NEED TO BUILD TWO COMPUTERS - HTPC AND MEDIA SERVER - noob - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 04-22-2013, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
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HTPC:

I am looking to build a HTPC to connect to a Denon AVR. I have never owned a HTPC before and after spending about a week reading through many forums , I have a general idea of what works but need some opinions before pulling the trigger.

Purpose:
1. Stream audio and video to a Denon AVR via HDMI. Video needs to be 1080p with support for 24 frames for movies. The AVR is connected to a 55" plasma TV.
2. Minimum noise - prefer a SSD build
3. Small form factor / should look good on a shelf.
4. Ability to Skype while sitting in the living room.
5. if needed, ability to add a HDD later.
6. Watch live TV via a OTA antenna (already own and using a HD homerun) and record to the media server.
7.Stream music from media server to the AVR.
8. I plan to use plex, but the HTPC will only house the client ( No transcoding at the HTPC)
9. Stream via Netflix / Hulu / Vudu


Questions / needs for the HTPC:
1. Is a fanless build worth $300 - 400 extra for the special cases? What is the quietest build that can be achieved with a fan?
2. Is a SSD only HTPC a good idea or should I consider putting a HDD along with a SSD ( I have never used a SSD before, so do not know the reliability factor well)?
3. If 4K becomes mainstream, then ability to add a graphics later that can support it.
4. Low power consumption.
5. Do I need a remote or controlling via an app from a smartphone is good enough?
6. Intel vs AMD - which runs cooler and lower power consumption would influence my decision.
7. Pico PSU with power brick or regular PSU?
8. If needed, have ability to add a TV tuner card to the HTPC.


What I already have / factors influencing decision:
1. I plan to run Win 8 pro - already own a copy
2. House prewired with Cat 5e - I do not plan to use wifi.
3. Already own HD HomeRun for the OTA antenna (Mohu Leaf which works great)

I need to buy all the hardware. However some of my thoughts on components:
1. Intel i3 / i5 / A6 trinity
2. HDplex fanless case vs a Silverstone case

Please provide your suggestions / critiques. This has become a long post already, so will start a separate one for the media server.

Thanks in advance,
conkydoc
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 01:08 PM
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If you're planning to build a media server separate from your HTPC then you shouldn't need anything but an SSD as a boot drive for your HTPC since I assume you're planning to store all your media on the server, right? SSDs are plenty reliable by the way and if you've never had one before I think you're going to be extremely happy with it since your boot times with Windows will be MUCH faster than without it.

As for fan noise this is a matter of personal taste but IMO it's not worth spending a lot of extra money on fanless. There are plenty of cases out there with stock fans that you won't hear from normal viewing distance and you can always buy better fans to upgrade too. Plus if you keep your HTPC to an SSD only there are good low power CPU options out there that shouldn't need to draw much power or generate much heat / fan noise. Just pay attention to what the case reviews say about fan noise and you shouldn't have to worry about it.

There are others here who are better qualified to guide you on your other questions so I'll leave it at that. Good luck!
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post #3 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conkydoc View Post

Questions / needs for the HTPC:
1. Is a fanless build worth $300 - 400 extra for the special cases? What is the quietest build that can be achieved with a fan?
2. Is a SSD only HTPC a good idea or should I consider putting a HDD along with a SSD ( I have never used a SSD before, so do not know the reliability factor well)?
3. If 4K becomes mainstream, then ability to add a graphics later that can support it.
4. Low power consumption.
5. Do I need a remote or controlling via an app from a smartphone is good enough?
6. Intel vs AMD - which runs cooler and lower power consumption would influence my decision.
7. Pico PSU with power brick or regular PSU?
8. If needed, have ability to add a TV tuner card to the HTPC.


This is coming from someone with a mITX system.

1. Definitely not worth that much more money. A good quality heatsink and aftermarket fan will be whisper quiet and inaudible from a few feet away, let alone the couch. Look at Noiseblocker brand fans, they're outstanding.

2. SSD is great so long as you house your main storage drives at the server, and are not planning on writing Live TV data to the SSD over and over.

3. I'd look at a Micro-ATX size build then. I'm currently using a low-profile GPU in mITX, but the choices are really limiting and most of the cards use tiny fans that can get loud. You'll have an easier time with a GPU this way.

4. Intel Ivy Bridge or upcoming Haswell and AMD Trinity are both great on power consumption. No worries here.

5. Smart phone app that turns your phone into a touchpad and keyboard is nice to have. A remote is better once you're up and running with a full screen interface though like WMC, XBMC, etc. Get a Harmony remote and a cheap IR dongle receiver.

6. Again, this is about a wash. IMO, if you're going to run a dedicated GPU, then go with Intel setup. If you want graphics on die only, then go with AMD Trinity APU's.

7. Go with regular PSU in a mATX case. I'm wishing I would've just done that instead of building in an Origen AE M10 case. The case looks really cool but the temps inside there make me sad.

8. HD Homerun Prime and all you need to worry about attaching is a network cable.
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post #4 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 02:54 PM
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Based on my recent experience building mATX and mini-ITX Ivy Bridge systems I don't see the need to go fanless. I suggest an i3 3220T with an SSD and a PicoPSU. The only fan you will need is the CPU fan that comes with the 3220T; it is very quiet. If you are using an mATX case you can cover hole intended for the ATX or mATX PSU.

Regarding the remote control. I suggest using an IR receiver and remote. Smartphone remote software works OK, but I personally find it too many steps to turn on the phone and launch the app before I can turn on the TV/HTPC.
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post #5 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Great...

So the processor fixed at a i3 3220T. I guess the only question will be that is it worth waiting for the haswell line to come out?

Ordered a Samsung SSD 128GB. And I do not plan to record over and over on the SSD. However, wonder how HULU / Netflix streaming works, it has to store a local cache on the SSD, does that affect read write cycles?

Can you please make mITX case and mobo suggestions?

/Thanks
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post #6 of 14 Old 04-25-2013, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess...its a cliche to ask for suggestions on HTPC builds. However, I would appreciate the communities help to finalize the build. The questions that remain:

1. Case: I have dropped the idea of going fanless. Please suggest a very quiet case.

2. Mobo: Mini ATX vs Micro-ATX? Any benefits of one vs. the other. Also suggestions for reliable mobo.

3. PSU: pico PSU or regular within the case?
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post #7 of 14 Old 04-25-2013, 06:04 PM
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Fractal Design 605

Micro ATX

Full PSU, a silverstone modular PSU with short cable set would be ideal
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post #8 of 14 Old 04-25-2013, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emcdade View Post

Fractal Design 605

Micro ATX

Full PSU, a silverstone modular PSU with short cable set would be ideal

Hmm...the case looks good but a review from Anadtech warns of poor thermal / noise performance :

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6532/fractal-design-node-605-case-review-is-fractal-design-ready-for-primetime

How about Silverstone GD05 / GD04? These cases 2 -3 fans, are they truly silent enough for a HTPC??
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post #9 of 14 Old 04-25-2013, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conkydoc View Post

I guess...its a cliche to ask for suggestions on HTPC builds. However, I would appreciate the communities help to finalize the build. The questions that remain:

1. Case: I have dropped the idea of going fanless. Please suggest a very quiet case.

2. Mobo: Mini ATX vs Micro-ATX? Any benefits of one vs. the other. Also suggestions for reliable mobo.

3. PSU: pico PSU or regular within the case?

As far as the case goes, I think you're thinking about it wrong. Cases aren't inherently loud or quiet.. fans are. Generally speaking, larger fans are quieter than smaller fans. Also, high RPM fans are noisier than low RPM fans. If you go with a micro-ATX form factor, then you have room for larger (quieter) fans. If you opt for a mini-ITX form factor, which is cramped by comparison to micro-ATX, then you'll have no choice but to use smaller fans. Depending on what case you choose, you'll probably end up having to replace the fans if you're trying to minimize noise.

As an example, I selected a thermaltake SD-100 for a mini-itx build (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811133091). The fans were noisy, so I ended up replacing them with fractal design fans (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835352001). The result is now that if it weren't for the LED's lit up, I would not be able to tell that the system is on. So, bottom line.. any case can be made as quiet as you want it to be. It's just a matter of selecting the right fans.

As far as motherboard goes, if you have the real estate for it, it's probably better to go with a micro-ATX case. You'll have room to add tuner cards, graphics, and audio cards in the future if you should choose to do so. Mini-itx restricts you to just what features you get onboard. There's usually not much room for upgrading, and managing the cabling in a case that small can be a real headache. And again.. if silence is a big requirement for you, the larger, lower-RPM fans in a micro-atx case would be better for you.

Most cases will come with a power supply, and those supplies are usually sufficient. No real need to replace those until they die.
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-02-2013, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user4avsforum View Post

Based on my recent experience building mATX and mini-ITX Ivy Bridge systems I don't see the need to go fanless. I suggest an i3 3220T with an SSD and a PicoPSU. The only fan you will need is the CPU fan that comes with the 3220T; it is very quiet. If you are using an mATX case you can cover hole intended for the ATX or mATX PSU.

Regarding the remote control. I suggest using an IR receiver and remote. Smartphone remote software works OK, but I personally find it too many steps to turn on the phone and launch the app before I can turn on the TV/HTPC.

1. How does the i3 - 3220T or 3225 perform when recording live tv esp. if using 2 tv tuners to record 2 shows simultaneously?

2. I am looking at Silverstone cases but none of them have a cut out for an IR receiver. Any other case suggestions with similar form factor. Any experience using Fractal design Node 605?
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-03-2013, 06:50 PM
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1) depends on the tuner. I can record 3 or 4 channels on my i3-3225 while watching one using HDHomeRun Prime tuners and a GigaBit switch. I don't think USB tuners would work that well.
2) got a drill?
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post #12 of 14 Old 05-05-2013, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by olyteddy View Post

1) depends on the tuner. I can record 3 or 4 channels on my i3-3225 while watching one using HDHomeRun Prime tuners and a GigaBit switch. I don't think USB tuners would work that well.
2) got a drill?

hahaha...I have a drill but probably don't want to give it try with the case ( I am a not at all good with a drill). Maybe I can stick with a RF keyboard / remote. Any suggestions?
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post #13 of 14 Old 05-06-2013, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conkydoc View Post

1. How does the i3 - 3220T or 3225 perform when recording live tv esp. if using 2 tv tuners to record 2 shows simultaneously?

2. I am looking at Silverstone cases but none of them have a cut out for an IR receiver. Any other case suggestions with similar form factor. Any experience using Fractal design Node 605?

If Atom can support 2 simultaneous channel recording/viewing, why would i3 not?

It is not like the old days when broadcast was analog and CPU had to convert it to digital to record/view. Currently, in the US, except for a few small pockets, there is no analog broadcast. With digital broadcast, there is no conversion, but more of handig it off one to another.

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 #14 of 14 Old 05-06-2013, 07:34 PM
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There's a whole line of "shelf worthy" mini-ITX cases here. The i3-3225 with a mini-ITX board is a great choice. It'll do just about everything HTPC.

My G620 HTPC can record a couple of shows at the same time with ease. It's really about the I/O not the CPU.

 

 

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