Cheapest bare bones small HTPC for OTA/QAM and Blu Ray ISO playback - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 08:00 AM - Thread Starter
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I have built a ton of pcs over the years, but would like to know if there is a decent and pretty cheap bare bones PC out there that is recommended. I probably need 2-3 of these and I dont really feel like assembling from scratch. Maybe something like what Zotac sells where I just add memory and a hard drive? I assume something with just a Core i3 proc and integrated HD 3000 or 4000 graphics would suffice for OTA/Qam and Blu Ray iso playback. I assume I would be running Win 7 with media center. I am interested in XBMC as well, but have very little experience with it. I tried getting OpenElec with XBMC working on my Raspberry Pi, but my nonexistent Linux skills are limiting my ability to get that solution to do what I want. This doesn't need substantial internal storage, as just a 2.5" OS drive should be fine.

Suggestions?
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post #2 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 08:07 AM
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If you're looking to go cheap, you don't need an i3. An intel Sandybridge Gxxx dual core is plenty fast for HTPC use.
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post #3 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok cool.. I was looking at something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Zotac-i3-2330M-2-2GHz-Barebone-ZBOXHD-ID82-U/dp/B008G9WB1I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353519068&sr=8-1&keywords=ID82

But wanting about $100 cheaper. I dont see that Zotac makes a Sandy Bridge system, only this i3, then Atom.

They have plenty of AMD systems but I am not familiar with current AMD processor models, although I am open to one if it does what I need.
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post #4 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 10:11 AM
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I have had a bad experience with Zotac and would not reccommend it to the enemy.

I had one motherboard RMAed 5 times, and it just died again. Lifetime warranty is a good concept, but I spent more in shipping it back to them than the board it self. Plus the down time, plus the hassles.

I have a Zotac Video card, it constantly overheats, while a Gigabyte card with the same exact chip in another machine it perfectly fine with similar operating conditions.

If you want a cheap OTA DVR, look for nVidia Ion or Ion 2 based board with Atom processors. More than enough power to do what you want them to do, and they idle at 5 or 7 watts, max out at 15 or 20 watts.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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post #5 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 11:33 AM
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You guys should look here:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1404685/cheapest-ever-htpc-thats-decent-proud-of-myself/680_40

LGA1155 build with 120gb SSD g630-thru-i3 CPU and 8GB ddr3 in small case under $200

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post #6 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hifiaudio2 View Post

Ok cool.. I was looking at something like this:
http://www.amazon.com/Zotac-i3-2330M-2-2GHz-Barebone-ZBOXHD-ID82-U/dp/B008G9WB1I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353519068&sr=8-1&keywords=ID82
But wanting about $100 cheaper. I dont see that Zotac makes a Sandy Bridge system, only this i3, then Atom.
They have plenty of AMD systems but I am not familiar with current AMD processor models, although I am open to one if it does what I need.

You're paying a premium for getting such a small form factor. Going a bit bigger and building it from parts will get you to your price target with a sandybridge dual core, SSD, 4-8GB RAM.
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post #7 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Ill go check out that build Mfusick mentions. Thanks!!
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post #8 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hifiaudio2 View Post

Ill go check out that build Mfusick mentions. Thanks!!

Super biz has g860 CPU @. 3.0ghz for $60 too.

It's basically an i3.

Your looking at a small box i3 like build with 120gb SSD and 8 gb ddr3 for like 160$

PM me if you need help and check Black Friday deals thread

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post #9 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 03:52 PM
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XBMC does not support Intel GPU hardware very well, you will almost always use CPU / software for video playback. If you want to use GPU under XBMC, go with AMD or NVIDIA. Well, CPU / software is not terribly bad, though. If you look at XBMC Forums, you will see that AMD Llano is very popular (now Trinity is succeeding).
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post #10 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
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AMD is ok. Are you talking about the integrated video on some AMD processors as well as discrete GPUs? What is a good AMD chip wi integrated graphics that is as cheap as some of the Intel procs listed here?
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post #11 of 14 Old 11-21-2012, 10:43 PM
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It does not matter if GPU is integrated or discrete. AMD Llano APU or Trinity APU.
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post #12 of 14 Old 11-22-2012, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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OK I started thinking about upping the budget just a little and looking at laptops for the additional flexibility. Saw this and liked it - an Asus laptop for $449 with i3 3110M and HD4000 graphics. I guess its Ivy Bridge with the fixed 23hz issue.
Otherwise I assume that laptop is well more than enough processor and graphics power.

EDIT : One more question... are any of these CPU / integrated graphics solutions powerful enough to output true 4k video? I briefly got 4k working by lugging my main pc into the home theater and hooking up to my projector, but that pc is a Core i7 overclocked to 4.8 GHZ with a Radeon 7950. I have never looked at how and if HD 4000 graphics or the like can do 4k. Thats not extremely important but since this PC would be in my home theater, it would be nice to have.
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post #13 of 14 Old 11-22-2012, 09:08 PM
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I wouldn't use a laptop as a HTPC, if something dies you'll be stuffed with no way to replace parts unless its something simple like RAM or HDD, that and the fact that a mATX case is vastly more flexible.
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post #14 of 14 Old 11-23-2012, 12:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hifiaudio2 View Post

EDIT : One more question... are any of these CPU / integrated graphics solutions powerful enough to output true 4k video? I briefly got 4k working by lugging my main pc into the home theater and hooking up to my projector, but that pc is a Core i7 overclocked to 4.8 GHZ with a Radeon 7950. I have never looked at how and if HD 4000 graphics or the like can do 4k. Thats not extremely important but since this PC would be in my home theater, it would be nice to have.

LIke 3D (MVC decode, then HDMI 1.4a 3D output), playing back 4K UHD consists of two stages: 4K decode, then 4K UHD output. Here are two remarks:

- AVC (Advanced Video Coding), the current best coding, is mainly used in 4K videos right now and some GPU supports 4K AVC decode. However, when the next HEVC (HIgh Efficiency Video Coding) is released and become popular, you may want to upgrade GPU to one that supports 4K HEVC decode.
- HDMI 1.4a supports 4K UHD up to 30 fps. So you will have to wait for the next HDMI if you want 4K 60 fps. DisplayPort 1.2 already supports 4K 60 fps, but it won't be used in consumer electronics products.

That being said, here is a quick summary of the current state:

- 4K 24fps AVC decode: Almost every current desktop dual core processor, NVIDIA VP5 (implemented in GeForce 520/610, 640 and higher), Intel HD Graphics 2500/4000
- 4K 60fps AVC decode: Core i5 and higher, AMD FX-8xxx, Intel HD Graphics 2500/4000

- 4K 24fps HDMI output: Radeon HD 7750 and higher, GeForce GT 640 and higher
- 4K 60fps DP output: Radeon HD 7750 and higher, Intel HD Graphics 2500/4000 (via two DP cables)

So your system supports 4K 24fps over HDMI and 4K 60fps over DP without stuttering (i7 is powerful enough; if i7 is IVB, then you can even use QuickSync decoder with HD 7950).

In future, there will be cheap graphics cards that support 4Kp60 AVC decode as well as HEVC decode and support 4K output over the next HDMI. (CPU won't matter.)
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