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post #1 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 06:04 AM - Thread Starter
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I am putting together components for an HTPC which will serve the following purposes for me: XBMC (most likely running on Linux); DVD ripping; light gaming (e.g. steam; I am not a heavy gamer but would like the option to do so without spending $$$ for a full gaming PC); streaming (Netflix, Amazon Prime); HD audio; and eventually the integration of a cable card-equipped USB device so I can use mediaportal or the like for a PVR solution.

Here is what I have so far. Please critique any and all of my component choices. I am trying to go with integrated graphics for now, but am open to the prospect of a GPU:

- SilverStone Grandia Series HTPC Case with Aluminum FP Micro-ATX, 2x Hot-Swap Drive Bay, 3x120mm Golf Bladed Fan, USB 3.0 x2 and 11-Inch Expansion Card GD06B (Black)
- MSI Socket FM2/AMD A75/DDR3/SATA3​&USB3.0/A&GbE/M​icroATX Motherboard FM2-A75MA-E35
- AMD A6-6400K Richland 3.9GHz Socket FM2 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor AMD Radeon HD AD640KOKHLBOX

- Kingston Hyper X Blu 4 GB 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 Desktop Memory (KHX1600C9D3B1​/4G)
- Samsung Electronics 840 EVO-Series 120GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Single Unit Version Internal Solid State Drive MZ-7TE120BW
- Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB SATA III 64 MB Cache Bare/OEM Desktop Hard Drive - WD30EZRX
- LG Electronics 14x Internal BDXL Blu-Ray Burner Rewriter WH14NS40 - Bulk Drive - Black

- Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with Built-In Multi-Touch Touchpad
- 2 wireless xbox controllers (pc editions)

I appreciate anyone's comments and suggestions.
Thanks!

Adam
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post #2 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 06:08 AM
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What's your budget? That will help others give you specific recommendations.
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post #3 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 06:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Good point, sorry ;-) I would like to stay in the < $900 range, ideally. I am not very familiar with the AMD processors, so suggestions relative to i3s instead, or other AMDs are especially welcome (along with the corresponding mobo). I thought AMD might be a better choice given that I am considering starting without a graphics card.

Adam
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post #4 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 06:26 AM
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Good budget, I think for the reason you state you will do better with Intel. What part of the country are you in? If you have a microcenter near you, you will find great deals on a motherboard CPU combo deal.

My son did a nice build in the fall with an i5 4670K and a Z87 motherboard for close to about your budget. Managed to get a graphics card as well, but sacrificed on the SSD for a 2TB 7200RPM drive. His specific need required the graphics card but he's thrilled with his build's performance.


Some good resources.

http://www.techbargains.com/catsearch.cfm/0_2_0

http://www.techbargains.com/catsearch.cfm/0_11_0
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post #5 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 07:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you. I am in New Jersey, so there is a microcenter here (in Paterson). I've actually never been there. I am certainly open to reconsidering an going with Intel. I think I would stick with the SSD, as I would likely experience a greater advantage for my needs having the OS and other files on that drive, rather any boost in graphics. I can always add a videocard later, though.

Anyone have similar build experiences to my initial proposal with either intel/amd processors? I really like the look of that silverstone case, even though I may cut my fingers a bit getting everything to fit inside.

Adam
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post #6 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 07:20 AM
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I second the Intel recommendation.

In general terms, AMD = better graphics, less CPU power, INTEL = Better CPU Power, lesser graphics.

Considering you are planning for a graphics card down the road, why handicap the CPU power now?

If you've never been to MicroCenter, you are in for a (mild) treat. Take a look at the online catalog in the link below and price out your build.
http://www.microcenter.com/site/specials/catalog/catalog.aspx

There's some great deals on AMD parts as well, and the savings may possibly sway you.

Also, the Toshiba 3TB 7200 is discounted at NewEgg currently, and the currently the best price for a 3TB (outside of cracking open an external drive).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822149408

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post #7 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Great! I'll look forward to exploring Microcenter on Saturday, then. With regard to Intel, is there a significance increase in performance jumping from i3 to i5? I don't want to go with a cheaper option and then regret it. Conversely, if i5 would greatly increase heat or need for loud fans, that could be a downside to going with the processor. There must be a good balance in performance/watts-heat that people have realized in their HTPC builds.
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post #8 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 09:11 AM
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Microcenter is a fun store for a PC nerd. You will like it.

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"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #9 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 09:11 AM
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Normally I am not in favor of using anything more than an i3 for HTPC use, but considering you are planning on doing some gaming, and you do have access to a MicroCenter, I think it won't hurt (as much) to upgrade to an i5, and therefore allow you to have the additional headroom you may need down the road.

To take advantage of the Combo deal (for Mobo + CPU) you are looking at the i5-4670K vs. the i3-4340, which is a difference of $60. Which should be worth it.

EDIT:
Also, they (MC) are running $10 off some Crucial Ballistix RAM kits with Combo purchase (see page 39 in the catalog).
Samsung EVO 120GB is at $79.99 too (Page 41).
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post #10 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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They really do have some great deals....okay, so here's what I've got so far:

Intel Core i5 4670K 3.4GHz Socket LGA 1150 Boxed Processor
MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate Socket LGA 1150 ATX Intel Motherboard
Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR3-1600 PC3-12800)
Samsung 840 EVO MZ-7TE120BW 120GB SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5"
WD Desktop Mainstream 3TB IntelliPower SATA
NMedia PC HTPC 7000B Micro ATX Media Center HTPC

I just need a power supply, bluray drive, etc. and I'm about at my budget.
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post #11 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 09:52 AM
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PSU is a little trickier.

Normally for HTPC's, I recommend the Corsair CX430 all day everyday, for general HTPC use. Normally on sale from NewEgg for $20 A/R every other week.

However for you, it's a little different. Adding a graphics card into the mix down the line changes things.

First, you'll have to decide (Roughly) what GPU you are thinking about going to. Note the manufacturers recommended PSU size for the GPU you want, and buy the size based on that info.
I tend to lean toward a higher quality PSU for any type of workhorse computer, and your build is a hybrid of sorts.

I'm been leaning toward the Seasonic and the Antec units when on sale, but comfortable with recommending Silverstone, FSP, Sparkle, some Rosewill, Corsair and Coolermaster.

Here's a PSU Guide from Tom's Hardware:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/power-supply-oem-manufacturer,2913.html

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post #12 of 21 Old 03-19-2014, 09:55 AM
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Antec has the 380 earth watts on sale at newegg for $29 AR and $39 before. That's a good option I think too.

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post #13 of 21 Old 03-21-2014, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Antec has the 380 earth watts on sale at newegg for $29 AR and $39 before. That's a good option I think too.
The EW380 is a good choice and should be more than enough power unless you dramatically change your plans.

This...
Quote:
Intel Core i5 4670K 3.4GHz Socket LGA 1150 Boxed Processor
MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate Socket LGA 1150 ATX Intel Motherboard
Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR3-1600 PC3-12800)
Samsung 840 EVO MZ-7TE120BW 120GB SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5"
WD Desktop Mainstream 3TB IntelliPower SATA
NMedia PC HTPC 7000B Micro ATX Media Center HTPC
+ Blu-ray drive
should not draw over 100w except under the most extreme conditions (e.g. running a benchmark test).

So the only open is how much power your graphics card will draw.
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post #14 of 21 Old 03-21-2014, 10:17 AM
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+1 for intel AND microcenter. For motherboard/cpu combos, they are hard to beat. You can also find comparable deals to online as far as hard drives and ram goes, and to a more limited extent things like cases and other random parts.


If you go with SSD for the primary drive....don't forget to set windows to record/cache tv on the conventional hard drive if you use MCE and watch television on it. You will probably use up an SSD's lifetime relatively quickly with all that activity, especially something like the Samsung EVO series which uses TLC instead of MLC or better. TLC based SSD's have a much lower lifetime writes rating then other types. Granted the key word is rated, so in practice could die a lot sooner or a lot later, but at either rate SSD's are only good for a finite amount of cycles and using one of those drives for recording will eat them up without giving you any sort of performance benefit.
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post #15 of 21 Old 03-30-2014, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
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So, I've done some additional homework and appreciate everyone's feedback thus far...I'd like to pull the trigger this week and get down to building this weekend. Here is my current thinking. My budget got bumped up a couple hundred dollars, but I think it's worth it.
Please, feel free to critique ANY and all of my choices. I will most likely place an order tomorrow:

CPU: Intel Core i5-4570 3.2GHz LGA 1150 Quad-Core Desktop Processor

Motherboard: MSI H87-G43 ATX High Performance CF Intel Motherboard

Case: SILVERSTONE Black Grandia Series SST-GD08B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

Ram: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory

PSU: CORSAIR HX series HX650 650W Power Supply

SSD (system drive): SAMSUNG 840 Pro Series MZ-7PD128BW 2.5" MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

HD (data - later will eventually pull from an unraid server - next project!): Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 3TB 3.5" SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

LG Black Blu-ray Drive SATA Model UH12NS30

Logitech K400 (920-003070) Black RF Wireless Keyboard

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM

Anything I'm forgetting? Think I'm making a mistake with any of these components? I'd love any feedback.

Adam
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post #16 of 21 Old 03-30-2014, 07:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Edit - I think I may replace the motherboard with an Asus H87plus - but am open to suggestions!
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post #17 of 21 Old 03-30-2014, 10:00 PM
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I think your power supply might be a bit overboard (if you are really paying $110 for that model). Truth is the $20 CX430 can take up to 500 watts according to reviews. Even if you end up adding a mid to high end gfx card later on, you are unlikely to ever use more than 300 watts. GFX cards are becoming more efficient every generation, so that number is likely to only go down.
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post #18 of 21 Old 03-31-2014, 06:00 AM
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I agree with StinDaWg, the HX 650 is a bit much, especially if you are planning a server in the future.
Unless you plan on getting an 'gaming enthusiast' level GPU

Don't get me wrong, it's a great PSU, especially considering the $30 in savings.
But you may be over emphasizing the importance of the 80 Plus "Gold" rating.

I'm thinking at somewhere between 500 and 600 watts should be ample.

There are quite a few PSU's like the Antec HCG and SeaSonic M12 (SeaSonic Based), Silverstone Strider (FSP Based), Rosewill Capstone (SuperFlower based), etc. that are modular, and cost less.
See the Tom's Hardware article I linked earlier to see who the builder is.

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post #19 of 21 Old 03-31-2014, 06:47 AM
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CX430 is a good quality budget power supply.

If you want a modular gold certified, then get look at the SeaSonic SSR-450RM

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post #20 of 21 Old 04-01-2014, 05:22 PM
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Win7 Home Premium is missing some features that are included in the Pro version, particularly Remote Desktop Host. If that or the other features aren't an issue (see both article pages at http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/article/386085/windows_7_home_premium_vs_windows_7_professional/?pp=2), then the Home Premium should be fine. There are some hacks to enable Remote Desktop, or you can use a thrid party solution like TeamViewer, but it doesn't work out of the box.
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post #21 of 21 Old 04-02-2014, 03:27 AM
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+1 on the power supply. Having a good bit of headroom for future expansion is one thing, but using too little of a power supply's rated power is actually less efficient then having a lower rated one closer to the machine's needs. In other words, it's not as simple as the computer requiring X watts and that's what it is going to use regardless how big of a power supply you install. Power supply's can lose up to 20% right off the top, sometimes more as far as the no name cheapies go. This is where you see the efficiency ratings listed in specs sometimes, an is also where the 80+ etc come from. Also, the load on the power supply effects the efficiency as well, where most well be pretty efficient with a moderate load, and inefficiency is highest with very little or almost maxed load. Bottom line is you could be using a lot more power then you need to be getting too much power supply. As an extreme example with a modest system on a high powered cheap no name psu, you could have a basic system who's components only draw 60watts at normal load, but be drawing an extra 100w from the wall that is lost to power supply inefficiency.


Also with your processor, the i5 may be quite a bit of overkill as well. I guess a lot depends on what exactly you mean by light gaming....as in do you mean light gaming in terms of specs, like console emulators, puzzle type games, etc.....or light as in infrequent, like wanting it to play BF4, COD, etc, just not all day every last setting turned up etc. For current FPS and stuff, I'd stick with the i5 in that case, and of course a decent vid card.....but for like emulators and simpler not dependent on frame rate games and all, an i3 is really about as high as you need to go. Probably even the normal dual core line if DVD ripping is going to be a rare occasion. Also, if you are going to be ripping discs like it's going out of style, that's another reason to keep the i5. Basically what I'm getting at with the ripping is any current cpu will do it fine, it's just a matter of how long it takes. One every now and then is no big deal regardless of how long it takes, but doing that frequently, especially one after the other, it's prob worth something that can get it done faster. Then of course if you are getting the stuff at microcenter, they don't always have bundle discounts on i3 but always do on i5, so if that was ever the case and the i5 is right near the i3 due to that, then of course get the better one.


Motherboard.....first and foremost, get a brand you are comfortable with that has the ports and all you want. Beyond that, don't be afraid of the lower end boards of your favorite makes if they have the ports and all you need. Remember this is an HTPC and not a normal desktop gaming rig, so a basic board is usually sufficient vs one with fancy overclocking stuff and all included. Overclocking an HTPC doesn't do much for you and just potentially creates extra heat meaning extra noise to cool it vs what it could be.


RAM.....same idea here too. Low latency performance ram isn't going to do much for you in the HTPC world. You don't need anything fancy other then quality stable stuff. Often times, performance ram is just as cheap as normal series quality ram, so by all means in that case....but if you see quality brand normal ram cheaper then performance ram, just get the normal stuff.






Basically that is all just some food for thought and not meant to discourage any of your selections. HTPC functions are one of those good enough is good enough and overkill isn't going to give you much tangible benefit things unlike a typical desktop/gaming machine. IMO effort is better spent on more tangible benefits like making it as quiet, efficient, and cost effective as possible vs squeezing out the most performance and having lots of headroom. Also by cost effective, I don't mean cheaping out and spending as little as possible either, rather simply getting the level of parts needed for the job....and say if you were trying to stay in a particular budget, getting the right parts for the job could mean rather then having too much overkill inside that case that isn't going to do much for you, you could get an expensive nice looking case you wouldn't normally spend as much on...that sort of thing.
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