considering Mini ITX build - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 03-25-2013, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
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My Popcorn Hour A-110 just aint cutting it anymore and I want to build a HTPC. I've already purchased and am reading the Assassin guides, and purchased a Win7 Pro license at the same time.

My primary requirements are: i3 Ivy Bridge HD 4000, play blu-ray (main movie only) rips with HD audio from attached 4-bay Mediasonic USB enclosure, stream SD and 720p movie and TV show Handbrake rips from NAS, stream mp3s and lossless flac & alac audio from NAS, and a nice looking front end, probably XBMC (possibly JRiver, still researching).

Secondary requirements / nice-to-haves are: control via an iPad (this would be especially nice for music), a port-multiplier aware eSATA connection for the Mediasonic (USB is fine but it has an eSATA connection and would be nice to use it), and play disc-based media (as I understand it playing commercial blu-ray can be somewhat problematic).

Minor requirements: video streaming services like Netflix (don't have at this time) or Amazon (have Prime) and internet radio (Pandora, Spotify) integrated into XBMC (or whatever front end), web surfing (any chance of integrating Chrome into XBMC?)

Not a requirement at all: watching / recording Live TV via cable / OTA, just don't care, cut that cord a long time ago.

Also, maybe not an absolute requirement but I really want it, is a really nice looking case. I'm looking at the various cases on perfecthometheater.com, the Wesena ITX6 in particular (currently not in stock, may consider something similar). Mini ITX builds don't seem that common though, it seems to be mostly Full or Micro ATX, and I fear it may be more difficult than I can handle to get everything to fit.

Finally, a couple questions:

Does anyone have any experience with the Wesena cases? I have no experience with Mini ITX and I'm concerned that something like the ASRock H77M-ITX or ASUS P8H77-I may be too tight of a fit? Or maybe all Mini ITX are more or less the same and my concern is unwarranted?

The v3 Wesena cases are supposedly compatible with any slot optical drive. Any recommendations on a blu-ray drive?

I figured I would just go with whatever RAM and SSD drive recommended in the Assassin guide unless anyone has any concerns or updated info to share?

Any advice on Mini ITX builds in general? Because they're so small, is it pretty difficult to get everything to fit?

FWIW, I'm also considering a Mac Mini. I just really like the look and size. B&H has the 2012 base model (i5 HD 4000) for $550 which seems like a good deal. I would still install Win7, but it would be kind of cool to occasionally boot into Mac (I use Win7 and Mac everyday for work but am mainly a Mac guy).

TIA
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post #2 of 6 Old 03-26-2013, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnelson87 View Post

Mini ITX builds don't seem that common though, it seems to be mostly Full or Micro ATX, and I fear it may be more difficult than I can handle to get everything to fit....

...Any advice on Mini ITX builds in general? Because they're so small, is it pretty difficult to get everything to fit?...

I have done a couple of mini-ITX builds as well as a couple of extremely small mATX builds that required the use of PicoPSU to get everything to fit. Based on that here are some thoughts.

Mini-ITX does take planning to make sure everything fits properly and can be a little bit of a puzzle to assemble things in the right order to make sure you have easy access to all of the mounting locations, screws, and cable routes. Your first time can be a tricky depending on the case and components, don't be surprised if it takes a little trial and error.

Cable routing can be tricky for a few reasons. The crowded mini-ITX board layout sometimes forces connectors in odd and far locations. Mini-ITX cases and PicoPSUs often have short cables. The CPU + fan takes a huge percent of the board real estate and must be routed around to make sure the cables fo not hit the fan. I strongly suggest using reusable cable ties.

PicoPSUs do not always have enough power connectors or the right kind of connectors for your specific build. Investigate this early and buy or build whatever power cable adapters you may need.
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post #3 of 6 Old 03-26-2013, 10:38 AM
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Not really what you are asking for but I'm curious.

Why are you building a mini-itx and then attaching an external hdd caddy?

Wouldn't buying a bigger case be a better option?
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-26-2013, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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@user4avsforum
Thanks for the comments. I figured cable management would be tricky. I haven't even considered the power supply yet.

@macks
I'm still rolling everything around in my head and I realize my questions aren't very clear. I suppose I'm mainly looking for any advice and guidance, some parts recommendations or any parts I should avoid, or anything else I may not have thought of.
To answer your questions: I want a Mini ITX HTPC because I like the way it looks. I'm open to considering a larger case as long as it doesn't look like a computer sitting in my entertainment center, and not too expensive. I already have the Mediasonic 4 bay enclosure and it does it's job just fine. It's hooked-up to my PCH A110 and tucked away in the back so you can't see it.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-26-2013, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by cnelson87 View Post

@user4avsforum
Thanks for the comments. I figured cable management would be tricky. I haven't even considered the power supply yet.

@macks
I'm still rolling everything around in my head and I realize my questions aren't very clear. I suppose I'm mainly looking for any advice and guidance, some parts recommendations or any parts I should avoid, or anything else I may not have thought of.
To answer your questions: I want a Mini ITX HTPC because I like the way it looks. I'm open to considering a larger case as long as it doesn't look like a computer sitting in my entertainment center, and not too expensive. I already have the Mediasonic 4 bay enclosure and it does it's job just fine. It's hooked-up to my PCH A110 and tucked away in the back so you can't see it.

If you already have the mediasonic then that's a good reason.

Amazon Instant Video on PC is basically limited to your browser so if you are wanting to use a remote control it is a no-go.

Netflix apps on other platforms are much better than anything on the pc if you are using a remote control.

It is much easier to rip blu-rays from a desktop or laptop than from the htpc. Getting it setup to work automatically from your htpc can be a pain. Just forego any drives in your htpc, it's really not that bad to wait 20 minutes to rip it and then watch. I realize a lot of people disagree with me on this point but I thought I'd share my opinion.

Don't sweat RAM or SSD too much. Any modern SSD is overkill for a htpc. I would get at least a 64GB SSD though. 4gb of ram is actually a lot for xbmc. Some of the JRiver people say that you need really fast ram and a lot of it for JRiver, I don't believe them though.
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-26-2013, 03:06 PM
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The Realan E-i7 looks to fit your bill:

900x900px-LL-074db3ac_E-i72.jpeg

There is a thread about them here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1407043/realan-e-i5-e-i7-mini-itx-case-builds

This case will easily accomodate a desktop CPU and mini-ITX motherboard. It comes with a power supply. Cabling and ventilation isn't an issue. It's very easy to work with. I've built many i3 / ASRock H77M-ITX. ASUS P8H77-I and Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI (among others) builds in them. Add a quiet 80mm fan and use the Dynatron T459 CPU cooler and it'll run very cool and quiet.

 

 

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