Completed low-budget HTPC build

longplay

Standard Member
In the same spirit as my post yesterday, I built a lower-budget HTPC for my brother (my build came in at over £700 all-in inc OS, etc), so thought I would list the kit and experiences. He's not been using it (moved out of his house and it's still in storage), so hard to give 100% thumbs up, but it was working OK when I left it. This build came in for under £400, I could have shaved more off if I had used the included remote that came with the tuner (but I wanted to be able to wake the machine using it) and had bought cheaper case fans.

It was built July 2009 so some of this has been obsoleted, the 45w processors were rare as rocking horse excrement back then and almost impossible to find now.


The Hardware

Case: Antec NSK 2480 (I preferred this over the Antec Minuet 350)
PSU: 380w included in the case
Mobo: Asus M4A78-VM (I was tempted by the Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2H 740G, but this was better spec IIRC)
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5050e
Cooler: Stock AMD supplied with CPU
RAM: 2 * Kingston 1gb DDR2 800mhz
HDD: WD Caviar Green 500Gb
DVD: LG GH22NS40 SATA Black
TV Tuner: Hauppauge WinTV Nova-TD 500 (dual tuner)
Keyboard: Nexos 2.4Ghz Wireless Multimedia Entertainment Keyboard with TouchPad
Remote: Generic Windows MCE IR remote look-a-like off eBay (couldn't find an actual one)
Other: 2 * 120mm Sharkoon 'golfball' case fans


Comments on the Build

I preferred the 2480 case and I was very impressed, it was well made and had good segregation of PSU and mobo as well as excellent mounting (vertical, on their side) of the HDDs, which had silicon/rubber grommets on the mounts to insulate vibration.

I was worried about using the stock cooler, thinking it would be too noisy, but decided to try it and was pleasantly surprised. I went with the Hauppauge tuner as I have had good experience with them over the years, but my older model seems to be struggling in Win7, not sure who's to blame though. I went with a wireless keyboard as I'm not massively thrilled with my IR one, this was OK but it didn't make me change mine.

The mobo only came with one SATA cable and due to the placement of the DVD and HDD drives I had to get a SATA power extension to reach the HDD, I bought a kit which had a molex-to-SATA power converter on it and a SATA cable in the end.

I went with the WD drive as I've had good experience with WD and my two 1Tb drives have been excellent, they are extremely quiet. I'd also seen some reports of reliability issues on the Samsungs, which seemed to be the main competition. A colleague of mine had two 500Gb Samsung drives fail in the same week well inside a year (replaced under warranty thankfully).

The Sharkoon fans were expensive, but they are awesome. If money's no object and you want total silence I'd recommend them. There's probably a better balance of noise vs cost out there though.


The Software

I went with Windows 7 RC (this was sometime last year) as it was free (for a while) and it uses Windows Media Centre.

I also installed Media Browser (why wouldn't you?).

Again I went with a black theme.

Codec support came courtesy of Shark007's pack.

I also installed DVD Shrink and AnyDVD for ripping DVDs to the HDD.


Problems

Apart from finding the lack of SATA cables and the reach of the PSU power a bit short, generally all went smoothly.

Windows 7 was fun to install at first, initially I was using a PATA DVD drive with a SATA HDD and this seems to be a problem. Once installed I was very impressed with 7mc, less so after upgrading mine, but that might be a hardware issue. The biggest problem I had was when I hooked up a spare Belkin USB wireless-N stick my brother had to enable internet access (an N1 Wireless USB Adapter - F5D8051uk - I think). I could not get Win7 to connect to the internet (it connected to the router fine). After a lot of trial and error, plenty of head-scratching, swearing and trawling of the interwebs I found an updated driver fixed it.


Conclusion

Generally a fairly easy build, aside from a few quirks with the hardware/software interface and it was working well when I left it (although they had issues with the strength of their TV signal which caused problems, obviously).
 

sh18

Active Member
great build and thanks for the extra info. Im in the middle of putting together my own budget HTPC.
I ordered 2 80mm Sharkoon fans based on good reviews so hopefully theyll be as good as you say they are.

Im a bit concerned about the IDE DVD & Sata HDD issue though as my matx board only has 2 sata ports and im using 2 sata HDDs so i went ahead and ordered an IDE Pioneer drive last night. Did you manage to sort it or did you just buy a sata drive?
 

bagg3rs

Active Member
I have the same build pretty much Antec case, motherboard, WD hard drive.

With regards to the Sharkoon 'golfball' case fans did that make much of a difference as I am pretty happy with the noise level's on my stock cooler (AMD Athlon II X2 235e) I am not sure which is making more noise. I know I could find out but disconnecting but havent had much time lately. Did you notice a difference with new case fans?
 

longplay

Standard Member
Im a bit concerned about the IDE DVD & Sata HDD issue though as my matx board only has 2 sata ports and im using 2 sata HDDs so i went ahead and ordered an IDE Pioneer drive last night. Did you manage to sort it or did you just buy a sata drive?

I'd ordered a SATA drive for the build anyway (about the same price and I figured it meant a smaller cable to better airflow) and used that. It shouldn't be a problem once installed (my machine runs IDE optical and SATA HDD).

I didn't have any issues upgrading that, so it might just have been a release candidate bug.

With regards to the Sharkoon 'golfball' case fans did that make much of a difference as I am pretty happy with the noise level's on my stock cooler (AMD Athlon II X2 235e) I am not sure which is making more noise. I know I could find out but disconnecting but havent had much time lately. Did you notice a difference with new case fans?

Didn't drop the noise on the CPU cooler as I recall, but they were quieter than the stock Antec case fans IIRC.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Star Wars Andor, Woman King, more Star Trek 4K, Rings of Power & the latest TV, movies & 4K releases
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom