New Project- First HTPC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-07-2012, 11:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Over the past week I've realized and decided that integrating a HTPC is going to be the next step in my family's shared entertainment. I've been grinding research, primarily on components, and I've come up with a parts list. I was hoping I could be given some assistance/advice on my preliminary list so that I can ensure I am definitely making the right choices in quality the first time. In addition, it would be valuable to have constructive criticism on my component choices and they're functionality- to be honest I feel that I am overlooking something fundamental.

Expectations
1). Supports 1080p
2). Supports Surround Sound
3). Mass content storage DvD, Music, and Pictures
4). Reliable streaming and downloading
5). TV Accesss
6). DVR capabilities

Part Lists

Case: Antec New Solutions NSK2480
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-Z77M-D3H-MVP
CPU: Intel Core i3 BX80623I32120
RAM: Kingston KVR1333D3N9/46 2x2GB
SSD: Corsair Force Series GT CSSD-F120GBGT-BK 120GB
HDD: HGST Deskstar 7K3000 HDS723020BLA642 2TB
GPU: Asus HD7750 1GD5-V2

I originally intended to integrate a BLU-RAY combo drive but I've since decided not to- I do not own, nor will probably ever own a BLU-RAY while DvD is still out and about. Also I was considering as a sound card.

HT 1 Omega Striker

It is important to note that the case I have my eye on does come with an 80+ bronze cert. 380w PSU. My question with that is should I invest in a higher wattage power supply? At first I am already considering this, there's only 2 SATA connections on the PSU- which is a big deterrent. Any advice towards this?

Also, I want to keep everything as silent as possible. A close friend is recommending the above case due to his experience with it and it's capabilities/quality.

My biggest concern is that I do not know much about the tuners, and I am still researching softwares and proper combinations thereof- any advice/suggestions as to where to get a good run down on that would be great. As far as affordability- I am not too concern about the price tag to an extend- I'm not spending gobs of $$ on this but I am willing to venture outside the comfort zone for quality products that deliver results. It is also important in my design that I compensate for future expansion/upgrade- I may integrate this in the future as a secondary gaming platform as well.

I certainly appreciate any advice given or criticism delivered- I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to learning something new. Thanks in advance! :-)
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post #2 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 12:28 AM
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Get an nVidia GPU 4XX (GT 430 is about $30), a 5XX, or 6XX and hook it up HDMI for video and sound.

My favorite toy
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post #3 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 01:09 AM
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No reason to get a discrete graphics card from the start. Try the integrated GPU first and if for any reason you aren't 100% happy then add a card. I, and many on AVS, use the iGPU and are quite happy. Really not much difference for 1080p and this approach is cooler, quieter and cheaper. Very little downside to this approach.

Second, I have used that case and I agree that it is quiet and well designed. The PSU is Antec Earthwatts which is a very good and quiet PSU. It will be plenty even if you add a card later.
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post #4 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 04:38 AM
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TJ .....

WELCOME TO THE FORUM and very nice of you to share the new project . smile.gif

Just head on up to the "sticky" section and check out some of the guides . They are REALLY good and full of sound info . As you can see , you are already getting some personnel attention from some of the best here . Good luck and post back .

Thanks Again
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post #5 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 06:13 AM
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PSU is plenty big.

No need for a sound card or graphics card, just use the hdmi, or if your AVR doesn't have hdmi today's motherboard multichannel analog sound chips are very good, and the 2120's graphics will be fine. If you decide to game later you can easily add a gaming card then.

Are you sure the PSU that comes with the case only has two sata power connectors? That's surprising, but you can easily pick up molex to sata adapters cheaply.
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post #6 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 06:49 AM
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You should add the capacity to play blu-rays from the hard drive. BRs are so much better picture quaility. I myself play back blu-rays from hard drive at full 1080P and DTS-HD audio. So awsome! smile.gif
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post #7 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 10:05 AM
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The motherboard is overkill, IMO.

 

+1 to what others have said... Don't get a discrete GPU or sound card, the PSU is fine, if it lacks SATA connectors just get a molex-to-SATA adapter.

 

For the noise issue, consider getting a third party CPU cooler and some nice quiet fans. You can do this with all the money we just saved you on the graphis and sound cards ;)

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post #8 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 11:14 AM
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Hi TJ, and Everyone,
I'm also new to the site. Building my first HTPC next week. From what I've read and purchased, I thought I would make a few comments.

I would second opinions that you've got excess computing power in your setup. Unless you want to overclock, or bridge two video cards, you should check out H77 chipsets. They're a lot cheaper and exactly the same as a Z77 except for those two features. I would try foregoing the discrete graphics card as well, unless you want to play games.

I've read a lot of good things about Intel Pentium 600 and 800 series. They have the same HD graphics as your i3, with a much lower price tag. I bought a G850 2.9GHz, we'll see how it works... Another nice thing about these processors, when paired with an H or Z 77 is you're ready for Ivy Bridge down the road.

Have you thought about doing 1 x 4 Gb RAM instead of 2 x 2 Gb? this would be little more expensive, but provide for easier expansion later.

I'm not as familiar with the Micro-ATX format, but if there are some Mobo's with built-in WiFi, that would be a nice addition. This is especially true if price isn't an option. Zotac's are really nice, but pricier boards.

Good luck!
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post #9 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 11:26 AM
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post #10 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TylenolJones View Post

I've read a lot of good things about Intel Pentium 600 and 800 series. They have the same HD graphics as your i3, with a much lower price tag.

Not exactly the same. No 3D. The unnumbered HD graphics in the Pentium and Celeron are considered the same as those in the previous Clarkdale processors, I believe. Although they work fine for an HTPC if you don't need 3D.

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Originally Posted by TylenolJones View Post

Have you thought about doing 1 x 4 Gb RAM instead of 2 x 2 Gb? this would be little more expensive, but provide for easier expansion later.

But then it won't operate in dual channel mode. Now that speed loss is not very significant or noticable, but all else being equal I would always choose the 2x2.
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post #11 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

But then it won't operate in dual channel mode. Now that speed loss is not very significant or noticable, but all else being equal I would always choose the 2x2.

1x4GB = cheaper & simpler upgrades to 8gb!

2x2GB = dual channel

 

From what I've understood, the dual channel RAM doesn't provide much in terms of real-world performance increase.

 

When I recently built my HTPC, 1x4GB was cheaper than 2x2GB, so that's what I chose :)

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post #12 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TylenolJones View Post

Have you thought about doing 1 x 4 Gb RAM instead of 2 x 2 Gb? this would be little more expensive

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevBel View Post

1x4GB = cheaper

Hmmmmmmmmm. . . .


Quote:
Originally Posted by KevBel View Post

From what I've understood, the dual channel RAM doesn't provide much in terms of real-world performance increase.

When I recently built my HTPC, 1x4GB was cheaper than 2x2GB, so that's what I chose smile.gif

Yeah, I actually told you that when you were building your system, but you indicated saving every dollar was the priority, and in your situation, the cost outweighed the very small performance hit. It wasn't worth worrying about.

But as I said, all else being equal, I'd always use 2x2 becuase there is some small performance gain. I certainly wouldn't pay more for 1x4.

To me, the "easier to upgrade" is a red herring. 90% of the time you won't, and memory is cheap and always getting cheaper.
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post #13 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 12:02 PM
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Thanks for the responses Zon2020 and KevBel.

I was not aware of the performance considerations on dual v. single channel RAM. I just bought 1x 4gb, so, that's what I'll to stick with. I at least like the idea of adding an Ivy Bridge i3 or i5 and another 4 Gb of RAM later.

I also wasn't aware of the 3D capability in Intel HD graphics. The G850 is labelled as Intel HD Graphics 2000, however, none of the other Pentiums hold the 2000 name. I'm not worried about 3D anyway.
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post #14 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone! Great to see such positive response.

I will definitely try the iGPU prior to purchasing a dedicated graphics card. Anything to save a buck, and as stated if it doesn't come to par, then the installment would be short and sweet.

As far as the sound card- I was considering connecting my surround system to this. I will explore the HDMI route first and see how that handles. I've not used my TV's inboard audio in awhile but our living room isn't huge so it should work out for now as I learn a little more and get up to speed on customizing my settings as I go.

I'll head to the stickies and give them a read. I'm sure there's more than plenty of info that'll aide in my pursuit.

My wife is pushing for the BLU-RAY, I'm just a creature of habit I suppose so I will probably go with this combo drive my brother is recommending:

LITE-ON iHES212-08

As stated earlier though I am setting up now for future upgrading to a light-moderate gaming platform (the wife enjoys monopolizing the desktop at times), but at the moment I don't want to over-extend my budget for this. Thanks for the clarity.

In regards to tuners, what should I be looking towards, I'll give Fe stickies to read to get a better understanding of the options, but I would really like some insight here as well.

:-)
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post #15 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TylenolJones View Post

The G850 is labelled as Intel HD Graphics 2000, however, none of the other Pentiums hold the 2000 name.

Don't know who labels it thusly; Intel just identifies it as "Intel® HD Graphics" just as it does all the other Pentiums.
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post #16 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Don't know who labels it thusly; Intel just identifies it as "Intel® HD Graphics" just as it does all the other Pentiums.

NewEgg. But, indeed, you are correct. NewEgg has mislabeled it.
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post #17 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 05:19 PM
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If you want an upgrade over the base i3-2100 I would recommend the 2105 over the 2120 for the HD 3000 graphics. The .2 Ghz will not be missed and the HD 3000 will allow you to run madvr albeit at low settings. Aside from the modestly improved picture quality you also get auto refresh rate switching with madvr which is very nice if your display supports 24p. Of course, this all depends on when you were planning to build. With an H77 mobo you're set up for the i3-3225 releasing later this year which features the HD-4000 graphics.

Regarding the audio, I would definitely skip the sound card and go for sound over HDMI if your AV receiver supports it. What exactly are you working with as far as audio goes? Even if your receiver doesn't support HDMI there is always digital S/PDIF toslink audio, just need to make sure you get a mobo that supports it (the one you mentioned in your OP doesn't).
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post #18 of 18 Old 06-08-2012, 05:42 PM
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For tuner recommendations, we need to know a little more about your source. Over the air (OTA) vs. Cable vs. Satellite...
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