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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Why couldn't I resist the urge to buy the I7? Why does it still sort of bother me that when I look at the CPU benchmark tests there are currently two consumer processors that are very slightly faster than the one I am buying but I wanted the Intel 4600 graphics so I had to "settle" for this one. Why did I order 16 GB of RAM and why does it bother me that the board supports 32 and I only have 16. I'm an IT person. I know I don't even need 8 in this thing. I didn't read all the specs on the motherboard I bought other than making sure it had all the connectors and fan headers I needed but from the length of the feature list I think it might be able to complete my taxes for me next year. What is this illness? Is there some sort of 12 step support group I can attend?
 

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All because you have the money... I think...


Budget is what usually forces 99.9% to scale back on hardware costs...


But hey man... enjoy your stuff... you don't need no 12 step support group...


It's like wearing a Rolex wrist watch... nothing wrong or unusual if ya have da money...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't know about the money part. I spent so much on the other hardware I ran out of cash for hard drives so the only drive in the thing will be the ssd for the OS and programs.
For now the old HTPC will be staying online as a file server for the new one until I can budget for the drives for the planned raid in the new one. Fortunately I do have gigabit lan between the two locations so it shouldn't be a problem. Its going to be a big empty case for a while. I have another very old xp machine in the house that will get replaced by what used to be the HTPC. I have a hell of a system now but its been built one piece at a time over a pretty long time period as money allowed.
 

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You'll find a use for the added horsepower. I built mine with an I5 and wish I went with the I7 simply because I sometimes do transcoding on the server before sending the video to tablets and Roku's. Also wish I sent with 16 gigs of ram over the 8 hadn't needed it yet but it has gotten tight when I'm running a few extenders at once.


-RobNY
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dae3dae3  /t/1522031/who-else-has-built-a-ridiculously-overpowered-htpc-whats-your-story#post_24467629
What is this illness? Is there some sort of 12 step support group I can attend?

Nope. All you have to do is get married.

 
 

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This is refreshing to hear!


Too often, posters start with an i5 or i7 spec'd machine, when all they really need is a Celeron/Pentium/i3. Of course, everyone wants the latest and greatest.


I would say the hardest part of building an "HTPC" is figuring out what exactly you want it to do now, AND in the NEAR future. Trying to future proof any PC is futile. There will always be something better tomorrow.


Once you figure out what you want/need it to do, then part selection is easy.


If you don't know what you want, and budget is a concern, then things get difficult. Then you end up spending too much on something you don't utilize fully, and have to compromise on something else.


Also, the more things you want to do, the more complicated it is too.


"HTPC" can mean a lot of things, and it's up to the user to define what is is to them, and express that when asking for help.
 
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I used my first post-college paycheck in to build a bleeding edge rig. Dual P2s, 1GB, 4x10K RAID0, SLI...the works. It cost about $12K, but it literally was the fastest possible gaming rig buildable at the time (Q1 1999)


The game for which I built it, Quake III, missed the release date by seven months and wasn't that great anyway. That experience killed off any future desire for overspeccing PCs.
 

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I would probably regret the i7 in my HTPC. I have a Sandy Bridge i5 and only chose that over the i3 because Microcenter had a bundle deal that was only i5 and i7. I want lower power usage and low cooling requirements. I don't want a lot of fans running either. My HTPC only has 4GB of RAM (it is getting a bit old). Any transcoding is done at the server level where I have 16GB of RAM and a six core AMD CPU all stuck in a closet.


If I had to build a HTPC today it would be an i3 with 8GB RAM. If I needed more out of the GPU then I'd add a video card. If I want more processing power I'll put it into my server (or laptop).
 

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I have the opposite affliction. To me the fun is in figuring the most minimalist (ie. not necessarily cheapest but lowest power, smallest footprint,etc) machine that meets my needs. Which is great until you decide you want something more and have to start over from scratch. (Haven't quite got to that point myself but I can definitely see it coming.)
 

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My story ???


Haha. Grab a chair and gather around kids. I guess it's story time.


I was always into PC's even as a teen growing up, but it has been a while since I built a PC. I've been a member here on AVS for over a decade and always been into home theater and audio/video but I never entered this forum or realized AVS was a good place for PC talk until about 2010/2011 when the new socket 1155 Sandybridge CPU's launched. At the time I still had a gaming rig that was getting old based on a 4870 X2 Radeon and a E8500 3.16ghz Core2 on a Asus Maximus mobo. I started with Velociraptor 10krpm drives in RAID0 for the OS, but I soon was an early adopter for SSD. I think I paid $350 for my first Vertex SSD (120GB). Clearly I had the "upgrade-itis" or "overkill" bug - but as I was entering my 30's I was trying to be more reasonable with my spending. When I joined this forum there was an overwhelming consensus that all you need is a Pentium, perhaps an i3, and it seemed like every time someone build an i5 or i7 there was a page of people saying "you don't need that" and it went to my head.


I decided that first I would just try to use my current desktop as a HTPC, it seemed like the advice I was getting kept telling me it was enough and all I needed was a new GPU that did HDMI audio. So I upgraded to a 6870 Radeon and ran a 25foot HDMI wire under the floor from my office to the living room tv.


I didn't really understand what HTPC was yet. I really just wanted to see my computer on my tv and be able to playback music and movies. I suspect this is his many people start around here. My idea was an all in one machine was cheaper and it's all I needed.


That lasted only a short while. I soon discovered how much better the new sandy bridge quad cores were compared to my aging socket 775 core2 duo. Also it was beginning the golden age of SSD and sata3 SSDs where showing nice performance improvements. I decided I would upgrade and try to use my current system at a HTPC.


I bought a 2600k i7, a coolermaster cosmos II case, a Vertex MAX IOPS toggle NAND SSD, a 1000 watt Rosewill lightning PSU, 16GB of Gskill ram, dual GPU cards, all on an Asus deluxe 1155 mobo. My thinking was this would serve as my desktop and workstation but also a media server. I bought a few more storage drives and set it all up.


I quickly learned that while I appreciated the performance of the new build immensely it was hardly ideal. I spend a good amount of time on my PC and when the PC crashed or I needed to restart for an update or whatever it stopped the movie playing my wife was watching in the other room and I got yelled at. It was annoying.


Also the old gaming machine I was using for an HTPC was in a full tower 10 bay thermaltake armor case, it had a noisy aftermarket CPU cooler for overclocking, and the CPU was set to run 3.8ghz. The video card, PSU and case fans were also noisy. Really a terrible HTPC by all standards.


So I was faced with the situation where I really wanted a cooler quieter HTPC in a more appropriate case and set up, and I also needed a dedicated media server. I was starting back at square one, after spending a ton on a new 2600K overkill desktop. So I decided I would actually listen to the forum for once and go with moderate to basic and get me feet wet. I thought I knew about HTPC because I knew about PC and gaming, but really I had no clue. What is important in HTPC was WAF factor, cool, quiet, energy efficient, and great storage solutions. It was not about overclocking, or hardware RAID, or huge cases and fans, high end motherboards etc...


I decided I would try a basic Asrock Motherboard based on socket 1155 (H61) with some cheap Ram. 8GB back then was like $30 (I miss those days). I used that for the HTPC instead and was relatively happy. I started with a G530 CPU in it I grabbed for about $35, and I bought a cheap case to hold it all and a cheap PSU. It worked pretty well, and surprisingly the Celeron G530 CPU seemed faster than the E8500 Core2 Duo I replaced, while running a lot cooler and quieter. I spent only a few hundred bucks on that machine and I was relatively happy.


That got me hooked on HTPC I think. Soon after that I started this thread : http://www.avsforum.com/t/1404685/cheapest-ever-htpc-thats-decent-proud-of-myself/0_100


I was in love with the idea you could build some decent little HTPC machines for only a few hundred bucks. I build a few more for some friends that wanted what I had. I'd say I probably built about 10, including upgrading my own. I upgraded to a newer Asrock Mobo that has USB3.0 and Sata3 ports, I wanted a bigger SSD too because 60GB was not enough. I also started grabbing Pentium chips for only a few bucks more than the Celeron, they seemed to go on sale for $50 pretty often. I was loving what you could get for $250-$300.


The problem was while I seemed to make progress on the HTPC side of things, I was still using my desktop as a storage server too. I needed to build a server. So I basically used the same build as my HTPC, A G630 Pentium, a cheap H61 Asrock Mobo, and 8GB of RAM with a Cheap Vertex3 120GB SSD. I discovered FLEXRAID and set it all up in my old gaming case that was 10 bays. That was my first Flexraid server. I was happy. It worked well. I have about 12 WD GREEN hard drives that were popular back then as my storage drives and I now had a dedicated server, a nice workstation desktop and a nice HTPC. I thought I would be satisfied. Of coarse I was not, I ran out of room quickly in my server and I wanted something a bit more. I started this thread looking to upgrade my server again: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1438027/mfusicks-how-to-build-an-affordable-30tb-flexraid-media-server-information-requested/0_100


In that thread I upgraded my server 4 times. I also upgraded my HTPC twice. And I upgraded my 2600K desktop once.


Today I have the 2600k i7 in my Flexraid Server. I ended up upgrading every part of that server a few times. I started out originally with a G630 CPU, then a G860 CPU.. and finally settled on the 2600K i7 which was a hand me down from my desktop upgrade to a 4770k. I am looking to upgrade to a 4790K next month probably, and the 4770l i7 will replace my current HTPC CPU (3570K i5) soon enough. The 3570K i5 will become my work PC. The G860 CPU in my work PC now will probably get created into something or sold off.


Looking back, I don't regret anything. I enjoyed the journey as much as I enjoy the destination. But I think I am a bit different than many folks. I took the advice that was prevailing at the time that said all you need is a pentium, and that a GPU card or a quad core, or a fast SSD was not important. I learned everyone was wrong. It is important to me. I can tell the difference and if you are accustomed to the performance on a desktop, you will desire it on other machines you use. I hate laptops for that reason. I discovered stuff like MadVR, SVP 60FPS interpololation, and some of the advanced video rendering and software applications that provide better picture quality. I wanted all that. I also upgraded my projector to 3D and decided I wanted that too. The original Pentium I bough could not do 3D, or SVP, or MadVR. Looking back I wish I just did it all right the first time to some degree- it would have save me cash upgrading extra times and saved me time. If I bought an i5 the first go around I likely would still be able to use it today.


I also discovered PLEX and MB3 and transcoding. I discovered that I needed a more robust CPU if i wanted to transcode full bit rate 1080p to stream on my ipad, or if I needed to lower the bit rate to server it up online to my parents, or myself when I am traveling. The Pentium CPU would not allow me to do that. First the G530 was too slow. Then the G630 was too slow. Then the G860 was too slow. Today the 2600K i7 is perfect. My flexraid server is so much better at everything these days and I am super happy with the i7. I can do 3 streams at once now.


The 3570K i5 is perfect for the HTPC, it's very fast and it can handle MadVR and SVP pretty well. I am still using the Radeon 6870 card, but I have a R9 card soon to be purchased. That and my 4770K i7 will become my next HTPC when the second generation of socket 1150 hits next month.


If I learned anything in this journey it's a couple things I learned the hard way:


Over buy and you will be happy you did. Under purchase and you will be upgrading sooner than desired. There is value alone in the additional headroom of buying a little better than you need, even if you don't need it yet. The small cost upgrade for an i5 or an i7 over an i3 is generally worth it. Same story on the SSD, that is another area you can feel a difference and 60GB is often not enough, but 120/128GB is not much more cost. I've been a PSU snob in the past, but I have never had a PSU fail in about 30 builds in the last few years so I'd say skip the $80 PSU and get a $25 one and use the money on better CPU and SSD. The dudes buying $80 PSU for a Pentium or i3 build make me laugh sometimes. I guess it might stem from the fact I don't really think it's a big deal if the machine blew up in the worst case scenario, so I'd rather save my $50 now and deal with it later in the unlikely event the cheaper PSU actually failed and melted down the machine (which never happens).


Don't let people tell you that you don't need something. Don't let others tell you that you are not worth it. You are worth it. I am. You are. Everyone deserves a good experience and a high level of performance IMO. I learned the hard way that cheaper isn't always better. Learn from my mistakes and you might be happy without needing to upgrade 50 times. There is an advantage in building a nice performance, nice build, dedicated HTPC. There is another advantage in building a dedicated media storage server. I am not a fan of all in one. I also want my HTPC appliance like. I don't have a keyboard or mouse on my HTPC. I have not had one connected to it in 6 months. There is an advantage in having a workstation to do media management with, leaving the server to serve and the HTPC to be an HTPC. That's the best solution I have found, but I am still looking.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElJimador  /t/1522031/who-else-has-built-a-ridiculously-overpowered-htpc-whats-your-story/0_100#post_24468037


I have the opposite affliction. To me the fun is in figuring the most minimalist (ie. not necessarily cheapest but lowest power, smallest footprint,etc) machine that meets my needs. Which is great until you decide you want something more and have to start over from scratch. (Haven't quite got to that point myself but I can definitely see it coming.)

I have this too. But what I learned after building 20+ minamilist builds for myself and others is really it's not about minamilist because you end up being left wanting. It's about chasing maximum value. So if you can grab a Z87 mobo and i5 CPU on sale and combo special for only $25 more than newegg is selling the i3 and the H87 motherboard- that's where you win! You won't regret the faster more powerful CPU and better motherboard. You will be even happier because you got so much more for so little extra cost. Chasing value is really the game I want to play. Not chasing the least possible amount of something I can get by on. I just want to get as much as I can for the money I spend. I think chasing minimalist sometimes gets confused with chasing value. I think the value is in the upper mid range if you deal hunt, and the performance differential is worlds apart.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick  /t/1522031/who-else-has-built-a-ridiculously-overpowered-htpc-whats-your-story#post_24468157


I have this too. But what I learned after building 20+ minamilist builds for myself and others is really it's not about minamilist because you end up being left wanting. It's about chasing maximum value. So if you can grab a Z87 mobo and i5 CPU on sale and combo special for only $25 more than newegg is selling the i3 and the H87 motherboard- that's where you win! You won't regret the faster more powerful CPU and better motherboard. You will be even happier because you got so much more for so little extra cost. Chasing value is really the game I want to play. Not chasing the least possible amount of something I can get by on. I just want to get as much as I can for the money I spend. I think chasing minimalist sometimes gets confused with chasing value. I think the value is in the upper mid range if you deal hunt, and the performance differential is worlds apart.

+1


-RobNY
 

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have an i7 with 16gb 2400 ram and a 7790.

reasons:


- more powah!!!

- not much more than i5.

- can be reassigned for other duties if needed
 

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I'm the cheapest bastard around here too. If I added up what I really spent on my Flexraid server versus what it should have costs or usually costs others I'm way better off. One of the advantages in doing it one step at a time was that I got to capitalize on the market and great sales over a period of time and build and upgrade one step at a time.


Some examples:


I bought the Pentium CPU for $51.50 (retail was $69)

I bought the Asrock Mobo (first one) for $47 open box from Newegg

I bought the Z77 Extreme 3 I have now for $99 on Black Friday 2012 for $99 and it came with 8GB of Skill RipJaws for free ! ($40 value then)

I bought every hard drive in my server on sale, never spending more than $99 on a 3TB- some as cheap as $75 each.

I bought an IBM M1015 and flashed it to HBA with LSI firmware for $79 because I was too cheap to spend $150 on a retail option

I bought DELL PERC cards flashed from Andy Steb stupid cheap, because he hooked me up and got a deal himself.

I got my NORCO 4220 server case for 15% off + Free shipping with a coupon code which came out to about $85 in savings.

I got the Rosewill Capstone PSU in my server for 15% off ( paid $50 shipped)

The i7 was a hand me down, but Microcenter is the best for i7/i5 K version chips by far

I paid $49 for the 120GB Vertex3 SSD in my server on Black Friday special.


I think that is one area where upgrading has an advantage. I tend to wait until I can capitalize on a good deal. If you are buying everything at once you are limited to the current market you are in to some degree. Not that you can't still find deals, but sometimes things just cost what they cost. If you want something then you pay it.
 

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Thanks for the perspective Mfusick. I agree w/you and will take your approach when I am ready to step up. For me I was so new to all this when I started (never built a PC before, wasn't familiar w/a lot of things you could do w/an HTPC, etc) that I can't really kick myself for the direction I went. The unRAID server I built w/an Asus C60M1-I board and 6x 3TB hard drives + the Celeron NUC as HTPC running openelec off a thumb drive -- for me that was a perfect entry point and still today the most efficient solution I could have come up with for what I wanted (to play all my blurays and DVDs ripped to MKV including w/HD audio). It's just that now that I'm starting to entertain thoughts about, say, MadVR to upscale my DVD content, I want to resist the urge to figure out the perfect minimalist build for that and think instead about all the other things I may want to expand to in another year or 2 down the road and avoid tying my hands on that w/the choices I make next.


Not that anything is going to future proof beyond 3-5 years anyway. But I definitely think value shopping in that mid to higher end range is the way to go, just to leave open some functionality I still haven't even thought of yet.
 

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I built an i3-2105 HTPC back in the day and am currently putting together a more powerful rig to replace it, just waiting on the case to be released to finish it.


If I had spent a lil extra and started with something more powerful I'd be completely content with it still today but because I went budget I'm starting over and am giving my old rig to my brother.


I come from the camp that it is better to spend more now than have to spend more later. The only change I see myself having to make in the next 5 years with the new rig is to get a new GPU with HDMI 2.0. And that'll only happen when I get a 4k set in which case a new GPU will be a fraction of the cost of the TV.


Go big or go home.
 

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Building just these days


I7 4770k

As rock m-atx oc formula

16gb 2400

Amd 270x

Seasonic 1000 platinum



Reasons? (Do we need a reason?
)


Just keep in mind a question

"and if I need some extra power for some other feauture?"

Then I Can use HTPC even for other purpose (good excuse
)


Second excuse? 4K is coming better be prepared



Power not used just rest, is not wasted
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElJimador  /t/1522031/who-else-has-built-a-ridiculously-overpowered-htpc-whats-your-story/0_100#post_24470756


Thanks for the perspective Mfusick. I agree w/you and will take your approach when I am ready to step up. For me I was so new to all this when I started (never built a PC before, wasn't familiar w/a lot of things you could do w/an HTPC, etc) that I can't really kick myself for the direction I went. The unRAID server I built w/an Asus C60M1-I board and 6x 3TB hard drives + the Celeron NUC as HTPC running openelec off a thumb drive -- for me that was a perfect entry point and still today the most efficient solution I could have come up with for what I wanted (to play all my blurays and DVDs ripped to MKV including w/HD audio). It's just that now that I'm starting to entertain thoughts about, say, MadVR to upscale my DVD content, I want to resist the urge to figure out the perfect minimalist build for that and think instead about all the other things I may want to expand to in another year or 2 down the road and avoid tying my hands on that w/the choices I make next.


Not that anything is going to future proof beyond 3-5 years anyway. But I definitely think value shopping in that mid to higher end range is the way to go, just to leave open some functionality I still haven't even thought of yet.

You did everything correct and the best you could with the knowledge and resources you had available at that time. I did too. I also did the same on each subsequent rebuild. Chasing it is what elevates it to a hobby rather than just a product and solution. That's what makes it fun.
 

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I have to laugh because I tend to criticize Mfusick for being too anal about performance. After reading his last couple of posts it seems like we're actually a lot alike in our approach to HTPCs. I've been down the minimalist path that ended up in disappointment far too often. I've found that, although you may be able to eek out enough performance out of a minimalist setup for playing Blu-Rays and such, it may not always be a satisfying experience.


My feeling is that you need to determine what you're looking to do with a HTPC and then pick out the parts that will meet these requirements. Then, jump up one or two notches in performance to cover any contingencies. For instance, if a Celeron will do what you want, move up to a Pentium or an i3. If 4GB of RAM is sufficient, get 8GB. The extra cost isn't usually that great and will pay off down the road. OTOH, going with the fastest quad core i7 or something that can decipher the secrets of the universe is complete overkill for a HTPC, that is, unless you plan to use it as a gaming platform as well.


PSUs seem to be built to last these days, as long as you stick with the brand names. If you can find a deal on one of the good brands then it's worth the money for a little extra peace of mind. I'm not saying to buy the $80 PSU, but there are some good deals on less expensive models that should more than fill the bill. I used to buy the cheap PSUs or use the ones that came with PC cases and just about every one of them failed, usually late on a Sunday afternoon when all of the PC shops in my area were closed. Now I keep one or two of the Corsair CX430 Buiilder Series PSUs on hand as spares that routinely go on sale for about $20.


My latest HTPCs are based on a pair of Intel 1st generation Core i3 NUCs. These little guys are plenty powerful enough to do whatever I want, which mainly consists of watching live and recordedTV and streaming ripped Blu-Rays from my unRAID server.


I've lost track of how many times I've upgraded my HTPC. My original setup was an AMD socket 939 setup running XP and BeyondTV. I have since gone through probably a half dozen motherboards and CPUs to my current socket 1155 setup with a Core i3 CPU. I've also gone through several upgrades with my server hardware, although my last one proved to be problematic so I had to revert to the previous setup (AMD FM1 microATX).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video  /t/1522031/who-else-has-built-a-ridiculously-overpowered-htpc-whats-your-story#post_24471979


My feeling is that you need to determine what you're looking to do with a HTPC and then pick out the parts that will meet these requirements. Then, jump up one or two notches in performance to cover any contingencies. For instance, if a Celeron will do what you want, move up to a Pentium or an i3. If 4GB of RAM is sufficient, get 8GB. The extra cost isn't usually that great and will pay off down the road. OTOH, going with the fastest quad core i7 or something that can decipher the secrets of the universe is complete overkill for a HTPC, that is, unless you plan to use it as a gaming platform as well.

Well said.


I noticed you stopped at i3, and I would agree. Is there ever a case though where you would recommend an i5 or i7 for a build? Outside of the obvious statement if the OP intends to run MadVR or SVP, etc, or use it as a dual HTPC/Server combo where transcoding would be involved, or Gaming HTPC? (BTW, for those who don't know, there is a separate forum for Gaming HTPC's)


Far too often I see someone recommend an i5, where there is no evidence an i5 would be needed. Then I lose it, and typically withdraw from this site for a while.
 
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