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post #1 of 36 Old 07-04-2012, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi all...home theater veteran, but extreme HTPC newbie.

I am willing to give it a go, as far as building myself. I have never built a computer, but it seems doable with some online guides. Here is what I am looking to do.

HTPC, that can rip my bluray's to the hard drive, efficiently play them back through HDMI to my receiver which will do the high rez audio decoding. Be able to play Netflix. I will be doing no gaming. I have a keyboard, mouse and a universal remote control. I would need wireless. I am thinking about 2 TB to start, but would like much more room to expand down the road. I would need wifi. Size of case is not an issue at all. Don't need 3D.

Maybe more, but $700 max. Can I do it with ALL hardware and software to make it work?

Any thoughts on what I should get, would be much appreciated!
Thanks
Greg
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post #2 of 36 Old 07-04-2012, 03:08 PM
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Yes, absolutely you can.

See some of the sticky threads here at AVS. An updated version of my sticky hardware guide is now stored over at my blog.


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post #3 of 36 Old 07-04-2012, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Assassin.

Since I don't need 3D, it looks like your AMD Llano build and Clarkdale i3 build would be good bets. Would one or the other be better for what I am looking for, or would both suffice, and go with the cheapest?

Thanks again
Greg
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post #4 of 36 Old 07-04-2012, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redskin View Post

Thanks Assassin.
Since I don't need 3D, it looks like your AMD Llano build and Clarkdale i3 build would be good bets. Would one or the other be better for what I am looking for, or would both suffice, and go with the cheapest?
Thanks again
Greg

I would choose Sandy or Ivy bridge over the Clarkdale.

Either would suffice. Since you asked for the cheapest and don't need 3D that is currently one of the G530/G540/G620 CPUs.


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post #5 of 36 Old 07-05-2012, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redskin View Post

I would need wireless. I am thinking about 2 TB to start, but would like much more room to expand down the road. I would need wifi. Size of case is not an issue at all. Don't need 3D.
Maybe more, but $700 max. Can I do it with ALL hardware and software to make it work?

It is doable, as pointed out above.
WiFi can be easily added with a $10 card, however it will not stream uncompressed Blu-Rays. The bandwidth required for that is not available with current wifi methods.

Do you need a living room style case or will a desktop tower do?
Do you have an OS copy?

If not, factor in $100 for a copy of Windows 7.
You can also check out prebuilt/refurb desktops (off-the-shelf).
Sometimes these work out cheaper than building your own especially when you factor in the cost of an OS.

Eg: A refurbished Lenovo with a Intel G630, 6GB ram, 1TB drive, DVD burner with Win 7 Home is available for $329. You can take the guts out and transfer them into a case of your choice.
There are of course some trade-offs to buying a pre-built PC, but you will save some cash.
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post #6 of 36 Old 07-05-2012, 09:03 AM
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I'm building my first htpc system right now, and so far I've spent about $520 on hardware. That's with a 60gig SSD, a 2 terabyte drive, an i3 2105, 4gigs of ram, and no bluray drive.

Drop the SSD, and use a cheaper processor if needed and you will be well under your budget. Adding a blueray drive will run maybe $60-$80 and adding wifi is cheap as was said before.

Other than a $100 for a copy of windows 7 you might need to spend a little on some blueray playback software, but if you don't need to play the disks you can rip and then play for free as far I know.
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post #7 of 36 Old 07-05-2012, 10:21 AM
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I'd strongly recommend building your own. It is just not that hard and you'll probably end up much more satisfied with the result.

Also, I'd make choosing a nice case one of your first steps.
A well designed case with enough room will make building your HTPC a lot more enjoyable.
Make sure you keep an eye on the umber of internal / external 5.25" and 3.5" drive bays.

Depending on the case you choose you'll probably get either a micro ATX or mini ITX motherboard.
What'll be important here is the number of SATA connections (to allow adding more storage), and the CPU socket. I'd go with Assassin's recommendation of either a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge CPU, so a LGA1155 socket.

After that, picking a CPU, some RAM (4gb should be fine), a SSD (whatever's on sale basically) and HDD is easy!


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post #8 of 36 Old 07-05-2012, 03:00 PM
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To save on money if budget it a primary concern, I'd probably just use a cheap case, which means it won't be a HTPC form factor type case. Especially if this is your first build. It just gives you a lot more room to manage wires and drives. I have a SSD and 4 drives and still have plenty of space for another 4 drives by converting the unused 5.25in bays.

There are some more cost efficient HTPC cases but the ones I've seen can usually only hold 2-4 drives. And even some of the big ones, like the silverstone LC17, people report that if you have to manage a bunch of wires, or have certain cards you need to remove one of the drive bays which removes 2 HDDs.

When my wants and budget conflict and I need to make the choice, I almost always choose functionality over looks.

In the future you could always buy a new case and use the old case for another computer for media storage.

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post #9 of 36 Old 07-05-2012, 09:30 PM
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I used my old Dell mini-tower PC case. I usually save an old PC in case (no pun intended) I need a backup. I figured if I wasn't going to buy a nice HTPC case at this time, and if I was going to buy a small tower & hide it somewhere, I might as well use & hide the Dell case.
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post #10 of 36 Old 07-11-2012, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice guys. I am picking this up again now, and my local Micro Center has some pretty good deals. I am definitely going with a Sandy Bridge. Again, I don't need 3D, nor gaming. Just the ability to rip and play Blurays with HiRez audio streaming. They have a G540 for $34.99 and a Intel BOXDH67BLB3 for $89. Is that a pretty good combo?

They also have some other Sandy Bridge CPU's for some pretty good deals. A LGA1155 Intel I3-2100 for $89.99 (I don't need the 3D), and the G620 for $50. Would all three work well with that Intel motherboard? Any real world advantages I would see in 1080P playback by going with the I3-2100 or the G620 over the G540? I really like that $35 price, but don't want to cheap out with what might be an important component.

Thanks again
Greg
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post #11 of 36 Old 07-11-2012, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redskin View Post

Thanks for the advice guys. I am picking this up again now, and my local Micro Center has some pretty good deals. I am definitely going with a Sandy Bridge. Again, I don't need 3D, nor gaming. Just the ability to rip and play Blurays with HiRez audio streaming. They have a G540 for $34.99 and a Intel BOXDH67BLB3 for $89. Is that a pretty good combo?
They also have some other Sandy Bridge CPU's for some pretty good deals. A LGA1155 Intel I3-2100 for $89.99 (I don't need the 3D), and the G620 for $50. Would all three work well with that Intel motherboard? Any real world advantages I would see in 1080P playback by going with the I3-2100 or the G620 over the G540? I really like that $35 price, but don't want to cheap out with what might be an important component.
Thanks again
Greg

That i3 for $90 is a hell of a deal.


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post #12 of 36 Old 07-11-2012, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redskin View Post

Again, I don't need 3D, nor gaming. Just the ability to rip and play Blurays with HiRez audio streaming.

I don't have assassin experience but considering above my vote will be for G620. I recently built HTPC with G620 and it just fly with SSD.
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post #13 of 36 Old 07-11-2012, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redskin View Post

Thanks for the advice guys. I am picking this up again now, and my local Micro Center has some pretty good deals. I am definitely going with a Sandy Bridge. Again, I don't need 3D, nor gaming. Just the ability to rip and play Blurays with HiRez audio streaming. They have a G540 for $34.99 and a Intel BOXDH67BLB3 for $89. Is that a pretty good combo?
They also have some other Sandy Bridge CPU's for some pretty good deals. A LGA1155 Intel I3-2100 for $89.99 (I don't need the 3D), and the G620 for $50. Would all three work well with that Intel motherboard? Any real world advantages I would see in 1080P playback by going with the I3-2100 or the G620 over the G540? I really like that $35 price, but don't want to cheap out with what might be an important component.
Thanks again
Greg

I've been using an i3-2100 and DH67BL for over a year in my main HTPC. Great combination.

And I paid a lot more for both the cpu and motherboard. Those are great prices for those components.
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post #14 of 36 Old 07-11-2012, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by vkirienko View Post

I don't have assassin experience but considering above my vote will be for G620. I recently built HTPC with G620 and it just fly with SSD.

Agreed. The G540/G620 is probably your best bet since you don't need 3D.


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post #15 of 36 Old 07-11-2012, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyen78 View Post

To save on money if budget it a primary concern, I'd probably just use a cheap case.

Life is too short for cheap HTPC cases and cheap beer (though either on-sale is a very nice thing indeed) smile.gif.

 

 

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post #16 of 36 Old 07-12-2012, 07:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redskin View Post

Thanks for the advice guys. I am picking this up again now, and my local Micro Center has some pretty good deals. I am definitely going with a Sandy Bridge. Again, I don't need 3D, nor gaming. Just the ability to rip and play Blurays with HiRez audio streaming. They have a G540 for $34.99 and a Intel BOXDH67BLB3 for $89. Is that a pretty good combo?
They also have some other Sandy Bridge CPU's for some pretty good deals. A LGA1155 Intel I3-2100 for $89.99 (I don't need the 3D), and the G620 for $50. Would all three work well with that Intel motherboard? Any real world advantages I would see in 1080P playback by going with the I3-2100 or the G620 over the G540? I really like that $35 price, but don't want to cheap out with what might be an important component.
Thanks again
Greg

I use that same board in mine with a G620 and 8gb ram. That board is excellent for HTPC use if not overkill on the available ports since most people dont need to attach much of anything. For me, gigabit LAN was a must have which knocks out all the ~$50 H61 boards, and by the time you do get to decent boards with gigabit lan, your at about $75 (at that time), so what did it for me was for only $10 more, that DH67BL has intel LAN vs Realtek and the like which is worth it just for that IMO, as well as a nice selection of available ports (that admittantly I will never use most of) vs competition. I've been quite happy with that board.
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post #17 of 36 Old 07-12-2012, 07:39 AM
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It is doable, as pointed out above.
WiFi can be easily added with a $10 card, however it will not stream uncompressed Blu-Rays. The bandwidth required for that is not available with current wifi methods.

What speeds can you get with a WIFI card?

like how does it translate in MB/Sec ??

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post #18 of 36 Old 07-12-2012, 11:46 AM
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Wifi speeds are dictated by many environmental factors. I've read one article from a TrendNet engineer who said realistically you can only ever expect 1/3 to 1/2 of the rated " theoretical" speed. Even with that being said its not a consistent speed that you can rely on.
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post #19 of 36 Old 07-12-2012, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Next question is around SSD drives. How big of a difference does it make? I read about boot up times, but what if you keep the HTPC on 24/7...does it make a difference in usage? I am playing with funds, and trying to figure out compromises, as I can't pick up everything at once. I am debating getting 2 of the 2 TB drives to house all of my movies, and maybe adding a SSD later, or not at all. Am I correct in figuring about 40 bluray movies per TB? Also, would you go with the G540 and be able to add in more things, like the SSD and the extra hard drives, or is it better to go with the better CPU, the I3 and forgo the SSD?

I know, a lot of questions, but you guys are so helpful.
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post #20 of 36 Old 07-12-2012, 09:10 PM
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Get a 120 GB SSD for under $100 now. Get 1 2TB drive to start with. Add another data drive later. It will make you happy.
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post #21 of 36 Old 07-12-2012, 09:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redskin View Post

Next question is around SSD drives. How big of a difference does it make? I read about boot up times, but what if you keep the HTPC on 24/7...does it make a difference in usage?

Yes, it does. Everything is snappy with an SSD.

Quote:
I am playing with funds, and trying to figure out compromises, as I can't pick up everything at once. I am debating getting 2 of the 2 TB drives to house all of my movies, and maybe adding a SSD later, or not at all. Am I correct in figuring about 40 bluray movies per TB? Also, would you go with the G540 and be able to add in more things, like the SSD and the extra hard drives, or is it better to go with the better CPU, the I3 and forgo the SSD?

The SSD will make the bigger increase in overall system performance compared to the CPU upgrade. I'm a fan of buying a bit more CPU than you think you need, but if you are on that tight of a budget, go with the SSD over the i3.
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post #22 of 36 Old 07-13-2012, 06:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Great...makes sense. I will go with the SSD and get more HDD later.

How do 3 TB drives do, as far as heat and more importantly performance and longevity. I see that NewEgg has one for $150, but I am pretty sure it is 7200. Could that be a good compromise, or is it better to build with multiple 2 TB drives?
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post #23 of 36 Old 07-13-2012, 06:54 AM
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Those 3TB drives are about the best deal now in $/GB terms. Heat should not be any different than a 2TB drive.

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post #24 of 36 Old 07-13-2012, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Awesome...it is coming together now.

Are all SSD's created equal? I see this OCZ Technology SSD pretty significantly reduced at my local Micro Center

http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0364779

It is normally $100, on sale for $55 ($45 after mail in rebate.)
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post #25 of 36 Old 07-13-2012, 10:21 AM
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I have exact SSD in my wife's laptop. It's a good performer for the price. Since this is your first SSD, I wouldn't go crazy comparing specs until you experience one first hand to get a feel for what those specs mean on real-life performance.
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post #26 of 36 Old 07-13-2012, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puwaha View Post

I have exact SSD in my wife's laptop. It's a good performer for the price. Since this is your first SSD, I wouldn't go crazy comparing specs until you experience one first hand to get a feel for what those specs mean on real-life performance.

It's of the slowest SSD's available.

it uses a very cheap type of NAND memory that is slower. Reason why they so cheap.

A OCZ vertex3 on other hand is very fast- usually only $10 more.

I own both. I have agility in my server for OS.

the difference is noticeable. Your talking about one of the faster SSD's vs one of the slower ones.

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post #27 of 36 Old 07-13-2012, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
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OK...thanks for that, I will spend a little more on a better SSD.

Question about Windows 7. I just bought a new Toshiba laptop for my wife with Windows 7 preinstalled. Can I copy Windows 7 and put it on my HTPC? Does this fall into the category of

1) Can't be done
2) Can be done, but shouldn't be done (illegal)
3) Can be done, since I own a legal copy
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post #28 of 36 Old 07-13-2012, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

It's of the slowest SSD's available.

Hmm... according to Anandtech, the Agility performs very comparably to the Vertex:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4346/ocz-agility-3-240gb-review/2

Quote:
it uses a very cheap type of NAND memory that is slower. Reason why they so cheap.

Vertex uses synchronous memory, and the Agility uses asynchronous memory. The difference is the performance with non-compressible data.

Even this guy says you won't be able to tell the difference in real-world performance:

http://thessdreview.com/ssd-guides/beginners-guide/ssd-components-and-make-up-an-ssd-primer/3/

Quote:
A OCZ vertex3 on other hand is very fast- usually only $10 more.
I own both. I have agility in my server for OS.
the difference is noticeable. Your talking about one of the faster SSD's vs one of the slower ones.

I'm not doubting you, but in the real-world, there shouldn't be much difference. The theoretical maximums that the Vertex promises are not even close to being delivered.

Now, the entire point I was trying to make is that he's going to spend the next 6 months saying to himself "Man, this SSD is frickin' fast compared to my spinner!" Then he will have a frame of reference to determine if a more capable SSD is worth it.
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post #29 of 36 Old 07-13-2012, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Redskin View Post

1) Can't be done
2) Can be done, but shouldn't be done (illegal)
3) Can be done, since I own a legal copy

Number 2. You need a license for every copy of windows you install.
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post #30 of 36 Old 07-13-2012, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Interesting article Puwaha...I think I might consider that Agility again.

Also thanks for the heads up on Windows 7. I will purchase a new copy.
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