HTPC Builds with Sandy Bridge Processor - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-25, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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HTPC Builds with Sandy Bridge Processor

Well the new B3 motherboards are here.

From everything I read, you'd be crazy not to get a Sandy Bridge Processor for HTPC right now.

Why? Low Power usage, no need for discrete graphics, HD bitstreaming, cost effective, QuickSync.

The following is a build I am considering. Curious what folks think.

THree notes:

I am not going to bother with a DVD or Blu-ray drives since it will not be needed because ripping will be done on another more powerful computer. If i need a DVD or Blu-ray drive, I will install later.

I debated a SSD but feel its not necessary. This machine will be a music and photo server also and will likely be on about 12 hours a day so start up time is not critical. If in a year, the price of SSDs come down, I will swap then.

I think 4GB of Ram should be more than sufficient but would appreciate input.

  • Intel Core i3 2120 Processor
  • Gigabyte H67MA-UD2H-B3 H67 USB3.0 Motherboard
  • 4GB Ram
  • 1TB HDD Western Digital Blue
  • Seasonic SS-400ET 400W EPS12V 20/24PIN ATX Power Supply
  • Nmedia HTPC-1000B Desktop Media Centre Case mATX Black
  • Windows 7

Software to be installed will likely include:
  • Boxxee
  • Itunes
  • Total Media Theatre
  • Sonos
  • uTorrent




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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-25, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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I should note that this will be a HTPC. No gaming, no ripping etc



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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-25, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hugh
From everything I read, you'd be crazy not to get a Sandy Bridge Processor for HTPC right now.
Amen, brother!

What are your plans for user input devices? The Nmedia keyboard/remote combo isn't bad, especially if you do a lot of typing. I find the trackball on their remote rather awkward, but the full-sized keyboard is nice if you're doing a lot of typing.

If you are looking for an inexpensive remote that you can use to control your HTPC as well as the power/volume of other devices, this one isn't bad. I picked it up when I ordered my HDHR3 from newegg because it was inexpensive and I'm still on a quest for a great HTPC remote control. For price/performance, it's hard to beat.

The only weakness of the RF remotes (like the Nmedia one) is that you cannot control the volume/power of IR devices.
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-25, 03:47 PM
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That's one incredibly impressive motherboard. The only change I would make is to use a 2TB WD Green drive. It will use less power and deliver about the same speed. They also provide the best value at this time. 4GB RAM will be lots for a Win7 HTPC. Not sure about the BD drive issue. If a BD software player is installed, I would go with a BD ROM drive. Rips will usually do the job but I've seen the odd one that was problematic.

Quote:
If you are looking for an inexpensive remote...
I picked up an ASUS remote off eBay for $11. It works great with XBMC. It is MCE compatible but may have shortcomings with other software.

At 20 I had a good mind. At 40 I had money. At 60 I've lost my mind and my money. Oh, to be 20 again. --Scary
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-25, 06:31 PM
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Isn't that extreme overkill for "no gaming, no ripping, etc." ?
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-25, 06:44 PM
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The only thing that may be a little over is the processor. A 2100 should be more than good enough. A 2100T should also be adequate and draws about half the power.

At 20 I had a good mind. At 40 I had money. At 60 I've lost my mind and my money. Oh, to be 20 again. --Scary
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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-25, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah the pricing is better on the 2120 for me.



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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-25, 08:15 PM
 
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Personally, I would recommend the Western Digital Green series rather than the Blue, or better yet, one from the AV-GP series. They'll run much cooler and quieter. The AV-GP series is designed specifically to provide smooth media playback.

In mine, I have a 1TB AV-GP for storage and a 50GB OCZ SSD as my primary boot drive. It's fast and silent
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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-28, 11:49 AM
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There is a blog I read (on software development) where the author posted about upgrading his HTPC to a Sandy Bridge system.

Revisiting the Home Theater PC

He selected the 2100T for power consumption reasons. Also on the topic of power consumption he listed his past HTPCs and their power draw, and noted the rapid decrease:

Quote:
2005 ~$1000 512 MB RAM, single core CPU 80 watts idle
2008 ~$520 2 GB RAM, dual core CPU 45 watts idle
2011 ~$420 4 GB RAM, dual core CPU + GPU 22 watts idle
There was an interesting tidbit here where he commented on the content source moving from using analog cable tuners to internet streaming, something that a HTPC is uniquely positioned to take advantage of.

Quote:
(Also, in case you're wondering, I intentionally dropped the analog cable tuner. All modern cable is now digital, which means awkward DRM-ed up the wazoo CableCard systems. I've cancelled cable altogether; I'd rather take that $60+ per month and use it to support innovative companies who will deliver media through the internet, like Netflix, Hulu, etcetera. Or as I like to call it: the future, unless the media congolomerates with vaults full of cash manage to subvert net neutrality.)
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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-28, 10:34 PM
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If I were you I would go with the SSD and I would think about the Seasonic fan less PS. Keep all of your media content on a media server, perhaps running WHS located elsewhere in your house and you can make this system pretty close to silent. If you follow my advice then the only moving parts in your PC will be the CPU fan and case fan. I am just moving my HTPC server to an SSD to improve performance.
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post #11 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-28, 10:35 PM
 
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HTPC you're building looks great. Way more machine than you need, but will be future ready for quite a while

for comparison, both my htpc are AM/AM2 dual cores at 2.5 ghz, 3gb ram and ati 4350 cards
they'll run 1080p blu-ray rips easily and low cpu usage (win7 media center)

so performance wise, your proposed build will breeze thru anything you toss at it
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post #12 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-03-29, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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I upped the specs on this computer slightly. While some see it as a bit overkill, I have also decided to use this as a music server and perform some video encoding duties as well as PVR for OTA duties so the extra power is welcome.

The other notable point is that with Sandy Bridge, I don't need an add-on video card and the Sandy Bridge processors are so energy efficient (relatively speaking). Add it up and this should be a relatively energy efficient PC.

I also changed cases to a Silverstone since the store did not have the original in stock.

Also upped the hdd and will add a OTA tuner.



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post #13 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-04-15, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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What annoys me about this PC is UEFI.

There is no way to have the PC start up at a specific time each day via EFI. This is something I've been able to do with the BIOS on my existing PC and would like to do with this PC.

I'd like to have it start automatically around 3:30 PM and then I would have a Task in Windows to shutdown at midnight.

I can't use sleep mode because then it goes to sleep while Sonos is playing.



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post #14 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-04-15, 11:16 AM
 
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Hugh, two tools that may be of use for you.

Wake Remote Computer Service: Monitors a network device, and can trigger wake on lan to another device on your network. I use this for my media center extenders, which don't support WOL. My home server is always one, so I run the service there. When it detects the presence of my extender on the network it sends a WOL packet to my media center. Likely would be useful for your SONOS as well.
http://wrcs.codeplex.com/

Media Center Standby Tool: Adds additional config options for standby/wakeup with media center specific triggers. May or may not have some options that help you to watch for sonos activity to override standby.
http://slicksolutions.eu/mst.shtml
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post #15 of 42 (permalink) Old 2011-04-15, 11:53 AM
 
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Does the Gigabyte board use UEFI?

I'm pretty sure Gigabyte is still using BIOS for the time being.
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