First Time Builder's Proposed HTPC Build - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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I’m a first-time poster seeking advice on an HTPC build, and this will also be my first time building a computer. I’ve spent a lot of time researching this, and while I’m pretty settled on the general components, I would feel better talking it through with real people. My biggest question at this point is the level of CPU that I should purchase as you’ll see below.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within a month

Budget Range: Initially $500-600; Up to $1000-1100 Total

System Usage from Most to Least Important: HTPC (streaming, DVR, DVD/BD ripping, DVD/BD playback), moderate gaming (emulators)

Are you buying a monitor: No (connecting to 720p Vizio)

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, amazon.com

Location: Nashville, TN

Parts Preferences: agnostic

Overclocking/Dual GPU: No

Additional Comments: Want to balance cost and performance; Plan to build in two or more stages to spread out cost (see below); Choosing mATX case for expandability & potential reuse in the future; Needs to fit in roughly 13”(w)x13”(h)x15.5” (d) space in our bookshelf/media center; Plan to use both XBMC & WMC; Needs to be quiet; Needs to be simple to use for fiancee; Only wifi in apartment; No NAS but would like one in the future; May renew cable in the future; Already own a Logitech DiNovo Mini

Why Am I Building: Allow us to use our laptops while streaming media; Free up space/sell DVDs


Potential CPU/Mobo Combinations:
Intel Core i3-3225 & ASRock H77 Pro4-M – $145 + $90
Intel Pentium G850 & ASRock H77 Pro4-M – $70 + $90
AMD A6-3500 & ASRock A75M – $75 + $75
AMD Trinity?
Subtotal: $150-235

Initial Components:
Case: Silverstone SG01B-F (w/USB 3.0) – $105
Power Supply: Rosewill Capstone 450W ATX12V (semi-modular) – $70
OS: Windows 7 Pro 64bit – $65 (student price)
SSD for OS: Samsung 830 64GB – $70
RAM: G.Skill 4GB (2x2) DDR3-1600 – $25
Wireless: Rosewill RNX-N180 (USB) – $15
Subtotal: $350

Initial Total: $500-585

Future Components:
Optical: Lite-On ihes112-04 – $55
Optical Software: AnyDVD HD – $65
HDD for Files: WD Caviar Black 2TB – $167
TV Tuner: Ceton InfiniTV 4 – $200
Subtotal: $487

Future Total: $987-1072


Big Question: Excluding cost for now, which of the CPU/Mobo combinations will be the best over time?

Is there anything else that I have not considered?
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post #2 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 12:10 PM
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Double check the dimensions of the case you are selecting. According to the link you provided, that case will not fit.
You can save a few bucks on your HDD by going with either a Green or Blue WD drive. Green should be fine based on your stated use. You could get a 3TB green for that HDD budget.

Read up on the Trinity line, just released, or go with i3/H77. Plenty of power there, and upgradability.

Also, if you are patient, you should be able to upgrade the SSD to 120/128GB for just a few dollars more.

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post #3 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Double check the dimensions of the case you are selecting.

I hate the way that Amazon lists dimensions. I believe that those are literally the size of the box to be shipped. At Newegg, the dimensions are: 10.35" x 8.35" x 15.47".
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post #4 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urbanitus View Post

Power Supply: Rosewill Capstone 450W ATX12V (semi-modular) – $70
OS: Windows 7 Pro 64bit – $65 (student price)
SSD for OS: Samsung 830 64GB – $70
RAM: G.Skill 4GB (2x2) DDR3-1600 – $25
Wireless: Rosewill RNX-N180 (USB) – $15
Subtotal: $350
Initial Total: $500-585
Future Components:
Optical: Lite-On ihes112-04 – $55
Optical Software: AnyDVD HD – $65
HDD for Files: WD Caviar Black 2TB – $167
TV Tuner: Ceton InfiniTV 4 – $200
Subtotal: $487
Future Total: $987-1072
Big Question: Excluding cost for now, which of the CPU/Mobo combinations will be the best over time?
Is there anything else that I have not considered?

Good plan on spreading out purchases, and buying a complete build all at once. Otherwise you can get stuck with a DOA outside the RMA period

Please don't get that power supply, get this one instead for $50 after rebate link It's inaudible and high quality

Emulators aren't typically coded for hardware acceleration, so your best bet is the stronger processor. If you wan't wii, gamecube, or ps2 emulation you should definitely go for the i3. For NES, SNES, Genesis, Atari, N64 you will be fine with the Pentium, but the i3 won't hiccup. If you're desire was ps2, I'd recommend at least the 3225 (G850 would be fine if you plan to purchase an add on dgpu later)

Other recommendations to follow
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post #5 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Urbanitus View Post

SSD for OS: Samsung 830 64GB – $70
You could beat this with a Vertex4 deal when it comes back, or agility4 120GB for the same price
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urbanitus View Post

Wireless: Rosewill RNX-N180 (USB) – $15
I'd highly recommend NOT using a usb adapter. Since you're not using it with a laptop, go for an N repeater. MUCH better performance, and you can snag one of these on ebay for ~20-25 link
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Originally Posted by Urbanitus View Post

Optical: Lite-On ihes112-04 – $55
Really great choice there, I have seen them lower priced but not currently
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urbanitus View Post

HDD for Files: WD Caviar Black 2TB – $167
WAY too expensive. Check out one of the seagate external deals at Costco, Staples, etc on slickdeals. Get a 3TB USB 3.0 seagate external, crack the enclosure open, and get a 7200 rpm, sata III barracuda for around $120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urbanitus View Post

TV Tuner: Ceton InfiniTV 4 – $200
I feel like a lot more people have this tuner only because it was available so much sooner than the HD Homerun Prime. Go for the prime, should be able to find one for $150 at slickdeals or ebay (They've dropped the price to $150 two different times)
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post #6 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Urbanitus View Post

Is there anything else that I have not considered?

I forgot, add another $25 for Assassin's guide and save yourself at least 4 hours of work. Make that 4 into a 10+ if you're not software savvy
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post #7 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 01:56 PM
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You don't need to pay extra for a guide. A PC is like Lego. The only thing to be careful off is bent pints - LGA1155 is very sensitive when you ease the CPU in. Personally I'd get an i3, and a Gigabyte H77M-D3H. Asrock is a crap cheapo brand. Not worth it. I'd also change the RAM to ultra reliable Kingston Value RAM, 1333MHz is sufficient and the PSU to a Seasonic S12II430B. Also, save cash by going for an OEM copy of Win 7 Home Premium.
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post #8 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

You don't need to pay extra for a guide. A PC is like Lego. The only thing to be careful off is bent pints - LGA1155 is very sensitive when you ease the CPU in. Personally I'd get an i3, and a Gigabyte H77M-D3H. Asrock is a crap cheapo brand. Not worth it. I'd also change the RAM to ultra reliable Kingston Value RAM, 1333MHz is sufficient and the PSU to a Seasonic S12II430B. Also, save cash by going for an OEM copy of Win 7 Home Premium.

He's not referring to the hardware build. That's the easy part.
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post #9 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 02:05 PM
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He's not referring to the hardware build. That's the easy part.

I didn't find the software part that hard. MPC-HC setup and LAV takes no more than 10min. Then again I didn't mess with "perfect" 23.976. Left my G540 on 50Hz. Well its up to the OP.
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post #10 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 02:32 PM
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Asrock is a crap cheapo brand. Not worth it.
Asrock is a cheap brand, but great value and definitely not crap. Tons of people around this forum use them as the go to value brand, myself included. Don't know how that's not worth it, but I'd never pay more without just going for Intel (best but usually 2x price)
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I'd also change the RAM to ultra reliable Kingston Value RAM, 1333MHz is sufficient
Why is Kingston Value RAM "ultra reliable," and if you're going for a 7 series mobo then spend the extra $5 and get DDR3-1600. Memory support has now moved from the northbridge to the chipset and the speed increase is definitely value added for $5 or less
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Also, save cash by going for an OEM copy of Win 7 Home Premium.
I could use some extra licenses, where can you get an OEM copy for less than $65?
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post #11 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 07:51 PM
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I made no mention of $65, OEM windows 7 is around $90. I have had zero problems with Kingston RAM making it the most reliable in my mind over numerous builds and Asrock is 100% rubbish. My last board died after 5 months. The quality was also very poor. It was lightweight and flimsy and obviously didn't have the copper layers that Asus and Gigabyte do. It was also an inch short of ATX spec on the right side. Crap all round to be avoided at all costs.
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post #12 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 08:05 PM
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I made no mention of $65, OEM windows 7 is around $90. I have had zero problems with Kingston RAM making it the most reliable in my mind over numerous builds and Asrock is 100% rubbish. My last board died after 5 months. The quality was also very poor. It was lightweight and flimsy and obviously didn't have the copper layers that Asus and Gigabyte do. It was also an inch short of ATX spec on the right side. Crap all round to be avoided at all costs.

You are going to be in the minority of your hatred of ASRock in this forum. Lots and lots of us have used ASRock and are extremely happy. Actually, by the same rationale that you use to view Kingston RAM as the "most reliable" it would actually make ASRock one of the better brands based on usage here at AVS. ASUS and ASRock share many of the same engineers and developers historically, btw as they were once part of the same company.

Sounds like MFusick and his hatred of companies because he had a single bad experience while everyone else has not.
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post #13 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 08:11 PM
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AsRock is fine.

If it fails in 5 months, I'll be able to pick up today's premium board for the fraction of the today's price.

Simple, kids smile.gif

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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post #14 of 20 Old 09-27-2012, 11:01 PM
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Asrock is rubbish. I'll never recommend them. Cheap and poor. By all means buy it, if it dies on you in weeks, you'll see where the quality lies.
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post #15 of 20 Old 09-28-2012, 04:13 AM
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Asrock is rubbish. I'll never recommend them. Cheap and poor. By all means buy it, if it dies on you in weeks, you'll see where the quality lies.

I have. Dozens of times actually with no issues.
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post #16 of 20 Old 09-28-2012, 06:14 AM
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The H67M-ITX was my first ASRock experience so I thought ASRock was rubbish too but that was really a one-off. Besides the ASRock H67M-ITX, whose name I shall not invoke, every ASRock board I've used has been rock solid. We're talking dozens and dozens of builds sent out all over the world with the A6-3500 and ASRock A75M-ITX or the ASRock AD2700-ITX.

The funny thing is ASUS has been giving me the most headaches lately and they've been my go-to brand on the Intel side for years. Older revisions have been rock solid. I am not going to say they're rubbish based on a couple of RMAs though.

On the flip side, I've never had a bad Rosewill anything. I am not going to say they're the best brand either.

In hardware, YMMV. You have to read the reviews, read the forums, do a little digging, decide if enough people have had good luck or bad luck and then roll the dice and hope you don't get a bad one -- no matter the brand. If you do, RMA it and get a new one or another brand. Oh well.
____

Of your choices, if I had the budget, I'd get the i3-3225. The HD4000 iGPU is very good, somewhere between a HD6450 and HD6570 discrete GPU so plenty for HTPC and it's going to run cool, quiet and efficiently. The CPU will be the best for running emulators that don't offload to the GPU. The G860 I don't see the point -- for HTPC you'll get the same from a G540 for a lot less money though I guess the extra CPU for the emulators -- might as well get an i3 then. The A6-3500/A75 combination is very good but could be underpowered for emulators -- not sure there.

 

 

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post #17 of 20 Old 09-28-2012, 06:47 AM
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Just to weigh in with an unbiased opinion of the Assassin guides... I built a new dedicated HTPC about a month ago and had previously setup WMC / Mediabrowser, XBMC etc myself. I'm fairly technically proficient and enjoy tweaking my system unitl I get it just right. That said, the guides saved me a tonne of time and showed me how to do several things I wouldn't have thought of, much less figured out how to do. Very useful and for $25 I thought it was money well spent.

I now have
- WMC + Media Browser sharing a library with XBMC (kept for Amazon VOD more than anything)
- Everything configured and tweaked to look as little like windows as possible
- Bitstreaming audio to my 5.1 setup
- Everything controlled exclusively through a Harmony remote
- High WAF! Even the in-laws were able to use the system after I showed them how Harmony activities works.
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post #18 of 20 Old 09-28-2012, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

I made no mention of $65, OEM windows 7 is around $90
Deductive reasoning . . .
Quote:
Originally Posted by Urbanitus View Post

OS: Windows 7 Pro 64bit – $65 (student price)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

Also, save cash by going for an OEM copy of Win 7 Home Premium.
Can you see it now?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ljo000 View Post

Just to weigh in with an unbiased opinion of the Assassin guides... I built a new dedicated HTPC about a month ago and had previously setup WMC / Mediabrowser, XBMC etc myself. I'm fairly technically proficient and enjoy tweaking my system unitl I get it just right. That said, the guides saved me a tonne of time and showed me how to do several things I wouldn't have thought of, much less figured out how to do
My experience as well. I've yet to see someone say, "I paid $25 for a bunch of stuff I already knew, I want my money back." Seems the only criticisms they get are from people who've not paid for them
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Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

I have had zero problems with Kingston RAM making it the most reliable in my mind over numerous builds and Asrock is 100% rubbish. My last board died after 5 months. The quality was also very poor. It was lightweight and flimsy and obviously didn't have the copper layers that Asus and Gigabyte do. It was also an inch short of ATX spec on the right side. Crap all round to be avoided at all costs.
I've had no problems with G Skill, Corsair, Kingston, Crucial, or Patriot . . .

Most motherboards die for their use of cost-cutting capacitors. Asrock claims to use all Japanese capacitors, but that doesn't guarantee they are solid-state capacitors (which have longer life spans)

I have two of their mATX boards in use currently, one H61 and the other z77. Running 3 months, no problems. Their z77 boards use solid state caps (don't know about others)
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post #19 of 20 Old 09-28-2012, 12:30 PM
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Is there anything else that I have not considered?
What remote do you plan to use? All those motherboards have a CIR header, but what IR module do you need to use it? Where does the IR receiver go on that case?

(these are my questions, too)
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post #20 of 20 Old 10-03-2012, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the comments last week. I had planned to spend more time on this in the days since, but work and home have been crazy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Please don't get that power supply, get this one instead for $50 after rebate link It's inaudible and high quality

Thanks for the referral. I went ahead and bought this PSU to get the deal.

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Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Emulators aren't typically coded for hardware acceleration, so your best bet is the stronger processor. If you wan't wii, gamecube, or ps2 emulation you should definitely go for the i3. For NES, SNES, Genesis, Atari, N64 you will be fine with the Pentium, but the i3 won't hiccup. If you're desire was ps2, I'd recommend at least the 3225 (G850 would be fine if you plan to purchase an add on dgpu later)
Quote:
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Of your choices, if I had the budget, I'd get the i3-3225. The HD4000 iGPU is very good, somewhere between a HD6450 and HD6570 discrete GPU so plenty for HTPC and it's going to run cool, quiet and efficiently. The CPU will be the best for running emulators that don't offload to the GPU. The G860 I don't see the point -- for HTPC you'll get the same from a G540 for a lot less money though I guess the extra CPU for the emulators -- might as well get an i3 then. The A6-3500/A75 combination is very good but could be underpowered for emulators -- not sure there.

The information on the emulators is appreciated. I actually don't have much experience with them, but I know that my fiancee would enjoy playing the old school games. I was waiting until Trinity was released to make the ultimate decision, and while I like what I have read, I'm not blown away. I'm leaning toward just paying a little bit more and getting the i3-3225. According to Anandtech's review, Trinity also doesn't work as well with DGPU, so if I ever decide to go that route later, the i3 should work well. On the G860, I just had that in there because it has been showing up cheaper than a G540, etc. lately. I'd love to wait for a combo CPU/Mobo deal, but I'm not sure how likely that is to pop up in the near future for the i3-3225.

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Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

You could beat this with a Vertex4 deal when it comes back, or agility4 120GB for the same price

I was pretty sold on the solid and stable performance of the Samsung, and I actually bought a 128GB off of Amazon yesterday for $90. I probably could have waited and squeezed a little more savings out, but I'm ready to get on the road with building this.

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I'd highly recommend NOT using a usb adapter. Since you're not using it with a laptop, go for an N repeater. MUCH better performance, and you can snag one of these on ebay for ~20-25 link

That is a great idea that I totally had not considered. Does anyone else have experience with this?

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Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

WAY too expensive. Check out one of the seagate external deals at Costco, Staples, etc on slickdeals. Get a 3TB USB 3.0 seagate external, crack the enclosure open, and get a 7200 rpm, sata III barracuda for around $120

I currently have a 1.5TB Seagate external from that I use as a backup from about 2 years ago. I've never had any problems with it, but I saw numerous posts preferring WD in my research. WD also offers a 5 year warranty versus only 1 for Seagate. This is definitely a part that I'm flexible on though. Any other thoughts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

I feel like a lot more people have this tuner only because it was available so much sooner than the HD Homerun Prime. Go for the prime, should be able to find one for $150 at slickdeals or ebay (They've dropped the price to $150 two different times)

This is something else I'm really flexible on, and it is what I have put the least research into at this point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

I forgot, add another $25 for Assassin's guide and save yourself at least 4 hours of work. Make that 4 into a 10+ if you're not software savvy
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljo000 View Post

Just to weigh in with an unbiased opinion of the Assassin guides... I built a new dedicated HTPC about a month ago and had previously setup WMC / Mediabrowser, XBMC etc myself. I'm fairly technically proficient and enjoy tweaking my system unitl I get it just right. That said, the guides saved me a tonne of time and showed me how to do several things I wouldn't have thought of, much less figured out how to do. Very useful and for $25 I thought it was money well spent.

This is something I'll probably do. I should have mentioned that I've looked at Assassin's hardware guide a lot. It is definitely the best resource I have found for HTPC builds. Thanks, Assassin!

Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

The H67M-ITX was my first ASRock experience so I thought ASRock was rubbish too but that was really a one-off. Besides the ASRock H67M-ITX, whose name I shall not invoke, every ASRock board I've used has been rock solid. We're talking dozens and dozens of builds sent out all over the world with the A6-3500 and ASRock A75M-ITX or the ASRock AD2700-ITX.

I'm just choosing one quote from the ASRock discussion, but this comment sort of sums up what I've learned about them. I'd also consider Gigabyte, but I don't fear ASRock's quality from what I've read across numerous boards

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlv View Post

What remote do you plan to use? All those motherboards have a CIR header, but what IR module do you need to use it? Where does the IR receiver go on that case?

I currently have a DiNovo Mini with a USB adapter, and I plan to continue using that. It is also bluetooth capable, so I might add bluetooth internally at some point. As for IR...I don't know. That is something that I have thought about. With the Silverstone case, I have no need for the second 5.25" slot, so I might use one of their adapters with a place to punch out a slot for USB and slip an IR receiver there.

I hope this wasn't too hard to read...
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