Building an HTPC system - should I do it now or wait for better gear?
I was talking to a sales rep at NCIX about my plans for an HTPC, turns out he is also planning to build his own. He advised me to wait about a month before diving in, because of changes coming that would determine which mobo I should use, etc:
A new line of video cards from ATI
Hauppage PVR card
Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD (I want a machine powerful enough for playback, but waiting for an affordable drive)
So, any advice on how to best "future proof" this upcoming build?
The P5B-VM is not a good choice if you are planning on any overclocking. The PCI Express bus speed cannot be locked and will really limit the overclocking ability of the montherboard.
Usually in an SLI or Crossfire setup, the two video cards work with 8 bit PCIe slot.
With this motherboard, the primary PCIe is always 16bit and the secondary can be 4 bits wide. verdict is out as to whether this is good or bad .... leaning towards bad. Most HTPC can easily get away with one good video card.
You may want to reconsider your decision not to overclock. Blu-ray or HD-DVD playback will require some fairly hefty processing power (there's some debate about this but if you want future-proof then you'll want all the processing power you can get). The new Intel CPUs overclock very easily and don't require any fancy CPU coolers to do so. This will allow you to save hundreds of dollars on the CPU alone. e.g. buy something like an E6600 but then overclock it to get performance of an E6700 or greater.
I am in the same boat and I was looking at the Asus P5B (plain version) for my HTPC. If that is not good, what would you recommend? I would like to stick with Asus as their motherboards have always performed well for me.
You should be fine with the P5B. The motherboards with onboard video are the ones that tend to have minimal features for things like overclocking. They are more targeted at people building inexpensive systems (hence the onboard video) so they strip out a lot of the advanced features.