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My first HTPC build - how does it look?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm putting together my first HTPC. I'm quite enthused about this. I have used Assassin's guide to help me put this together. What I'd like to know is this:
- does this look like a reasonable system to build?
- are there any glaring hardware conflicts that I'm not seeing?
- am I missing anything obvious?

I'm omitting an optical drive, TV tuner, and HDD - I have a simple home file server already running quite nicely.

My goal in putting this together is to create a relatively low cost, well-functioning, quiet HTPC.

Here's the proposed build (item names just copied and pasted from various retailer websites):

CPU Intel Core i3-3220T Dual-Core Processor 2.8 Ghz 3MB Cache LGA 1155 - BX80637i33220T
Motherboard ASUS P8H77-I mITX LGA1155 H77 DDR3 1PCI-E16 SATA3 DVI HDMI D-Sub USB3.0 Motherboard
RAM G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ PC3-12800 4GB 2X2GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 240PIN Dual Channel Memory Kit
Hard Drive Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5in SATA3 MDX Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD
Case Apex MI-008 mITX Case Glossy Black 1X5.25 1X3.5 1X3.5INT Sfx 250W Front Audio USB
Case Fan Silverstone Air Penetrator AP121 120mm 1500RPM 35CFM 22.4DBA Directed Airflow Cooling Fan - UV Blue
Wireless Networking INTEL WIRELESS PCIE 1X CENTRINO ADVANCED-N 6205 62205ANHMWDTX1 802N
Keyboard & Mouse Lenovo N5902A RF Keyboard and Mouse with Backlight
Remote Control LOGITECH HARMONY 650 REMOTE CONTROL
IR Receiver Flirc

For the keyboard & mouse combo, I'm also considering a Logitech k400.
For the IR Receiver, I've also been looking on eBay for an HP IR receiver.

Thanks for any help and comments!
post #2 of 29
From what I can tell, this looks fine. One thing to consider is if you are content with minimal expansion that the itx board/case has to offer.
Also, it isn't much more to move up to the HD4000 iGPU if you think you'll have use for it.(edit, nvm, you are looking at a thin profile setup)
post #3 of 29
looks like this will be fine.......what are your intentions for it?
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
@Anthony_Gomez:
I had considered the HD4000 iGPU, however I'm putting a bit more focus on the size of the case, so yes, it's not possible, I don't think.
I realize that there is minimal expansion. From what I understand, my one PCI-E slot will be taken up with the wireless networking card, so any future TV capturing that might occur will have to be via USB (or I get a USB wireless receiver).

@Toys7505:
My intention is to use it mainly for watching TV, movies, and listening to music. I plan on installing XBMC, which I have given a good trial run on my laptop and quite enjoy. I'll probably have to install Windows 7 as I know too little about Linux.

Also, I've found a Logitech Dinovo Mini for $60, so I think that will be my keyboard/mouse choice.

Thanks for the feedback!
post #5 of 29
I use the DInovo mini and like it smile.gif
post #6 of 29
I'm kinda curious on where you intend on installing that 120mm fan. I have built 2 machines with that case and while it's not impossible to install a fan but it would require a little modding.

Other things to note you should not mount the ssd or any hdd's in the 3.5 bay underneath the 5.25 bay as the cords will most likely bump into the cpu fan. Either use the side mounted 3.5 bay or duct tape the ssd down in the front of the case.

On my most recent build with that case I used an Asrock h61mv-itx and a Pentium G2020 which is more then enough for basic htpc use.(about 110$ vs 200$+)

One big issue I see with your build is the Asus board has the 24pin power connector behind the ram and that area is really tight for space. Better off finding a board that has the 24pin connector on the top.
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
@ikkuranus:

Thanks so much for your comments - truly constructive.

My proposed build is based on Assassin's HTPC hardware guide. I particularly chose the case and fan based on his description and the photo shown here: http://assassinhtpcblog.com/?page_id=160#miniitx.

It seems that from the first photo shown, the board being used is the ASUS board that I have selected. It certainly appears tight in the photo, but that build also has taller RAM than I haev chosen (I believe).

Would you mind taking a look at the link and seeing if my figuring makes sense? That is, the fan can go on the side, the SDD in the 5.25" bay with an adapter, and the power connector fitting not so badly as the RAM I chose does not have a high rising heatsink.

Thanks!
post #8 of 29

edsegio, welcome to AVS - HTPC forum.  You're actually approaching this kind of backwards.  It would help to know what hardware peripherals (ie, dvb-s2/network encoder/cable-card tuners, BD-ROM, 3D bluray capable display card, etc) you'll end up plugging into it... and, what software will take advantage of those peripherals (Windows Media Center, Reclock, PowerDVD, Jriver media center, madvr, etc). 

 

Then... you'll be able to make smart choices on what parts are compatible with the above. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edsegio View Post

Hi all,

I'm putting together my first HTPC. I'm quite enthused about this. I have used Assassin's guide to help me put this together. What I'd like to know is this:
- does this look like a reasonable system to build?
- are there any glaring hardware conflicts that I'm not seeing?
- am I missing anything obvious?

I'm omitting an optical drive, TV tuner, and HDD - I have a simple home file server already running quite nicely.

My goal in putting this together is to create a relatively low cost, well-functioning, quiet HTPC.

Here's the proposed build (item names just copied and pasted from various retailer websites):

CPU Intel Core i3-3220T Dual-Core Processor 2.8 Ghz 3MB Cache LGA 1155 - BX80637i33220T
Motherboard ASUS P8H77-I mITX LGA1155 H77 DDR3 1PCI-E16 SATA3 DVI HDMI D-Sub USB3.0 Motherboard
RAM G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ PC3-12800 4GB 2X2GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 240PIN Dual Channel Memory Kit
Hard Drive Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5in SATA3 MDX Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD
Case Apex MI-008 mITX Case Glossy Black 1X5.25 1X3.5 1X3.5INT Sfx 250W Front Audio USB
Case Fan Silverstone Air Penetrator AP121 120mm 1500RPM 35CFM 22.4DBA Directed Airflow Cooling Fan - UV Blue
Wireless Networking INTEL WIRELESS PCIE 1X CENTRINO ADVANCED-N 6205 62205ANHMWDTX1 802N
Keyboard & Mouse Lenovo N5902A RF Keyboard and Mouse with Backlight
Remote Control LOGITECH HARMONY 650 REMOTE CONTROL
IR Receiver Flirc

For the keyboard & mouse combo, I'm also considering a Logitech k400.
For the IR Receiver, I've also been looking on eBay for an HP IR receiver.

Thanks for any help and comments!
post #9 of 29
The "T" series is often a gimmick aimed to steal money from your pocket if you are too ignorant to know better.

A K series or a normal series CPU uses nearly the exact same energy, and can also be downclocked to use even less energy than a "T" series. And- they usually cost less.

Don't be afraid to save yourself some cash and ditch the "T" series if you see an opportunity.

$134 for a CPU with HD2000 graphics seems stupid to me when you can get HD4000 for $5 more in the 3225 and 3.3ghz versus only 2.6ghz with the 2120T.

Personally if you are cool with spending $134 on a "T" series I'd just step up to a 3570k for $169. That's exactly what I did. You could downclock the i5 to 2.6ghz if you wanted and it would actually use less energy than the T series does. Plus you have tons of extra if you wanted or needed it.
You would have HD4000 and plenty of horsepower if you wanted to do MadVR or SVP or any type of fancy upscaling or image processing in the future.

If you are certain you would not do that- then ditch the $135 T version and get yourself something under $99. If you are not sure, or you might- then step up to a real quad core CPU. That's just me.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

The "T" series is often a gimmick aimed to steal money from your pocket if you are too ignorant to know better.

A K series or a normal series CPU uses nearly the exact same energy, and can also be downclocked to use even less energy than a "T" series. And- they usually cost less.

Don't be afraid to save yourself some cash and ditch the "T" series if you see an opportunity.

$134 for a CPU with HD2000 graphics seems stupid to me when you can get HD4000 for $5 more in the 3225 and 3.3ghz versus only 2.6ghz with the 2120T.

Personally if you are cool with spending $134 on a "T" series I'd just step up to a 3570k for $169. That's exactly what I did. You could downclock the i5 to 2.6ghz if you wanted and it would actually use less energy than the T series does. Plus you have tons of extra if you wanted or needed it.
You would have HD4000 and plenty of horsepower if you wanted to do MadVR or SVP or any type of fancy upscaling or image processing in the future.

If you are certain you would not do that- then ditch the $135 T version and get yourself something under $99. If you are not sure, or you might- then step up to a real quad core CPU. That's just me.

There is some good reading here:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1464148/should-i-wait-for-haswell/100_100#post_23465973

Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

It is a bit surprising that there are still people who believe the difference of TDP between S/T and normal versons is real. smile.gif Truth is that there is almost zero difference at idle and video playback.

Silent PC Review



My own post.
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

Turning a normal chip into a "T" chip

This is how to turn a normal (K or non-K) chip into a "T" chip, one of the simplest things I can imagine. smile.gif I did this with Core i5-4670 and ASRock Z87 Exteme4 motherboard (you can do this with many H87 / B85 motherboards too). Go to UEFI BIOS setup > OC Tweaker. The default looks like this:



What you need is just change CPU Ratio from Auto to the value you want. That's it. eek.gifsmile.gif You even don't have to bother with undervolting (unless you want fine tuning), CPU voltage will change automatically with the clock speed. In this example I chose "22" so that the max CPU clock be 2200MHz = 22 x 100MHz.
Code:
CPU clock = (CPU ratio) x (BCLK)

where BCLK = base clock = 100MHz (you may be able change it too).



Let's see what happens.

Default Idle, Load, the system power consumption being 34W, 125W respectively.



Downclocked Idle, Load, the system power consumption being 34W, 77W respectively.



So just change CPU ratio, and everything will work automatically. Of course you can tweak many to further reduce power consumption if you like. Have a fun. smile.gif


Worth a consideration. Spending more for less is a concept I have never fully grasped.
post #11 of 29
Ah that makes sense I was assuming the fan would be screwed in place but i guess not.

Anyhow seeing as Assassin has built a few like that I will assume it works fine. The room where my htpc lives normally is about 80F/26.6C and it idles at about 50C and goes to about 70C at max load. Specs are in my signature. You could easily get away with the parts I listed and without a 120mm fan assuming the room temps are the same or less and you don't block the airflow by stuffing it inside of an entertainment center that restricts airflow.

Only downside to the Asrock board is it don't have sata3 or usb3. I wouldn't worry about sata3 as all media players and web browsers will load instantly or damn near on a ssd even at sata2 speeds.
The Asrock h61mv-itx is compatible with all ivy cpu out of box without a uefi update.

@mfusick totally agree, glad I didn't waste money getting a crippled T series instead of a 2105 at the time.
post #12 of 29
No reason to get a "T" series unless you need the low profile fan. I mention this a few times in my hardware guide.

I am going to try to update the hardware guide when time allows.
post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
@MKANET:
I'm not really planning to plug in any peripherals of interest. The system will output to my AV receiver, but that's about it. The purpose of the box, which will hopefully sit nicely near my TV, will be to watch and listen to my video and music library.

@Mfusick:
I'm all for going for a more powerful processor for less, but my understanding, which is based on Assassin's guide, is that only a T-series processor will fit properly in the Mini ITX case that I'm looking at. Perhaps I should look at another case? I do want to keep things relatively small. Thanks for the stats provided - they are quite revealing and you make your case well. As for quad-core, I simply don't need it, so I'll stick with duo-core.

@ikkuranus:
My box will be in an as-of-yet unconfigured entertainment system, so I do feel that the inclusion of a fan makes sense.

@assassin:
I based my choice of a T-series processor on your guide, as it shows a full-size processor up against the PSU. Am I confused or should I switch to another case and PSU?

Thanks!
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by edsegio View Post

@MKANET:
I'm not really planning to plug in any peripherals of interest. The system will output to my AV receiver, but that's about it. The purpose of the box, which will hopefully sit nicely near my TV, will be to watch and listen to my video and music library.

@Mfusick:
I'm all for going for a more powerful processor for less, but my understanding, which is based on Assassin's guide, is that only a T-series processor will fit properly in the Mini ITX case that I'm looking at. Perhaps I should look at another case? I do want to keep things relatively small. Thanks for the stats provided - they are quite revealing and you make your case well. As for quad-core, I simply don't need it, so I'll stick with duo-core.

@ikkuranus:
My box will be in an as-of-yet unconfigured entertainment system, so I do feel that the inclusion of a fan makes sense.

@assassin:
I based my choice of a T-series processor on your guide, as it shows a full-size processor up against the PSU. Am I confused or should I switch to another case and PSU?

Thanks!

That's correct. So you fall squarely into the camp that can either A) use the "T" processor and utilize the low profile fan in that case or B) use a "non-T" CPU and find a low profile cooler that will fit. For 1080p without something like Madvr the picture quality will be the exact same on HD2XXX, 3XXX, 4XXX, etc. The new Haswell i3 "T" CPUs will have Intel's HD4400 and HD4600 iGPU. They are scheduled to be release to the US wild in late September 2013.
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by edsegio View Post


@Mfusick:
I'm all for going for a more powerful processor for less, but my understanding, which is based on Assassin's guide, is that only a T-series processor will fit properly in the Mini ITX case that I'm looking at. Perhaps I should look at another case? I do want to keep things relatively small. Thanks for the stats provided - they are quite revealing and you make your case well. As for quad-core, I simply don't need it, so I'll stick with duo-core.


Well my point was the i3 is generally a poor choice today IMO because you either want to do fancy upscaling and enhancements where a quad core is the proper choice, or you do not need that and a Pentium level CPU is the proper choice and more than enough. Any IVY bridge Pentium Chip under $99 is going to perform nearly identical to the $135 i3 CPU you picked out. In some cases better. There would be no difference at all between something like a $69 G2120 and a $135 i3 T series like you are looking at with regard to 1080p playback, or energy consumption. I was speaking only on the performance of the CPU and the price- not thinking about a cooler. Paying for T series for the cooler seems silly- You can buy a way better cooler with the money you save by choosing another CPU if that's the only concern.

Even the Passmark CPU scores are pretty close:

G2120 @ $69.99 : http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=G2120BOX

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Pentium+G2120+%40+3.10GHz&id=1443


G2020 @ 59.99
http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=G2020



http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Pentium+G2030+%40+3.00GHz&id=1961

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Pentium+G2130+%40+3.20GHz&id=1864




Compare them to : I3 T series chips






Save your $$$$

The i3 is more and more becoming a pointless CPU for HTPC IMO because it's not a great value, and it's also not a great performer. The advancements with Haswell will increase this even more since Haswell offers better frame rates and even more power. Modern CPU's have become powerful enough that they are as powerful as an i3 from a couple years ago but now cost half as much. They are perfect 1080p simple HTPC CPU's IMO, and spending almost double on an i3 won't get you much at all. I'd be really hard pressed to even be able to tell the difference between an IVY pentium CPU and a T series i3 real world. The difference is nearly non existent in the real world- and certainly there is not difference in the picture quality.

Now an I5 offers a fairly significant difference:

3570k @ $169.99 and HD4000 graphics

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i5-3570K+%40+3.40GHz&id=828

4670k @ $199.99 with HD4600 graphics on Z87 (you can get $40 more off with mobo purchase at microcenter making it about $160)
http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i5-4670K+%40+3.40GHz&id=1921



There is a really big difference between the quad cores in CPU power - a difference that makes them a good value if you desire that performance. The extra cost over an i3 is often justified for an i5 and 4 cores if your intended use makes it appropriate. For HTPC that means you going to go with fancy image processing like MADVR, SVP and the like- which you will need an i5 to do, and the i3 just is not good enough- Or you don't need that and the Pentium chips are a much better choice for less cost and nearly the same real world performance. I can't tell you which you want- But I can tell you the i3 is left out in the cold most of the time these days. It's neither a noteworthy performer, or a noteworthy value IMO.

It used to be the go to CPU back in the day, but newest Pentium chips have reached the level where that is not true anymore.


I suspect that Haswell Level Pentium CPU's will be the new "go to" CPU for basic HTPC's starting in September. But today the same is true with IVY bridge already.

Just my .02cents. Save your cash if you can and skip the i3. You won't notice a thing. Buy a nice low profile cooler if you want that's silent and fits well with your build.
post #16 of 29
The most important has not even been asked: OP are you wanting to do 3D?
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
@Mfusick:
Thanks for posting that info. I've now been swayed to forget about the i3 and, based on the prices I was able to find online (in Canada), it looks like I'll go for a Pentium G2020 (2.90GHz).

@assassin:
I won't be doing any 3D. There are no plans for modern gaming, and I don't have a 3D TV.


Given my switch of the processor, with space concerns I've decided to switch the case and memory, too. My new (proposed) configuration is as follows:

CPU Intel Pentium G2020 Dual Core Processor LGA1155 2.90GHZ 3MB Retail Box
Motherboard ASUS P8H77-I mITX LGA1155 H77 DDR3 1PCI-E16 SATA3 DVI HDMI D-Sub USB3.0 Motherboard
RAM G.SKILL Ripjaws X F3-12800CL9D-4GBXL 4GB 2X2GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 Memory
Hard Drive Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5in SATA3 MDX Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD
Case Antec ISK-300-150 mITX Computer Case 1X5.25IN Slim 2X2.5IN w/ 150W Internal Power Supply
Intake Fan Silverstone Air Penetrator AP121 120mm 1500RPM 35CFM 22.4DBA Directed Airflow Cooling Fan - UV Blue
Wireless Networking INTEL WIRELESS PCIE 1X CENTRINO ADVANCED-N 6205 62205ANHMWDTX1 802N
Keyboard & Mouse Logitech diNovo Mini
Remote Control LOGITECH HARMONY 650 REMOTE CONTROL
IR Receiver Flirc

I know that the memory is 1600 but the processor only goes up to 1333, but from what I've read this isn't a problem.

I am in need of a CPU cooling solution. Is anyone with this case familiar with how much space I have to work with?

Or maybe my space concern is wrong, and all I need is a good low-profile cooler and no case switch?

Again, my continued thanks to all who are providing their opinions.
Edited by edsegio - 7/11/13 at 8:57pm
post #18 of 29
I would stick to the original case and get a low profile cooler. Now that we know 3d isn't needed the Pentium chips make a fine choice for you.
post #19 of 29
The Ivy Bridge Celeron G1610 is also worth a look. You are not going to be able detect a real-world difference in performance for HTPC tasks but there is quite a difference in price.

See: http://www.cpu-world.com/Compare/149/Intel_Celeron_Dual-Core_G1610_vs_Intel_Pentium_Dual-Core_G2020.html
post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 
@assassin:
Okay, back to the original case and memory, because the G.SKILL Ripjaws X has too high of a profile, right?

I was having difficulty finding a good low profile cooler, mainly because I'm not sure of what type of clearance I need. Can you reccommend something?

@StardogChampion:
The tech snob in me has never respected Celeron. Also, the G2020 is only $6 more than the G6120 Celeron, so I'll stick with the 2020.

Thanks!
post #21 of 29
That "tech snob" is the reason why so many spend foolishly extra on i3's too.

I might be more unique in my general feelings than others but I often find more value in the upper midrange or lower end.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

That "tech snob" is the reason why so many spend foolishly extra on i3's too.

I might be more unique in my general feelings than others but I often find more value in the upper midrange or lower end.

And some people just like things "beastly", don't they?
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1479412/new-non-htpc-build-i7-3970x-centered-build#post_23519080/

smile.gif
post #23 of 29
Yes we do. biggrin.gif

But there's also a $120 I3 /m-ITX motherboard/slot load dvd, going into an $80 Wesena e5 with a 1U power supply.
The parts drawer will supply 4G of DDR-3 1600, a 1 TB hard drive and a 60G ssd. Leftovers from the 3930K upgrade.

A nice upside to beefy. wink.gif
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by halfordb View Post

And some people just like things "beastly", don't they?
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1479412/new-non-htpc-build-i7-3970x-centered-build#post_23519080/

smile.gif

Lol. True^

The PC geek in me is jealous. I did not go 6 cores, or LGA2011 simply because of cost. It costs too much.

My 4770k is almost as fast but half the price. I paid $399 for my 4770k and my Asrock Extreme4 (early adopter too before the price drop). It would cost about twice to go with a X79 based machine that is not any faster real world.

But- I admire dave for wanting to go full tilt wide open silly excessive. Sometimes there is fun in doing it just because you can. I won't criticize him for that. I'll just watch and remain jealous tongue.gif
post #25 of 29
Did someone say full tilt wide open silly excessive?!
http://www.slashgear.com/samsung-24-ssd-test-2121mbs-read-08s-dvd-rips-1037085/
(From a few years ago)
post #26 of 29
Instead of getting a low profile cooler have you thought about upgrading to a pico PSU? Thats what I did and its working great with lots of room in the case and I know the PSU is quality and efficient. I love the apex case its very nice, added a 80mm case as assassin suggested this is the fan I used and I like it alot:

http://www.amazon.com/Enermax-Case-Fan-Cooling-UC-8EB/dp/B000XBF466/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373685568&sr=8-1&keywords=enermax+80mm

FYI The fan is already spinning at 1500 and is quiet but if you try to slow it down you might get some ticking my mobo was controlling the speed automatically and was actually louder due to the ticking until I made it run at 1500
Edited by bob2300NX - 7/12/13 at 8:23pm
post #27 of 29
PICO Psu is a great idea. I have used one in that case and it works very well. Stardog makes some custom backplate to cover the PSU hole if you are interested. I have some picture on AVS somewhere of where I did this.

Edit (found them):





If you are not wanting to do that this is a low profile Silverstone cooler I have used multiple times that works well...


Edited by assassin - 7/12/13 at 10:03pm
post #28 of 29
^That's a good price on a low profile cooler some of the noctura low profile coolers are way too expensive. OP if you can swing the extra cost for a superior PSU I'd still recommend it since it's a tight squeeze with the stock PSU. Its a pain making sure all the extra wires you don't need are not interfering with the Cpu fan also makes basically everything harder to work with. After going Pico it's like working on a car under the hood without the engine, space opens up so much
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

The most important has not even been asked: OP are you wanting to do 3D?

I have the G1610/Asrock B75, what would I need to upgrade to for 3D? Just ordered a new ZT60!
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