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post #1 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been doing A LOT of research the past few days and after looking around found what I think would be a good HTPC build for a few reasons.

1) It's aesthetically pleasing
2) Size is good
3) Very quiet
4) Great construction
5) Would replace the need for a home server.


Currently I have a home server and this would eliminate the need of having to have an entire separate unit along with all the wiring needed to get it hooked up correctly. I would salvage some of the hard drives as well as the PSU of my home server so those items have not been included. I also do not currently have a Blu-ray drive selected yet however I may pick one of those up at Fry's here in Houston.

This unit will feature Windows 8. I don't really care for Win8 too much but one thing I do like is their "Drive Extender" like features they've reintroduced. This will allow me to add additional HDs as necessary to the pool for Win8 to manage. I have WHS on my current server for that exact reason.

Please take a look and let me know what you think of this build. I want to make sure it has enough power to run any type of media stored on it (1080p mkv/TrueHD/DTS-HD) as well as other services like Plex/XBMC, itunes or some something similar (I don't have any experience with Plex/XBMC so they might do the job great too). On top of that software I plan to have the best anti-virus/malware/spyware suites I can get my hands on. I'll have to research those in-depth but this HTPC will double as a server so it's important it be locked down tight and protected. I do not see myself using it for any gaming.

Here is the setup.

Case: Fractal Design Node 304



Processor: AMD A8-5500

Motherboard: Asus MicroATX
(I like the USB 3.0 additional outlets and the two extra slots of memory compared to most others)

Memory: G-Skill 2x4GB
(leaves two slots open for future upgrades)

HDD: ADATA 64GB SSD
(64GB for OS install and apps only. Will have multiple other HD's for storage and couldnt justify the rapid increase in cost)''''/]

What do you think? I feel like it's a solid build as is but would love some criticism. If you think other components would be better please let me know why. I'm hoping to stay around the same price point of roughly $450 shipped (I know the OS isn't included in that list).

Thanks!
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post #2 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 02:15 PM
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You chose a Trinity (socket FM2) APU with a Llano (socket FM1) motherboard. The sockets are not compatible. Look for a socket FM2 motherboard, for example Gigabyte GA-F2A75M-D3H or ASUS F2A85-M/CSM.

EDIT: Also your case looks to be mini-ITX while your choice of mobo is micro-ATX.
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post #3 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 02:31 PM
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Personally, I wouldn't use Windows 8 for a dedicated HTPC. Absolutely no benefit whatsoever over Windows 7, and infact WMC is crippled in 8. As for storage spaces, use it at your own risk. I know I wouldn't.
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post #4 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tman247 View Post

infact WMC is crippled in 8.

Please explain. I'd like to know what isn't working on my Win8 WMC setup.

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post #5 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 02:45 PM
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There are only two "disadvantages" of WMC8 compared to WMC7:

1. Ability to boot directly to WMC.
2. Choice of extenders beyond the XBox 360.

The only one I would consider as "crippled" is #1. #2 is simply due to technological changes in RDP.
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post #6 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

There are only two "disadvantages" of WMC8 compared to WMC7:

1. Ability to boot directly to WMC.
2. Choice of extenders beyond the XBox 360.

The only one I would consider as "crippled" is #1. #2 is simply due to technological changes in RDP.

Calling #1 crippled is a bit of a stretch. I'd assume you could simply add the WMC shortcut to the start up folder. Doesn't matter for me since my remote macro launches WMC when turning on the system and Win 8 boots directly to the desktop with StartIsBack. No change from Win 7 for me. For #2 I only have 360 extenders, just a matter of time for the Echo to work.

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post #7 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

1. Ability to boot directly to WMC..

Could you use this guide, but with eshell.exe instead of the xbmc executable?

http://cybernetnews.com/xbmc-run-boot-xbmc-startup-windows-8/

I've not moved over to 8 yet, so I can't say for sure but it looks like everything used were "here-to-stay" components rather than 3rd party workarounds
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post #8 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 05:10 PM
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I'm running win8 on my htpc. I just navigate through the start screen to what I want to open with my remote(sends keyboard presses).

Absolutely no benefit whatsoever over Windows 7

Quicker booting. Quicker file transfers. Quicker response to inputs. Has some cool apps(netflix limited keyboard support drives me insane). Did I mention it is quicker?

If you feel the need to bypass metro b/c you don't understand it then maybe you should go watch a couple Windows 8 for Dummies videos.

I do agree that I wouldn't trust Storage Spaces with rips that took me hundreds of hours to do, especially when I already have a file server.
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post #9 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 10:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlantNGo View Post

You chose a Trinity (socket FM2) APU with a Llano (socket FM1) motherboard. The sockets are not compatible. Look for a socket FM2 motherboard, for example Gigabyte GA-F2A75M-D3H or ASUS F2A85-M/CSM.

EDIT: Also your case looks to be mini-ITX while your choice of mobo is micro-ATX.

Thanks for the catch. I used the search function and selected A4, A6, or A8 and didn't realize there were multiple versions now. Thank youv ery much!
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post #10 of 27 Old 01-22-2013, 11:25 PM - Thread Starter
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How does the Intel 4000 graphics compare to that on the APU? I've built a system that would fit with a dual core i3@3.3ghz and the intel 4000 graphics for about $40 more.

I've only been using newegg and right now the only itx options for AMD seem to have quality issues with overheating.
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post #11 of 27 Old 01-23-2013, 06:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

There are only two "disadvantages" of WMC8 compared to WMC7:

1. Ability to boot directly to WMC.
2. Choice of extenders beyond the XBox 360.

The only one I would consider as "crippled" is #1. #2 is simply due to technological changes in RDP.

How about some compatbility problems with existing MC plugins?
Some tuners are having problems scanning channels
Big problem, yes, the losing the ability to launch MC at boot time (for a dedicated HTPC, this is a must)

Metro also doesn't work properly using a standard MC remote, making navigation very difficult. I've tried it, and it's very frustrating.
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post #12 of 27 Old 01-23-2013, 06:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macks View Post

I'm running win8 on my htpc. I just navigate through the start screen to what I want to open with my remote(sends keyboard presses).

Absolutely no benefit whatsoever over Windows 7

Quicker booting. Quicker file transfers. Quicker response to inputs. Has some cool apps(netflix limited keyboard support drives me insane). Did I mention it is quicker?

If you feel the need to bypass metro b/c you don't understand it then maybe you should go watch a couple Windows 8 for Dummies videos.

I do agree that I wouldn't trust Storage Spaces with rips that took me hundreds of hours to do, especially when I already have a file server.


Ok, how often do you boot your HTPC? If like me, pretty much never, unless you need to apply some patches. Don't do any major file transfers either, so this supposed speed increase isn't critical.

The MC interface (not Metro) has never been the fastest (it's not designed to be). As long as it responds to remote input without any lag, then that's fine. It's not going to be any quicker in 8.

So, I stand by my original statement, that for a dedicated HTPC, at the moment 8 offers no benefit whatsoever over 7. Infact I've read quite a few comments about some people having a nightmare with 8MC, and have gone back to 7MC, where it just works (checkout thegreenbutton.tv)
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post #13 of 27 Old 01-23-2013, 06:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tman247 View Post

Big problem, yes, the losing the ability to launch MC at boot time (for a dedicated HTPC, this is a must)
Quote:
Originally Posted by tman247 View Post

Ok, how often do you boot your HTPC? If like me, pretty much never, unless you need to apply some patches.

So not booting directly to MC is a big problem, but you hardly ever reboot your PC other than applying some patches. Hitting the Green Button on my remote (which my remote hits automatically when I push Watch TV) isn't a big deal. I didn't even have Win7 booting to WMC.

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post #14 of 27 Old 01-23-2013, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by ToiletDucky View Post

How does the Intel 4000 graphics compare to that on the APU? I've built a system that would fit with a dual core i3@3.3ghz and the intel 4000 graphics for about $40 more.

I've only been using newegg and right now the only itx options for AMD seem to have quality issues with overheating.
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Ok, how often do you boot your HTPC? If like me, pretty much never, unless you need to apply some patches. Don't do any major file transfers either, so this supposed speed increase isn't critical.

The MC interface (not Metro) has never been the fastest (it's not designed to be). As long as it responds to remote input without any lag, then that's fine. It's not going to be any quicker in 8.

So, I stand by my original statement, that for a dedicated HTPC, at the moment 8 offers no benefit whatsoever over 7. Infact I've read quite a few comments about some people having a nightmare with 8MC, and have gone back to 7MC, where it just works (checkout thegreenbutton.tv)

I remember screaming at my htpc trying to get 7MC to work. I don't remember anything just working. The only reason I can see to use wmc at all anymore is for hdhomerun prime and netflix. For everything else I would suggest xbmc(personal opinion).

ToiletDucky, with trying to combine your storage and htpc into one, I would highly suggest looking at an ATX build. You will probably save money going ATX anyways. As far as intel 4000 vs a8-5500 if you don't want to game then it probably doesn't matter, zotac makes a mini-itx fm2 board now. If you go ATX then you can more easily add a real gpu later on.
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post #15 of 27 Old 01-23-2013, 07:37 AM
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Calling #1 crippled is a bit of a stretch. I'd assume you could simply add the WMC shortcut to the start up folder. Doesn't matter for me since my remote macro launches WMC when turning on the system and Win 8 boots directly to the desktop with StartIsBack. No change from Win 7 for me. For #2 I only have 360 extenders, just a matter of time for the Echo to work.
I'm not sure how you define it but to me, deliberately removed functionality = crippled. Adding it to the startup menu does nothing unless you use a third party utility like StartIsBack (which again is needed because of removed functionality) to prevent booting to Metro. By adding it to the startup menu (not accessible through Metro by the way), it will open in the background but it still boots to Metro so you've accomplished nothing really.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Could you use this guide, but with eshell.exe instead of the xbmc executable?

http://cybernetnews.com/xbmc-run-boot-xbmc-startup-windows-8/

I've not moved over to 8 yet, so I can't say for sure but it looks like everything used were "here-to-stay" components rather than 3rd party workarounds
Or follow my own guide: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1437212/8mc-tips-tricks-and-tweaks wink.gif
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post #16 of 27 Old 01-23-2013, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Why so scared of Storage Spaces? It is Drive Extender with additional features. I might just keep the drives separate.

1) I've always HATED windows MCE so don't plan on ever using it. I'd rather have Plex and just use my iPad/android phone to control it.

2) I also don't want to change cases. This one received great reviews and lets me put everything in one system. Nothing really different than a small home server except with two you're doubling the odds of a failure without the increased redundancy. The ability to have up to 5 additional storage drives is huge.

Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk 2
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post #17 of 27 Old 01-23-2013, 10:50 AM
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What's wrong with your current WHS server that you are looking to consolidate it into a Windows 8 all-in-one?

Storage spaces performance is abysmal on write speed.

I'd just build a cheap HTPC that you can have go to sleep when you aren't using it if you are concerned about power consumption. Trust me you don't want 10 hard drives whirring away in your living room.
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post #18 of 27 Old 01-23-2013, 11:54 PM - Thread Starter
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What's wrong with your current WHS server that you are looking to consolidate it into a Windows 8 all-in-one?

Storage spaces performance is abysmal on write speed.

I'd just build a cheap HTPC that you can have go to sleep when you aren't using it if you are concerned about power consumption. Trust me you don't want 10 hard drives whirring away in your living room.

First off I could eliminate an entire PC. That's a whole unit just gone. I don't have to worry about finding a place to put it or running additional wiring. I don't have to worry about using my laptop to connect to it over a network when I can just do it correctly using a wireless keyboard and mouse by looking at the TV. I like having everything consolidated into one. As far as hard drive noise goes that's a thing of the past. WD Greens are balanced and quiet. I think I'll be going with those.

So back to the question at hand what is the graphics difference between the i3 with Intel HD 4000 or the A8 series APU? Had to do some hunting but was able to find another board that will work with the A8 and bring my cost down significantly.
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post #19 of 27 Old 01-24-2013, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToiletDucky View Post

First off I could eliminate an entire PC. That's a whole unit just gone. I don't have to worry about finding a place to put it or running additional wiring. I don't have to worry about using my laptop to connect to it over a network when I can just do it correctly using a wireless keyboard and mouse by looking at the TV. I like having everything consolidated into one. As far as hard drive noise goes that's a thing of the past. WD Greens are balanced and quiet. I think I'll be going with those.

So back to the question at hand what is the graphics difference between the i3 with Intel HD 4000 or the A8 series APU? Had to do some hunting but was able to find another board that will work with the A8 and bring my cost down significantly.

The A8 should blow away the i3 for GPU while lagging behind pretty significantly in CPU. As many have pointed out, the GPU is more important for most HTPC tasks these days. I was drawn to the low idle power of the APU and the gaming ability, so getting an APU was a no-brainer for me.
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post #20 of 27 Old 01-24-2013, 08:30 AM
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Comparing the gpu's on this i3 vs this a8 is pointless if you don't plan on gaming. Both will decode all of your media. Both will provide a good experience.

Both are considerably more powerful than what is needed by xbmc.

Which one is better for plex I don't know and someone else will have to answer for this. I consider transcoding to be stupid.

If you were only concerned with xbmc then I would suggest a much cheaper apu.
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post #21 of 27 Old 01-24-2013, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Why is transcoding stupid? I like the idea of being able to play media on multiple platforms.
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post #22 of 27 Old 01-24-2013, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlantNGo View Post

The A8 should blow away the i3 for GPU while lagging behind pretty significantly in CPU. As many have pointed out, the GPU is more important for most HTPC tasks these days. I was drawn to the low idle power of the APU and the gaming ability, so getting an APU was a no-brainer for me.

How well can you actually game on them? I figured it was just a talking point that wasn't really possible.
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post #23 of 27 Old 01-24-2013, 09:13 AM
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Why is transcoding stupid? I like the idea of being able to play media on multiple platforms.

This is really just my personal opinion. I find the loss of quality abysmal. I also have no desire to watch movies on my phone.

For your gaming question please see this review:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a10-5800k-a8-5600k-a6-5400k,3224-15.html

The a10-5800k just went on sale at newegg for 115. I would suggest you go ahead and order it if you would like to go this route.
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post #24 of 27 Old 01-24-2013, 09:45 AM
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There's a place for watching on a phone.. like on my commute and I have nothing but down time on the train so catching an episode of Breaking Bad is a decent idea. The problem is that streaming with PLEX doesn't handle it well when switching towers during the commute and crashes often. It would be nice if it would handle that better so it isn't as good as it seems. I think more buffering might solve this. I don't mind waiting a minute or two for it start if it didn't freeze during playback.

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post #25 of 27 Old 01-24-2013, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
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How well can you actually game on them? I figured it was just a talking point that wasn't really possible.

Tough to say--look at some of the benchmarks on the A10-5800K. I'm running an A10-5700 for the lower power and heat. When I bought my A10-5700, AMD was giving away DiRT Showdown for free (also given away with the A8s I believe but not the A6s). I can play it smoothly on 1280x720 at medium or high, probably could go 1920x1080 at low. More graphically demanding games might challenge it but it should play almost anything at low at decent resolution.

My take on gaming with an APU is to find a benchmark for something comparable to the most graphics-intensive game you play and see if your APU can perform acceptably (preferably with some headroom for the future). If so, buy the APU. If not, buy Intel + discrete GPU.
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post #26 of 27 Old 01-25-2013, 07:09 AM
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Have you tried using Subsonic? I find it worked well with streaming to Mobile
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post #27 of 27 Old 01-25-2013, 01:34 PM
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Have you tried using Subsonic? I find it worked well with streaming to Mobile

Subsonic handles music very well

It's biggest limitation for video is no transcoding. If you have a device that can decode streamed content within XBMC at home (depends on your device and your content) then subsonic works well for you. If not, plex is the only way I've found to get transcoding over the internet smoothly
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