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Thread: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

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    Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    Hi there, I built an HTPC for my living room last year with the following parts:

    Athlon II X2 240e
    M4A785TD-M Evo
    NSK2480 Case with PSU
    4GB TW3X4G1333 C9A Corsair Ram (2x2GB)
    1.5TB WD Green (AV-GP version)
    Windows 7
    Hauppage HVR-220 twin freeview tuner card
    Nova S2 freesat card
    Pioneer DVD

    and am chuffed to bits with the thing.


    BUT

    I use this computer to stream media to a Samsung R580 laptop hooked up to a 32" flatscreen in my bedroom and am getting a bit irritated having to keep plugging it in everynight to watch TV. I would now like to build a second HTPC to permanently sit in my bedroom, but given that it is going to have to sit on a shelf on the wall next to the TV on the wall, it has got to be a lot (and I mean a lot) smaller than the huge HTPC above.

    Unlike my main HTPC, I am purely going to be using it to record/watch live TV (I have satellite output and aerial output in bedroom), stream recorded media from my main HTPC and websurfing. It also needs to be fully HD fo rstreaming hi-def recordings and possibly putting in a blu ray player at a later dated.

    I have had a look around and found that I can get away with something much simpler (and cheaper) than my first build. However, I have no idea what components to choose.

    I have come accross a Silverstone SG05B case, which would be a perfect size, but I have never come accross mini-itx or mini-dtx mobos before.

    Could anyone recommend where to go from here please? Is choosing such a small form factor asking for trouble or is it a good idea for a small, quiet htpc?

    My other possible components would be a 500GB Western Digital hard drive (AV-GP series) and I think I might be able to get away with just 2GB or ram rather than 4. I would also get a Hauppage WinTV-HVR-4000 tv card for freeview and freesat.

    Your comments on mobos/cpus etc would be really appreciated.

    Many thanks

    A

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    www.linitx.com are a pretty good source for itx stuff. I haven't really looked into itx myself but I would say either an ION build or something based around a 780/785h chipset would do the trick. I would reckon either an ION board with a 775 socket or a amd board as that way you can have a more powerful cpu than the atom if you need it. Obviously it needs at least a pci slot for the tv tuner but I think most if not all of them will have this. I think they also do i3 itx boards nowadays although I'm sure an ion based build would be cheaper.

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    LinITX is without doubt the best place for ITX parts. Scans choice is very small, but has improved.

    I've got a couple of HTPCs myself, one of which is ITX. I used a Zotac 8200 board because it allowed me to use a 4850e CPU and had 2 full size memory slots - a lot of boards only have one or SODIMM slots. It certainly has plenty of grunt to playback any format.

    Its housed in a Akasa Enigma case which is tiny and has an external power brick. Its very hard to pack everything but looks great when its done. However, in hindsight the SG05B or this significantly cheaper alternative would've been easier

    http://linitx.com/viewproduct.php?prodid=12630

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    Or you could just buy an Acer Revo...

    OK, perhaps not quite what you're after, but you'll struggle to get a mini-itx motherboard for < £100, and once you've added the processor and RAM you'll already have gone past the cost of a Revo. The only issue would be getting an appropriate freeview / freesat dongle, but I'm sure someone must do a decent USB one...

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    I would recommend the Revo or another ION based machine over DIY as you get a lot more for your money. There are also plenty of good guides out there for the Revo specifically.

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    Thanks very much for your replies. I reckon the REVO could be the thing I am after (R3610-H, the one with 4GB RAM and 500GB HDD).

    Are these things powerful enough (CPU wise) to handle playing HD TV and Blu Ray without juddering? or watching SD tv whilst recording another?

    Also, do know whether Windows 7, that they provide, is 64-bit or not?

    Also, I note that that the Revo is powered by a 65 Watt adaptor. To achieve what I am trying to do, I am going to have to plug in an external DVD player, a Wireless N adaptor ( I note the adaptor provided only provides G), two usb TV adaptors (1 Freeview and 1 Freesat) and a dongle for a MCE remote control.

    Do you think that I could get away with plugging this all in and still get enough power from 65 watts?

    Thanks again

    A

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    You could build a small HTPC with the following:

    1) Intel DG45FC Mobo - circa £80 http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/mot...board-review/1
    2) E5200 CPU - circa £35
    3) Lian Li Q07 case £50 http://xtreview.com/addcomment-id-78...Li-PC-Q07.html
    4) seasonic 350W PSU - £40
    5) Optical drive £20 ( blue ray £80)
    6) Memory 2GB - £50
    7) Low profile cooler - Zalman VF2000 LED £28 http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/coo...lers-on-test/2

    This will give you a great HTPC with low power consumption but enough grunt that you don't get peeved with the CPU...
    Last edited by kmac; 18-03-2010 at 11:28 PM.

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    Quote Originally Posted by Lourdes View Post
    I would recommend the Revo or another ION based machine over DIY as you get a lot more for your money. There are also plenty of good guides out there for the Revo specifically.
    I disagree. You get a finished machine and it may be slightly cheaper, but the CPU power is not remotely comparable to say an AMD 4850e and upgrades are more limited.
    Last edited by s_kinton; 19-03-2010 at 12:42 PM.

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    I'm currently building an ion based HTPC based on the ASUS AT3N7A-I NVIDIA ION with Intel Atom N330 Dual Core Processor HDMI VGA Out 8 Channel Audio Mini ITX Motherboard

    and whilst yes it lacks big ass CPU power it has ION which fills the gap for the intended purpose and the dual core atom seems to be fine to me so far! Up side is low power, low noise and er.. it's teeny too
    System 001: Maximus VII Formula, 4790k i7, RTX 2080ti FE (incoming), 16GIG Corsair Vengence DDR3 RAM CL9, Corsair HX1000, ROG SWIFT PG278Q , SSDs, Antec 1200 case, All watercooled. [main]
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    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: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    If you want small and quiet...

    You need something fanless (atom) and an SSD.

    Also, why not serve the media of a different 'PC' and have a nice fully silent frontent using the Revo recommended above.

    All this talk of 775 mobos and AMD dual core. Total overkill.

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    Quote Originally Posted by elsmandino View Post
    Thanks very much for your replies. I reckon the REVO could be the thing I am after (R3610-H, the one with 4GB RAM and 500GB HDD).

    Are these things powerful enough (CPU wise) to handle playing HD TV and Blu Ray without juddering? or watching SD tv whilst recording another?

    Also, do know whether Windows 7, that they provide, is 64-bit or not?

    Also, I note that that the Revo is powered by a 65 Watt adaptor. To achieve what I am trying to do, I am going to have to plug in an external DVD player, a Wireless N adaptor ( I note the adaptor provided only provides G), two usb TV adaptors (1 Freeview and 1 Freesat) and a dongle for a MCE remote control.

    Do you think that I could get away with plugging this all in and still get enough power from 65 watts?

    Thanks again

    A
    Yes, the video decoding is done by the GPU so there's no issue.

    And all that is fine.

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    Quote Originally Posted by s_kinton View Post
    I disagree. You get a finished machine and it may be slightly cheaper, but the CPU power is not remotely comparable to say an AMD 4850e and upgrades are more limited.
    You don't need CPU power.

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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    Quote Originally Posted by Lourdes View Post
    You don't need CPU power.
    Only if you watch Blu-Ray / DXVA compliant files. Anything non-DVXA compliant or even Flash will take the Atom to ground.
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    Re: Advice on small and quiet HTPC please

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurleung View Post
    Only if you watch Blu-Ray / DXVA compliant files. Anything non-DVXA compliant or even Flash will take the Atom to ground.
    Flash has hardware acceleration so no issues now, and with nVidia GPU's there's very little that doesn't work with DXVA, only ATi and older versions that are strict L4.1 etc, I don't think I actually have anything that my 9300 won't play (although I generally use CUDA anyway). You'd be hard pressed to find non-compliant encodes these days anyway with so many people using WDTV's, Popcorn Hour's and so on.

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