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post #1 of 57 Old 07-13-2014, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
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any suggestions on good cheap used HTPCs from eBay?

After just trying out XBMC on my MacBook Pro, I've decided that I really need an HTPC.

Unfortunately I don't want to spend a lot of money on a new computer so I want to buy something used.

Do you guys have any suggestions for a good model to search for on eBay?
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post #2 of 57 Old 07-13-2014, 09:35 PM
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HTPCs don't need to be expensive to deliver snappy performance, 1080p, and hd audio

The expense depends on what you need / want. Do you want it to game? +$(hardware) MadVR? +$(gpu) 3D or full BD menus? +$(commercial player + win license) Do you need it to double as your server?

If you don't already have a server, or intend for the htpc to be a "server/htpc" then you'll need to concern yourself with form factor and hdd cost (and you should consider a quad core if you have a plethora of tablets, samsung tvs, smartphones, rokus, etc that you want your media transcoded to)

If you already have a server or nas, then you can just focus on what you want it to look like vs how cheap you want it to be

I think that a ML03B, picopsu, this motherboard/cpu, and a stick of ddr3 ram makes a great htpc that you can boot from a usb3 drive. It should be silent as well, for around $200 new

If fanless isn't an interest, an matx+pentium combo would be a good balance of power while keeping cost down. You could definitely transcode at least one full BD rip while using the htpc at the same time. The B85+G3258 was $110 recently, which would only be $40 more than the fanless Q-1900 I linked above. However, when you add transcoding and a beefier processor to the mix, it's easier to just use Windows. Which concludes that you need a license, need more ram, need an SSD, and you get away from "just htpc" which can make great use of OpenELEC and keep costs down.
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post #3 of 57 Old 07-13-2014, 09:48 PM
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Here's the j1900 with built in pico power: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-495-_-Product


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post #4 of 57 Old 07-13-2014, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by olyteddy View Post
Here's the j1900 with built in pico power: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-495-_-Product
Requires sodimm ram, pico isn't too expensive on it's own, matx is a little easier to build if it's your first go-round
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post #5 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 02:55 AM - Thread Starter
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sorry if I wasn't clear.

I meant I want to buy a finished HTPC
As far as speed, I do have Airport Extreme but it's rather sluggish when playing 1080p 20-30GB files.
So I would love to have it serve as a server but not if it costs too much.

I understand I can spend about 1000 and get a pretty nice finished package but at this time, I want to go as cheap as possible.
Can I buy a workable HTPC solution for 100" projection with 5.1 surround system for about 300?
I'm thinking I might be able to on eBay.
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post #6 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 02:56 AM - Thread Starter
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I definitely won't be playing games.
I would like for it to play 3D files for sure.
Server is iffy. That depends on cost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post
HTPCs don't need to be expensive to deliver snappy performance, 1080p, and hd audio

The expense depends on what you need / want. Do you want it to game? +$(hardware) MadVR? +$(gpu) 3D or full BD menus? +$(commercial player + win license) Do you need it to double as your server?

If you don't already have a server, or intend for the htpc to be a "server/htpc" then you'll need to concern yourself with form factor and hdd cost (and you should consider a quad core if you have a plethora of tablets, samsung tvs, smartphones, rokus, etc that you want your media transcoded to)

If you already have a server or nas, then you can just focus on what you want it to look like vs how cheap you want it to be

I think that a ML03B, picopsu, this motherboard/cpu, and a stick of ddr3 ram makes a great htpc that you can boot from a usb3 drive. It should be silent as well, for around $200 new

If fanless isn't an interest, an matx+pentium combo would be a good balance of power while keeping cost down. You could definitely transcode at least one full BD rip while using the htpc at the same time. The B85+G3258 was $110 recently, which would only be $40 more than the fanless Q-1900 I linked above. However, when you add transcoding and a beefier processor to the mix, it's easier to just use Windows. Which concludes that you need a license, need more ram, need an SSD, and you get away from "just htpc" which can make great use of OpenELEC and keep costs down.
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post #7 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 03:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shnxx View Post
sorry if I wasn't clear.

I meant I want to buy a finished HTPC
As far as speed, I do have Airport Extreme but it's rather sluggish when playing 1080p 20-30GB files.
So I would love to have it serve as a server but not if it costs too much.

I understand I can spend about 1000 and get a pretty nice finished package but at this time, I want to go as cheap as possible.
Can I buy a workable HTPC solution for 100" projection with 5.1 surround system for about 300?
I'm thinking I might be able to on eBay.
Never heard of it before, but there is always a first time as well...

I'm yet to see anyone who has a working HTPC all setup and working correctly wanting to sell on ebay for near nothing...

You may be able to get a used PC for near nothing, which you will need to re-mod afterwards, but a working HTPC... chances are quite slim...
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post #8 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 06:59 AM
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My HTPC is a $50 small form factor Acer from ebay. I had to look for a long time. And I had to add an SSD, HDD, video card and RAM for a total of about $150. So I think if you look for a diamond in the rough, so to speak, and plan on a few simple upgrades, you'll still come out pretty cheap without less effort than a build from scratch. The newer the model and the more you spend, the less you'll have to add to it of course. Also look for Dell, Lenovo and HP. I like SFF because it fits nicely in my rack and still has room for my low profile video and tuner cards. Anything smaller, and I'd have to go to a lot of external stuff (HDD, tuner, etc.).


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Last edited by mdavej; 07-15-2014 at 07:03 AM.
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post #9 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mdavej View Post
My HTPC is a $50 small form factor Acer from ebay. I had to look for a long time. And I had to add an SSD, HDD, video card and RAM for a total of about $150. So I think if you look for a diamond in the rough, so to speak, and plan on a few simple upgrades, you'll still come out pretty cheap without less effort than a build from scratch. The newer the model and the more you spend, the less you'll have to add to it of course. Also look for Dell, Lenovo and HP. I like SFF because it fits nicely in my rack and still has room for my low profile video and tuner cards. Anything smaller, and I'd have to go to a lot of external stuff (HDD, tuner, etc.).
Which models from Dell Lenovo and HP are good for HTPC?

What is SFF?
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post #10 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 01:20 PM
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By the time you add an SSD, you might as well just build something modern with better energy efficiency.

The trouble with MFG made boxes is they are not as quiet for HTPC use, and the cases are ugly and not ideal. If you end up replacing the PSU for noise reasons, upgrading the case for asthetics and fit factor, and add SSD because it's must have- you should have just built a cheap Haswell based HTPC on socket 1150 in the first place.

Celeron $40
Mobo $50
PSU $35
nice HTPC Case $80
Stick of Ram $25

It's worth it over store bought IMO.

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post #11 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 02:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
By the time you add an SSD, you might as well just build something modern with better energy efficiency.

The trouble with MFG made boxes is they are not as quiet for HTPC use, and the cases are ugly and not ideal. If you end up replacing the PSU for noise reasons, upgrading the case for asthetics and fit factor, and add SSD because it's must have- you should have just built a cheap Haswell based HTPC on socket 1150 in the first place.

Celeron $40
Mobo $50
PSU $35
nice HTPC Case $80
Stick of Ram $25

It's worth it over store bought IMO.
How much markup can I expect to pay between the build above DIY vs. Dell/Lenovo or used?

I've never built my own computer before and I'm not really a hands-on kind of a guy (try to avoid anything DIY) but given my small budget, I'm considering it now.
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post #12 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 03:36 PM
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There isn't much markup in any PC products, it's low margin stuff.

The difference is quality. The enthusiast grade stuff you buy and make yourself is often better quality, or has advanced features. That's the only reason why it costs a little more. Most premade PC don't use enthusiast level CPU models, or motherboards, or as good quality PSU like you'd find in a Seasonic variant you buy aftermarket. The nice aftermarket cases are made from metal and look great, not the plastic boxes you get from pre made. Aftermarket fans are better and quieter too.


You get what you pay for.

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post #13 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 06:17 PM
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If you can't (or won't) handle a screwdriver to build your own PC who is going to install (and configure) the necessary software?
If you want to buy a prebuilt I suggest (almost) any SandyBridge, IvyBridge or Haswell (basically an Intel 'i' series) with an HDMI port and Windows 7.
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post #14 of 57 Old 07-15-2014, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
There isn't much markup in any PC products, it's low margin stuff.

The difference is quality. The enthusiast grade stuff you buy and make yourself is often better quality, or has advanced features. That's the only reason why it costs a little more. Most premade PC don't use enthusiast level CPU models, or motherboards, or as good quality PSU like you'd find in a Seasonic variant you buy aftermarket. The nice aftermarket cases are made from metal and look great, not the plastic boxes you get from pre made. Aftermarket fans are better and quieter too.


You get what you pay for.
I'd love to know what exactly you have against large OEMs. Your assertion that they use inferior quality components doesn't seem to be based on anything in reality. (in fact I believe we've had a similar discussion before and you conceded that point... must have forgotten I guess) But in my experience (with thousands of OEM machines, mostly Dell HP and Lenovo) they pick components for compatibility and reliability since they have to warranty and support their machines. Sure there are exceptions, just like anything else in life, but by in large, I've found the quality of large OEM machines to be pretty good, especially if you look for systems geared towards corporate use. (and if you're looking for used systems, the market is generally flooded with previous generation business desktops that are off-lease)

I just installed Windows Server 2012 R2 to play around with Data De-duplication (see the SSD for DVR thread) on an old HP DC7700 SFF PC. It's small, it's quiet, it's rugged, it has PCIe expansion for a good video card, and I think it would make a great candidate for cheap HTPC if you didn't want to build one from scratch. Of course it's a few generations old, so you could probably find newer candidates that would be even better.

I also have some Dell Optiplex GX520 SFFs kicking around (that were free minus HDD) that are similar size, also nearly silent, but unfortunately lack any PCIe expansion slots. But machines like that are perfectly adequate for a "starter" HTPC.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #15 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 08:23 AM
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Calm down.

Not all OEM is inferior, nor is all DIY build stuff superior either. There's crap and great in both camps.
"You get what you pay for". <- This is what I am saying.

But since he is looking at used gear from ebay, and basically looking for cheap I think it's reasonable to say what I did. I do believe that it might be cheaper but probably not as good, and therefore although the price is lower the value might be too. It's great you can buy high end HP and DELL stuff that sold for $1000+ from MFG and prove not all OEM is crap but if you buy a used old sweat box purchased from best buy for $299 from two years ago I think the quality is going to be less. Let's keep the subjective opinions focused on the products he's asking about, it will be more helpful to him; He doesn't need us to argue in his thread either.

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post #16 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 08:32 AM
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As I stated above, the market is flooded with those once-upon-a-time $1000 machines from HP and Dell, that can be had for next to nothing and suit his purposes just as well as some $299 box from Best Buy. The point was, if you're looking for a quality machine, they are out there, and they can be had for cheap.

I was addressing exactly what he's asking about. Just because you have eliminated it from contention because you don't think they are a good value, doesn't mean that your subjective opinion on the matter is the last word.

If you're looking for a decent used machine on eBay, you're going to find better quality (and often better value) from the corporate machines. Why you seem fixated on the Best Buy junk is a mystery for the ages.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #17 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 08:37 AM
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Well then put your money where your mouth is an post up a link for him. I'm not seeing one.

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post #18 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 08:49 AM
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Well then put your money where your mouth is an post up a link for him. I'm not seeing one.
I must have missed the part in the thread where you posted links for what the OP was asking for.

You'll note he wasn't asking for links, he was asking for models (I suggested to look at any of the off-lease corporate models from Dell or HP)

Instead of addressing what he asked for, you went in a completely different direction, and suggested that build his own, which didn't address his post at all. YOU are the one that took this off topic, and ignored the needs of the OP, not me.

As always, you ignore the wishes of the OP, and instead suggest that they do it your way. They're looking for a used prebuilt computer? Your suggestion, assemble a new one. Someone is looking to get their RasPi working? You're advice is to build a celeron machine. Somebody asking for NAS advice? You tell them they should build a media server. And if you want to keep doing that, that's fine, but don't presume to think you're in a position to lecture me about how I post when I'm simply addressing the needs of the OP.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #19 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 08:54 AM
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You did miss it. He even quoted me ^

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post #20 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 08:57 AM
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If you can find an off-lease business PC with an Intel Sandybridge CPU that "could" make for a good pc. I'd guess they cost $150-$250, but I'm just kind of guessing.

You can buy brand new computers with Ivybridge or Haswell CPUs for $300-$350 at places like Staples or Best Buy fwiw.

The Intel NUC computers could be built pretty inexpensively. You only need to add a hard drive and ram, then install your operating system (id go Openelec to keep cost down). I think that could be done for under $200 and you'd have a brand new purpose built machine.
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post #21 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 08:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shnxx View Post
How much markup can I expect to pay between the build above DIY vs. Dell/Lenovo or used?

I've never built my own computer before and I'm not really a hands-on kind of a guy (try to avoid anything DIY) but given my small budget, I'm considering it now.
Buying premade is the best solution if you are not a DIY hands on person, but honestly following a guide like the Asassin guides and doing it is a valuable learning experience that will have positive impact on your happiness with HTPC. You learn as you go, and with forums and guides nothing is out of reach.

The end result is you actually understand how it works so you can get maximum enjoyment out of it.

If you go with a premade that's good, but you still need to tack the software. That is the hardpart anyways. hardware is simple and easy. Even a first timer can get it done in a few hours. Nothing on PC plugs into the wrong spot so it's somewhat obvious where things go. If you have a smart phone with camera and pictures you can always post here for a quick answer and get it all sorted out anyways.

The fear of the unknown is a lot worse than the fear of building IMO. Once you do it it's not so bad.

If you look for a pre made try to get something that's not too big, or too noisy. Preferably on socket 1155.

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post #22 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 09:00 AM
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You did miss it. He even quoted me ^
Your links aren't linked. You asked me to post links, yet you didn't. More lies from you.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #23 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 09:16 AM
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Dell OptiPlex 3010 SFF / Core i3 3rd Gen / 4GB / 500GB / Win 7 Pro 64-bit - $199

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #24 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 09:25 AM
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That's not too bad ^

I'd still rather a pentium with SSD though Light years faster in the real world. I think my main objection to the used route is the lack of SSD, and after you do that upgrade you totally wipe out any point of having purchased premade. If you can find happiness without an SSD it makes sense, but obviously with SSD for the OS the HTPC experience is superior because things are snappier and more enjoyable.

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post #25 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 09:32 AM
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That's not too bad ^

I'd still rather a pentium with SSD though Light years faster in the real world. I think my main objection to the used route is the lack of SSD, and after you do that upgrade you totally wipe out any point of having purchased premade. If you can find happiness without an SSD it makes sense, but obviously with SSD for the OS the HTPC experience is superior because things are snappier and more enjoyable.
He could still add an SSD if so inclined. buying prebuilt doesn't eliminate that possibility. And that system includes Windows. If you were planning on building your own Windows machine and staying legit, you'd spend half that cost on license. Can you build a Core i3/4GB/500GB system for $99? If you can, I'm quite certain the quality of those components would be pretty questionable.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #26 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 09:45 AM
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Yeah I agree that the windows key and the hardware is worth the $199. But the other reason why people go prebuilt is they don't want to build, or install OS. Adding SSD kind of defeats the purpose of all that. And it costs another $80 or so.. so now you have $280 investment.

For $280 I'd rather build I think, using SSD from the start- and perhaps getting a slightly cheaper CPU like a pentium to keep it under $280.

Windows PRO 7x64 OEM keys are about $50. (I buy them all the time) Obviously that's a value in the premade, probably the tipping point. If you added a SSD to that machine it would be a decent little HTPC.

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post #27 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
Yeah I agree that the windows key and the hardware is worth the $199. But the other reason why people go prebuilt is they don't want to build, or install OS.
If the reason people go prebuilt is they don't want to build or install an OS, then why would you respond to the guy who is wanting to go prebuilt by suggesting that he build and install? You make no sense.


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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
Adding SSD kind of defeats the purpose of all that. And it costs another $80 or so.. so now you have $280 investment.
Adding an SSD is a red herring to start with. The OP expressed no desire to have an SSD, and if he did want one, it's going to add to the cost of any solution, and it's going to require tinkering with any solution, so this imagined downside to buying prebuilt because of SSD concerns is exactly that... imagined.

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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
For $280 I'd rather build I think, using SSD from the start- and perhaps getting a slightly cheaper CPU like a pentium to keep it under $280.
Price is irrelevant. You'd rather build regardless of the price, you've been quite clear about that. Regardless of your preferences, I think you'd have a hard time putting together a comparably equipped PC including Windows for $280.

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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post
Windows PRO 7x64 OEM keys are about $50. (I buy them all the time) Obviously that's a value in the premade, probably the tipping point. If you added a SSD to that machine it would be a decent little HTPC.
It's a decent little HTPC, regardless if it has an SSD or not.

RAID protection is only for failed drives. That's it. It's no replacement for a proper backup.
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post #28 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ajhieb View Post
If the reason people go prebuilt is they don't want to build or install an OS, then why would you respond to the guy who is wanting to go prebuilt by suggesting that he build and install? You make no sense.
Because I believe that fear of the unknown is mostly the reason for his thinking, and I think with some encouragement and guidance he could build and/or install and the knowledge gained from the quest will pay him dividends in his end satisfaction. I'm fairly confident he can do it, and would be better off in the long run if he did.


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Originally Posted by ajhieb View Post
Adding an SSD is a red herring to start with. The OP expressed no desire to have an SSD, and if he did want one, it's going to add to the cost of any solution, and it's going to require tinkering with any solution, so this imagined downside to buying prebuilt because of SSD concerns is exactly that... imagined.
Anyone who think's they don't need an SSD doesn't understand how much of a benefit it is. I just have a hard time understanding how someone could fully realize the SSD benefit and choose to go without it. I seriously do. It's worth 2x the cost it actually costs in performance and usability and end result satisfaction. I could not be happy without one. It take all the fun out of browsing your media and playing it back, or enjoying your HTPC. Might as well just use a PC and navigate manually to your video to play it back.


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Originally Posted by ajhieb View Post
Price is irrelevant. You'd rather build regardless of the price, you've been quite clear about that. Regardless of your preferences, I think you'd have a hard time putting together a comparably equipped PC including Windows for $280.
Price is not irrelevant, it's paramount I think.


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Originally Posted by ajhieb View Post
It's a decent little HTPC, regardless if it has an SSD or not.
Perhaps capable, but without SSD I can't call it decent. You need an SSD to be considered decent in my book.
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post #29 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 11:09 AM
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To op, use openelec on USB with a NUC. It's prebuilt and new, nice size as well

Running OE on USB, you'll see it's as fast as xbmc was on your macbook. I like the patriot tab usb3 stick for OE since it blends nicely to the back panel ports and is fast/small/metal

No reason to waste any money on windows or ssd. If you are just going to run xbmc
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post #30 of 57 Old 07-16-2014, 11:37 AM
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Check the specials posted on dealnews.com or slickdeals.net. You can usually find turnkey PCs dirt cheap with a Windows 7 or 8 OS pre-installed. Newegg also offers a lot of refurbished PCs at really low prices.

I personally don't care much for pre-built PCs from the major name brands like Dell or any of the others. The higher end models are fine, but a lot of the low priced stuff they sell is crap. I bought two entry level Dells for my kids when they went off to college and they had nothing but problems with them. I also don't like them because a lot of the hardware and PC cases tend to be proprietary. The simple task of installing an extra hard drive may require a special bracket that you have to purchase from the manufacturer at an inflated price. Every Dell of HP I've ever bought has ended up in the recycle bin at my local landfill. I'll never buy another prebuilt PC.

People buy turnkey PCs because they either don't want to go the DIY route or they need the security blanket of technical support that comes with them. Most people want PCs that are plug and play and don;t want something they have to tinker with. We're all hobbyists here so DIY is what we're all about.
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