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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Cliffs - Need new PSU and BR drive, recommendations? What should I upgrade if I had $200-$300 more to throw into the system.


So last night my Blu-Ray drive in my HTPC started whirring/vibrating and making a lot of noise while it was spinning discs. I have also been having some problems with my Power Supply (Earthwatts 430) fan making lots of noise (sounded like it was going out). The PSU would make the noise intermittently and would usually quiet down after a few seconds when it started up. Well I neglected to check the PSU fan and I finally ended up opening the case last night to see what was going on with my Blu Ray drive after it started vibrating/whirring and in the process I think the PSU might have finally gone and died. I didn't mess with the PSU when I had the case open but I put everything back in its place after playing around with the BR drive and then when I closed everything back up the computer would not start up. Now when I push the power button, I can see the CPU HSF move about a millimeter, and see some of the other fans move a millimeter or two as well but then everything just dies, so I'm suspecting that the PSU is dead. (Thanks Antec!).


I'm going to have the replace the Blu Ray Drive and Power Supply at LEAST to get the system back to where it was. I'm figuring that will be about $120 right there. My question is could I rebuild something significantly better if I threw $200 or $300 more into the system?


Current specs:
Athlon 4850E

Foxconn mATX Mobo 780G chipset I think

SB Live

Geforce 8600 GT ( pic )

2 GB DDR 2

150 GB SATA HD

500 GB SATA HD

nMedia HTPC desktop case


DiNovo edge keyboard


I only use the computer to play Blu Ray movies, rip DVD's, listen to music, and surf the internet. I don't have a TV tuner and don't really need one. I use Mediabrowser as my front end and Zune for music.


At this point my system does everything I need it to, but these are some of the things I might be interested in upgrading, so I need advice if I chose that route.


1. My case is HUGE and I was wondering if there was any better case that I could downsize to or if I could get a smaller form factor CPU/Mobo/Case. The problem here is that my 8600GT is passive and the heatsink is HUGE (in fact I had to cut a hole in the top of my current case to get it to fit). Maybe there is a Mobo out there with integrated video that does HD decoding now that could serve my needs better?


2. I'm going to need a new Blu-Ray drive. The drive I have is indeed dying, I hooked it up to another system and it still buzzes and whirs when reading discs. I don't need a BR writer, just one that reads discs and is quiet, recommendations?


3. I need a new PSU. Had an Antec Earthwatts 430. I'm not a noise freak but I wouldn't want anything louder than this.


4. Any other recommended upgrades, maybe a new HSF for the CPU?


I will be running windows 7.
 

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1. You've got a micro-ATX motherboard, so you shouldn't have much problem fitting into a smaller case. You'll need to replace the video cared with something less huge, but you're in luck there. The ATI 5450 just started shipping. If you don't mind wrestling with ATI's crummy drivers, it's just about the perfect HTPC video card. It's half-height, passively cooled, has solid HD video decoding, and will bitstream 7.1 HD audio if you want to go that route. Once you have a half-height video card, you open up a lot of slim HTPC case options. I don't have a personal recommendation (I prefer cube cases, never owned a slim), but there are hundreds of reviews on Newegg of dozens of cases that would do the job.


3. My only recommendation is to buy quality. Never cheap out on the PSU. The Zalman 500HP is probably a safe bet. I use the 750 watt version and it is both silent (or very nearly so) and rock-solid. Being modular will also make things a lot easier if you switch to a smaller case. You won't have half a mile of extra wires getting in the way and impeding airflow. Note that if you go for a slim case, they almost always come with proprietary PSUs. If you don't like the Zalman, definitely stick with a reliable brand. Antec, Corsair, OCZ, Silverstone, Thermaltake and CoolerMaster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Looks like I will probably pick up at 5450 to get into a smaller case. I will probably be looking for a slim desktop format oriented case. But if I am going for a mATX case does that mean I will only be able to fit a micro atx power supply in the case? Won't this severely limit my power supply options?


Also anyone have a recommendation on a BDROM?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete6032 /forum/post/18136688


But if I am going for a mATX case does that mean I will only be able to fit a micro atx power supply in the case? Won't this severely limit my power supply options?

Nearly all cases, even micro-ATX ones, use standard ATX power supplies. The only ones that don't are extremely compact cases, like the slim HTPC models you're looking at. Many of these use proprietary power supplies, which can be difficult or impossible to replace should they fail.


There is a standard for compact case power supplies that some manufactures use though. If you're concerned about replacement options, look for a case that uses a TFX power supply. Silverstone makes a couple expensive models , and there are some cheap Moneaul and InWin cases that use TFX as well. TFX PSUs are usually limited to 250-350W, but that will be plenty of power for your build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
OK so I was looking around on Newegg at cases and I was looking at the dimensions of some of the recommended cases in the DIY thread. Apparently I already have a low-profile micro atx case (nMediaPC HTPC 1000B) that has similar dimensions to other low profile cases like the Antec Fusion or Antec NSK2480. (All 3 of these cases are about 16x17x5.5) I also found out that my Earthwatts 430 is under warranty, so I should be able to get another one for no cost. That means I will stay with the same case for now.


So I guess I can't really downsize, but would it be worth it to pick up a 5450 still? Would the 5450 provide better video decoding performance than the 8600GT?


Also the way my audio is set up is that I have a 2.1 system (very inexpensive) and I have a SB Live 7.1 card (think it was like $40) which I just run the front speakers out of, so I wouldn't have much use for audio through HDMI.


Another thing I was looking at was my CPU Heatsink. Right now I have an $8 rosewill HSF on there. The specifications on newegg list it as 22.4 dba. Looking at some other CPU coolers, it looks like I would have to fork over about $30 to $40 for a fan that would only be a couple of decibels quieter. How much should the dba ratings on these sites be trusted?
 

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That case is not low-profile. You can get a slim case that only takes half-height cards and shave a couple inches off the height (as well as the length and depth). This case is a perfect example at 13.8"x14.5"x3.9".


None of the manufacturer's dB ratings on fans can be trusted. You can get accurate numbers form 3rd part reviews, but even those won't tell you haw it will sound in your case under your usage patterns. Are you certain the CPU fan noise is even a problem, or might it be another fan that is too loud?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
OK I see. I think I am going to try and go the slim-case route. One other question then though. I will be using a 5450 for the video. Right now I have a full height PCI sound card. I know that the 5450 does video and audio, right? My system is pretty low tech with sound. The way it is set up right now I have my video card using a DVI to HDMI cable going from the video card to the TV. Then I just have a pair of 2.1 speakers connected to the audio out jack on the sound card (green port).


Is there some way I can take advantage of the 5450's ability to do audio without having to buy any additional gear, or would I need to get a low profile sound card and hook the system up in the same way I have it hooked up now? Also, is this the best way to have it hooked up? I only use my HTPC for listening to music and watching Blu Ray movies or DVD's that are ripped to the HD, no TV watching or recording. Thanks for the help.
 

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Two points to note:

[1]You already have a mobo with an IGP that can do HD video. The 780G chipset is more than capable of decoding HD video; it doesn't require an additional video card. In fact it was one of the most popular choices and great value for money. De-interlacing capabilities and HD audio are drawbacks (if you care about those issues).

[2] You mentioned only BD playback for your HTPC and no backups. While a HTPC is great for storage and playback from the hard drive; its the absolute worst choice if all you want to do is pop in a Blu-Ray disc and play it.

In fact most of us have a player (as a back up) for our discs. It cuts down on all the crap that we have to go through just to get a disc to play right in a PC.

You can get standalone BD players for less than $100 now while a BD-ROM costs a min. of $60 and a PC consumes more power than a standalone player.


Now, the choice of 5450 is good if you will use it for HD audio bitstreaming. That is the major selling point of the 5000 series cards with regards to a HTPC. Since you don't have a HD receiver, I would suggest save your money now and spend it later when you upgrade your audio system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by bighick /forum/post/18174816


I just ordered 2 of these cases and 2 of these coolers I can let you know how they perform, only problem is i have no blu-ray drive so if you give me the depth of your BR i can tell you if it will fit..

Am using one for a athlon 64 5200 with an ecs motherboard so it should be fairly similar..

Yeah that would be great. I'm waiting for a new Blu Ray drive to come from Newegg, I'll measure it once I get it. Thanks!
 
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