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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellerbrewing /forum/post/17971668


I think you guys are probably referring to an IR receiver. A blaster actually sends out IR signals. In this case the remote would be doing the blasting and the USB receiver would be reciveing the IR signals. Easiest would be to buy a case with a receiver built in (like the antec fusion) but there are some USB ones. There is a model of the USB-IRT that has a receiver bult in but it is mainly built to blast. I think Antec makes an add on receiver. I think some tuner cards also come with a remote and a receiver.

Yeah sorry, meant receiver not blaster.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ingram /forum/post/17960466


Is the HIS 5670 really going to be worth it over the other brands purely for the heat being ejected outside of the case? I'm checking all the stores here daily in Australia and no one has the HIS yet. But all the other brands are widely available.


The Powercolor version is $109 AUD, which is pretty cheap. I don't think the HIS will be that cheap when it becomes available.

Mate, Check http://www.techbuy.com.au . HIS 5670 added today $154.35.

Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/17961326


If HIS IceQ is not available, go for Sapphire.

Umart Online have the Sapphire HD5670 currently for $119.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/17976997


Auto refresh rate change is even improved.
The screenshot below was taken with Build 1.3.1540.0.


I don't see any issue, at least for image-based subtitles.

So, where did you get that build. Got a link?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11,964 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc_G /forum/post/17978224


So, where did you get that build. Got a link?
XvidVideo.RU is the best site to download the latest SVN of MPC HomeCinema and ffdshow tryouts.
 

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I need a little guidance on finishing up my 1st HTPC build. I just need a mobo and I got it narrowed down to 2 finalists, but I'm looking for some last minute input. Here's my equipment so far:


Case: Apevia X-Master

PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W

Proc: Phenom II X2 550 BE

HDD: 1 TB WD

80 GB WD

Mem: Corsair DDR2 800 (2 x 2GB)

Opt Dr: Lite-On Blu-ray 4x


I have narrowed down the mobos to:

ASRock A790GXH (possiblity to unlock to x4) and ECS Black Series A790GXM


I want to be able to play Blu-ray and eventually do some gaming (both of these boards offer CrossfireX). Can anyone see a glaring hole or offer up a different direction I should go? Will these boards suffice? Any constructive criticism would be appreciated.
 

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...then again, don't we all?


Given the new i3 and 5670 products, I'm looking to go this route. I'm looking to do the following:
  • Play ripped DVDs
  • Play various media files, both audio and video. We've been very invested in Apple TV to this point.
  • We have an archaic (pre-HDMI) stereo that will eventually be replaced.
  • We've got a great 52" 1080p LCD.


My current product list is:


ASRock H55M Pro LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

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

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ - Retail

SAPPHIRE 100287VGAL Radeon HD 5670 (Redwood) 512MB 128-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail

Antec Black Aluminum / Steel Fusion Remote Black Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power ... - Retail

Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EADS 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Western Digital Caviar Green WD5000AADS 500GB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive

LG Black 8X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA Internal Combo LG Blu-ray Reader & 16X LightScribe DVD±R DVD Burner - Retail

COOLER MASTER GeminII S RR-CCH-PBU1-GP 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler - Retail


My primary question is whether the power supply is big enough. Any gotchas you think you see in this mix?


Thanks a TON for this amazing resource...
 

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I just completed my build using the new i3 cpu and h55 asus motherboard and am getting excellant hdmi and sound from the combination to a 54" lcd tv. When watching tv I run the hdmi directly to the tv and run the sound thru the Asus. When playing blu-ray/dvd I run the hdmi output of the Asus to the tv and the sound out of the Asus to my Denon receiver. Why are folks putting one of the 5000 series video cards in the combination? What do you get video wise that the h55 can't deliver? Just wopnder what I'm missing.
 

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I think it's because they want gaming options and the H55 boards are currently (on Newegg, at least) cheaper than the P55 boards.
 

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Why get the i3 though? The whole appeal to the Clarkdale line is that the integrated graphics and cpu are in the same package...and it can bitstream. It seems to me that if you are going to go with a separate video card (that can bitstream) then getting a Clarkdale cpu is sort of pointless. I would go with a better processor without the integrated graphics since that function is now being taken care of by the dedicated video card. Just my two cents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11,971 ·
 ____________________________________________
Recommended HTPC Systems – January 2010 Edition
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
Last Update on January 25, 2010
First, a small advertisement:


Table of Contents
  • Introduction
    • Organization of the Contents
    • Classification of HTPC Systems
      • 1. Form Factor
      • 2. Performance and Cost
      • 3. CPU-Chipset-GPU Manufacturers
    • Component Selection
      • CPU
      • Chipset and Motherboard
      • Memory
      • Graphics Card
      • Sound Card
    • My Pick of HTPC
  • Peripheral Components and OS
    • Input Device
      • MCE Remote
      • Universal Remote
      • Keyboard & Mouse
      • So what do you need?
    • Optical Disc Drive
      • BD Rewriter/BD-ROM/DVD Rewriter
      • DVD Rewriter
    • TV Tuner/Capture Card
      • Digital+Analog
      • Digital Only
      • HD Capturing
    • Sound Card
    • OS
    • Brackets
      • S/PDIF Bracket
      • COM (Serial) Port Bracket
      • LPT (Parallel) Port Bracket
  • Mini-ITX System
    • General Consideration
    • Standard System
      • Intel-Intel (iGPU)
      • Intel-NVIDIA (iGPU)
      • AMD-AMD (iGPU)
    • Gaming System
      • Intel-Intel
      • Intel-NVIDIA
      • AMD-AMD
  • MicroATX System
    • General Consideration
    • Low-End System
      • Intel-Intel
      • AMD-AMD (iGPU)
      • AMD-AMD
    • Mid-Range System
      • Intel-Intel (iGPU)
      • Intel-Intel
      • AMD-AMD
    • High-End System
      • Intel-Intel
      • AMD-AMD
    • Premium System
      • Intel-Intel
      • AMD-AMD
  • ATX System
    • General Consideration
    • Low-End System
      • Intel-Intel
      • AMD-AMD (iGPU)
      • AMD-AMD
    • Mid-Range System
      • Intel-Intel (iGPU)
      • Intel-Intel
      • AMD-AMD
      • AMD-NVIDIA
    • High-End System
      • Intel-Intel
      • AMD-AMD
      • AMD-NVIDIA
    • Premium System
      • Intel-Intel (LGA 1156)
        Intel-Intel (LGA 1366)
      • AMD-AMD
      • AMD-NVIDIA
  • DAS (Direct Attached Storage)
    • 5-Drive SATA Enclosure
    • 8-Drive SATA Enclosure
    • High-Performance 8-Drive SATA Enclosure
    • 15 to 20-Drive SATA 4U Rack Mount Storage Chassis
    • Other DAS Solutions
  • Workstation
  • Media Storage Server
    • General Consideration
    • System
      • 20 HDD Rack Mount System I
      • 20 HDD Rack Mount System II
      • 15 HDD Tower System


 

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Discussion Starter · #11,972 ·
 __________
Introduction
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________________________
Organization of the Contents
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Here is a brief summary of the contents.
  • Peripheral Components and OS: I collected common hardware components used in each system here. OS (Windows only) is also mentioned.
  • Recommended HTPC systems: This longest part is classified into several categories as stated below for convenience.
  • DAS (Direct Attached Storage): If you need more storage space, a quick solution is here.
  • Workstation: A system for (serious) video editing tasks.
  • Server: HD video files occupy lots of storage spaces. So you may need a dedicated media storage server.
_________________________
Classification of HTPC Systems
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HTPC systems here are classified into several categories for convenience, according to the following three criteria.

1. Form Factor


A form factor specifies the physical dimensions of a system. Basically it is the motherboard form factor that defines the overall size of a system. There are dozens of standardized form factors. Among them we will be concerned with the following three most popular form factors.
  • Mini-ITX: 170mm x 170mm (6.7″ x 6.7″)
  • MicroATX: 244mm x 244mm (9.6″ x 9.6″)
  • ATX: 305mm x 244mm (12″ x 9.6″)

Here is a picture of a motherboard/case of each form factor, Mini-ITX, microATX, ATX, from left to right, the bottom being an AVR.


(FYI the model number of each motherboard/case in the picture is:
Form FactorMotherboardCaseCase Size
Mini-ITXZotac H55ITX-A-EApex MI-008W220 x H129 x D300 mm
MicroATXGIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2HAntec Fusion RemoteW445 x H145 x D414 mm
ATXASUS P7P55D-E PROZalman HD503W450 x H170 x D455 mm
The AVR is ONKYO TX-NA807, W435 x H199 x D436 mm. You may wonder why the width of the microATX case is almost the same as that of the ATX case. The reason is simple: the PSU is usually laid flat in a microATX case, while it is laid vertically in an ATX case. As a consequence, a microATX case is usually shorter in height than an ATX case.)


Because of the size, Mini-ITX provides the least expandability (0 or 1 expansion slot), usually 2 memory slots and CPU support is often limited by the cooling performance of a small Mini-ITX case. MicroATX supports up to 4 expansion slots, while ATX supports up to 7 expansion slots. Usually a Mini-ITX/microATX motherboard comes with an integrated graphics so that you may not need to use a discrete graphic card. An ATX case can usually hold more storage drives than an microATX case, and a microATX case can hold more storage drives than an Mini-ITX case.

2. Performance and Cost


Typical tasks done by a HTPC are
  • Playing back (or watching) media contents including:
    • Non-streamed media such as DVD movies, Blu-ray Disc movies, CDs.
    • Streamed media such as TV (terrestrial, satellite, cable, Internet) and radio.
    • Media files stored locally.
  • Creating media files from various sources, non-streaming or streaming (usually called "ripping" or "recording"), and storing them for later use.
  • Editing, including re-encoding, media files.

Hardware components that are important for each task is:
[TD]
  • Playing back video: This includes video decode and various post-processing (deinterlacing, rescaling etc.). GPU is the most important for this task (unless you resort to a software playback solution such as ffdshow). A couple of GPUs integrated in motherboard are good. If you want to get the best picture quality, a good mid-range discrete GPU is recommended, however. A high-end card is good for better gaming experience of course, but it rarely improve video playback performance.
  • Ripping: The speed of ripping DVD/BD discs is often limited by the reading speed of the optical disc drive used.
  • Recording: HDTV contents are already encoded (in either MPEG-2 or H.264). So this is relatively easy for any system.
  • Editing and re-encoding video (except for simple cut and join): This is one of the most CPU-intensive tasks. A good quad-core processor is recommended. A trend is that GPU (stream processors) offloads CPU, and several video editing applications already support it (keywords: GPGPU, OpenCL, Microsoft DirectCompute, NVIDIA CUDA, ATI Stream).

In general better performance means costing more.


Performance and cost is the secondary category of the list.

3. CPU-Chipset-GPU Manufacturers CPU , chipset (in motherboard; controlling various I/O devices and connecting them to CPU/memory) and GPU are the three main hardware components of a system. Intel and AMD are the main suppliers of CPU for PC. Intel and AMD are producing chipsets for its own CPUs and NVIDIA for both. Intel (integrated GPU only), AMD and NVIDIA are the top three GPU manufacturers.


CPU/chipset/GPU manufacturers is the third category of the list.
_________________ Component Selection ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

The components selected here are based on my hand-on experience and/or my extensive research. Here are general considerations in choosing components.

CPU
  • Below $60: Intel Celeron E3200 and E3300 are nice, cheap dual-core processors.
  • $60 to $150: Intel Core i3 530/540 is a nice processor with integrated graphics. AMD Athlon II X3 (triple-core) and X4 (quad-core) families are more powerful in some applications (in particular HTPC-related).
  • Over $150: Intel Core i5 and i7 (LGA 1156 and LGA 1366) are dominating the high-end segment.
Chipset and Motherboard


Intel produces chipsets for its own chips and AMD for its own chips. NVIDIA used to produce chipsets for both. However with the current trend that critical chipset components are incorporated into the same silicon as the processor, NVIDIA is quitting the desktop chipset business. There are still many nice NVIDIA chipset motherboards and I picked up some of them here.

Memory DDR2 vs DDR3 : DDR3 SDRAM is the latest standard and is expected to be the mainstream by Q2 2010. You may want to go with DDR3 now (depending on the total cost of the system), in particular considering that DDR3 modules are reusable in future upgrade (DDR4 SDRAM is coming only in 2012), although the performance increase by going from DDR2 to DDR3 is little and the total cost of a DDR3 system may be higher than an equivalent DDR2 system by $10 to $30.

Capacity, timings, voltage : For normal HTPC usage, 2GB in total is plenty enough (in particular under Windows 7). CAS latency and timings are important for memory-intensive applications, in particular games. However these have little effect on the majority of HTPC-related tasks. So just ignore them. The standard operating voltage of DDR2 (resp. DDR3) SDRAM is 1.8V (resp. 1.5V). Some memory modules require higher voltage than that for better stability. Adjust the memory voltage in BIOS according to the specifications of your memory modules.

Brand : Basically the brand does not matter in performance as the standards are established by JEDEC rigorously. It's not like Intel vs. AMD in CPU.

Graphics Card Sound Card _____________ My Pick of HTPC ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

In case you have no idea what to choose (and no time to dig), here is my pick.
  • MicroATX/ATX Mid-Range Intel-Intel System with ATI Graphics Card : the best video/audio playback performance, as well as good performance/low power consumption in various CPU intensive tasks.
[/TD]
 

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Discussion Starter · #11,973 ·
 _________________________
Peripheral Components and OS
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A HTPC needs peripheral components (input devices, optical drive, TV tuner, sound card etc.) to be functional besides the core components (CPU, motherboard, memory, graphics card, HDD, PSU and case). The following is a quick list of recommended peripheral components and OS. In the subsequent sections, I will give only core components.

___________
Input Device
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MCE Remote


A MCE remote is a (usually IR) remote control and a receiver to be attached to the HTPC (internally or externally via USB) that controls Windows Media Center and other front ends/media players at a distant place. Some HTPC cases and TV tuner cards come with a MCE remote. If not, you can buy one.
  • Anyware GP-IR01BK Windows Vista MCE Remote Control External IR Receiver and Remote, $21.
  • Antec Multimedia Station Basic Internal IR Receiver and Remote, $25.
  • Antec Multimedia Station Elite Internal IR Receiver w/VFD and Remote, $59.
Universal Remote


If you want to control all entertainment equipments at your home theater room, a universal remote is a must. Your HTPC needs to have an IR receiver (so you first need to have a MCE remote).
  • Logitech Harmony One Advanced Universal Remote, $186.
  • Logitech Harmony 700 (A stripped version of Harmony One: up to six devices, non-touch screen), $133.
  • Logitech Harmony 900 (Harmony One + RF capabilities), $300.
  • Logitech Harmony 1100 (3.5ˮ touch screen; RF capabilities), $330.

You may be able to find an older model cheap:
  • Logitech Harmony 880 Advanced Universal Remote, $130.
  • Logitech Harmony 890 Advanced Universal Remote (Harmony 880 + RF capabilities), $220.

The following is a universal remote (PC via RF + three CE devices via IR) with Gyration's MotionSense technology, eliminating the need for a mouse.
  • Gyration Air Music Remote GYR4101US, $68.
  • Gyration Air Music Remote with Compact Keyboard GYR4101CKUS, $83.

or the editions without music library LCD:
  • Gyration Media Center Remote GYR3101US, $68.
  • Gyration Media Center Remote with Compact Keyboard GYR3101CKUS, $108.


Keyboard & Mouse
  • Adesso 2.4 GHz RF Wireless Multimedia/MCE Keyboard with Optical Trackball WKB-3200UB, $55.
  • Logitech diNovo Edge, $135.
  • Logitech diNovo Mini, $126.
So what do you need?


So what do you need (besides a keyboard and a mouse when installing software)? There is no simple answer.
  • If you just want to control a front end remotely, a cheap MCE remote may be enough. But you still need to a keyboard/mouse, for example, to surf the web.
  • Logitech Harmony is good to control lots of CE devices as well as HTPC. But you still need to a keyboard/mouse, for example, to surf the web.
  • If you want to use your HTPC more like a normal PC (e.g. web browsing) without using a keyboard/mouse, Gyration is a good choice. This can also control three other CE devices.
_______________
Optical Disc Drive
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BD Rewriter/BD-ROM/DVD Rewriter
  • LG WH08LS20 Super Multi Blue BD & DVD Rewriter, $180.
  • LG CH08LS10 Super Multi Blue BD-ROM/DVD Rewriter, $104.
  • LITE-ON iHOS104 BD/DVD Reader, $60.
  • SilverStone TOB02 SST-TOB02 Slim Type BD-ROM/DVD Rewriter, $148.
DVD Rewriter
  • LG GH22NS50 Super Multi DVD & CD Rewriter, $29.
___________________
TV Tuner/Capture Card
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Digital+Analog
  • AVerMedia AVerTV Combo G2 PCIe x1 Card (White Box or Media Center Upgrade Kit), $90.
  • Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 PCIe x1 Card (White Box or MC Kit), $114.
Digital Only
  • AVerMedia AVerTVHD Duet PCIe x1 Card (White Box), $60.
  • Silicondust HDHomeRun Networked Device, $149.
HD Capturing
  • Hauppauge HD PVR model 1212 USB Device, $205.
__________
Sound Card
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯


This is purely optional. Necessary hardware for HD digital audio is provided by either the motherboard's onboard audio codec or the HDMI on a graphics card:
  • Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams
    • Every motherboard's onboard audio codec (via optical or coaxial S/PDIF connector)
    • Every GeForce graphics card except for GT 220 and GT 240 (actually audio is supplied by the onboard audio codec via an internal cable)
    • Every AMD 780G/785G/790GX/880G/890GX chipset motherboard
    • All the solutions mentioned below
  • Multichannel LPCM over HDMI
    • Every GeForce 9300 chipset motherboard
    • GeForce GT 220 and GT 240 graphics card
    • Every Radeon HD 4xxx/5xxx graphics card
    • Every Intel Core i5/i3 (Clarkdale) processor
  • Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio/Master Audio bitstreams
    • Every Radeon HD 5xxx graphics card
    • Every Intel Core i5/i3 (Clarkdale) processor
 DD/DTS/Stereo LPCMMultichannel LPCMTrueHD/DTS-HD
Every mb's onboard audio codec (S/PDIF)YNN
AMD 780G/785G/790GX/880G/890GX (iGPU)YNN
Radeon HD 4xxx (dGPU)YYN
Radeon HD 5xxx (dGPU)YYY
GeForce 9300/9400 mGPU (iGPU)YYN
GeForce 210, GT 220/240 (dGPU)YYN
All the other GeForce cards (dGPU)YNN
Intel Core i3/i5 (Clarkdale) (iGPU)YYY
So you don't need a sound card unless you want:
  • Good analog sound (coupled with a good amplifier);
  • Support for EAX 5.0 in gaming (to output via analog, S/PDIF with Dolby Digital Live/DTS Interactive or HDMI)

Here are a list of a couple of recommended sound cards if you are in the above two cases:
  • ASUS Xonar HDAV1.3 Deluxe PCIe x1 Card, $240. (Topnotch analog sound as well as HD audio bitstreaming with ArcSoft TotalMedia Theater.)
  • Auzentech Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD PCIe x1 Card, $250. (EAX 5.0 support by an X-Fi audio chip; HD audio bitstreaming with a retail copy of CyberLink PowerDVD 9 Ultra.)
___ OS ¯¯¯
  • Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate Service Pack 2, 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) edition. OEM should be enough.
  • Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate, 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) edition. OEM should be enough.

A couple of remarks:
  • Vista vs. Windows 7: If you own a license of Vista, do you need Windows 7? The answer depends on your usage. A notable improvement of Windows 7 over Vista is better TV integration in Windows Media Center. If you don't use TV feature of Media Center or don't use Media Center itself, then you may want to stay with Vista.
  • Vista editions: Vista Ultimate has several features that are not found in Home Premium, for example, complete PC backup and remote desktop, although you can find alternative programs easily (e.g. Acronis True Image; VNC, RAdmin).
  • Windows 7 editions: 7 Home Premium offers full-system backup and restore unlike Vista Home Premium. You can find comparison of Windows 7 editions in this Microsoft web page and Wikipedia .
  • x86 vs. x64: Currently the main advantage of Windows x64 is the support for more than 4GB memory. However Windows Media Center x64 is a 64-bit application and a couple of useful DirectShow filters are not available in x64 (e.g. madFlac Decoder, ReClock [a must tool for bit-perfect LPCM HD audio]). Unless you are sure you will take advantage of more than 4GB memory, you may want to stay with x86.



Lower-cost components





Higher-cost components
________ Brackets ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ S/PDIF Bracket


If your motherboard does not have an S/PDIF port in the rear panel, then you can build your own coaxial S/PDIF bracket: buy
from FRONTX and attach it to an empty PCI bracket by drilling a hole.

COM (Serial) Port Bracket


If your motherboard has an internal COM connector, use LPT (Parallel) Port Bracket


If your motherboard has an internal LPT connector, use
 

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Discussion Starter · #11,974 ·
 ______________
Mini-ITX System
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__________________
General Consideration
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Mini-ITX form factor has become popular because of its small footprint. However there are several limitations. It supports at most one expansion slot. As almost every Mini-ITX has an integrated GPU (iGPU) and some of them are very good for video playback, this may not be a serious issue. A Mini-ITX case is usually very small, hence there is often a space limitation for the CPU cooler, storage drives and PSU. You have to select components carefully. If you agree with these limitations, a Mini-ITX system can be not only a good HTPC but also a gaming machine or a video encoding machine by placing a powerful discrete graphics card and/or CPU (as long as the motherboard and the case support them).


I will give a standard HTPC system with iGPU and a gaming HTPC with dGPU for each of the Intel chip-Intel chipset, the Intel chip-NVIDIA chipset, the AMD chip-AMD chipset and the AMD chip-NVIDIA chipset. Here is a feature comparison chart (needs to be updated).


 

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Discussion Starter · #11,975 ·
 ______________
Standard System
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Intel-Intel (iGPU)

System
  • CPU: Core i3 530 2.93GHz LGA1156, $113.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: ZOTAC H55-ITX WiFi H55ITX-A-E LGA1156 Intel H55 chipset Mini-ATX, $129.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-2GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 1GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: WD Caviar Blue WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • 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, $50.
  • Total Cost: $410


Intel-NVIDIA (iGPU)

System
  • CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E5300 2.60GHz 2MB L2 LGA775, $64.
  • CPU Cooler: SilverStone NT07-775, $19.
  • Motherboard: ZOTAC GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi GF9300-G-E LGA775 GeForce 9300 mGPU Mini-ITX, $127.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $54.
  • Graphics Card: GeForce 9300 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: WD Caviar Blue WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • 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, $50.
  • Total Cost: $367


References AMD-AMD (iGPU)

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, $129 (at Amazon.com ). An alternative is J&W MINIX 785G-SP128MB AM2+ AMD 785G chipset Mini-ITX, $?.
  • Memory: Crucial CT2KIT12864AC800 DDR2-800 SO-DIMM 2 x 1GB Kit, $49.
  • Graphics Card: Radeon HD 3200 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • 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, $50.
  • Total Cost: $361





 

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Discussion Starter · #11,976 ·
 _____________
Gaming System
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The systems here are based on SilverStone SG05 Mini-DTX/Mini-ITX case . The case supports a 2-slot graphics card of up to 9″ length and has a 300W PSU, good enough in most cases.

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, with Scythe Slip Stream Slim 120 mm Case Fan SY1212SL12M 1600rpm, $8 (the stock fan is too tall for the selected case), and Cooler Master RR-ACC-1156-GP LGA1156 Retention Bracket Set, $4 (necessary to attach the cooler to the LGA1156 socket).
  • Motherboard: ZOTAC H55-ITX WiFi H55ITX-A-E LGA1156 Intel H55 chipset Mini-ATX, $129.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $105.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 5770 GDDR5 1GB, $159.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): XFX GS-250X-ZDFU GeForce GTS 250 DDR3 1GB, $146.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63. 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, $96.
  • Total Cost: $794 for ATI, $781 for NVIDIA


Remarks
  • The case supports a slim type optical drive, e.g., SilverStone TOB02 SST-TOB02 Slim Type BD-ROM/DVD Rewriter, $148.
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, with Scythe Slip Stream Slim 120 mm Case Fan SY1212SL12M 1600rpm, $8 (the stock fan is too tall for the selected case).
  • Motherboard: ZOTAC GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi GF9300-G-E LGA775 GeForce 9300 mGPU Mini-ITX, $127.
  • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1B16K DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $92.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 5770 GDDR5 1GB, $159.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): XFX GS-250X-ZDFU GeForce GTS 250 DDR3 1GB, $146.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63. 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, $96.
  • Total Cost: $760 for ATI, $747 for NVIDIA


Remarks
  • The case supports a slim type optical drive, e.g., SilverStone TOB02 SST-TOB02 Slim Type BD-ROM/DVD Rewriter, $148.
References AMD-AMD

System
  • CPU: Phenom II X4 905e HD905EOCGIBOX 2.5GHz AM3, $175.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $30, with Scythe Slip Stream Slim 120 mm Case Fan SY1212SL12M 1600rpm, $8 (the stock fan is too tall for the selected case).
  • Motherboard: J&W MINIX 780G-SP128MB AM2+ AMD 780G chipset Mini-ITX, $129 (at MvixUSA ).
  • Memory: OCZ OCZ2M8004GK DDR2-800 SO-DIMM 2 x 2GB Kit, $86.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 5770 GDDR5 1GB, $159.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): XFX GS-250X-ZDFU GeForce GTS 250 DDR3 1GB, $146.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63. 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, $96.
  • Total Cost: $750 for ATI, $737 for NVIDIA


Remarks
  • The case supports a slim type optical drive, e.g., SilverStone TOB02 SST-TOB02 Slim Type BD-ROM/DVD Rewriter, $148.



 

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Discussion Starter · #11,977 ·
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MicroATX System
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General Consideration
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A microATX system is perhaps the most popular form factor in HTPC because it generally costs less and is smaller than ATX, yet has enough expansion slots of four for many people.


I will give a low-end system, a mid-range system, a high-end system and a premium system for each of Intel chip-Intel chipset and AMD chip-AMD chipset. Basic distinctions are:
  • Low-end system: provides reasonably good video playback performance at a low cost.
  • Mid-range system: provides 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).


 

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Discussion Starter · #11,978 ·
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Low-End System
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I used here a budget, but well-built low-profile case. Alternative microATX cases are
  • Antec NSK1480 microATX, low-profile, $95.
  • Antec MicroFusion 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: Celeron E3300 2.50GHz 1MB L2 LGA775, $43. A better alternative is Pentium Dual-Core E5400 2.70GHz 2MB L2 LGA775, $64.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-G41MT-ES2L LGA775 Intel G41 chipset microATX, $60.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-2GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 1GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): MSI R5450-MD512H Radeon HD 5450 GDDR3 512MB, $53.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): ECS NGT220C-512QZ-F GeForce GT 220 DDR2 512MB low-profile, $52.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • PSU: 80 PLUS 350W ATX PSU (included in the case), $0
  • Case: Antec NSK1480 microATX, $105.
  • Total Cost: $389 for ATI, $388 for NVIDIA


Remarks
  • If you prefer DDR2-SDRAM, a recommended motherboard and memory modules are
    • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-G31M-ES2L LGA775 Intel G31 chipset microATX, $50.
    • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $54.
AMD-AMD (iGPU)

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: ASRock M3A785GMH/128M AM3 AMD 785G chipset microATX, $80. An alternative is GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G chipset microATX, $89. If you want USB 3.0, then choose GIGABYTE GA-785GMT-USB3 AM3 AMD 785G chipset microATX, $?.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-2GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 1GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card: Radeon HD 4200 (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • PSU: 80 PLUS 350W ATX PSU (included in the case), $0
  • Case: Antec NSK1480 microATX, $105.
  • Total Cost: $373


Remarks
  • If you prefer DDR2-SDRAM, a recommended motherboard and memory modules are
    • Motherboard: ASRock A785GMH/128M AM2+ AMD 785G chipset microATX, $70. An alternative is GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset microATX, $80.
    • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $54.
References AMD-AMD


Radeon HD 4200 does not support multichannel LPCM over HDMI. If you want multichannel LPCM, and even HD audio bitstreaming, you have to add a discrete graphics card. Here is an example of such a system.

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X2 240 ADX240OCGQBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $60.
  • CPU Cooler: Stock cooler, $0.
  • Motherboard: [GIGABYTE GA-MA78LMT-S2H AM3 AMD 760G chipset microATX, $65.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-2GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 1GB Kit, $65.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): MSI R5450-MD512H Radeon HD 5450 GDDR3 512MB, $53.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): ECS NGT220C-512QZ-F GeForce GT 220 DDR2 512MB low-profile, $52.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • PSU: 80 PLUS 350W ATX PSU (included in the case), $0
  • Case: Antec NSK1480 microATX, $105.
  • Total Cost: $411 for ATI, $410 for NVIDIA


Remarks
  • If you prefer DDR2-SDRAM, a recommended motherboard and memory modules are
    • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA78LMT-S2H AM3 AMD 760G chipset microATX, $65.
    • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1A16K DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $54.




 

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Discussion Starter · #11,979 ·
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Mid-Range System
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Intel-Intel (iGPU)

System
  • CPU: Core i3 530 2.93GHz LGA1156, $113.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $30, with Cooler Master RR-ACC-1156-GP LGA1156 Retention Bracket Set, $4.
  • Motherboard: ASRock H55M Pro LGA1156 Intel H55 chipset microATX, $95. If you need an IDE connector and/or a FDD connector, choose GIGABYTE GA-H55M-UD2H LGA1156 Intel H55 chipset microATX, $105, or ASUS P7H55-M PRO LGA1156 Intel H55 chipset microATX, $90 (no FDD, no IEEE 1394). GIGABYTE and ASUS are releasing also USB 3.0 versions.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $105.
  • Graphics Card: Intel HD Graphics (integrated in the chipset), $0.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $70. An alternative is Enermax ECO80+ 400W EES400AWT, $58.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $130.
  • Total Cost: $612


Intel-Intel

System
  • CPU: Core i3 530 2.93GHz LGA1156, $113.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $30, with Cooler Master RR-ACC-1156-GP LGA1156 Retention Bracket Set, $4.
  • Motherboard: ASRock H55M Pro LGA1156 Intel H55 chipset microATX, $95. If you need an IDE connector and/or a FDD connector, choose GIGABYTE GA-H55M-UD2H LGA1156 Intel H55 chipset microATX, $105, or ASUS P7H55-M PRO LGA1156 Intel H55 chipset microATX, $110. GIGABYTE and ASUS are releasing also USB 3.0 versions.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $105.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): HIS H567Q512 Radeon HD 5670 GDDR5 512MB, $100. An alternative is Sapphire HD 5670 512GB GDDR5, $100.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): ASUS ENGT240/DI/512MD5/A GeForce GT 240 GDDR5 512MB, $100.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $70. An alternative is Enermax ECO80+ 400W EES400AWT, $58.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $130.
  • Total Cost: $712 for ATI, $712 for NVIDIA


AMD-AMD

System
  • CPU: Athlon II X4 630 ADX630WFGIBOX 2.8GHz AM3, $99.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G chipset microATX, $89. If you want USB 3.0, then choose GIGABYTE GA-785GMT-USB3 AM3 AMD 785G chipset microATX, $?.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $105.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): HIS H567Q512 Radeon HD 5670 GDDR5 512MB, $100. An alternative is Sapphire HD 5670 512GB GDDR5, $100.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): ASUS ENGT240/DI/512MD5/A GeForce GT 240 GDDR5 512MB, $100.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • PSU: Corsair VX450W CMPSU-450VX 450W, $70. An alternative is Enermax ECO80+ 400W EES400AWT, $58.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $130.
  • Total Cost: $688 for ATI, $688 for NVIDIA


Remarks
  • If you prefer DDR2-SDRAM, a recommended motherboard and memory modules are
    • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset microATX, $80.
    • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1B16K DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $90.



 

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Discussion Starter · #11,980 ·
 ______________
High-End System
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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, with Cooler Master RR-ACC-1156-GP LGA1156 Retention Bracket Set, $4 (necessary to attach the cooler to the LGA1156 socket).
  • Motherboard: ASRock H55M Pro LGA1156 Intel H55 chipset microATX, $95.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $105.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): HIS H575FN1GD iCooler IV Radeon HD 5750 GDDR5 1GB, $145.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): XFX GS-250X-ZDFU GeForce GTS 250 DDR3 1GB, $146.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • PSU: Corsair VX550W CMPSU-550VX 550W, $80. An alternative is Enermax ECO80+ 500W EES500AWT, $85.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $130.
  • Total Cost: $850 for ATI, $851 for NVIDIA


AMD-AMD

System
  • CPU: Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition HDZ955FBGIBOX 3.2GHz AM3, $175.
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master 風神鍛 (Geminii S) RR-CCH-PBU1-GP, $32.
  • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G chipset microATX, $89.
  • Memory: G.SKILL F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ DDR3-1600 2 x 2GB Kit, $105.
  • Graphics Card (ATI): HIS H575FN1GD iCooler IV Radeon HD 5750 GDDR5 1GB, $145.
  • Graphics Card (NVIDIA): XFX GS-250X-ZDFU GeForce GTS 250 DDR3 1GB, $146.
  • HDD: Western Digital WD6400AAKS 640GB SATA 3.0Gbps, $63.
  • PSU: Corsair VX550W CMPSU-550VX 550W, $80. An alternative is Enermax ECO80+ 500W EES500AWT, $85.
  • Case: Antec Fusion Remote Black microATX, with LCD/IR receiver/remote, $130.
  • Total Cost: $819 for ATI, $820 for NVIDIA


Remarks
  • If you prefer DDR2-SDRAM, a recommended motherboard and memory modules are
    • Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM2+ AMD 785G chipset microATX, $80.
    • Memory: A-DATA ADQVE1B16K DDR2-800 2 x 2GB Kit, $90.


 
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