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post #1 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 09:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I want to get a HTPC but don't feel like building it myself.

Can someone recommend a shop that recommends components and does the build?

Only one I could find was Assassin which looks to be pretty dead.

Any help appreciated, thanks.
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post #2 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 09:14 AM
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Assassin isn't dead, AFAIK.

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post #3 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 09:33 AM
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I feel dumb asking but what is "AFAIK" ?

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post #4 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 09:41 AM
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post #5 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 09:44 AM
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There's never a dumb question. If you don't ask, you never know..

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post #6 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

There's never a dumb question. If you don't ask, you never know..

But most dumb questions can be answered with Google.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=AFAIK
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post #7 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 10:50 AM
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The main thing you first need to decide is how you plan on using the htpc as htpc means different things to different people. Since I have 2 400 disk bluray carousels I don't care about getting that library into my computer and the htpc takes the place of my tv viewing with cablecard tuners and using wmc extenders for the WHDVR experience... the latest offering from my provider wants $33.50/month for their DVR before even paying for even the most basic of programming packages... each additional tv will be between $5 and $8.50/month (more if those tvs are also dvrs...I was told the newest offering may have a streaming device for other tvs for $5 rather than a full tuner for $8.50... I have not seen these $5/month units yet). My cablecard rental is only $2. At $8.50/month it basically pays to have an xbox there in about 18 months. If my provider marked more as copy freely, I would strongly consider HTPCs as well as other streaming devices instead of xbox's to use at each tv but with everything marked copy once, I am "stuck" using WMC and extenders... I am not "complaining" about using WMC and extenders as I do think it offers a good user experience but I always believe more options is better.

Personally, I think any modern computer can serve as an htpc and no matter what you "buy" will do you well but most name brands throw so much junk software into it that I feel its best to start from scratch (though usually a custom machine built just for you won't have all that bloatware). You should look over assassin's guides to have an idea about how you want it configured and how much of the software setup you will be willing to do yourself.. Depending on what you want to do will determine if you need more power or storage. For many if they have a library of disks they wish to transcode and store it helps to have that more powerful processor in the beginning when they have lots to do but after that initial batch they probably will have much too powerful of a computer for what they really need and there is a trend now in trying to be greener and use less power in such machines...even an ARM based computer will probably be more than most need for their everyday HTPC functions but there will be occasions you want more (if you have a powerful all purpose machine, you may not need more for your HTPC machines as it can be used when you need that extra power.

I have never known anyone to complain about a machine from Assassin HTPC... they are a little more than I like to spend so I build my own, but I do believe his markup is fair for buying a custom built pc and there probably isn't any better out there to give HTPC support (though I don't know how busy they are and how that affects how fast they can respond for support).
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post #8 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 11:19 AM
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You would be amazed at how easy it is to build a HTPC and set it up for how you want to use it. I can honestly say that using Assassin's guide paid for itself when I built mine. Very easy to follow once you have the hardware installed. And building it your self can save you some $$ that you could apply towards better components.....

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post #9 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 11:39 AM
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I'd say it is pretty easy even without buying a guide.

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post #10 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

I'd say it is pretty easy even without buying a guide.

I'd say that too, but I'm biased and have been screwing with my computer's insides for a long time anyway. It can be a little intimidating if you haven't done it before, but you are right in that no matter what your experience, it is not "Difficult", it is mostly finding a good step by step and getting over personal fears. Assassin's guide usually is a great start, as well as his personal build service. A lot of us are biased toward DIY stuff here wink.gif
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post #11 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 11:51 AM
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Building isn't bad if you've worked in a PC before - adding a hard drive, changing a video card, upgrading ram, installing Windows. Stuff to give you the confidence to put the entire thing together.

It's not hard but it could definitely be intimidating to someone who's never been inside a PC case before - especially connecting the various case wires and jumpers to the motherboard, then trying to boot from the correct place.

It's kind of like saying it's not too hard to change the oil in your car yourself, but I don't know very many people who do it.

Assassin has been very helpful to me in the past and he really knows how to integrate the various plugins, filters, and decoders. Vidabox and S1 Digital have been making htpcs for a while. Asrock makes some too, but they look overpriced for what you get.

My HTPC front end set up
Integration for whole home ATSC, CableCARD, FM radio, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, DVD, VHS control & capture, video games, and archived & streaming media playback
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post #12 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Hmm, maybe I should consider building it myself then.

About 3 PCs ago (2007?) I built a PC using a guide I bought on the internet. I had a situation where it didn't boot and I had no idea what part might be the culprit; I had to order an extra motherboard, ram & CPU so I could troubleshoot and then return items accordingly and I've been lazy ever since.

I do swap out hard drives, video cards, etc on a regular basis though so maybe I should just do it... definitely something to think about.

Thanks.
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post #13 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by signcarver View Post

The main thing you first need to decide is how you plan on using the htpc as htpc means different things to different people. Since I have 2 400 disk bluray carousels I don't care about getting that library into my computer and the htpc takes the place of my tv viewing with cablecard tuners and using wmc extenders for the WHDVR experience... the latest offering from my provider wants $33.50/month for their DVR before even paying for even the most basic of programming packages... each additional tv will be between $5 and $8.50/month (more if those tvs are also dvrs...I was told the newest offering may have a streaming device for other tvs for $5 rather than a full tuner for $8.50... I have not seen these $5/month units yet). My cablecard rental is only $2. At $8.50/month it basically pays to have an xbox there in about 18 months. If my provider marked more as copy freely, I would strongly consider HTPCs as well as other streaming devices instead of xbox's to use at each tv but with everything marked copy once, I am "stuck" using WMC and extenders... I am not "complaining" about using WMC and extenders as I do think it offers a good user experience but I always believe more options is better.

Personally, I think any modern computer can serve as an htpc and no matter what you "buy" will do you well but most name brands throw so much junk software into it that I feel its best to start from scratch (though usually a custom machine built just for you won't have all that bloatware). You should look over assassin's guides to have an idea about how you want it configured and how much of the software setup you will be willing to do yourself.. Depending on what you want to do will determine if you need more power or storage. For many if they have a library of disks they wish to transcode and store it helps to have that more powerful processor in the beginning when they have lots to do but after that initial batch they probably will have much too powerful of a computer for what they really need and there is a trend now in trying to be greener and use less power in such machines...even an ARM based computer will probably be more than most need for their everyday HTPC functions but there will be occasions you want more (if you have a powerful all purpose machine, you may not need more for your HTPC machines as it can be used when you need that extra power.

I have never known anyone to complain about a machine from Assassin HTPC... they are a little more than I like to spend so I build my own, but I do believe his markup is fair for buying a custom built pc and there probably isn't any better out there to give HTPC support (though I don't know how busy they are and how that affects how fast they can respond for support).

Thanks. I also have a 400 disc blu-ray carousel. I made the mistake of moving it from one room to another and when I turned it on, all my discs were bouncing around like clothes in a washing machine. Let that be fair warning to you - don't ever tilt your machines - not even slightly! I took that opportunity to start a movie server. While I mostly need the machine to play back ripped films @ 1080p I also have a lot of handbraking (video compression) that I want to do so I want an i7.
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post #14 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian_Currie View Post

I want to get a HTPC but don't feel like building it myself.

Can someone recommend a shop that recommends components and does the build?

Only one I could find was Assassin which looks to be pretty dead.

Any help appreciated, thanks.

What is your budget? What do you want to do with it ?

That will help us help you.

You have three options:

Buy a consumer oriented and MFG HTPC like an Asrock, HP, Dell, etc... They are turn key with a warranty but cost the most- and usually not as good quality and value
or,
Buy a put together machine and designed with consumer parts. I. E. Assassin HTPC or you could even pay a veteran of this forum a small fee to assemble and set it up for you. 10% of the cost is a reasonable build fee IMO. Perhaps another $50 if you want software fully set up for you too. That can be time consuming. So in this instance a $600 HTPC might cost you $60 for someone with experience to build it for you, and perhaps another $50 to set up the software for you.
or,
You can build it yourself and save on the cost- if you are up for the challenge. This community would support you, and there is tons of you tube videos showing you how.

Assassin has some pretty good guides to help get you started, for someone like yourself they are a great option. I think paying someone to build for you, or building yourself combined with a guide purchase would teach you much more about HTPC, get you a much nicer machine, and in the end give you a much better experience.

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post #15 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 12:33 PM
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post #16 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 12:34 PM
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I hope I am not dead.

If I am someone inform my wife and kids.

You gotta tell people you have a real day job biggrin.gif You not dead just busy with work and life. tongue.gif
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post #17 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 12:35 PM
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You gotta tell people you have a real day job biggrin.gif You not dead just busy with work and life. tongue.gif

If people only knew...
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post #18 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 12:37 PM
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how's the new house ? You get your theater set up ?

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post #19 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

What is your budget? What do you want to do with it ?

That will help us help you.

You have three options:

Buy a consumer oriented and MFG HTPC like an Asrock, HP, Dell, etc... They are turn key with a warranty but cost the most- and usually not as good quality and value
or,
Buy a put together machine and designed with consumer parts. I. E. Assassin HTPC or you could even pay a veteran of this forum a small fee to assemble and set it up for you. 10% of the cost is a reasonable build fee IMO. Perhaps another $50 if you want software fully set up for you too. That can be time consuming. So in this instance a $600 HTPC might cost you $60 for someone with experience to build it for you, and perhaps another $50 to set up the software for you.
or,
You can build it yourself and save on the cost- if you are up for the challenge. This community would support you, and there is tons of you tube videos showing you how.

Assassin has some pretty good guides to help get you started, for someone like yourself they are a great option. I think paying someone to build for you, or building yourself combined with a guide purchase would teach you much more about HTPC, get you a much nicer machine, and in the end give you a much better experience.

Budget is around $1200 or so, but I'm flexible.
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post #20 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I hope I am not dead.

If I am someone inform my wife and kids.

Nice to see! I took a look at your forums and it's full of spam threads so I got the feeling that nobody was paying attention. So you do this on the side?
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post #21 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 01:14 PM
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I think that assassin can assemble, configure and ship a ready to use HTPC for about that budget but check with him.
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post #22 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Ian_Currie View Post

Budget is around $1200 or so, but I'm flexible.

You can make a nice HTPC for this price.

What do you want to do with it? How do you want to use it ? What other equiptment will you hook it up to ?

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post #23 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

You can make a nice HTPC for this price.

What do you want to do with it? How do you want to use it ? What other equipment will you hook it up to ?

I am currently using (as a test to see if I wanted to pursue a HTPC) a small silent PC that was purchased to be a dedicated music server. It's got an Intel i7 inside with 8GB of RAM, SSD drive. I need to move this PC back to my music listening room and replace it.

While I read that I only need an i3 processor, I'd like an i7 because I'd also use the machine to Handbrake (compress video) MKV files. Compression takes about 4 hours per title on an i7 and I have hundreds of movies to go through.

I run Plex software currently and I have the server and the client on the same machine (and would prefer to keep it that way). All media is on a NAS so I don't need tons of storage. I may switch to different software at some point (e.g. Media Browser 3) but I'm guessing that won't change the specs.

I don't use the machine for DVR (or TV). At least not now - I have a Verizon Fios DVR. I have no idea what's involved to incorporate a TV Tuner/DVR into an HTPC and maybe I'll want to do it in the future - not sure.

So, here are my needs:
- I want an Intel i7 machine.
- I want the machine to be fairly quiet.
- I want the machine to have a bluray drive (read only is fine). Not sure what I'll use it for (I can rip discs from elsewhere), but seems like a good thing to have.
- I want space to incorporate a graphics card in case I need to someday, but otherwise I would use onboard graphics.
- I want SSD for the OS
- I will be playing back via HDMI to an HT processor that feeds a projector. I will play back media at both 60fps and 24fps (native frame rate of media).
- As this machine will also be the server, it will be called upon to do transcoding from time to time (if I watch from my iPad in bed, etc); I guess this is just another way of saying an i7 is better than a i5 or i3...
- I've heard the Haswell (sp?) is the way to go for proper 24fps.
- I don't need wireless

Hmm, have I forgotten anything?
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post #24 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 03:01 PM
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Running handbrake or other movie manipulation software from the couch is a PITA. Get two machines. One for the heavy lifting and one for the watching.

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post #25 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Running handbrake or other movie manipulation software from the couch is a PITA. Get two machines. One for the heavy lifting and one for the watching.

I remote into it from my main machine, not a PITA.
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post #26 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 03:53 PM
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I'm not understanding why you just don't do this directly on the main machine and let the HTPC do the playback?

If you are remoting into the HTPC from your main machine what are you going to use? You cannot remote into it while somebody's watching something with it unless you set it up for concurrent sessions with an alternate login.

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post #27 of 48 Old 08-09-2013, 08:27 PM
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Nice to see! I took a look at your forums and it's full of spam threads so I got the feeling that nobody was paying attention. So you do this on the side?

I have nothing to do with the forums there so I can't comment.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I do HTPC as a hobby and always have. I have a completely different career.
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post #28 of 48 Old 08-10-2013, 07:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

I'm not understanding why you just don't do this directly on the main machine and let the HTPC do the playback?

If you are remoting into the HTPC from your main machine what are you going to use? You cannot remote into it while somebody's watching something with it unless you set it up for concurrent sessions with an alternate login.

I wouldn't handbrake with the HTPC when I'm watching something; I would have it handbrake only while I'm sleeping or otherwise not using it. Look at it this way: I probably have a 1000+ titles to process with Handbrake. The more machines I can employ the faster it will get done. I'm currently using 2 at a time and would prefer 3 (hence the requirement for this new PC to have a fast processor). I have about 16TB of NAS space and it's almost full...

Make sense now?
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post #29 of 48 Old 08-10-2013, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian_Currie View Post

I wouldn't handbrake with the HTPC when I'm watching something; I would have it handbrake only while I'm sleeping or otherwise not using it. Look at it this way: I probably have a 1000+ titles to process with Handbrake. The more machines I can employ the faster it will get done. I'm currently using 2 at a time and would prefer 3 (hence the requirement for this new PC to have a fast processor). I have about 16TB of NAS space and it's almost full...

Make sense now?

I get it. I have used RDP to open additional handbrake processes on other machines. I have a 3570k i5 in my personal HTPC and remote into it and use it to encode a movie while I also encode a movie on my desktop often yields me nearly twice as fast results.

My desktop is a 4770k i7. I have dual monitors. I bring up the RDP session on my second monitor and that is basically the I5 machine. I encode with the powerful HTPC 3570k CPU, but I store on the server. My i5 and my i7 together are much faster than a single CPU would be. I have one machine do one, while the other machine does another.

I understand the concept. In your case- you might just control it with another machine like a desktop or laptop you already have simply for ease of use and access. But utilize the very powerful i7 CPU to do the heavy lifting. Makes sense to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian_Currie View Post

I am currently using (as a test to see if I wanted to pursue a HTPC) a small silent PC that was purchased to be a dedicated music server. It's got an Intel i7 inside with 8GB of RAM, SSD drive. I need to move this PC back to my music listening room and replace it.

While I read that I only need an i3 processor, I'd like an i7 because I'd also use the machine to Handbrake (compress video) MKV files. Compression takes about 4 hours per title on an i7 and I have hundreds of movies to go through.

I run Plex software currently and I have the server and the client on the same machine (and would prefer to keep it that way). All media is on a NAS so I don't need tons of storage. I may switch to different software at some point (e.g. Media Browser 3) but I'm guessing that won't change the specs.

I don't use the machine for DVR (or TV). At least not now - I have a Verizon Fios DVR. I have no idea what's involved to incorporate a TV Tuner/DVR into an HTPC and maybe I'll want to do it in the future - not sure.

So, here are my needs:
- I want an Intel i7 machine.
- I want the machine to be fairly quiet.
- I want the machine to have a bluray drive (read only is fine). Not sure what I'll use it for (I can rip discs from elsewhere), but seems like a good thing to have.
- I want space to incorporate a graphics card in case I need to someday, but otherwise I would use onboard graphics.
- I want SSD for the OS
- I will be playing back via HDMI to an HT processor that feeds a projector. I will play back media at both 60fps and 24fps (native frame rate of media).
- As this machine will also be the server, it will be called upon to do transcoding from time to time (if I watch from my iPad in bed, etc); I guess this is just another way of saying an i7 is better than a i5 or i3...
- I've heard the Haswell (sp?) is the way to go for proper 24fps.
- I don't need wireless

Hmm, have I forgotten anything?

Based on this info your build doesn't seem to hard.

Here is what I would recommend:

For SSD:

SAMSUNG / OCZ / PLEXTOR are three good options:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100008120&IsNodeId=1&bop=And&ActiveSearchResult=True&CompareItemList=636|20-147-193^20-147-193-TS%2C20-147-185^20-147-185-TS%2C20-227-915^20-227-915-TS%2C20-227-916^20-227-916-TS%2C20-147-186^20-147-186-TS&percm=20-147-193%3A%24%24%24%24119%24%24%24%3B20-147-185%3A%24%24%24%24119%24%24%24%3B20-227-915%3A%24%24%24%24119%24%24%24%3B20-227-916%3A%24%24%24%24119%24%24%24%3B20-147-186%3A%24%24%24%24119%24%24%24

Any SSD should work- but the Samsung and OCZ lines seem to have the best controllers and most consistent read performance (good for general OS speed) In the higher PRO and VECTOR lines are among the fastest.

For Optical BR drive:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135247

For a Case:
SILVERSTONE Grandia Series GD05B-USB3.0 Aluminum / 0.8mm SECC micro-ATX / Mini-DTX / Mini-ITX MB, 1x5.25", 2x3.5"+1x2.5"HDD or 1x3.5"+2x2.5"HDD, 3x120mm golf bladed fan, 11" expansion card capable HTPC Case with 2X USB3.0 ports (Black)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163205

CPU
Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell 3.5GHz LGA 1150 84W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics BX80646I74770K
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116901

MEMORY:
G.SKILL Trident X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2400 (PC3 19200) Desktop Memory Model F3-2400C10D-8GTX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231587

Motherboard:
ASRock Z87M Extreme4 LGA 1150 Intel Z87 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157373

PSU:
Rosewill CAPSTONE-450-M 450W Continuous @ 50°C, Intel Haswell Ready, 80 PLUS GOLD, ATX12V v2.31 & EPS12V v2.92, SLI/CrossFire Ready, Modular Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182261

or

SeaSonic G Series SSR-550RM 550W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply New 4th Gen CPU Certified Haswell Ready
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151119

If you don't need/want modular you can get:

Rosewill CAPSTONE-450 450W Continuous @ 50°C, Intel Haswell Ready, 80 PLUS GOLD, ATX12V v2.31 & EPS12V v2.92, SLI/CrossFire Ready, Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182066




$900 or so... That's a pretty darn nice HTPC IMO biggrin.gif

-

"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #30 of 48 Old 08-10-2013, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the recommendations, Mfusik!

Question for you: going through Assassin's 'Customize your Prestige' page, he indicates that a Z87M motherboard will require a larger case than the default one (which is what you have selected here). Also, in the reviews for the Z87M there seems to be a lot of funky bios issues. Do you see any issues going with the H87M instead?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157384

And if so, does that change the ram?
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