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Guide to Building a HTPC, Workstation and Server - Page 84

post #2491 of 19097
Thread Starter 
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Recommended HTPC Systems – September 2009 Edition
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Last Update on September 25, 2009
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Table of Contents
post #2492 of 19097
Thread Starter 
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Mini-ITX System
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Case and PSU

Selecting a case and PSU is perhaps the most difficult part in building a Mini-ITX system. Apex MI-008 with 250W PSU selected here is favorably reviewed by Silent PC Review.

Intel/Intel

System
  • CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.60GHz 2MB L2 LGA775, $64.
  • CPU Cooler: SilverStone NT07-775, $20.
  • Motherboard: Intel DG45FC (BOXDG45FC) LGA775 Intel G45 chipset Mini-ITX, $115.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $32.
  • Graphics Card: Intel GMA X4500HD (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: WD Caviar Blue WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: ATX12V 250W SFX PSU (included in the case): $0.
  • Case: Apex MI-008 Mini-ITX, $40. An alternative is Apex MI-100BK Mini-ITX, $48.
  • Total Cost: $341

Remarks
  • BD playback under Windows XP is not supported in this system due to the chipset driver limitation.
Intel/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.60GHz 2MB L2 LGA775, $64.
  • CPU Cooler: SilverStone NT07-775, $20.
  • Motherboard: ZOTAC GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi GF9300-D-E LGA775 GeForce 9300 mGPU Mini-ITX, $140.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $32.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce 9300 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: ATX12V 250W SFX PSU (included in the case): $0.
  • Case: Apex MI-008 Mini-ITX, $40. An alternative is Apex MI-100BK Mini-ITX, $48.
  • Total Cost: $366

AMD/AMD

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: SilverStone NT07-AM2, $20.
  • Motherboard: J&W MINIX 780G-SP128MB AM2+ AMD 780G chipset Mini-ITX, $155.
  • Memory: Crucial CT2KIT12864AC800 DDR2-800 SO-DIMM 2 x 1GB Kit, $29.
  • Graphics Card: Radeon HD 3200 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: ATX12V 250W SFX PSU (included in the case): $0.
  • Case: Apex MI-008 Mini-ITX, $40. An alternative is Apex MI-100BK Mini-ITX, $48.
  • Total Cost: $374

Remarks
  • You need to add a discrete graphics card such as SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4550 DDR3 512MB HDMI, $45, for multichannel LPCM over HDMI.
AMD/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: SilverStone NT07-AM2, $20.
  • Motherboard: ZOTAC GeForce 8200-ITX WiFi GF8200-C-E AM2+ GeForce 8200 mGPU Mini-ITX, $110.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-2GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 1GB Kit, $37.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce 8200 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: ATX12V 250W SFX PSU (included in the case): $0.
  • Case: Apex MI-008 Mini-ITX, $40. An alternative is Apex MI-100BK Mini-ITX, $48.
  • Total Cost: $337

Gaming HTPC

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz 12MB L2 LGA775, $266.
  • CPU Cooler: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 LP, $20.
  • Motherboard: ZOTAC GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi GF9300-D-E LGA775 GeForce 9300 mGPU Mini-ITX, $140.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1B16K DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $55.
  • Graphics Card: HIS H485Q1GH Radeon HD 4850 GDDR3 1GB, $133. An alternative is XFX GS-250X-ZDFC GeForce GTS 250 DDR3 1GB, $144.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70. You will need a 12 inch Right Angle SATA to Straight SATA Cable, $2.
  • PSU: ATX12V 300W SFX PSU (included in the case), $0.
  • Case: SilverStone Sugo SG05 SST-SG05B Mini-ITX/Mini-DTX, $100.
  • Total Cost: $786 for ATI, $797 for NVIDIA

Remarks
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MicroATX System
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A microATX system is generally considered good for HTPC because of its small form factor. As the number of expansion slots is limited to four, almost every microATX motherboard integrates a graphics processing unit (GPU). There are already a couple of integrated graphics processing units (iGPU) that are good enough to play back HD contents and a microATX system with such an iGPU has several advantages over an ATX system with discrete graphics processing unit (dGPU):
  • Lower cost
  • Lower power consumption and heat output, hence lower noise
  • Space-saving
Disadvantages are:
  • The number of expansion slots is limited to four.
  • iGPU is still not perfect for post-processing.
  • iGPU is very weak in gaming (for a gaming HTPC).
Actually four expansion slots are plenty for normal use. Unfortunately most motherboard manufacturers still prefer to put two PCI slots despite the fact that PCI Express devices are quickly taking place of PCI devices.

I will give a low-end system, a mid-range system, a high-end system and a gaming system for each of the Intel platform/Intel chipset, the Intel platform/NVIDIA chipset, the AMD platform/AMD chipset and the AMD platform/NVIDIA chipset. Basic distinctions are:
  • Low-end system: offers reasonably good video playback performance at a low cost.
  • Mid-range system: offers the best video playback performance without compromise.
  • High-end system: should be able to handle other HTPC-related tasks such as video re-encoding and games with reasonably good performance.
  • Premium system: is intended to be the best (but not too expensive) overall system available today.
Here is a feature comparison chart (needs to be updated).




So are my recommendations really enough for HD contents?

One of the most frequently asked questions is if these systems can play 1080p contents (including various mkv files as well as BD movies) fine. The answer is yes as you can see in the above chart. Here are screenshots taken in one of the recommended systems (the low-end Intel/NVIDIA system) when a 1080p mkv file is played back. Whether hardware acceleration of the GPU is on or off, the file can be played back fine.
  • Pentium Dual-Core E5200 2.5GHz 2MB L2 cache
  • GA-E7AUM-DS2H GeForce 9400 mGPU mATX
  • DDR2-800 2 x 1GB
  • Windows Vista SP1 32-bit
  • MPC HomeCinema with MPC Video Decoder (the first screenshot)/ffdshow Video Decoder (the second screenshot) and madFlac Decoder
  • 1080p mkv file with FLAC audio track created from Blu-ray Spider-Man 3; the first 100 seconds of chapter 44 with max bitrate around 36Mbps
Hardware Acceleration ON (MPC Video Decoder)

If GPU hardware acceleration is used, max CPU usage is around 33%.


Hardware Acceleration OFF (ffdshow Video Decoder)

ffdshow does not support GPU hardware acceleration (yet). Max CPU usage is around 70%.


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Low-End
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All the low-end systems are basically equivalent in performance. There are differences in features however. The case I chose here is a inexpensive low-profile case. Alternative cases are
  • Antec NSK1480 microATX, low-profile, $95.
  • Antec Micro Fusion Remote 350 microATX, low-profile, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $175.
  • Lian Li PC-C37B MUSE microATX, low-profile, $144.
  • Lian Li PC-C39 microATX, low-profile, with RF receiver/remote, $180.
  • Moneual MonCaso312 microATX, low-profile, with IR receiver/remote, $220.
  • Moneual MonCaso301 microATX, low-profile, with VFD/IR receiver/remote, $300.
  • Antec NSK2480 microATX, $94.
  • Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $140.

Intel/Intel

System
  • CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.60GHz 2MB L2 LGA775, $64.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: ASUS P5Q-EM LGA775 Intel G45 chipset microATX, $125. A cheaper alternative is Intel DG45ID (BOXDG45ID) LGA775 Intel G45 chipset microATX, $100.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $32.
  • Graphics Card: Intel GMA X4500HD (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: 80 PLUS 350W ATX PSU (included in the case), $0
  • Case: Antec NSK1480 microATX, $95.
  • Total Cost: $386

Remarks
  • BD playback under Windows XP is not supported in this system due to the chipset driver limitation.
Intel/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.60GHz 2MB L2 LGA775, $64.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-E7AUM-DS2H LGA775 GeForce 9400 mGPU microATX, $130. A cheaper alternative is MSI P7NGM-Digital LGA775 GeForce 9300 mGPU microATX, $105, which is of better value if you don't need an S/PDIF port and an eSATA port.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $32.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce 9400 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: 80 PLUS 350W ATX PSU (included in the case), $0
  • Case: Antec NSK1480 microATX, $95.
  • Total Cost: $391

AMD/AMD

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset microATX, $80.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-2GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 1GB Kit, $37.
  • Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4550 DDR3 512MB HDMI, $45.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: 80 PLUS 350W ATX PSU (included in the case), $0
  • Case: Antec NSK1480 microATX, $95.
  • Total Cost: $387

Remarks
  • You could use the onboard graphics (HD 4200) but HDMI audio is limted to stereo LPCM. If your receiver is pre-HDMI, this is a good choice.
  • If you prefer DDR3 SDRAM (+$10 with little performance increase, but DDR3 memory modules are reusable in future), choose
    • GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset microATX, $82.
    • G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-2GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 1GB Kit, $45.
AMD/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: ASUS M3N78-EM AM2+ GeForce 8300 mGPU microATX, $83.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-2GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 1GB Kit, $37.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce 8200 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: 80 PLUS 350W ATX PSU (included in the case), $0
  • Case: Antec NSK1480 microATX, $95.
  • Total Cost: $345

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Mid-Range
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Intel/Intel

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz 3MB L2 LGA775, $113.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32.
  • Motherboard: ASUS P5Q-EM LGA775 Intel G45 chipset microATX, $125. A cheaper alternative is Intel DG35EC (BOXDG35EC) LGA775 Intel G35 chipset microATX, $88 (there are no overclocking or memory voltage options in BIOS).
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1B16K DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $57.
  • Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4670 DDR3 1GB, $70. An alternative is HIS H467QS1GH Radeon HD 4670 DDR3 1GB, $75.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $60.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $140.
  • Total Cost: $667

Intel/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz 3MB L2 LGA775, $113.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-E7AUM-DS2H LGA775 GeForce 9400 mGPU microATX, $130. A cheaper alternative is MSI P7NGM-Digital LGA775 GeForce 9300 mGPU microATX, $105, which is of better value if you don't need an S/PDIF port and an eSATA port.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1B16K DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $57.
  • Graphics Card: ASUS EN9600GT/DI/512MD3 GeForce 9600 GT DDR3 512MB, $77.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $60.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $140.
  • Total Cost: $679

Remarks
AMD/AMD

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X4 630 ADX630WFGIBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $122.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset microATX, $80.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4670 DDR3 1GB, $70. An alternative is HIS H467QS1GH Radeon HD 4670 DDR3 1GB, $75.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $60.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $140.
  • Total Cost: $639

Remarks
  • If you prefer DDR3 SDRAM (+$17 with little performance increase, but DDR3 memory modules are reusable in future), choose
    • GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset microATX, $82.
    • G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $75.
AMD/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X4 630 ADX630WFGIBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $122.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32.
  • Motherboard: ASUS M3N78-EM AM2+ GeForce 8300 mGPU microATX, $83.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card: ASUS EN9600GT/DI/512MD3 GeForce 9600 GT DDR3 512MB, $77.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $60.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $140.
  • Total Cost: $649

Remarks
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High-End
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Intel/Intel

System
  • CPU: Core i5 750 2.66GHz LGA1156, $196.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32. Perhaps you have to buy a retention bracket set for LGA1156 which is not released yet. Meanwhile you can use the stock cooler.
  • Motherboard: ASRock P55M Pro LGA1156 Intel P55 chipset microATX, $100.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card: HIS H485Q1GH Radeon HD 4850 GDDR3 1GB, $133.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 525W EPR525AWT, $96. A cheaper alternative is Corsair VX550W CMPSU-550VX 550W, $87.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $140.
  • Total Cost: $852

Intel/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Quad Q9400 2.66GHz 6MB L2 LGA775, $183.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-E7AUM-DS2H LGA775 GeForce 9400 mGPU microATX, $130. A cheaper alternative is MSI P7NGM-Digital LGA775 GeForce 9300 mGPU microATX, $105, which is of better value if you don't need an S/PDIF port and an eSATA port.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1B16K DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $57.
  • Graphics Card: XFX GS-250X-ZDFC GeForce GTS 250 DDR3 1GB, $144.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 525W EPR525AWT, $96. A cheaper alternative is Corsair VX550W CMPSU-550VX 550W, $87.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $140.
  • Total Cost: $852

Remarks
AMD/AMD

System
  • CPU: Phenom II X4 945 HDX945WFGIBOX 3.0GHz AM3, $170.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G chipset microATX, $82.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card: HIS H485Q1GH Radeon HD 4850 GDDR3 1GB, $133.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 525W EPR525AWT, $96. A cheaper alternative is Corsair VX550W CMPSU-550VX 550W, $87.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $140.
  • Total Cost: $808

AMD/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Phenom II X4 945 HDX945WFGIBOX 3.0GHz AM3, $170.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32.
  • Motherboard: ASUS M3N78-EM AM2+ GeForce 8300 mGPU microATX, $83.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card: XFX GS-250X-ZDFC GeForce GTS 250 DDR3 1GB, $144.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 525W EPR525AWT, $96. A cheaper alternative is Corsair VX550W CMPSU-550VX 550W, $87.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $140.
  • Total Cost: $800

Remarks
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Premium
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Intel/Intel

System
  • CPU: Core i7 860 2.80GHz LGA1156, $284. A cheaper alternative is Core i5 750 2.66GHz LGA1156, $196.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V, $45, with Xigmatek Crossbow ACK-I5361, $10 (necessary to attach the cooler to the LGA1156 socket).
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD4 LGA1156 Intel P55 chipset microATX, $150.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): Radeon HD 5850 GDDR5 1GB, $259; two of this card for CrossFireX, $518. An alternative is Radeon HD 5870 GDDR5 1GB, $379.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): GeForce GTX 275 DDR3 896MB, $210; two of this card for SLI, $420. An alternative is GeForce GTX 285, $320 or GeForce GTX 295, $525.
  • HDD: Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2 80GB SATA 3.0Gbps SSD, $234.
  • PSU: Enermax MODU82+ 625W EMD625AWT, $128. An alternative is Enermax REVOLUTION85+ 850W ERV850EWT, $213.
  • Case: LUXA2 LM200 Touch microATX, with 7” touch screen/IR receiver/remote, $512. If you don't need or don't like a touch screen, choose LUXA2 LM200 microATX, with VFD/IR receiver/remote, $308.
  • Total Cost: $1707 for non-CrossFireX, $1966 for CrossFireX; $1658 for non-SLI, $1868 for SLI.
AMD/AMD

System
  • CPU: Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition HDZ965FBGIBOX 3.4GHz AM3, $245.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V, $45, with Enzotech Type-X AM2 Retention Modules, $3, and four nuts (necessary to attach the cooler in the correct orientation).
  • Motherboard: DFI LANPARTY JR 790GX-M3H5 AM3 AMD 790GX chipset microATX, $140.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card: Radeon HD 5850 GDDR5 1GB, $259; two of this card for CrossFireX, $518. An alternative is Radeon HD 5870 GDDR5 1GB, $379.
  • HDD: Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2 80GB SATA 3.0Gbps SSD, $234.
  • PSU: Enermax MODU82+ 625W EMD625AWT, $128. An alternative is Enermax REVOLUTION85+ 850W ERV850EWT, $213.
  • Case: LUXA2 LM200 Touch microATX, with 7” touch screen/IR receiver/remote, $512. If you don't need or don't like a touch screen, choose LUXA2 LM200 microATX, with VFD/IR receiver/remote, $308.
  • Total Cost: $1651 for non-CrossFireX, $1910 for CrossFireX.
post #2493 of 19097
Thread Starter 
__________
ATX System
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The ATX form factor is differentiated from microATX by its larger size 12″ x 9.6″ vs. 9.6″ x 9.6″ of microATX, and hence the support for 7 expansion slots vs. 4 expansion slots in microATX. Another differentiating factor is that motherboard manufacturers tend to implement better CPU power circuitry and cooling solution for MOSFET and the chipset in ATX motherboards for better stability with a CPU of very high power consumption such as Phenom 125W/140W and better overclocking (although most HTPC users will not be interested in this aspect). I give a low-end system, a mid-range system, a high-end system and a premium system for each of the Intel platform with Intel chipsets, the Intel platform with NVIDIA chipsets, the AMD platform with AMD chipsets and the AMD platform with NVIDIA chipsets. As the expandability is the most important factor, I set the following criteria:: the motherboard should have
  • Low-end:
    • 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 for a 2-slot graphics card
    • 3 x PCIe x1 for HBA, a sound card and a TV tuner
  • Mid-range and high-end:
    • 1 x PCIe 2.0 x8 for a 2-slot graphics card
    • 1 x PCIe x8 for HBA
    • 2 x PCIe x1 for a sound card and a TV tuner
  • Premium system:
    • 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (or x8) for dual 2-slot graphics
    • 1 x PCIe x1 and 1 x PCIe x4 for a sound card/TV tuner/HBA
But a few systems do not meet this criteria (simply because there is no good motherboard). In addition, fully usable 6 SATA ports (I mean not blocked by a large graphics card) is a norm. I will give low-end, mid-range, high-end and premium systems for each of the Intel platform with Intel and NVIDIA chipsets and the AMD platform with AMD and NVIDIA chipsets. Basic distinctions are:
  • Low-end system: offers reasonably good video playback performance at a low cost.
  • Mid-range system: offers the best video playback performance without compromise.
  • High-end system: should be able to handle other HTPC-related tasks such as video re-encoding and games with reasonably good performance.
  • Premium system: is intended to be the best (but not too expensive) overall system available today.
Here is a feature comparison chart.




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Low-End
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Intel/Intel

System
  • CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.60GHz 2MB L2 LGA775, $64.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP43-UD3L LGA775 Intel P43 chipset ATX, $80.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $32.
  • Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4550 DDR3 512MB HDMI, $45.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $60.
  • Case: SilverStone Lascala LC17 SST-LC17B ATX, $119.
  • Total Cost: $470.

Intel/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.60GHz 2MB L2 LGA775, $64.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: EVGA 113-YW-E115-TR LGA775 GeForce 9300 mGPU ATX, $118.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $32.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce 9300 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $60.
  • Case: SilverStone Lascala LC17 SST-LC17B ATX, $119.
  • Total Cost: $463.

AMD/AMD

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785G-UD3H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset ATX, $90.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $32.
  • Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4550 DDR3 512MB HDMI, $45.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $60.
  • Case: SilverStone Lascala LC17 SST-LC17B ATX, $119.
  • Total Cost: $481

Remarks
  • You could use the onboard graphics (HD 4200) but HDMI audio is limted to stereo LPCM. If your receiver is pre-HDMI, this is a good choice.
  • If you prefer DDR3 SDRAM (+$8 with little performance increase, but DDR3 memory modules are reusable in future), choose
    • GIGABYTE GA-MA785GT-UD3H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset ATX, $90, or ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO AM3 AMD 785G chipset ATX, $100.
    • G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-2GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 1GB Kit, $45.
AMD/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: ASUS M3N78 PRO AM2+ GeForce 8300 mGPU ATX, $94.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-2GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 1GB Kit, $37.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce 8300 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $60.
  • Case: SilverStone Lascala LC17 SST-LC17B ATX, $119.
  • Total Cost: $440.

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Mid-Range
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Intel/Intel

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz 3MB L2 LGA775, $113.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek NEPARTAK S983, $30.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA775 Intel P45 chipset ATX, $115.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1B16K DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $57.
  • Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4670 DDR3 1GB, $70. An alternative is HIS H467QS1GH Radeon HD 4670 DDR3 1GB, $75.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 525W EPR525AWT, $96. A cheaper alternative is Corsair VX550W CMPSU-550VX 550W, $87.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Max ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $178.
  • Total Cost: $729.

Intel/NVIDIA

There is no recommendation of a mid-range system for this platform. A system with the popular ASUS P5N-D nForce 750i SLI chipset motherboard is good for x16 SLI, but not particularly good for HTPC (not enough PCIe x1 slots; its SB is the three-year old MCP51 [used in GeForce 6150 motherboards!] supporting only 4 SATA ports).

AMD/AMD

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X4 630 ADX630WFGIBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $122.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek NEPARTAK S983, $30.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM2+ AMD 790X chipset ATX, $104. An alternative is GIGABYTE GA-MA790GP-UD4H AM2+ AMD 790GX chipset ATX, $115 (with IGP; useful in case you use the motherboard for a server in future).
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4670 DDR3 1GB, $70. An alternative is HIS H467QS1GH Radeon HD 4670 DDR3 1GB, $75.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 525W EPR525AWT, $96. A cheaper alternative is Corsair VX550W CMPSU-550VX 550W, $87.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Max ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $178.
  • Total Cost: $735

Remarks
  • If you prefer DDR3 SDRAM (+$20 with little performance increase, but DDR3 memory modules are reusable in future), choose
    • GIGABYTE GA-MA790XT-UD4P AM3 AMD 790X chipset ATX, $115 (without IGP) or GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX chipset ATX, $115 (with IGP).
    • G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $75.
AMD/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X4 630 ADX630WFGIBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $122.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek NEPARTAK S983, $30.
  • Motherboard: ASUS M3N72-D AM2+ nForce 750a SLI MCP ATX, $112.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card: ASUS EN9600GT/DI/512MD3 GeForce 9600 GT DDR3 512MB, $77.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 525W EPR525AWT, $96. A cheaper alternative is Corsair VX550W CMPSU-550VX 550W, $87.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Max ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $178.
  • Total Cost: $750.

Remarks
  • nForce 750a SLI is basically an SLI x8 version of GeForce 8200.
  • The graphics card supports S/PDIF pass-through from the onboard audio codec through HDMI. If you want multichannel LPCM audio, you have to connect your AVR to the HDMI port of the motherboard and your display to the graphics card. Please read Any GeForce graphics card + GeForce 8200 HDMI audio work together perfectly!.
________
High-End
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Intel/Intel

System
  • CPU: Core i5 750 2.66GHz LGA1156, $196.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek NEPARTAK S983, $30, with Xigmatek Crossbow ACK-I5361, $10 (necessary to attach the cooler to the LGA1156 socket).
  • Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D EVO LGA1156 Intel P55 chipset ATX, $185. An alternative is ASUS P7P55D PRO LGA1156 Intel P55 chipset ATX, $170 (single Gb LAN, no SLI bridge included) or ASRock P55 Deluxe LGA1156 Intel P55 chipset ATX, $175 (supporting DTS Connect, good for S/PDIF gamers; a 2-port SATA 6Gbps card included).
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card: HIS H485Q1GH Radeon HD 4850 GDDR3 1GB, $133.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 625W EPR625AWT, $108. A cheaper alternative is Corsair TX650W CMPSU-650TX 650W, $93.
  • Case: Zalman HD160 Plus ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $277.
  • Total Cost: $1094.

Intel/NVIDIA

There is no recommendation of a high-end system for this platform. A system with the popular ASUS P5N-D nForce 750i SLI chipset motherboard is good for x16 SLI, but not particularly good for HTPC (not enough PCIe x1 slots; its SB is the three-year old MCP51 [used in GeForce 6150 motherboards!] supporting only 4 SATA ports).

AMD/AMD

System
  • CPU: Phenom II X4 945 HDX945WFGIBOX 3.0GHz AM3, $170.
  • CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS9500A LED, $43.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA790XT-UD4P AM3 AMD 790X chipset ATX, $115. An alternative is GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX chipset ATX, $115 (with IGP; useful in case you use the motherboard for a server in future).
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card: HIS H485Q1GH Radeon HD 4850 GDDR3 1GB, $133.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 625W EPR625AWT, $108. A cheaper alternative is Corsair TX650W CMPSU-650TX 650W, $93.
  • Case: Zalman HD160 Plus ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $277.
  • Total Cost: $1001.

AMD/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Phenom II X4 945 HDX945WFGIBOX 3.0GHz AM3, $170.
  • CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS9500A LED, $43.
  • Motherboard: ASUS M3N72-D AM2+ nForce 750a SLI MCP ATX, $112.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card: XFX GS-250X-ZDFC GeForce GTS 250 DDR3 1GB, $144.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • PSU: Enermax PRO82+ 625W EPR625AWT, $108. A cheaper alternative is Corsair TX650W CMPSU-650TX 650W, $93.
  • Case: Zalman HD160 Plus ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $277.
  • Total Cost: $989.

Remarks
  • nForce 750a SLI is basically an SLI x8 version of GeForce 8200.
  • The graphics card supports S/PDIF pass-through from the onboard audio codec through HDMI. If you want multichannel LPCM audio, you have to connect your AVR to the HDMI port of the motherboard and your display to the graphics card. Please read Any GeForce graphics card + GeForce 8200 HDMI audio work together perfectly!.
________
Premium
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Intel/Intel

System
  • CPU: Core i7 860 2.80GHz LGA1156, $284.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V, $45, with Xigmatek Crossbow ACK-I5361, $10 (necessary to attach the cooler to the LGA1156 socket).
  • Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D EVO LGA1156 Intel P55 chipset ATX, $185. An alternative is Intel DP55KG (BOXDP55KG) LGA1156 Intel P55 chipset ATX, $210 (supporting Dolby Home Theater, good for S/PDIF gamers; single Gb LAN).
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): Radeon HD 5850 GDDR5 1GB, $259; two of this card for CrossFireX, $518. An alternative is Radeon HD 5870 GDDR5 1GB, $379.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): GeForce GTX 275 DDR3 896MB, $240; two of this card for SLI, $480. An alternative is GeForce GTX 285, $320 or GeForce GTX 295, $525.
  • HDD: Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2 80GB SATA 3.0Gbps SSD, $234.
  • PSU: Enermax REVOLUTION85+ 850W ERV850EWT, $213.
  • Case: Thermaltake DH104 VH4001BNS ATX, with 7” touch screen/IR receiver/remote, $451. If you don't need or don't like a touch screen, choose Thermaltake DH103 VH3001BNS ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $244 or SilverStone Crown CW02 SST-CW02S-MXR ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $364.
  • Total Cost: $1766 for non-CrossFireX, $2025 for CrossFireX; $1717 for non-SLI, $1927 for SLI.

Intel/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz 12MB L2 LGA775, $266.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V, $45.
  • Motherboard: XFX MB-N790-IUL9 LGA775 nForce 790i 3-Way SLI ATX, $170.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 275 DDR3 896MB, $210; two of this card for SLI, $420. An alternative is GeForce GTX 285, $320 or GeForce GTX 295, $525.
  • HDD: Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2 80GB SATA 3.0Gbps SSD, $234.
  • PSU: Enermax REVOLUTION85+ 850W ERV850EWT, $213.
  • Case: Thermaltake DH104 VH4001BNS ATX, with 7” touch screen/IR receiver/remote, $451. If you don't need or don't like a touch screen, choose Thermaltake DH103 VH3001BNS ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $244 or SilverStone Crown CW02 SST-CW02S-MXR ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $364.
  • Total Cost: $1674 for non-SLI, $1884 for SLI.

AMD/AMD

System
  • CPU: Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition HDZ965FBGIBOX 3.4GHz AM3, $245.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V, $45, with Enzotech Type-X AM2 Retention Modules, $3, and four nuts (necessary to attach the cooler in the correct orientation).
  • Motherboard: MSI 790FX-GD70 AM3 AMD 790FX chipset ATX, $165.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card: Radeon HD 5850 GDDR5 1GB, $259; two of this card for CrossFireX, $518. An alternative is Radeon HD 5870 GDDR5 1GB, $379.
  • HDD: Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2 80GB SATA 3.0Gbps SSD, $234.
  • PSU: Enermax REVOLUTION85+ 850W ERV850EWT, $213.
  • Case: Thermaltake DH104 VH4001BNS ATX, with 7” touch screen/IR receiver/remote, $451. If you don't need or don't like a touch screen, choose Thermaltake DH103 VH3001BNS ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $244 or SilverStone Crown CW02 SST-CW02S-MXR ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $364.
  • Total Cost: $1700 for non-CrossFireX, $1959 for CrossFireX.

AMD/NVIDIA

System
  • CPU: Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition HDZ965FBGIBOX 3.4GHz AM3, $245.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V, $45, with Enzotech Type-X AM2 Retention Modules, $3, and four nuts (necessary to attach the cooler in the correct orientation).
  • Motherboard: MSI NF980-G65 AM3 nForce 980a SLI MCP ATX, $180.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 275 DDR3 896MB, $210; two of this card for SLI, $420. An alternative is GeForce GTX 285, $320 or GeForce GTX 295, $525.
  • HDD: Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2 80GB SATA 3.0Gbps SSD, $234.
  • PSU: Enermax REVOLUTION85+ 850W ERV850EWT, $213.
  • Case: Thermaltake DH104 VH4001BNS ATX, with 7” touch screen/IR receiver/remote, $451. If you don't need or don't like a touch screen, choose Thermaltake DH103 VH3001BNS ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $244 or SilverStone Crown CW02 SST-CW02S-MXR ATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $364.
  • Total Cost: $1666 for non-SLI, $1876 for SLI.

Remarks
  • nForce 980a SLI (rebadged nForce 780a SLI) is nForce 750a SLI + nForce 200 (a PCI Express switch for SLI x16).
  • The graphics card supports S/PDIF pass-through from the onboard audio codec through HDMI. If you want multichannel LPCM audio, you have to connect your AVR to the HDMI port of the motherboard and your display to the graphics card. Please read Any GeForce graphics card + GeForce 8200 HDMI audio work together perfectly!.
_________________________
DAS (Direct Attached Storage)
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If you need more storage space than the one provided by the motherboard and the case, the quickest solution is attach an external HDD enclosure. Possible interfaces are USB 2.0 (60MB/s), IEEE 1394a (50MB/s), PCI (133MB/s), PCI Express x1 (250MB/s), all of which are good enough for home use. If you need lots of drives, you may want to consider a dedicated file server (see "Home Media Server"). If you need higher I/O throughput, e.g. for video editing, there are many SATA RAID controller cards with PCI Express x4 (1.0GB/s) or x8 (2.0GB/s) interface. Here are a couple of examples.

5 Drive SATA Enclosure with PCI Express Controller

Each of them has Silicon Image SiI4726 SATA to 5-Port SATA Device SteelVine Storage Processor and is bundled with a 2-port SATA PCIe x1 host bus adapter based on Silicon Image SiI3132. You can attach up to two enclosures (10 drives) to one card by FIS-based Port Multiplier. Supports RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 and JBOD.


8 Drive SATA Enclosure with PCI Express Controller

The case has two SiI3726 port multipliers and is bundled with a 2-port SATA PCIe x1 host bus adapter based on Silicon Image SiI3132 supporting port multiplier. The difference between SiI3726 and SiI4726 is that SiI4726 can be connected to a non-PM aware SATA port, while SiI3726 needs to be connected to a PM aware SATA port.

High-Performance 8 Drive SATA Enclosure with PCI Express Controller

For better performance you can go with a RAID controller card with a hardware RAID processor engine such as
  • HighPoint RocketRAID 3522 with IOP341 processor, $480
  • Areca ARC-1221x with IOP341 processor, $595
  • Adaptec RAID 3085, $595
  • Adaptec RAID 5085, $760
  • LSI SAS3801E, $300
15 Drive SATA 4U Rack Mount Storage Chassis

Addonics is manufacturing a highly customizable 4U rack mount chassis supporting 15 HDDs.

You can use the chassis in various ways. For example use it with a RAID controller card such as:
  • HighPoint RocketRAID 2340 4-port SFF-8087 (16-port SATA) RAID Controller PCIe x8 Card, $430
or use it with three PMs and PM-aware SATA controllers such as:
Other Solutions

Please check Newegg.com > Servers > Server RAID Systems.
post #2494 of 19097
Thread Starter 
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Worktsation
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Workstation here is a PC intended for various HTPC-related tasks other than video/audio playback. The CPU and the motherboard chosen here are good enough for the most demanding tasks and future upgrades (4 cores/8 threads, supporting PCI Express 2.0 x16, x16 / x16, x8, x8 / x8, x8, x8, x8 links). The selection of other components depends on the tasks you are going to do. The system below is a consumer-grade high-performance video editing machine.

System
  • CPU: Core i7 860 2.80GHz LGA1156, $284.
  • CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight-S1283V, $45, with Xigmatek Crossbow ACK-I5361, $10 (necessary to attach the cooler to the LGA1156 socket).
  • Motherboard: ASUS P7P55 WS SuperComputer LGA1156 Intel P55 and nForce 200 chipsets ATX, $250.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $85.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 275 DDR3 896MB, $210.
  • HBA: Adaptec RAID 51645 20-port SAS/SATA RAID Controller PCI Express x8 Card, $1,040.
  • HDD: Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2 80GB SATA 3.0Gbps SSD, $234.
  • PSU: Enermax REVOLUTION85+ 850W ERV850EWT, $213.
  • Case: Chenbro SR109 EATX/ATX, $245.
  • HDD Cage (optional): Chenbro 84H210910-010 5-in-3 Hotswap HDD Cage, $102. The case supports up to 15 HDDs (besides the OS drive) with three cages.
  • Total Cost: $2616 (optional HDD cages and drives for data storage are not included)

Remarks
  • You can even use:
    • CPU: Core i7 920 2.66GHz LGA1366, $284.
    • Motherboard: ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution LGA1366 Intel X58 and nForce 200 chipsets ATX, $350 (supporting PCI Express 2.0 x16, x16, x16 / x16, x16, x8, x8 / x16, x8, x8, x8, x8 links), or ASUS P6T7 WS SuperComputer LGA1366 Intel X58 and dual nForce 200 chipsets ATX, $430 (supporting PCI Express 2.0 x16, x16, x16, x16 / x16, x16, x16, x8, x8 / x16, x16, x8, x8, x8, x8 / x16, x8, x8, x8, x8, x8, x8 links).
    • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9T-6GBNQ DDR3-1600 3 x 2GB Kit, $125.
    if your applications can utilize that expandability.
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Media Storage Sever
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Purpose of a Media Storage Sever

The main purposes of the media storage server described here are:
  • Storing/archiving media files (ripped/downloaded/recorded SD & HD contents, ripped/downloaded/recorded music, photographs etc.) in one centralized place.
  • Streaming media to HTPCs.
  • Possibly serving as a DVR with TV tuners added.
Here are some considerations in building such a system.

Component Selection
  • OS: The intended OS is one of
    1. Windows Vista or Windows 7, x86 or x64 (Single Disk or JBOD or FlexRAID)
    2. Windows Home Server (WHS)
    3. unRAID (a Linux variant with RAID 4 capability)
    You can also use Linux (software RAID), OpenFiler etc. as long as the SATA controller supports it.
  • Case: Currently NORCO RPC-4020 and NORCO RPC-4220 are the best cases for a media storage server. Both support 20 HDDs in hot-swap bays at a relatively cheap price ($290 and $350 respectively). The latter has a backplane with five SFF-8087 connectors instead of twenty SATA connectors in the former. If you need more storage space, build another server of the same type and store them in a rack such as iStarUSA WO22AB 22U WO Open Frame Rack, ~$300:

  • PSU: Each hard disk drive consumes as low as 5W at idle, but as much as 30W at start-up (depending on each model). So we will need a powerful PSU to start up all the drives at a time. A typical power consumption of a server consisting of twenty HDDs is
    • ~600W at start up
    • ~200W at seek
    • ~150W at idle
  • CPU: We chose a cheap dual-core processor because archiving/streaming/recording is not CPU-intensive.
  • Memory: 2GB is enough for a similar reason.
  • Motherboard: Basic requirements are
    1. Onboard graphics
    2. 2 PCI slots or 2 PCI Express x4 slots for storage controllers for 16 storage HDDs
    3. 6 onboard SATA ports for additional storage HDDs and the OS HDD.
    4. Gb LAN (that provides enough bandwidth for streaming HD contents to several HTPC simultaneously)
    5. Proper support for power management, in particular WOL (Wake-On-LAN)
    If you are going to use the server as a DVR, you may want more expansion slots. The motherboard chosen here (GIGABYTE GA-MA785G-UD3H) has enough expansion slots and is reasonably cheap. You can even use a RAID controller PCIe x8 card.
  • HBA (host bus adapter): As the number of onboard SATA ports is not enough, we use SATA controller cards. I chose cheap non-RAID SATA controller PCI-X (compatible with PCI) or PCI Express x4 cards, that are enough for our purpose.
  • OS drive: You can use any drive for OS (or a USB flash memory for unRAID).
  • Storage drives: There are several good cheap 1TB/1.5TB HDDs.
    • WD Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB 5400 rpm SATA 3.0Gbps, $85.
    • Samsung HD103SI 1TB 5400 rpm SATA 3.0Gbps, $80.
    • WD Caviar Green WD15EADS 1.5TB 5400 rpm SATA 3.0Gbps, $120.
    • Samsung HD154UI 1.5TB 5400 rpm SATA 3.0Gbps, $120.
Backup

You will need to back up important, irreplaceable data (e.g. personal documents and family photos), perhaps off-site. Building a dedicated backup system is one method (you can use similar hardware components here). A caution to those who consider RAID5: RAID 5 is not a backup strategy, it's about uptime - if a drive fails, you can swap it for a new one to rebuild with no service interruption. You may lose the entire date in the array instantly however if multiple drives fail or if a hardware issue kills the array. FlexRAID and unRAID are better in this point: you can still get data from each non-failed drive.


20 HDD System I

The first system uses NORCO RPC-4020 case (20 SATA connectors in the backplane) and two 8-port SATA controller PCI-X cards.

System
  • Case: NORCO RPC-4020 4U EATX/ATX (20 x SATA/SAS drive bay), $290.
  • PSU: Corsair TX750W CMPSU-750TX 750W, $112.
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785G-UD3H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset ATX, $90.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $32.
  • Graphics: Radeon HD 4200 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HBA: Supermicro AOC-SAT2-MV8 8-port SATA Controller PCI-X Card, $95.
  • HBA: Supermicro AOC-SAT2-MV8 8-port SATA Controller PCI-X Card, $95.
  • OS HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $70.
  • Total Cost: $844 (storage drives are not included)

Remarks
  • Supermicro AOC-SAT2-MV8 is a PCI-X card. However it works fine with a PCI slot and the performance is good enough for WHS or unRAID (this is natural considering the bandwidth of PCI is 133MB/s, higher than most single disks). If you want full bandwidth PCI-X slots (important for software RAID), then check one of the following motherboards:

    • Intel S3210SHLX LGA775 Intel 3210 chipset ATX, $280 (1 x VGA, 1 x PCIe x16@x8, 1 x PCIe x8, 2 x PCI-X, 1 x PCI) or
    • Supermicro MBD-X7SBA LGA775 Intel 3210 chipset ATX, $220 (1 x VGA, 1 x PCIe x16@x8, 2 x PCI-X, 4 x PCI) or
    • Supermicro MBD-X7SBE LGA775 Intel 3210 chipset ATX, $250 (1 x VGA, 1 x PCIe x8, 1 x PCIe x4, 4 x PCI-X) or
    • Tyan Toledo i3210W (S5211G2NR) LGA775 Intel 3210 chipset ATX, $235 (1 x VGA, 2 x PCIe x16@x8, 2 x PCI-X, 2 x PCI)

    with an Intel Core 2 processor.


  • You may need two Right (Left?)-Angle SATA cables so that one of the Supermicro cards does not interfere with the onboard SATA ports, such as:

20 HDD System II

The second system uses NORCO RPC-4220 case (5 SFF-8087 connectors in the backplane) and two 8-port SATA controller PCI Express x4 cards.

System
  • Case: NORCO RPC-4220 4U EATX/ATX (20 x SATA/SAS drive bay), $350.
  • PSU: Corsair TX750W CMPSU-750TX 750W, $112.
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock Cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785G-UD3H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset ATX, $90.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $32.
  • Graphics: Radeon HD 4200 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HBA: Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 8-port SATA Controller PCI Express x4 Card, $100.
  • HBA: Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 8-port SATA Controller PCI Express x4 Card, $100.
  • Cable: 0.5m SFF-8087 to Four SATA Cable, $11. (For example, 3ware CBL-SFF8087OCR-05M or Norco C-SFF8087-4S)
  • Cable: 0.5m SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 Cable, $11. (For example, 3ware CBL-SFF8087-05M or Norco C-SFF8087-D)
  • Cable: 0.5m SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 Cable, $11. (For example, 3ware CBL-SFF8087-05M or Norco C-SFF8087-D)
  • Cable: 0.5m SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 Cable, $11. (For example, 3ware CBL-SFF8087-05M or Norco C-SFF8087-D)
  • Cable: 0.5m SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 Cable, $11. (For example, 3ware CBL-SFF8087-05M or Norco C-SFF8087-D)
  • OS HDD: WD Scorpio Black WD3200BEKT 320GB SATA 3.0Gbps mobile 7200 RPM, $80.
  • Total Cost: $979 (storage drives are not included)
Remarks
  • Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8 is a PCI Express x4 card so that there should be enough bandwidth even if you go with software RAID. However currently the supported OS' are limited to:
    • Windows Home Server, 2003, 2008 and Vista
    • RedHat Enterprise Linux
    • Fedora Linux 9
    • SuSE Linux Enterprise
    So you can't use it with, for example, unRAID or OpenFiler.
Tower Cases

In case you prefer or have to use a tower case, here are a couple of recommended ones.
  • 15 HDD's in Hot Swap Bays, $551
    • Chenbro SR109 EATX/ATX, $245.
    • Chenbro 84H210910-010 5-in-3 Hotswap HDD Cage, $102.
    • Chenbro 84H210910-010 5-in-3 Hotswap HDD Cage, $102.
    • Chenbro 84H210910-010 5-in-3 Hotswap HDD Cage, $102.
  • 15 HDD's in Hot Swap Bays, $380
    • Cooler Master Centurion 590 RC-590-KKN1-GP ATX (9 x 5.25” bay), $50.
    • Athena Power BP-SATA3051B 5-in-3 backplane, $110.
    • Athena Power BP-SATA3051B 5-in-3 backplane, $110.
    • Athena Power BP-SATA3051B 5-in-3 backplane, $110.
  • 18 HDD's in Non-Hot Swap Bays, $284
    • Antec Twelve Hundred ATX (12 x 5.25” bay), $146.
    • Lian Li EX-23NB Internal HDD Kit, $23.
    • Lian Li EX-23NB Internal HDD Kit, $23.
    • Lian Li EX-23NB Internal HDD Kit, $23.
    • Lian Li EX-23NB Internal HDD Kit, $23.
    • Lian Li EX-23NB Internal HDD Kit, $23.
    • Lian Li EX-23NB Internal HDD Kit, $23.
  • 20 HDD's in Hot Swap Bays, $586
    • Antec Twelve Hundred ATX (12 x 5.25” bay), $146.
    • Athena Power BP-SATA3051B 5-in-3 backplane, $110.
    • Athena Power BP-SATA3051B 5-in-3 backplane, $110.
    • Athena Power BP-SATA3051B 5-in-3 backplane, $110.
    • Athena Power BP-SATA3051B 5-in-3 backplane, $110.

Remarks
  • For a 15 HDD system, you can replace one of the two Supermicro SATA controller cards with this cheaper card:
    • MonoPrice 2530 2-port SATA RAID Controller PCI Express x1 Card, $14.
post #2495 of 19097
Thread Starter 
____________________________
Software – Links to Useful Threads
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__________________
Windows Media Center
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Tutorial
Plug-ins
DVD
BD
MKV
TV Tuners
_____________
Other Front End
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MediaPortal
___________
What's Next?
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Intel Processor
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LGA 775 Processors


LGA 1366 Processors

The Core i7 processor (codenamed Bloomfield, Socket B or LGA1366), the successor to Core 2 Quad, was anounced on August 11, 2008 and will be available in Q4 2008, that features native quad-core, integrated memory controller, and QuickPath Interconnect. You can expect 20–50% performance gains over Yorkfield (Core 2 Quad 45 nm). The initial lineup is:
  • Core i7 Extreme 965 (3.20GHz, QPI 6.4GT/s, L3 8MB, 130W), $999
  • Core i7 940 (2.93GHz, QPI 6.4GT/s, L3 8MB, 130W), $562
  • Core i7 920 (2.66GHz, QPI 4.8GT/s, L3 8MB, 130W), $284
(Source: HKEPC Hardware – Intel Bloomfield處理器定價曝光2.66GHz 8MB L3型號僅售$284美元 (July 14, 2008).) Please read my post for details and the other two Core i7 processors, Lynnfield and Havendale (Socket H or LGA1156).

LGA 1156 Processors

List of LGA 1156 processors

Lynnfield processors (4-core, no IGP, 45 nm; to be released on September 8)

- Core i7 870 (8 Threads/2.93GHz/TB 3.60GHz/L3 8MB/dual channel DDR3/95W) $562
- Core i7 860 (8 Threads/2.80GHz/TB 3.46GHz/L3 8MB/dual channel DDR3/95W) $284
- Core i5 750 (4 Threads/2.66GHz/TB 3.20GHz/L3 8MB/dual channel DDR3/95W) $196

Clarkdale processors (2-core, IGP, 32 nm; to be released in January 2010 at CES 2010)[/b]

- Core i5 670 (4 Threads/3.46GHz/TB 3.73GHz/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/dual channel DDR3/73W) $284
- Core i5 661 (4 Threads/3.33GHz/TB 3.60GHz/GPU 900MHz/L3 4MB/dual channel DDR3/73W) $?
- Core i5 660 (4 Threads/3.33GHz/TB 3.60GHz/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/dual channel DDR3/73W) $196
- Core i5 650 (4 Threads/3.20GHz/TB 3.46GHz/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/dual channel DDR3/73W) $176

- Core i3 540 (4 Threads/3.06GHz/TB -/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/dual channel DDR3/73W) $143
- Core i3 530 (4 Threads/2.93GHz/TB -/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/dual channel DDR3/73W) $123
- Pentium G6950 (2 Threads/2.80GHz/TB -/GPU 733MHz/L3 3MB/dual channel DDR3/73W) $87

References
Branding Scheme

The most important features that distinguish between i7, i5 and i3 are:
  • Number of threads (instead of the number of cores)
  • Turbo Boost Technology
Roughly speaking,
  • Core i7 = 8 threads, Turbo Boost (4 cores [Lynnfield])
  • Core i5 = 4 threads, Turbo Boost (4 cores [Lynnfield] or 2 cores [Clarksdale])
  • Core i3 = 4 threads, no Turbo Boost (2 cores [Clarksdale])

Previews

(The performance improvement by Clarkdale depends largely on how well the application supports HyperThreading Technology.)

HARDSPELL – Intel mulls extended life-cycle for socket 775-based processors (November 17, 2008)

Quote:


Intel is considering extending the life-cycle of its socket 775-based processors to 2011 and is expected to let these CPUs cover the entry-level segment, according to sources at motherboard makers.

Currently, Core i7 processors use the new socket 1366, while in the third quarter of 2009, Intel will launch Nehalem-based mainstream desktop PC processors based on socket 1156.

If socket 775-based processors do get extended to 2011, 4-series chipsets will also need a longer life-cycle, therefore Intel is planning to make some modifications to its 4-series chipsets including boosting the G45s image processing performance, and adding Post Processing and Report Mode technologies to boost the chipsets image quality and add support of 24Hz monitors.

For the G43 chipset, Intel will improve memory slot support from two DIMMs originally to four and increase capacity from 8GB DDR2 and 4GB DDR3 to 16GB DDR2 and 8GB DDR3. G41 chipsets will see the addition of an HDMI port, as well as support of the ICH7 southbridge and RAID.

____________
AMD Processor
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

AMD Processors Price List


AMD Roadmaps

AMD CPU Roadmap


Denob was postponed until Q2 9009.

AMD Chipset Roadmap


AMD Platform Roadmap


AMD Roadmaps at 2008 Financial Analyst Day (November 14, 2008)

Deneb is slated for 2009 CES (January) with the Dragon platform.


Source: IT168 – AMD最新Roadmap:45nm产品命名再次大改 (November 14, 2008)

Bulldozer & Bobcat

The completely new microarchitecutures Bulldozer and Bobcat will be released in 2011 (unlike Barcelona they are not a revision of the K8 processor). Orochi, Llano and Ontario in the chart below are them.


Source: PC Watch – AMDが新マイクロアーキテクチャCPU「Orochi」と「Ontario」を2011年に計画 (November 14, 2008)

___________
Motherboard
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

_______
Memory
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

DRAMeXchange – Taiwanese DRAM packaging and testing industry analysis Part II (November 18, 2008)

Quote:


About the outlook of packaging and testing suppliers next year, we will mainly focus on the speed of migrating to DDR3. From the current status of the suppliers, except Powertech which mainly takes orders of Elpida is more aggressive, the others are still conservative about the schedule of DDR3 migration. This is because except Nanya and Inotera, other Taiwanese DRAM vendors so far still have no plan for the DDR3 production. Furthermore, the testing speed of the widely used Advantest T5593 can only top 1066 Mhz on DDR3, and the purchase of new equipments will be needed while dealing with higher clock-speed DDR3, such as 1333 Mhz or even 1600 Mhz. Unless the DDR3 chip output has reached the economy of scale or protected under the long term deals of stable amount and fix customers to secure the quantity, the packaging and testing suppliers will wait until the 2H09 DRAM industry recovery to invest in the DDR3 testing equipments.

___________
Graphics Card
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

ATI

NVIDIA

Nvidia's GPU lineup for 2009 uncloaked

Quote:


The guys over at Vr Zone are showing off some new specifications about NVIDIA's plans for the desktop GPU market in 2009.

Obviouslt you already read our GeForce GTX 295 review and GeForce GTX 285 are slated for the first quarter of 2009, and the site says the first 40nm GPU will arrive in Q2 2009. The 40nm GT212 will serve both the enthusiast and performance segment, so the 55nm GT200b GPUs will have a very short lifespan.

The mainstream GT214 and GT216 along with the value GT218 40nm GPUs are expected in Q3 2009, these chips will replace the G94, G96 and G98, respectively. VR Zone claims NVIDIA is working on four desktop SKUs for the GT216 and six desktop SKUs for GT218 at least, so you can expect different clocks and memory configs/types.

For the integrated graphics market NVIDIA is working on the iGT209, this IGP chipset will replace the GeForce 9300/9400 series in Q3 2009. Last but not least, the site also lists the GT300 GPU. This will be NVIDIA's next-generation 40nm GPU, it will support DirectX 11 and is slated for Q4 2009.

Yet another rumor surfaced moments ago though, it seems, NVIDIA will rebrand the GeForce 9800 series graphics cards to GeForce GTS 240 and GeForce GTS 250.

According to sources this respin will commence in February 2009, and that NVIDIA will keep selling both 55nm and 65nm G92 GPUs.


__________
Sound Card
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

For PAP-related arguments, please read my post. Maybe a standard PAP will be implemented only in Windows 7?

Two sound cards finally supports PAP/multichannel LPCM/Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreams through HDMI (relased in July and September respectively):

ASUS Xonar HDAV1.3



Auzentech Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater 7.1

Auzentech Reveals HDMI 1.3-native PCI Express Audio Combo Card



Compare it with

Auzentech Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1



post #2496 of 19097
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcmushx15 View Post

For my question...

I want an above avg system to play back blu-ray/hd-dvd over hdmi. Is this overkill? My budget is about 1200 or so.... No games, no other major applications.

AMD Phenom 9600 Agena 2.3GHz
GIGABYTE GA-MA770-DS3
ASUS Radeon HD 3650
---------------------------------------
Currently, at 1400 bucks (tax/ship)
Silverstone LC20-B ATX
8 gigs pc6400 (2x2 x 4)
1TB HD
Vista Home Prem 64bit
LG Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner
SeaSonic S12 II SS-380GB ATX12V 380W Power Supply (do i need my power?)
Media card reader (TBD)

My other question is Fan for CPU...my goal is quiet, system. My previous expereience, i have always brought the wrong fan for cases. Can you recommend something for this case and processor?

4 gigs should be good but newegg has a combo which makes the first 4 gigs damn cheap so i figure i'll max out the system.

I struggled with AMD vs Intel. I have a Phenom 9300 and love it so I went back to it.

GA-MA770-DS3 is a year-old model. The current replacement (?) is GA-MA78G-DS3H (the same price). This mb has IGP (HD 3200). IGP performs pretty well with Phenom processor so you don't need HD 3650. The southbridge SB700 is also better than SB600.

CPU cooler: ZEROtherm BTF90

Case fan: You can control the speed of the two case fans using this adpater which should be connected to SYS_FAN1, and SpeedFan.
post #2497 of 19097
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

Q9450 is faster in encoding (up to +50% depending on applications) and consumes less power (by 25W at full load).

That was compared to a Q6600, correct?

How is a Q9300 compared to a Q6600?

Thanks!
Mike
post #2498 of 19097
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xj-boonie View Post

That was compared to a Q6600, correct?

How is a Q9300 compared to a Q6600?

Yes.

Q9300 is faster and cooler.
post #2499 of 19097
I just built a HTPC. I like it so far. It's faster than my old HTPC obviously and the build didn't have too many issues. Unfortunately, I don't have a BluRay drive yet but I'll get one eventually. I do know that the system draws about 67w when idle. I have the primary monitor hooked up to a 19" LCD monitor via VGA and then the secondary display is my 50" Panasonic 1080p plasma via HDMI. I run Vista Media Center on the plasma display and it works fine. I stream most of my video files over the wired 100Mbps LAN and it doesn't have any hiccups.

If anyone wants to know anything more about this system, let me know.
post #2500 of 19097
Reply #2
post #2501 of 19097
Reply #3
post #2502 of 19097
post #2503 of 19097
Hello.
This is my first post on this forum. I've been reading post for about a month, but haven't been able to find the answer to my doubts.
Looking forward to building up a HTPC to be able to play BD. My budget is $1000-1500.
I'm trying to hook this up to my Sony 52" KDL-52W4100 LCD tv.
I was wondering if I could get a good recommendation as for list of parts (in a detailed way) that I should buy in order to build a good HTPC. A good set of 7.1 speakers and TV tuner would be nice as well. (TV tuner is not really a MUST at this point. I understand I can buy this later)
Thanks in advance, and sorry if I have posted at the wrong thread. I just didn't know where else I should do it.
stormeye@gmail.com
post #2504 of 19097
Quote:
Originally Posted by stormeye View Post

Hello.
This is my first post on this forum. I've been reading post for about a month, but haven't been able to find the answer to my doubts.
Looking forward to building up a HTPC to be able to play BD. My budget is $1000-1500.
I'm trying to hook this up to my Sony 52" KDL-52W4100 LCD tv.
I was wondering if I could get a good recommendation as for list of parts (in a detailed way) that I should buy in order to build a good HTPC. A good set of 7.1 speakers and TV tuner would be nice as well. (TV tuner is not really a MUST at this point. I understand I can buy this later)
Thanks in advance, and sorry if I have posted at the wrong thread. I just didn't know where else I should do it.
stormeye@gmail.com

Check out the first page. The low end II or mid range systems get my vote, with the addition of bluetooth keyboard/mouse, media center remote, vista premium 32, and blu-ray burner.

I just built the low end II, and coulnd't be happier.

E2220, Abit IN73HD, LG GGC-H20L, Crucial Ballistix DDR2-800 2GB RAM, Antec Fusion 430, XFX 8500 GT, WD 320 GB Hard Drive, Vista Premuim 32.

I use the stock cooler, and it NEVER gets over 40 degrees C in the Fusion 430 with dual 120mm fans @ the high setting, which is still very quiet.

The only reason why I didn't select the low end 1 is because I game and like having a video card.
post #2505 of 19097
Quote:
Originally Posted by ehollins View Post

OK, here is the component list for my new HTPC.

Looks like a great inexpensive build.
post #2506 of 19097
Ok so after a few weeks of researching i decided on my gear. Now for some reason the more i research the specifics of what i bought i feel like i made wrong decisions (im incredibly indecisive) and want to return my graphics card and maybe my mb.

anyway looking for opinions.

1Gx2|CRUCIAL BL2KIT12864AA804
VGA ASUS EN8600GT MAGIC/HTP/512M RT
VID DEV AVERMEDIA AVERCOMBO
CPU INTEL|C2D E7200 2.53G 775 45N R
MB GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3R 775 P35 RT
CPU COOLER ZEROTHERM|BTF90 R

Thanks!
post #2507 of 19097
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by papes510 View Post

Ok so after a few weeks of researching i decided on my gear. Now for some reason the more i research the specifics of what i bought i feel like i made wrong decisions (im incredibly indecisive) and want to return my graphics card and maybe my mb.

anyway looking for opinions.

1Gx2|CRUCIAL BL2KIT12864AA804
VGA ASUS EN8600GT MAGIC/HTP/512M RT
VID DEV AVERMEDIA AVERCOMBO
CPU INTEL|C2D E7200 2.53G 775 45N R
MB GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3R 775 P35 RT
CPU COOLER ZEROTHERM|BTF90 R

Your system is nice and well-balanced. Did you find any problems with the graphics card and the mb? Which graphics card and mb do you look at? There are plenty of other good solutions and maybe I can help you.
post #2508 of 19097
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

Your system is nice and well-balanced. Did you find any problems with the graphics card and the mb? Which graphics card and mb do you look at? There are plenty of other good solutions and maybe I can help you.

Well the graphics card wont do hardware acceleration so thats heavy load on the cpu for playback. i dont think it would be a huge problem, but suplementing it with maybe an XFX8600gt for the same price might be better. plus this card only has 1 dvi instead of 2, dont know if thats a drawback.
post #2509 of 19097
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by papes510 View Post

Well the graphics card wont do hardware acceleration so thats heavy load on the cpu for playback. i dont think it would be a huge problem, but suplementing it with maybe an XFX8600gt for the same price might be better. plus this card only has 1 dvi instead of 2, dont know if thats a drawback.

Every GeForce 8600 GT card, including ASUS EN8600GT MAGIC/HTP/512M, supports HA for MPEG-2/VC-1 (partial)/H.264. One card (either ASUS or XFX) is enough unless you want quad display. VGA or DVI depends on your need.
post #2510 of 19097
I've got a pretty old HTPC that can't do HD content, so I'm thinking about upgrading. Taking stuff from this thread with other threads in this forum, this is what I've come up with:

Case: Cooler Master Cosmos S RC1100
CPU: Q9450
GPU: Gigabyte HD4850
MB: Asus P5Q-E
Mem: Corasair Twin2x4096 (4GB)
PS: Enermax MODU82+ 625W PS
CPU Cooler: Ultra-120 extreme
HD: WD 320GB SATA

This should be overkill for watching HD content, but I'll probably use it for some encoding, so I figure it's worth it. Anyway, I'm just wondering if it seems like a good build, or if I'm making some dumb mistake with any of the components.
post #2511 of 19097
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

Every GeForce 8600 GT card, including ASUS EN8600GT MAGIC/HTP/512M, supports HA for MPEG-2/VC-1 (partial)/H.264. One card (either ASUS or XFX) is enough unless you want quad display. VGA or DVI depends on your need.

ok great. so sticking with the Asus vs the XFX is probably safe. My last concern is output to my 42 Toshiba LCD TV with HDMI inputs. Will i be ok with this card?
post #2512 of 19097
what software raid 5 solution do you recommend for a 16 drive setup? Also if a sata controller dies for one reason or another, is it possible to recover the software raid?
post #2513 of 19097
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by p2535748 View Post

I've got a pretty old HTPC that can't do HD content, so I'm thinking about upgrading. Taking stuff from this thread with other threads in this forum, this is what I've come up with:

Case: Cooler Master Cosmos S RC1100
CPU: Q9450
GPU: Gigabyte HD4850
MB: Asus P5Q-E
Mem: Corasair Twin2x4096 (4GB)
PS: Enermax MODU82+ 625W PS
CPU Cooler: Ultra-120 extreme
HD: WD 320GB SATA

This should be overkill for watching HD content, but I'll probably use it for some encoding, so I figure it's worth it. Anyway, I'm just wondering if it seems like a good build, or if I'm making some dumb mistake with any of the components.

That's a great selection! P5Q-E has a minor problem: one SATA port is blocked by HD 4850 (I am not sure why ASUS chose such a stupid design). But you still have seven internal SATA ports.
post #2514 of 19097
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by papes510 View Post

ok great. so sticking with the Asus vs the XFX is probably safe. My last concern is output to my 42 Toshiba LCD TV with HDMI inputs. Will i be ok with this card?

Usually OK although I can't guarantee it with your TV model.
post #2515 of 19097
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vDrag0n View Post

what software raid 5 solution do you recommend for a 16 drive setup? Also if a sata controller dies for one reason or another, is it possible to recover the software raid?

Windows 2003/2008 Server or Linux. UnRAID and FlexRAID are not RAID 5, but popular.

Yes, software RAID is independent of hardware host controllers.
post #2516 of 19097
Hi,

This is a great thread, I learned quite a bit. I had a few questions:

1. Do most people keep the PC near their 40"+ screens? If so, how does the fan noise go (I have a Tivo & that fan is kind of annoying).

2. (a little longer):

I have a this media cabinet:

http://www.raymourflanigan.com/catal...ls.asp?ID=7374

I am planning on a 46" Samsung LCD that will be mounted two or so feet above the cabinet - the point being that all wires will be run from the back of the TV, through the wall, into the cabinet (I will put a new outlet near the TV on the wall).

I was thinking of adding two exhaust fans to the back of the cabinet (which will be very close to a wall).

I am concerned about heat in the cabinet. My 1.5 year old son would like the doors open but they need to stay shut so heat can be an issue.

3. I would love to run a cable through the floor & keep the PC in the garage but that wouldnt work with the wife & it would be annoying if we have a DVD to insert.

4. Was there any write up of XP Media center vs say Vista Ultimate?

Thanks for all the info!

Rich
post #2517 of 19097
Hello,

please help me decide..

I'm planning to buy HP Pavilion Elite m9300t series as my HTPC for playing and backup movies, NO games. From the manufacturers website the MB is ASUS: IPIBL-LB.

Not sure whether is MB is capable of future upgrades mainly HDD and video graphics card.

Please help..
post #2518 of 19097
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skumaravs View Post

Hello,

please help me decide..

I'm planning to buy HP Pavilion Elite m9300t series as my HTPC for playing and backup movies, NO games. From the manufacturers website the MB is ASUS: IPIBL-LB.

Not sure whether is MB is capable of future upgrades mainly HDD and video graphics card.

Please help..

I checked this page. The mb seems to be relatively new. Feature-wise it's comparable with ASUS P5E-VM HDMI (but the chipset is G33 without HDMI port). Yes, you should be able to use it for the next couple of years. If you choose GeForce 9500 GS or higher, you don't have to even upgrade the video card in future. Sound is the weakest part as usual. But don't buy a X-Fi card. A better sound card comes later (supporting HDMI audio).
post #2519 of 19097
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichTJ99 View Post

Hi,

This is a great thread, I learned quite a bit. I had a few questions:

1. Do most people keep the PC near their 40"+ screens? If so, how does the fan noise go (I have a Tivo & that fan is kind of annoying).

2. (a little longer):

I have a this media cabinet:

http://www.raymourflanigan.com/catal...ls.asp?ID=7374

I am planning on a 46" Samsung LCD that will be mounted two or so feet above the cabinet - the point being that all wires will be run from the back of the TV, through the wall, into the cabinet (I will put a new outlet near the TV on the wall).

I was thinking of adding two exhaust fans to the back of the cabinet (which will be very close to a wall).

I am concerned about heat in the cabinet. My 1.5 year old son would like the doors open but they need to stay shut so heat can be an issue.

3. I would love to run a cable through the floor & keep the PC in the garage but that wouldn't work with the wife & it would be annoying if we have a DVD to insert.

4. Was there any write up of XP Media center vs say Vista Ultimate?

1. Noise depends on the components you select. If you choose them carefully, noise is no issue.

2. Yup, the heat could be an issue as there is almost no ventilation in the cabinet. Both exhaust fans (rear) and intake holes (bottom?) may be necessary.
post #2520 of 19097
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

I checked this page. The mb seems to be relatively new. Feature-wise it's comparable with ASUS P5E-VM HDMI (but the chipset is G33 without HDMI port). Yes, you should be able to use it for the next couple of years. If you choose GeForce 9500 GS or higher, you don't have to even upgrade the video card in future. Sound is the weakest part as usual. But don't buy a X-Fi card. A better sound card comes later (supporting HDMI audio).

Thank you Renethx..

The video card I plan now is Ge Force 512MB 9500 GS, hope this is a decent one.

Thanks again..
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