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Cheapest ever HTPC that's decent. Proud of myself. - Page 22

post #631 of 1016
Here’s some photos of my cheap build HTPC.

ECS H61mobo, G620 CPU, 4 GB G.Skill RAM, Corsair CX430V2 PSU, 1.5 TB Seagate Green HDD, LG Optical Drive, AVerTVHD Duet ATSC tuner card. Until I find a cheap HTPC case I figured why buy a mini tower to stick in the corner when I can use an old Dell case. Nobody’s going to see it either way.

The 2 front USB ports are shown with a tiny RF receiver above the large IR receiver. The RF works with a Logitech K400 keyboard/touch pad which is great for updates, Hulu, internet, etc. The IR receiver comes with a USB extension cable which is needed when the HTPC is in the corner.

The HDD is mounted in the original location, vertically to the front of the case inside that perforated metal bracket. Excess PSU cables are tucked above & below the OD.

The original front panel power/LED cable just reaches the mobo & the pinout was OK as is. Same for the original case fan cable.

I needed SPDIF audio. The mobo does not have a SPDIF port but it does have a SPDIF header. I happened to have a connector with harness that fit the header but had to change the pinout. Then soldered an RCA jack to the other end, after drilling & mounting it to an unused slot cover.

Thanks to everyone for all your help, and to Mfusick for starting this thread.







post #632 of 1016
I just purchased a Asus - Desktop Computer - 8 GB Memory - 1 TB Hard Drive - HDMI - Windows 7 (no bloatware) for under $500.


K-I-S-S............smile.gif
post #633 of 1016
Thread Starter 
Looks great Mike99!

how much the entire thing end up costing you ?
post #634 of 1016
Mfusick,

I've spent $298 which includes all shipping & taxes. I did have a legit copy of Windows 7 which makes a difference, otherwise it would cost about $100 more.

Everything works fine except for the one problem as mentioned here.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1419387/first-htpc-failure

I looked through all the Event Logs & never found anything wrong other than an unexpected shut down. The CHKDSK did report it discovered free space marked allocated in the master file table bitmap & in the volume bitmap, and Windows made corrections to the file system. Hopefully that will take care of things. But I do feel like I have a time bomb waiting to go off again.
post #635 of 1016
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

Mfusick,
I've spent $298 which includes all shipping & taxes. I did have a legit copy of Windows 7 which makes a difference, otherwise it would cost about $100 more.
Everything works fine except for the one problem as mentioned here.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1419387/first-htpc-failure
I looked through all the Event Logs & never found anything wrong other than an unexpected shut down. The CHKDSK did report it discovered free space marked allocated in the master file table bitmap & in the volume bitmap, and Windows made corrections to the file system. Hopefully that will take care of things. But I do feel like I have a time bomb waiting to go off again.

nice little machine for that price.

I am not sure about the issues your having.

Any luck? What do you think it is ?
post #636 of 1016
I have no idea what caused the re-boot, & then a problem with that.

I can only guess that maybe the HTPC came out of sleep in order to do an EPG update & at the same time Norton Internet Security decided to do a an update & one conflicted with the other. But that's a wild guess. NIS seems to update several times a days. I can turn off automatic updates but there is no setting to schedule updates. It seems either auto or completely manual. I used the NIS because it was free after rebates.

The other day my desktop PC lost Internet connectivity. I rebooted the modem & it made no difference. I rebooted the router & I was then connected. Later on, & I think it was the same day, I was playing with the HTPC and there was message about assigning a duplicate IP address. This might have happened when I rebooted the router (or maybe it caused the router to act up). I should have taken a photo of the screen but did not have my camera handy.

Anyway the HTPC was working. And has been ever since that unidentified & unexpected shutdown. I have my fingers crossed that it will not happen again, especially if I'm away on vacation.
post #637 of 1016
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

nice little machine for that price.
I am not sure about the issues your having.
Any luck? What do you think it is ?

I ran HWMonitor just for the heck of it to look at temperatures and noticed the +3.3V was only 1.92V. I thought maybe HWMonitor may not be accurate but my desktop shows 2.77V. While not perfect it is a a lot better than the HTPC.

This is with the Corsair CX430 V2 PSU that you mentioned way back at the beginning of this thread. Did you end up getting one of these? If so, is it installed & what does the +3.3V really read?
post #638 of 1016
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

I ran HWMonitor just for the heck of it to look at temperatures and noticed the +3.3V was only 1.92V. I thought maybe HWMonitor may not be accurate but my desktop shows 2.77V. While not perfect it is a a lot better than the HTPC.
This is with the Corsair CX430 V2 PSU that you mentioned way back at the beginning of this thread. Did you end up getting one of these? If so, is it installed & what does the +3.3V really read?

I bought the coolermaster for $17.99 and it tested out fine. It runs in a few office PC's like your build.

In my HTPC I use and antec Neo.

My Desktop has a 1000 watt Rosewill Lightning. I believe it was really a golden green superflower inside. I forget but at the time I made sure it was decent. But it also costs almost as much as my HTPC. haha.
post #639 of 1016
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanddrews View Post

If you download the official Windows installation ISO and then use the Windows activation key code sticker on the bottom of your laptop (or desktop), you won't have any problems. I've done this many times with many different machines. Clean install, no bloatware, 100% legit and activated. Half the time, however, I have to call the phone number to activate it because it won't activate over the Internet.

+1 for this.
post #640 of 1016
I got out the trusty old DVM & measured the HTPC’s power supply voltages at the connector to the mobo. The 3.3V was measured at 3.32V, so it’s OK. I guess HWMonitor is obviously way off.
post #641 of 1016
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

I got out the trusty old DVM & measured the HTPC’s power supply voltages at the connector to the mobo. The 3.3V was measured at 3.32V, so it’s OK. I guess HWMonitor is obviously way off.

I got one of those digital multi testers.... it works pretty good. Usually I find the voltage of pretty much every PSU I test pretty close.

I think when it comes to specific voltage issues- it's more about the voltage control in the motherboard. Not an under powered amount of juice at the connector on the board.


Meaning- The PSU (even cheap ones) can deliver enough power to the motherboard, but the motherboard does not always use the right amount of voltage.

Your Motherboard is a cheapo (No insult it just really costs like $25) and obviously it lacks some of the voltage features of higher end boards.

You might want to see what the voltage is at the various locations- and it something is reading low- you might be able to juice it in the BIOS.

In old days I had enough PC crashes to learn that increasing voltage to certain areas helps. Don't go off **** cranking everything up- but take a look to see if something is an issue on the bios level setting. Defaults are not always accurate and if the board reads wrong it could underpower.

Meaning - I think that software you use reads from the motherboard and bios level information. So if that is in accurate- you could have an issue to compensate for there.


Honestly- In the limited amount of reading your journey it seems like you built a pretty cheap PC that is quite reliable. It if only crashed once and has not repeated again I would just give up. Sometimes PC's crash. haha.

If is was serious you would be seeing issues all the time. I think one crash is allowed for any PC.


I have a $5000 Desktop system that crashes more than that.
post #642 of 1016
Hi Mike99,

That's good to hear you have built a HTPC so cheap.

Could you please list down all the parts you purchased for $298, and please mention any other items that will need to be purchased. I would like to build one myself, but have never done this before. I would like make sure I have all the parts (and tools).

Is the HTPC fairly quiet?

Do you know if it has enough processing power to record up to 4 fios cable channels using the Ceton InfiniTV 4 Digital Cable Quad-tuner card?

Can it play back in full 1080i HD and also 3D?

Does the mother board have built in graphics with HDMI video and audio?

Thanks.
post #643 of 1016
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

I think when it comes to specific voltage issues- it's more about the voltage control in the motherboard. Not an under powered amount of juice at the connector on the board.

Meaning - I think that software you use reads from the motherboard and bios level information. So if that is in accurate- you could have an issue to compensate for there.

I think one crash is allowed for any PC.

The BIOS shows voltages for CPU, DIMM & VAXG. But you would think that HWMonitor would have no problem getting the PSU voltage correct, unless it's really not looking at the PSU. This makes me think the mobo is reducing it to 1.92V before it's even further reduced to 1.5V for the DIMM chips, etc. IOW a 2-step reduction or regulation. Anyway the PSU seems to be OK.

One crash is not bad. But nothing tricky was being done on it at the time. It was in the sleep mode & something caused the unexpected power down & corrupted re-boot. Since I'm using this as a DVR I might not be home to correct any crashes, which could mean missed recordings.

Yesterday we had some storms & an extremely brief brown out or dimming of the lights. It was so brief that none of the digital clocks had to be reset. When I later turned on the HTPC there was Norton error message to re-start the PC & if that didn't work to re-install Norton. However everything was already working properly including Norton. Norton frequently updates itself & of course wakes the HTPC each time. Sometimes I wonder if that might be causing a problem. OTOH my desktop never has a problem with Norton.

For now I'll keep my fingers crossed.
post #644 of 1016
Quote:
Originally Posted by avsuser00 View Post

Hi Mike99,
That's good to hear you have built a HTPC so cheap.
Could you please list down all the parts you purchased for $298, and please mention any other items that will need to be purchased. I would like to build one myself, but have never done this before. I would like make sure I have all the parts (and tools).
Is the HTPC fairly quiet?
Do you know if it has enough processing power to record up to 4 fios cable channels using the Ceton InfiniTV 4 Digital Cable Quad-tuner card?
Can it play back in full 1080i HD and also 3D?
Does the mother board have built in graphics with HDMI video and audio?
Thanks.

Take a look at message #631 which mentions what I used.
$25 ECS H61H2-M2(1.0) motherboard (after rebate & coupon) from Newegg
$20 G.Skill 4 GB RAM from Newegg
$17 Corsair CX430 V2 PSU (after rebate) from Newegg
$50 Intel G620 CPU from Micro Center (walk in only price)
$85 Seagate Green 1.5TB HDD from Micro Center
$16 LG Optical drive from Micro Center
$65 AverMedia AVerTVHD Duet OTA tuner car from walmart.com
Plus tax & shipping

To me it was pretty quiet when it was out in open. Now it's hidden in the corner so there no noise.
I have no idea about FIOS or a cable tuner.
It records & plays 1080i and 720p OTA content with no problem.
I use the G620 CPU integrated graphics. However this will not do 3D. You need a different CPU or a graphic card.
The mobo has built in graphics & HDMI output. It does not have a optical or coax port for digital audio. But it does have a SPDIF header on the mobo which will give you DD5.1 audio & this is what I use.

You might want to check on CPU & mobo recommendations for 3D.
post #645 of 1016
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike99 View Post

The BIOS shows voltages for CPU, DIMM & VAXG. But you would think that HWMonitor would have no problem getting the PSU voltage correct, unless it's really not looking at the PSU. This makes me think the mobo is reducing it to 1.92V before it's even further reduced to 1.5V for the DIMM chips, etc. IOW a 2-step reduction or regulation. Anyway the PSU seems to be OK.
One crash is not bad. But nothing tricky was being done on it at the time. It was in the sleep mode & something caused the unexpected power down & corrupted re-boot. Since I'm using this as a DVR I might not be home to correct any crashes, which could mean missed recordings.
Yesterday we had some storms & an extremely brief brown out or dimming of the lights. It was so brief that none of the digital clocks had to be reset. When I later turned on the HTPC there was Norton error message to re-start the PC & if that didn't work to re-install Norton. However everything was already working properly including Norton. Norton frequently updates itself & of course wakes the HTPC each time. Sometimes I wonder if that might be causing a problem. OTOH my desktop never has a problem with Norton.
For now I'll keep my fingers crossed.


Take norton off your PC.

Do it now.

it's a heavy program that causes more trouble than it is worth.

MS security essentials is much lighter and better IMO.

Norton bogs down your PC. If you had an i7 on SSD might not be a big issue but on your budget rig I think MS security essentials would be fine choice and less tax on your system.

It crashes less. It errors less.

Norton = Crashes errors and bad news. Not to mention slower performance.

If your super worried about viruses (you should not be) you can always make an installable image or restore DVD easy enough. You could restore back to it on a clean format drive if you got a virus or issue.

Easier than often dealing with removal anywhow. Much more certain too.
post #646 of 1016
Totally disagree about Norton. That is about a 6 year outdated view.

Today's Norton runs inobtrusively in the background, provides the best protection, and I use it on all my pcs without issue.

To the OP, you can turn off the automatic updates and automatic scans in Norton; just remember to do it manually. I have it off on my HTPC and just run the live update when I turn on the computer.

Security Essentials works well also. I just disagree with the bashing of Norton.
post #647 of 1016
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Totally disagree about Norton. That is about a 6 year outdated view.
Today's Norton runs inobtrusively in the background, provides the best protection, and I use it on all my pcs without issue.
To the OP, you can turn off the automatic updates and automatic scans in Norton; just remember to do it manually. I have it off on my HTPC and just run the live update when I turn on the computer.
Security Essentials works well also. I just disagree with the bashing of Norton.

Everytime I use it I get random errors and ask for restarts etc.

I just find that MS security essentials is less hassle (and oh BTW it's FREE)

I could honestly care less about viruses. Never had one in my life.

I would not even install an antivirus but windows lists it as an error. It's easier to just install MS security essentials and forget about it. it requires way less effort and attention and it's more stable.

Just my opinion but paying for norton is a waste of money and bad idea. it's not needed.

I reinstall or back up/restore so easily and often that removal of a virus or absolute protection is not a factor at all for me.

i am looking for a great daily user experience and Norton does not provide that.

That stupid icon on the bottom right is always annoying me.

Each their own I guess.
post #648 of 1016
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Just my opinion but paying for norton is a waste of money and bad idea. it's not needed.
I reinstall or back up/restore so easily and often that removal of a virus or absolute protection is not a factor at all for me.

I watch for when they are $19 or free after rebate for a 3-license pack and stock up on a few. They are good forever and you can always upgrade to the latest version (so, for example, if you have a Internet Security 2010 license laying around, you can install it and immediately upgrade it to 2012 for free, so you can stock up whenever you find it cheap without worrying about using it during the current year).

The problem with not running AV software is that you have no way of knowing that you're infected, which also means you could be including the malware in your backup file.
post #649 of 1016
That's what I did, got the free after rebate 3-license pack of Norton. I've previously used Norton, ZoneAlarm, Avast, & Comodo products. And have read about Norton being a memory hog, but not recently. Usually it's one of the top rated security suites. It's on my desktop & have had no problems with it.

I thought about turning off the Norton auto updates. Just wish you could set up a schedule or time for this. Still kicking around my options.
post #650 of 1016
Thread Starter 
http://www.newegg.com/Special/ShellShocker.aspx?cm_sp=ShellShocker-_-14-127-584-_-08082012_2

$15 6450 Radeon Video card for anyone looking for a nice card for HTPC

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127584

MSI R6450-MD1GD3/LP Radeon HD 6450 1GB 64-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card $14.99
post #651 of 1016
Thread Starter 
I would try it again. I am not closed minded. But my past experience with Norton was terrible and I switched to MS security essentials and never looked back.


it's free. It works.

Agree with Zon2020 about not knowing your infected. That is why I use it.
post #652 of 1016
I know nobody has mentioned it so Ill throw out ESET NOD 32. Very light on resources and does an outstanding job.
post #653 of 1016
I use Norton on my main desktop. It's an overclocked 3570k with 16GB of ram so I can handle it if Norton uses a little extra resources. My wife uses this one when she uses the computer. She has a tendency to just click any link she comes across, so I feel that I want something a little more comprehensive. I also play around with the firewall on occasion for various reasons. Now I get this for free from Comcast. If I didn't I wouldn't be using it.

I put MSE on all my HTPC's. I also put it on builds I do for others, and any systems I repair. If you want set and forget it works well.
post #654 of 1016
I wasn't sure if I should start a new post or not, but this looked like it might be a good home.

The fine folks at AVS helped me set up my basement TV and audio system a couple years ago so I'm returning to see what kind of info I can get on building an inexpensive HTPC to add to it.

I read a good bit of this thread (including the pirating business) and Assassin's guide and have done some researching of my own. I've come up with what I believe is a decent starting point. Now I'd like some experts to help me get the rest of the way there.

Current desired HTPC uses:
Watch DVDs/BluRays
Watch streamed content
Run Skype
Store pictures/videos and transfer between two laptops. We use one laptop for Photoshop/Lightroom but don't want to store them on there.

Possible future uses:
Replace Fios DVR

Setup - Store in closet in basement. Run HDMI behind cabinets to Denon AVR 1610 receiver which goes to my TV and a pair of front speakers (hopefully will add a center channel soon) which are mounted on a fireplace about 8' away. Use IR repeater for control.

Based on Assassin's guide and some other digging, I've come up with a parts list that I think might work well.

CPU: Intel G540 - $35 (Microcenter instore)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro3 - $45 (Microcenter instore after $50 combo discount (will be buying the i5 2500k bundle and using the 2500k for something else))
RAM: 2 x 2GB DDR3 1066 - $20 (Is 1066 the fastest the CPU can use?)
SSD: 128GB Samsung 830 or comparable - $90 or so
Case: Possibly Diablotek REACTION CPA-8817D3 Black INSIDE BLACK Steel ATX Mid Tower - $30 Newegg after rebate
PSU: Something in the 400W range unless that is overkill - $30 or so
Storage: Seagate 3TB USB 3.0 - Already have
OS: Windows 7 64 bit - $100
Remote: Not sure what I'll need here. I have a Harmony 650 that I use for the TV, Fios Box, and DVD player but I imagine I'll need something different.

Questions:
Will that setup work? Can I put the HTPC in the closet, connect it to my receiver via HDMI, and control it through a repeater? Will I need a new remote?
Is 1066Mhz the fastest memory the G540 can accept? Assassin's guide lists DDR 1333 but the Microcenter specs listed 1066 on the Specs page.
I wasn't sure where to start on cases. I figured it should have a USB 3.0 so I could hook up my Seagate drive. Looks don't matter since it will be in the closet. Any suggestions there would be appreciated.

Have at it.

Thanks!
post #655 of 1016
The PSU deserves better than "Something in the 400W range". 400W is fine, indeed probably the most common. 300w would be better, but there simply aren't many decent sub-400W psus.

But, don't buy whatever's cheapest, and don't plan on buying your PSU at Microcenter. They focus on high output power supplies for gamers, and the smaller ones they have are generally junk. If you're looking for a bargain, I think that right now the best buy on a quality PSU is the Corsair Builder Series CX430 V2 that Newegg has for $25 after rebate. Otherwise consider a PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 400W, or an Antec Earthwatts 380D. Or spend a little more and get a SeaSonic S12II 380B or a FSP Aurum Gold 400. Really, getting a quality power supply is worth it.
post #656 of 1016
Thanks for the info. Power supply was another item I have no background with. I wasn't trying to ignore it as an important component, just that I had no idea where to start and I was looking to see if I was in the right ballpark as far as power range goes. I'll take a look at your suggestions. I've had good luck with Newegg rebates so that one caught my eye right away.
post #657 of 1016
A couple of thoughts on power supplies.

There are a lot of power supplies sold under the names of major brand pc parts companies, but almost none of those companies actually make power supplies. Antec, OCZ, Corsair, Silverstone, etc., are all made by others. It's important to know who made it. Seasonic and FSP are probably the two most consistantly quality manufacturers. When you buy one of theirs, you know who made it, and you can assume it's probably good, and they also make many of the others (like that PCP&C Silencer 400 Mk II is made by Seasonic).

You can read reviews from reputable places, and you can get advice here on this forum. JonnyGuru.com is one of the most reliable places specifically for reviews of power supplies (Newegg often identifies PSUs that are JonnyGuru recommended.) Tom's Hardware has lots of good articles on buying power supplies and on recommended power supplies. The Antec Neo 400 (also made by Seasonic) is another popular one. here. Many of these good choices are identified in Assassin's hardware guide.

Personally, I'll sometimes use cheap memory; I won't ever use a cheap power supply.

Oh, and with power supplies, bigger is not better. If you see a great deal on a great 600w psu, don't buy it. You'll be using such a small amount of its output that it won't operate efficiently. Really, even 400 is way more than necessary for an HTPC; it's just that there aren't a lot of good choices that are smaller. (Seasonic and FSP do make a couple of good 300-350w ones.) So 400 tends to be the most common choice.

CPUs today use so much less power than even just a couple of years ago that the only reason to get a bigger power supply is if you are going to do high end gaming with a high end video card. They still need lots of power.
post #658 of 1016
This is a great thread... Just what I was looking for. I am getting tired of one my clients being such a clunker, a lot of lag in FF/REV, it won't play some high bit rate files... Time for an upgrade. I run SageTV, so if I had the choice I would just pick up another HD300...

Here is what I spec'd out based on this thread and assassin's great guide:
Intel Celeron G530 Sandy Bridge 2.4GHz LGA 1155 65W G530 $44
ASRock H61M-GE LGA 1155 $63
APEX DM-318 Black Steel Micro ATX Media Center / Slim HTPC Computer Case w/ ATX12V Flex 275W Power Supply $59
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 $28
Patriot Torqx 2 PT264GS25SSDR 2.5" 64GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive $40 (AR)

Total comes in at $234 without the cost of win7.

The alternative components I am looking for would be to get a better PS and case... I always worry about a power supply that is included with a case.
SilverStone Aluminum/Steel Micro ATX Media Center/HTPC Case ML03B (Black) $49
Antec EarthWatts EA380D $41

I would love to hear your thoughts. It isn't the best performing SSD out there, but at $40 it is a great deal and should be good enough for me. As a client the only time I really hit the HD is on boot up and cover art.

Thanks,
flips
post #659 of 1016
Newegg has the CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 for $20 after $5 code and $20 rebate. That was one of the other options listed above.

Thanks to everyone for the input so far. I'm wavering as to whether to go ahead and do a build right now. I don't think we'll do use it enough to justify the price. I'll just have to keep lugging the laptop for a little while longer.
post #660 of 1016

I agree with the Corsair at that price is a better choice (although I think it's $25 rather than $20).

 

And, personally, I'd be hesitant about that Patriot with the Phison controller.  You can get an outstanding Intel 330 60GB at Newegg for $59.99 with free shipping.  To me, that $20 is well worth it.  And I'm not basing that on a noticable performance difference; I'm basing that on peace of mind.

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