HD HTPC on a Budget, March 2008 - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-17, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
 
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HD HTPC on a Budget, March 2008

HD HTPC On a Budget

I guys...thanks for helping me out...

I read quite a few posts here and they were great to set me off in a good direction I think. Now I have put together a list of items I want in my first HTPC.

Purpose of this pc:

1. Mainly playing downloaded HD content.
2. Playing DVDs at the moment.
3. I will add a BD-Rom when it is within my reach, so I want to have that option open.
4. I want to add a satelite tuner card (I have a 102G card)
5. I want to add a TV tuner card (this is not a priority however).
6. I want to connect it to a LG 42" 1080p TV.
7. I think I will be running WinXP Media Center on it (I have the CD)

Requirements:

1. Has to be on a budget (hoping to do everything with in $500...including the Tax in Canada)
2. Has to be wife friendly (compact and can't make the living room ugly)

The system in mind to research:

1. AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Dual Core Processor AM2 2.7GHZ 2X512KB 65W 65NM Retail Box $115.99
2. ASUS M2N-MX SE Plus mATX AM2+ GE6100-NF430 1PCI-E16 2PCI SATA2 RAID Video Sound LAN Motherboard $67.73
3. HIS Radeon HD 3450 Heatsink 256MB DDR2 DVI VGA DIRECTX10.1 Video Card W/ HDMI Adapter $49.99
4. OCZ Reaper Hpc Edition PC2-6400 DDR2 2GB 2X1GB DDR2-800 CL4-4-4-15-2T Dual Channel EPP Memory Kit $74.44
5. IN-WIN BL631 (Black) mATX Slim Desktop w/300W $55.99
6. 160GB HDD SATA II 8/16MB $59.99
7. Some wireless keyboard/mouse. $50

Now here go the questions:

1. I did not research enough on the motherboard. I wasn't sure what to look for in the motherboard other then its brandname and stability. Your insight on this is highly appreciated.
2. The case I selected is compact, but I am worried about airflow since it is compact. Here is the URL: http://www.in-win.us/products_case_s...el_id=185#here

Alternate choice seems to be this one at almost double the price. URL: http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicatio...886&CatId=3428

What do you guys think? I really like the compact one because of its price and size. But then again am worried about the airflow and the PSU in the long run.

3. Any other insight is also very appreciated...like remote etc.

Thanks a lot for reading and replying.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-17, 10:19 PM
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You might want to check out this thread.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=82177
jvincent is offline  
post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-17, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
 
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thanks a lot for your reply. the MB with the chipset 780G looks great. and the cheapest one I can get is $99. Now it has the Radeon 3200 HD chip on it. IS there any comparison of this chip to the HD 3450? Since the Motherboard + Video card costs me almost the same. Any insight? Thanks a lot.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-17, 10:45 PM
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From the reviews the 780G is supposed to give the same performance as the 3450.

The 780 boards are still quite new so the assessments are still coming in. I'm waiting for the B3 steppings of the Phenoms, or perhaps the three core version, to become available to build my HD upgrade.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-17, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
 
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great...I will wait and read some more...how about the rest of the config...

given I go for the original config, could you please help answering the airflow questions?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-17, 11:22 PM
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I'm not familiar with that case but it looks like it should be OK.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-21, 07:08 PM
 
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I'm building a similar system.

I recently ordered:
1. AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2GHz $63.88
2. Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H AMD 780G mATX AM2 1PCI-E16 2PCI SATA W/RAID eSATA Video Sound GLAN 1394 $86.32
3. OCZ Platinum XTC REV.2 PC2-6400 2GB 2X1GB DDR2-800 CL4-4-4-15 240PIN $28.99* (after $30 rebate)
5. InWin BT611T Micro-ATX Slim Desktop Case $59.95

Based on reviews, the integrated 780G should be more than enough for HD playback even with a low-end CPU. I figure the 4200+ will use less power and generate less heat (and less noise because it will take less fans to keep it cool.)

I already have a spare hard drive and DVD writer but if I didn't I probably would go for something in the 500GB-1Tb range because HD material (especially ATSC) uses a lot of space. I also have a Hauppauge HVR-950 USB ATSC tuner and will probably add an internal tuner card eventually.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-23, 12:10 AM
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I love a slender case but those In-Win cases present one major issue...

They do not use standard sized power supplies so if the power supply dies, you have very few choices. Basically, buy a second case with a power supply or toss the useless case and get something all together different.

I point all this out as I was bit by just this kind of issue a little more than a year ago. My choice was to toss the case and get an Antec NSK2400. A very nice case that has a standard sized power supply for easy replacement.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-23, 12:48 PM
 
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Arrow

Not to mention that small cases often have low wattage power supplies. You need to be very careful when choosing components for these. Low power CPUs, motherboards, drives, memory, etc. are pretty much mandatory. Don't even think about adding a high power video card or a lot of extra devices and cards.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-23, 12:54 PM
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For those that are looking for a new case, checkout the Omaura cases.

Nice looking and not horrifically expensive. They are distributed by Dell in the US so I assume that's how we would have to get them here.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-23, 12:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwalter View Post
I'm building a similar system.

I recently ordered:
1. AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2GHz $63.88
2. Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H AMD 780G mATX AM2 1PCI-E16 2PCI SATA W/RAID eSATA Video Sound GLAN 1394 $86.32
3. OCZ Platinum XTC REV.2 PC2-6400 2GB 2X1GB DDR2-800 CL4-4-4-15 240PIN $28.99* (after $30 rebate)
5. InWin BT611T Micro-ATX Slim Desktop Case $59.95

Based on reviews, the integrated 780G should be more than enough for HD playback even with a low-end CPU. I figure the 4200+ will use less power and generate less heat (and less noise because it will take less fans to keep it cool.)

I already have a spare hard drive and DVD writer but if I didn't I probably would go for something in the 500GB-1Tb range because HD material (especially ATSC) uses a lot of space. I also have a Hauppauge HVR-950 USB ATSC tuner and will probably add an internal tuner card eventually.
I just got the same ram/mobo as well with a Black 5000+ CPU and 750GB HD...the 4200+ I believe is a Windsor core and uses a little more energy but you get no frill compatibility.

I wouldn't worry about the case, as DIYer, if the proprietary psu dies, just get a new case/psu :~)

A bit of HTPC is about 'looks' anyways. The NSK2400 is a good suggestion if the dimension is suitable.

LG55LW5000/DenonAVR791/MirageOMD5+Nanosat+MM8/ClearStream2/CM7778+3414
OptomaHD33/YamahaRXV1075/KEF3005/Velo15"
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-25, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwalter
I'm building a similar system.

I recently ordered:
1. AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2GHz $63.88
2. Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H AMD 780G mATX AM2 1PCI-E16 2PCI SATA W/RAID eSATA Video Sound GLAN 1394 $86.32
3. OCZ Platinum XTC REV.2 PC2-6400 2GB 2X1GB DDR2-800 CL4-4-4-15 240PIN $28.99* (after $30 rebate)
5. InWin BT611T Micro-ATX Slim Desktop Case $59.95

Based on reviews, the integrated 780G should be more than enough for HD playback even with a low-end CPU. I figure the 4200+ will use less power and generate less heat (and less noise because it will take less fans to keep it cool.)

I already have a spare hard drive and DVD writer but if I didn't I probably would go for something in the 500GB-1Tb range because HD material (especially ATSC) uses a lot of space. I also have a Hauppauge HVR-950 USB ATSC tuner and will probably add an internal tuner card eventually.

I just got the same ram/mobo as well with a Black 5000+ CPU and 750GB HD...the 4200+ I believe is a Windsor core and uses a little more energy but you get no frill compatibility.

I wouldn't worry about the case, as DIYer, if the proprietary psu dies, just get a new case/psu :~)

A bit of HTPC is about 'looks' anyways. The NSK2400 is a good suggestion if the dimension is suitable.
Thanks a lot for your replies guys.

I am on a budget atm and can't afford the Nfusion 430 case I think ($170)...

but the inwin case is in budget as I also decided to change the MB to the 780G and scrap the video card.

will the ram fit in the case though? the ones I ordered has a huge head pipe.

also what fan should i use for the 5000+ black edition. i still have not gotten a fan for it.

please let me know.

thanks a lot for ur replies guys!
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-28, 12:42 PM
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I might get beaten up for this but I just picked up an Apple TV, and hacked the software so that I can run the nitoTV plugin. Now, it will play arbitrary video files off of my media server in the basement.

The biggest benifits are:

1) Small, compact and quiet. My roommate (who's tech savy) didn't notice it sitting under the TV for 4 days.
2) Easy to use. Once it's setup, it definitely passes the "Wife" test.
3) HDMI output
4) Plays just about any file I toss at it.
5) Only cost me $250 + Tax, in Canada.

The only real downside to it is that it doens't quite have the processing power to play mpeg4 high profile.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 2008-03-28, 07:21 PM
 
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Posts: 261
I'm in the same boat. Trying to build a Mediaportal "extender". Trying to do it for under 300$.

1. Nvidia 8200 mobo (not out yet but supposedly will pass multichannel PCM over HDMI)
2. AMD BE-2350 or BE-2300
3. 1GB RAM
4. Cheap case

Got a small HD to use somewhere, don't need much space anyways, will be streaming over GigE.
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