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post #1 of 58 Old 07-28-2013, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been interested in a home theater pc for many years. Now that I am finally fed up with directv and cable, I'd like some help from those who know what hey are doing.

First, I have limited computer skills. I can follow directions and troubleshoot, but I have never built an HTCP.... Should I just stop here and buy one? I saw the ones offered from Assassin, and if I had the money, would buy one in a second. So can someone with limited skills build one?

I'd like to keep this at $500, but probably could stretch a bit more if needed.

I don't game. AT ALL. Ha. All I want to do is use this system for watching TV, burning movie,accessing the Internet/use it like a legitimate computer for fantasy football on Sundays.. I'd like netflix, Hulu plus, etc all available. I'd like to dvr ota broadcasting for the CBS, NBC, etc. shows. I would love for it to have a BluRay player, as well, if its possible. II guess I'd also like to stream from my iPhone, iPad, etc. Is it possible for other TVs in my house with wifi, like the Google TV someone bought for me, to access the DVR on a HTCP?

I'm not sure where to start, but will continue to read the forums to learn as much as I can.

I'd love to start soon, but without some help, I'll just sit here and dream. Thanks for your help!
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post #2 of 58 Old 07-28-2013, 05:43 PM
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Well, I wouldn't say I know what I'm doing (I'm sure many would agree), but I have successfully put together a couple of HTPCs very, very cheaply. The first one was an old HP from Goodwill for $25. I added to that a $100 second hand Ceton InfiniTV 4, 4GB RAM for $30 or so, a 1TB drive for $80, 64GB SSD for $60, video card for $15, gigantic CPU cooler for $20 (mostly to get as close to silent as I could), and an IR dongle for $15, for a grand total of $330. Recently I found a more recent, really small form factor Acer (circa 2011) on ebay for $50 and transplanted nearly everything into that, mainly for a bit more speed and to save space. So it can be done for well under $500 if you're willing to buy older stuff.

I understand the desire to have everything in one box, but there are too many compromises with that approach IMO. For $50 you can get an excellent second hand streaming BD player for Netflix, HuluPlus and discs of course. Otherwise you're looking at far lower PQ, and more expense and complexity with Netflix and disc playback on your PC. Others will disagree, but I get the best results using a PC for what it does best and other boxes for what they do best.

In any case, definitely check out Assasin's guide for some expert advice.


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post #3 of 58 Old 07-28-2013, 06:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, I appreciate the device.

So I should just keep my Roku and other things separate? I'd like to be able to completely cut cable, and essentially boot up a machine and watch TV without paying through the nose.

Maybe I will PM Assassin and pick his brain if he's willing.
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post #4 of 58 Old 07-28-2013, 07:34 PM
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$500 is really tight for doing all of that. $600-700 would be better imo. TO stream to ipad and all that crap I think you would need Plex Media Server .
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post #5 of 58 Old 07-29-2013, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcguidance View Post

Thanks, I appreciate the device.

So I should just keep my Roku and other things separate? I'd like to be able to completely cut cable, and essentially boot up a machine and watch TV without paying through the nose.

Maybe I will PM Assassin and pick his brain if he's willing.
If you value having everything on the same device more than PQ or ease of use, then you can get rid of the Roku. I personally would keep the Roku for streaming and just use the PC for TV as I said before. A lot of people do blu-ray on their PC, but I personally don't think that's a good idea when the alternatives are easier/better/cheaper in most respects. A streaming blu-ray player can replace a Ruko in most cases. If you're worried about the difficulty from switching inputs, just get a universal remote. Decent ones start around $8.

When you say completely cut the cable, I assume you mean keep internet but drop your cable TV programming package. In that case you don't need a cable card tuner like the Ceton but something like an HD HomeRun instead, which is quite a bit cheaper than a cable card tuner. I use Remote Potato for iPhone/iPad streaming. It works fairly well for recorded TV. Live TV is another story. But you can easily start a recording and just chase it, getting live after a short delay.

Assassin has written a ton of documents covering everything you've asked in great detail. He'd probably prefer you read those rather than PM.


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post #6 of 58 Old 07-29-2013, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcguidance View Post

Thanks, I appreciate the device.

So I should just keep my Roku and other things separate? I'd like to be able to completely cut cable, and essentially boot up a machine and watch TV without paying through the nose.

Maybe I will PM Assassin and pick his brain if he's willing.

If you value having everything on the same device more than PQ or ease of use, then you can get rid of the Roku. I personally would keep the Roku for streaming and just use the PC for TV as I said before. A lot of people do blu-ray on their PC, but I personally don't think that's a good idea when the alternatives are easier/better/cheaper in most respects. A streaming blu-ray player can replace a Ruko in most cases. If you're worried about the difficulty from switching inputs, just get a universal remote. Decent ones start around $8.

When you say completely cut the cable, I assume you mean keep internet but drop your cable TV programming package. In that case you don't need a cable card tuner like the Ceton but something like an HD HomeRun instead, which is quite a bit cheaper than a cable card tuner. I use Remote Potato for iPhone/iPad streaming. It works fairly well for recorded TV. Live TV is another story. But you can easily start a recording and just chase it, getting live after a short delay.

Assassin has written a ton of documents covering everything you've asked in great detail. He'd probably prefer you read those rather than PM.

Huh? While I do have content stored on my PC as well as my HTPC and use the HTPC for TV as well as streaming local and internet content, I'm not understanding this statement. How does the Roku give better PQ than a full PC with a GPU?

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post #7 of 58 Old 07-29-2013, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by mcguidance View Post


I'd like to keep this at $500, but probably could stretch a bit more if needed.

I don't game. AT ALL. Ha. All I want to do is use this system for watching TV, burning movie,accessing the Internet/use it like a legitimate computer for fantasy football on Sundays.. I'd like netflix, Hulu plus, etc all available. I'd like to dvr ota broadcasting for the CBS, NBC, etc. shows. I would love for it to have a BluRay player, as well, if its possible. II guess I'd also like to stream from my iPhone, iPad, etc. Is it possible for other TVs in my house with wifi, like the Google TV someone bought for me, to access the DVR on a HTCP?

If all you want is OTA DVR, with some HULU and Netflix, a cheap Ion/Hudson based PC will do.

You can build a few of them and tie them together, since you will not have to deal with copyright protection, or use XBOX360 or a dedicated extender to add addtional TV's to the HTPC. However, with extenders you have to boost you CPU to a more powerful one, that can handle extenders.

Basic HTPC can be easily built for $300 if you get in on all the deals. The last PC (desktop) cost me $100 in parts to build (lots of rebate deals) and it is no slouch, a quad core Athlon. Does what I need it to do.

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 #8 of 58 Old 07-29-2013, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

Huh? While I do have content stored on my PC as well as my HTPC and use the HTPC for TV as well as streaming local and internet content, I'm not understanding this statement. How does the Roku give better PQ than a full PC with a GPU?
I was mainly referring to Netflix and HuluPlus, not local files, since that's all the OP mentioned. On WMC 7 at least, Netflix is only 720p (less than half the resolution of a streaming box) and barely even works anymore (postage stamp bug, missing progress bar bug, no DD+5.1, outdated interface, etc.). HuluPlus isn't much better since the resolution is generally awful, and it has to run outside of WMC anyway. Even in Win 8, while Netflix PQ is better, you can't even control it with a remote. A cheap streaming box is much better at these things. It just works, at the highest possible resolution and is very easy to use. I've tried to live with the WMC version of these apps for the sake of a unified solution but it just isn't worth all the drawbacks IMO. None of them work on extenders either, so what's the point in having one solution on one TV and something different on other TVs anyway? If you have a lot of local files, then HTPC makes more sense I guess. But there are very good stand-alone streaming boxes for that too, like Dune.

As for why a Roku or similar device, like a $35 Chromecast, can stream Netflix at twice the resolution as a PC with a much more powerful CPU and GPU, that's a question for Microsoft and Netflix I guess. That one blows my mind as well. I'd love to know the answer.


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post #9 of 58 Old 07-31-2013, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Great information here, thanks guy. Assassin was nice enough to answer so I am going to work with his company to see if I can get something going.
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post #10 of 58 Old 08-04-2013, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so after reading more and more, I feel like I want a challenge. Here is the component list I've created and the corresponding price. It's a working list so feel free to chime in with your thoughts, suggestions etc. Ater reading a ton, it looks like I will double the budget smile.gif


i5 gen intel 4670 3.4 ghz LGA 1150 and asrock z87 extreme4 mobo/proc, bundled - $275 for both at Microcenter
Silverstone tek atx sst lc10b e Case- $135 Amazon (not sold on this, but it's in the running)
Samsung 840 series 120 SSD - $97 Amazon
Placeholder for storage- need a 4TB drive, looking for the best price, need suggestions here
Asus DVD/BR burner/player- $79 after mail in rebate, Microcenter
4GB Ram Corsair Vengence ddr3 1600 Memory - $49 (leaning 8GB if I want to use the Colossus without hiccups)
Hauppauge Colossus - $80 eBay, important for my Directv cable provider. Plus I will get some usage out of burning all home movies onto bluray
Wireless pci ~$20
Logitech keyboard - $30
Windows 7 a should be able to get a student discount for ~$75

$840 without the HD.... Thoughts and suggestions? AM I missing something? Anything?
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post #11 of 58 Old 08-04-2013, 06:53 PM
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First,

Your Mobo and CPU are ideal IMO. Nice choices. I would do the same myself.

Silverstone cases are nice. Samsung SSD is nice. You could bump up to a Samsung 840PRO or OCZ vector if you catch a deal (they are better) but if not your choice is great for that price. Better than most. I would also get 8GB DDR3 and I would try to get 2400mhz if you can. It makes a difference in some applications like MadVR and SVP (if you want to do you might add a GPU card) Since you CPU is up to the task- it's nice to know you can do this even if you don't want to do it right away. There is a small performance increase with faster DDR3 RAM- 2400mhz is often not much more in cost too.

Ok- the bad. PCI WIRELESS?? DA FUQ ???? U SERIOUS ???

You might want to think that one over a bit. Generally it's not advisable for a HTPC and full 1080p will skip. Powerline adapters or wired is much better choice. You will need a pure line of sight to use wireless, it's just not fast enough otherwise.

-

"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #12 of 58 Old 08-04-2013, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by mcguidance View Post

Ok, so after reading more and more, I feel like I want a challenge. Here is the component list I've created and the corresponding price. It's a working list so feel free to chime in with your thoughts, suggestions etc. Ater reading a ton, it looks like I will double the budget smile.gif


i5 gen intel 4670 3.4 ghz LGA 1150 and asrock z87 extreme4 mobo/proc, bundled - $275 for both at Microcenter
Silverstone tek atx sst lc10b e Case- $135 Amazon (not sold on this, but it's in the running)
Samsung 840 series 120 SSD - $97 Amazon
Placeholder for storage- need a 4TB drive, looking for the best price, need suggestions here
Asus DVD/BR burner/player- $79 after mail in rebate, Microcenter
4GB Ram Corsair Vengence ddr3 1600 Memory - $49 (leaning 8GB if I want to use the Colossus without hiccups)
Hauppauge Colossus - $80 eBay, important for my Directv cable provider. Plus I will get some usage out of burning all home movies onto bluray
Wireless pci ~$20
Logitech keyboard - $30
Windows 7 a should be able to get a student discount for ~$75

$840 without the HD.... Thoughts and suggestions? AM I missing something? Anything?

1. Used wired whenever possible except when its literally impossible to do so (and not merely just and inconvenience).

2. If you are going with internal storage I would go with a larger case personally that allows you room to grow. You will be amazed how quickly you fill up a single 4TB drive.


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post #13 of 58 Old 08-04-2013, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
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First,

Your Mobo and CPU are ideal IMO. Nice choices. I would do the same myself.

Silverstone cases are nice. Samsung SSD is nice. You could bump up to a Samsung 840PRO or OCZ vector if you catch a deal (they are better) but if not your choice is great for that price. Better than most. I would also get 8GB DDR3 and I would try to get 2400mhz if you can. It makes a difference in some applications like MadVR and SVP (if you want to do you might add a GPU card) Since you CPU is up to the task- it's nice to know you can do this even if you don't want to do it right away. There is a small performance increase with faster DDR3 RAM- 2400mhz is often not much more in cost too.

Ok- the bad. PCI WIRELESS?? DA FUQ ???? U SERIOUS ???

You might want to think that one over a bit. Generally it's not advisable for a HTPC and full 1080p will skip. Powerline adapters or wired is much better choice. You will need a pure line of sight to use wireless, it's just not fast enough otherwise.

Ok so I will update the ram. Any suggestions specifically?

I will keep my eye open for a deal on the SSD...

Haha, so no pic wireless. I was trying my best not to hard wire since I will have to drill into my floors and then run the wire through the crawl space. Ugh, but ok. Doable. Unless powerline adapter is ok? Is it not as good as hardwiring?
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

1. Used wired whenever possible except when its literally impossible to do so (and not merely just and inconvenience).

Note, clearly I'm a novice, but this is great simple advice.

2. If you are going with internal storage I would go with a larger case personally that allows you room to grow. You will be amazed how quickly you fill up a single 4TB drive.

Any cases in particular you'd recommend?

Thanks again, guys.
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post #14 of 58 Old 08-04-2013, 07:31 PM
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Any cases in particular you'd recommend?

Thanks again, guys.

Assassin HTPC Guides: Cases


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post #15 of 58 Old 08-04-2013, 07:34 PM
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Haha, so no pic wireless. I was trying my best not to hard wire since I will have to drill into my floors and then run the wire through the crawl space. Ugh, but ok. Doable. Unless powerline adapter is ok? Is it not as good as hardwiring?
Powerline is ok, but ~$120 -vs- ~$20 and a much higher speed connection...


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post #16 of 58 Old 08-04-2013, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Found the case I'd most likely use: Silverstone SST-GD08B

And wired it is.




G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2400 (PC3 19200) Desktop Memory Model F3-2400C11D-8GAB

$62 after a $15 off, free shipping. I could get behind that if its decent RAM?
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post #17 of 58 Old 08-15-2013, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Any recommendations on a power supply given my setup? Headed to microcenter and would like to make one trip. Thanks guys.
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post #18 of 58 Old 08-15-2013, 11:54 AM
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I don't have one around here but looking at their site (if they have it in store) I'd probably just pick up a Corsair HX Series HX750

CX Series CX500M or 600M if you need to save some money.

Running Windows Home Server 2011 Evil Abandoned Edition
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post #19 of 58 Old 08-15-2013, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Awesome thanks.
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post #20 of 58 Old 08-15-2013, 12:11 PM
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Corsair may not be everyone's favorite choice but they are always a solid/safe bet and it looks like they are a pretty good price there.

Running Windows Home Server 2011 Evil Abandoned Edition
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post #21 of 58 Old 08-15-2013, 04:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I spoke to the guy and they didn't have them but there was another one on sale so I wound up spending $49 for a 600w ps.
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post #22 of 58 Old 08-15-2013, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Just waiting on my copy of Windows 7 and the build begins!

Also was able to get my 75ft and 25ft cat cable and hdmi cables at monoprice for even cheaper than normal with a 20% off coupon I found online.
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post #23 of 58 Old 08-15-2013, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry for the endless questions but does anyone know if the harmony mx-810 (my dad bought this bit never used it) can work with the hauppauge colossus and do everything else I need it to do for my build?? I can buy the mce remote and ir dongle but if the dongle with the colossus can work in its place I'd hate to overlook it. Generally speaking can I use the harmony for everything?
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post #24 of 58 Old 08-16-2013, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Anyone? Or perhaps point me in the direction of a good source/thread with the information.
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post #25 of 58 Old 08-19-2013, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcguidance View Post

Haha, so no pic wireless. I was trying my best not to hard wire since I will have to drill into my floors and then run the wire through the crawl space.

ummm, why drill into the floors? Are your walls brick, or stone? If they are sheet rock aka dry wall, you run wires in the space between the drywall, where the studs are. Very easy to run wires from the attic or basement. You just install a clean looking wall plate with a keystone jack, and pin out the wires. Takes anywhere from 10 minutes to half hour to run a wire.

Drilling into floors and having wires run like that is just one step from the ghetto cable installers running wires along the floor mouldings.

Just get fish tape, or fish rod at Harbor Freight for $10. You don't need "professional" quality tools to run half a dozen wires. Buying ethernet in bulk is cheap, but if all you need is a couple feet, get a 100 ft spool from home depot.

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 #26 of 58 Old 08-19-2013, 08:11 AM - Thread Starter
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ummm, why drill into the floors? Are your walls brick, or stone? If they are sheet rock aka dry wall, you run wires in the space between the drywall, where the studs are. Very easy to run wires from the attic or basement. You just install a clean looking wall plate with a keystone jack, and pin out the wires. Takes anywhere from 10 minutes to half hour to run a wire.

Drilling into floors and having wires run like that is just one step from the ghetto cable installers running wires along the floor mouldings.

Just get fish tape, or fish rod at Harbor Freight for $10. You don't need "professional" quality tools to run half a dozen wires. Buying ethernet in bulk is cheap, but if all you need is a couple feet, get a 100 ft spool from home depot.

Plaster walls with lathing, is this still possible?
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post #27 of 58 Old 08-19-2013, 09:54 AM
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yes.

Get this:

http://www.harborfreight.com/3-16-inch-x-33-ft-fiberglass-wire-running-kit-65326.html


I did my plaster with this... the whole house

-

"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #28 of 58 Old 08-19-2013, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, the only thing remaining to buy for in-wall ethernet installation is the above tool, and I'm headed there now.

Purchased wire, keystone jacks and plates, and punch down tool.
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post #29 of 58 Old 08-19-2013, 03:28 PM
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So have you put it together yet?

Im actually doing something very similiar to you.

Mines going to cost about 1k, i will put in a low profile gpu, the 7750 or wait for lp9750. And not use a tuner.

My ourpose will be for movies stored on local hdd, and gaming.

This is how my build will look

Origen M10 (bought already arrives tomorrow)
I5 3330
Z77 mini itx
8 gb corsair xms ram
Plextor 128gb msata
1tb hdd (bought already, will add more later)
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post #30 of 58 Old 08-19-2013, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oxn View Post

So have you put it together yet?

Im actually doing something very similiar to you.

Mines going to cost about 1k, i will put in a low profile gpu, the 7750 or wait for lp9750. And not use a tuner.

My ourpose will be for movies stored on local hdd, and gaming.

This is how my build will look

Origen M10 (bought already arrives tomorrow)
I5 3330
Z77 mini itx
8 gb corsair xms ram
Plextor 128gb msata
1tb hdd (bought already, will add more later)

I haven't actually started to put it together because I am waiting on my copy o Windows 7 to arrive. eBay said it should've been delivered today so it's already late. Hopefully it comes tomorrow and I can start the fun stuff.

Edit: I've never done anything but put RAM in a MacBook before, so I hope I don't screw this up.
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