Guide to Building a HTPC, Workstation and Server - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 7Likes
Reply
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:55 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341



Buyer's Guide to Building a Home Theater PC - October/November 2011

Announcement (updated on October 1, 2011)

Here is the basic plan for "Buyer's Guide to Building a Home Theater PC" (formerly "Recommended HTPC Systems"):


1. Issues and Editions. The guide will be issued every month, on around the 20th day of the month, in the PDF format (a PDF reader is required to read it, such as Adobe Reader [free download] or Adobe Acrobat).

2. Asking a Donation! I am asking a donation for the latest issue (why). There are two choices:
  • Single issue ($4 USD or more): You can download the current latest issue.
     
  • 4 issues ($10 USD or more): You are eligible to download 4 consecutive issues. For example if you send a donation on April 1st, you can download March (during 4/1-4/20), April (during 4/20-5/20), May (during 5/20-6/20) and June (during 6/20-7/13) issues. How this works: Each donator will be provided with a download link to the issue file, which is valid for 2500 hours = 104 days = 3 months and 2 weeks (for example, April 1 to July 13 if you donate on April 1). I will update the file in the server on around the 20th day of each month and will announce it in this thread. Then you can download the new issue at the link provided. You will use the link repeatedly during the subscription period. So please keep the download link.
At this time only a donation by PayPal is accepted. Click the button
then select either one described above, click the PayPal icon and follow the instruction in the loaded page to send a donation. If you don't have a PayPal account, don't worry, click the link "Continue" following "Don't have a PayPal account?" in the page to create an account (it's free) and send money using your credit card or bank account. You will receive a download link instantly. Note that
  • The price field is editable; please change it and donate as much as you can.
     
  • Please add your User Name at AVS Forum in "Add special instructions to merchant" if you want to get my support via PM or posts in the thread. Otherwise I can't identify you with an AVS Forum member unless your user name is the same as your PayPal account holder name.

3. Older Issues will be released free. Older issues will be released for free, either in this thread like the previous "Recommended Systems" or in PDF for download or both. I am planning on releasing a couple of months old issue every couple of months.

4. Have a Question? If you have a question (how to build, how to configure or whatever), please either post it in the thread (yes, please post any question in the thread, hoping that invoke interest in the latest guide ), PM me or email me. I will try to answer it; if I can't, somebody else may be able to help you.

Why do I ask a donation? Maintaining the guide consists of


  • Research latest hardware components;
  • Acquire key hardware components and do lots of experiments;
  • Write the information obtained in a readable form, that requires lots of time, meditation and inspiration (not kidding).

Among them the most difficult part is the second part because it involves lots of money ($1000 or more per month, not kidding, I consider $1000 is the minimum amount to maintain and keep the guide up to date) and currently it relies heavily on the donations. So please consider making a donation, as much as you can afford, if you think the guide is helpful and want to see it updated for some time to come.

BTW the amount of donations in 2010 is

  • October 16 2010 - November 15 2010: $60
  • September 16 2010 - October 15 2010: $85
  • August 16 2010 - September 15 2010: $145

This is good enough to buy a motherboard per month, but nothing more. This guide is going to die sooner or later if this continues.

Release Notes

  • October/November 2011 Issue: Released on December 11, 2011.

    - Sandy Bridge-E LGA 2011 systems took the place of 3-year-old Bloomfield LGA 1366 systems.
    - All systems were reexamined and nearly half of the systems were updated or completely changed because of new hardware components and price change of many components.

    Sample (21 pages):
  • August/September 2011 Issue: Released on October 1, 2011.

    - The low-end and mid-range systems are restructured.
    - Nearly half of the systems were updated or completely changed because of new hardware components and price change of many components.
     
  • June/July 2011 Issue: Released on July 14, 2011. The June issue has been delayed because of the delay of the May issue. So I decided to combine the June and July issues.

    - AMD A-Series APU (Llano) systems took place of all the Socket AM3 systems in the low-end and mid-range AMD systems.
    - Nearly half of the systems were updated because of new hardware components (new AMD 990FX/990X/SB950 chipset motherboards, new X58/ICH10R chipset motherboards etc.) and price change of many components.
     
  • May 2011 Issue: Released on June 3, 2011.

    - All LGA 775 systems were replaced by LGA 1155 systems finally.
    - Intel Z68 chipset motherboards are used in place of P67 in many systems.
    - Standard Mini-ITX and Budget/Low-End microATX/ATX systems were completely re-organized reflecting the recent release of Pentium Sandy Bridge processor.
    - 15-bay server systems are now using an Intel processor and Intel-brand motherboard (one reason for that is Intel Gb LAN).
    - 20-24 bay server systems have more processor/motherboard options.
     
  • April 2011 Issue (free download): Released on April 23, 2011.

    - All Radeon HD 5xxx cards were replaced by the latest Radeon HD 6xxx.
    - Several older motherboards and SSDs were replaced by new ones.
    - A Xeon LGA 1155 workstation was added.
    - Server systems were streamlined and divided into two categories: Server I (12 and 15-drive systems) and Server II (20 and 24-drive systems).
     
  • March 2011 Issue (free download): Released on March 21, 2011.

    - Every Intel LGA 1156 (Clarkdale and Lynnfield) system was replaced by a LGA 1155 (Sandy Bridge) system.
    - "Intel for 3D" (Clarkdale + a discrete graphics) systems were removed because Sandy Bridge supports 3D.
    - A LGA 1366 workstation was added.
    - Rocket 620 SATA controller card in a couple of server systems was replaced by Rosewill RC-211 because Rocket 620 BIOS disables other controller's BIOS.
     
  • February 2011 Issue (free download): The initial version released on February 23, 2011, the final version released on March 4, 2011.

    - An AMD E-350 APU system was added in the mini-ITX system ("Budge Mini-ITX System").
    - Intel High-End/Premium/Ultimate Systems and Workstation were all updated (i.e. Lynnfield systems were revived) because Intel recalled Intel 6 Series chipsets.
    - Minor changes in the server systems (new motherboards, a new SATA 6.0Gbps controller card) for better cost/performance.
    - Every single system was reviewed and components were replaced if necessary.
     
  • January 2011 Issue (free download): Issued on January 20, 2011. As Intel Sandy Bridge quad-core processors were released on January 9, mainly Intel High-End/Premium/Ultimate Systems were updated.
     
  • December 2010 Issue (free download): Issued on January 5, 2011. This is the first PDF version of the Buyer's Guide. 80 pages in US letter. Almost every section of the June 2010 issue was updated. This issue is also posted here.

Past Guides in This Thread




_____________________________
Preface to the Guide - May 11, 2008
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

This is a guide to building a HTPC (Home Theater PC), a revised, enlarged version of Core 2 Motherboard Complete List - With Hardware Recommendations for a HD HTPC. In general emphasis is on the aspect of smooth playback of HD contents (including Blu-ray Disc, HD DVD and 1080p H.264 files), hence I added "HD (High Definition)" in the title. The main parts are:


  • Part I. Hardware Guide
  • Part II. Assembling Guide (under construction)
  • Part III. Software Guide (under construction)

"Hardware Guide" includes a practical selection guide of various hardware components as well as theoretical aspects of hardware if necessary. This part should be helpful to select right components quickly when building a HTPC. "Assembling Guide" is a practical guide to assembling a HTPC. I will choose one of the recommended systems in Part I and give a step-by-step instruction of assembling components. The content of "Software Guide" is still undecided (I welcome suggestions).

There are six appendices:

  • Appendix I. Overview of Intel CPU
  • Appendix II. Overview of AMD CPU
  • Appendix III. Complete List of Core 2 Motherboards
  • Appendix IV. Complete List of AM2 Motherboards
  • Appendix V. Motherboard Naming Rules
  • Appendix VI. List of Bandwidth

These are for reference only.

Then follow

__________________
Contents of the Guide
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Main Part

  1. Hardware Guide (Page 1)
    1. Introduction (under construction)
    2. Recommended Systems
    3. CPU and CPU Cooler
    4. Motherboard
    5. Memory
    6. Graphics Device
    7. Sound Device
    8. HDD
    9. Optical Drive
    10. TV Tuner
    11. PSU
    12. Case
    13. Input Devices
  2. Assembling Guide (Page 2) (under construction)
  3. Software Guide (Page 3) (under construction)

Appendix

  1. Intel Processors – An Overview (Page 4)
    • Contents
    • Preface
    1. History
    2. P6 Microarchitecture
    3. NetBurst Microarchitecture
    4. Mobile Microarchitecture
    5. Core Microarchitecture
    6. Atom Microarchitecture
    7. Nehalem Microarchitecture
  2. AMD Processors – An Overview (Page 5)
    • Contents
    • Preface
    1. History
    2. K5 Processor
    3. K6 Processor
    4. K7 Processor
    5. K8 Processor
    6. K10 Processor
  3. Core 2 Motherboards – A Complete List of (Page 6)
    • Contents
    • Preface
    1. Overview of Recent Chipsets for the Intel Platform
    2. Intel 865 Chipset Motherboards
    3. Intel 945/946 Express Chipset Motherboards
    4. Intel 975X Express Chipset Motherboards
    5. Intel 965 Express Chipset Motherboards
    6. Intel 3 Series Chipset Motherboards
    7. Intel 4 Series Chipset Motherboards
    8. Intel Tylersburg & Ibexpeak Chipset Motherboards
    9. NVIDIA nForce4 Series for Intel Chipset Motherboards
    10. NVIDIA nForce 500 Series for Intel Chipset Motherboards
    11. NVIDIA nForce 600i Series Chipset Motherboards
    12. NVIDIA nForce 700i Series Chipset Motherboards
    13. NVIDIA GeForce 7-Series GPU and nForce 6-Series MCP Motherboards
    14. NVIDIA GeForce 8-Series mGPU Motherboards
    15. ATI Chipset Motherboards
    16. SiS Chipset Motherboards
    17. VIA Chipset Motherboards
    18. Mobile Intel 945 Express Chipset Motherboards
    19. Mobile Intel 965 Express Chipset Motherboards
  4. AM2 Motherboards – A Complete List of (Page 7)
    • Contents
    • Preface
    1. Overview of Recent Chipsets for the AMD Platform
    2. AMD 480 Series Chipset Motherboards
    3. AMD 580 Series Chipset Motherboards
    4. AMD 690 Series Chipset Motherboards
    5. AMD 7-Series Chipset Motherboards
    6. AMD 8-Series Chipset Motherboards
    7. NVIDIA nForce3 Series Chipset Motherboards
    8. NVIDIA nForce4 Series for AMD Chipset Motherboards
    9. NVIDIA nForce 500 Series for AMD Chipset Motherboards
    10. NVIDIA nForce 600a Series Chipset Motherboards
    11. NVIDIA nForce 700a Series Chipset Motherboards
    12. NVIDIA GeForce 6-Series GPU and nForce4 Series MCP Motherboards
    13. NVIDIA GeForce 7-Series GPU and nForce 6-Series MCP Motherboards
    14. NVIDIA GeForce 8-Series mGPU Motherboards
    15. SiS Chipset Motherboards
    16. ULi Chipset Motherboards
    17. VIA Chipset Motherboards
  5. Naming Rules of Motherboards (Page 8)
  6. List of Bandwidth (Page 8)
  7. MSI K8NGM2-FID: The Definitive Guide (page 9)

Discussion Posts (Click Here)

renethx is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:55 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341

_______
Contents
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
  1. Introduction (under construction)
  2. Recommended Systems
  3. CPU and CPU Cooler
  4. Motherboard
  5. Memory
  6. Graphics Device
  7. Sound Device
  8. HDD
  9. Optical Drive
  10. TV Tuner
  11. PSU
  12. Case
  13. Input Devices
renethx is offline  
post #3 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:55 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #4 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
______________________
2. Recommended Systems
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
The purpose of this section is give a quick view of one of the best systems in various categories. First, systems are classified by form factor and functions:
  • MicroATX System: This is a small form factor (SFF) HTPC with 4 expansion slots and usually 1 or 2 HDDs.
  • ATX System: This is a full ATX form factor HTPC with up to 7 expansion slots and possibly more than 2 HDDs.
  • Home Media Server: This is a dedicated system storing media files and streaming them to client HTPCs. This can be also a HD PVR with multiple TV tuners. You don't have to have a dedicated storage server, but having it is useful when you have lots of HDDs that would emit excessive noise and heat in a HTPC case and/or you have several HTPCs to which you stream media contents.
I gave a low-end, mid-range, high-end, and premium system in each of the MicroATX and ATX Systems (a high-end and premium system for ATX only). A low-end system satisfies the minimum conditions to play back Blu-ray Disc (BD) and HD DVD movies. A mid-range/high-end/premium system has extra features such as better gaming performance and more storage space.

_____________________
Peripheral Components
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
There are several components common in every HTPC system: HDD, optical drive, TV tuner, input device (remote control/keyboard/mouse), and OS of course. Here is a quick recommendation for each of these components:
  • HDD: One of the following.
    • Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ, $100. If you are going to use two 500GB HDDs in a case, then instead use:
    • Western Digital WD Caviar GP 1TB WD10EACS, $225.
  • Optical Drive: One of the following.
    • LITE-ON DH-4O1S BD-ROM Drive, $150. Blue-ray Disc read only. No HD DVD read or DVD/CD write.
    • LG GGC-H20L Super Multi Blue Blu-ray Disc & HD DVD-ROM Drive, $280.
  • TV Tuner: One of the following.
    • AVerMedia AVerTV Combo PCIe (PCI Express x1), $85 (white box), $110 (retail).
    • Silicondust HDHomeRun (Network), $170.
  • Sound Card: This is optional. You will need a sound card if you want 5.1 channel S/PDIF sounds from every source but your motherboard lacks DTS Connect/Dolby Digital Live, and/or if you want a better 7.1 channel analog sounds than the onboard audio codec, and/or if you are a gamer and you want the support for EAX 5.0.
    • ASUS Xonar DX (PCI Express x1)
    • ASUS Xonar D2X (PCI Express x1), $175.
  • Remote Controller: One of the following.
    • Microsoft Remote Control and Receiver for Media Center PC with Windows, $22.
    • Logitech Harmony One Advanced Universal Remote, $230. Requires an IR receiver.
  • Keyboard/Mouse: One of the following.
    • Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000, $107.
    • Logitech diNovo Edge, $135.
  • OS: One of the following.
    • Windows Vista Home Premium Service Pack 1 (either 32-bit or 64-bit edition), $100 (OEM), $220 (retail).
    • Windows Vista Ultimate Service Pack 1 (either 32-bit or 64-bit edition), $170 (32-bit OEM), $180 (64-bit OEM), $290 (retail).


Lower-cost components




Higher-cost components
stevekelly likes this.
renethx is offline  
post #5 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
______________
MicroATX System
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
Low-End I

The first system is a budget microATX system with integrated graphics. As the integrated graphics supports hardware HD decoding, you don't need a discrete graphics (unless you play games).

System
  • CPU: Athlon X2 4850e ADH4850DOBOX 45W Brisbane 2.5GHz Socket AM2, $89.
  • CPU Cooler: Scythe NINJA MINI, $35.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2H AMD 780G chipset microATX, $81.
  • Memory: Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA804 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $29 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 3200 (integrated in the motherboard chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $106.
  • PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA 380 (included in the case), $0.
  • Case: Antec NSK2480, $75.
  • Total Cost: $415

Remarks

The case NSK2480 has a few problems.
  1. Stealthed optical bay covers are absent. Unless you find a silver optical drive or a silver drive bezel, it may look pretty ugly.
  2. There is no IEEE 1394 port on the front.
If you care about these problems, I recommend Antec Fusion 430.

Low-End II

The second system is another budget microATX system, but for the Intel platform. The motherboard comes with DVI, VGA, S/PDIF ports (optical; coaxial is for "in") and IEEE 1394 in the back panel at a very low price. The integrated graphics does not support hardware HD decoding, but it is good for:
  • DVD
  • HDTV (1080i MPEG-2)
  • all the 720p contents
  • all the 1080p contents (including Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD movies) with an appropriate video decoder (notably CoreAVC)
However playing back Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD movies with PowerDVD, the most popular application player, is unwatchable even with a quad-core processor. So I added a discrete graphics card.

System
  • CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E2220 2.4GHz Socket 775, $84.
  • CPU Cooler: Scythe NINJA MINI, $35.
  • Motherboard: eVGA e-7100/630i 112-CK-NF75-K1 NVIDIA GeForce 7100 and nForce 630i chipset microATX, $70.
  • Memory: Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA804 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $29 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Graphics Card: XFX GeForce 8600 GT PV-T84J-UAL3, $88.
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $106.
  • PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA 380 (included in the case), $0.
  • Case: Antec NSK2480, $75.
  • Total Cost: $469

Remarks
  1. HDCP of the onboad video is broken. But this does not matter because you will have to add a discrete video card for playing back BD / HD DVD with PowerDVD.
Mid-Range

This system has a more powerful CPU and a better graphics card.

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Duo E7200 2.53GHz Socket 775, $133.
  • CPU Cooler: Scythe NINJA MINI, $35.
  • Motherboard: ASUS P5K-VM Intel G33 chipset microATX, $101.
  • Memory: Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA804 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $29 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Graphics Card: PNY Verto 8600 GT 256MB PCIe VCG8600GXPB, $114. An alternative is ATI Radeon HD 3650, $99.
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $106.
  • PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA 430 (included in the case), $0.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Black 430, $150.
  • Total Cost: $668

Gaming HTPC

This system is intended for both games and HTPC work.

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Duo E7200 2.53GHz Socket 775, $133.
  • CPU Cooler: Scythe NINJA MINI, $35.
  • Motherboard: ASUS P5K-VM Intel G33 chipset microATX, $101.
  • Memory: Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA804 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $29 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Graphics Card: PNY Verto 8600 GT 256MB PCIe VCG8600GXPB, $114. An alternative is ATI Radeon HD 3650, $99.
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $106.
  • PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA 430 (included in the case), $0.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Black 430, $150.
  • Total Cost: $668
renethx is offline  
post #6 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
__________
ATX System
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
An ATX form factor system provides more expandability (more PCI/PCI Express slots) and more storage space than a microATX system.

Low-End

System
  • CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E2220 2.4GHz Socket 775, $84.
  • CPU Cooler: ZEROtherm BTF90, $30 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L Intel P35 chipset ATX, $89.
  • Memory: Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA804 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $50 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Graphics Card: ATI Radeon HD 3450 (any brand), $50. An alternative is XFX GeForce 8500 GT PV-T86J-YAHG, $70.
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $106.
  • PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA 430, $50.
  • Case: SilverStone Lascala SST-LC17B, $105.
  • Total Cost: $546

Mid-Range

The system is more powerful and has better features such as RAID.

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Duo E7200 2.53GHz Socket 775, $133.
  • CPU Cooler: ZEROtherm BTF90, $30 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3R Intel P35 chipset ATX, $125.
  • Memory: Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA804 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $50 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Graphics Card: ATI Radeon HD 3650 (any brand), $99.
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $106.
  • PSU: Antec NeoPower 430, $70.
  • Case: SilverStone Lascala LC20M SST-LC20B-M, $190.
  • Total Cost: $803

High-End

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Duo E8400 3.00GHz Socket 775, $183.
  • CPU Cooler: ZEROtherm BTF90, $30 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS4 Intel P35 chipset ATX, $170. An alternative is abit IP35 Pro, $170.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1B16K DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $78.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce 9600 GT (any brand; ASUS, Chaintech, ECS, Leadtek, MSI, XFX (PV-T94P-YDD4), ZOTAC card comes with a DVI-HDMI adapter and an internal S/PDIF cable), $170
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $106.
  • PSU: Enermax MODU82+ 525W EMD525AWT, $140. A cheaper alternative is Corsair HX520W, $96.
  • Case: SilverStone Grandia GD01-MX SST-GD01B-MXR, $229.
  • Total Cost: $1106

Premium I

The final ATX systems aim at not only HTPC but heavy gaming and workstation.

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Quad Q9300 2.5GHz Socket 775, $266.
  • CPU Cooler: Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme, $56.
  • CPU Fan: Scythe S-FLEX S-FDB 120mm Fan SFF21E, $15.
  • Motherboard: eVGA 132-CK-NF78-A1 nForce 780i SLI ATX, $240.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8000CL5D-4GBPQ DDR2-1000 2 x 2GB Kit, $110.
  • Graphics Card: XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB DDR3 PV-T88P-YDF4, $240; two of this card for SLI, $480.
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $106.
  • PSU: Enermax MODU82+ 625W EMD625AWT, $163.
  • Case: Cooler Master COSMOS 1000, $160.
  • Total Cost: $1346 for non-SLI, $1586 for SLI

Premium II

The second premium system is the latest AMD Spider platform conisisting of Phenom processor, 790FX chipset and Radeon HD 3800 graphics. The 790FX excels in flexibility and power consumption and even Intel X38 chipset can't compete with it. The current revision B2 of Phenom has TLB erratum and you may want to wait for the B3 revision.

System
  • CPU: Phenom 9850 Black Edition HD985ZXAGHBOX 2.5GHz Socket AM2+, $235.
  • CPU Cooler: Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme, $56.
  • CPU Fan: Scythe S-FLEX S-FDB 120mm Fan SFF21E, $15.
  • Motherboard: MSI K9A2 Platinum 790FX ATX, $157.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8000CL5D-4GBPQ DDR2-1000 2 x 2GB Kit, $110.
  • Graphics Card: Radeon HD 3870, $230; two of this card for CrossFire, $460.
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $106.
  • PSU: Enermax MODU82+ 625W, $163.
  • Case: Cooler Master COSMOS 1000, $160.
  • Total Cost: $1222 for non-CrossFire, $1452 for CrossFire

Optional DAS (Direct Attached Storage) for Premium Systems

The motherboard has a third PCI Express x16 slot (x8 electrically), you can add a RAID controller card for more storage space. For example, the following combination supports up to 16 HDDs (8 internal and 8 external).
  • HighPoint RocketRAID 2340 4-port SFF-8087 (16-port SATA) RAID Controller PCIe x8 Card, $430. An alternative is Promise SuperTrak EX16350 (with XOR engine and RAID 6), $560.
  • Cooler Master STB-3T4-E3-GP 4-in-3 Device Module (turns 3 x 5.25" bay into 4 x 3.5" bays), $25.
  • Internal SATA to External Multilane Dual Port PCI Bracket, $48.
  • HighPoint IB-1M InfiniBand SFF-8470 to InfiniBand SFF-8470 1 meter cable x 2, $62. (2m, 3m, 5m cables are also available here.)
  • Addonics MST4ML-B Mini Storage Tower (4 HDDs, 1 SFF-8470 port) x 2, $280. An alternative is External 8-Drive SATA Enclosure (8 HDDs, 2 SFF-8470 ports), $219 or Tower 8-Bay Multilane SATA II Enclosure (8 HDDs, 2 SFF-8470 ports), $390.
  • Total Cost: $845 (HDDs for storage are not included)
renethx is offline  
post #7 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
_______________
Home Media Sever
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
As more and more people are interested in home media server as a centralized storage space, I greatly expanded this section.

You may need to use power adapters like below to connect lots of HDDs and fans:
16 HDD System I

The first system is a RAID system with 16 storage drives in a mid tower case. I chose components as cheap as possible, hence the RAID controller lacks XOR engine, but that should be enough for a home media server. OS can be any the RAID controller card supports: Windows XP/Vista, Windows Server 2003/2008, Linux.

System
  • Case: AeroCool Masstige Silver (10 x 5.25" bay, 2 x 3.5" bay), $95 with:
  • Lian Li EX-23NB or EX-23B Internal HDD Kit (turns 2 x 5.25" bay into 3 x 3.5" bay) x 5, $100.
  • PSU: Corsair VX550W 550W, $81.
  • CPU: Athlon 64 X2 4200+ ADO4200DOBOX 65W Brisbane 2.2GHz Socket AM2, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Cooler, $0.
  • Memory: CORSAIR TWIN2X2048-6400 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $28 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Motherboard: ECS A780GM-A (V1.0) AMD 780G chipset ATX (6 x SATA ports), $72.
  • HBA: HighPoint RocketRAID 2340 4-port SFF-8087 (16-port SATA) RAID Controller PCI Express x8 Card, $430. An alternative is Promise SuperTrak EX16350 (with XOR engine and RAID 6), $638.
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 7025 (integrated in the motherboard chipset), $0.
  • HDD: WD800JD 80GB SATA 3.0Gb/s, $40.
  • Total Cost: $906 (storage drives are not included)

Remarks

The motherboard requirements are:
  • IGP
  • Gb LAN (preferably PCI Express)
  • 1 x SATA (or PATA) port for the system drive
  • 1 x PCI Express x8 slot for 16-port SATA RAID controller (supporting 16 storage drives)
Basically any mid-range motherboard with integrated graphics can be used for this system.

16 HDD System II

The system is similar to the above, but without a RAID controller card, that will reduce the total cost. A typical OS is Windows XP/Vista (non-RAID), Windows Server 2003/2008 (non-RAID or software RAID), Windows Home Server, Linux (non-RAID or software RAID) or unRAID.

System
  • Case: AeroCool Masstige Silver (10 x 5.25" bay and 2 x 3.5" internal bay), $95.
  • Lian Li EX-23NB or EX-23B Internal HDD Kit (turns 2 x 5.25" bay into 3 x 3.5" bay) x 5, $100.
  • PSU: Corsair VX550W 550W, $81.
  • CPU: Athlon 64 X2 4200+ ADO4200DOBOX 65W Brisbane 2.2GHz Socket AM2, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Cooler, $0.
  • Memory: CORSAIR TWIN2X2048-6400 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $28 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Motherboard: ECS A780GM-A (V1.0) AMD 780G chipset ATX (6 x SATA ports), $72.
  • HBA: PROMISE SATA300 TX4 4-port SATA PCI adapter x 3: $180.
  • Graphics: Radeon HD 3200 (integrated in the motherboard chipset), $0.
  • HDD: WD800JD 80GB SATA 3.0Gb/s for OS other than unRAID, $40; CORSAIR Flash Voyager CMFUSB2.0-1GB 1GB USB Flash Drive for unRAID, $11.
  • Total Cost: $656 for OS other than unRAID; $627 for unRAID (storage drives are not included)

Remarks

The motherboard requirements are:
  • IGP
  • Gb LAN (preferably PCI Express)
  • 1 x SATA (or PATA) port for the system drive
  • 4 x SATA port for 4 storage drives
  • 3 x PCI slot for 3 x 4-port SATA host controller (supporting 12 storage drives)
24 HDD System

The third system consists of a main system with 12 storage drives in either a mid tower or 4U rackmount case and an external enclosure with 12 storage drives in another case. Port multiplier (PM) is used to support storage drives. A typical OS is Windows XP/Vista (non-RAID), Windows Server 2003/2008 (non-RAID or software RAID), Windows Home Server or Linux (non-RAID or software RAID).



or


Main System
  • Mid Tower Case: Rosewill R6A34-BK ATX Mid Tower (4 x external 5.25″, 2 x external 3.5″, 5 x internal 3.5″), $45 with:
  • Lian Li EX-23B Internal HDD Kit (turns 2 x 5.25" bay into 3 x 3.5" bay) x 2, $40.
    or
  • 4U Rackmount Case: CODEGEN 4U-500-CA 4U Rackmount Chassis (3 x 5.25″ bay, 8 x 3.5″ bay, 2 x 3.5″ bay under the cross bar), $71 with:
  • HDD Mounting Kit x 2, $3 or Lian Li EX-34B Internal HDD Kit (turns 3 x 5.25" bay into 4 x 3.5" bay) for better cooling, $35.
  • PSU: Sparkle ATX-400PN 400W, $31.
  • CPU: Athlon 64 X2 4000+ ADO4000DDBOX 65W Brisbane 2.1GHz Socket AM2, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Cooler, $0.
  • Memory: CORSAIR TWIN2X2048-6400 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $29 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Motherboard: ECS A780GM-A (V1.0) AMD 780G chipset ATX (6 x SATA ports), $72.
  • HBA: HighPoint RocketRAID 2314 4-port eSATA RAID Controller PCI Express x4 Card supporting Port Multiplier, $165.
  • KINGWIN ESAC-02 Internal SATA to eSATA 2-Port PCI Bracket x 2, $6.
  • Graphics: GeForce 7025 (integrated in the motherboard chipset), $0.
  • HDD: WD800JD 80GB SATA 3.0Gb/s, $40.
  • Addonics AD5SAPM 5X1 Internal SATA Port Multiplier (1 x SATA in, 5 x SATA out) x 2, $170.
  • SATA cable x 11, $22.
  • Total Cost: $681 for Tower; $670 for Rackmount

Enclosure
  • Mid Tower Case: Rosewill R6A34-BK ATX Mid Tower (4 x external 5.25″, 2 x external 3.5″, 5 x internal 3.5″), $45 with:
  • Lian Li EX-23B Internal HDD Kit (turns 2 x 5.25" bay into 3 x 3.5" bay) x 2, $40.
    or
  • 4U Rackmount Case: CODEGEN 4U-500-CA 4U Rackmount Chassis (3 x 5.25" bay, 8 x 3.5″ bay, 2 x 3.5″ bay under the cross bar), $71 with:
  • HDD Mounting Kit x 2, $3 or Lian Li EX-34B Internal HDD Kit (turns 3 x 5.25" bay into 4 x 3.5″ bay) for better cooling, $35.
  • PSU: Sparkle ATX-350PN 350W, $24.
  • KINGWIN ESAC-02 Internal SATA to eSATA 2-Port PCI Bracket x 2, $6.
  • Addonics AD5SAPM 5X1 Internal SATA Port Multiplier (1 x SATA in, 5 x SATA out) x 2, $170.
  • SATA Cable x 10, $20.
  • KINGWIN ESAC-01 eSATA to eSATA 3' Cable x 2, $6.
  • Total Cost: $311 for Tower; $300 for Rackmount

Cost of the Total System
  • $992 for Tower; $970 for Rackmount (storage drives are not included)
Block Diagram

Each of the four eSATA ports of the host bus adapter (HBA) is connected to a port multiplier (PM) that supports 5 SATA drives. On the other hand, the southbridge (SB) of the motherboard chipset supports 4 SATA ports. Each subsystem includes 2 port multipliers. Among 12 storage drives in each of the subsystems, 10 drives are connected to the two port multipliers and the rest 2 drives are connected to the southbridge.


Remarks

1) You need to modify the PSU of the enclosure so that it works without a motherboard (please read the article Power Up an ATX PSU without a Motherboard), or use 20-pin Power Supply Jump Start Connector (in this case you turn on/off the enclosure by the PSU switch).

2) The motherboard requirements are:
  • IGP
  • Gb LAN (preferably PCI Express)
  • 1 x SATA (or PATA) port for the system drive
  • 4 x SATA port for 4 storage drives
  • 1 x PCI Express x4 slot for a 4-port eSATA PM-aware host controller (supporting 20 storage drives)
Basically any mid-range motherboard with integrated graphics can be used for this system.
renethx is offline  
post #8 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
40 HDD System I

HighPoint offers another PM host adapter, RocketRAID 2522, that support up to 32 hard disks with PM. By combining it with a motherboard with 8 SATA ports (e.g. ASUS P5B-VM DO), you can build a 40-HDD system cosisting of a main system with 10 storage drives and three external enclosures each with 10 storage drives. A typical OS is Windows XP/Vista (non-RAID), Windows Server 2003/2008 (non-RAID or software RAID), Windows Home Server or Linux (non-RAID or software RAID).


Main System
  • Mid Tower Case: Rosewill R6A34-BK ATX Mid Tower (4 x external 5.25″, 2 x external 3.5″, 5 x internal 3.5″), $45 with:
  • HDD Mounting Kit x 4, $6 or Lian Li EX-23B Internal HDD Kit (turns 2 x 5.25″ bay into 3 x 3.5″ bay) x 2 for better cooling, $40.
    or
  • 4U Rackmount Case: CODEGEN 4U-500-CA 4U Rackmount Chassis (3 x 5.25" bay, 8 x 3.5″ bay, 2 x 3.5″ bay under the cross bar), $71 with:
  • HDD Mounting Kit x 2, $3 or Lian Li EX-34B Internal HDD Kit (turns 3 x 5.25" bay into 4 x 3.5″ bay) for better cooling, $35.
  • PSU: Sparkle ATX-350PN 350W, $24.
  • CPU: Athlon 64 X2 4200+ ADO4200DOBOX 65W Brisbane 2.2GHz Socket AM2, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Cooler, $0.
  • Memory: CORSAIR TWIN2X2048-6400 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $28 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Motherboard: ECS A780GM-A (V1.0) AMD 780G chipset ATX (6 x SATA ports), $72.
  • HBA I: HighPoint RocketRAID 2522 8-port eSATA RAID Controller PCI Express x8 Card supporting Port Multiplier, $335.
  • HBA II: PROMISE SATA300 TX4 4-port SATA PCI adapter: $60.
  • HighPoint Ext-MS-1MES External Mini-SAS to eSATA Cable x 2, $107
  • Internal SATA to eSATA 4-Port PCI Bracket, $20.
  • KINGWIN ESAC-02 Internal SATA to eSATA 2-Port PCI Bracket x 2, $6.
  • Graphics: GeForce 7025 (integrated in the motherboard chipset), $0.
  • HDD: WD800JD 80GB SATA 3.0Gb/s, $40.
  • Addonics AD5SAPM 5X1 Internal SATA Port Multiplier (1 x SATA in, 5 x SATA out) x 2, $170.
  • SATA cable x 12, $24.
  • Total Cost: $997 for Tower; $1020 for Rackmount

Enclosure
  • Mid Tower Case: Rosewill R6A34-BK ATX Mid Tower (4 x external 5.25″, 2 x external 3.5″, 5 x internal 3.5″), $45 with:
  • HDD Mounting Kit x 4, $6 or Lian Li EX-23B Internal HDD Kit (turns 2 x 5.25" bay into 3 x 3.5" bay) x 2 for better cooling, $40.
    or
  • 4U Rackmount Case: CODEGEN 4U-500-CA 4U Rackmount Chassis (3 x 5.25″ bay, 8 x 3.5″ bay, 2 x 3.5″ bay under the cross bar), $71 with:
  • HDD Mounting Kit x 2, $3 or Lian Li EX-34B Internal HDD Kit (turns 3 x 5.25″ bay into 4 x 3.5″ bay) for better cooling, $35.
  • PSU: Sparkle ATX-350PN 350W, $24.
  • KINGWIN ESAC-02 Internal SATA to eSATA 2-Port PCI Bracket x 2, $6.
  • Addonics AD5SAPM 5X1 Internal SATA Port Multiplier (1 x SATA in, 5 x SATA out) x 2, $170.
  • SATA Cable x 8, $16.
  • KINGWIN ESAC-01 eSATA to eSATA 3' Cable x 2, $6.
  • Total Cost: $273 for Tower; $296 for Rackmount
Cost of the Total System (Main System and Three Enclosures)
  • $1816 for Tower; $1908 for Rackmount
Remarks

The motherboard requirements are:
  • IGP
  • Gb LAN (preferably PCI Express)
  • 1 x SATA (or PATA) port for the system drive
  • 4 x SATA port for 4 storage drives
  • 1 x PCI slot for a 4-port SATA host controller (supporting 4 storage drives)
  • 1 x PCI Express x8 slot for 8-port eSATA PM-aware host controller (supporting 32 storage drives)
Basically any mid-range motherboard with integrated graphics can be used for this system.

40 HDD System II

This system consists of a main system that includes only the system drive in a 3U rackmount chassis and four NORCO DS-1220N 12-bay 3U rackmount enclosures. All the 10 storage drives in the main system of 40 HDD System I are now stored in one of the enclosures. The NORCO DS-1220N has basically the same internal structure as our custom-built enclosure (two port multipliers with Silicon Image SiI3726 chip) but supports hot-swapping (and hence is pricey). A typical OS is Windows XP/Vista (non-RAID), Windows Server 2003/2008 (non-RAID or software RAID), Windows Home Server or Linux (non-RAID or software RAID).


Main System
  • Case: iStarUSA D-300-PFS 3U Rackmount Chassis (2 x 5.25" bay, 6 x 3.5" bay) , $100.
  • PSU: Sparkle ATX-350PN 350W, $24.
  • CPU: Athlon 64 X2 4200+ ADO4200DOBOX 65W Brisbane 2.2GHz Socket AM2, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Cooler, $0.
  • Memory: CORSAIR TWIN2X2048-6400 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $28 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Motherboard: ECS A780GM-A (V1.0) AMD 780G chipset ATX (6 x SATA ports), $72.
  • HBA I: HighPoint RocketRAID 2522 8-port eSATA RAID Controller PCI Express x8 Card supporting Port Multiplier, $335.
  • HBA II: PROMISE SATA300 TX4 4-port SATA PCI adapter: $60.
  • HighPoint Ext-MS-1MES External Mini-SAS to eSATA Cable x 2, $107
  • KINGWIN ESAC-02 Internal SATA to eSATA 2-Port PCI Bracket x 4, $12.
  • Graphics: GeForce 7050 (integrated in the motherboard chipset), $0.
  • HDD: WD800JD 80GB SATA 3.0Gb/s, $40.
  • Total Cost: $838

Enclosure

Cost of the Total System (Main System and Four Enclosures)
  • $3874 (storage drives are not included)
Remarks

The motherboard requirements are:
  • IGP
  • Gb LAN (preferably PCI Express)
  • 1 x SATA (or PATA) port for the system drive
  • 4 x SATA port for 4 storage drives
  • 1 x PCI slot for a 4-port SATA host controller (supporting 4 storage drives)
  • 1 x PCI Express x8 slot for 8-port eSATA PM-aware host controller (supporting 32 storage drives)
Basically any mid-range motherboard with integrated graphics can be used for this system.
renethx is offline  
post #9 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
____________________
3. CPU and CPU Cooler
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
_____________
Selection Guide
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

The most demanding task for a high-definition HTPC is playing (i.e. decoding) H.264 encoded movies. H.264 contents playback experience depends on:
  • CPU processing power
  • GPU assist on the decode process
  • Playback software, codec and the video card driver
Thus the necessary CPU processing power and hence your CPU choice heavily depend on the video card you use.
  • For a pure playback machine with a NVIDIA GeForce 8600/8500 or ATI Radeon HD 2600/2400 video card:

    The GeForce 8600/8500 and Radeon HD 2600/2400 GPUs are equipped with H.264 decode process engines that 100% offload H.264 decode work from the CPU. With these GPUs, any machine with a decent CPU (single-core or dual-core) can play even the most demanding H.264 contents pretty easily. Moreover Radeon HD 2600/2400 GPUs also 100% offload VC-1 decode work. Please read the two articles HARDSPELL.COM – DX10 is universalizing: G86/G84 complete test! (April 18, 2007) and HARDSPELL.COM – Face to DX10 and HD times! HD2000 rounded test (May 21, 2007) to see how effectively these GPUs decode H.264/VC-1 encoded HD contents.

  • In case you use a GeForce 7x00/8800 card or an ATI Radeon X1xxx video card or an IGP, and/or you want to do CPU intensive tasks such as encoding quickly:

    The GeForce 7x00/8800 or ATI Radeon X1xxx GPUs or the currently available IGPs offload the decode process for HD contents only partially and therefore you need a powerful CPU. The AnandTech article HD Video Playback: H.264 Blu-ray on the PC is a good source on this matter (though it is slightly dated). For such a system Intel Core 2 Duo processor is best suited.
________
My Picks
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Intel
  • Intel Pentium E2200 (Allendale core)

    • Specs: 2.20GHz, FSB 800MT/s, multiplier x11, 1MB L2 Cache, No support for VT
    • Price: $84
    • Notes: Despite the name, this dual-core processor is based on the same Core microarchitecture as the Core 2 Duo processors and has nothing to do with Pentium D processors. 2.20GHz is just enough to play back HD contents smoothly.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E4600 (Allendale core)

    • Specs: 2.40GHz, FSB 800MT/s, multiplier x12, 2MB L2 Cache, No support for VT
    • Price: $133
    • Notes: Larger L2 cache helps better performance in several applications (in particular games and encoding).

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 (Wolfdale core)

    • Specs: 3.00GHz, FSB 1333MT/s, multiplier x9, 6MB L2 Cache, 45 nm
    • Price: $183
    • Notes: Currently the best bang for the buck among the 6MB L2 cache dual-core processors.

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (Kentsfield core)

    • Specs: quad-core, 2.40GHz, FSB 1333MT/s, multiplier x8, 4MB L2 Cache
    • Price: $266
    • Notes: If you do lots of CPU intensive tasks (for example encoding), this is for you.
AMD
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ ADO4400DDBOX (Brisbane core)

    • Specs: Socket AM2, 2.30GHz, multiplier x11.5, 2 x 512KB L2 Cache, 65W
    • Price: $75
    • Notes: 2.30GHz is just enough for every kind of video playback if your video card supports PureVideo HD Gen2 or UVD. An alternative is Athlon X2 BE-2400 ADH2400DOBOX 2.3GHz 45W (~$100), which runs cooler.

  • Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Black Edition ADO5000DSWOF (Brisbane core)

    • Specs: Socket AM2, 2.60GHz, multiplier x13 (unlocked), 2 x 512KB L2 Cache, 65W
    • Price: $100
    • Notes: If you need a faster processor for brute force video playback, this is it.

  • Phenom 9500 HD9500WCGDBOX (Agena core)

    • Specs: Socket AM2+, 2.20GHz, multiplier x11, 4 x 512KB L2 Cache, 2MB L3 Cache, 95W
    • Price: $190
    • Notes: As powerful as Core 2 Quad Q6600 for realtime decoding (but only for decoding).
Intel Core Microarchitecture Desktop CPU Price List

FSB 1066/800MHz



FSB 1333/1066/800MHz



45 nm/65 nm Manufacturing Process



__________
CPU Cooler
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Do you need a retail CPU cooler? First I recommend you to try the stock CPU cooler and see if it is good for your system (CPU) and you (your ears). If the CPU temperature is too high (say more than 60°C) at load or you are not comfortable with the fan noise, you'd better consider a retail cooler.

A major problem of using a retail cooler in a HTPC case is its height. The maximum height of the cooler should be, for example, around 134mm for the SilverStone LC16/LC17/LC18/LC20/GD01/CW01 case (H170mm including feet). In the case of a top-flow heatsink, at least a inch of the height clearance is necessary to avoid air turbulence. That means the maximum height of a top-flow cooler including fan should be about 110mm for the same SilverStone case. Of course the height of a top-flow heatsink when used for passive cooling can be larger, up to 134mm.

Side-Flow Heatsink for a Desktop Case
  • Scythe NINJA MINI

    • Specs: L110 x W110 X H115 mm (heatsink only), 580g (heatsink only); LGA775, LGA1366 (with LGA1366 Mounting Clips), Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3
    • Price: ~$35
    • Notes: Fan (80mm, PWM) is included. Fits in Antec NSK2480/Fusion 430.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review

  • Xigmatek HDT-SD964

    • Specs: L92 x W51 x H133 mm (heatsink only?), 466g (with fan); LGA775, LGA1366 (with Crossbow ACK-I7363), Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3
    • Price: ~$28
    • Notes: Fan (92 mm, PWM) is included. Can mount on AMD platforms in only one orientation.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review

  • Zalman CNPS9500A LED

    • Specs: L85 x W112 x H125 mm, 530g (including fan); LGA775, Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3
    • Price: ~$50
    • Notes: Fan (92mm, 3-pin) included.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review

  • ZEROtherm BTF90

    • Specs: L108 x W81 x H128 mm, 678g (including fan); LGA775, Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3
    • Price: ~$38
    • Notes: Fan (92mm, PWM) included.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review

  • Thermalright Ultima-90

    • Specs: L115 x W55 x H139 mm (heatsink only), 460g (heatsink only); LGA775, Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3
    • Price: ~$45
    • Notes: Fan (92 mm or 120 mm) is not included. Too tall for most HTPC cases.
Side-Flow Heatsink for a Tower Case
  • Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V

    • Specs: L50 x W120 x H159 mm (heatsink only), 660g (with fan); LGA775, LGA1366, Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3
    • Price: ~$40
    • Notes: Fan (120 mm, PWM) is included.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review (HDT-S1283)

  • Thermalright HR-01 PLUS

    • Specs: L60 x W110 x H159.5 mm (heatsink only), L85 x W120 x H160.5 mm (with 25mm fan), 600g (heatsink only)
    • Price: ~$42
    • Notes: Fan (120 mm) is not included. The best low airflow cooler. Can mount on AMD platforms in only one orientation.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review

  • Scythe NINJA PLUS Rev. B SCNJ-1100P

    • Specs: W110 x D110 x H150 mm (heatsink only), W120 x D135 x H160 mm (with 25mm fan), 640g (heatsink only)
    • Price: ~$45
    • Notes: Fan (120mm) included.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review

  • Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme

    • Specs: L63.44 x W132 x H160.5 mm (heatsink only), L84.5 x W132 x H160.5 mm (with 25mm fan), 790g (heatsink only)
    • Price: ~$65
    • Notes: Fan (120 mm) is not included. The best performing heatsink. Can mount on AMD platforms in only one orientation.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review

  • Zalman CNPS9700 LED

    • Specs: L90 x W124 x H142 mm, 764g (including fan)
    • Price: ~$65
    • Notes: Fan (110 mm) included.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review
Top-Flow Heatsink for a Desktop Case
  • Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBJ1-GP

    • Specs: L124 x W121 x H88 mm, 560g (with 25mm fan), LGA775, LGA1366 (with optional bracket), Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3
    • Price: ~$32
    • Notes: Fan (120 mm, PWM) is included.
    • Reviews: X-bit labs

  • Noctua NH-C12P

    • Specs: L126 x W152 x H114 mm, 730g (with 25mm fan), LGA775, LGA1366 (with optional bracket), Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3
    • Price: ~$65
    • Notes: Fan (NF-P12; 120 mm, 3-pin) is included.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review

  • Thermalright SI-128 SE

    • Specs: L125 x W145 x H112.5 mm (with 25mm fan), 510g (heatsink only)
    • Price: ~$50
    • Notes: Fan (120 mm) is not included. Evolved from XP-120 with increased fin surface area and increased height of the heatsink fins for better motherboard compatibility.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review (non-SE)

  • Scythe SHURIKEN SCSK-1000

    • Specs: L105 x W116 x H64 mm, 355g (including fan)
    • Price: ~$33
    • Notes: Fan (100mm) included. Suitable for a low-profile HTPC case.
    • Reviews: FrostyTech.com

  • Zalman CNPS8700 LED

    • Specs: L120 x W123 x H67 mm, 475g (including fan)
    • Price: ~$50
    • Notes: Fan (110mm) included. Suitable for a low-profile HTPC case.
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review
Fan
They are available in many places in US (use Google Product Search).

Thermal Paste

You need to apply thermal compound at the bottom of the cooler (heatsink) before attaching the cooler to the CPU. The stock cooler comes with a thermal pad and it is good enough. A retail cooler usually comes with generic thermal compound. But I recommend to use one of:
Arctic Silver 5 is better in thermal conductivity but needs a care when treating it (Arctic Silver 5 should be kept away from electrical traces, pins, and leads). Follow the application instruction carefully.

References

Core 2 Duo L2 Cache
Overclocking Guides – Intel
Overclocking Guides – AMD
Heatsink and Fan
Thermal Compounds

 

Core_2_MB_(2007-11-18).zip 248.9970703125k . file
Attached Files
File Type: zip Core_2_MB_(2007-11-18).zip (249.0 KB, 0 views)
renethx is offline  
post #10 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:58 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
______________
4. Motherboard
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
___________
Intel Platform
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

The best chipset for Core 2 Duo/Quad is Intel P35 Express. So my first picks are from motherboards based on them. Several P35 motherboards support both DDR2 and DDR3 that is to assure future upgrade path or only DDR3. However the fastest DDR3 memory speed P35 can support is DDR3-1333 that provides at most the same level of performance as DDR2-1066 at triple the price, therefore there is no advantage of DDR3 over DDR2 in the P35 platform (for details, read X-bit labs – DDR3 SDRAM: Revolution or Evolution? (July 9, 2007)).

Recently Intel released X38 chipset that supports dual PCI Express 2.0 x16 (supporting CrossFire) and replaces the old Intel enthusiast chipset 975X. If you are going with CrossFire or use a RAID controller card, that could be your choice. Otherwise you may want to stay with P35 as the performance advantage of X38 is very small.

The NVIDIA nForce 700i Series is targeted for enthusiast SLI gamers and has plenty of PCI Express (1.0 and 2.0) lanes. If you are going to build a high-end gaming machine or even a workstation, that may be your first choice.

As for IGP, Intel G33 is basically the same as P35 with a mediocre graphics, GMA 3100 (a rework of the old GMA 950; 3DMark06 ~350). G35 is equipped with more capable IGD GMA X3500 (3DMark06 ~600). NVIDIA released GeForce 7150/7000 and nForce 630i chipset. Its graphics is better than G33 (3DMark06 ~400), but it is crippled with the single-channel memory controller. None of these IGPs offers hardware decode for the latest HD contents. So you need a fast processor for HD video playback (apart from the HDCP matter). Intel IGD (G965, G33, G35) supports 7.1 Ch. 24-bit LPCM over HDMI. Currently it is the only solution to get the true HDMI audio from PC.

ATX – High-End
  1. abit IP35 Pro (Global site) or abit IP35 Pro (USA site)

    • Specs: P35 + ICH9R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2@(16,4)/1/3 supporting CrossFire, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/6/2, RAID, dual PCI Gb LAN, ALC888, optical S/PDIF in & out, IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$185
    • Notes: A drawback is its PCI Gb LAN that is about 20 to 40% slower than the PCI Express one.

  2. ASUS P5K Deluxe/WIFI-AP

    • Specs: P35 + ICH9R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2@(16,4)/2/3* supporting CrossFire, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/6/2, RAID, dual PCI-E/PCI Gb LAN, wireless LAN, AD1988B, coaxial & optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$209
    • Notes: A good motherboard for overclocking. Problems on ICH9R (non-working SATA ports and RAID) are reported. The power consumption of this motherboard is 20W to 40W higher than the other P35 motherboards. Unlike P5B Deluxe, DTS Connect is not supported.

  3. GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS4 (rev. 2.0)

    • Specs: P35 + ICH9R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2@(16,4)/3/2* supporting CrossFire, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/8/2 (eSATA sharing controller with SATA), RAID, Gb LAN, ALC889A supporting DTS Connect, coaxial & optical S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$178

  4. DFI LANPARTY UT P35-T2R

    • Specs: P35 + ICH9R. Passive/Passive. PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 3@(16,4,0), (16,1,1)/1*/3 supporting CrossFire. PATA/SATA: 1/8, RAID, dual PCI-E/PCI-E Gb LAN, ALC885, coaxial & optical S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$260
    • Notes: The best overclocking motherboard right now.

  5. eVGA nForce 780i SLI 132-CK-NF78-A1

    • Specs: nForce 780i SLI, PCIe 2.0 x16/PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2@(16,16)/1@16/2*/2 supporting SLI, PATA/SATA: 1/6, RAID, dual Gb LAN, ALC885, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking:
    • Price: ~$260
Previous Recommendations
  • ASUS P5B Deluxe/WiFi-AP or ASUS P5B Deluxe

    • Specs: P965 + ICH8R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2@(16,4)/1/3* supporting CrossFire, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/7/1, RAID, dual Gb LAN, AD1988B supporting DTS Connect, coaxial & optical S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~520MHz (E6300), ~380MHz (E4300)
    • Price: ~$193 or ~$180
    • Notes: Supports FSB 1333 processors and 45 nm processors.

  • ASUS P5W DH Deluxe

    • Specs: 975X + ICH7R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2@(16,0), (8,8)/2*/3 supporting CrossFire, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 2/6/1, RAID, dual Gb LAN, ALC882M supporting Dolby Master Studio, coaxial & optical S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~420MHz (E6300), ~333MHz (E4300)
    • Price: ~$200
    • Notes: Supports FSB 1333 processors (but not 45 nm processors). An alternative is Intel D975XBX2 (BOXD975XBX2KR, Bad Axe 2, Extreme Series) (~$200).
ATX – Mid-Range
  1. abit IP35 (Global site) or abit IP35 (USA site)

    • Specs: P35 + ICH9R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/2/3, PATA/SATA: 1/6, RAID, ALC888, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$130
    • Notes: Unlike its bigger brother IP35 Pro, LAN is on the PCI Express bus.

  2. ASUS P5K-E

    • Specs: P35 + ICH9R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2@(16,4)/2/3* supporting CrossFire, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/6/2, RAID, AD1988B, coaxial & optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$145
    • Notes: This is a stripped-down version of P5K Deluxe.

  3. GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3R (rev. 2.0)

    • Specs: P35 + ICH9R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/3*/3, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/8/2 (eSATA sharing controller with SATA), RAID, Gb LAN, ALC889A, coaxial & optical S/PDIF outs, no IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$130

  4. MSI P6N SLI-FI

    • Specs: nForce 650i SLI, FSB 1333MTps, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2/1/3 supporting SLI, PATA/SATA: 2/4, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~380MHz (E4300), ~465MHz (E6300), ~450MHz (E6750), ~365MHz (QX6700)
    • Price: ~$105
    • Notes: This is very attractive in terms of features (SLI, RAID, IEEE 1394), performance (good overclocking) and price. Supports FSB 1333 processors (45 nm processors are under testing). An alternative is MSI P6N SLI Platinum (~$145).
Previous Recommendations
  • ASUS P5B-Plus

    • Specs: P965 + ICH8R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/3/3*, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/7/1, RAID, Gb LAN, AD1988A, coaxial & optical S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~500MHz (E6300)
    • Price: ~$137
    • Notes: The last member of the ASUS P5B family. It comes with all the basic features and is capable of good overclocking. Supports FSB 1333 processors and 45 nm processors.

  • GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 (rev. 3.3)

    • Specs: P965 + ICH8, FSB 1333MTps, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/3*/3, PATA/SATA: 1/6, no RAID, Gb LAN, ALC883, coaxial & optical S/PDIF outs, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~505MHz (E6300), ~375MHz (E4300)
    • Price: ~$110
    • Notes: Supports FSB 1333 processors. GIGABYTE GA-965P-S3 (rev. 3.3) is a cheaper alternative (~$88).

  • Intel DG965WH (BOXDG965WHMKR, Westchester, Media Series)

    • Specs: G965 + ICH8DH (supporting Intel Viiv), 1 x VGA, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/3*/3, PATA/SATA: 1/6, RAID, Gb LAN, STAC9271D supporting Dolby Home Theater, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: N/A
    • Price: ~$114
    • Notes: A good stock motherboard with IGP
ATX – Low-End
  1. GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L (rev. 1.0)

    • Specs: P35 + ICH9, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/3*/3, PATA/SATA: 1/4, no RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, coaxial & optical S/PDIF outs, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: >450MHz (E6550), ~360MHz (E4300)
    • Price: ~$95
Previous Recommendations
  1. abit IP35-E (Global site) or abit IP35-E (USA site)

    • Specs: P35 + ICH9, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/2/3, PATA/SATA: 1/4, no RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, optical S/PDIF outs, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: >480MHz (E6320), ~380MHz (E4300)
    • Price: ~$90
    • Notes: A stripped-down version of IP35.

  2. Foxconn P9657AB-8EKRS2H

    • Specs: P965 + ICH8R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2@(16,4)/1*/3, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/6/1, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC883, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~343MHz (E6xxx), ~300MHz (E4300)
    • Price: ~$90
    • Notes: The most feature-rich low-end ATX board

  3. ASRock ConRoeXFire-eSATA2

    • Specs: 945P + ICH7R, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2/1*/3 supporting CrossFire, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/4/2 (eSATA share controller with SATA), RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, S/PDIF header only, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~300MHz (E6xxx), ~224MHz (E4300)
    • Price: ~$82
    • Notes: Another feature-rich motherboard. Unfortunately it's not good for E4300. Soon it will be replace by ASRock ConRoe1333-eSATA2 that supports FSB 1333 processors.

  4. GIGABYTE GA-945P-S3 (rev. 1.0)

    • Specs: 945P + ICH7, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/3*/3, PATA/SATA: 1/4, no RAID, Gb LAN, ALC883 5.1 Ch., S/PDIF header only, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~350MHz (E6xxx), ~300MHz (E4300)
    • Price: ~$82
    • Notes: The board has less features but better overclocking capability than the ASRock board.

  5. ASRock 4CoreDual-SATA2

    • Specs: VIA PT880 Ultra + VT8237S, Support for both DDR and DDR2, AGP/PCIe x16/PCI: 1/1/4*, PATA/SATA: 2/2, RAID, 10/100Mbps LAN, ALC888, S/PDIF header only, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~300MHz (E6xxx & E4300)
    • Price: ~$60
    • Notes: If you need the support for DDR SDRAM and/or AGP, this is it.
MicroATX – Mid-Range
  1. ASUS P5K-VM

    • Specs: G33 + ICH9. 1 x VGA. PCIe x16/PCIe x4/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/0/2*. PATA/SATA: 1/4, no RAID, Gb LAN, ALC883, coaxial S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~500MHz (E6300)
    • Price: ~$120

  2. ASUS P5E-VM HDMI

    • Specs: G35 + ICH9R. 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI (via the bundled HDMI to DVI adapter). PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/2*/1. PATA/SATA: 1/6, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC883, coaxial S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~467MHz (IGD), ~540MHz (DGD)
    • Price: ~$135

  3. GIGABYTE GA-G33M-DS2R

    • Specs: G33 + ICH9R. 1 x VGA. PCIe x16/PCIe x4/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/0/2* supporting CrossFire. PATA/SATA: 1/6, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC889A, S/PDIF header only, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~450MHz (E6300), > 333MHz (E4300, need DDR2-1111)
    • Price: ~$130
    • Notes: The available memory multiplier (BIOS F4a) is:
      • FSB 800 processors: 1.66, 2
      • FSB 1066 processors: 1, 1.25, 1.5, 2
      • FSB 1333 processors: 1, 1.2, 1.6
      This means that you need very fast memory modules to overclock a FSB 800 processor. This restriction applies to all the GIGABYTE G33/G31 microATX motherboards.

  4. Intel DG33TL (BOXDG33TLM, Tower Lake, Media Series)

    • Specs: G33 + ICH9R, 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI-D (HDCP-compliant), PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/2*/1, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/6/1 (eSATA sharing controller with SATA), RAID, Gb LAN, STAC9271D supporting Dolby Home Theater, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: N/A
    • Price: ~$126
    • Notes: A good stock motherboard
Previous Recommendations
  • abit Fatal1ty F-I90HD

    • Specs: Radeon Xpress 1250 + SB600, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI (via the bundled HDMI to DVI adapter), PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/2*/1. PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, optical S/PDIF out, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~370MHz (E6xxx & E4300)
    • Price: ~$105
    • Notes: A minor problem is that the SATA1 port is blocked when GeForce 8800 GTS is inserted.

  • Foxconn G9657MA-8EKRS2H

    • Specs: G965 + ICH8R, 1 x VGA, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1*/2, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/4/1, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC883, coaxial & optical S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~320MHz (E6xxx), ~265MHz (E4300), ~290MHz (the BSEL-modded E4300)
    • Price: ~$104

  • Intel DG965OT (BOXDG965OTMKR, Stoughton, Media Series)

    • Specs: G965 + ICH8DH (supporting Intel Viiv), 1 x VGA, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1*/2, PATA/SATA: 1/6, RAID, Gb LAN, STAC9271D supporting Dolby Home Theater, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: N/A
    • Price: ~$119
    • Notes: A good stock motherboard
MicroATX – Low-End
  1. GIGABYTE GA-G31M-S2L

    • Specs: G31 + ICH7, 1 x VGA, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/2*. PATA/SATA: 1/4, no RAID, Gb LAN, ALC6625.1 Ch., S/PDIF header only, no IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$67

  2. GIGABYTE GA-73PVM-S2H (rev. 1.0)

    • Specs: MCP73PV, 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI, 1 x HDMI, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/2*. PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/3/1, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC889A, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$80
    • Notes: Very feature-rich, the memory controller supports only single channel and 2 DIMMs, however.
Previous Recommendations
  • GIGABYTE GA-945GCMX-S2 (rev. 6.6)

    • Specs: 945GC (A2) + ICH7. 1 x VGA. PCIe x16/PCIe x4/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/0/2* supporting CrossFire. PATA/SATA: 1/4, no RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, S/PDIF header only, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~320MHz (E6xxx), ~290MHz (E2160), ~333MHz (E2160 with BSEL mode)
    • Price: ~$50
    • Notes: Problems are reported for FSB 1333 processors. However it works fine with FSB 1333 processors at FSB ~320MHz.
    \t
    \t
  • ASUS P5L-MX

    • Specs: 945G + ICH7, 1 x VGA, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/2*, PATA/SATA: 1/4, no RAID, Gb LAN, AD1986A 5.1 Ch., S/PDIF header only, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~325MHz (E6xxx & E4300)
    • Price: ~$76
    • Notes: This is one of the few microATX motherboards that overclock well with Core 2 Duo E4300.
References

P35 Chipset Motherboards
680i/650i Chipset Motherboards
MicroATX Motherboards
Older Stuff

 

AM2_MB_(2007-11-18).zip 225.626953125k . file
Attached Files
File Type: zip AM2_MB_(2007-11-18).zip (225.6 KB, 0 views)
renethx is offline  
post #11 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:58 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
___________
AMD Platform
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

There are many chipsets for the AMD platform. Among them NVIDIA nForce 570/590 SLI and AMD 480X/580X CrossFire are the best chipsets for discrete graphics, The AMD southbridge is still weaker than NVIDIA, though. Among the IGP solutions from NVIDIA, AMD-ATI, VIA and SiS, AMD 690G and NVIDIA GeForce 7050PV are the best.

ATX – High-End
  1. MSI K9A2 Platinum

    • Specs: RD790 + SB600, PCIe 2.0 x16/PCIe 2.0 x1/PCI: 4@(16,0,16,0),(16,0,8,8),(8,8,16,0),(8,8,8,8)/1/2. PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/6/2, RAID, ALc888, optical S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$157

  2. ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe/Wireless

    • Specs: nForce 590 SLI, PCIe x16/PCIe x4/PCIe x1/PCI: 2/1*/1/2 supporting SLI, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/7/1, RAID, dual Gb LAN, AD1988B supporting DTS Connect, optical & coaxial S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~340MHz
    • Price: ~$167

  3. Foxconn C51XEM2AA-8EKRS2H

    • Specs: nForce 590 SLI, PCIe x16/PCIe x4/PCIe x1/PCI: 2/1/1*/2 supporting SLI, PATA/SATA: 1/6, RAID, dual Gb LAN, ALC882D supporting Dolby Digital Live, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~320MHz
    • Price: ~$180
    • Notes: The board is the same as the NVIDIA reference board.

  4. GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5

    • Specs: nForce 590 SLI, PCIe x16/PCIe x4/PCIe x1/PCI: 2/1/2*/2 supporting SLI, PATA/SATA: 1/8, RAID, dual Gb LAN, ALC888DD supporting Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~307MHz
    • Price: ~$175
ATX – Mid-Range
  1. ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe

    • Specs: nForce 570 SLI, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2/2*/3 supporting SLI, PATA/SATA/eSATA: 1/7/1, RAID, dual Gb LAN, AD1988B, optical & coaxial S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~315MHz
    • Price: ~$130

  2. MSI K9N SLI Platinum

    • Specs: nForce 570 SLI, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2/2*/3 supporting SLI, PATA/SATA: 1/6, RAID, dual Gb LAN, ALC883, optical & coaxial S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~315MHz
    • Price: ~$125

  3. MSI K9A Platinum

    • Specs: RD580 + SB600, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 2/2*/2 supporting CrossFire, PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, dual Gb LAN, ALC883, optical & coaxial S/PDIF outs, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~335MHz
    • Price: ~$130
ATX – Low-End

There are many low-end nForce4 (renamed to nForce 500) chipset motherboards. However audio codec is AC'97, where only 2 channels work under Windows Vista (Which Audio Codec provides Windows Vista Logo?). Some motherboards avoid AC'97 using UAA USB audio codec (Vista-ready) instead.
  1. GIGABYTE GA-M61P-S3 (rev. 1.0)

    • Specs: GeForce 6100 and nForce 430 (MCP61P), 1 x VGA, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/2*/4, PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC883, S/PDIF header only, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: > 280MHz
    • Price: ~$73
    • Notes: A motherboard with IGP. It comes with all the basic features including IEEE 1394 (you still need to buy an S/PDIF bracket though) and overclocks very well.

  2. GIGABYTE GA-MA69G-S3H (rev. 1.0)

    • Specs: AMD 690G + SB600, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI with the bundled adapter, PCIe x16/PCIe x4/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/3*/2 supporting CrossFire, PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, PCI Gb LAN, ALC889A, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~286MHz
    • Price: ~$87
    • Notes: A motherboard with IGP. It comes with all the basic features including an optical SPDIF out and IEEE 1394 and overclocks very well. Pros and cons as compared with GA-M61P-S3 are:
      • Pro: CrossFire support, HDMI/DVI/TV out, better audio codec, optical S/PDIF out
      • Con: No RAID 5, PCI Gb LAN (20% to 40% slower than a PCIe Gb LAN), more expensive
      • Pro/Con: more PCIe slots, less PCI slots

  3. BIOSTAR TForce 550 SE (5.x)

    • Specs: nForce 550, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/2*/4, PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, S/PDIF header only, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: > 300MHz
    • Price: ~$73
    • Notes: This is the best budget overclocking ATX motherboard. The difference between the vanilla and the SE is audio codec ALC883 vs. ALC888 (ALC888 is slightly better in SNR).
MicroATX – Mid-Range
  1. GIGABYTE GA-MA69GM-S2H (rev. 1.0)

    • Specs: AMD 690G + SB600, 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI, 1 x HDMI, 1 x component video, 1 x S-video, 1 x composite video, PCIe x16/PCIe x4/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/0/2*, PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC889A supporting DTS Connect, optical S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~400MHz
    • Price: ~$80
    • Notes: The board is capable of full 1080p (H.264/VC-1/MPEG-2-encoded) HD DVD or Blu-ray playback with a faster processor (2.4GHz or higher). Gb LAN is on the PCI bus that is slower than PCIe Gb LAN.
Previous Recommendations
  • BIOSTAR TF7050-M2

    • Specs: GeForce 7050 PV and nForce 630a (MCP68PV), 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI with the bundled HDMI-DVI converter, 1 x S-video, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/2*, PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, S/PDIF header only, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~326MHz
    • Price: ~$77

  • BIOSTAR TA690G AM2

    • Specs: AMD 690G + SB600, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI, 1 x S-video, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1*/2, PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, S/PDIF header only, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~290MHz
    • Price: ~$75

  • ASUS M2A-VM HDMI

    • Specs: AMD 690G + SB600, 1 x VGA, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI, 1 x composite/S-/component video, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/2*, PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, Gb LAN, 5.1 Ch. ALC883, coaxial S/PDIF out, IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~225MHz
    • Price: ~$86
MicroATX – Low-End
  1. BIOSTAR TF7025-M2

    • Specs: GeForce 7025 and nForce 630a (MCP68S), 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI-D, PCIe x16/PCIe x1/PCI: 1/1/2*, PATA/SATA: 1/4, RAID, Gb LAN, ALC888, S/PDIF header only, no IEEE 1394
    • Overclocking: ~326MHz
    • Price: ~$68
    • Notes: The best among the budget microATX motherboards
References
MicroATX Motherboards
renethx is offline  
post #12 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:58 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
_________
5. Memory
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
_____________
Selection Guide
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

DDR, DDR2 and DDR3

There are three major memory specifications for the desktop PC: DDR-SDRAM (JESD79, June 2000), DDR2-SDRAM (JESD79-2, 2003), DDR3-SDRAM (JESD79-3?, to be released in mid-2007). All three adopt the DDR (double date rate) technology that enables two data transfers per clock cycle. Thus the memory (bus) clock can be expressed in two units
  • MHz (mega hertz)
  • MT/s (mega transfer per second)
with the simple conversion formula: MT/s = 2 x MHz. For example, DDR2-800 is 800 MT/s in effective frequency and 400 MHz in actual frequency.

The primary difference between DDR and DDR2 is that DDR2-SDRAM runs its I/O (input/output) bus at twice the speed of the memory cells thus enabling higher peak throughputs and runs at a lower operating voltage 1.8V compared to DDR's 2.5V due to an improved manufacturing process. Further DDR3-SDRAM runs its bus at four times the memory cell clock and runs at 1.5V thus consuming lower power. For example, memory clock / I/O bus clock / data transfer rates is
  • DDR-400: 200 MHz / 200 MHz / 400 MTps
  • DDR2-800: 200 MHz / 400 MHz / 800 MTps
  • DDR3-1600: 200 MHz / 800 MHz / 1600 MTps
As for actual performance, there is not much clock for clock difference between DDR and DDR2, and between DDR2 and DDR3 under the currently available memory controller P35. If you are interested, please read for example AnandTech and iXBT's recent articles in references.

The majority of the current desktop motherboards support only DDR2-SDRAM, so you will buy DDR2-SDRAM modules. Intel's new Bearlake chipset supports both DDR2-SDRAM and DDR3-SDRAM and a few upcoming motherboards with this chipset support DDR3-SDRAM. However DDR3-SDRAM chips are still too expensive and they won't be the mainstream standard until 2009 according to HKEPC Hardware.

Speed (DDR2-553, DDR2-667 or DDR2-800)

In Core 2 Duo systems, memory is connected to the CPU via the front side bus (and the memory bus) whose maximal theoretical bandwidth is

1066MT/s x 64bit/8bit = 8.533GB/s.

(Pentium and Core 2's FSB is 64-bit wide.) That only equals the bandwidth of dual-channel DDR2-533 or PC2-4200:

533MT/s x 64bit/8bit x 2 (dual channel) = 8.533GB/s.

(DIMMs have a 64-bit data path.) Therefore there is no big performance growth if you use memory faster than DDR2-533. This is confirmed by various benchmark tests in the AnandTech and X-bit labs articles. The story for Athlon 64 systems is slightly different. Because of the superior on-processor memory controller, AM2 has a wider memory bandwidth and its performance depends more on memory speed than Core 2 Duo. But playing movies is insensitive to memory subsystem and there won't be much performance difference even if the memory speed changes.

However if you overclock your system, then your memory will run faster as the memory frequency is proportional to FSB (in the Intel platform) and you will need faster memory modules. Please read Appendix III. Calculating Memory Frequency when Overclocking to see what memory frequency is necessary when overclocking the system. In general DDR2-800 modules are recommended for mild overclocking.

Size (1GB or 2GB)

Under Windows XP, you won't see any system performance difference between 1GB and 2GB. If budget permits, choose 2GB. Otherwise 1GB is enough. You can add another 1GB later if necessary. You should buy two sticks of 512MB modules for 1GB or two sticks of 1GB modules for 2GB to enable the dual channel mode.

Windows Vista is a different story. OS itself requires lots of memory space so that 2GB is standard.

Compatibility with the motherboard

You should check the hardware compatibility list of each motherboard or ask the memory manufacturer about compatibility before shopping memory modules.

_______________
Recommendations
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

There are plenty of good memory kits. I picked up only a few DDR2-800 memory kits. High-performance memory kits (targeted for overclockers) usually require higher voltage than the JEDEC specification (1.8V) and hence are compatible with a smaller number of motherboards. So I avoided this type of memory (that means there is no high-end recommendation). The source of "Compatibility" is Newegg.com customer reviews.
References

Memory in General
Core 2 Duo and Memory
AM2 and Memory
AM2+ and Memory
DDR2-SDRAM Memory Comparison
DDR3-SDRAM
renethx is offline  
post #13 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
______________
6. Graphics Card
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
_____________
Selection Guide
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

The most important criteria for choosing a video card for HTPC are:
  • Hardware assist for decoding HD contents (of all three formats MPEG-2, H.264, and VC-1)
  • HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) support
  • Picture quality
How about HDMI? HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is an high-definition digital audio/video interface that is replacing analog audio/video and older digital standards such as DVI and has become the de facto standard interface in the consumer electronics market. HDMI 1.0/1.1/1.2 provides 4.9 Gb/s bandwidth and the current HDMI 1.3 provides 10.2 Gb/s that has enough headroom for 1080p at 60Hz and 8 channel/24 bits/192 kHz LPCM audio (e.g. sounds decoded from the new digital audio codecs Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio) as the following simple calculation shows:
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels x 60 Hz / 0.95 (5% overhead) = 131 MHz (megapixel/s), 131 MHz x 24 bits = 3.14 Gb/s
  • 24 bits x 192 kHz x 8 channel = 36.9 Mb/s
HDMI video is compatible with the existing digital standard DVI and in fact one form can be converted to the other via a simple adapter. So there is nothing new. In contrast HDMI audio completely takes over the aged digital standard S/PDIF which supports only stereo PCM and 5.1 Dolby Digital/DTS with the maximum bandwidth around 12 Mb/s.

Unfortunately HDMI audio has not been realized yet in the PC world and we are still confined to S/PDIF. As a matter of facts, every HDMI video card simply passes S/PDIF signals from a sound card or onboard audio codec over the HDMI connector. Thus there is no real advantage of the current HDMI solution over the existing DVI + S/PDIF solution. Recent IGPs (ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 for Intel and AMD 690G) are no exception. Right now the only way to take the full-rate lossless multichannel sounds from the PC is use analog outputs.


The upcoming ATI HD 2000 series GPU has a built-in audio controller that makes it possible to grab audio outputs directly through the PCI Express bus, but the audio quality is still at the level of S/PDIF. The following figure shows the ideal HDMI audio solution we are waiting for that transmits lossless full-bitrate multichannel PCM audio streams.


___________
NVIDIA Cards
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

PureVideo HD

NVIDIA's second generation PureVideo HD engine provides 100% offload for H.264 decoding. That means that any decent PC with a video card with this engine can play back HD contents smoothly. The new engine consists of

  • VP2 (the new Video Processor)
  • H.264 BSP (Bitstream Processor)
  • AES-128 Decryption Engine (AES = Advanced Encryption Standard)
The first two engines accelerate the four major steps of the decode process for MPEG-2, VC-1, and H.264:
  • bitstream processing (reverse entropy) (by H.264 BSP; only for H.264)
  • inverse transform (by VP2)
  • motion compensation (by VP2)
  • deblocking (by VP2)
and the AES-128 Decryption engine accelerates the decode of the AES-128 encryption protocol. Among them offloading the bitstream process in the H.264 decode process dramatically reduces the CPU usage.

However there is no big difference in the CPU usage in decoding VC-1 between the original PureVideo HD engine and the reworked PureVideo HD engine as the bitstream processor is not for VC-1.

This is the video part. None of the NVIDIA cards is able to transmit 7.1 LPCM audio through its HDMI connector.

Cards

The second generation PureVideo HD is implemented in GeForce 8600 and 8500 series GPUs, but right now supported only under for Windows Vista. PureVideo HD support for the 8500 and 8600 GPUs under Windows XP is expected in June 2007. Here are brief specs:
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS (codenamed G84-400)

    • Specs: Core/Mem: 675/2000 MHz, gDDR3 256MB, transistor count 289 million. Dual dual-link DVI + HDTV. HDMI can also be supported at the board manufacturer's discretion (none exists so far). HDCP support (by mandate from NVIDIA). DirectX 10. Power consumption: 47.0 W (peak 3D), 30.7 W (peak 2D), 21.4 W (idle)
    • Notes: All the GTS cards follow the reference PCB design and most of them use the reference cooler. Therefore the only differences between these cards are core/memory clock, bundled accessories and aftermarket service.

  • NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT (codenamed G84-300)

    • Specs: Core/Mem: 540/1400 MHz, gDDR3 256MB, transistor count 289 million. Dual dual-link DVI + HDTV. HDMI can also be supported at the board manufacturer's discretion (none exists so far). HDCP support is optional. DirectX 10.
    • Notes: As the codename and the specs indicate, the 8600 GTS and the 8600 GT are physically the same except the clock speeds. However the reference cooler of the 8600 GTS is better than that of a 8600 GT card. Both 8600 GTS and 8600 GT top out at around core/mem: 760/2400 MHz. If you are interested in extreme overclocking, read NVIDIA 8600GTS Overclocking!.

  • NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT (codenamed G86-300)

    • Specs: Core/Mem: 450/800 MHz, DDR2 256MB/512MB, transistor count 210 million. VGA + dual-link DVI + HDTV. HDCP support is optional. DirectX 10
You can see a complete list of GeForce 8600 and 8500 Series video cards in Appendix IV. Including it here is almost useless because every card is identical with the reference card! And almost all NVIDIA cards seem to be built by one company, Flextronics in China. Companies like BFG Tech, EVGA, and XFX are simply putting their own stickers and maybe cooling on the card then tweaking the BIOS with their own overclock settings (Hard|OCP).

My Picks

So which GPU should you choose? As for HD contents playback, there is not much difference between 8600 GTS, 8600GT and 8500 GT as seen in the HARDSPELL article DX10 is universalizing: G86/G84 complete test!. Unfortunately there are only a couple of 8600 GT / 8500 GT cards that support HDCP. There are noticeable differences between them for gaming, however. My picks are:
  1. eVGA GeForce 8600GTS Superclocked 256MB 256-P2-N765-AR

    • Spec: Core/Mem: 720/2100, the reference cooler
    • Price: ~$200
    • Notes: This is the best combination of clock speed, bundled accessories, warranty and price. You can save $20 by choosing the standard clock version eVGA GeForce 8600GTS 256MB 256-P2-N761-AR (overclocking it is easy).

  2. ASUS EN8600GTS SILENT/HTDP/256M

    • Specs: Core/Mem: 675/2000, passive cooling, occupies two slots.
    • Price: ~$200

  3. GIGABYTE GV-NX86S256H

    • Specs: Core/Mem: 675/2000, passive cooling, occupies two slots.
    • Price: ~$197

  4. PNY Verto 8600 GT 256MB PCIe VCG8600GXPB

    • Spec: Core/Mem: 540/1400, the reference cooler
    • Price: ~$150

  5. ASUS EN8600GT SILENT/HTDP/256M

    • Spec: Core/Mem: 540/1400, passive cooling, occupies two slots.
    • Price: ~$143
    • Notes: If you prefer 8600 GT with a passive cooling, this is it.

  6. GIGABYTE GeForce 8500 GT GV-NX85T256H

    • Spec: Core/Mem: 500/800, passive cooling
    • Price: ~$100
    • Notes: This is one of the few 8500 GT cards that support HDCP. If you don't care of gaming performance, this is the best bang for your buck.
________
ATI Cards
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Avivo HD Technology

ATI's new Avivo HD Technology, the successor to the Avivo Technology, integrates two new engines:
  • Universal Video Decoder (UVD)
  • Advanced Video Processor (AVP)
The UVD features more or less the same functions as NVIDIA's PureVideo HD: offloading
  • bitstream processing/entropy decode
  • frequency transform
  • pixel prediction
  • deblocking
from the CPU, but in both VC-1 and H.264 codecs. (The old Avivo Visual Processing Unit, VPU, lacks the bitstream processing capability, just like the first generation PureVideo HD.) On the other hand the AVP allows the GPU to apply hardware acceleration and video processing functions while keeping power consumption low.

Another striking feature of the new ATI cards is a built-in audio controller that grabs audio output through the PCI Express bus and transmits it through HDMI. Unfortunately it supports only Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS and 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz/16-bit PCM stereo. Although it is a step forward toward the true HDMI audio, practically there is no advantage over the current S/PDIF passthrough solution.

Cards

Originally ATI planned to implement the UVD in X1xxx series GPU, but it did not happen. The upcoming ATI Radeon HD 2600/2400 GPUs (to be released in July 2007) integrate the Avivo HD Technology:
Note that the high-end model Radeon HD 2900 XT lacks UVD.

The upcoming IGP (Q1 2008)
  • AMD RS780
will also support DirectX 10 and the Avivo HD Technology.

References

Video Playback
HDMI
GeForce 8600 and 8500 Series Reviews
Radeon HD 2000 Series Reviews
HQV
renethx is offline  
post #14 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
_____________
7. Sound Device
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
_______________
Recommendations
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Low-End
  • ASUS Xonar DX

    • Notes: Good for both HTPC and gaming. Supports Dolby Home Theater technologies and DS3D GX 2.0 (a software audio processing engine that mimics effects of DirectSound3D and EAX 5.0). PCI Express x1.
    • Price: ~$90

  • Bluegears b-Enspirer

    • Notes: Supports Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect.
    • Price: ~$100

  • Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer

    • Notes: Don't be fooled by the name "XtremeGamer". It's surely the standard sound card for gamers (EAX 5.0 support by "ALchemy"). However the sound chip and the codecs are the same as the award-winning X-Fi XtremeMusic (discontinued). Note that the cheaper model X-Fi Xtreme Audio uses a different audio controller CA0106 (the same as Sound Blaster Audigy SE).
    • Price: ~$80.
Mid-Range
________
Card List
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

The following is a partial list of PCI sound cards. Cards are classified by the audio processor.

C-Media Oxygen CMI8788
E-MU EMU20K1 (CA20K1)
VIA Vinyl Envy24HT (IC Ensemble ICE1724)
VIA Vinyl Envy24GT (IC Ensemble ICE1722)
••• The following are prosumer sound cards (with a lower number of channels but better DACs and ACDs) •••

E-MU E-DSP
VIA Vinyl Envy24 (IC Ensemble ICE1712)
VIA Vinyl Envy24HT (IC Ensemble ICE1724)


VIA Vinyl Envy24HT-S (IC Ensemble ICE1721)

FPGA DSP (Field Programmable Gate Array Digital Signal Processor)
References

Review Sites
Other Forums
Product Comparison
renethx is offline  
post #15 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
______
8. HDD
¯¯¯¯¯¯
_____________
Selection Guide
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Factors to consider when selecting a HDD, besides capacity, are performance, noise and heat dissipation, reliability and warranty period. I picked some of recent models in each drive capacity, in particular from the viewpoint of low noise and low heat dissipation. Currently a 500GB drive is the sweet spot and good for the single drive setup (possibly with a partition for OS and the other partition for data).

_______________
Recommendations
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

160GB
320GB
500GB
640GB
750GB

1TB

References
renethx is offline  
post #16 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
_____________
9. Optical Drive
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
________________
Blu-ray Disc Writer
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Internal
External
  • LaCie d2 Blu-ray Drive

    • Specs: Read: BD, DVD, CD; Write: BD-R 2x, DVD, CD, Interface: USB & IEEE 1394
    • Price: ~$720
___________________
Blu-ray Disc ROM Drive
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Internal
External
renethx is offline  
post #17 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
___________
10. TV Tuner
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

Here is a quick list of TV tuners as many people are asking it. First I would like to mention a caveat.

What you can do and what you cannot do with a TV tuner

You can do:
  • Watch and record analog programs by NTSC tuner.
  • Watch and record digital programs from over the air (OTA) by ATSC tuner.
  • Watch and record unencrypted (or clear) QAM digital programs from cable (found usually on "basic" cable service) by ATSC tuner supporting QAM.
QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) is a method of modulation used by most cable operators. Terrestrial broadcast uses 8VSB (8-level vestigial sideband) modulation.

You cannot do:
  • Watch and record encrypted QAM digital programs from cable (found on most premium channels).
There are several ways to get encrypted digital cable or satellite channels in PC.
  1. Get a set top box (STB) from the cable or satellite company and connect it to the USB capture device Hauppauge HD PVR ($249) via component cables (up to 1080i) and stereo RCA or S/PDIF. HD PVR includes a H.264 hardware encoder that records HD TV programs in HDD in AVCHD format in realtime.

  2. If your STB has an IEEE 1394 port and is no-5C enabled, then you will be able to get digital HD contents in PC.

  3. Use Nextcom R5000-HD ($425 to $550 depending on your STB), a Windows-based HDTV recording system installed in your STB and connected to your PC via USB 2.0. It works with Dish Network, DirecTV and certain cable systems with no-5C enabled STBs with no DRM.

  4. Buy a pre-built PC equipped with Digital Cable Tuner (a.k.a. OCUR, OpenCable Unidirectional Receiver) and buy a CableCARD (a PCMCIA card) from the cable company. You cannot build your own PC with Digital Cable Tuner. Only an OEM who signed a legal document with CableLabs (the cable companies' oversight group) can build it (moreover a special BIOS and a special Windows Vista edition are required). An example of pre-built system with Digital Cable Tuner is HP Pavilion Elite m9000t series. You have to pay $300 premium for Digital Cable Tuner.

  5. Use TiVo HD DVR (160GB HDD, 20-hours HD; $250) with CableCARD. Transferring contents to PC is restricted to unencrypted ones, however.

  6. Use HR20 DIRECTV Plus HD DVR (50-hours HD).
Among them the first method looks very promising. Several manufacturers are working on products similar to Hauppauge HD PVR and the price of a "HD PVR" device is expected to come down.
___
List
¯¯¯

TV Tuner

All the models below support clear QAM. Among them only Silicondust HDHomeRun and AVerMedia AVerTV Combo PCIe are supported by Vista Media Center as far as clear QAM is concerned, the others need its own application.
Capture Device
References

General
CableCARD
renethx is offline  
post #18 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
_______
11. PSU
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
_____________
Selection Guide
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

There are several important factors to consider when selecting a power supply unit: total power output, +12V line output (combined), quality and efficiency, quietness.

Total power output

First you should calculate the total power consumption of your system by using, for example, eXtreme PSU Calculator. A typical maximum power consumption of each component is:
  • CPU: 65W (TDP, thermal design power, of Athlon 64 X2 Brisbane core or Core 2 Duo)
  • DDR2 DIMM: 5W
  • Motherboard: 40W
  • Radeon HD 2600 XT: 49W (peak 3D), 28W (peak 2D), 21W (idle)
  • GeForce 9600 GT 512MB: 60W (peak 3D), 35W (peak 2D), 26W (idle)
  • GeForce 8800 GT 512MB: 78W (peak 3D), 39W (peak 2D), 35W (idle)
  • DVD drive: 30W
  • SATA drive: 12W
  • PCI TV tuner card: 30W (ATI Theater 550 Pro)
  • PCI TV tuner card: 44W (NVIDIA DualTV MCE)
  • PCI sound card: 10W
  • 80mm fan: 2W
For example, if the system consists of 1 x Radeon HD 2600 XT card, 2 x DDR2 SDRAM, 1 x DVD drive, 2 x SATA drive, 1 x PCI TV tuner card and 2 x fan, the maximum power consumption is ~245W. This number is obtained simply by adding the maximum power rating for each components. However it is almost impossible for any application to draw, say, 80% of the maximum power from each component simultaneously. Therefore a typical power consumption of such a system when playing back movies are 100W~200W and a 430W PSU is enough if the PSU is rated honestly.

Total power output of an overclocked system

When you overclock the CPU, its power consumption is calculated by the following formula:
  • Power Consumption = Cdynamic x V^2 x Frequency
where Cdynamic is a constant dynamic capacity that is determined by the CPU microarchitecture and depends on the number of transistors and their activity during CPU operation (source: Intel Developer Forum; cf. X-bit labs – Getting Ready to Meet Intel Core 2 Duo), V is the applied voltage, and Frequency is the operating frequency of the CPU. The factor V^2 is just Ohm's law. The factor "Frequency" is due to the so-called switching loss – the amount of heat emitted from a transistor when it goes from one state to the other (at the order of 10^(-16) joule). Each transistor in the CPU would emit 1 x 10^9 times that amount of heat per second if the CPU frequency were 1GHz and 2 x 10^9 times that amount if the CPU frequency were 2GHz. Thus the total amount of heat is proportional to the frequency.

For example, if you overclock Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.4GHz, 1.25V, 65W) to 3.2GHz with Vcore 1.45V, then the power consumption is calculated as follows:

65W x (1.45/1.25)^2 x (3.2/2.4) = 117W

Quietness and efficiency

Quietness is one of the essential factors in selecting PSU for a HTPC and higher efficiency is the key to cooler, quieter PSU operation. There are many "quiet" PSU's, but only a few of them are truly quiet. In the following recommendations, I cited efficiency and noise levels measured by Silent PC Review. Please read the SPCR articles in the reference section for their meanings.

_______________
Recommendations
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

High-End
  • Enermax MODU82+ 625W (EMD625AWT)

    • Specs: 625W, +12V: 50A, 84% & 19dBA@150W, 85.4% & 22dBA@300W, modular sleeved cables, 9 x SATA, 4 x PCIe 8-pin
    • Price: ~$139
    • Notes: 525W (EMD525AWT; 6 x SATA, 3 x PCIe 8-pin; ~$118), 425W (EMD425AWT; 3 x SATA, 2 x PCIe 8-pin; ~$93) versions are also available.

  • Corsair HX620W (CMPSU-620HX)

    • Specs: 620W, +12V: 50A, 80% & 22dBA@150W, 85% & 22dBA@300W, modular sleeved cables, 8 x SATA, 2 x PCIe 8-pin
    • Price: ~$135
    • Notes: 520W (CMPSU-520HX; 4 x SATA, 2 x PCIe 8-pin; ~$100) version is also available.
Mid-Range
  • Antec NeoPower 430

    • Specs: 430W, +12V: 32A, 79% & 21dBA@150W, 76% & 37dBA@300W, modular sleeved cables, 4 x SATA, 1 x PCIe 6-pin
    • Price: ~$70
    • Notes: 380W, 430W, 500W, 550W versions are available. Super quiet at low power consumption.

  • Seasonic M12II-430

    • Specs: 430W, +12V: 30A, 83.1% & 21dBA@150W, 83.4% & 35dBA@300W, modular sleeved cables, 6 x SATA, 2 x PCIe 6-pin
    • Price: ~$86
    • Notes: 500W (6 x SATA, 1 x PCIe 8-pin, 1 x PCIe 6-pin; $105) version is also available.
Low-End
  • Antec EarthWatts EA 430

    • Specs: 430W, +12V: 30A, 81% & 22dBA@150W, 82% & 37dBA@300W
    • Price: ~$60
    • Notes: The best budget quiet & efficient PSU. 380W, 430W, 500W versions are available. Performance is akin to NeoHE.
References
renethx is offline  
post #19 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
_______
12. Case
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
_____________
Selection Guide
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

There are several factors in selecting a HTPC case: form factor, ventilation, noise control, functionality and appearance. But it is not easy to recommend a HTPC case based on these criteria partly because there are not enough review articles on each case and partly because everybody has his or her own requirements of functions and appearance. So I just list several HTPC cases by well-known manufacturers for your reference. I did not include tower cases (simply because there are too many ones), cases currently not available in US, and slim cases that do not accept full-height PCIe/PCI cards or an ATX PSU.

Personally I would choose:
  • High-End: SilverStone Crown CW03
  • Mid-Range: Antec Fusion Remote Max, Zalman HD160 Plus
  • Low-End: SilverStone Lascala LC17
  • MicroATX case: Antec Fusion Remote
___
List
¯¯¯

Conventions
  • DVD = 5.25″ external bay
  • CR (card reader) = 3.5″ external bay
  • HDD = 3.5″ internal bay
  • "Standard front I/O ports" = 2 x USB, 1 x IEEE 1394, 1 x headphone, 1 x microphone (or more)
Desktop ATX Case – High-End (with LCD Touch Screen & IR Remote)

3R SYSTEM
  • 3R SYSTEM M-station HT-5000

    • Specs: W435 x D406 x H167 mm, 1 x DVD, 1 x CR, 4 x HDD, multi card reader, standard front I/O ports, 7″ LCD touch screen (800 x 600), remote control, 1 x 80mm rear fan
Moneual Lab
OrigenAE
  • OrigenAE X15e V2


  • OrigenAE S21T

    • Specs: W435 x D390 x H220 (inc feet) mm, 1 x DVD, 10 x HDD, standard front I/O ports, 12.1″ motorized LCD touch screen (max 1920 x 1080), IR Module, 1 x 120mm rear exhaust fan, 2 x 92mm bottom intake fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price: ~$1000

  • OrigenAE S16T

    • Specs: W435 x D390 x H175 (inc feet) mm, 1 x DVD, 4 x HDD, 1 x HDD (optional), card readers, standard front I/O ports, 7″ LCD touch screen (max 1920 x 1080), IR Module, 2 x 80mm exhaust fan, 1 x 92mm intake fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price:
SilverStone
  • SilverStone Crown CW03

    • Specs: W430 x D436 x H184 mm, 2 x DVD, 1 x CR, 6 x HDD, no front I/O ports, 7 inch LCD touchscreen (800 x 480), IR, remote control, 2 x 80mm rear exhaust fan, 2 x 80mm bottom intake fan slot
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price: ~$700
Zalman
  • Zalman HD160XT


  • Zalman HD160XT Plus

    • Specs: W460 x D435 x H160 mm, 1 x DVD, 5 x HDD, card readers, standard front I/O ports, 7″ Wide LCD touch screen (~1024 x 768) & remote control, 2 x 80mm rear fan, 1 x 80 mm bottom fan, 1 x 92 mm side fan
    • Price: ~$620
Desktop ATX Case – High-End (Others)

A-Tech Fabrication
Ahanix
SilverStone
Desktop ATX Case – Midrange (with VFD/LCD & IR Remote Control)

3R SYSTEM
Antec
  • Antec Fusion Remote Max

    • Specs: W446 x D453 x H178 mm, 1 x DVD, 4 x HDD, standard front I/O ports + 1 x eSATA, LCD & remote control, 1 x 140mm side fan, 1 x 120mm rear fan, 1 x 120mm front fan (optional)
    • Price: ~$185
Cooler Master

Moneual Lab nMEDIA
  • nMEDIAPC HTPC 500BAR & SAR

    • Specs: W432 x D419 x H133 mm, 1 x DVD, 3 x HDD, IEEE 1394, USB & audio on side panel, VFD, MCE receiver & remote, 2 x 60mm fan, 1 x 80mm fan
    • Price: ~$160
    • Notes: PSU not included.
OrigenAE
  • OrigenAE X10

    • Specs: W435 x D458 x H150 (inc feet) mm, 1 x DVD, 1 x CR, 1 x HDD, standard front I/O ports, VFD & IR Module, 2 x 60mm rear exhaust fan, 1 x 80mm bottom intake fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price: ~$200
    • Reviews: Overclock3D.Net

  • OrigenAE X11 V2

    • Specs: W435 x D420 x H170 (inc feet) mm, 1 x DVD, 1 x CR, 4 x HDD, standard front I/O ports, VFD & IR Module, 2 x 80mm rear exhaust fan, 1 x 80mm bottom intake fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price: ~$230
    • Reviews: HEXUS.net

  • OrigenAE S16V

    • Specs: W435 x D390 x H175 (inc feet) mm, 1 x DVD, 4 x HDD, 1 x HDD (optional), card readers, standard front I/O ports, VFD & IR Module, 2 x 80mm exhaust fan, 1 x 92mm intake fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price: ~$380

  • OrigenAE H5

    • Specs: W435 x D458 x H150 (inc feet) mm, 1 x DVD, 1 x HDD, no front I/O ports, VFD & IR Module, 2 x 60mm rear exhaust fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis. MicroATX PSU only.
    • Reviews:
SilverStone
Thermaltake
Zalman
Desktop ATX Case – Midrange (Others)

Ahanix
SilverStone
Desktop ATX Case – Low-End

3R SYSTEM
Cooler Master
Lian-Li
nMEDIA
NZXT
SilverStone
Thermaltake
Desktop MicroATX Case

3R SYSTEM
  • 3R SYSTEM M-station HT-2000

    • Specs: W350 x D370 x H136 mm, 1 x DVD, 2 x HDD, multi card reader, standard front I/O ports, LCD & remote control, 2 x 60mm rear fan
    • Notes: MicroATX PSU only.
Antec
Cooler Master
nMEDIA
OrigenAE
  • OrigenAE H6

    • Specs: W435 x D458 x H150 (inc feet) mm, 1 x DVD, 4 x HDD, no front I/O ports, VFD & IR Module, 2 x 60mm exhaust fan, 1 x 80mm internal fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price: ~$230
    • Reviews:

  • OrigenAE H7

    • Specs: W435 x D458 x H150 (inc feet) mm, 2 x DVD, 2 x HDD, no front I/O ports, VFD & IR Module, 2 x 60mm rear exhaust fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price: ~$230
    • Reviews:

  • OrigenAE S14V

    • Specs: W435 x D390 x H150 (inc feet) mm, 1 x DVD, 4 x HDD, card readers, standard front I/O ports, VFD & IR Module, 2 x 60mm exhaust fan, 1 x 92mm intake fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price: ~$370

  • OrigenAE S10V

    • Specs: W435 x D390 x H115 (inc feet) mm, 1 x slim DVD, 2 x HDD, card readers, standard front I/O ports, VFD & IR Module, 2 x 60mm exhaust fan, 2 x 60mm intake fan
    • Notes: All aluminum chassis
    • Price: ~$360
SilverStone
  • SilverStone Grandia GD02

    • Specs: W430 x D360 x H155 mm, 1 x DVD, 1 x CR, 2 x HDD, standard front I/O ports, 2 x 80mm exhaust fan, support 11.5″ graphics card
    • Notes: Aluminum front panel & corners, SECC body
    • Forum: AVS Forum (SilverStone GD02B HTPC Case Review)
    • Price: ~$150

  • SilverStone Grandia GD02MT

    • Specs: W430 x D360 x H155 mm, 1 x slim DVD, 1 x CR, 2 x HDD, standard front I/O ports, 4.3″ LCD touchscreen (480 x 272), IR, remote control, 2 x 80mm exhaust fan, support 11.5″ graphics card
    • Notes: Aluminum front panel & corners, SECC body
    • Price: ~$390
Desktop MicroATX Case – Low-Profile

Antec
  • Antec NSK1480

    • Specs: W390 x D410 x H120 mm, 1 x DVD, 2 x HDD, 2xUSB2.0+1xeSATA+Audio In/Out, 1 x 80mm intake fan, 2 x 80mm side fan, 80 PLUS 350W ATX12V PSU
    • Notes: PSU is proprietary.
    • Price: ~$104

  • Antec Micro Fusion Remote 350

    • Specs: W390 x D410 x H120 mm, 1 x DVD, 2 x HDD, 2xUSB2.0+1xeSATA+Audio In/Out, 1 x 80mm intake fan, 2 x 80mm side fan, LCD & remote control, 80 PLUS 350W ATX12V PSU
    • Notes: PSU is proprietary.
    • Price: ~$164
Lian Li
  • Lian Li PC-C36B MUSE

    • Specs: W435 x D378 x H94 mm, 1 x DVD, 2 x HDD, standard front I/O ports, 1 x 70mm rear fan, 300W TFX PSU with 80mm fan, 2 x full size expansion slot or 4 x low-profile expansion slot
    • Price: ~$210

  • Lian Li PC-C37B MUSE

    • Specs: W435 x D378 x H94 mm, 1 x DVD, 2 x HDD, standard front I/O ports, 1 x 70mm rear fan
    • Price: ~$155
Mini-ITX Case

Apex
  • Apex MI-100

    • Specs: W220 x D300 x H129 mm, 1 x DVD, 1 x CR, 1 x HDD, 2xUSB2.0+Audio In/Out, no fan except PSU fan, ATX12V SFX 250W PSU, 1 x full size expansion slot
    • Price: ~$56

  • Apex MI-008

    • Specs: W220 x D300 x H129 mm, 1 x DVD, 1 x CR, 1 x HDD, 2xUSB2.0+Audio In/Out, no fan except PSU fan, ATX12V SFX 250W PSU, 1 x full size expansion slot
    • Price: ~$56
    • Reviews: Silent PC Review
Case Fan
If you feel fans loud, use Zalman Fan Mate 2 (possibly with 3pin Female – Dual 3pin Male Fan Power Adapter) or use the 7V trick.

References
renethx is offline  
post #20 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:01 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
______________
13. Input Devices
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
_____________
Remote Control
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

For Media Center PC with Windows (Only)
Universal Remote Control

A universal remote control works with various devices including a HTPC (that must have an IR receiver). Only consumer products are included here. Professional products need to be programmed and installed by experienced custom installation professionals. Two major manufacturers of professional remotes are Universal Remote Control and RTI.
______________________
Keyboard + Mouse Combo
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

________
Keyboard
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
renethx is offline  
post #21 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:01 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #22 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:02 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #23 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:02 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #24 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #25 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #26 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #27 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #28 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:04 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #29 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:04 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
post #30 of 19149 Old 11-18-2007, 06:04 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 16,014
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked: 341
renethx is offline  
Reply Home Theater Computers

Tags
Computers

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off