My quick, simple & effective Mini HTPC build!

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by coolamasta, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    Hey all,

    Though I would post this on here as well!

    I decided that I wanted something small, low power with semi-decent performance for a new Mini HTPC for my living room, I didn't need a BluRay as I have a Sony s480 that takes care of BluRay and DVD up-scaling etc.

    Anyway I fancied trying a Mini-ITX build based on one of the all in one APU's, I didn't want to use an Intel Atom board as I read these AMD Hudson all-in-one APU's are better so went for a Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 AMD Hudson Motherboard as it fitted the bill perfectly, spec is:


    • AMD E-350 1.6ghz Dual-Core CPU
    • Built in Radeon HD 6310 (DirectX 11) GPU
    • AMD Hudson-M1 FCH Chipset
    • Realtek HD Audio, 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel, Support for Dolby Home Theater
    • Realtek 10/100/1000 Mbit NIC
    • 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
    • 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
    • 2 x USB 3.0 ports


    I also decided on using an Antec ISK100 case which comes with a 90w DC-DC PSU with external power brick, its an awesomely small case which runs almost silent with the 2-speed fan set to low, I did decide though that the front needed treating to a bit of Carbon Fibre wrap, if I didn't like it I could just rip it off but in the end I did like it so its staying for now.

    Otherwise I have fitted 4GB of OCZ 1333 DDR3 memory and an older Corsair X32 Extreme Series SSD which is only 32GB but I only need this to boot into Windows and everything else is accessible from the network, it gets around 180mb/s read speed which isn't bad for an older gen SSD and it boots Win 7 x64 nice and quick in around 15 seconds!

    Pictures are quite self explanatory and I done my best to keep the cable management tidy although I might sleeve the ATX PSU cable, it runs pretty damn quick for a HTPC and will happily plays back a 10GB full 1080p mkv using only around 25% of the systems resources while pulling only around 16w from the wall!

    Anyway enjoy the pics and any comments are welcome I can take it lol


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  2. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    [​IMG]

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  3. the_jinj

    the_jinj
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    Nice build :) What was the total cost?
     
  4. spacemanc

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    Looks cool - the carbon fibre effect looks great - especially because you haven't gone over the top with it.

    Is there a fan on the case cover, as well as on the heat sink? The Gigabyte fan looks noisy - maybe you could get away with removing it, as the case fan is so close?
     
  5. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    Thanks mate, wasn't sure if I would like the Carbon but it suits it much better than the standard silver front! Also funnily enough I actually removed the Gigabyte fan last night as it was starting to make random click'y noises so now its even quieter and temps are fine due to the Antec fan being more or less above the heatsink anyway, win-win! :D
     
  6. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    Thanks bud, quick breakdown for me was:

    Gigabyte Motherboard - £100
    Antec ISK100 - £60
    4GB OCZ 1333 RAM - £30
    Mini Bluetooth v2.0 USB Dongle - £5
    SSD I already had, but a 60GB OCZ Agility3 for example would set you back - £72

    All in all without an OS - £267 :smashin:
     
  7. Grangey.

    Grangey.
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    Excuse my ignorance here and dont get me wrong this is a cracking little build but from what ive read:

    Youre not using it for DVD or Bluray storage or playback

    Theres no TV Tuner card in there

    Your HDD is so small I doubt it would hold all that much music

    So what exactly will you be using this for as arguably its just a small pc build rather than a HTPC?

    I will certainly be taking note of it though as I think this will come in handy for expanding my Home entertainment around the house.. :)
     
  8. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    No problem bud, if you don't ask you don't know and all that :) To answer your questions:

    Nope not using it for DVD or BluRay as I have a Sony s480 for that which up-scales DVD's nicely as well.

    For TV I have a Virgin Media V+ box that records anything I want and to be honest I don't watch that much so having a TV tuner card was never on my list to do although im sure if I really wanted one there will be a decent USB one available I could plug in.

    The HDD is deliberately small because I have a 6TB NAS server in the house which holds all my Media so the local HDD just needs to boot up into Windows and then everything is streamed around the house via a Gigabit Ethernet I installed years ago.

    Suppose its down to your own requirements at the end of the day, I wanted something very small, low powered, HDMI with decent audio and semi-decent performance. If you wanted to install an Optical drive, more/bigger HDD's, a tuner card etc then you would be looking at a MicroATX build with a bigger footprint :)
     
  9. VLife

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    What are you going to be using for the front end software?
     
  10. Grangey.

    Grangey.
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    I think you missed my point mate, most of my points werent questions they were statements... but this answered it perfectly

    Thats something I dont believe you mentioned elsewhere (I may have missed it) which is why I didnt understand how this was at all useful as a HTPC. Now, it makes perfect sense and what I assumed it would be used for but as I say, i didnt notice you mentioning it anywhere else...which is kinda key :)
     
  11. Matt_C

    Matt_C
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    ;)
     
  12. Grangey.

    Grangey.
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    .....aaand thats what you get when trying to skim through threads at work!

    Thanking you! :)
     
  13. tredman

    tredman
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    Really good looking build.

    How does the integrated graphics perform?

    Been tempted to try something similar myself, but would need to be v quiet and low energy - looks like this could fit the bill.

    Really like the case, prob would have stayed with silver myself tho :)
     
  14. nacmacfeegle

    nacmacfeegle
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    Nice wee build, I use a 350 based Zotac AD02 as my main box now, and it knocks my Acer Revo 3610 for six performance wise.
    For anyone considering a similar set up....The 350 is not ideal for XBMC Live due to it using ATI onboard graphics, there are well documented minor hoops to jump through to get the drivers set up nice with Windoze, minor but worth noting compared to my Revo which was a very easy XBMC install. It looks like your Mobo has more analogue audio outs than my box, but I use an HDMI equipped AVR so no biggie in my use. I opted for the 350 system in order to take advantage of Hi-Def audio, when it finally arrives on XBMC without too much fiddling.
    The Zotac is actually thinner than your build, and about the same width/height and comes in about 10 quid dearer. The Zotac is pretty quiet, much better than the Revo, and like the Revo comes with a Vesa mount, and a desk stand.
    Like you I chucked in an SSD and feed it from a Nas set up elsewhere. Boots up straight into XBMC via win 7 Pro in about 20 seconds from cold, and is WOL'd from my Iphone/Ipad running XBMC Commander. It has a nice appliance feel so huge WAF, which is very important to me, and no doubt some others here.
    I use uncompressed MKV rips, so a typical Blu Ray is around 30-40 Gb and play flawlessly.
    I'm using XBMC Eden which runs pretty well on the 350, that said I had no issues with Dharma either running the Transparency skin on the same box.

    Finally, for what its worth, I like your carbon fibre effect vinyl overlay.:smashin:
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
  15. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    @nacmacfeegle - Thanks for your info mate all interesting, sounds like a nice little build to me as well, you mind putting a pic up of yours?

    I've started using Plex and also had a quick play with XBMC and to be honest I'm giving Plex a chance first although I've already encountered a problem where on a 1080p video I get no picture, just sound playback for some reason, the file will play native under Windows Media player fine, just not under Plex, I've installed XBMC but not fully configured it yet so will see if that can play it...

    I have also just discovered and really not very happy about is that I'm only getting Stereo Audio over the HDMI connection to the TV, in control panel it only shows supported Audio as 2-channel, gutted!! Wonder why that is?! (All my HDMI sources go straight to TV at the moment and then the TV has optical out to AV amp as my AV amp doesn't have HDMI switching)

    At the moment I have the HTPC connected via optical to my AV amp and Dolby/DTS 5.1 all works fine that way but would be nice to keep it all done via HDMI so I need to do some research and find out if there is anything I can do to get 5.1 running through the HDMI to my TV...... :thumbsdow
     
  16. Ian North

    Ian North
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    Very, very neat and tidy in that case.
     
  17. Presuming Ed

    Presuming Ed
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    Very nice build - I'm considering one of these caes, or the 110, which seems to have less of the silver frontage which you've found a way around anyway, I'm just worried about the 90w PSU. I'm not really going to put much more in it than the Asus E450 I'm hoping to find from somewhere - a bit of RAM, an SSD drive, not much more. But I guess the odd USB device might get plugged in, including, most likely, some Singstar microphones and an external 2.5" USB hard drive - would the PSU cope?
     
  18. jonm

    jonm
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    Looks great!

    Do you know if the Radeon HD 6310 GPU will play 1080i HD TV?

    I ask because my current (ION) client PCs won't, and I want to build some new clients for mediaportal,
    this looks like a great alternative - but only if the grunt is there...
     
  19. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    @ Ian North - cheers bud :smashin:

    @Presuming Ed - if its a low power dual core, an SSD and a couple if USB devices you will be fine mate, this thing maxed out under Prime95 only draws around 40-45w! An external 2.5" HDD only pulls .5 of an Amp and the microphones will hardly use anything so I would be confident you will be safe :)

    @jonm - cheers bud, yeah the HD 6310 GPU will happily play 1080p content using around only 25-35% of the system resources depending on the compression of the file you are playing back. 1080p is more hardware demanding than 1080i anyway so you should have no problems at all, the AMD E350 all in 1 APU is much better than the Intel Atom and ION stuff which is exactly why I went with it! :cool:
     
  20. jonm

    jonm
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    Hmm, I'm not so sure about that, it's the deinterlacing that's causing me the problem on my ION PCs at the moment. I don't suppose you have some 1080i content that you could try? If not, maybe I could send you a sample file to see if it plays OK? It does sound promising though... :)
     
  21. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    Hmmm interesting maybe I got my wires crossed but yeah no worries bud I will have a look through my vids and see if I have any 1080i vids, I dont think I do but will look anyway otherwise failing that no probs if you want to send me something to try, happy to help :smashin:
     
  22. jonm

    jonm
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    OK cool, appreciated :)
     
  23. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    I've not got any 1080i content mate, can you link me to some to download or did you want to Email me some over to test?
     
  24. jonm

    jonm
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    I'm uploading a sample now, it'll take a while. Will post URL once it's done :)
     
  25. jonm

    jonm
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    OK sample file uploaded, have sent you the link via private message.
     
  26. DavidT

    DavidT
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    I think the E350 builds are ideal for a SFF HTPC, I have one based on an ASRock E350M1 mobo and I am about to build another one using a Gigabyte E350N-USB3 mobo. My new build came in a little less than yours at £236 but I have a different case (Akasa Crypto). Now that HDD prices are so high the SSD looks like a good option.

    David

    BTW the carbon fibre wrap looks really neat.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  27. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    Hi bud good news, the 1080i file played back fine without any stuttering or jumping, to be fair it used more system resources than playing back some of my 1080p stuff but overall the CPU usage was between 40-60% :cool:

    I'm sure a lot of this is down to the ATI 6310 GPU doing a lot of the hardware decoding but yeah worked rather nicely :smashin:
     
  28. jonm

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    Great stuff. Thanks for taking the trouble to test this for me - much appreciated.
     
  29. coolamasta

    coolamasta
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    Your welcome bud :smashin: Out of interest, was that HD recording captured from Sky or Cable recorded on a capture card or something? Was a very clear picture!
     
  30. jonm

    jonm
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    It was recorded by Mediaportal direct from a DVB-S2 card.
     

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