Prebuilt HTPC: Assasin vs. Puget vs. Mac Mini - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 03:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Does anyone have experience with any of these HTPCs?

Any recommendations?

 

I plan to run windows although OSX would be a nice option.

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post #2 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 04:20 AM
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How about just building your own? You'll save a lot of $$$ that way.
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post #3 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 04:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by StinDaWg View Post

How about just building your own? You'll save a lot of $$$ that way.

 

I don't know what percentage of cost in savings is typical but I really don't want to deal with the hassle for a few hundred bucks.

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post #4 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 08:36 AM
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Assassin, as those PCs are truly geared towards HTPC usage out of the box. With assassin, a lot of the HTPC software can be completely preconfigured for you.
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post #5 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by StinDaWg View Post

How about just building your own? You'll save a lot of $$$ that way.

Am sure this item comes up a lot, but I will disagree with your enthusiasm.

My experience is been, one DIY to achieve a desired customization and the accomplishment, save money? highly debatable.

I've been building my own, but the novelty is worn off for me. My next box, am seriously considering buying a ready-built. Am thinking that way, the parts are matched and I should expect everything to work, not tinkering around, deal with tech support blah-blah, getting old. Am looking what OS, that alone, $100 bux, I buy pre-built, comes with it. Am talking about buying every legit of course.

Solution: FREE. Explanation: I will have to charge$ you.

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post #6 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by StinDaWg View Post

How about just building your own? You'll save a lot of $$$ that way.

I didn't find that to be true. When I spec'd out comparable components to what I bought from AssassinHTPC last fall, the total price was actually a little more than what I paid for the machine from Assassin. If you were willing to spend the time and effort and wait for sales on each component, you could probably save some cash, but it wasn't worth my time to check NewEgg, Amazon, etc. daily for several months and I don't have a MicroCenter or discount computer store nearby. frown.gif I also didn't have enough knowledge to pick components and weigh brand A against brand B, although Assassin's hardware guides and the folks on AVSForums are hugely helpful for that.

I was also worried about the HTPC-specific software configuration and overwhelmed by all the options, so I let them do that too. With the knowledge I have now from haunting this forum and a few others for the last 9-10 months, I'd skip paying for the setup and would do that myself. I've spent so much time tweaking and trying different things out, that I doubt it would save me any time or real effort!

Overall, I'm pleased that I went with a pre-built system from AssassinHTPC. Assembly and delivery did take a few weeks, so it isn't like buying from Dell and having it a few days later.

One recommendation for the OP, especially if you buy a pre-built HTPC already configured for your specifics needs...the very first thing to do before you do anything else is to use Windows backup to create a system image and store it somewhere else (flash drive, USB hard drive, etc.). That way if something gets borked, you can always go back to a clean install. That almost bit me when I changed something and ended up with a lot of Windows OS errors. I was able to fix I, but I was afraid I was going to have to format the OS drive and reinstall Windows, which would have wiped the configuration I paid for.
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post #7 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 01:10 PM - Thread Starter
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great. sounds like assassin might be a good choice for me although I haven't ruled out Mac Mini.

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post #8 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 05:10 PM
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I will say Assassin is great with his guides and very easy to follow along if you can build the machine yourself and set it up. This way, you will know how to troubleshoot if something were to ever go wrong with the Hardware or Software side of the machine. If you are any bit savy putingt together a computer or setting up software, there is nothing better than finishing it and watching everyone you have over give you MAD props!!

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post #9 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 06:31 PM
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The hardware DIY part is fairly easy, especially if you're going small. It's the software part that is not easy. And, like anything, it's all what you're comfortable with. Unless it's Apple where I don't have a choice and I need it for work, I'll never not DIY anything. But, I build dozens of systems a month so it's 20min to put the hardware together for a mini-ITX system.

 

 

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post #10 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post

Am sure this item comes up a lot, but I will disagree with your enthusiasm.

My experience is been, one DIY to achieve a desired customization and the accomplishment, save money? highly debatable.

I've been building my own, but the novelty is worn off for me. My next box, am seriously considering buying a ready-built. Am thinking that way, the parts are matched and I should expect everything to work, not tinkering around, deal with tech support blah-blah, getting old. Am looking what OS, that alone, $100 bux, I buy pre-built, comes with it. Am talking about buying every legit of course.
I just built my own not long ago:

G1620 $35
8GB ram $55
Case $30
PSU $20
Motherboard $22

Total $162

I already had a hard drive and Windows OS so I didn't need those. I also added a 7850 gfx card for $100 bringing the total to $262.

The cheapest pc I see on assassin website is $600 and it comes with a cpu slower than the one I have and weak integrated gpu. With this system I can use all levels of madVR and play 1080p games at high/ultra settings.
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post #11 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 07:14 PM
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great. sounds like assassin might be a good choice for me although I haven't ruled out Mac Mini.

The only reason to use a Mac Mini is if you want OSX. The problem with OSX is there's no support for bitstreaming HD audio codecs.

Looky here!
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post #12 of 75 Old 06-01-2014, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Does plex and XBMC play well with foreign subtitles?

Although having a remote controlled interface would be nice, I don't see a huge disadvantage of going with a naked Windows or OSX interface if the video quality is good.

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post #13 of 75 Old 06-02-2014, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by shnxx View Post

Does plex and XBMC play well with foreign subtitles?
Although having a remote controlled interface would be nice, I don't see a huge disadvantage of going with a naked Windows or OSX interface if the video quality is good.

If you are going with a naked OS to play your videos (assume you mean browsing to the folder and file and launching it) then you simply need a computer with an HDMI port. This is fine if you are the only one using the system. In my case I have two children and a wife that use it as well so it is all about the user interface.

As mentioned above, building it is the easy part. Getting the software the way you need it is the time sink.

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post #14 of 75 Old 06-18-2014, 07:11 AM
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Not much to add, other than I bought a Puget Serenity HTPC in 2012 (they've since made some major changes going with a different case and now AMD instead of Intel). I will say the build quality was top notch and as advertised, the system is dead silent. For random reasons, I'm only about to start using the computer for actual HTPC purposes this summer. Compared to a DIY build, there is a pretty high premium for any Puget system, and with a little bit of work and picking the right components, you can achieve similarly silent results on your own with relative ease. But if you want a very clean, thoroughly tested and well packaged system, and money isn't the determining factor, I do recommend them.
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post #15 of 75 Old 06-18-2014, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by StinDaWg View Post
How about just building your own? You'll save a lot of $$$ that way.
+1

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post #16 of 75 Old 06-18-2014, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post
Assassin, as those PCs are truly geared towards HTPC usage out of the box. With assassin, a lot of the HTPC software can be completely preconfigured for you.
You pay for the configuration which can be worth it if that's what you want. The hardware is the same cost, but assassin would charge more for the labor and time spent making it ready for you.
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post #17 of 75 Old 06-18-2014, 07:48 PM
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I just don't get what's so hard about installing XBMC and stuff. If you don't know how to do that you should probably just stick to a Roku type box.
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post #18 of 75 Old 06-18-2014, 08:26 PM
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I've been using a Mac Mini for my main HTPC for about 3 years. You can't beat the form factor, and it just works with no tweaking or special configuration needed, just install XBMC and go. Built in IR that works great with a Harmony remote. Can start XBMC with the remote out of the box. Plays everything. Mine is the 2010 model (Core2Duo and Geforce 9400 graphics), refurb from Apple was $469, I think the current gen refurbs are $509. They come in a new chassis with the same warranty as brand new, I have two of them myself and have setup 2-3 for others, no issues with any of them.

I'm all about building my own boxes, but for a rock solid HTPC you really can't go wrong with a Mac Mini
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post #19 of 75 Old 06-18-2014, 08:31 PM
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I just don't get what's so hard about installing XBMC and stuff. If you don't know how to do that you should probably just stick to a Roku type box.
My neighbors (a Ford mechanic and a race car driver/mechanic) would say that about fixing and building cars, engines, etc. I am sure I could learn like I learned to build PCs and configure them but I'd rather just take it to the garage and have them do it.

Each to their own.
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post #20 of 75 Old 06-18-2014, 08:42 PM
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I've been using a Mac Mini for my main HTPC for about 3 years. You can't beat the form factor, and it just works with no tweaking or special configuration needed, just install XBMC and go. Built in IR that works great with a Harmony remote. Can start XBMC with the remote out of the box. Plays everything. Mine is the 2010 model (Core2Duo and Geforce 9400 graphics), refurb from Apple was $469, I think the current gen refurbs are $509. They come in a new chassis with the same warranty as brand new, I have two of them myself and have setup 2-3 for others, no issues with any of them.

I'm all about building my own boxes, but for a rock solid HTPC you really can't go wrong with a Mac Mini
The only problem is no support in OSX for HD-Audio codecs like Dolby-HD and DTSHD-MA. If you're going to install Windows there are cheaper options that are just as solid.

Looky here!
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post #21 of 75 Old 06-18-2014, 09:07 PM
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My neighbors (a Ford mechanic and a race car driver/mechanic) would say that about fixing and building cars, engines, etc. I am sure I could learn like I learned to build PCs and configure them but I'd rather just take it to the garage and have them do it.

Each to their own.
Then just buy something from Best Buy. I'm not going to pay someone to install XBMC on my pc, nor should anyone else. It's an .exe from the XBMC site. Even when it's installed you are still going to have to learn how to use it. No one is going to be there holding your hand through every step.
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post #22 of 75 Old 06-18-2014, 11:45 PM
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Then just buy something from Best Buy. I'm not going to pay someone to install XBMC on my pc, nor should anyone else. It's an .exe from the XBMC site. Even when it's installed you are still going to have to learn how to use it. No one is going to be there holding your hand through every step.
What is it with the uppity, elitist attitude around here lately? Why can't everyone just accept that some people would rather pay a premium to have a turnkey solution? It's certainly not for everyone, but it has it's merits. To suggest that no one should ever pay to have an XBMC box preconfigured shows a very narrow minded view indeed.

What's wrong with "Each to their own?"
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post #23 of 75 Old 06-19-2014, 02:58 AM
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What is it with the uppity, elitist attitude around here lately? Why can't everyone just accept that some people would rather pay a premium to have a turnkey solution? It's certainly not for everyone, but it has it's merits. To suggest that no one should ever pay to have an XBMC box preconfigured shows a very narrow minded view indeed.

What's wrong with "Each to their own?"
It's called an opinion. Maybe you didn't read my post above.
Prebuilt HTPC: Assasin vs. Puget vs. Mac Mini

I got a pc that was $440 less than the cheapest assassin model and it outperforms it. I just think that is a terrible deal. If someone wants to pay that kind of money be my guest but you won't see me recommending it.

I don't get the concept of paying to preconfigure software. XBMC is literally an .exe download. Is that really worth paying someone X amount of dollars to do? You still have to set it up yourself and load your library. If you don't understand how to do that then I would either say get a Roku type box or do a few days doing some Googling on how to set things up. A HTPC will never be a "turnkey solution" for someone who doesn't understand how to use one in the first place.
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post #24 of 75 Old 06-19-2014, 04:47 AM
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It's called an opinion. Maybe you didn't read my post above.
Prebuilt HTPC: Assasin vs. Puget vs. Mac Mini

I got a pc that was $440 less than the cheapest assassin model and it outperforms it. I just think that is a terrible deal. If someone wants to pay that kind of money be my guest but you won't see me recommending it.

I don't get the concept of paying to preconfigure software. XBMC is literally an .exe download. Is that really worth paying someone X amount of dollars to do? You still have to set it up yourself and load your library. If you don't understand how to do that then I would either say get a Roku type box or do a few days doing some Googling on how to set things up. A HTPC will never be a "turnkey solution" for someone who doesn't understand how to use one in the first place.
You're entitled to your opinion. I read your previous posts, and understand why you would prefer to build an HTPC. No one here is questioning your choice, or disparaging your opinion. My question is why the need to be so critical of others who don't share your opinion?

Suggesting that other opinions might have some validity doesn't in any way lessen your opinion. It's as valid now as it was when you first said it. You act as if suggesting someone might want to spend his money differently than you, is somehow an attack on your belief. It isn't.
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post #25 of 75 Old 06-19-2014, 05:00 AM
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You act as if suggesting someone might want to spend his money differently than you, is somehow an attack on your belief.
Because that's how people like to behave these days. There's no more discussing. It's just yelling from the extremes and my way or the highway. You just have to say "whatever" and move on. As these people consider your opinion a waste, consider spending any time educating them a waste as well.
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post #26 of 75 Old 06-19-2014, 06:15 AM
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You're entitled to your opinion. I read your previous posts, and understand why you would prefer to build an HTPC. No one here is questioning your choice, or disparaging your opinion. My question is why the need to be so critical of others who don't share your opinion?

Suggesting that other opinions might have some validity doesn't in any way lessen your opinion. It's as valid now as it was when you first said it. You act as if suggesting someone might want to spend his money differently than you, is somehow an attack on your belief. It isn't.
Before I would look at buying a high priced boutique pc, I would first just go to Best Buy/Walmart and see if anything fit what you were looking for, if not, I might recommend a refurb Mac Mini or Intel Nuc. I never said you have to build your own pc, I just think these "boutique" pc companies are a poor deal and prey on the uninformed. That's nothing personal against assassin, but Puget and the like all get lumped into this category. You are seriously overpaying for little extra value. It doesn't matter how much money you have. A bad deal is a bad deal.

Do you really think this is worth $862?
i3 4150
8GB ram
500GB 7200rpm HDD
Wifi
Windows 7

Nothing else.
http://www.pugetsystems.com/nav/echo.../customize.php

Or how about this at $1571
i5 4590
8GB ram
500GB 7200rpm HDD
DVD-RW
Windows 7
http://www.pugetsystems.com/nav/sere.../customize.php

$1205
AMD A4-4000 ($40)
8GB ram ($60)
2TB 5400rpm HDD ($70)
DVD-RW ($20)
Windows 7 ($100)
http://www.pugetsystems.com/nav/sere.../customize.php

There's not even $400 worth of parts in there.

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post #27 of 75 Old 06-19-2014, 06:21 AM
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Before I would look at buying a high priced boutique pc, I would first just go to Best Buy/Walmart and see if anything fit what you were looking for, if not, I might recommend a refurb Mac Mini or Intel Nuc. I never said you have to build your own pc, I just think these "boutique" pc companies are a poor deal and prey on the uninformed. That's nothing personal against assassin, but Puget and the like all get lumped into this category. You are seriously overpaying for little extra value.
"Value" is a relative term, not absolute. What has no value to you (since you already know how to do it) can be invaluable to others.
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post #28 of 75 Old 06-19-2014, 06:28 AM
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I just think these "boutique" pc companies are a poor deal and prey on the uninformed.
Or, they work really hard with their customers to fit the hardware to their needs when the customer knows what they want the PC to do but doesn't have the expertise to select the hardware to do it that's not under/overpowered, over budget, etc.

I've built hundreds of PCs now for just such people. I didn't realize I was a predator. I thought I was actually providing a service, adding value and getting people into good value, quality PCs instead of large boxy power hungry PCs.

Insults are just another kind of opinion, aren't they? You're stupid if you can't even install XBMC. You're a predator if your business is building PCs. Nice.

 

 

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post #29 of 75 Old 06-19-2014, 06:41 AM
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I've built hundreds of PCs now for just such people. I didn't realize I was a predator. I thought I was actually providing a service, adding value and getting people into good value, quality PCs instead of large boxy power hungry PCs.
Do you charge $1200 for $400 worth if parts? If so, yes you would fall into that category.

"large boxy power hungry PCs" are a thing of the past. Don't pat yourself on the back too hard. Nothing you get from a big box store anymore is going to suck much power. HP Slimline, Dell 5xxs, and Lenovo Q series are all good options to look at for under $500 if you want pre-built.

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post #30 of 75 Old 06-19-2014, 07:29 AM
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Do you really think this is worth $862?
i3 4150
8GB ram
500GB 7200rpm HDD
Wifi
Windows 7

Nothing else.
http://www.pugetsystems.com/nav/echo.../customize.php

Or how about this at $1571
i5 4590
8GB ram
500GB 7200rpm HDD
DVD-RW
Windows 7
http://www.pugetsystems.com/nav/sere.../customize.php

$1205
AMD A4-4000 ($40)
8GB ram ($60)
2TB 5400rpm HDD ($70)
DVD-RW ($20)
Windows 7 ($100)
http://www.pugetsystems.com/nav/sere.../customize.php

There's not even $400 worth of parts in there.
And please refrain from your completely disingenuous price comparisons. What you can slap together with a hodgepodge of parts isn't the same thing as what they're selling. If you want to talk about how overpriced their hardware is, at least make a reasonable effort to compare apples to apples. Just because you can find some $22 motherboard on closeout somewhere doesn't mean AssassinHTPC or Puget is using that same motherboard and selling it at unreasonable markup. In all likelihood they are using a different, more expensive board than what you're quoting. Is that more expensive board a good value? Again, that is going to depend upon the needs and wants of the buyer, not just your needs and wants.

Now, if you want to go to the trouble of finding out what components they use, and they are still selling $400 in retail parts for $1200, then you might have a point about what a ripoff those systems are. But if you are unwilling, or unable to make an actual direct comparison of real (not hypothetical) components, then all you're doing is howling about something you really aren't informed on. And as I said before, everyone has a right to their opinion, but I'm really not interested in listening to an uninformed one.
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