My dirt cheap ~$300 HTPC build - please rate! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 09-17-2012, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
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** Prices are not USD **

- Intel G540 ($3 more than the 530, which wasn't in stock. All you need for a basic playback build) - $45

- Gigabyte H61N-USB3 (only 2 SATA_3 connectors, I only need 1, so take note, very basic but its all you need. SATA_6 for the SSD is irrelevant here.) - $95

- 4GB Kingston DDR3 1333MHz KVR (1066MHz very hard to find, downclock these and you've got 1066MHz. The mobo auto-downclocked to 1066MHz CAS 7 anyway.) - $24

- Antec ISK 110 w/ 90w adaptor (yes, this uses an adaptor, but this build uses very little power. You could go for a "T" model CPU but I couldn't find one) - $98

- Samsung 830 64GB (I will store no media on this box, its all external or NAS based in the future, SATA_2 is fine) - $66



That's it. Win 7 will be installed via USB. Silent, cheap and very tiny. Will post updates as I build.


EDITED: Added more info for parts choices. Using MPC-HC, Lav filters, 60Hz in Intel drivers, 24p enabled on TV. Smooth. Temps are 40 celsius roughly during playback.
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post #2 of 30 Old 09-18-2012, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, some great responses so far. smile.gif

Its all built and I'm testing some media now. So far, rock solid.
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post #3 of 30 Old 09-18-2012, 05:35 PM
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That actually looks like a solid build. Post some pics!

BTW, what playback software are you going to use?

I use MPC-HC within MB and really like it. It worked quite well without MadVR but I was having issues with a few 720p29/30 files I had when I started using MadVR for frame rate switching so I added a video card (GT 430 fanless from ASUS).

What content format do you have?

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post #4 of 30 Old 09-18-2012, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I have everything from 20GB 1080p .mkv's to 50GB BD double layer iso's to 2CD avi's from old old rips.

So I've noticed one issue spring up - If I set my TV to 24p (LG SL90QD 42") and set Intel's driver to 24Hz I get horrible lag and stutter, if I set Intel to 60Hz, TV to 24p, everything is butter smooth and 23.94/25/24 depending on content or so. Thoughts?

I have only one issue left with 24/60 with an old .avi, 25FPS but it plays at 22FPS and stutters. All other .avi's so far are great. I'll just use VLC on it. Getting the pics ready.
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post #5 of 30 Old 09-18-2012, 07:41 PM
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$95 is way too expensive for that board. Much better options out there, imo. And while SATAII may be "fine" you can go to SATAIII by using a more modern board for less money.
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post #6 of 30 Old 09-18-2012, 08:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

$95 is way too expensive for that board. Much better options out there, imo. And while SATAII may be "fine" you can go to SATAIII by using a more modern board for less money.

I know I was ripped off. I had no choice. Either that or $125 for a H77 board.
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post #7 of 30 Old 09-20-2012, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
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So I've tested some more, and the smoothest playback is with the TV set to 24Hz and the HTPC outputting 60Hz. There are no dropped frames except when a starting a fat 1080p mkv off USB, then there are 2 at start and no more unless I seek through bits of the film. Most impressed with this Celeron. As far as I can tell 23.976 is played at between 23.77 and 24.00.
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post #8 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 02:24 PM
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That's $328 in whatever currency you are and you didn't include your Win7 OS cost.

If it works out for ya, great, but you can get sub $300 desktops all day long on Dell Outlet, for example, this is $277 US shipped after taxes (8%). Has an OS, and a decent hard drive to get ya started.
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post #9 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I've got Win 7 lying around from all the builds I do. I'd never get prebuilt. No fun that way. smile.gif

Besides mine is a bit smaller.
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post #10 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

I've got Win 7 lying around from all the builds I do. I'd never get prebuilt. No fun that way. smile.gif
Besides mine is a bit smaller.

A BIG +1 !

Exactly , " what would the fun be "

BOO ... to pre built tongue.gif
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post #11 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 07:30 PM
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I wonder how much bloatware needs to be cleaned off that machine and also am concerned about accessing the BIOS.

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post #12 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

I wonder how much bloatware needs to be cleaned off that machine and also am concerned about accessing the BIOS.

Format c: ? biggrin.gif

Dell Bios can be accessed all right. Not that there are any overclocking options. smile.gif

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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post #13 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 07:49 PM
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Yeah if you format it all you have to restore with is the back up DVD that they prompt you to make when you first fire it up. And the bloatware is back. Of course this is assuming that you don't have Windows and a key already from another source. If you don't then add in another $100 or so for the O.S. And accessing the BIOS is good for when you add in the SSD that machine is missing. All of a sudden that $300 machine is $500.

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post #14 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 07:55 PM
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OK, whatever. I won't buy this Dell, but it is me.

/SSD argument is incorrect, you wanna upgrade, you pay for it, the machine comes w/its own license, but that all doesn't really matter/

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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post #15 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 08:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I've fixed all FPS issues with Autofrequency. Most impressed with the Celeron.
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post #16 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 08:46 PM
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Awesome!

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post #17 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 08:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

OK, whatever. I won't buy this Dell, but it is me.
/SSD argument is incorrect, you wanna upgrade, you pay for it, the machine comes w/its own license, but that all doesn't really matter/

You need to change the BIOS to ACHI properly install a SSD I believe. I am also wondering if you can d/l windows from microsoft and use the Dell key or if it only works with the dell specific OS?

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post #18 of 30 Old 09-21-2012, 11:50 PM - Thread Starter
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You can download Win 7 from digital river (all legit) and use any valid key. Yes, you need to use AHCI, but that should be standard for any modern system anyway.
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post #19 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

OK, whatever. I won't buy this Dell, but it is me.
/

I agree. Those that know...build. Those that don't? Well, that's why Dell is in business.

In terms of LFE, size does matter!
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post #20 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

You need to change the BIOS to ACHI properly install a SSD I believe. I am also wondering if you can d/l windows from microsoft and use the Dell key or if it only works with the dell specific OS?

It is OEM license they have, and one is supposed to use their tools, the y give you backup or something, you can call them and ask for the OS DVD and they even may ship it to you.
As of using their license key w/ "generic" version of Windows, I don't think it will work. There are various ways around this, but I won't go into it.wink.gif

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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post #21 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Favelle View Post

I agree. Those that know...build. Those that don't? Well, that's why Dell is in business.

It is so simple those days to build a PC. Even my cat could do it, if she wanted to. Install mb, put in CPU, RAM, HSF, connect HDD - you are done!

Back in the old days we needed to worry about interrupts etc. etc. etc. It was an art of some sort. Not anymore.

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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post #22 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

It is so simple those days to build a PC. Even my cat could do it, if she wanted to. Install mb, put in CPU, RAM, HSF, connect HDD - you are done!
Back in the old days we needed to worry about interrupts etc. etc. etc. It was an art of some sort. Not anymore.

Yup. There's like 6 parts to a modern PC...that's it. It takes literally 20 minutes to assemble one.

In terms of LFE, size does matter!
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post #23 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
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After 2 days of fiddling, it turns out that 23.976 drops frames constantly, no matter what setting or program - from EVR to MadVR at 23Hz or 24Hz. I'm leaving it at 60Hz. Smooth and no difference to me.
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post #24 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

After 2 days of fiddling, it turns out that 23.976 drops frames constantly, no matter what setting or program - from EVR to MadVR at 23Hz or 24Hz. I'm leaving it at 60Hz. Smooth and no difference to me.

Same here. I messed and messed with it, never was happy. I'll deal with the pulldown...heck, I'm used to it.

In terms of LFE, size does matter!
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post #25 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

It is OEM license they have, and one is supposed to use their tools, the y give you backup or something, you can call them and ask for the OS DVD and they even may ship it to you.
As of using their license key w/ "generic" version of Windows, I don't think it will work. There are various ways around this, but I won't go into it.wink.gif

Works all the time. I buy desktops/laptops on slickdeals for my co-workers all the time and then re-install the OS to get rid of bloat. An OEM license will work with a Retail copy of Win7, I just have to phone into M$'s automated bot to get validated. Although I've been tempted to just use Daz, I get so grumpy having to squint at the dam key, which is in the most inconvenient spot and type it in. Grump Grump.

As for me posting the Dell, like I said in my post, if it works for ya OP great. I didn't know your level of knowledge, or cheapness smile.gif As for me I'm a huge cheap ass.

Back in 2011 I replaced my slow as balls Acer Revo Office HTPC with a Dell 620 i3 that I got for under $300 smile.gif

Of course the form factor sucked, so what would any anal nerd do? That's right, throw the guts into a sexy silverstone ML03B

18720378097830256946.jpg

88138217679862301731.jpg

82509648617790281485.jpg

Oh and galileo2000, don't get me started about IRQs and all that crap from back in the day. Although today is a tradeoff with the internet, now we can research and argue till the cows come home about the most absurd computer crap... le sigh. lol

Back to the OP and the Celeron, I'm getting a G530 in the mail next week to replace my main HTPC (E5200). Can't wait, it's gonna have 6 Sata hookups (WOOOOOOTTTTT!!!!!!) and I splurged and got myself a SSD. Gonna be a nice upgrade. Sucks about the dropped frames, I know the Intel HD can handle most everything for your average joe. But of course we aren't average joe's, we're anal HTPC nerds.... so I'll see how the G530 works for me (currently have a ATI 5450 for video duty in my E5200). Although knowing me I'll probably plurge and get a fanless ATI 6570, I heard they're pretty bomb in Picture Quality, Video Processing, and all sorts of other crap I probably couldn't even notice unless it's typed out for me in a long ass AnandTech review smile.gif
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post #26 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll post pics of my build soon. The G530 HD 1000 works fine for EVR custom which is what I use. It doesn't have the balls for MadVR even at bilinear. I really don't care though, EVR is sufficient for me as is 60Hz. I've had enough futzing about. I've clean installed Win 7 again and am leaving everything alone now fresh and pristine. Personally, as I've said I'd never buy pre-built, building it yourself gives you control and much better parts that are brand new.
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post #27 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 10:01 PM
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What is this EVR Custom that you speak of? Are you saying EVR Custom set to 60hz = win across the board for Intel HD 1000?
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post #28 of 30 Old 09-22-2012, 11:23 PM - Thread Starter
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MPC-HC has EVR and EVR custom. I have the most success with setting the refresh rate to 60Hz in the Intel control panel and letting LAV take care of the rest. A lot of people go on and on about 23.976 matched to 23.976 but I can't seen any real difference. Maybe a touch more smoothness but even that is pushing it. As far as I can tell, LAV pulldowns the film to 60, then spits it out to the TV at 60. I can't see any judder. At 23hz I get a lot of frame drops.
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post #29 of 30 Old 09-23-2012, 07:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike 01hawk View Post

Works all the time. I buy desktops/laptops on slickdeals for my co-workers all the time and then re-install the OS to get rid of bloat. An OEM license will work with a Retail copy of Win7, I just have to phone into M$'s automated bot to get validated. Although I've been tempted to just use Daz, I get so grumpy having to squint at the dam key, which is in the most inconvenient spot and type it in. Grump Grump.

I didn't know that, thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike 01hawk View Post

As for me posting the Dell, like I said in my post, if it works for ya OP great. I didn't know your level of knowledge, or cheapness smile.gif As for me I'm a huge cheap ass.
Back in 2011 I replaced my slow as balls Acer Revo Office HTPC with a Dell 620 i3 that I got for under $300 smile.gif
Oh and galileo2000, don't get me started about IRQs and all that crap from back in the day. Although today is a tradeoff with the internet, now we can research and argue till the cows come home about the most absurd computer crap... le sigh. lol
Back to the OP and the Celeron, I'm getting a G530 in the mail next week to replace my main HTPC (E5200). Can't wait, it's gonna have 6 Sata hookups (WOOOOOOTTTTT!!!!!!) and I splurged and got myself a SSD. Gonna be a nice upgrade. Sucks about the dropped frames, I know the Intel HD can handle most everything for your average joe. But of course we aren't average joe's, we're anal HTPC nerds.... so I'll see how the G530 works for me (currently have a ATI 5450 for video duty in my E5200). Although knowing me I'll probably plurge and get a fanless ATI 6570, I heard they're pretty bomb in Picture Quality, Video Processing, and all sorts of other crap I probably couldn't even notice unless it's typed out for me in a long ass AnandTech review smile.gif

Not a bad deal, considering the license and PSU being included.
I once bought a Dell desktop myself. For my mother-in-law. Didn't want to bother myself with the build. Now it peacefully rests in my garage, waiting for the next cleaning wave biggrin.gif

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post #30 of 30 Old 09-23-2012, 08:15 AM
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I generally avoid prebuilt systems as they use inferior parts- the way a mfg like dell makes money is by cheapening things.

People buy on specs:

hard drive
procesor speed
Amount of DDR ram


so they try to advertise high specs while loweing product cost to increase margins

So you get cheaper motherboards, memory, and various components... important ones like PSU and things.

Often they are spec-ed lower- and use lower memory clock speeds... locked CPU proccessors and things.

You can easily build a very nice HTPC for $300 using better quality parts-


And- SSD is a must. It's unacceptable to run your OS on a HDD. An SSD is only $40 now.

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