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Crazy cheap but good build thread!

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm building a new dedicated HTPC with the goal of making it much more family friendly than the current setup of PC, media server, laptop and media streamer, all connecting various ways and powering different things. It will be headless, administered by remote desktop, controlled by IR and wireless KB/mouse combo.

My goal is to have the following:

- play media library
- watch and record OTA TV
- possibly some light gaming (emulators etc)
- run it all from a media closet via 5.1 channel receiver + HDMI over Cat6 extenders
- I don't need an optical drive. I rip BluRays on my main PC will transfer them over the network.

Current new parts list:
CPU: Intel G630 ($53 at Microcenter inc tax)
Mobo: ??? I need help on this one
Memory: Patriot Viper 3 2x4GB PC1600 ($40 at Newegg)
SSD: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB ($80 at Newegg)
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 380w ($31.50 at Newegg)
Case: Rosewill R101-P-BK ($29.50)

If I assume $75 for the mobo, thats $306 in total including tax and shipping (excluding software and parts below of course)!!!

Parts I already have:
- 500GB samsung spinpoint for DVR drive
- 2x 2TB samsung spinpoint for media library
- HDHomeRun DUAL
- USB IR receiver

What do you think? Most of the parts are ordered but I haven't really spent enough time researching motherboards to finalise the purchase. Any recommendations?

Edit: I think I'll go with the ASRock H77M LGA 1155 Intel H77 ($70 at Newegg). New complete total is $301!
Edited by ljo000 - 8/29/12 at 8:04pm
post #2 of 17
I would think through how much trans-coding you might want to do as a media server. If you want to do high quality on the fly transcoding of live hi def TV, for instance, the CPU needs to be capable. You might want to third core if other stuff will be happening simultaneously. Your CPU choice may be fine, just something to consider before you pull the trigger.

If it is a closet PC, not sure how you will game on it. I don't think remote desktop would work too well for that purpose.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
I doubt I'll need to do any transcoding during the day. I run MCEBuddy on schedule in the early hours to transcode everything so its available on other streaming devices. The HTPC will just keep everything in .wtv files.

As to the second point, I should clarify. I meant that the admin side of things would be done via remote desktop so that I wouldn't need to connect a KB/Mouse over the distance to the media closet, which is actually in the basement. Instead, HTPC functions will be controlled via MCE IR remote with an IR over Cat5 extender (HotLink XL - works flawlessly) and gaming will be done using a wireless gamepad and USB over Cat5 extender from monoprice.

Looking at some of the reviews and benchmarks, its actually surprising how capable the G630 is relative to much more expensive options from AMD or the i3 line. The bottleneck is definitely going to be the on chip Intel HD graphics but if I find that its giving me problems, I'll add a discrete card. I doubt I'll need to though as emulators tend to be much more CPU than GPU dependent.
post #4 of 17
Looks great. I would check out a cheap Asrock mobo... 77 somthing... about $80

Looks for a 1600mhz or more memory speed, USB3.0 and SATA3

That's really all you need other than HDMI.
post #5 of 17
post #6 of 17
This is a really nice motherboard for $86 and you could easily upgrade the CPU later if you found a great deal. (think $99 i5)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157271R
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
I ended up going with the ASRock H77M as it had everything I need and would be a fine board to upgrade the CPU on in the future.

Supports DDR3 1600 2x slots
2x SATA 6Gb/s + plenty of slower ones.
2x USB 3.0

The only thing its lacking is eSATA but that could easily be added with an expansion card if needed in the future. I'm actually quite impressed with the spec for the price.
post #8 of 17
It is not cheap. The parts you already have cost more than the parts that you are buying. Not even including the HDMI/Cat6 extender, remote/keyboard, IR repeaters, etc.
post #9 of 17
You could go even cheaper and just get 4 gigs of ram.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelation View Post

It is not cheap. The parts you already have cost more than the parts that you are buying. Not even including the HDMI/Cat6 extender, remote/keyboard, IR repeaters, etc.
Sure but none of them are necessary in most setups and they are already incorporated into my existing setup. I'm also not counting the cost of the TV, A/V receiver, 5.1 speakers etc etc. The parts I list could be assembled and stuck next to a TV for a very nice HTPC, although I concede that you'd likely need at least 1 HDD.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

You could go even cheaper and just get 4 gigs of ram.

I thought about this but the cost difference was small and it would likely be something I'd upgrade in the future. Going to 4GB could have got this built to under $300 though which is pretty amazing for what its capable of.
post #12 of 17
Quite a value build - whole computer for the price of a video card. If I just needed something to run the TV, I'd do something similar.
post #13 of 17
That CPU cannot utilize 1600 RAM right? You could go with 1600 RAM for a future CPU upgrade
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yeah the RAM is overkill but I was thinking more of the upgrade path. A few years down the line I could thrown in a better CPU and/or discrete vid card to make this into a full blown power PC.

Also this build is nice and low power. It could be the basis for a bunch of different things, not just HTPC. Take out the SSD and put in HDDs and you have a nice server setup for example. It would also make a great family or student PC.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljo000 View Post

I'm building a new dedicated HTPC with the goal of making it much more family friendly than the current setup of PC, media server, laptop and media streamer, all connecting various ways and powering different things. It will be headless, administered by remote desktop, controlled by IR and wireless KB/mouse combo.
My goal is to have the following:
- play media library
- watch and record OTA TV
- possibly some light gaming (emulators etc)
- run it all from a media closet via 5.1 channel receiver + HDMI over Cat6 extenders
- I don't need an optical drive. I rip BluRays on my main PC will transfer them over the network.
Current new parts list:
CPU: Intel G630 ($53 at Microcenter inc tax)
Mobo: ??? I need help on this one
Memory: Patriot Viper 3 2x4GB PC1600 ($40 at Newegg)
SSD: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB ($80 at Newegg)
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 380w ($31.50 at Newegg)
Case: Rosewill R101-P-BK ($29.50)
If I assume $75 for the mobo, thats $306 in total including tax and shipping (excluding software and parts below of course)!!!
Parts I already have:
- 500GB samsung spinpoint for DVR drive
- 2x 2TB samsung spinpoint for media library
- HDHomeRun DUAL
- USB IR receiver
What do you think? Most of the parts are ordered but I haven't really spent enough time researching motherboards to finalise the purchase. Any recommendations?
Edit: I think I'll go with the ASRock H77M LGA 1155 Intel H77 ($70 at Newegg). New complete total is $301!

If you want value then AMD is the way to go. Microcenter usually has AMD Phenom X4 for $50, that is a pretty good deal on a QUAD core CPU. Sometimes, they even have a deal where you can add a motherboard for just another $10. Alternatively, AMD 765 or 880 motherboard with HDMI can be bought on either newegg or microcenter for under $50 quite regularly.

So, for $60 -$100 you get a quad core CPU and motherboard.
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljo000 View Post

Yeah the RAM is overkill but I was thinking more of the upgrade path. A few years down the line I could thrown in a better CPU and/or discrete vid card to make this into a full blown power PC.
Also this build is nice and low power. It could be the basis for a bunch of different things, not just HTPC. Take out the SSD and put in HDDs and you have a nice server setup for example. It would also make a great family or student PC.

Depends on what you will be using it for in the future, if you will still just be doing typical HTPC stuff you probably will not need more ram for a long time. OTA or cable recording and playback 4 gigs check, blue ray playback check, Streaming HD flash or silverlight check, most likely next format 1080p60 check. Who know whats going to happen when the transition to 4K happens, I think its a long time off.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
FYI I went ahead with this build on the weekend. Sorry no pics yet as I haven't done any cable management or moved the HDDs over from my other PC. I can say that I am very impressed though. It feels much snappier than my PC (Core 2 Quad 9550) for launching progs and startup and it boots from cold to Chrome launch in 10 seconds! So far it has no problems playing any media and runs cool and fairly quiet. I've also ordered a front intake fan and some foam filter material to keep the dust out which was $16 but probably not actually necessary. Also as its going in the basement anyway, looks and noise are unimportant.
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