.99

Sony DVD-ROM 16.99

G SKill 2 x 1 GB DDR3 27.99

Foxconn H55MX 74.99

Intel i3-540 114.99

Its really difficult to go much lower on a new 1156 CPU. You could go for that Pentium dual core 1156 chip for 15 dollars less, but I really don't recommend it.

2GB may not be future proof but it will get you by right now.

Forget the blu ray if you are looking to save money.

I do have a caveat about the above build. Skimping on the PSU can ultimately lead to problems. Experienced builders should have less problems with the case and MB selection. However if this is your first build, a nicer MB and a well thought out case will make your life much easier. It would be quite a shame to save $100 up front and end up frustrated with a non functional computer.

Any of your hard drives will probably perform adequately. However capacity will become an issue at some point.

With regards to noise, there are many factors that go into this equation. By going with a cheaper case and PSU, you may end up with a louder system. Nicer PSUs have quieter fans or no fans. If loudness and budget are a big concern, I would go with a large cheap case which will make ventilation and component heat less of an issue. With decent ventilation and space the stock cpu fan should not be very loud. Unfortunately, you generally can't get a whisper quiet system and spend an absolute minimum.
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post #60 of 15951 Old 01-05-2011, 11:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k2lounge View Post
that's true only if you want HD audio, correct?
otherwise you can just do the cheaper AMD route and not get a discrete vid card.
Sure.
not all of us have fancy AVR's that do HD audio
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