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Simple, current HTPC guide?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
I'm hoping someone can either point me in the direction of a current easy to follow guide or give me some input.

I'm looking to go from having a single, all purpose PC to separating out my media and web browsing from my computing. Every time I go into "figure out what hardware components I should get" mode, however, I feel like I'm going to have an aneurism. This would be my first pc build all on my own.

What I'd like it to do:
Play ripped video files
HD
5.1
Video and audio through HDMI
Play music (using MediaMonkey)
web browsing
Possibly play emulated games (nothing past PS1 level stuff)
Have a good amount of usb inputs
Come in at a low price point.

That's all. I don't need 3D, or high end gaming graphics. I don't need it set up with a server (I just store my video and music files on external Hdds). I know, as far as HTPCs go, that's really pretty bare bones, but I'm having a hard time finding clear guidance as to how to make it happen. I'd appreciate any help I could get. Thanks.
post #2 of 51
I used this when setting up my system: www.assassinhtpcblog.com

he is a member here on the forums, and many of us have used his guides.

Another member on the forums who has done an extensive guide is Renethx. If you search for his posts, you will find it.

Also, if you search the forums, this topic comes up a lot, so there are going to be many in a similar spot.

Finally, you mention "current". You don't need the newest hardware to do the things you mention, so a somewhat "older" post should still work fine.

-Bill
post #3 of 51
I second the comment on Assassin's guides. Very useful. The hardware part is fairly easy IMO, its the software that will take the most time. Getting everything tweaked to perfection is a never ending process seemingly even with the guides.

If you want some example hardware, check out my build from a few weeks back:
Code:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1426890/crazy-cheap-but-good-build-thread

$300, plays everything I've thrown at it smoothly, boots in 10 seconds flat.
post #4 of 51
post #5 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljo000 View Post

I second the comment on Assassin's guides. Very useful. The hardware part is fairly easy IMO, its the software that will take the most time. Getting everything tweaked to perfection is a never ending process seemingly even with the guides.
If you want some example hardware, check out my build from a few weeks back:
Code:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1426890/crazy-cheap-but-good-build-thread
$300, plays everything I've thrown at it smoothly, boots in 10 seconds flat.

You're still tweeking? I stopped that years ago (before my teeth fell out).. Seriously I have mine set and very rarely do anything to it now becuase it just works and works the way I want it to.
post #6 of 51
Thread Starter 
I went through Assassin's guide, which was kind of what I was referring to when I put current, because a lot of the hardware he linked to seemed to be discontinued (of course I could go ebay hunting and probably find it) and it's when we get into the realm of "can I substitute this cpu for this one?" that things get really hazy for me.
post #7 of 51
Pretty easy:

- Core i3 3220 or 3225 if you can find one - all the grunt you'll need for a while yet
- Gigabyte H77M-D3H - I'm using this board in two systems. Its that good. Everything you need and nothing you don't.
- 128GB Samsung 830 for Win 7 + 2TB for bulk storage
- 8GB KVR DDR3 1333MHz kit
- Silverstone GD 05 USB 3 (the newer one, the front USB 3 will connect to the internal header on the Gigabyte mobo)
- Seasonic G360

Voila!
post #8 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

Pretty easy:
- Core i3 3220 or 3225 if you can find one - all the grunt you'll need for a while yet
- Gigabyte H77M-D3H - I'm using this board in two systems. Its that good. Everything you need and nothing you don't.
- 128GB Samsung 830 for Win 7 + 2TB for bulk storage
- 8GB KVR DDR3 1333MHz kit
- Silverstone GD 05 USB 3 (the newer one, the front USB 3 will connect to the internal header on the Gigabyte mobo)
- Seasonic G360
Voila!

Thank you. That's exactly the type of thing I'm looking for. I love options, but in this instance they're giving me a headache.
Edited by lern2swim - 10/11/12 at 1:13pm
post #9 of 51
Thread Starter 
post #10 of 51
That AMD chip is much hotter and slower than the i3. Its an old inefficient architecture. I wouldn't bother. The i3 3220 is far superior.

A comparison between them (not that comprehensive but it will do):

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/677?vs=80
post #11 of 51
Thread Starter 
It's also a higher price point. As is the mobo. So, is there a better cpu/mobo combo around the price point of the ones I posted?

Keep in mind, unless there's some new, really taxing video or audio file format that comes along, I don't need future proof. I just need it to do the things in my first post.
post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by lern2swim View Post

It's also a higher price point. As is the mobo. So, is there a better cpu/mobo combo around the price point of the ones I posted?
Keep in mind, unless there's some new, really taxing video or audio file format that comes along, I don't need future proof. I just need it to do the things in my first post.

Its higher in price because its far superior. The Phenom's are EOL and obsolete. The i3 is far from future proof. Its the best current option for your needs. The Phenom sucks more juice, needs more cooling due to its higher TDP and its architecture is old and creaky. I would not recommend it and if you poke around online you'll see its not worth buying at all. If you want a decent long lasting option you'll need to pay that bit extra.
post #13 of 51
Thread Starter 
So, it's not a matter of that chip being inferior, it's a matter of anything below the i3 price point not being good enough to do what I want it to? Okay, if that's the case, then that's entirely different. Got it.

Out of curiosity, what would AMD's closet equivalent to that i3 be?
post #14 of 51
A6-3500.
post #15 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by lern2swim View Post

So, it's not a matter of that chip being inferior, it's a matter of anything below the i3 price point not being good enough to do what I want it to? Okay, if that's the case, then that's entirely different. Got it.
Out of curiosity, what would AMD's closet equivalent to that i3 be?

The A10 5800K is very close, within 5%. I don't know where the recommendation for the A6 comes from. This should show you that AMD's best can barely compete with a mid-range i3. For your setup, an i3 is perfect.
post #16 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

The A10 5800K is very close, within 5%. I don't know where the recommendation for the A6 comes from. This should show you that AMD's best can barely compete with a mid-range i3. For your setup, an i3 is perfect.

Yeah, I just found the A10 comparisons. It's about the same price though, so it'd be fairly pointless to go with that over the i3.

So, I guess my main nagging concern is still just whether the i3 would be overkill for what I need seeing as I have a pc already for the bulk of my computing.
Edited by lern2swim - 10/11/12 at 2:50pm
post #17 of 51
The A6-3500 can perform just fine for HTPC duties and can even handle MadVR because it has better graphics processing. It is, however, more in line with the G-620 with better graphics thatn the i3. The point being that it will perform fine in and HTPC.
post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by lern2swim View Post

Yeah, I just found the A10 comparisons. It's about the same price though, so it'd be fairly pointless to go with that over the i3.
So, I guess my main nagging concern is still just whether the i3 would be overkill for what I need seeing as I have a pc already for the bulk of my computing.

Then I'd get a Celeron G540 over an i3 with the rest of the parts I posted. That will still do the job, its $40 and if you need an i3 down the road, you can just drop it in.
post #19 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

Then I'd get a Celeron G540 over an i3 with the rest of the parts I posted. That will still do the job, its $40 and if you need an i3 down the road, you can just drop it in.

Okay. I'll do some research and figure out which would be better for me.

And hopefully I'll be able to find that case.
post #20 of 51
Thread Starter 
post #21 of 51
That link is for a case.
post #22 of 51
Thread Starter 
Sorry, I should have inserted that into the previous post. I'm looking for the case that Tiddles recommended but can't find it. That link I just posted refers to the case as the follow up to the one he recommended as far as I can tell.
post #23 of 51
If you're near a microcenter, the G630 is $50 and at that price is absolutely the best HTPC buy in price/performance terms. If you want to add 3D capability, you could get one of those $15 vid cards that pops up on newegg every now and then. For me this wasn't a requirement though.
post #24 of 51
Thread Starter 
I am, sadly, nowhere near a microcenter. I'm about 8 hours away from the nearest one, as far as I can tell.

The price on the g630 is still not too bad on Tigerdirect though. I assume I could use that in place of the i3 in the mobo Tiddles recommended as well the same as I could do with the Celeron G540, right?
Edited by lern2swim - 10/11/12 at 4:35pm
post #25 of 51
Socket 1155.
post #26 of 51
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1072436

As an example. You don't want the MoBo in this combo but yes, Socket 1155 in the other board is what you want.
post #27 of 51
Thread Starter 
The mobo in that combo doesn't have hdmi.

I think I'm just going to spend the extra cash and get the i3. So, I just need to figure out a case and psu combination.
post #28 of 51
I will try to (again) update my hardware guide at my blog soon. Sometimes "discontinued" at newegg just means it's out of stock.
post #29 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I will try to (again) update my hardware guide at my blog soon. Sometimes "discontinued" at newegg just means it's out of stock.

I know. It was just the fact that every cpu suggestion link I checked said discontinued that led me to ask. I didn't mean it as a knock against you. Your guide IS awesome and a good jumpstart (especially for someone that's a bit better at pc hardware shopping than I am), and I understand that it's really damn hard to stay absolutely up to date with tech stuff.
post #30 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiddles88 View Post

Pretty easy:
- Core i3 3220 or 3225 if you can find one - all the grunt you'll need for a while yet
- Gigabyte H77M-D3H - I'm using this board in two systems. Its that good. Everything you need and nothing you don't.
- 128GB Samsung 830 for Win 7 + 2TB for bulk storage
- 8GB KVR DDR3 1333MHz kit
- Silverstone GD 05 USB 3 (the newer one, the front USB 3 will connect to the internal header on the Gigabyte mobo)
- Seasonic G360
Voila!

Is that a good setup for a WMC DVR? If I get the HD HomeRun with CableCard or one of the Ceton CableCard tuners? Will it "just work" with a Ceton Echo media extender?
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