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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've been waiting to pull the trigger on a HTPC for years now. The main reason is because 1) I hate my cable DVR and 2) Tivo is too expensive for my tastes. I feel like I've read 1000 pages of content on avsforum.com to prepare me for my big purchase.


Before I pull the trigger on such a large pocket drain (it's large to me anyway
) I would like one of the "experts" to tell me if this build meets my goals. Thanks a ton guys.


Goals: LOW as possible power drain. LIGHT games, low-medium settings (Fallout 3, Orange Box, Warcraft 3), small footprint, bluray reading, bitstreaming HD Audio, minor expandability (low profile video card).



Antec Black M FusionRemote 350 Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case


ASUS P7H55-M PRO LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard


Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner / Encoder 1229 PCI-Express x1 Interface - OEM


Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Model BX80616I3530


A-DATA Gaming Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model AX3U1600GB2G9-AG


Western Digital Caviar Green WD7500AADS 750GB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive


LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Reader SATA Model iHOS104-06 - OEM


Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM


ASUS PCE-N13 PCI Express Wireless Adapter


Subtotal: $805.91
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by etheesdad /forum/post/18162122


yep its all good. However, if you are playing Fallout 3 you might want to invest in a dedicated video card

I was afraid you might say that...

I was looking at:
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...oc.aspx?i=3724

It makes me think that the i3 may be "okay" at games... hopefully FO3 @ low settings will be alright.
 

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FO3 is in a completely different category of hardware requirement to Orange Box and WC3


You will be able to run it on low settings with the Clarkdale. The FPS wont be great though.


If gaming's important to you then you need to consider the power supply

The Earthwatts PSU that comes with the Micro Fusion is not suited to the addition of a gaming card if you decide the Clarkdale's graphics are not delivering the goods.


This wont be much of an issue with old games, but if you think you'll want to play current titles, you will be quite limited without a discrete card.


As far as power consumption goes, you could probably get a 10% improvement over the earthwatts by using something 80-plus Gold-certified. This will bump the price though, and I think it would affect case choice (doesnt the Micro Fusion use a mini PSU?).


If you have a Desktop computer, it might be easier to run that as a gaming rig and save the HTPC for Media
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by etheesdad /forum/post/18162633


FO3 is in a completely different category of hardware requirement to Orange Box and WC3


You will be able to run it on low settings with the Clarkdale. The FPS wont be great though.


If gaming's important to you then you need to consider the power supply

The Earthwatts PSU that comes with the Micro Fusion is not suited to the addition of a gaming card if you decide the Clarkdale's graphics are not delivering the goods.


This wont be much of an issue with old games, but if you think you'll want to play current titles, you will be quite limited without a discrete card.


As far as power consumption goes, you could probably get a 10% improvement over the earthwatts by using something 80-plus Gold-certified. This will bump the price though, and I think it would affect case choice (doesnt the Micro Fusion use a mini PSU?).


If you have a Desktop computer, it might be easier to run that as a gaming rig and save the HTPC for Media

Thanks a ton for the input.

This case that I am looking at actually comes with a 80 PLUS Certified 350W.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811129046


I will re-eval my gaming needs. My PS3 fails in epic proportions on my copy of FO3. I know that Bethesda spent zero time play testing the PS3 version, so I thought the PC version might be better... but this complaint is for the gaming forum :p


I am glad to hear I can play some Orange Box. Gotta have my TF2...


As far as noise goes, this machine WILL be near the TV (equipment rack is a future upgrade). Can anyone comment on the noise of the case? Fans? PSU? Stock CPU cooler? Zalman equipment is just too darn expensive.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by snappjay /forum/post/18164310


Thanks a ton for the input.

This case that I am looking at actually comes with a 80 PLUS Certified 350W.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811129046


I will re-eval my gaming needs. My PS3 fails in epic proportions on my copy of FO3. I know that Bethesda spent zero time play testing the PS3 version, so I thought the PC version might be better... but this complaint is for the gaming forum :p


I am glad to hear I can play some Orange Box. Gotta have my TF2...


As far as noise goes, this machine WILL be near the TV (equipment rack is a future upgrade). Can anyone comment on the noise of the case? Fans? PSU? Stock CPU cooler? Zalman equipment is just too darn expensive.

The stock CPU fan should be fine and extremely quiet when used as HTPC, however when running FO3 it will likely spin up to >2k RPM and make a little noise. I am not familiar with the case or PSU fans however expect the entire system to run @ very low power and therefore very cool. So unless those fans are very loud or are not temperature controlled I doubt they will be a be a issue. If they prove a problem you can always add a resistor to slow them down.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by snappjay /forum/post/18164310


Thanks a ton for the input.

This case that I am looking at actually comes with a 80 PLUS Certified 350W.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811129046

The Antec cases with their Earthwatts PSUs are fantastic value for money. but you did say you wanted the "lowest possible power drain" so thats what I was responding to



There are 4 levels of 80plus certification. The Earthwatts is Bronze certified (85%@50%). Gold certified means (90% or higher @50%). Hence the reference to 10%. The PSU is one of the biggest energy wasters in a PC. This effect is dramatically enhanced in an always-on machine. Taking this further, there is a threshold at which PSUs work most efficiently (generally 50-70% load) so its important to rate the PSU for the specifics of the build if you dont want to waste energy. Ideally the psu would be at roughly 50% of load - which then allows for increased inefficiency that occurs over time due to capacitor ageing.


Re wattage, most gaming cards will need 450w or Higher, preferably with a dedicated 12v rail. That rules out the Earthwatts if ever you want to increase your gaming potential on that box.


Your system without a GPU will pull about 175w (about right for the 350w PSU). Add a gaming card to it and that figure will be nearer 300w (based on a mid-range card @ HD4870)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by etheesdad /forum/post/18162633

The Earthwatts PSU that comes with the Micro Fusion is not suited to the addition of a gaming card if you decide the Clarkdale's graphics are not delivering the goods.

That's plain wrong. Here is a real measurement of the power consumption of a system consisting of:


- Core i3-530

- H55M Pro

- DDR2-1600 2 x 2GB

- HD 5750 (TDP 86W)

- WD 640GB Caviar Blue

- BD drive

- Enermax MODU82+ ( efficiency 84% at 150W AC input)


Power consumption (Kill-A-Watt)


- 165W at FurMark (Stability Test at 1920x1080)

- 185W at FurMark (Stability Test at 1920x1080)+Prime95 (Small FFTs on 4 threads).


So the true power consumption of the system (i.e. necessary DC output from a PSU) is


- 139W at FurMark (Stability Test at 1920x1080)

- 155W at FurMark (Stability Test at 1920x1080)+Prime95 (Small FFTs on 4 threads).


I bet even if you add HD 5870 (TDP 188W; which is physically impossible, of course), max is ~250W and a 350W PSU is plenty enough.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/18165346

That's plain wrong. .

Renethx, thats pretty harsh.


Im not speculating. The maths were done here before posting.
http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp


I honestly dont know whether your point is valid because it seems to come down to a difference in the output of two different PSU calculations. I would think the smart thing to do is to work from a conservative estimate, (as the recommendations we make here actually have effects on how money is spent). Cut it too fine and that will inevitably get OP into difficulty - potentially of the expensive variety.


If you are seriously recommending running a gaming card (in this case the figure was for a 4870 (160w TDP), not a 5750 @86w) with a minimum stated requirement of 500w, on a 350w PSU, then please be my guest. You clearly know something that ATI don't



Personally, I wouldnt do it, and I wouldnt recommend it. If you are out in your calculations, OP will have either a very hot PSU or a GPU that wont run because of not enough available power, which would then cost more money for a better-rated PSU to run it. If you are right, then great, good for OP and I stand corrected.


Feel free to add whatever you need to tie up your point, but keep it polite, eh?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by etheesdad /forum/post/18165371


Renethx, thats pretty harsh.


Im not speculating. The maths were done here before posting.
http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp


I honestly dont know whether your point is valid because it seems to come down to a difference in the output of two different PSU calculations. I would think the smart thing to do is to work from a conservative estimate, (as the recommendations we make here actually have effects on how money is spent). Cut it too fine and that will inevitably get OP into difficulty - potentially of the expensive variety.


If you are seriously recommending running a gaming card (in this case the figure was for a 4870 (160w TDP), not a 5750 @86w) with a minimum stated requirement of 500w, on a 350w PSU, then please be my guest. You clearly know something that ATI don't



Personally, I wouldnt do it, and I wouldnt recommend it. If you are out in your calculations, OP will have either a very hot PSU or a GPU that wont run because of not enough available power, which would then cost more money for a better-rated PSU to run it. If you are right, then great, good for OP and I stand corrected.


Feel free to add whatever you need to tie up your point, but keep it polite, eh?

Those power supply calculators, IMHO, are designed to sell over powered power supplies.
In real life, the total average power consumption is always much lower than they come up with, at least from my experience.


If one is using modern components, the processor, hard disk and motherboard typically use far lower power than is figured by the calculators. In addition, the Earthwatts PSU series is not one of those cheap, "doesn't deliver what it's rated at" power supplies. I've installed Earthwatts PSUs which cleared up stability problems in systems which had, supposedly, power supplies 50 to 100 watts more than the Earthwatts was rated at.


The quality of the power makes a big difference in system stability. If anyone wants cheap 450-500 watt power supplies that "might" work in some system, I now have a few....


Sorry to jump in here, but oversizing PSUs is one of my pet peeves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all so much for your input. Hopefully I will have this built before the end of March. I will update with pics/vids/impressions as I move along.
 

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I own that case and from my experience the psu isn't that great. My current system pulls about 90 watts when watching a dvd which is fine but when I added a 4550 before (also tried a 8400GS) the system would randomly power off. thats not shut down btw but the pc would just switch off. Only thing I could think of it being was the psu.

I've pretty much changed all the components in the pc since then and I'm getting a 5450 soon so I will find out for sure once I get it whether its a psu issue or not.

Apart from that though the psu is silent, the case fans were too loud for me on low settings so I replaced them with noctua which are pretty much silent.

If you are planning on going for a gaming card I would recommend a case that takes full height cards. Low profile limits your options too much and even if you do find a decent low profile card the psu may not be able to cope.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by snappjay /forum/post/18164310


I will re-eval my gaming needs. My PS3 fails in epic proportions on my copy of FO3. I know that Bethesda spent zero time play testing the PS3 version, so I thought the PC version might be better... but this complaint is for the gaming forum :p

I can tell you right now that if you think the PS3 fails for the FO3, anything much less then a HD5750 will be just as "fail".
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by etheesdad /forum/post/18165371


Renethx, thats pretty harsh.

Oops, I am sorry for my harsh tone.
A few days ago I wrote this post (against the claim that 340W is the minimum for a Core i3 system without discrete graphcs) and this one (to the person who claims he can do much, much better than Core i3 with a 45W processor). That's why I overreacted to the bold-face sentence of your post.



Usually the manufacturer's recommendation is extremely conservative. For example, AMD recommends a PSU > 400W for even HD 5450 whose TDP is only 20W. In general this is a good advice, in particular for a user who has no idea how much power the components in the system consume. But if a user knows his system very well, he can safely ignore it. You see in my later post how low the actual power consumption can be, depending on the components you use.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by etheesdad /forum/post/18165164


There are 4 levels of 80plus certification. The Earthwatts is Bronze certified (85%@50%). Gold certified means (90% or higher @50%). Hence the reference to 10%. The PSU is one of the biggest energy wasters in a PC. This effect is dramatically enhanced in an always-on machine. Taking this further, there is a threshold at which PSUs work most efficiently (generally 50-70% load) so its important to rate the PSU for the specifics of the build if you dont want to waste energy. Ideally the psu would be at roughly 50% of load - which then allows for increased inefficiency that occurs over time due to capacitor ageing.

Just be careful when using the quoted efficiencies. The efficieny ratings certification only measure down to 20% utilization. 20% utilization of a 600 watt PSU is 120 watts, typically at very low utilization (5-15%) the PSU efficiency is much less.


As was pointed out, i3/i5 systems are hard pressed to use over 200 watts under load even with a mid range graphics card, IGP systems will likely not exceed ~120 watts and will idle in the 35-50 watt range.
 

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FYI:


The below is the real measurement (by Kill-A-Watt) of the power consumption of the system consisting of:


- Core i3 530

- ASRock H55M Pro

- DDR3-1600 2 x 1GB

- iGPU

- WD 640GB Caviar Blue

- DVD drive

- Enermax MODU82+ 520W (the efficiency is ~80% at load here)

- Stock CPU cooler + 1 x 120mm case fan


- Idle: 55W

- MKV playback: 65W

- FurMark: 78W

- Prime95 (Small FFTs on 4 threads): 85W (this is an amazing number considering its excellent performance.)


So the true total system power consumption is:


- Idle: 44W

- MKV playback: 52W

- FurMark: 62W

- Prime95 (Small FFTs on 4 threads): 68W


Even if you add HD 5450 (TDP 19W), a 100W PSU (i.e. a PSU than can output 100W DC continuously and reliably) can handle such a system easily (75W at FurMark, 81W at Prime95, 89W at FurMark+Prime95).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fallen Kell /forum/post/18169536


I can tell you right now that if you think the PS3 fails for the FO3, anything much less then a HD5750 will be just as "fail".

I ran it with a 965be @ 3.4 with an 8600GT and the FPS were fine. I also had a go with an HD4550 (with the same cpu) but jitters wrecked the gameplay.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/18170234



- Idle: 55W

- MKV playback: 65W

- FurMark: 78W

- Prime95 (Small FFTs on 4 threads): 85W (this is an amazing number considering its excellent performance.)


So the true total system power consumption is:


- Idle: 44W

- MKV playback: 52W

- FurMark: 62W

- Prime95 (Small FFTs on 4 threads): 68W


Even if you add HD 5450 (TDP 19W), a 100W PSU (i.e. a PSU than can output 100W DC continuously and reliably) can handle such a system easily (75W at FurMark, 81W at Prime95, 89W at FurMark+Prime95).

Just as a matter of interest, the PSU calc used above measures that build @ 143w at 90% load. I have emailled them to find out why its so inaccurate.


R u sure the kill-a-watt measurement is correct? - that figure is incredibly low (68w on prime95?!!)!


Jim
 

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Renethx - here is the reply from Axel @ Extreme Outervision re the PSU calculator and your results from Kill-A-Watt
Quote:


Hi Jim,


Nothing is going on with the calculator. You have measured with

Kill-A-Watt how many Watts your power supply takes from the wall outlet.

But what you need to measure is how many watts is required by PC

components from PSU output.


In your case PSU takes 68W from the wall outlet (AC) to produce 143W (DC),

which where PSU efficiency comes into play. And I'd say your efficiency is

darn good.


You got 68W only under Prime, loading CPU and RAM. Calculator assumes ALL

components are loaded, that's why you get more wattage from the

calculator.


Hope this answers your question.



Best Regards,

Axel

So that explains why the Kill-A-Watt measurement is a different equation to what the machine's actually using due to AC->DC conversion performed by the PSU
 

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The best thing I purchased for my htpc was the logitech dinovo edge keyboard. It's a bluetooth keyboard that is simply stunning in looks and function. It's not cheap but worth every penny. I think newegg has it at $166.
 
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