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Thread: HTPC spec - opinions?

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    HTPC spec - opinions?

    Well as per my other thread my old components are of no good for hd content. So i have upped my budget to £400 and decided on an amd build. Here is what I have put together (I already have a spare hard drive for now.)

    Case; Antec Fusion £114.99
    Motherboard; Asus M4A78L-M £48.73
    CPU; Athlon II X2 240 £44.64 (Today Only)
    CPU Cooler; NorthQ NQ3317 £7.27
    Memory; Crucial 2x1GB 800 £33.75
    PSU; Corsair 400W CX £34.55
    Blu Ray; Lite On £38.76 (Today Only)
    Wireless; Get Net USB £7.03
    OS; Windows 7 64 OEM £75.28

    Total £405.00

    Basically, what are everyones opinions on the build. Is the spec overkill? Will the motherboad be fine for hd content up to 1080p? Is the CPU alright or any other bargins out there? Don't really know much on AMD. Also will the stock cooler be enough or is the above mentioned a suitable alternative? All opinions welcome.

    Thanks

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    I have just finished a similar build but I went for the Athlon 5000+, and an Asus M4A785D-M PRO for my motherboard (ATI 4200 gpu with HDMI, and capable of unlocking the 5000 to a phenom FX5000, although the unlock is not guaranteed).

    Works out a little more expensive (CPU £35ish, motherboard £60ish) but if it unlocks like mine then its a bit of a bargain.

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    The stock coolers with Athlon IIs are pretty quiet and effective, so you might not need a 3rd party cooler - if I was you I'd give it a go with the stock one for a couple of weeks and see how you get on.

    The 760G mobo should support core unlocking, so you could go for an X2 5000+ (make sure you get the 2.2GHz, 45nm version) and try to unlock the hidden cores and cache. That would actually save you another £10 off your build, and a 2.2GHz dual core would be ample for HTPC duties even if it didn't unlock. I think all the X2 5000+ available at the minute are OEM though, so you'd need the third party cooler then

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    As the X2 has TDP of 65W it can be cooled passively, so this may be worth a look:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Titan...3)-Without-Fan

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    I like the idea of unlocking the core but would there be any power implication of this and if so how much would this be. I'm running stock on my main rig and have no experiance in unlocking/overclocking etc so is it difficult to do.

    I will also seriously think about the passive cooling, would be a nice touch. Would the two ideas be compatible?

    Thanks again

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    It's not difficult to do, but there's no guarantees obviously.

    I tried it on an X2 5000+ and my machine failed to post

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    I would have a look at the 45W Athlon II X2 235e and 240e if you cannot be bothered to undervolt the processor:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/177051

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/177049

    Also the 25W X2 250u is also available too (I have sent you a PM).
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 12-07-2010 at 08:29 PM.


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    unlocking extra cores does have power implications - you've got more bits of CPU working so it draws more power! If you managed to unlock an x2 5000+ you'd almost certainly be looking at too much CPU for passive cooling, as the Phenom II it's based has a TDP of at least 95W.

    If power is a concern you're much better off going for an X2 e like CAT suggested, or a Sempron 140 (which is what I've got in my HTPC) which could unlock to a dual core if you want / are lucky.

    Or, you could try an Athlon II X2 250u off ebay, which is a 1.6GHz dual core with 25W TDP... (and which CAT has already mentioned! *doh*)

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    If your not fussy about the LCD screen I would say have a look at the silverstone grandia GD04/5, itll save you about £50 on the case and its a really decent piece of kit, used one recently on a HTPC build.

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    The VFD (screen) on the Fusion Black(i have one) is crap, better off getting a cheaper case without screen, but provision to fit one should you need it..which you dont really tbh.

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    Lots more options of cpus to think about, if only work didn't get in the way. Not sure which to go for as yet. Currently heading towards either the sempron 140 and tring to unlock the core (feeling lucky) or going for the low power 235e (prob a bit higher than I wanted to spend) or 250u. Will the 250u/sempron run hd content (even if the later doesn't unlock?)

    I also read that single cores have a higher idle power consumption then dual cores, is this the case (or not affected on these two as they have different power ratings)?

    I like the Antec the most for cases as it fits exactly with my current amp. I think the vfd screen is now an lcd which is even worse, but there is a fix that soundgraph are selling themselves. I also like the integrated remote and sensor. Also when I went through support with Antec for my p182 they were excellent so kinda set on the case.

    Thanks

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    Without 3D acceleration, you need 2 cores at around 2.8 GHz from my testing.

    With 3D acceleration, you can get away with a fair bit less, so you'll probably be fine.

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    I would suggest an Acer Revo instead. Cheaper, quieter, less power and more compact. No trouble with decoding anything thanks to the IGP.

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    My aging htpc is X2 6000+, GA-MA69GM-S2H (onboard hdmi to tv, optical to amp). 2x1GB RAM, 2x1TB F1's.

    I looked at the fusion but couldnt really justify the LCD, you are watching the TV not the HTPC
    I went for this in the end: http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=787236

    Currently its running XP+XBMC but I'm looking to (no tests yet) move to linux+xbmc (netboot?) and mount storage over nfs.

    My additional 2TB hdd will arrive from the fellows at scan tomorrow, so after that the testing starts

    Edit: also depending on where you are having storage, you should/could maybe consider one of the smaller ones like:

    http://www.kustompcs.co.uk/acatalog/info_1232.html

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    Ok right then. So just brought the first components, the case, the memory, and the power supply. Also got the motherboard but went for the Asus M4A785D-M PRO as suggested by Chris. I wanted to make sure it supported hardware acceleration and the original board I decided on didn't (as it was the older chipset and gpu - thanks for the headsup jim - the snooty varitey). Still got a few things to get over the next couple of days, and to decide on the cpu, but bring on the build for next weeked.

    I know the case is expensive, and some people can't justify the lcd, but thats one of the things I like about it. I think it comes down to personal choice, especially as I have admired this case for a long time. I only have a small hard drive going in as most content will be stored on my main rig.

    I disagree that the acer would work out cheaper. It certainly is smaller with less power, but getting the spec to do what I want this pc to do would work out more. For example, its almost £300 if you want windows 7 included, and it doesnt even come with a blu ray drive at that price, or a tv tuner. It would stream the content perfectly but thats not what I am after.

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    Re: HTPC spec - opinions?

    I was going to come in and say Radeon 5-series graphics for HD-audio streaming, but then looking at the budget, I don't think I can. Shame... I really like mine and love those wee amp lights being lit.

    I'd be interested to hear how your spec handles Blu-Ray. I quite like TotalMediaTheatre 3 for software, but I'm sure you'll hear lots of differing opinions on that. I suppose I'm biased by wanting HD-streaming though.

    Windows 7 media centre is far better than the Vista alternative.

    Have fun!

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