Request for advice for a new motherboard - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 2017-02-13, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Victoria BC
Posts: 43
Request for advice for a new motherboard

I need help in designing a new build for primarily internet on a monitor & video on a 2nd screen which is a TV . The only thing I'm sure about is the motherboard has to be ATX size. The reason is I'll use my old case that fits into the custom furniture layout that includes my TV set top box & audio receiver. I'm able to hard-wire my internet connection. Another thing that's important is Bluetooth transmission to my headset cause I'm hard of hearing.
I'd like to start with the new Intel Z270 chipset & a 6th or 7th generation Intel cpu. Should I do a graphics card or use what's built into the motherboard? One thing I'd like to think about for the future is virtual reality.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 2017-02-14, 11:51 AM
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Most ATX cases will accommodate a mATX motherboard. The only reason to go with ATX is if many PCIe card slots are required. Extra cards are not usually required with modern mATX motherboards.

For general computing and TV, integrated CPU video usually works well. A video card may be required for gaming and other GPU intensive tasks but that can be added later. One reason to go with an mATX motherboard is that they generally support integrated video better than ATX.

Bluetooth can be added with a USB dongle but motherboards with built in WiFi sometimes also support Bluetooth. I would go with built in Bluetooth when possible.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 2017-02-14, 08:22 PM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Mississauga
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I just finished building a machine to use as a backup for my old system. I am running Linux to support Mythtv, Plex and my RSS applicaton. I have used this machine to edit recordings to remove commercials, and to change the encoding of the recordings to reduce the space required.

We have become dependent on Mythtv being available, so I needed a way to test upgrades without risking the scheduled recordings. I also wanted to use virtual machines so I could test new software while still keeping the main system available as a backup.

Although I spent a lot of time analyzing the various motherboards available, I ended up buying an ASRock Z170 Pro4S because it was on sale at close to half price. I learned a few things along the way.

First, the performance improvement for the new Kaby Lake processors is estimated to be 5-10%. This was not enough of an improvement for me to justify going with it, so Z170 was good enough for me. If you go with the Z270 chipset, it gives you the option to overclock the processor if you pay for an unlocked processor. If you are going to overclock, then you may have to consider additional CPU cooling. Make sure your existing case can support this, even if it is just having enough clearance for a bigger CPU cooler. If you aren't going to overclock, then you can save some money by going with the H270 chipset and a locked processor. I went with a Core i5 6500 and it seems to meet all my needs.

One thing I learned was that even though called an ATX board, this board and some others are actually smaller than the ATX standard. The ATX standard calls for a 9.25 inch dimension, and this board was only 8.5". This meant that one row of mounting screws was not available. I find that the front of the board is not as well supported as I would like when plugging in the 24-pin power connector and installing the memory. Definitely install the processor and the memory while the board is out of the case, as it is easier to do on a solid surface.

I went with the onboard graphics, although I put in a power supply that would support additional graphics cards in future, which you will probably need if you want to play with VR. I ended up overdoing the power supply. I plugged my configuration into a Kill-a-watt meter to see how much power it is using. It draws around 40 watts with no applications running, and goes up to around 90 watts when I am doing an encode with Handbrake. The other thing I found with the power supply was that it provided 8 SATA power connectors and 8 Molex. Everything in the box is SATA, so I would like a power supply with 12 SATA so I don't need to use power splitters or molex converters.

Another interesting thing with this board was support for M.2 SSD. It seemed like a feature I wanted, but I discovered that using an M.2 SATA SSD disables SATA ports 0 & 1. Using a PCI M.2 SSD leaves ports 0 and 1 available, but PCI is much more expensive. I ended up going with a Samsung Evo SSD connected to one SATA port to hold my OS.

I have the machine connected to a small TV with HDMI, but most of the time I connect with VNC from my laptop. I use DLNA to play on my main TV, and also can either cast to Chromecast, or use my Roku to play recordings. Playback in HD is smooth with no glitches over the local network.

I don't have any experience with Bluetooth but it should be easy to add. My board has 8 USB ports combined USB 2 & 3.

I guess this is not really a recommendation as to which way to go, but hopefully these few points might help guide you to your preferred solution. Good luck.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 2017-02-15, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Toronto,
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I had some older HDD's, PSU, ram so I tried to spent about $300 to build a new HTPC to replace my laptop (used tp stream video to my TV, itunes, kodi, etc). Yes, it has to be small to fit with my AV equipment shelves. After much searching, I ended up buying:
1. AMD A8 7600 Quad Core APU 3.8/3.1GHZ Processor FM2+ 4MB Cache 65W/45W Retail Box
3. Thermaltake Case CA-1B8-00S1WN-00 Mnt Core V1 2 2 (2) USB Black Mini-ITX Case

You can save $50 if you use existing ATX case. As you can see, it has built in video, wifi, and bluetooth on the motherboard. I run win10 on it and my Logitech Harmony Hub integrates it well so I can control this HTPC with my old ipad (have both mouse and keyboard functions, using the bluetooth).
I stream a lot of videos, and amazingly I can play Dirt3 (my one and only favorite game) without installing an additional video card.

Yammy RXV2400 & CDC815, Celestion DL8 fr Mission 73Ci ctr Sansui rear Velodyne CHT8, Vaio TT180, i7-920@3.8Ghz
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 2017-02-16, 10:42 AM
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1. AMD A8 7600 Quad Core APU 3.8/3.1GHZ Processor FM2+ 4MB Cache 65W/45W Retail Box
I used the same processor and the mATX version of that motherboard to upgrade and existing HTPC. It makes for an excellent HTPC experience with Windows 10. It's also much more economical than a comparable Intel build. If a little more CPU/GPU power is required, the AMD A10 7860 is a good upgrade. AMD processors still have an edge over Intel for HTPC because of their superior graphics processors.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 2017-02-16, 09:54 PM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Mississauga
Posts: 177

I was trying to configure an AMD solution for my build, but I was advised to wait for the Rizen processors which are supposed to be released on March 2. The reasoning was that this line will future-proof the build for many years to come. Of course since I am running Linux, I don't know if there will be compatibility as soon as the processor and motherboards are available, so I decided to go with the Intel solution for now and wait to see what the reviews are like.

It should have an effect on the price of the existing processors and boards once production ramps up.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 2017-02-17, 10:22 AM
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Rysen will be worth waiting for if a powerful workstation or gaming machine is the objective but not for a HTPC build. In addition, an AMD 7600 or 7680 CPU and motherboard is almost half the cost of comparable Intel components so using them now and upgrading again in a few years is not a bad option.

The 7600 and 7680 are fairly recent entries (in CPU terms) from AMD and won't be obsolete anytime soon. They are very well suited for HTPC due to their low power requirements (which keeps noise and heat down) and their good graphics performance for video. I've used an AMD 5350 AM1 for an HTPC build and, despite it's relatively lightweight CPU, it makes an excellent HTPC. The only concern will be if the system is also used for gaming. The 7680 will handle light gaming but not titles requiring a lot of CPU and GPU power. I have three systems using 7600 and 7680 CPUs (1 HTPC and 2 desktop) and have no complaints.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 2017-02-17, 10:39 AM
Join Date: Nov 2016
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Although you don't need a graphics card for your "primarily internet" surfing. But I think it should be your best interest to get a graphics card for your new build. But there's another thing to be concern about. Since you are keeping your case, you should make sure the cooling system is alright.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 2017-02-17, 04:13 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
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The integrated graphics in the 7680 will outperform a low end graphics card. My experience is that a graphics card is a liability for HTPC and is only necessary for gaming or other intense graphics rendering.

The cooling should be fine for a a low end CPU like the AMD 7680 or a lower power (50w-65w) Intel CPU. If the existing case fans are worn or noisy, it might be worthwhile replacing them with a high quality replacement. Case and CPU temperatures can be checked in the BIOS or with a hardware monitor utility.

It might be worthwhile to check that the PSU can support the new CPU. Intel has updated their power specs for new CPUs. PSU specs are especially important if a video card is added.
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