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First HTPC build

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
First post here but been stalking for a bit and have decided to replace my PS3 and streaming PC with a dedicated HTPC. Not built a PC for a few years so had the usual hours of research ending up with hundreds of tabs open in chrome, but so far so good i think/hope. Just need some advice on components.

According to assassins guide, my HTPC falls into the 'basic' kind. All it has to do is play movies (avi,divx,mp4 etc) and maybe run netflix. No blueray, no dvds, no recording, no 3D.

So far, the common components are:
CPU: Intel Pentium G620 Sandy Bridge 2.6GHz LGA 1155 65W Intel HD Graphics
PSU: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V
CASE: nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 5000B
WIRELESS: Rosewill RNX-G300LX Wireless Adapter Card

I am pretty happy with these so long as the PSU is quiet, which newegg reviews seems to suggest. I currently have a new slim PS3 next to the TV and it occasionally whirs into life - is the Antec going to be similar to that?

The sticking point so far is the mobo. I have always been a fan of gigabyte boards. Built about 5 desktops with them and never had a problem but the only gigabyte option seems to be the GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 for $120 which seems a bit expensive for a basic HTPC. As an alternative, Assassin also recommends the Intel BOXDH67BLB3 LGA 1155 Intel H67 which is $30 cheaper at $89.99

Just wondering if anyone has used the intel option because, as much as i love gigabyte boards, $30 is a lot seeing as i'm trying to fund this from the sale of the PS3? I'd kinda like that extra $30 to go towards storage which seems so expensive at the moment.

And finally hard drives. I am pretty sure I can rearrange a couple of office PC's to free up a hard drive but have a last question - is it noticeably better to have the OS on a different hard drive than the media being played for a HTPC? I have always built pc's with multiple hard drives. One for the OS and the other for media. Our current media server which streams to the PS3 does this. I just wonder if modern drives can cope with running an OS, downloading files and playing them to the TV with one hard drive?

Thanks for any help. I'll be sure to take some pics of the build which should be in a week or so if I can figure the last details out. I always love 'pc buildin' time!
post #2 of 13
You can get a rock solid mono for a lot less money. I'm 100% satisfied with my $60 msi board.
post #3 of 13
For $10-15 more you could go AMD A6-3500 and have more capability. I know you said you don't need much, but a little headroom is always nice.
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by beetlesnack View Post

For $10-15 more you could go AMD A6-3500 and have more capability. I know you said you don't need much, but a little headroom is always nice.

How is that more capability? Not for typical HTPC use. You trade a better iGPU (which may or may not even be needed depending on his desired use of his HTPC) for a dramatically weaker CPU.

Both are decent options for HTPC. But to make a blanket statement that the Llano offers "more capability" and more "headroom" just isn't accurate overall.
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

How is that more capability? Not for typical HTPC use. You trade a better iGPU (which may or may not even be needed depending on his desired use of his HTPC) for a dramatically weaker CPU.

Both are decent options for HTPC. But to make a blanket statement that the Llano offers "more capability" and more "headroom" just isn't accurate overall.

True. I was thinking the Llano would amount to more capability in this context because the HTPC is generally graphics-intensive rather than CPU-intensive. The Llano would offer the additional options of light gaming and 3D in the future. And it may do better for 24p video and any kind of post-processing video image enhancements.
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by beetlesnack View Post

True. I was thinking the Llano would amount to more capability in this context because the HTPC is generally graphics-intensive rather than CPU-intensive. The Llano would offer the additional options of light gaming and 3D in the future. And it may do better for 24p video and any kind of post-processing video image enhancements.

Well since you are talking future the Llano is by far the worse option. You can drop in a card in 2-3 years into a SNB/IVB HTPC and have a practically new HTPC in a few years for less than $50. You can't do that nearly as easily with the Llano. And the i3 does 3D as well.

And Intel does 24p overall just about as well as anyone else at this point out of the box. IVB may be even better. You can't buy any product and just assume that you are going to have perfect 24p.

Again, it just depends on what you want to do today and what you want to do in the next few months/years with the hardware you are buying today.
post #7 of 13
i would listen to Assassin, he knows his ****,.
post #8 of 13
I meant more capability with what he has now without adding more hardware. By "future" I just meant if he changes his mind about using additional features.

That's interesting about 24p, from everything I have seen you are most likely better off with llano if you're using the IGP.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by danaz View Post

Just wondering if anyone has used the intel option because, as much as i love gigabyte boards, $30 is a lot seeing as i'm trying to fund this from the sale of the PS3? I'd kinda like that extra $30 to go towards storage which seems so expensive at the moment.

I used the Intel DH67BLB3 in an HTPC build, and that was before they dropped the price. Rock solid, easy to configure, easy to set up, easy to update. I like it a lot. I used a Gigabyte GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3 in a desktop build about the same time. It's also solid, and it's more "adjustable" (and I wanted the internal USB 3.0 header), but if I was building another HTPC, I'd probably use the Intel board again.

The biggest complaint about Intel boards over the years has been the inability to overclock or adjust almost anything. But on an HTPC, that really doesn't matter much. The DH67BLB3 isn't fancy, it just works.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

You can get a rock solid mono for a lot less money. I'm 100% satisfied with my $60 msi board.

Eh, mobo
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

I used the Intel DH67BLB3 in an HTPC build, and that was before they dropped the price. Rock solid, easy to configure, easy to set up, easy to update. I like it a lot. I used a Gigabyte GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3 in a desktop build about the same time. It's also solid, and it's more "adjustable" (and I wanted the internal USB 3.0 header), but if I was building another HTPC, I'd probably use the Intel board again.

The biggest complaint about Intel boards over the years has been the inability to overclock or adjust almost anything. But on an HTPC, that really doesn't matter much. The DH67BLB3 isn't fancy, it just works.

That sounds perfect. Plus the fact it is on assassins list and seems to get 4/5 on multiple customer reviews makes it my firm choice now. Which means i'll be going for the G.SKill 4GB DDR3-1333 ram also.

I haven't overclocked anything since playing quake 2 and counterstrike so can't see that being a problem. Plus i won't be doing any gaming on it - it's got one job and that is to play movies and music.

That leaves me with the hard drive question. Just run speccy (cool little program if you've never heard of it) which tells me I can salvage a Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB from one of my PC's.

Will one hard drive do or will it cause problems with playback? I have to do this on a budget right now and don't mind ghosting onto a bigger drive when the prices come down. But if it won't play movies smoothly then obviously I have to get a different (or second) hard drive now.

Finally, how difficult is it to install win7 from a flash drive? I have the ISO and can transfer the licence so that's no problem. Will the intel board BIOS at least let me boot from USB drive? Reading a couple of guides I almost think it would be easier to temporarily transfer an optical drive out of one pc for 20 minutes then return it.

Anyway, so far the build is costing me $307.94 by recycling an existing hard drive. Or in other words, about 1 month of cable once the ps3 is sold.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

You can get a rock solid mono for a lot less money. I'm 100% satisfied with my $60 msi board.

An MSI board failed on me a couple of years ago. Maybe it's harsh of me, but i'm fairly unforgiving when it comes to buying tech.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by beetlesnack View Post

I meant more capability with what he has now without adding more hardware. By "future" I just meant if he changes his mind about using additional features.

That's interesting about 24p, from everything I have seen you are most likely better off with llano if you're using the IGP.

Maybe. Maybe not. Lots of discussion.

I have been trying to clear up this misconception for almost a year.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...4#post20400874
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