New HTPC

Discussion in 'PC Hardware, Software and Displays' started by Earendil, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Earendil

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    I'm guessing this is the right place to put this...

    My current HTPC has gone through it's second power supply and I'm not planning on fixing it at this point. I don't want to spend a lot of money, and the machine doesn't have to be a beast. All it needs to do is play ripped movies, Netflix and stream shows from the web. I already have a 750GB hard drive (3.5 inch) and a 1.5 TB external drive, as well as a license for Win 7. It would also be nice if I could add a blu-ray drive to it.

    Does anyone have suggestions for something that is small, cool and inexpensive?

    Thanks
     
  2. Malo

    Malo YakTribe Gaming
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    Any low end AMD APU based system will do fine. I run my HTPC on an E-350 with Ceton cablecard for Comcast, record 4 HD streams at once, watch Blu-rays, xbmc for my movie/tv collection on my server supporting any type of downloaded or ripped movie etc etc. and the E-350 is about as low end as you can get.

    If you're looking at 3D bluray then make sure the APU can handle it, which I believe the A6 or A8 can.
     
  3. ToTTenTranz

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    I don't know what you mean with inexpensive.
    Without optical drive, you have the EeeBox range from Asus and Revo from Acer. Look for the models with an E-450 APU.

    If you want a blu-ray drive on that form factor then you don't have much choice apart from Asrock's Mini PC "3D Vision" series.
    Nonetheless, stay away from anything with an Atom CPU..
     
  4. Earendil

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    I think at this point the biggest problem is finding a case that doesn't suck. I need one that has an internal bay for a 3.5 inch drive (since there's no point in wasting the drive I already have), but almost every one I've seen so far has multiple complaints about bad power supplies.
     
  5. ToTTenTranz

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    I don't understand what you want. First you say "small, cool and inexpensive", then you say it must take a 3.5" drive inside...

    How large is "small"? How much is "inexpensive"?

    You can always go with a Shuttle or Asus barebone.. but a system like that will probably end up quite a bit more expensive than a nettop. More than if you just purchase the nettop and an extra USB 3.0 case for that hard drive.


    Why not just change everything in your current HTPC case?
     
  6. Silent_Buddha

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    How small do you need it?

    The Silverstone SUGO SG07 and SG08 series are a tad on the large size for a HTPC, but still small enough to easily fit in almost any backpack.

    The best thing about them is that they use conventional ATX power supplies. So if you wanted an 80+ Platinum PSU you can easily stick one in there. They both support 2x 2.5" drives and 1x 3.5" drives.

    Having built a few systems based on the SG07, if you do replace the PSU, I highly recommend one with detachable power cables.

    The SG08 for example, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163187. I would have linked the SG07 as well, but Newegg doesn't have the black faceplate version, only the, IMO, ugly two tone faceplate version.

    A bit pricey and probably too large for your HTPC needs, but it's about as small as you can get while still being able to use off the shelf desktop PC parts (including full height and double width video cards).

    The case is mostly open but has a large relatively quiet fan exhaust (180 mm I believe) so you can easily go with a passive CPU cooler if using an AMD APU. Unfortunately with the way the PSU is oriented I don't think you can go with a passive PSU.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  7. MfA

    MfA
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    Why not go for a separate NAS and HTPC?
     
  8. Earendil

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    Sorry for not having better answers to your questions, but I got out of the hardware side of business about 10 years ago (the last PC I built was a Pentium 3), so my knowledge of modern hardware is sketchy at best.

    @ToTTenTranz:

    What I mean by "small and cool", is basically something that is not a giant tower. It has to fit in my TV stand, and not mind being in a somewhat enclosed space. The only reason I said it needed to have an internal bay for a 3.5 inch hard drive is because I have one I just bought about a year ago, and I'm not buying a different one just because I can't find a case for the one I already have.

    So, after consulting with a couple people, here's what I have in mind:

    AMD A4-3400
    Biostar Micro ATX motherboard
    4GB RAM
    LG Blu-ray drive
    and this case:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001H0BA24/ref=ox_sc_act_title_5?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER
    [​IMG]

    Now for a REALLY dumb question about DDR3 SDRAM. Does this have to be used in pairs? Is it like the old SIMM chips where you had to use either 2 or 4 chips? Or can I get a single 4GB chip now, and upgrade to 8GB later?

    Thank you for your patience guys, I really appreciate it.
     
  9. Zaphod

    Zaphod Remember
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    That case won't fit the motherboard you've picked. If you want a similar form factor for Micro ATX, then look at somthing like this one.
     
  10. Silent_Buddha

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    If you're going with a HTPC, you might as well go with a Mini-ITX Motherboard. Unless there aren't any of those available for AMD APUs. Which would be strange.

    My HTPC is a full tower, but that's only because it's stored in a ventilated closet about 10 meters away from the TV and doubles as my home server. It's nice to have near absolute silence. Although a downside is that during the winter when no fans or AC is used, I can not only hear the ringing in my ears (damn listening to loud music in my youth) but the very slight whine of electronics during very quiet passages in movies. Or before the movie starts. Or if I'm just reading... :p

    Regards,
    SB
     
  11. Earendil

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    *facepalm*

    I'm not sure how I missed that. Thanks.
     
  12. Zaphod

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    There are a couple, but up until recently availability has been patchy. ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe looks nice for instance, but it's out of stock a lot and it costs a pretty penny.

    Apart from that, the most prominent downside of a Mini ITX build with a Llano seems to be people getting burned by cramming too much into small cases with limited airflow and (often) poor PSUs on motherboards with limited space for quality power circuitry.

    If I was starting fresh and could keep storage elsewhere I wouldn't hesitate to do it, but Micro ATX might be the better option if reusing older HDDs.
     
  13. Malo

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    This is the case I got. Granted it's a big on the larger side but fits nicely into my AV area, especially since after building it I got rid of my bluray player and comcast DVR. Really nice looking case with cooling options and room inside. I wanted 5.25" for the bluray and 2.5 + 3.5 for the SSD and 2Tb storage drive for local recording storage.
     
  14. Zaphod

    Zaphod Remember
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    I have the same one, mainly because my HTPC has always been made up from castaway parts from other computers. It's a very nice case, but these full-ATX Silverstones are pretty huge. Needs a TV bench with room for full size hi-fi gear, and even then the depth can be an issue.

    If I were to start from scratch today, I'd get something smaller (if foregoing the ODD, perhaps suitable to mount behind the TV) and rely on a NAS or server for networked storage.
     
  15. ToTTenTranz

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    My HTPC is about the same size.
    I think it's almost always better to have a HTPC case capable of mATX boards, full-sized PSUs and a 5.25" bay for blu-ray.

    And for a couch-PC-gamer like me, a full-sized graphics card too :D
    Skyrim looks stunning with quality mods @ 1080p, 2xMSAA + FXAA in the 50" plasma screen.
     
  16. Silent_Buddha

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    Oh that does look nice. If I was building a HTPC that couldn't be hidden in another room or closet, that would likely be high on my list.

    Regards,
    SB
     
  17. Earendil

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    I ended up finding a decent Micro-ATX case with a normal size PSU in case it blows one.

    Thanks for all your advice guys.
     
  18. Sxotty

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    I ended up with something similar when I asked last time, but that one is a tad prettier makes me sad I did not get it :). Silverstone has scads of cases though.
     
  19. ToTTenTranz

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