Another "Please review these components for my HTPC build" thread :) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-06-2012, 10:53 PM - Thread Starter
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My sincerest appreciation to the AVS Forum community for the immense source of information.

I am in the final planning stages of my next HTPC build. I am hoping to have all the parts ready for assembly within 2 weeks or so.


Basic info and intended use:

- Primarily used as a DVR with ability to record up to 6 shows OTA while doing playback of content either stored locally or streamed over LAN.

- Will use Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) as OS

- Wish to use the following software for media browsing and playback: 7MC + Media Browser + MPC-HC + MadVR

- Will connect to Pioneer plasma via HDMI or DVI

- Will connect to audio receiver via optical (TOSLINK)

- Will have internet access

- Will not be used for gaming, Blu-ray playback, or bitstreaming of lossless audio formats over HDMI


Okay, heres the list:

Motherboard:
Choice 1: Asus P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131790

Choice 2: Asus P8Z68-V/GEN3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131792


CPU: Intel Core i3 2125 LGA 1155 Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115093


Graphics: Any fanless Nvidia GT 430 product... any suggestions?


Memory: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148486


PSU: PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 400W Modular 80PLUS Bronze Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817703034


Any feedback regarding this parts list would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much, my fellow AVSers smile.gif

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post #2 of 12 Old 08-07-2012, 12:09 AM
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Your specs are missing a case and hard-drive(s). Without an optical drive you will also need to consider how you will be installing the OS for your system. An i3 is nice but I'm not sure you will see any benefit over a G530 or similar. If you can do without MadVR the integrated graphics will be plenty adequate.
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-07-2012, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micromain View Post

Without an optical drive you will also need to consider how you will be installing the OS for your system.

That's so passé now. Unless you're still using Windows XP, there are plenty of easy tools available to create USB flash drive installers. Heck, for XBMC Live users, the USB flash drive is the OS drive.

@Vlad Theimpaler
Just curious, what's the point of getting the more expensive i3-2125 when you plan on using discrete graphics?
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-07-2012, 03:15 AM
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Ditto the CPU comments. If this is going to be used as an HTPC, you need nothing more then a celly...maybe a G620 or something if you want some cost effective overhead.

What REALLY makes me go wtf is your motherboard choices. Why are you looking at near $200 overclocking boards for an HTPC? In addition to that, why Z68 at that price point? It's not like Z68 is irrelevant now, but since Z77 is still same socket and compatible with same cpu's, there isnt much reason to go Z68 anymore unless you came across a great deal on a good board. Anyhow...back to to the HTPC...you dont need anything near that fancy. Overclocking an HTPC does nothing for you, and feature wise, you can get all the current stuff for half that money. For example I have an Intel DH67BL in mine. Intel boards dont have all the overclocking and useless features hype, but are generally rock stable. Mine has USB3, Sata3, UEFI, Intel NIC (which is a pretty big + to a lot of people over the usual realtek etc), etc for less then half what those 2 boards you listed run....and Intel boards usually arent the most cost effective ones around either! I'd really re-consider the motherboard choice. No reason to spend more then about $100 for HTPC, and you could go as little as < $50 on an H61 board and do just as well if you can do without usb3, sata3, and dont find the port selection too limiting (who needs a ton of stuff hanging off an htpc anyways). http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121506
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-07-2012, 10:30 AM
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I echo the DH67BL being a terrific HTPC motherboard, and they're only about $85 these days, they're rock solid, and they have everything you need.

Otherwise, an H77 board in the $100 range is all you could possibly want or need.

Personally, I don't have any problem with using an i3, although you can certainly get by with less.

And I'm a big believer in at least trying it with just the integrated graphics before you go buy a separate graphics card. If you aren't happy you can always add a discret GPU in about 10 minutes, but I bet you'll never have the need to do so. And not having a discrete GPU means your system will run cooler; hence it will be easier to keep your system quiet.
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-07-2012, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

That's so passé now. Unless you're still using Windows XP, there are plenty of easy tools available to create USB flash drive installers. Heck, for XBMC Live users, the USB flash drive is the OS drive.
There are a couple of different options, USB or network install, but it's only "passé" for geeks. Currently the vast majority of users are used to using optical media for installs so I wanted to ensure the OP was aware that the lack of an optical drive would require an alternative method.
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-08-2012, 01:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses, folks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Micromain View Post

Your specs are missing a case and hard-drive(s). Without an optical drive you will also need to consider how you will be installing the OS for your system.

Yep, sorry about that. I omitted those details. Here are those items:

Case: SilverStone SST-LC16S-MR (reused from previous build)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001O0DOC6/

Boot drive: Crucial M4 128GB SSD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148442

Storage HDDs: 2x Seagate Barracuda Green 5900RPM 3.5" SATA hard drive

Optical drive: TBD
(May go with an inexpensive SATA BD-ROM)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

@Vlad Theimpaler
Just curious, what's the point of getting the more expensive i3-2125 when you plan on using discrete graphics?

That selection was due to hasty decision-making on my part. I somehow thought that the i3/i5/i7 series were the only ones with integrated graphics. (There's just soooooooo much to research and learn about in this endeavor... thank God for AVS!) Even tho' I am putting in a graphics card (which I still have to select and procure), I want the CPU with integrated graphics so that I can start building and configuring the new HTPC right away before committing to a discrete GPU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by C17chief View Post

What REALLY makes me go wtf is your motherboard choices. Why are you looking at near $200 overclocking boards for an HTPC? In addition to that, why Z68 at that price point? It's not like Z68 is irrelevant now, but since Z77 is still same socket and compatible with same cpu's, there isnt much reason to go Z68 anymore unless you came across a great deal on a good board.

I came across a very good deal on the Asus boards, of the "open box" variety smile.gif


Anyhoo, everyone following here will be happy to know that I ended up going with the Intel Pentium G630 in place of the Core i3 2125. Ended up pairing it up with the aforementioned open box Asus MB, specifically the Asus P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3, which came complete with all the package contents (nothing was missing), and priced to move at $119. I realize that there are cheaper options, but I've always liked Asus. In fact, the HTPC that I am building is replacing my first HTPC build from 2006, which was based on the Asus P4P800. It is still working like a champ today, but I am finally ready to make the switch from WinXP to 7HP so the hardware's gotta get upgraded too biggrin.gif

I'm now looking into 92mm case fans for cooling the HDD racks within the case, and I may look into aftermarket CPU cooling solutions for lower noise compared with Intel's stock cooling hardware. I'm also planning on installing a 3.5" front panel interface with USB/eSATA/card reader connections.

Any suggestions for CPU cooler for the G620? Still taking suggestions for graphics as well (to be used with MPC-HC + MadVR for video playback).

Thanks again for the great discussion, everybody. I'll try to keep this thread updated on my progress for those who are interested smile.gif

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post #8 of 12 Old 08-08-2012, 03:43 AM
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About 2 and a half years ago I built a rig to do the same thing. I built a Quad Q6600/8GB RAM/Asus P5k Premium Mobo/ATI 5670 and it's still running like a dream. If I could do it over again, I wouldn't bother with Win7x64 and the 8GB RAM, it's just not necessary IMO. I had a lot of headaches with 64 bit drivers and getting codecs right at the time.

I have a stable set-up now running unmodified k-light codecs and it's never not known what to do with any video I throw at it. I think the only thing I would do differently is have an SSD with the OS on and the MediaBrowser data files (not media files) as that's where any stuttering in the menus or slow down seems to be (it's rare, but annoying when it does happen.

FYI I built my latest desktop box from USB using the Microsoft tool: http://emea.microsoftstore.com/UK/en-GB/Service-Centre/Windows-7-USB-DVD-Download-Tool

FYI Win8 is released next week to Technet and Oct 26th for GA. Whilst there maybe many not yet found issues with this OS, you can run the entire OS from a USB stick that you can move between machines if you care to (aka Linux live distros and I know they've had it for donkeys, but it's new and shiny to us in the Microsoft world). It'll also be easier to back up/clone and more reliable if you go that route (well over HDDs anyway SSDs would just rock any day of the week).

Mike...
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-08-2012, 08:36 AM
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Couple thoughts.

1- Really and truly the stock Intel cpu cooler works just fine and is pretty quiet, at least as long as you're not overclocking.

2- If you haven't yet ordered that Crucial, the (at-least-as-good in my view) Samsung 830 128GB is $20 cheaper now at Newegg.

3 - If you don't want or need an optical drive in your system, and don't want to mess around creating USB sticks or finding other ways to load software and stuff, you might consider getting an external USB DVD drive. That's what I did recently. That way I figure I don't need to include optical drives any more and when I need one, I can just plug my portable into whatever system I need it with at the moment. Rest of the time it's on the shelf out of the way. I think I paid about $20 for a Samsung on sale at Amazon. I concluded that as long as I have one Blu Ray burner in the house, I don't really need optical drives in all my other systems, and having one portable USB one around for the infrequent times I want one for loading software or burning a CD or whatever is a handy approach.

Edit - BTW, you indicated you were "also planning on installing a 3.5" front panel interface with USB/eSATA/card reader connections".

If you find a good one, please let me know. I assume you're going to want USB 3.0. I've been happy using some Vantec devices like this in the past, and they make a good esata/USB 2.0/card reader combo, and a USB 3.0/card reader combo, but not yet anyhow an esata/USB 3.0/card reader combo.
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-08-2012, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeyTT View Post

If I could do it over again, I wouldn't bother with Win7x64 and the 8GB RAM, it's just not necessary IMO. I had a lot of headaches with 64 bit drivers and getting codecs right at the time.

At that time, that was sometimes a problem. It really isn't today.
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post #11 of 12 Old 08-08-2012, 09:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

BTW, you indicated you were "also planning on installing a 3.5" front panel interface with USB/eSATA/card reader connections".
If you find a good one, please let me know. I assume you're going to want USB 3.0. I've been happy using some Vantec devices like this in the past, and they make a good esata/USB 2.0/card reader combo, and a USB 3.0/card reader combo, but not yet anyhow an esata/USB 3.0/card reader combo.

Thanks for the feedback, Zon2020. I've been looking for that elusive 3.5" front panel card reader w/ USB 3.0 + eSATA, and the best that I could find (on Newegg) is this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811996040

I may decide to drop the USB 3.0 requirement and rely on the PC's rear USB 3.0 ports instead. Another option is to drop the card reader requirement and then buy one of those external card readers that use USB 2.0 as their data link + power. I have one of those, and it looks like a USB memory stick except it has all the card reader slots along the sides.

Hope that helps.

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post #12 of 12 Old 08-08-2012, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlad Theimpaler View Post

Thanks for the feedback, Zon2020. I've been looking for that elusive 3.5" front panel card reader w/ USB 3.0 + eSATA, and the best that I could find (on Newegg) is this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811996040
I may decide to drop the USB 3.0 requirement and rely on the PC's rear USB 3.0 ports instead. Another option is to drop the card reader requirement and then buy one of those external card readers that use USB 2.0 as their data link + power. I have one of those, and it looks like a USB memory stick except it has all the card reader slots along the sides.
Hope that helps.

Yeah, I have a couple of those little USB card readers too (but never seem to know where I left them when I actually want to use them biggrin.gif),

I suspect perhaps mfgs like Vantec aren't combining USB 3.0 and estata because they see USB 3.0 as a replacement or alternative for esata and don't think you need or want both. (They would be incorrect if that's their thinking.)

BTW, that Siig device you linked looks fine, although I fail to understand why they would only include 1 USB port. Also, ever notice how a cheap little device like a card reader costs $15 in USB 2.0 and $40 in USB 3.0? I find it hard to believe the circuitry warrants that difference. I think someone's making a lot of money on USB 3.0 devices.
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