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Advice on Motherboard and rest of the HTPC components

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
This is such a great forum. I have been reading passively before but havent posted much. Thank you in advance for reading/responding.

My HTPC is hooked up to SONY XBR 52" 1080P LCD. All I do on this PC is watch streaming videos - no games.


I need advice on Motherboard, CPU, Memory, OS and possibly speakers system components.
Do I need SSD? I am not sure if I do.

I am looking at this MB - EVGA Z68 SLI. EVGA service has been good with my video cards.
CPU - Intel Core i5-2500K Processor
OS- Win 7 64 bit

My current set up -

Components I would like to keep -
Full ATX Tower - Smilodon Raidmax Dirk-Tooth
Brand new PSU - 750 W Bronze - Corsair CMPSU-750TXV2 Enthusiast Series TX750 V2
Brand new GPU - EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti FPB 1024 MB GDDR5
WD - 500 GB
2nd Harddrive - 150 GB

Components I would like to replace -
MB- Gigabyte GA-EP35c-DS3r
CPU - Intel C2D E4500 - LGA 775
Memory - OCZ 4GB kit DDR2 PC-6400- PN: OCZ2P8004GK
OS - Windows Vista Home (32 bit)

HTIB - Onkyo 6.1Ch Receiver and speakers
post #2 of 19
Nobody needs "Anything" (beyond the usual). It depends on what your doing. Are you able to watch the content you want with your current setup? If so, adding an SSD is the most affordable way to dramatically speed up a system.

Are you looking for reduced power usage? You go with a G-series Pentium, but you'll need new memory of course. 1333Hz speed DDR3 is fairly cheap and the slowest I would recommend. You'll need a 67 series motherboard and the cheapest I have seen is m-ATX about $70. The CPU is around $50 however.

For OS, I would stick to Vista unless you're really having problems or want to use Media Browser or some other plug-in that's not supported by Vista. You'll save about $100 that way.

What I would do is get a decent SSD about 64GB. Get JDiskReport (Free) and try to get your final size to about 40GB. I recently did this on my HTPC (Windows 7 32-bit). Most of those files were downloaded content and various .WTV files. Once I moved or deleted those files (more than 90% of that content is available streaming for free) and the rest was moved to the server (WHS 2011).

I can move some additional files (other downloads) and get my final size down to about 30GB or even below 20GB. User folder right now is 19GB and that's where the downloads go.

I'm sizing up a move to SSD ahead of upgrading the HTPC. I had a hiccup in my income stream which has pushed back upgrading for at lease two weeks.

I already purchased a AMD A6-3500 Triple Core 65W TDP APU as the goal is to make it faster (which it will be on all levels) more power (triple vs dual core) and use less power (which it will).
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you dj4monie.

I have been getting "Nvlddmkm.sys Display driver stopped responding and has recovered" error.
I have been having this issue for a while. I recently bought new GPU, PSU but still get the same error. Before replacing the components, I spent hours with Microsoft Windows Support team, clean reinstalled Windows Vista (32 bit) and all drivers. It didnt resolve the issue. EVGA support said its most likely the MB.
That triggered my need to upgrade the MB. If I upgrade to newer MBs like Z68, they dont support C2D CPU, so upgrade the CPU to i5. To use more memory for streaming online videos, I thought I would upgrade the OS to Win7 64 bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dj4monie View Post

Nobody needs "Anything" (beyond the usual). It depends on what your doing. Are you able to watch the content you want with your current setup? If so, adding an SSD is the most affordable way to dramatically speed up a system.

Are you looking for reduced power usage? You go with a G-series Pentium, but you'll need new memory of course. 1333Hz speed DDR3 is fairly cheap and the slowest I would recommend. You'll need a 67 series motherboard and the cheapest I have seen is m-ATX about $70. The CPU is around $50 however.

For OS, I would stick to Vista unless you're really having problems or want to use Media Browser or some other plug-in that's not supported by Vista. You'll save about $100 that way.

What I would do is get a decent SSD about 64GB. Get JDiskReport (Free) and try to get your final size to about 40GB. I recently did this on my HTPC (Windows 7 32-bit). Most of those files were downloaded content and various .WTV files. Once I moved or deleted those files (more than 90% of that content is available streaming for free) and the rest was moved to the server (WHS 2011).

I can move some additional files (other downloads) and get my final size down to about 30GB or even below 20GB. User folder right now is 19GB and that's where the downloads go.

I'm sizing up a move to SSD ahead of upgrading the HTPC. I had a hiccup in my income stream which has pushed back upgrading for at lease two weeks.

I already purchased a AMD A6-3500 Triple Core 65W TDP APU as the goal is to make it faster (which it will be on all levels) more power (triple vs dual core) and use less power (which it will).
post #4 of 19
Pentium Gs are cut-down i3 CPU's they work in Z68 boards. Its Intel's budget CPU. - http://www.anandtech.com/show/4524/t...0-g620t-tested

I would go with that, the cheapest i3 is over $100 no matter how you slice it and there will be no advantage over media center use.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819116399 - $70

You don't need additional bandwidth provided by more memory. RAM really only comes into play the more programs you run or how many tabs you have open when browsing the net.

In fact an SSD speeds up loading of streaming, more so than additional ram does.

I would upgrade to the motherboard anyway DDR3 memory is cheaper than DDR2 now.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for explaination about the RAM vs SSD. I didn't know that. I don't mind spending a little more on CPU so I don't have to upgrade for next couple of years. EVGA Z68 doesn't support i3(only i5 and i7) Do you think i5 might help with streaming videos? Which DDR3 sticks and SSD do you recommend? I dont mind spending a little more.
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by sony07xbr2sony View Post

EVGA Z68 doesn't support i3(only i5 and i7)

What?

The i3 once again gettin no respect!
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Which one do you recommend?

Yep, I am looking at this board.

EVGA Z68 FTW

http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Z68-M...-ZOTAC/?page=4

http://www.evga.com/products/moreInf...herboards&sw=5





Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

What?

The i3 once again gettin no respect!
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by sony07xbr2sony View Post

Which one do you recommend?

Yep, I am looking at this board.

EVGA Z68 FTW

http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Z68-M...-ZOTAC/?page=4

http://www.evga.com/products/moreInf...herboards&sw=5

Take reviews with a grain of salt. That board definitely DOES support an i3 (like all Z68 boards)

http://www.evga.com/products/pdf/160-SB-E689.pdf
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks, assassin.

Do you think there is value in i5 2500K? To futureproof it.

Another issue with this board is that it supports max of 16 GB memory, compared to other z68s that support upto 32 GB.

Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Take reviews with a grain of salt. That board definitely DOES support an i3 (like all Z68 boards)

http://www.evga.com/products/pdf/160-SB-E689.pdf
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by sony07xbr2sony View Post

Thanks, assassin.

Do you think there is value in i5 2500K? To futureproof it.

Another issue with this board is that it supports max of 16 GB memory, compared to other z68s that support upto 32 GB.

For a non-gaming HTPC? Absolutely no reason to get a i5. The i3 is an absolute beast. You will use less than 20% cpu power for playback (probably less than 10%). It will give you plenty of cushion in the future. I just don't think the i5 is needed for your needs.

The i3 dual core is about the same CPU as the i5 quad core clarkdale from just a year or so ago. Its a beast and an awesome HTPC chip.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for quick response, assassin. I appreciate it.

Any recommendations on - MB, RAM, SSD and OS 32 bit or 64?

My experience with EVGA has been good. I am also reading about bad customer service from Asus, Gigabyte etc. I am not getting any help from Gigabyte on my current MB.

All I am doing is streaming online videos, occasionally local videos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

For a non-gaming HTPC? Absolutely no reason to get a i5. The i3 is an absolute beast. You will use less than 20% cpu power for playback (probably less than 10%). It will give you plenty of cushion in the future. I just don't think the i5 is needed for your needs.

The i3 dual core is about the same CPU as the i5 quad core clarkdale from just a year or so ago. Its a beast and an awesome HTPC chip.
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by sony07xbr2sony View Post

Thanks for quick response, assassin. I appreciate it.

Any recommendations on - MB, RAM, SSD and OS 32 bit or 64?

All I am doing is streaming online videos, occasionally local videos.

Yes, check my sticky thread.
post #13 of 19
how noisy is that graphics card? Its kind of a high power card.

PS your old system pretty much handles everything doesn't it?

Only reason I see to upgrade is for lower power and noise, going with integrated graphics.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Yes, check my sticky thread.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Compared to my old video card - EVGA GF 8400 GS?
Replacing the PSU definitely made it quieter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

how noisy is that graphics card? Its kind of a high power card.

PS your old system pretty much handles everything doesn't it?

Only reason I see to upgrade is for lower power and noise, going with integrated graphics.
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Take reviews with a grain of salt. That board definitely DOES support an i3 (like all Z68 boards)

http://www.evga.com/products/pdf/160-SB-E689.pdf

Yeah, I think it's talking about overclocking with the i5 and i7, because there is no unlocked i3, but I'd be very surprised if it didn't work with an i3.
post #17 of 19
Its only streaming media, Pentium G should be plenty and future proof. What's coming? 4K bit HD?

I wouldn't worry about it. Spend more if you want, but you don't need too.

SSD, 4GB of DDR3, decent Z68 motherboard and Pentium G, maybe $230? Add W7, so $330, give or take a few dollars?

Add $70 more for an i3 and no noticeable speed difference, the choice is yours.
post #18 of 19
+1

The free guides hand you a template for many different types of systems but even the best system in the guide is very reasonably priced compared to gaming systems and is all (and more ) you will ever need in the distant future.

Oh.... don't forget to get the paid guides when it comes time for setting everything up . Dirt cheap for the endless amount of info that would take most folks forever to find let alone figure out how to use
post #19 of 19
I tried these CPU motherboard combinations and all of them will stream to 1080p:
E8500 C2D+ intel DG43NB (65W)
i3 540+ Zotac H55ITX (73W)
i5 2400S+ intel DH61AG (65W)
i5 2500S+ Zotac H67ITX (65W)

I want to try the intel DN2800MT which is a dual core Atom with very low power. It should run on a 80W power supply.
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