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post #1 of 7 Old 01-11-2020, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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HTPC reccomendations

I currently have the following PC:

MB: Biostar A880G+ AMD 880G Socket AM3
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 615e 2.5GHz 45W TDP
Using onbaord graphics and HDMI output
OS: Windows 10

The CPU has a heatsink without fan but it is right next to the PSU fan.
I did this to keep the noise down

Functions:
1. HTPC running Team Mediaportal primarily as a frontend to playback HEVC (1080p max) videos using a RF remote.
2. File Backup Server

Unfortunately, after approx 7 years, it will no longer post so it is time for a replacement.
I'm looking for recommendations for a MB/CPU

Requirements:
1. Ideally Sufficient Onboard graphics
2. HDMI out
3. At least 2 SATA
4. At least 2 USB3
5. IDE for DVD drive (optional)
6. Compatible with existing ATX 2.3 550W PSU (ideally)

Desired New Capabilities:
1. Playback of 4K HEVC (HW accelerated?)
2. Plex video transcoding for streaming library to phone (maybe HW accelerated? Run within VM)
3. CPU based HEVC encoding (Ideal but not required)

As for the CPU, I'd ideally like to fine one that runs cool enough that I dont need a CPU fan like before. I see low TDP cpus but I dont know what the MAX TDP is since there there is turbo mode. Ofcourse there is a balance between CPU performance and heat.

One alternative I've been considering is forgetting the whole HTPC and using an old laptop (Lenovo T420, I5-2520, Intel HD3000 / Nvidia NVS 4200M, Express Card Slot). I'd have to use the drives externally or have all the storage with my primary file server. There just wouldn't be a separate backup in another physical location.

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Last edited by Enrico Ng; 01-11-2020 at 08:49 AM.
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-12-2020, 08:50 AM
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My first suggestion would be to disassemble the heat sinks from the motherboard and clean out all of the dust. That could be what's keeping your PC from booting up if it's overheating. That used to happen to my wife's PC every time the graphics card and CPU heat sinks got clogged with dust. I'd just clean them out and it booted right up again. I would never run a CPU without some kind of cooling fan, especially an older AMD CPU. They would fry if you looked at them cross-eyed. You can find CPU heat sinks with dead quiet fans.

FYI - nobody has manufactured a motherboard with an IDE connection in close to a decade. Everything is SATA III or M.2 socket nowadays.
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post #3 of 7 Old 01-12-2020, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
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I tried cleaning it out (it's already pretty clean). It's time for an upgrade anyways.

As I posted, it's an Intel CPU.

From the photo, you can see that the large heatsink is right next to the PSU fan so it's not completely without a cooling fan.
It has run for 8yrs without issue so I think it has enough cooling.
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-12-2020, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enrico Ng View Post
As I posted, it's an Intel CPU.
Actually, this is what you posted:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enrico Ng View Post
I currently have the following PC:

MB: Biostar A880G+ AMD 880G Socket AM3
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 615e 2.5GHz 45W TDP
Using onbaord graphics and HDMI output
OS: Windows 10
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post #5 of 7 Old 01-12-2020, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post
Actually, this is what you posted:
Sorry, my own memory is off.

Anyways, it ran for 8yrs with this configuration and had no temperature issues.

I'm looking a new CPU
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-12-2020, 11:02 PM
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My recommendation is to forget about on board graphics. Put all you money into the video card. I just upgraded my HTPC with a AM4 mother board, Ryzen 7 (2700) 2nd generation (3rd generation is out now), and 16Gb DDR4 3200 memory all for $230. I also got a 256Gb PCIE SSD for $30. You don't even need nearly as much processor as I got but the trick is get a decent video card. I am running a NVidia 1050ti but even a 1030 will have HVAC hardware decoding and can be had for under $100. The 1060 or better is recommended but cost in the $300 range. Even the stock cooling fan is dead silent on my Ryzen 7 so noise is no issue. Most of the time if you need an upgrade all you need is a new video card.

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post #7 of 7 Old 01-13-2020, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rekbones View Post
My recommendation is to forget about on board graphics. Put all you money into the video card. I just upgraded my HTPC with a AM4 mother board, Ryzen 7 (2700) 2nd generation (3rd generation is out now), and 16Gb DDR4 3200 memory all for $230. I also got a 256Gb PCIE SSD for $30. You don't even need nearly as much processor as I got but the trick is get a decent video card. I am running a NVidia 1050ti but even a 1030 will have HVAC hardware decoding and can be had for under $100. The 1060 or better is recommended but cost in the $300 range. Even the stock cooling fan is dead silent on my Ryzen 7 so noise is no issue. Most of the time if you need an upgrade all you need is a new video card.
+1 for this recommendation. I've built two Ryzen systems but really haven't had a chance to put one into service yet. I bought a Ryzen 1st generation CPU with a Gigabyte Aorus motherboard about 5 months ago and was able to install Windows 7 on it by modifying the Windows 7 installation iso image. Gigabyte has an app that allows you to insert USB3 and NVMe drivers into the iso image so you can use it with newer hardware. I believe Asus also has a similar app for their Ryzen motherboards and possibly some others/ If you plan on using your setup with Windows 10 then it really doesn't matter what setup you get. I built the Ryzen setup with Windows 7 as a potential replacement for my current setup. I built the other with Windows 10 just for fun. Both of them are mini-iTX setups in small form factor cases and they're both about the size of an older model Tivo.

Decide on how many PCI slots you need and whether you want to go with an Intel or AMD CPU. Note that a mini-iTX board with have a single PCIe x16 slot and a micro ATX board usually has three slot (usually one x16 PCIe slot and either two X1 slots or one x1 slot and one PCI slot). A full-sized ATX board with have up to seven slots with various combinations of x16, x1, and/or PCI slots. If the only expansion card you need is a graphics card then there are lots of mini-iTX setups that can be built with some nice small form factor cases that can accommodate a full-sized, dual slot graphics card. 4-8GB of memory is more than sufficient.

You can use pretty much any brand of motherboard for a HTPC these days. Asus, ASRock, and Gigabyte are all popular brands. I've built HTPCs using boards from all of them as well as MSI and ECS. Biostar is at the bottom of the rung when it comes to quality or popularity so I would definitely upgrade from that brand. It's not that they make a bad product. They just don't seem to be at the higher end of the scale when it comes to features or performance.
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