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Thread: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

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    New HTPC build - EDIT: Q's about room for cables plugging into M'board

    EDIT: 1/11/09 - I've just found the Silverstone GD-04 which is only 323mm deep - Questions below about how much room is ok for cables etc... to stick out the back

    I'm almost ready to order, but thought it was worth running it past all you knowledgeable people just to make sure I've not made any hideous mistakes. Apologies in advance if I've put too much detail in, but every time I do a thread like this the first few responses are just asking for more info.

    It's a HTPC build. The budget is basically to do it as cheap as possible, but something that will last a reasonable length of time. It'll hopefully be the only box needed with my new LCD tv (32" samsung - Full HD resolution), so will have a dual DVB-T tuner for recording and PVR duty, and then stream media (mainly tv and some films) from my main pc (later a NAS/file server). I'll stick in an old DVD drive for now, but will later upgrade to blu-ray. Hopefully, it will be more than capable of iplayer, 4 on demand etc... even the HD versions. Mostly it'll be SD for now though.

    I might do some very light gaming, but unlikely. I don't want the power drain of a discrete card, and let's face it, at full HD resolution integrated graphics probably won't cut it

    Ok the line up so far is:

    Case: Lian Li PC-V351A Aluminium Silver Cube Case No PSU £84.99 (http://www.ebuyer.com/product/169883)
    The case needs to fit in our cupboard type unit that we use as a tv stand, so the pc box can be no more than 34 cm deep (actually only 30cm to include room for cables sticking out), and only 29.5 cm high. I couldn't find any µATX cases that were less than 34cm deep, and didn't want to go down the mini-itx route. I then found this case that has the 5.25" slots on the side, so I can put it in sideways and have the dvd drive facing the front. Ok, so the cables stick out the side, but I think it's the best I can do.

    CPU: Intel E3200 £35.90 (http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Pr...00-Retail--3yr - now out of stock )
    I saw a review over on xbit-labs (http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu...0_8.html#sect0) that said even on full 100% load, the CPU itself only uses 20w. Apparently it mostly keeps up with the e5200 so seems ideal for a HTPC. The AMD 4850e and 5050e chips seem to have all disappeared. The other option is an Athlon II 240 or wait until the 235e/240e come out, supposedly to coincide with Win7's release next month. The AMD chips seem to use quite a bit more power on the reviews I've seen though, and not sure how much less juice the 'e' versions will use. Plus the Athlon II chips are more expensive, and presumably the 'e' version will have a price premium on top. Looking around, the AMD boards seem cheaper, so that will probably even out the increased CPU cost, but I still prefer the lower power intel chip.

    Motherboard: Asus P5N7A-VM £83.00 (http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/39314 also now out of stock )
    There seems little choice for HTPC on the intel side. The G45 seems better than the old Intel IGP, but when it was released it didn't seem quite polished and they don't seem to be much cheaper than the nvidia 9300 boards. On the other hand, the G45 boards seem more available, I'm not entirely sure why G45 would be worse for me. I don't have a massive 8 speaker sound system so 8 channel LPCM over HDMI is not an issue. I don't even know what LPCM is....

    PSU: Be Quiet 350W Pure Power PSU - 80plus Certified £29.99 (http://www.ebuyer.com/product/166784)
    As per the thread in the bargains section here Seems to be good for the money and more than adequate for the job, and as Be Quiet seem a decent brand, hopefully I'm not doing the classic "skimp on the PSU" trick. When it's all up and running and I can stick a power meter on it at boot up and load, I might try out a pico psu...

    Ram: Crucial 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL6 Lifetime Warranty £29 (http://www.ebuyer.com/product/139662)
    I'll admit I just picked out the first half decent brand I saw. I might go for the 2x2gb version for £47 (http://www.ebuyer.com/product/142403)

    Remote: Gyration GYR3101EU Media Center Vista Remote Control £58 (http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?W...349&source=hx1)
    Ahhhh.... now this is where I really would welcome comments. I've gone for this one as it's RF, so no line of sight needed which will work well if the cupboard door shuts accidentally. It also works as an air mouse based on movement so hopefully will cope with selecting stuff on iplayer, and finally has got a normal IR function and can learn, so should do the tv volume as well. So although pricey, I think it ticks a few boxes for me. The other option is the £85 (http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Gyrat...-Compact-Suite) one that comes bundled with a wireless keyboard.

    HDD:: 1TB Samsung HD103SJ Spinpoint F3 £58 (http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/1TB-S...-89-ms-NCQ-OEM)

    I think that's it - just shy of £300. I've got a copy of Win7 on order, and can use the technet subscription to install before that arrives if I don't wait for the Athlon 'e' chips. I will probably stick with media center to start with, before experimenting with other frontends

    Any comments very gratefully received
    Last edited by GaryRW; 01-11-2009 at 09:52 AM.

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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    I dont know much about intel but to me a single core 2.4 ghz processor does not seem that fast. Surely you'd want a reasonably fast processor if you're going to be using it as the only box connected to the tv as you dont want to be stuck waiting around for the processor to catch up.

    Perhaps I'm wrong and the processor would be fine but I wouldnt really want to go back to a single core.

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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by no_numb View Post
    I dont know much about intel but to me a single core 2.4 ghz processor does not seem that fast. Surely you'd want a reasonably fast processor if you're going to be using it as the only box connected to the tv as you dont want to be stuck waiting around for the processor to catch up.

    Perhaps I'm wrong and the processor would be fine but I wouldnt really want to go back to a single core.
    its dual core

    actually built a htpc of my own up to a similar spec last week using an e5200+DG45FC+2GB, but built as a m-itx in an akasa enimga - runs greeeeeeat
    Last edited by MadduckUK; 23-09-2009 at 12:03 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ephesians
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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by MadduckUK View Post
    its dual core

    actually built a htpc of my own up to a similar spec last week using an e5200+DG45FC+2GB, but built as a m-itx in an akasa enimga - runs greeeeeeat
    Ah right got a little confused by the link where it says

    Processor
    L2 cache speed (GHz) 2.4
    Processor code SLGU5
    Bus/Core ratio 12
    Multi Core Type Single
    Box Y
    Processor clock speed (MHz) 2400
    Processor family Intel Celeron
    64-bit computing Y
    Processor E3200
    L2 cache (MB) 1
    Processor process (nm) 45
    Processor socket LGA775 (Socket T)

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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    everything Exxxx is dual core

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/173865
    rather weirdly, ebuyer have totally pulled it now - got mine for £34.66
    Quote Originally Posted by Ephesians
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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by MadduckUK View Post
    its dual core

    actually built a htpc of my own up to a similar spec last week using an e5200+DG45FC+2GB, but built as a m-itx in an akasa enimga - runs greeeeeeat
    I hope it's dual core

    How does your e5200 run of stuff like iplayer? Actually, perhaps the better question is what are you using it for?

    & how hot is the enigma - I saw a review over on bit-tech suggesting the airflow wasn't that great.

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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    runs win7 mce
    720/1080p .mkv's
    iplayer/4OD other channels equivalents using tuner free MCE http://www.milliesoft.co.uk/index.ph...id=9&Itemid=11
    dual tuner USB stick so its a PVR
    will be doing other stuff when i can think of things

    still working out the details, got it in standby at the moment, hopefully it will wake itself, record two programs concurrently then turn itself off before i check on it at lunch time, then wake itself again to record an afternoon show and shut down again so when i get in at night it is back in S3 with 3 new programs on the HDD with any luck

    the case can only take a 2.5" hdd and there in no way in hell a optical drive was going in there - but i wanted something about the size of an ASRock Ion 330 but with the grunt of a proper CPU. i dont need an ODD and i have a home server so a large HDD wasn't needed.

    cpu runs pretty cool, and the fan rarely spins up. board runs pretty hot but it does even outside of a case so that means nothing.

    im pleased overall
    Quote Originally Posted by Ephesians
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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    If LPCM is not an issue for you, get a 785G based board and an Athlon 250.

    The 785G board have great picture quality and image processing.
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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by shaithis View Post
    If LPCM is not an issue for you, get a 785G based board and an Athlon 250.

    The 785G board have great picture quality and image processing.
    I agree. Why bother with a large case as well when all you want can be fit in a smaller case and with less noise and power draw.

    Asus make some nice Pundit barebones with either 780G or 9300 chipsets depending on your leanings AMD or Intel. AMD make some nice 45W CPUs which are more than up to the job of 1080P too. Check the Retail Therapy forum

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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by MadduckUK View Post
    runs win7 mce
    720/1080p .mkv's
    Out of interest, how does it fare with the mkvs?

    I ran some testing, with VLC set to two core affinity on the Q9550 @ 2.83GHz, and it was pushing it fairly hard (with GPU acceleration disabled) on 1080p MKVs at 15Mbps or so. Is it a close run thing, or comfortable?

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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by snootyjim View Post
    Out of interest, how does it fare with the mkvs?

    I ran some testing, with VLC set to two core affinity on the Q9550 @ 2.83GHz, and it was pushing it fairly hard (with GPU acceleration disabled) on 1080p MKVs at 15Mbps or so. Is it a close run thing, or comfortable?
    Are you streaming it?
    Last edited by j.o.s.h.1408; 23-09-2009 at 03:55 PM.

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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by j.o.s.h.1408 View Post
    Are you streaming it?
    Can't remember if I did at the time, but it would've been over gigabit ethernet if it was.

    I was talking about the CPU usage anyway - the picture itself was fine, no problems at all with playback, until I did my single core affinity test at least.

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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    link me to a couple of trailers or something you have tried and ill run em by it
    Quote Originally Posted by Ephesians
    Do not be drunk with wine, which will ruin you, but be filled with the Spirit
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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    My HTPC (below) manages 1080p MKVs under Windows 7..
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    System 002: A8 3850 APU, ASUS uATX FM1A75 MB, 4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3, Corsair psu, OCZ Agility 3, 1TB F3, Dell 2001FP 20" LCD, £7's worth of 5.1 speakers (they rock) Windows 7 x64[wife/server]
    System 003: AsRock MB, APU, 8 GIG Corsair, Silverstone HTPC case, stock cooler, GT220 1gbDDR3, WD Green 3TB, Kingston 40gb SSD, MCE Remote, Panasonic 50" LCD (87BDX) via HDMI Windows 8.1.1 (32) [media centre]
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    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by Methanoid View Post
    I agree. Why bother with a large case as well when all you want can be fit in a smaller case and with less noise and power draw.

    Asus make some nice Pundit barebones with either 780G or 9300 chipsets depending on your leanings AMD or Intel. AMD make some nice 45W CPUs which are more than up to the job of 1080P too. Check the Retail Therapy forum
    Thanks. I hadn't really considered or .looked into barebones The Lian Li case is the smallest 'depth' matx case I could find that would leave a front facing DVD drive. As above, I will use it's width as the depth which is why this case alone seems to fit, but there's not a huge amount of room in the cupboard. So this Asus Pundit P2-P5N9300 at £129 (http://www.kustompcs.co.uk/acatalog/info_1285.html) would tick a lot of boxes, but it won't fit as it's 357mm deep. I'll keep looking into barebones though.

    The other option I haven't looked into in that much detail is mini-itx. I guess I thought the space was big enough for Micro-atx, and I've assumed that going smaller will increase the cost, and increase the heat/noise level.

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    • j.o.s.h.1408's system
      • Motherboard:
      • ASUS P6T Delux
      • CPU:
      • Intel core i7 920 @ 3ghz
      • Memory:
      • 3GB DDR RAM
      • Storage:
      • 1TB Samsung F1, 500GB Seagate baracuda + 320gb Seagate PATA +150GB WD PATA
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVGA 480GTX SC edition
      • PSU:
      • Seasonic M12 600W Module PSU FTW
      • Case:
      • Lian Li PC-A7010B (the rolls royce of pc cases)
      • Operating System:
      • vista ultimate edition and windows xp
      • Monitor(s):
      • 22inch 2005FPW dell monitor
      • Internet:
      • 24mb BE There Broadband

    Re: New HTPC build - about to take the plunge!

    Quote Originally Posted by Methanoid View Post
    I agree. Why bother with a large case as well when all you want can be fit in a smaller case and with less noise and power draw.

    Asus make some nice Pundit barebones with either 780G or 9300 chipsets depending on your leanings AMD or Intel. AMD make some nice 45W CPUs which are more than up to the job of 1080P too. Check the Retail Therapy forum
    why bother with a large case? because it has better air flow, better expansion for more components. easier to work with and potentialy a quieter pc due to bigger fans.

    small cases are a nightmare to work with!

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