Looking for ~$300 HTPC for Hi10P playback - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello,

After giving up looking at barebone PCs and streaming media players, after reading the threads here I decided to explore HTPC builds.

I tried looking at Assassin's guides, but the problem is I kept looking for nice components and it easily goes $500+..

So I tried looking builds in this forum instead.

 

My purpose is simple

Play Hi10P 1080p h.264 animes in my TV, connecting the player to a network so I don't have to plug/unplug my USB all the time to my current ASUS O!Play Mini that I'm using, which doesn't go well with Hi10P, of course, though it still plays it. Small form factor is also a preference, will be putting it below my TV with a limited vertical space.

 

I need advice how should I go about this

1. Find a decent htpc from eBay?

2. Find a barebone in newegg (~$200) and add CPU and HDD? But that would quickly go over the limit

3. A decent build I see here is http://www.avsforum.com/t/1489606/design-me-a-htpc-below-300-to-do-what-i-need#post_23718887 didn't realize this is too big also, and I will still need the case

4. Found another build at http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1800144/300.html#11530323 too big.. oops

Or can anyone suggest me a build?

 

Also, do I need a Haswell?

And I was looking at this thread http://www.avsforum.com/t/1404685/cheapest-ever-htpc-thats-decent-proud-of-myself/ but I got.. really lost. I just don't know the minimum requirements.

 

 

Thanks for all your help! I'm not 100% sold on HTPC yet but I want to know my options.

I'm currently running an Alienware m11x R1 - that's Core 2 Duo 1.3GHz with 1GB video card and 8GB RAM.

I can't play Hi10P 1080p on MPC-HC. The video loves to stop (while the audio is running). Thinking about replacing it soon once a decent mobile replacement comes out but I can't find any better alternative for something I can leave on 24/7 for my uses than HTPC, except if you have other alternatives for me.

 

EDIT: So the decent $300 ones I found are ATX build with tall towers or they already have some parts which makes them <$300. Are there compact builds that would be ~$300?

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post #2 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceaco View Post

Are there compact builds that would be ~$300?

The short answer is no.

You are going to have to increase your budget.


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post #3 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 10:53 AM
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check out a Zotac Z box.. The one I use works fine and cost about $240, hard drive and memory included.. FYI, I only use mine for XBMC, no idea how it performs with other things..
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post #4 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bigbw View Post

check out a Zotac Z box.. The one I use works fine and cost about $240, hard drive and memory included.. FYI, I only use mine for XBMC, no idea how it performs with other things..

 

I heard somewhere that Atom doesn't play well with Hi10P, have you tested it with XBMC?

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The short answer is no.

You are going to have to increase your budget.

 

Haha, as I said, I ended up around $500+ when I looked at your guide. Will $500 fetch me a decent HTPC with Haswell?
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post #5 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceaco View Post

I heard somewhere that Atom doesn't play well with Hi10P, have you tested it with XBMC?

With or without spending ~$100 on a copy of Windows? Meaning are you planning on using Windows and have you included that into your budget if you don't already have a copy?


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post #6 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post


With or without spending ~$100 on a copy of Windows? Meaning are you planning on using Windows and have you included that into your budget if you don't already have a copy?

I guess I can cut it out from the budget because I already have a copy.

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post #7 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 12:15 PM
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http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Hi10P

It's tough but doable for about $350 or so.

Figure on budget blocks like the following, this is how I generally plan for limited budgets:

CPU: $50 (dual core Celeron)
MOBO: $50 micro-ATX
RAM: $50 (2x2GB)
HDD: $50 (1TB - 7200)
Windows 7: $80
Case: $40
PSU: $20 (cx430)
Misc: $10
There would be no ODD, keyboard, remote, etc. Hopefully you have some of these laying around.

Of course, anything you can get cheaper than the value in those blocks you can apply elsewhere.

You'll have to hunt for sales to get good components at these prices.
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post #8 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 12:57 PM
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Actually, the more I read up on Hi10P, it looks like Intel QuickSync capability is recommended starting on the Sandy Bridge i3 and higher.

Adjust budget to:

CPU: $125 (i3)
Windows: $0, as you have stated that you already have a copy.

EDIT:
I can't seem to easily find a list of processors with quick sync, but it appears to be intel processors with HD2000 graphics and Up
The lowest I've seen on some posts on other forums who have no problem with Hi10P is a Pentium G630 (Sandy Bridge).

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post #9 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wiley165 View Post

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Hi10P

It's tough but doable for about $350 or so.

Figure on budget blocks like the following, this is how I generally plan for limited budgets:

CPU: $50 (dual core Celeron)
MOBO: $50 micro-ATX
RAM: $50 (2x2GB)
HDD: $50 (1TB - 7200)
Windows 7: $80
Case: $40
PSU: $20 (cx430)
Misc: $10
There would be no ODD, keyboard, remote, etc. Hopefully you have some of these laying around.

Of course, anything you can get cheaper than the value in those blocks you can apply elsewhere.

You'll have to hunt for sales to get good components at these prices.

I see. This will help plan the budget better. I kept looking at $100 for _each_ component.. Looks like either I wait for deals or I spend on whatever I can get. Thank you for the basic outline!

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post #10 of 35 Old 10-10-2013, 06:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceaco View Post

I see. This will help plan the budget better. I kept looking at $100 for _each_ component.. Looks like either I wait for deals or I spend on whatever I can get. Thank you for the basic outline!

Be very careful with this approach. Most places have a 30 day return policy. If you take longer than that to collect all your parts when they go on sale you might be left with a bunch of incompatible (or defective) PC parts that you can't return because you are outside the return policy by the time you actually go to do your build.


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post #11 of 35 Old 10-11-2013, 06:57 AM
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Very true Assassin.

It helps to subscribe to NewEgg's deals as well as Tiger Direct where he get emailed deals daily.
Having a MicroCenter available helps on CPU/Mobo combo's.
Also he should pay attention to sites like Slickdeals, Tech Bargins, FatWallet, Amazon, etc. Even the Deals Thread here at AVS.

I think the hardest deals to come by are the HDD for $50, and Win 7 for $80. You can usually get those once a month from NewEgg.
He could also settle for a 500GB or 750GB drive in that $50 price range too.

The Corsair CX430 PSU goes on sale regularly for $39.99 - $20 MIR

The pricing for the mobo is probably aggressive at $50. The AsRock H77M normally $65, but frequently for sale for $55-$58, would be a good choice.

The i3-3240 is normally priced at $120 at NewEgg

4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1600 Ram can easily be found in the $40 range

The last thing (I think) should be case. By going with a Micro-ATX board, that probably give the most flexibility at a low price point.
Then it's just a matter of finding one with the aesthetics and orientation the OP wants.

Other items of note would be a DVD drive for $15, or BD-Rom for $30. A Rosewill remote for $13.

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post #12 of 35 Old 10-11-2013, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you assassin, wiley, I'll use your replies as a guideline in my hunt for components.

Tried bidding a good one on eBay but didn't win :\

I've been following slickdeals but I haven't kept a watch on the prices of components.

Keyboard, Mouse, and OS are out of the budget as I have extra for each of them.

 

Thank you again. I'll try to buy all the component within one/two week span when I'm ready and found what I want.

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post #13 of 35 Old 10-11-2013, 01:39 PM
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If you live near a microcenter, they usually have good deals on processors and motherboards.



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post #14 of 35 Old 10-11-2013, 08:20 PM
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For $300, here is what you can do.
1) Buy a refurb small form factor Core 2 Duo with Windows 7 for under $200 from the egg or tiger. I've seen a bunch of thinkcenter M57 (I think that is the #) recently.
2) Add a <$30 video card - low profile HD 5450 or better.
3) Add an internal or external 2 TB HD for <$100 for local media storage.

This gets you right around $300 with HD capabilities and a Windows 7 and media center license. Not a powerhouse, but good enough.
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post #15 of 35 Old 10-12-2013, 11:59 AM
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Need haswell no, but previous intel processors have a minorish bug playing back 23.xxx fps that was solved with haswell.  For HTPC haswell based cpu's should definitely be preferred.

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post #16 of 35 Old 10-12-2013, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Haswell mATX build ~$430 http://pcpartpicker.com/b/GAq

Haswell ITX build ~$430 http://pcpartpicker.com/b/GAs

Ivy Bridge ITX build ~320 http://pcpartpicker.com/b/GC6

 

Am I choosing the right things? (w/o OS and I/O because I already have them)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lespurgeon View Post

For $300, here is what you can do.
1) Buy a refurb small form factor Core 2 Duo with Windows 7 for under $200 from the egg or tiger. I've seen a bunch of thinkcenter M57 (I think that is the #) recently.
2) Add a <$30 video card - low profile HD 5450 or better.
3) Add an internal or external 2 TB HD for <$100 for local media storage.

This gets you right around $300 with HD capabilities and a Windows 7 and media center license. Not a powerhouse, but good enough.
 
 

I just looked it up. Looks suitable too if I don't want to build mine from scratch, though a few generations behind. I'll keep it in mind. Thanks!

 

PS. As I'm looking at parts, I've been seriously tempted to build a HTPC also for gaming because my Alienware m11x R1 is reaching 4 years old and I see no good replacements yet.. We'll see if I ever seriously fall into that temptation, considering we're at the age of mobility now.. Might play games and downloads on the HTPC and do normal browsing on tablet with keyboard..

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Why do you have a 5450 in your builds? I would go with a single 4gb stick of ram so if you ever want to upgrade to 8gb you can just get another 4gb. The SSD is not really necessary especially if you're on a tight budget. Save the $100 and spend it on a better case/psu, cpu, gpu for madvr, or go with 8gb ram. 



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post #18 of 35 Old 10-12-2013, 01:28 PM
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ what he said 5450 is no * better than intel HD 2500 graphics HD 6450 maybe a little better and has it's own 1 GB of ram
but intel HD 2500 should be fine. *unless there is some difficulty with Hi10P playback that I'm not aware of

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post #19 of 35 Old 10-12-2013, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Why do you have a 5450 in your builds? I would go with a single 4gb stick of ram so if you ever want to upgrade to 8gb you can just get another 4gb. The SSD is not really necessary especially if you're on a tight budget. Save the $100 and spend it on a better case/psu, cpu, gpu for madvr, or go with 8gb ram. 

1. 5450 - no reason, just being stupid I guess =) Thanks for noting it~

2. I didn't know the difference between single and double stick - some Dell guy told me that I can only replace my RAM with 2 sticks in my m11x so I thought that's the way it works. Noted.

3. SSD - actually just a placeholder - would be the same price as a 2-3TB HDD, but I don't have any storage lying around basically so need to allocate budget for it. (Although I do have an option of not keeping files in it and only stuff I haven't watched yet, as I am already doing right now)

Can madVR use HW acceleration for Hi10P? I'm actually not familiar with the technicalities.

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post #20 of 35 Old 10-13-2013, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
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This is pretty much my final build:

http://pcpartpicker.com/b/GAs or http://pcpartpicker.com/b/GAq - still trying to figure out which case do I prefer. the mATX case looks thinner.

plus a usb3 bay

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811999246

 

Am I on the right track?

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post #21 of 35 Old 10-13-2013, 09:33 PM
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Should do the job since you have a Win 7 license.
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post #22 of 35 Old 10-14-2013, 04:04 AM
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either will work USB 3.0 bay is cool! cool.gif

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post #23 of 35 Old 10-14-2013, 05:21 AM
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I'd recommend a dual channel kit (2x2GB) for memory like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231427 rather than a single 4GB stick.

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post #24 of 35 Old 10-14-2013, 07:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceaco View Post

plus a usb3 bay
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811999246

Am I on the right track?

You can use the code "VANTECOCTPROMO" for 25% off that USB 3.0 bay device thru 10/31/13.

Also, the reason I recommend 2x2GB RAM rather than a single 1x4GB RAM is the following:

1) Based on your intended use for this build, you shouldn't have the need for more than 4GB.
2) Running the RAM in dual channel mode provides a faster and more efficient throughput.
3) If you did decide at a later time to add a second stick of RAM, even if the identical model number, there is no guarantee that the specs on the new stick will be identical.

Now, will there be a noticeable real world difference between the two examples, probably not, but dual channel will be more efficient than single channel, for about the same price.

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post #25 of 35 Old 10-14-2013, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
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You can use the code "VANTECOCTPROMO" for 25% off that USB 3.0 bay device thru 10/31/13.

Also, the reason I recommend 2x2GB RAM rather than a single 1x4GB RAM is the following:

1) Based on your intended use for this build, you shouldn't have the need for more than 4GB.
2) Running the RAM in dual channel mode provides a faster and more efficient throughput.
3) If you did decide at a later time to add a second stick of RAM, even if the identical model number, there is no guaranty that the specs on the new stick will be identical.

Now, will there be a noticeable real world difference between the two examples, probably not, but dual channel will be more efficient than single channel, for about the same price.

Point 3 is what I'm most worried about. Thanks for reminding me - for a while the single stick makes sense. The performance degradation for single stick is not that bad either - but they can always discontinue their old line >.>

By the way, excuse me for being stupid. So I was thinking of getting the ASRock mobo which has 2 rear USB 3 ports and 2 onboard USB 3. If I only need 2, do I even need a USB 3 front bay?

 

 

I just placed my order - I ordered the RAM and HDD with Newegg ($80 promotion on Seagate 2TB today). 

Case & CPU from Amazon due to free shipping & return policy.

 

Mobo.. ASRock H81M is 2-4 weeks to ship in Amazon.. Newegg will charge shipping.. So still looking into that.

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post #26 of 35 Old 10-14-2013, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
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By the way, excuse me for being stupid. So I was thinking of getting the ASRock mobo which has 2 rear USB 3 ports and 2 onboard USB 3. If I only need 2, do I even need a USB 3 front bay?

Personally, I don't think it's a necessity. If anything its a point of convenience. Realistically, the only time you need USB 3.0 is when transferring data from an external drive.
If it's easy to access the rear of the case, then there's really no need.

There are not a whole lot of USB 3.0 Accessories available

If you do want USB 3.0 front access, consider a card reader with USB 3 like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820176023 or this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820276019

It's always something to can upgrade to at a later time if you feel you need it.

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post #27 of 35 Old 10-14-2013, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
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I will forget the USB3 Front Bay for now.

Thank you for all your help. This is my first time building my own PC so it'll be interesting to say the least.

I might play some games on it though because it will be sorta stronger than my laptop -_-

I'll post pictures once I succeed putting things together.. Or maybe halfway..

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post #28 of 35 Old 10-16-2013, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone

I just forgot one important thing.. Fan!

How would I know if I need a fan/cooler?

The ASUS H81M-A is advertised as fanless but the ASRock H81M doesn't need anything. Would getting the ASUS H81M-A help? Does it make any difference?

Do I need any CPU fans?

Would you have any advice?

 

Thanks!

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post #29 of 35 Old 10-16-2013, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iceaco View Post
 

Hello everyone

I just forgot one important thing.. Fan!

How would I know if I need a fan/cooler?

The ASUS H81M-A is advertised as fanless but the ASRock H81M doesn't need anything. Would getting the ASUS H81M-A help? Does it make any difference?

Do I need any CPU fans?

Would you have any advice?

 

Thanks!


You will need a CPU fan+heatsink, the stock one will do just fine, but depending on the case and placement of PSU in case, you might have issues getting it to fit in the mini-ITX case. The motherboards are equivalent, I think the main decision you need to make is mini-ITX vs uATX.

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post #30 of 35 Old 10-16-2013, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Defcon View Post
 


You will need a CPU fan+heatsink, the stock one will do just fine, but depending on the case and placement of PSU in case, you might have issues getting it to fit in the mini-ITX case. The motherboards are equivalent, I think the main decision you need to make is mini-ITX vs uATX.

Thanks for the quick reply! I just received my uATX case actually - haven't opened it yet though so don't know what's in it.. But it's pretty slim so I'm sure I have issues -_- we'll see if it fits..

I'll just pick the ASRock motherboard then. Thank you very much.

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