New build help needed- Low-end HTPC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
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This build, for the most part, is to replace my ever-increasing cable subscription. I don't need a lot from it that I'm not getting from cable. After reading the information and build ideas that I ran across here, the following is what I'm looking at for my HTPC build. Any cost savings ideas or concerns and suggestions are greatly appreciated:

Operating System: Windows 7 (64 bit)

USES:
Watch TV shows and movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or internet streaming)
Watch local TV via antenna and TV Tuner
Ability to record and playback shows
Access and surf internet via wireless adapter
Windows Media Center compatible
WILL NOT be used for gaming

BUDGET: Less than $500


That's all I'm looking for. I'm leaning toward this build instead of buying a Google TV or other set-top box to save on sites like HULU that won't let you download content for free if it recognizes your system as a set-top. What I've got selected at this point for the build are the following items:

Motherboard ($117):
ASRock E350M1 AMD Zacate E350 (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) AMD A50M Hudson M1 Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

Memory ($20):
Rendition by Crucial 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model RM25664BA1339

Hard Drive ($42):
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Optical Drive ($50):
LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader Model iHOS104-08

Wireless Adapter ($15):
ENCORE ENUWI-N4 IEEE 802.11b/g, IEEE 802.11n Draft 2.0 USB 2.0 Wireless Mini Adapter Up to 150Mbps

TV Tuner ($70):
AVerMedia AVerTVHD Duet - PCTV Tuner (A188 - White Box) - OEM

Remote Control ($20):
Windows 7 Vista XP Media Center MCE PC Remote Control and Infrared Receiver

CASE ($55):
Rosewill RC-CIX-01 BK Glossy Black Steel Cube Mini-ITX Computer Case with 150W Power Supply

Operating System ($100):
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

-------- TOTAL: $489

Thanks for all inputs in advance. I apologize for not using links for these parts. I did put them in but, being a noob here, I'm not allowed to use them yet.
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post #2 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 08:32 AM
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A few thoughts.

Consider Windows 32 bit if you are only going to be using 2GB ram.

Go with this RAM instead. Faster for the same amount of money:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231395

Zacate does not use dual channel so there is no benefit with going with 1GBx2. This way you have that second slot open to add an extra stick later if you want.

I would go with a larger hard drive. There are 2TB to be had for $65 which is money VERY well spent.
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post #3 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 08:56 AM
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post #4 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 09:24 AM
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Looks like a good setup. You might also look into something like PDVD10 for BD playback. Makes things a lot simpler.

BT

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post #5 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I would go with a larger hard drive. There are 2TB to be had for $65 which is money VERY well spent.

Here is a 1.5TB WD Green for $59 & free shipping (after coupon code). That's only $18 more that what you are looking at for an extra TB of storage.

Here is an MSI E350 MOBO open box for $97 + $7 shipping. That'll save you $9 making that extra TB look more appealing.
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post #6 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbbransc View Post

Here is a 1.5TB WD Green for $59 & free shipping (after coupon code). That's only $18 more that what you are looking at for an extra TB of storage.

Here is an MSI E350 MOBO open box for $97 + $7 shipping. That'll save you $9 making that extra TB look more appealing.

Here is a hitachi 2TB for $65 after rebate.
http://www.newegg.com/product/produc...82E16822145475
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post #7 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Here is a hitachi 2TB for $65 after rebate.
http://www.newegg.com/product/produc...82E16822145475

Yeah, I actually already have that in my cart on NewEgg but haven't heard many reviews on it. I know you are a big fan of that Sammy F4 (2GB) for $75. That and the WD drives are all I'm familiar with.
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post #8 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbbransc View Post

Yeah, I actually already have that in my cart on NewEgg but haven't heard many reviews on it. I know you are a big fan of that Sammy F4 (2GB) for $75. That and the WD drives are all I'm familiar with.

Its a fine drive. There are a few people on AVS that have used it without any complaints or difficulty.

I would agree that most 2TB drives are roughly equal. If the Samsung was the same price as the Hitachi I would say to get the Samsung just because I am familiar with it and know its a good drive.

The WD 2TB are good drives as well.

It seems you can say the same about the Hitachi 2TB and Seagate 2TB too.
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post #9 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 11:47 AM - Thread Starter
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I appreciate ALL of the replies. It's a lot of help to me since I don't do this stuff very often. I'm stuck on the 32 Vs 64 bit Windows 7, though. I feel like 32 bit is aging quickly. I've tried Googling this issue and come away with a pretty even split on who prefers which in their (less than 4 GB) HTPC. Can anyone help me out more on this? Since both are the same price, I'm leaning toward 64 but not at all sure. Thanks!

Mark
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post #10 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 11:49 AM
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Get 4 GB RAM.
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post #11 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
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I should probably know but haven't found an answer. Can you tell me why 64 bit is a problem with 2GB?
Thanks
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post #12 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 12:09 PM
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I like 64 bit personally but only if you go with 4GB RAM.

Most people have no conflict issues with 64 bit systems but with that being said I think it is generally accepted on here that 32 bit have even less potential hardware/software conflicts.

With a 32 bit system it will only see 3.2-3.3 GB of the 4GB RAM.

BTW - The $15 you will spend to increase from 2GB to 4GB will be the best $15 that you spend on that whole system. I have used both on my HTPC and everything loads noticeably quicker with 4GB RAM.
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post #13 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark9199 View Post

I should probably know but haven't found an answer. Can you tell me why 64 bit is a problem with 2GB?
Thanks

Not a problem at all. See above post.
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post #14 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm still missing why 2GB is a problem with 64 bit but I'll take your word for it and up it to 4. But the curiosity is still there. Thanks, Assassin.
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post #15 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Here is a hitachi 2TB for $65 after rebate.
http://www.newegg.com/product/produc...82E16822145475

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbbransc View Post

Yeah, I actually already have that in my cart on NewEgg but haven't heard many reviews on it. I know you are a big fan of that Sammy F4 (2GB) for $75. That and the WD drives are all I'm familiar with.

I have four of those Hitachi drives, none of which were DOA and so far haven't had any problems with them but of course I've only had them for a few weeks.

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post #16 of 44 Old 03-29-2011, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark9199 View Post

I'm still missing why 2GB is a problem with 64 bit but I'll take your word for it and up it to 4. But the curiosity is still there. Thanks, Assassin.

It's not a problem, it's a waste. The main reason to move to 64bit is to be able to use more than 4gb of ram. With only 2gb, there is no diff between 32bit and 64bit. Of course, if you plan to exceed 4gb in the near future, then it fine.

BT

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post #17 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 01:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark9199 View Post

I'm still missing why 2GB is a problem with 64 bit but I'll take your word for it and up it to 4. But the curiosity is still there. Thanks, Assassin.

In the simplest terms, 32-bit can't utilise larger memory sizes whilst 64 bit can.

If you used 32 bit then you'd be wasting part of your 4Gb because Windows wouldn't "see" it

I agree, adding extra memory offers THE best performance improvement for money spent on it

Memory is so cheap now, 2Gb modules are only a little more expensive than 1Gb ones, so 4Gb is very much the thing to go for

Just get 2x2Gb as a matched pair.

This config is so common you can often buy them together at a discount
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post #18 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 06:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for 32 Vs 64 bit explanations. I understand better now.

Based on everyone's suggestions, I've modded my build as follows. Yes, you guys... you busted my budget. But I agree it's a little more money well spent. Thanks again for all the help.

Motherboard ($117):
ASRock E350M1 AMD Zacate E350 (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) AMD A50M Hudson M1 Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

Memory ($41):
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9S-4GBRL

Hard Drive ($65 With rebate):
HITACHI Deskstar 5K3000 HDS5C3020ALA632 (0F12117) 2TB 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

Optical Drive ($48 With rebate):
LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader Model iHOS104-08

Wireless Adapter ($16):
ENCORE ENUWI-N4 IEEE 802.11b/g, IEEE 802.11n Draft 2.0 USB 2.0 Wireless Mini Adapter Up to 150Mbps

TV Tuner ($70):
AVerMedia AVerTVHD Duet - PCTV Tuner (A188 - White Box) - OEM

Remote Control ($19):
Windows 7 Vista XP Media Center MCE PC Remote Control and Infrared Receiver

CASE ($55):
Rosewill RC-CIX-01 BK Glossy Black Steel Cube Mini-ITX Computer Case with 150W Power Supply

Operating System ($100):
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

-------- TOTAL: $531

I'll post again if there ends up being any issues with this build. I'm planning on ordering the parts over the next couple of days. Thanks everyone.
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post #19 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark9199 View Post

I'm still missing why 2GB is a problem with 64 bit but I'll take your word for it and up it to 4. But the curiosity is still there. Thanks, Assassin.

It will work even with 1.5 GB but it's not pretty. If the system runs out of RAM, your video will stutter. A 64-bit OS will be a lot more comfortable with 4GB. Even a 32-bit OS would benefit, the system would not see all the RAM but it would see most of it. A 32-bit system needs less RAM to run video smoothly, therefore the advice to run 32-bit if you intend to use 2GB. Keep in mind that integrated graphics "borrow" RAM.
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post #20 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark9199 View Post

Thanks for 32 Vs 64 bit explanations. I understand better now.

Based on everyone's suggestions, I've modded my build as follows. Yes, you guys... you busted my budget. But I agree it's a little more money well spent. Thanks again for all the help.

Motherboard ($117):
ASRock E350M1 AMD Zacate E350 (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) AMD A50M Hudson M1 Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo

Memory ($41):
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9S-4GBRL

Hard Drive ($65 With rebate):
HITACHI Deskstar 5K3000 HDS5C3020ALA632 (0F12117) 2TB 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

Optical Drive ($48 With rebate):
LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader Model iHOS104-08

Wireless Adapter ($16):
ENCORE ENUWI-N4 IEEE 802.11b/g, IEEE 802.11n Draft 2.0 USB 2.0 Wireless Mini Adapter Up to 150Mbps

TV Tuner ($70):
AVerMedia AVerTVHD Duet - PCTV Tuner (A188 - White Box) - OEM

Remote Control ($19):
Windows 7 Vista XP Media Center MCE PC Remote Control and Infrared Receiver

CASE ($55):
Rosewill RC-CIX-01 BK Glossy Black Steel Cube Mini-ITX Computer Case with 150W Power Supply

Operating System ($100):
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

-------- TOTAL: $531

I'll post again if there ends up being any issues with this build. I'm planning on ordering the parts over the next couple of days. Thanks everyone.

Looks like a great build.

Make sure to update us. With PICS if possible.
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post #21 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 05:29 PM
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u guys think 150W psu would be sufficient?? I saw other cases with 350w and 500w for about $50 on newegg..

Here it is
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811121100
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post #22 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by hardrock_121 View Post

u guys think 150W psu would be sufficient?? I saw other cases with 350w and 500w for about $50 on newegg..

Here it is
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811121100

150 watts is plenty.
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post #23 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 05:33 PM
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Not to threadjack but this is what I m considering....


500 GB WD Blue
Kingston 4GB
Biostar h61 mobo
Intel i3-2100 Might find it lower in microcenter
hec htpc case

I already have a windows 7 ultimate..so no need..
Also i ll add a bd reader for $50 later.

bringing total to about $350
No gpu needed...since its i3-2100

I feel i m forgetting something....
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post #24 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

150 watts is plenty.

hmm interesting... whats component should i be using to consider 300w?
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post #25 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
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hmm interesting... whats component should i be using to consider 300w?

Maybe something from 2006?

Or if you were adding a huge gaming video card.

For most HTPCs with integrated graphics, SSDs and/or Green hard drives they will stay well below 100 watts even at peak load.
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post #26 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Maybe something from 2006?

Or if you were adding a huge gaming video card.

For most HTPCs with integrated graphics, SSDs and/or Green hard drives they will stay well below 100 watts even at peak load.

interesting....i never knew that.. i thought even the basic things will end up using atleast 150-200w
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post #27 of 44 Old 03-30-2011, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hardrock_121 View Post

interesting....i never knew that.. i thought even the basic things will end up using atleast 150-200w

Here is a build on another forum that drew 50-60 watts using a kill-a-watt meter at the outlet.
Quote:


Core i3-530 @2.93GHz
Asus P7H55D-M EVO
4GB G.Skill DDR3-1600
250GB 7200RPM system drive
1TB 5400RPM media drive
SilverStone GD02 case
Windows 7 Pro (x86)

Here's another:
Quote:


I just put my kill-a-watt on my new i3 system. Idles at 37-40 watts, I ran Prime95 torture test while also copying files to both hard drives (SSD boot and a 7200RPM storage drive) and it maxed out at 88 watts. I don't have my tuner in it yet (Ceton), and didn't use the BluRay drive, but I'm pretty happy, especially with the idle. Put it into S3 sleep and it's sitting at 1 watt.

Edit: Here's 1 more with a mini-ITX i3 Clarkdale 530 (the Gigabyte H55N-USB3) at peak load and at peak load when OVERCLOCKED. Pretty great numbers.


And just for fun 1 more (and the new Sandy Bridge platform is supposed to be even more efficient)...
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post #28 of 44 Old 03-31-2011, 05:04 AM
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Modern stuff uses a lot less power - unless you're going to use a monster graphics card or something like that.

Only thing I've found with sub-300W PSU's is that they can lack a good number of connections. Especially SATA ones. You might want to check out what PSU comes with that case and what it will power. Sometimes lower power or "supplied with case" PSU's only come with one SATA supply. A simple way around this is to buy molex-to-SATA converters which are easily available and cheap.

It would be, err, annoying to get everything and then find you can't power both the hard-drive and optical drive as it make installing anything kinda tough

When I build my HTPC I plant to take out the whacking great Thermaltake PSU out of my workstation PC and use that - originally I had an eye on gaming and it was on discount - because it has a four SATA leads and six molex plus it's quiet - swapping it with the HTPC's with-case supply
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post #29 of 44 Old 03-31-2011, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nebiroth View Post

Modern stuff uses a lot less power - unless you're going to use a monster graphics card or something like that.

Only thing I've found with sub-300W PSU's is that they can lack a good number of connections. Especially SATA ones. You might want to check out what PSU comes with that case and what it will power. Sometimes lower power or "supplied with case" PSU's only come with one SATA supply. A simple way around this is to buy molex-to-SATA converters which are easily available and cheap.

It would be, err, annoying to get everything and then find you can't power both the hard-drive and optical drive as it make installing anything kinda tough

When I build my HTPC I plant to take out the whacking great Thermaltake PSU out of my workstation PC and use that - originally I had an eye on gaming and it was on discount - because it has a four SATA leads and six molex plus it's quiet - swapping it with the HTPC's with-case supply

Unless you have Windows ISO on a USB stick.

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post #30 of 44 Old 03-31-2011, 08:14 AM
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Good sub-300W PSU's, for small cases, sure. The form factor protects you from overstuffing the case. In a larger case, things can get interesting. I would not trust advertised wattage ratings blindly. They may be overrated by as much as 70% under normal conditions. A good 500W power supply can be as efficient at low loads as a 300W one while allowing for upgrades. It may also be more quiet.
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