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HP Slimline vs Dell Zino vs Other? for HTPC

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Seems like most of the threads related to the Slimline and Zino date back to 2009 or early 2010.... Now that the 2nd Generation i3/5/7's are available on these models, has anyone tried one as a HTPC?

At first glance, it seems like the Slimline (s5xt) is a better deal vs the Zino. It's been a long time since I've looked at ASRock, Acer, Lenovo, etc. to see if they have anything that I'd be interested in.

It's possible that I could get buy with an Intel Atom, but having the extra horsepower of an i3 or i5 gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. I'm looking at running Windows 7 MC. Here's my main goals as it stands today.

1) DVR
2) Playing DVDs, HD home movies (.m2ts)
3) At some point ripping all of my DVDs
4) Streaming (Netflix, etc.)

One HW requirement that I have is a SPDIF audio out... My receiver doesn't have HDMI.

Is a Video Card required? Does the chipset on the motherboard factor into that? I think HP is using a motherboard with the H67 chipset based on what I can tell from their support page. HP gives the following Video options:

512MB DDR3 AMD Radeon HD 6450 [DVI, HDMI. VGA adapter]
1GB DDR3 AMD Radeon HD 6450 [DVI, HDMI. VGA adapter]
1GB DDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GT520 [DVI, HDMI, VGA adapter]
2GB DDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GT 530 [DVI, HDMI, VGA adapter]

Any thoughts/input are appreciated.
post #2 of 26
There are a few other options out there to consider now.

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

There are a few other options out there to consider now.


What are some of those other options?

In an ideal world, I'd build something myself. But time is a valuable thing, and if I can buy something with a few clicks that gets me 90% of what I'd think I would build, I'll probably do it. (as long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg) I'm thinking (hoping) probably something in the $600 area should get me something decent.
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbo75 View Post

What are some of those other options?

In an ideal world, I'd build something myself. But time is a valuable thing, and if I can buy something with a few clicks that gets me 90% of what I'd think I would build, I'll probably do it. (as long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg) I'm thinking (hoping) probably something in the $600 area should get me something decent.

I too had gone down the thought process of getting a Zino, but then decided to build one myself. The specs are as follows:

HTPC CASE HEC| 7K09BBA30FNRX 300W R
MB INTEL|BOXDH67BLB3 H67 LGA1155 R
CPU INTEL|PDC G620 2.6G 3M 1155 R
MEM 2Gx2|GSKILL F3-10666CL9D-4GBNS
HD 2T|HITACHI HDS5C3020ALA632 %
DVD BRN ASUS | DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS%
MS WIN 7 HOME SP1 64BIT 1PK - OEM
DIGI REMOTE AVS GEAR MG-IR01BK R

Total cost $500 from Newegg.

This was my first PC build and it took me about 45 minutes to put it together. It took me about 6 hours or so spread over 3 days ( could only do it in the evening after getting back home) to get all the software that I wanted in and configure it to where I wanted it to be. I use it to watch my movies which I have ripped and for Netflix and to stream movies to other devices and also as an AirVideo and Plex server. The only thing I did not get was a TV tuner card or one of the newer capture cards. That one is for a bit later, when I am comfortable with the setup. I think you would be happier doing it yourself. I know I am! Good luck either way.
post #5 of 26
My new htpc build is a used hp dc7800 sff business pc that I got from ebay for a little over 100. I put a ceton tuner and ati 4550 and it's pretty much ready to go!
post #6 of 26
I would not use a Slimline PC as an HTPC without seriously modding the crap out of it and it just isn't worth the money if you go Intel. The Slimline series hasn't had any engineering changes in years and they just cram whatever the flavor of the month is inside those cases which causes significant heat problems. To make matters worse, you can't really get much in the way of upgrades for those because they are all low-profile form-factor machines with a very small footprint, making even low-profile video card upgrades impractical because of the heat build-up.
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbo75 View Post

What are some of those other options?

In an ideal world, I'd build something myself. But time is a valuable thing, and if I can buy something with a few clicks that gets me 90% of what I'd think I would build, I'll probably do it. (as long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg) I'm thinking (hoping) probably something in the $600 area should get me something decent.

Let's just say you should look at some of the links in my sig. Specifically the first link on the bottom.
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post

I would not use a Slimline PC as an HTPC without seriously modding the crap out of it and it just isn't worth the money if you go Intel. The Slimline series hasn't had any engineering changes in years and they just cram whatever the flavor of the month is inside those cases which causes significant heat problems. To make matters worse, you can't really get much in the way of upgrades for those because they are all low-profile form-factor machines with a very small footprint, making even low-profile video card upgrades impractical because of the heat build-up.

I have to agree that Slimline does not have much innovation ever since s3000 series. And it is now just yet-another-medium-sized-desktop. But heat problem is not much an issue for PCs like Slimline. Especially since IGPs can handle all your video needs.
post #9 of 26
Honestly, Slimline and Zino are not the same league. Their size differs by a factor of 4 or more.

I think if you go with Core-i3, you don't need an external graphics card for your needs. But I am sure someone is going to be jumping up and down and tell you you need a dedicated GPU for proper de-interlacing or 24p or video smoothing. I will let them give the lecture.

But if you go with X4500 Slimline (dual cores) and you want to playback H.264 (.m2ts) at high bitrate, then you should pick up a half-height video card.

A X4500 based Slimline is about $300. An i3 based Slimline would suddenly jump to about $500. If you don't plan on upgrading to internal TV tuners. I would go with the Zino. But make sure it has the SPDIF port and type you wanted.

Atom is really not as good as the AMD E-350 these days. No need to add additional video card or overpriced ION.

Last but not least, Acer/Gateway/eMachine make SFF PCs that have 2 PCIe slots and smaller than Slimline. IMO, a better choice for HTPC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbo75 View Post

Seems like most of the threads related to the Slimline and Zino date back to 2009 or early 2010.... Now that the 2nd Generation i3/5/7's are available on these models, has anyone tried one as a HTPC?

At first glance, it seems like the Slimline (s5xt) is a better deal vs the Zino. It's been a long time since I've looked at ASRock, Acer, Lenovo, etc. to see if they have anything that I'd be interested in.

It's possible that I could get buy with an Intel Atom, but having the extra horsepower of an i3 or i5 gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. I'm looking at running Windows 7 MC. Here's my main goals as it stands today.

1) DVR
2) Playing DVDs, HD home movies (.m2ts)
3) At some point ripping all of my DVDs
4) Streaming (Netflix, etc.)

One HW requirement that I have is a SPDIF audio out... My receiver doesn't have HDMI.

Is a Video Card required? Does the chipset on the motherboard factor into that? I think HP is using a motherboard with the H67 chipset based on what I can tell from their support page. HP gives the following Video options:

512MB DDR3 AMD Radeon HD 6450 [DVI, HDMI. VGA adapter]
1GB DDR3 AMD Radeon HD 6450 [DVI, HDMI. VGA adapter]
1GB DDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GT520 [DVI, HDMI, VGA adapter]
2GB DDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GT 530 [DVI, HDMI, VGA adapter]

Any thoughts/input are appreciated.
post #10 of 26
The problem with the slimline and zino is the cheap and proprietary parts that are inside. There are quite a few zino owners here that are less than thrilled with the build quality.

And you had better believe that replacing parts, harvesting parts for later builds, or upgrading parts is going to be difficult with these tiny mass produced systems and all their proprietary parts and connections.
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

I have to agree that Slimline does not have much innovation ever since s3000 series. And it is now just yet-another-medium-sized-desktop. But heat problem is not much an issue for PCs like Slimline. Especially since IGPs can handle all your video needs.

Heat problems are an issue with the HP Slimline models, no matter what kind of GPU you have and it's always made worse with an add-in card because there just isn't enough airflow and ventilation in the case with HP's design. Anyone who has researched the product line knows that is the reason why Slimline PCs don't last very long. You have to physically mod the case by increasing ventilation, swap the HDD for a low-RPM or SSD drive, and make adjustments to the heatsink orientation to improve the cooling in those things. The current GPU/CPU sandwich chips are a step in the right direction but they need to shrink a bit more to keep things cooler. You really wouldn't want to use a Slimline with integrated graphics anyway because you would be stuck with HP's drivers which are way behind the drivers from AMD/Intel (they lock the video hardware down with custom hardware IDs to keep you from screwing around with your PC through overclocking and other things) and they don't update their drivers often.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

The problem with the slimline and zino is the cheap and proprietary parts that are inside. There are quite a few zino owners here that are less than thrilled with the build quality.

And you had better believe that replacing parts, harvesting parts for later builds, or upgrading parts is going to be difficult with these tiny mass produced systems and all their proprietary parts and connections.

The parts in Slimline is not cheap. The Zino is really a laptop in a SFF body and again, you will have a hard time beating its price.

I have taken apart a Slimline. Almost all the components (CPU/HSF/RAM/DVD/HDD) are standard - and not "cheap". No issue with reusing them at all. Only the MB/PS is a little hard to replace.
post #13 of 26
Check out this one:

http://www.frys.com/product/6502283

Intel® Core™ i3-550 Processor (3.2GHz, 4MB Total Cache)
Integrated Intel® GMA HD Graphics
1TB SATA Hard Drive (Green Product - variable RPM)
4096MB DDR3 Dual-Channel Memory
16X DVD±R/RW SuperMulti Drive
Gateway Multimedia Keyboard & Optical Mouse
Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader
1 - PCI-E x16
1 - PCI-E x1

Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit

All for $379 if you have Frys near by.


Just add TV-Tuner (easily to 4 with 2 slots) and you are good to go.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
That looks like a good deal... I'm back on the fence now. Assassin has me thinking about building one.
post #15 of 26
If you want something cheap and don't mind the look, it is very unlikely you can beat a pre-build, name-brand machine. These box builders can negotiate a much better price with suppliers than you and me with newegg. Plus you get tech support from a single source. They can't play the blame game with your other components.

IMO, the only reason you should build your own is because you want a custom case. The days which special hardware needed for playback video is long gone.

The PC I quoted met or exceed the Slimline spec but in a smaller case. As always, research before you commit.
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

If you want something cheap and don't mind the look, it is very unlikely you can beat a pre-build, name-brand machine. These box builders can negotiate a much better price with suppliers than you and me with newegg. Plus you get tech support from a single source. They can't play the blame game with your other components.

IMO, the only reason you should build your own is because you want a custom case. The days which special hardware needed for playback video is long gone.

The PC I quoted met or exceed the Slimline spec but in a smaller case. As always, research before you commit.

We will just have to agree to disagree there.

Custom built PCs in general use better parts. You stated that you have taken apart a slimline and the parts are not "cheap". What exactly was inside?

Also you list that the MB and PSU were not standard. If you include the CPU and Heatsink as 1 component that's 3 out of 7 parts including the case that aren't "standard". That's a lot in my opinion. And its pretty difficult to not get a CPU and RAM that aren't "standard" in any build.

So that build is $401 with tax where I live for a Clarkdale (NOT Sandy Bridge) mass produced build. You could build a HTPC with better stats, higher quality components, higher percentage of "standard" components, more upgrade flexibility, less bloatware, completely unlocked bios, and better cooling for about $50 more.

So you decide if that $50 is worth it. To me its a no-brainer.
post #17 of 26
Just for S&G I spec'd out a machine using components that are superior to the HP's.

Specs:
Intel Pentium SB CPU (similar to the Clarkdale i3 on the HP)
4GB DDR3 1333 RAM (Same Size but HP doesn't say what speed there's is)
Case and PSU
Motherboard with USB 3.0, eSATA, HDMI, AHCI with unlocked bios (unlike the HP, most likely)
1TB Hard Drive (Same as HP)
Windows 7 (minus the bloatware)

Total with shipping is $422.

So although you stated its "very unlikely you can beat a pre-build, name-brand machine" I came pretty close for $21 more than your HP.

Also the HP doesn't state anything about whether it has HDMI, USB 3.0, eSATA, etc.
post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Just for S&G I spec'd out a machine using components that are superior to the HP's.

Specs:
Intel Pentium SB CPU (similar to the Clarkdale i3 on the HP)
4GB DDR3 1333 RAM (Same Size but HP doesn't say what speed there's is)
Case and PSU
Motherboard with USB 3.0, eSATA, HDMI, AHCI with unlocked bios (unlike the HP, most likely)
1TB Hard Drive (Same as HP)
Windows 7 (minus the bloatware)

Total with shipping is $422.

So although you stated its "very unlikely you can beat a pre-build, name-brand machine" I came pretty close for $21 more than your HP.

Also the HP doesn't state anything about whether it has HDMI, USB 3.0, eSATA, etc.

Which case and psu is in that $422 price?

I was looking at the cases in your list and I'm having a hard time making up my mind.... The htpc would go in a media cabinet, so I don't need the case to look like a pretty A/V box. An old school desktop form factor is fine with me. Having good ventilation would be one of the most important things. The last time I built a computer was 6 or 7 years ago and I bought a case that looked cool, but then ran into over heating issues.

Also, the spacing between the shelves of my cabinet are 9 or 10 inches. (probably need to measure that) Most desktops these days are configured as towers... If I lay a tower on it's side, would the DVD drive have a lip on it to keep the DVD from falling out? (since the drive would be vertical)
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Just for S&G I spec'd out a machine using components that are superior to the HP's.

Specs:
Intel Pentium SB CPU (similar to the Clarkdale i3 on the HP)
4GB DDR3 1333 RAM (Same Size but HP doesn't say what speed there's is)
Case and PSU
Motherboard with USB 3.0, eSATA, HDMI, AHCI with unlocked bios (unlike the HP, most likely)
1TB Hard Drive (Same as HP)
Windows 7 (minus the bloatware)

Total with shipping is $422.

So although you stated its "very unlikely you can beat a pre-build, name-brand machine" I came pretty close for $21 more than your HP.

Also the HP doesn't state anything about whether it has HDMI, USB 3.0, eSATA, etc.

What you need to beat is the lowest price for a pre-build box. You don't pick a random box and beat its price. Try beating the Acer I linked at $379. Given a course of 2 weeks, I am sure I can find one on sale with similar spec at even lower price given this is the back-to-school period.

You are still missing a built-in card reader. I don't know what motherboard and case you use. Chances are it is bigger than the Acer. I don't really care about the BIOS. I don't overclock HTPC.

BTW, later Slimlines s5xxx uses standard MB and P/S. Their case can actually fit a regular mATX MB. They went cheap.
post #20 of 26
A card reader? Seriously?

You're right. Those of us that build our own can't possibly compete with that.

Btw there is much more to a locked bios than overclocking.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

If you want something cheap and don't mind the look, it is very unlikely you can
beat a pre-build, name-brand machine. These box builders can negotiate a
much better price with suppliers than you and me with newegg.

I've found this to be the case for over 20 years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

Plus you get tech support from a single source.

Even when this is true, what does it mean? The tech support system for Dell's
consumer products is (was?) in India. The one time I called from work, the
monkey with a script couldn't understand my request and kept repeating the
same introductory sentence from his script. He didn't even understand my
demand to be referred to Tier II support.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

They can't play the blame game with your other components.

Unethical companies will play the blame game any time they feel like it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

IMO, the only reason you should build your own is because you want a custom case.

Or to get a specific combination of parts. Or for upgradeability. Or for fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

The days which special hardware needed for playback video is long gone.

So much of that specialized hardware has been produced, it's now
mainstream. Things are a lot better now than they were in 1989.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

As always, research before you commit.

Excellent advice. Always.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamilcar Barca View Post
Even when this is true, what does it mean? The tech support system for Dell's
consumer products is (was?) in India. The one time I called from work, the
monkey with a script couldn't understand my request and kept repeating the
same introductory sentence from his script. He didn't even understand my
demand to be referred to Tier II support.
And the support for your stand alone M/B, P/S, RAM, CPU is better?

At least with Dell, once I walk through their script, they will send me new component or new PC to get it fixed. I have swapped a hard drive with them before. Someone show up at my door to pick up the replacement. They even offered me credit for my trouble. I have sent back a whole PC at no cost to me.

Quote:
Unethical companies will play the blame game any time they feel like it.
Luckily I buy from name brands. I miss the life time warranty from BFG.


Quote:
Or to get a specific combination of parts. Or for upgradeability. Or for fun.
Fair enough.

Quote:
So much of that specialized hardware has been produced, it's now
mainstream. Things are a lot better now than they were in 1989.
Don't really get your point.


Quote:
Excellent advice. Always.
You are welcome.
post #23 of 26
Arguing with people that have never built or owned a custom pc is pointless.
post #24 of 26
Don't jump to conclusions. I have both built and bought multiple PCs. Buying is a lot less stressful.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post
Don't jump to conclusions. I have both built and bought multiple PCs. Buying is a lot less stressful.
If you don't know what you're doing.

To me buying over priced junk its stressful.
post #26 of 26
Been down both sides of this road, actually all sides, computer dealer. HP Product Service manager, built tons, bought lots of pre-builts. The earlier HP Slimline were proprietary and if they broke out of warranty main boards were often not to be had..

I have a Gateway i3 for my wife. First one was dead 1 minute out of the box. Power supply popped. 10 minutes round trip to Best Buy and they swapped it. Optical drive was noisy from the begining, failed 90 days in. I had a BD Drive laying around, in it went. The Gateway was an early i3.. best price going at the time. I built my Atom Ion, built my my i3-SSD-Ceton box.

I am agnostic about it the big manufactures and building it yourself. I have seen cheapie boxes from HP and Dell running for 10 years without any attention. We used them all over campus and they did not break.

The Acer is mighty cheap, if it was Sandy Bridge I would be over there in the morning. Not so much that I care about Sandy Bridge but I do care about 1155. The thing is the OS is not cheap, and that is the part that every one miscalculates when they do there numbers.

I just bought a Denon 2112ci and a new subwoofer this week so I best stay out of Fry's... But hey stick in a $50 bd drive in the Acer and a GT 440 and you have a very solid HTPC. Again, despite the rampant consumerism on my part if the Acer was an 1155 socket I would be in line, even if came with a G620...
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