Help finalising first build components

Foster1984

Well-known Member
I have been wanting to get a media jukebox player for a while now, and done lots of research into different component combinations for a HTPC.

I should probably try and be a bit clearer with what I would like it to do, so my requirements are:

  • Playback 1080p files and bitstream HD audio, via a single HDMI. As I want to run the HTPC to my amp, and from there to the TV.
  • Fit an SSD and a HDD. Preferably 2 HDDs, as I would like to run raid on them (Lost a 2Tb HDD once without a back up, nightmare to re-rip all the media :facepalm:)
  • Have space for a graphics card. As I may want to game on it in the future (After seeing the Next Gen of stand alone consoles :rolleyes:)
  • Have a Blu-ray optical drive. One that can both play and rip blu-rays (As will be ripping my own films, but want the option to have good playback on any that I don't own, ie rented from Lovefilm).
With this in mind, I have put together a systems But wanted you kind people on this forum to run your keen eyes over them first, as I am still not convinced on my choices.

OK, so the parts of the set-up I know I want are:

Corsair CMX8GX3M2B1600C9 XMS 8GB 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 Twin Memory Kit: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories £39.16
Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5 inch SATA Solid State Drive: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories £77.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Caviar-Green...9809919&sr=1-1 £72.20
http://www.amazon.co.uk/LiteOn-IHES1...9810572&sr=1-8 £53.07
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corsair-CMPS...9810284&sr=1-1 £39.25
SST Grandia HTPC ATX enclosures black: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories £80.84
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium with Service Pack 1, 64-bit, English, 1 Pack, DSP OEI (PC) (This OEM software is intended for system builders only): Amazon.co.uk: Software £62.17

The bits I'm not so clear on yet are the CPU/MB combos and whether or not to include a graphics card.

Possible CPU/MB combos I like the look of are:

Intel Pentium G860 3.0GHz Dual Core CPU (Socket 1155, 3MB Cache, Sandy Bridge, 65W, Intel Virtualization Technology, Intel Fast Memory Access): Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories £52.42
http://www.amazon.co.uk/ASRock-H77-M...9727547&sr=8-2 £61.49

Though, may change that processor to this one, as it supports 3D:

Intel Core i3 3225 Dual Core CPU (Socket 1155, 3.30GHz, 3MB Cache, Ivy Bridge, 55W): Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

The second combo is:

AMD Bulldozer FX-4100 Socket AM3+ 4 Core Processor - 3.60GHz, 3.80GHz Turbo: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories £76.36
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asus-M5A97-...TF8&colid=3B4K4K1PVRV4S&coliid=I3BAH7ZWYIYIWN £66.96

The only graphics card I have looked at so far is:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-11...TF8&colid=3B4K4K1PVRV4S&coliid=I11F8K8JL46Q55 £144.30

Now my confusion with all these possible combinations is as follows, I know that any and all of those CPU/MB combos would serve my purposes in a HTPC capacity (They may even be overkill).

However, if it is looking more and more like I will take the plunge into PC gaming, so which if any would be enough to cope then if I were to add that graphics card? And what sort of performance would I be looking at? I would want to be able to run the likes of BF4 with a level of performance AT LEAST in comparison to a PS4 or Xbox One, but preferably better.

My budget is some-what flexible (but will be around the £500 margin), as I will be buying the parts over a few months, probably spend about £100 a month and then just assemble it when I have all the pieces, so I don't mind waiting longer for a better set-up. But only if I will see a noticable difference with the better set-up, I don't want to buy the CPU/MB and then end up bottlenecking a graphics card, or buying a good graphics card in 6-7 months time and finding the CPU/MB aren't up to the job (On a side note, if I do decide to put a graphics card in at a later date, i will opt for a different PSU at initial build stage). I just don't know if I'm being unrealistic in my goals of the "all-in-one machine".
 
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rojgelf

Distinguished Member

I wouldn't use Bulldozer in an HTPC, better to get FM2 with onboard graphics. In your position the A10, this will have more than enough graphics for HTPC (the A6 5400k would meet your HTPC needs) and will manage some gaming too, then later if you need more graphics power add a GPU.

65w one will be better for HTPC:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/AMD-3-4GHZ-HD7660D-Socket-Retail/dp/B0095VPAP0

Also I had that blu-ray drive i was ok but s/w too old, either change to a different one (pioneer or LG bundle maybe - not used either) or be ready to buy powerdvd or similar.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pioneer-BDR-S06XLB-Retail-Internal-Blu-Ray/dp/B004WZ0UBI

http://www.amazon.co.uk/LG-BH16NS40-AUAR10B-SATA-Internal-Retail/dp/B00AK29B26
 
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Foster1984

Well-known Member
I wouldn't use Bulldozer in an HTPC, better to get FM2 with onboard graphics. In your position the A10, this will have more than enough graphics for HTPC (the A6 5400k would meet your HTPC needs) and will manage some gaming too, then later if you need more graphics power add a GPU.

65w one will be better for HTPC:

AMD A10 5700 CPU (3.4GHZ, 4MB Cache, 4 Core, HD7660D, Socket FM2, 65W, Retail Boxed): Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

Also I had that blu-ray drive i was ok but s/w too old, either change to a different one (pioneer or LG bundle maybe - not used either) or be ready to buy powerdvd or similar.

Pioneer BDR-S06XLB Retail 50GB Internal SATA Blu-Ray Writer: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

LG BH16NS40.AUAR10B 16x SATA Internal BDRW Retail Kit: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

Thank you for your response.

The processor you linked to definately looks better than the AMD one I had seen by myself, especially looking at the reviews at the bottom of the amazon page you linked to (They seem to suggest some modern games would be playable even on medium setting without a graphics card. :thumbsup:)

Could you recommend a good MB to go with that processor? As a few different ones are listed on that amazon page, but I don't know much about AMD in comparison to Intel.
[-]
In your opinion, would you say that AMD processor would suit my needs better than the Intel processor I linked in my original post? (Obviously bearing in mind my needs as a HTPC, and the probability of adding a graphics card for gaming at a later date).
[/-]
Just seen this:

Gaming CPU Hierarchy Chart - Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: May 2013

Which puts the processor you suggest 2 tiers above the Intel and 1 tier above the ones that I had looked at. So i'm guessing if they are better for gaming, they will inherently be better for HTPC and general computer use also, correct?

Lastly, (and thank you for being patient) is it true that you can no longer just watch a Blu-ray on a PC, you need software to let you do it? :confused:

I have a friend at work who installed a BD drive into his computer but said he was then no longer able to watch BDs on it as he didn't have the required software. He said he can rip the disk and watch it, but can't watch it straight from the drive. I want a drive that I can rip my own disks with (both DVD and BD), but I still want to be able to watch disks that I rent or friends bring over, is this possible still?

On a seperate note, I will look at those more up-to-date BD drives you linked off to.

Thanks in advance.
 
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rojgelf

Distinguished Member
The processor you linked to definately looks better than the AMD one I had seen by myself, especially looking at the reviews at the bottom of the amazon page you linked to (They seem to suggest some modern games would be playable even on medium setting without a graphics card. :thumbsup:)

Could you recommend a good MB to go with that processor? As a few different ones are listed on that amazon page, but I don't know much about AMD in comparison to Intel.

In your opinion, would you say that AMD processor would suit my needs better than the Intel processor I linked in my original post? (Obviously bearing in mind my needs as a HTPC, and the probability of adding a graphics card for gaming at a later date)

Lastly, (and thank you for being patient) is it true that you can no longer just watch a Blu-ray on a PC, you need software to let you do it? :confused:

I have a friend at work who installed a BD drive into his computer but said he was then no longer able to watch BDs on it as he didn't have the required software. He said he can rip the disk and watch it, but can't watch it straight from the drive. I want a drive that I can rip my own disks with (both DVD and BD), but I still want to be able to watch disks that I rent or friends bring over, is this possible still.

Yes you need s/w to watch blu-rays. Windows does not provide this, in fact win8 does not even provide MCE (you have to buy it extra). I use XBMC on my HTPC and I believe with add ins you can watch blu-rays but I haven't tried. I gave up on a blu-ray drive after one attempt, when I realised not only do you need to buy expensive software but you will need to keep upgrading it too or newer titles may not work in a couple of years. I keep using my on panasonic blu-ray player for that. I will however add a drive soon to rip (my) blu-rays and maybe even play around with XBMC playing from disc.

The AMD chip is better because the AMD HD7660D GPU is way better than the I3 3225 HD4000 GPU - you will need an extra card for the i3 to game. The CPU is also more than enough work as an HTPC. And the A10 is cheaper!

If going the intel route you are I think better with say a G860 and a separate graphics card, not bothering with onboard graphics at all. I would say the A10 will be quieter (less heat / cooling) and use less power, which is better in a HTPC.

For clarity I use a A4 3400 in my HTPC and an I3 3220 in my PC. The i3's advantage to me is that it is better at encoding.

My HTPC is still FM1 and I use an ASUS board, I would say something like this should be fine.

Asus F2A85-M Motherboard (AMD A85X FCH, DDR3, 7 x S-ATA 600, Micro ATX, PCI Express 2.0, HDMI, USB 3.0, eSATA, Socket FM2): Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

Also that case look massive, this with an MATX board (like the above) would be a lot smaller:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silverstone-SST-ML03B-USB3-0-PC-Case/dp/B004HE2YZE
 
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Foster1984

Well-known Member
Yes you need s/w to watch blu-rays. Windows does not provide this, in fact win8 does not even provide MCE (you have to buy it extra). I use XBMC on my HTPC and I believe with add ins you can watch blu-rays but I haven't tried. I gave up on a blu-ray drive after one attempt, when I realised not only do you need to buy expensive software but you will need to keep upgrading it too or newer titles may not work in a couple of years. I keep using my on panasonic blu-ray player for that. I will however add a drive soon to rip (my) blu-rays and maybe even play around with XBMC playing from disc.

The AMD chip is better because the AMD HD7660D GPU is way better than the I3 3225 HD4000 GPU - you will need an extra card for the i3 to game. The CPU is also more than enough work as an HTPC. And the A10 is cheaper!

If going the intel route you are I think better with say a G860 and a separate graphics card, not bothering with onboard graphics at all. I would say the A10 will be quieter (less heat / cooling) and use less power, which is better in a HTPC.

For clarity I use a A4 3400 in my HTPC and an I3 3220 in my PC. The i3's advantage to me is that it is better at encoding.

My HTPC is still FM1 and I use an ASUS board, I would say something like this should be fine.

Asus F2A85-M Motherboard (AMD A85X FCH, DDR3, 7 x S-ATA 600, Micro ATX, PCI Express 2.0, HDMI, USB 3.0, eSATA, Socket FM2): Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

Also that case look massive, this with an MATX board (like the above) would be a lot smaller:

Silverstone SST-ML03B USB3.0 PC Case: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories


Well I plan to use XBMC too, so hopefully there will be a add-on that allows playback. If not, I still want to be able to rip my BD disks, I'll just have to make sure I only rent or borrow DVDs until a solution for BDs can be found.

With regards to this build, I have also been reading:

Hardware Guide - Assassin HTPC Blog

After your recommendation and reading that article, performance-to-price I am pretty much sold on the AMD A10, but would I be better going for this version:

AMD A10 5800K Black Edition CPU (3.8GHZ, 4MB Cache, 4 Core, HD7660D, Socket FM2, 100W, Retail Boxed): Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

It is only a few pounds more, but from the reviews it looks far better for gaming when I do eventually put the graphics card in (Some of the reviews say it can run BF3 and crysis 2 on "medium-ish settings" at 35-50fps, which seems impressive without a graphics card). But obviously, will this matter once I do put the graphics card in, or does that become moot.

I know it is 100w compared to 65w (which the assassin article says to avoid), so Id need a higher PSU overall, but from what I read on the reviews it would only draw that amount of power when needed, it wouldn't drain power uneccessarily. Have I read right there? So if it would be better overall, Id probably get the 5800K one, but want to make sure I have my facts right.

The article also recommends an AMD version of the intel board I had seen, so would probably go with this board:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/AsRock-FM2A...69682331&sr=1-1&keywords=asrock+fm2a75+pro4-m

This would also support the faster DDR3-1866 RAM. Thoughts?

As for the case, I do like the look of the smaller one you linked. However, the reason I was going with the bigger one is upgradability. I didn't want to limit myself for future upgrades by not having enough space in the case.

For instance, would that case you suggested still fit in all the stuff from my original post (GPU included) and still have enough space for air to circulate, etc so it didn't overheat? If it does, happy days I'd prefer a smaller case, but if it can't I'll stick to the bigger one.
 

rojgelf

Distinguished Member
Looks good, and if you are happy with the potential extra wattage then yes 5800k will be better. Even with that you really won't need a big power supply. I use a 60w pico with the A4 3400, and a 300w Bequiet ATX with the i3 (both are ITX builds) even the i3 with ODD, HDD and 2 SSDs idles at under 50w - note the 300w Bequiet has no graphics card cable, but that suits me fine I have it crammed in a small ITX box, with its fewer and shorter cables it great.

Board looks fine. As for case there are a few other people using the ML03 so do a search on this forum, I've just seen it recommended by others.

If you want to definitely just try XBMC for playing blu-rays you could just get this older cheap one:

LiteOn IHOS104 4x SATA Internal BD-ROM Drive Bare Including CyberLink Software: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

That is my plan, but I can't vouch for it yet.
 

Foster1984

Well-known Member
OK, so there have been some developments that might completely change my needs in terms of CPU and Motherboard.

A friend at work is updating his gaming PC and is giving me the following bits of hardware:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asus-GeForc...HPN2M/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top#productDetails
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0063EEXV4/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Now obviously this changes my needs, as previously I needed good integrated graphics to be bettered later by a dedicated card. But now, I'm going to need a good CPU that will not bottleneck a graphics card upgrade in a few months.

My budget for the CPU and Motherboard remain the same,"around" £100 each (Though I realise the MB will be cheaper). Can anyone recommend a good CPU/MB combo that will run well with that card, but be capable of running a better graphics card at a later date without bottlenecking it?

I then need a case that can fit everything thing in. As for the rest of the kit, Im now decided on what I need, I just need to find actual brands and models. Im going for the following:

RAM: 8Gb DDR3 (1666Mhz or 1866Mhz dependant on CPU/MB combo)
SSD: 120GB (For OS and programs)
HDD: 500GB 7200rpm (For games)
HDD: 2TB 'green' 5000rpm (For films, TV shows, music and photos)
Optical drive: BD ROM/DVD Burner (For watching and ripping discs)

(I will update with actual brands and models ASAP to get peoples thoughts)

So if anyone has any suggestions for a suitable case? Im open to suggestion, I would prefer one that is close to a normal HTPC case, but that can fit the graphics card, better CPU et al in, and still have good air flow to stay cool etc.

With this new information, and slightly tweaked plan, do you think this would then meet my needs for a home entertainment PC?
 
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Foster1984

Well-known Member
I think now you have a dedicated GPU you should switch to intel the i3 3220 (which I use) is in your budget, same as i3 3225 but only HD 2500 graphics, which you won't be using.

For mobo an H77 board (you don't need a Z77 as you won't be OC'ing). One like this:

Asus P8H77-M Motherboard (Socket 1155, 32GB DDR3 Support, uATX, Intel H77 Express, Quad GPU AMD CrossfireX Support, USB 3.0 Boost): Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

Yeah, I had looked at the i3s a little while ago (but obviously didn't consider them further due to the poorer iGPU). They do seem quite good value for money.

My only concern with them now is how future proof are they? E.G will it end up being a bottleneck if I put in a more powerful GPU for gaming in say 6 months time?

Would I be better saving a month more (as I have saved a bit by not having to buy a PSU now or a GPU straight away) and trying to get an i5? As someone at work said the new chips were due out in July (due to budget requirements I will still be buying parts up until July anyway), which might lower cost of current generation cpu's prices.
 

rojgelf

Distinguished Member
Yeah, I had looked at the i3s a little while ago (but obviously didn't consider them further due to the poorer iGPU). They do seem quite good value for money.

My only concern with them now is how future proof are they? E.G will it end up being a bottleneck if I put in a more powerful GPU for gaming in say 6 months time?

Would I be better saving a month more (as I have saved a bit by not having to buy a PSU now or a GPU straight away) and trying to get an i5? As someone at work said the new chips were due out in July (due to budget requirements I will still be buying parts up until July anyway), which might lower cost of current generation cpu's prices.


Well you can always wait for the next thing, but i'd say the i3 with a decent GPU is a pretty dam good chip, if you were planning on buying the G860 for now it might be worth going to i3 instead if you have the money, but I think i3 will be fine, its not going to be a bottleneck. There is no better future proofing than saving your money to spend on something better later!

As for case if it was me I'd buy an H77 ITX board and a smaller case, but one that fits your GPU and 2 HDDs with a full sized PSU, like the coolmaster 120, or lian li Q08:

ITX builds are so much nicer IMO, my i3 3220 runs in a Q07 case with no cooling except the CPU cooler, and it barely gets over 40C (or 60C when I'm encoding). They are very cool chips.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cooler-Master-Elite-Advanced-Mini/dp/B008M6THIU

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lian-Li-PC-Q08B-Mini-ITX-Tower-Cube/dp/B003MRSRM6

You could even get the coolmaster now, with a G860 and this mobo and you wouldn't need to wait for july :)

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asus-P8H77-I-Motherboard-Channel-Express/dp/B007OCD3C4
 
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