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HTPC parts list Critique- Read Assassin's Guide and This is what I came up with

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
First off, im very new to this so all advice is welcome.

OK, so i have a dedicated HT and need to upgrade my storage and also add some redundancy capability(RAID). This unit will be "always on" and serve as a whole home server while not acting in the Theater. I selected the motherboard and case that allows the most HDDs to be added in the future when I run out of storage. IDK if I will use this unit for BR playback but I might if the quality is better than what I get with the PS3.

  1. Is this all I need?
  2. Do all the selected components look adequate?
  3. What would you change on a HTPC build?

post #2 of 21
Hi Nick,

I'll type you up a great reply when I get to work. I'm on my phone now. Stay tuned and don't pull trigger yet.
post #3 of 21
I would go with 3TB drives instead of the 2TB WD Reds for the same or less cost --- they are all roughly the same in my opinion so buy whatever deal you can find at the moment. Consider increasing RAM to 8GB. You don't need a bluray burner unless you want one (a bluray reader will do everything you need except for actually burning discs).

The i3 Haswells come out in a few days so I would wait until then. You could also consider bumping it up to an i5 with the money I just saved you in my first paragraph assuming you need the extra CPU power. Otherwise the i3 is a great choice for integrated 3D and continues to be a very underappreciated CPU as far as "horsepower" goes for the HTPC and especially as a "whole home server".

Edit: Also you need a PSU.
Edited by assassin - 8/29/13 at 6:15am
post #4 of 21
Adequate but can be improved (from my viewpoint).

- WD Green 3TB is enough and a lot cheaper (per capacity). Or Seagage 4TB (use the drive inside STBV4000100, $155). I am not going into argument Red vs. Green vs Seagate. smile.gif
- Haswell Core i3 is released a few days later. Go for it. (Better GPU in case you use it, its PQ is on a par with PS3.)
- ASRock Z87 Extreme4. The best bang for your buck, 8 SATA ports, Intel Gb LAN.
- Add SSD for OS for a lot better response (but as a server, you can use HDD for OS, of course). Samsung 840 EVO 120GB.
- WH14NS40, (slightly) cheaper and faster (write) than iHBS112.
- PSU: Corsair CX500M 500W 80 PLUS Bronze, or Seasonic G-550 SSR-550RM 550W 80 PLUS Gold. Well, 400W-450W PSU is enough for your system (CX430M or SSR-450RM).
Edited by renethx - 8/29/13 at 7:28am
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

You don't need a bluray burner unless you want one (a bluray reader will do everything you need except for actually burning discs).

True, but right now the fastest BD drive (BD-ROM DL read 8x) is only a burner and a burner became very cheap.
Edited by renethx - 8/29/13 at 6:25am
post #6 of 21
Is there a reason you are going for a "Z" series chipset?
I never understood the why so many here refer to the "Enthusiast Class" Z-series for HTPC use. Are you planning to overclock a locked i3?

The same features can be found on the much cheaper H77, and save $40: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157301

Shop around for a better deal on the Blu Ray drive. I was able to get that exact drive for $35 (and a $10 rebate for a net of $25) from Tiger Direct not long ago. Typically NewEgg has a decent drive in the $60 range on sale at any given time, and occasionally at the $45 price point

If you can budget for a small capacity SSD, I think it's worth it. You should be able to find a 120/128 GB drive in the sub $100 range that would be more than enough for all your applications.
I don't think it would be wise to put your O/S on a WD Red drive, as it's primarily a "storage drive". (Not that it can't be done)

Other than that, i think it's a good build. wink.gif
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Consider increasing RAM to 8GB

He did Assassin, he's got 2x (2x2GB) kits listed. and at a good price considering what 2x4 kits are going for now.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

True, but right now the fastest BD drive (BD-ROM DL read 8x) is only a burner and a burner became very cheap.

In my experience the published read speeds are relatively worthless.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by wiley165 View Post

He did Assassin, he's got 2x (2x2GB) kits listed. and at a good price considering what 2x4 kits are going for now.

Missed that. Thanks for pointing it out.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by wiley165 View Post

Is there a reason you are going for a "Z" series chipset?
I never understood the why so many here refer to the "Enthusiast Class" Z-series for HTPC use. Are you planning to overclock a locked i3?

The same features can be found on the much cheaper H77, and save $40: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157301

Shop around for a better deal on the Blu Ray drive. I was able to get that exact drive for $35 (and a $10 rebate for a net of $25) from Tiger Direct not long ago. Typically NewEgg has a decent drive in the $60 range on sale at any given time, and occasionally at the $45 price point

If you can budget for a small capacity SSD, I think it's worth it. You should be able to find a 120/128 GB drive in the sub $100 range that would be more than enough for all your applications.
I don't think it would be wise to put your O/S on a WD Red drive, as it's primarily a "storage drive". (Not that it can't be done)

Other than that, i think it's a good build. wink.gif

Agree with the SSD. I think 120-128GB is the size you should consider. Samsung SSDs are a great choice.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

- WD Green 3TB is enough and a lot cheaper (per capacity). Or Seagage 4TB (use the drive inside STBV4000100, $155). I am not going into argument Red vs. Green vs Seagate. smile.gif

Cue mfusick in...

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post #12 of 21
Hi Nick,

That looks pretty good! You've done your homework and it shows. Normally I would give you two thumbs up and say congrats; but I've been following your dedicated theater project and those sweet curved speakers so I thought I would pay it forward and give you a better reply I think you might appreciate even more. Your build above is probably ideal for 95% of the people- it's really good products and parts and it should all work pretty well together. However, watching you go through the pain staking effort to maximize many apsects your theaters like the room, sound treatments, audio and video calibration etc... I think you might be the type of person who would appreciate the extra 10% that many don't bother with.

The build you list above is ideal for someone just looking to get a nice experience and play some movies back from a PC on their system with XBMC or Mediabrowser; You have a choice now if that is all you want to do -or if you really want to get better picture or sound than your PS3 and chase the best experience possible.

I'd say if you pulled the trigger on above you would probably be really happy (if you added a PSU so it actually turned on. tongue.gif The rest of my reply is taking things beyond basic HTPC level 101 so feel free to disregard what else I have to say if you are not interested.

The good:

Asrock Extreme 4 Mobo - really nice choice IMO Z87 Asrock Extreme 4 is even better than Z77 version biggrin.gif
Gskil Ram - Good choice for value ( 8GB and DDR3 2400mhz would be more ideal for performance and not value)
Optical drive- looks good, really anything would work though.
Case - Really nice choice on the Silverstone case

The bad (well not really bad but could be improved)

No PSU. You need one.
HDD's. I would go with 4TB Seagate drives. One 4TB will consume less energy, make less noise, and less heat than 2 drives of 2TB. 4TB Seagate NAS also offers similar cost per TB, increased performance (better READ/WRITE speeds, IOPS, and seek times) and also gives you the same 3 year warranty. WD does not have a 4TB RED that's available yet, but they do have a 3TB. Even so, I prefer the Seagate product these days, which is a break away from traditional. Seagate is really good these days, while WD has faded a bit. You can probably get more HDD for less $ with a 4TB seagate- and it would save you space for future expansion.
CPU- Haswell Socket 1150 Z87 is better.
GPU ? You might want/need this if you really want better PQ than a high end bluray player or PS3.
SSD: You NEED THIS !!!!

With all this said you have a fundamental choice on what you want your HTPC to be and what you want it to do. If you truly want the best possible PQ and SQ - and you desire the picture to beat your PS3 then your going to have to change stuff around a bit (but not really need to spend more $$ ) Some people might laugh when you say PS3 and not realize the PS3 actually does pretty well in these areas. In order to get a picture that will surpass your PS3 or a higher end up scaling bluray player you will likely need some advanced rendering methods with a modern GPU card. This can give you the best picture from DVD's or lower than 1080p sources. Or even go up to 4k. It's not unreasonable to think your theater will be around for a while and this might be stuff you want in the future.

Haswell Socket 1150 Z87 is a better choice technically over the socket 1155 Ivy bridge i3 you listed. It has nearly perfect frame rates (well technically it might skip or repeat a frame every 11 days ) thanks to it's newer better GPU. If you did not want a GPU card you would be smart to wait for it (Releases Sept 1st) The move to the newer socket 1150 would also give you a better future upgrade path since it's a new socket and will be around longer than socket 1155. Also, The Asrock Extreme4 Z87 LGA1150 motherboard is really excellent, I have it in my desktop. It has INTEL LAN which the Z77 does not.

For PSU I would look at the Seasonic 350 watt 80+ Gold or something like a Rosewill Captsone 450watt. Anything OEM Seasonic like Antec NEO, MKIII, Certain models of Corsair or Coolermaster would work well too. You only need 300-500watts and not more.

SSD: Samsung 840 for $89 or $99 is nearly a no brainer, but I also like OCZ Vertex4/450 and Vector 128GB and Plextor M5 and M5Pro 128GB depending on street pricing.

You can download x64 PRO ISO and just get a license key for $50 for it, which might be better than Home edition for $99 (you get Remote Desktop with Pro)

If you really want to get a better Picture Quality than your PS3 you will likely need to do something like MadVR, and you might want to also do something like reclock. You can also go extreme with something like SVP (frame interpolation to 60fps) for an effect like the fancy TV's and projectors do.


I only mention now because if you might want to do, I would upgrade to a $199 i5 socket 1150 4670k CPU over the $135 i3 socket 1155 you have chosen above. If not, then i3 is enough.


I would check this out:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1477339/so-youve-built-your-htpc-now-what-is-next-how-to-get-the-ultimate-picture-and-sound-quality-from-your-htpc-madvr-svp-xbmc-mediabrowser-jriver/0_100

Give it a glance and see if your interested in such a thing. If so, you might be better off with GPU card (Radeon 7790 is good choice)

It's likely these extra 10% might not be for you, but watching you build your theater and your speakers, and your adeptness with audio treatments, audio calibrations, and some of the pain staking detail you put into other areas you may want to consider this stuff up front to save yourself some trouble or regret later.



EDIT: I see everyone already beat me to much of what I was thinking this morning. Great minds think alike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Cue mfusick in...

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1

No need to argue WD does not even make 4TB drives; we have been waiting for them for a year. That makes the choice easier biggrin.gif
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by wiley165 View Post

Is there a reason you are going for a "Z" series chipset?
I never understood the why so many here refer to the "Enthusiast Class" Z-series for HTPC use. Are you planning to overclock a locked i3?

The same features can be found on the much cheaper H77, and save $40: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157301

Haswell GPU is better in several ways (and the op mentioned the possibility of using it), so limit ourselves to LGA1150. Yup B85 or H87 is enough for Core i3. For example,

ASRock B85 Pro4, $86
ASRock H87 Pro4, $93

Both come with even Intel Gb LAN. Z87 Extreme4, $140, supports:

- DDR3-2400. (I don't explain here why 2400.)
- 2 more SATA ports (that saves $20)
- dual PCI Express 3.0 x8 slot. For example, you can use a discrete graphics along with IBM M1015.

So, choose either one depending on your budget, purposes and future upgrade path.
Edited by renethx - 8/29/13 at 7:29am
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Haswell GPU is better in several ways (and the op mentioned the possibility of using it), so limit ourselves to LGA1150. Yup B85 or H87 is enough for Core i3.

Currently Haswell i3's aren't out yet, and I didn't want to go down that path. Also OP mentions RAID (though not in what capacity), and B series doesn't support RAID (onboard).
But yes, socket 1150 is the new, and socket 1155 has it's days numbered, and if you can wait, maybe it might be worth it to do so.

If we waited for new products all the time, we'd never buy anything, right?

And therefore, H87 (1150) would be a preferred path. At the same time, I read yesterday that 1150 is already dying. There will be another Haswell 1150 refresh, before Broadwell, and may require a new socket. (Intel back to it's old tricks again).

So, I wouldn't necessarily go with Haswell on the "Futureproof" concept.
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Excellent information guys. Thank you very much. I am digesting and learning as I go here.

For the longest time I thought I wanted a dedicated NAS like a synology. However, after some thought I realized that for a couple hundred more I could make this type setup which IMO is the best of both worlds and does so much more with a Windows OS etc.

I've got some reading and learning to do, I'll follow all the leads you guys have given.

Thanks again.
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by wiley165 View Post

Quote:
Haswell GPU is better in several ways (and the op mentioned the possibility of using it), so limit ourselves to LGA1150. Yup B85 or H87 is enough for Core i3.

Currently Haswell i3's aren't out yet, and I didn't want to go down that path. Also OP mentions RAID (though not in what capacity), and B series doesn't support RAID (onboard).
But yes, socket 1150 is the new, and socket 1155 has it's days numbered, and if you can wait, maybe it might be worth it to do so.

If we waited for new products all the time, we'd never buy anything, right?

And therefore, H87 (1150) would be a preferred path. At the same time, I read yesterday that 1150 is already dying. There will be another Haswell 1150 refresh, before Broadwell, and may require a new socket. (Intel back to it's old tricks again).

So, I wouldn't necessarily go with Haswell on the "Futureproof" concept.

Core i3 Haswell is available on September 1. Why not wait for it. smile.gif Perhaps OP means a current great software RAID solution such as FlexRAID, SnapRAID, disParity. Only onboard RAID solution worth considering is RAID 0 for faster read / write of dual SSD for OS. But this is just a server and at most HTPC, a single SSD is fast enough.
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Core i3 Haswell is available on September 1. Why not wait for it. smile.gif Perhaps OP means a current great software RAID solution such as FlexRAID, SnapRAID, disParity. Only onboard RAID solution worth considering is RAID 0 for faster read / write of dual SSD for OS.

Agreed. I'm using a B75 / FlexRAID combo myself in my server. We don't have enough details.
post #18 of 21
I got the ASRock H87M Pro4 from Microcenter for an i5 Haswell build last week for just $34.99. Works great, not sure I care for the DE-humidifier function so it got disabled. Plus it has built-in Intel Gbit LAN and plenty of USB3 ports.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
I got the ASRock H87M Pro4 from Microcenter for an i5 Haswell build last week for just $34.99

Nice Score!
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by wiley165 View Post

Nice Score!

Not really much of a score. They have a $40 off mobo deal all the time when you buy a CPU (which is always the lowest price as well).
post #21 of 21
It's a nice score because you have a nearby MicroCenter! It's a huge pain to travel to my nearest MicroCenter. For many, it's not a feasable trip. Savings could sometimes get easily lost in the gasoline it takes to get there.
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