was ready to build an HTPC from parts, but now thinking of buying - AVS Forum
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Old 06-09-2012, 09:53 PM - Thread Starter
jlv
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I'm looking to upgrade my HT setup. I currently have a pair of ReplayTV DVRs feeding a Sony Bravia 46EX700. The Bravia also pulls content off a (remote) media server / NAS via DLNA over gigabit ethernet. The problems here are that the ReplayTVs are standard-def, and playback over DLNA is just the pits (the Bravia doesn't handle media with bit rates > 10000 Kbps very well, and then there are issues with subtitles, forward/back skip, aspect ratio, and many more).

I also have a HDHomeRun Dual network OTA tuner that is currently being used to record from WMC7, running on the remote server. While this does HD OTA, I can't make any use of it for live viewing, and recordings aren't watchable on Bravia via DLNA until I've transcoded them.

While the playback quality of the Bravia for Internet streaming (Amazon Instant Video, plus the occasional Youtube, etc) is OK, the user interface for all of the Bravia widgets is just terrible.


I'm looking for an HTPC to:
  • act as a HD DVR, running WMC7 (or possibly Plex or MythTV)
  • act as a player for content from the NAS (in various formats, some HD, some not)
  • handle streaming from the Internet

I'd like it to have:
  • MCE style IR remote
  • prefer front USB3 (for occasional use of my external drive; but I can always connect it to the server instead)
  • space for an SSD in addition to a hard drive

I currently do not need:
  • Blu Ray player (for the few I have I currently rip to hard disk and playback from there)
  • 3D capabilities (no interest in this at all)
  • gaming
  • an OS or other software (I already have an extra W7 Home Premium. I've got installations of MythTV and Mediabrowser up and running, so I'd just end up reinstalling these on the new system).

The performance needs to be enough to record up to 2 channels (1080i?) from the HDHomeRun while also being able to play back full 1080p without any issues. And the system really needs to be quiet.

After researching (probably for far too long) and digging through various guides (thanks to Assassin, Renethx, and many others), I've come up with several possible configurations. I'm going with an i3-2105 and plan to use the integrated HD Graphics 3000. I'm still not sure if I'd like mini or micro-ATX. (A larger case with the micro ATX means I do not need to buy a disk, as I've a spare 3.5" 1.5T)

Micro-ATX
  • Case: $59.99 Silverstone ML03B (component-style)
  • PSU: $45.99 Antec EarthWatts Green 380W
  • CPU: $134.99 i3-2105 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz 65W Dual-Core, HD Graphics 3000
  • RAM: $29.99G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600
  • Mobo: $89.99 ASRock H77 Pro4-M Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0
  • Drive: none needed (I have a spare 1.5T)
  • Remote: $15 MCE Remote Control + IR reciever
Total $386 (+shipping +tax)

Mini-ATX
  • Case: $79.99 Antec ISK 310-150 Black (PSU included)
  • CPU: $134.99 i3-2105 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz 65W Dual-Core, HD Graphics 3000
  • RAM: $29.99 G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600
  • Mobo: $99.99 ASRock H77M-ITX Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0
  • Drive: $89.99 Western Digital Scorpio Black wd5000bpkt 500GB 7200 RPM 2.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s
  • Remote: $15 MCE Remote Control + IR reciever
Total $451 (+shipping +tax)

Buy option 1
$559.99 ASRock CoreHT 231B Barebone
  • i3 2310M 2.1 GHz 35W HD Graphics 3000
  • HM65 Express Chipset
  • MCE Remote Control
  • Western Digital Scorpio Black 500G
  • 4GB DDR3 1333MHz
  • BD Combo

Buy option 2
$563 Mac Mini
  • i5 2415M 2.3 GHz HD Graphics 3000
  • 2GB
  • 500G drive
  • no USB3, no front USB
  • better remote probably needed

To any of the first three I'd consider adding an SSD as a boot disk (Crucial M4 64GB $80).

My question (and what I'm stuck on) is will the system be quiet and will it be sufficient for the task? These all use near equivalent CPUs, and from what I've read, this should be able to handle the tasks I need.

I have an identical Mac Mini as one of my systems at work. Its the sexiest enclosure and quiet as anything. I know I can utilize the HDHomeRun from MacOS, and I'd probably go with Plex if I got it (if I didn't just install W7 on it instead).

I far prefer the look of the prebuilt ASRock or the Mac to either of the other two cases. I think either will look better near the TV than either of the other two cases. Perhaps I should shop more for an equivalent case. Any suggestions for a case like the ASRock?

Any comments or suggestions appreciated!
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Old 06-10-2012, 05:21 AM
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Ware in Assassins htpc guides did you read that buying a pre built was a good, viable option ?

When time vrs. money and cost of replacing cheaply made parts are all factored in you will loose in the end with a pre built . Fact ! The other option would be to have a pro build you a custom unit suited to your needs that would cost only slightly more than you building it . Of course I am partial to Assassin builds . # 1 He advertises a lot of different possibilities and #2 I have one of his servers that we built together so I think I have first hand knowledge wink.gif

That mini atx build you have listed looks real nice and would for sure serve your listed needs . Picking high quality fans will determine most of the noise levels . I would rather have more fans spinning at a lower speed than less fans spinning at a higher speed .
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Old 06-10-2012, 05:38 AM
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I would include a small system drive for the OS. Either HD, SSD, or Hybrid. Use your 1.5TB drive for media content.
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Old 06-10-2012, 05:45 AM
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+1 . A luxury item but almost a requirement today as the cost of a 64 gig ssd is "stupid cheap" . Still though , you don't HAVE to have it
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Old 06-10-2012, 06:28 AM
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Definitely go DIY. You can get away with an Intel G530 or a G620 in place of the i3 CPU. For what you want it to do the Pentium is plenty powerful enough and a lot less expensive.

Definitely go with an SSD for the OS. Everything else looks fine.
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:27 AM
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Defenitely DIY. Cheaper, better quality components built exactly how you like it.
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:22 AM
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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OK, I'm building. I'm adding an SSD for the OS. The internal components all look like they'll do what I need. I'm stuck on what case to get.
  • I want a system that is quiet and runs cool. (That was what drew me to the Mac Mini). Not absolute silent, but I don't want to hear it from across the room whirling away when everything else is turned off.
  • Front USB3 would be a nice to have, but not necessary.
  • IR window would be very nice to have (if not, then some convenient IR connection)
  • Holds a 2.5" SDD and a 3.5" hard drive
  • No ODD required. If the case has a space for a standard internal DVD, I'd use it (I've got one sitting around). It is very unlikely I'll ever buy a slim ODD drive, so that's totally unnecessary
  • Size mostly doesn't matter. I'd prefer relatively compact. While I can fit something as huge as a Silverstone GD05B, I really do not want anything that tall (almost 6" high). Something 17x13x4 would be fine.
  • reasonable cost (< $100?)

I have a spare 1.5T 3.5" disk, but I could be convinced to buy a 2.5".

Not getting a very tall case trades off on being able to use 120mm fans, and thus (maybe) noise. It's my concern about noise that is holding me back from Silverstone ML03B.

I like something like the Wesena ITX5 - includes PSU, IR window, can fit the two drives I want to put in it. But with that small, I'm concerned I can get everything into it.

Any other suggestions?
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