• New Patreon Tier and Early Access Content available. If you would like to support AVForums, we now have a new Patreon Tier which gives you access to selected news, reviews and articles before they are available to the public. Read more.
  • Black Friday Deals
    Visit our Black Friday page for our frequently updated, hand picked deals on TVs and other tech.

New HTPC Build - Hardware review

jimmyca69

Active Member
Hi all

My HTPC has been running fine now for a while, a few upgrades here and there but now with Windows 7 64bit Professional, some more space and customised Mediabrowser setup it is everything i wanted. Trouble is its what others want too - fair few family members and friends want something similar and ive held off until now.

Im going to build a system for my brother in law, everything included and wanted opinions on the setup.

I had following requests from him to match in the build spec
- LCD on case
- Ability to play COD Modern Warfare 2
- Mediabrowser setup
- Set dimensions for cabinet
- £450 budget
- No OS needed (he gets Windows 7 64bit through work)

I also added my own requirements
- Low energy system
- Minimal Noise
- Low system temps
- Min spec of dual core processor, 4gb ram and 1TB space

The key issue was firstly getting a case sorted for the space - which i finally decided on this
- Antec Micro Fusion Remote VERIS Media Center Case - With 350W PSU and Media Remote Control

Seemed to match my needs and being Antec i know it would be a decent case

With that case i was then needing to find mATX boards with decent enough graphics card to run COD MW2 on a 37" LCD screen. To cut a long story short i didnt, the onboard graphics options - although good - i didnt consider good enough to run COD decently.

So i had to look for a low profile card that also wasnt going to require huge power and a lot of cooling. I then came across this card and it seems to be exactly what im after
- ATI Radeon HD4650 512mb DDR2 PCi-e

The rest was somewhat simpler - although the motherboard and processor combination was slightly tricky, deciding on AM2+ or AM3 chipset and what the best combination i could get in budget.

In the end i plumped for this processor
- AMD Athlon X2 240 2.8ghz Socket AM3

Quite energy efficient with good performance for relatively cheap price.

I coupled it with this motherboard that supports the processor, (more importantly have read reviews with same combination and they run well) is mATX and also supports DDR2 memory (reason being DDR3 would probably take me over budget so wanted AM2+ to utilise the cheaper ddr2 memory)
- ASUS M4A78-VM 780G Socket AM2+

For the memory i then went for an old favourite of mine, again budget restraints meant i couldnt go mad and i think this in dual channel mode will give the necessary performance for the system
- Corsair 4gb (2x2gb) DDR2 800mhz

The last major component as i see it was the hard drive - the case i plan to get seems to allow installation of only 1 HDD and so i wanted a large capacity one to go in there. Ideally i initially wanted to setup raid on 2x1TB Samsung F3 drives but budget stopped that along with case space. So i ended up looking at this for my initial storage solutions.
- Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 32mb Cache, 7200rpm

With the main hardware accounted for the rest of the bits to complete the build are as follows, i already have ethernet, power cables, sata cables etc that i can use but these were to complete the whole system for use in his living room.

- LiteOn Blu-Ray Reader DVD-Rom
- 85mbps Powerline Homeplugs x2 as 4 needed
- Wireless Keyboard & Mouse with charger
- Plexus Gold Plated 2m HDMI Cable

Now thats the lot - the grand total comes to £452.49

I think that for all that spec its not too bad at all, i was slightly disappointed that i couldnt stretch to a quad core, to have Raid and also get a blu-ray/hd combo drive but a budget is a budget.

Nothing has been purchased so any thoughts on the hardware appreciated :smashin:
 
Last edited:

tony_park

Active Member
Hi,

specs look good and well thought out. Let us know how you get on with the build...

Does your brother in law need a tv tuner, or is it not being used for recording tv?

Tony
 

jimmyca69

Active Member
Hi,

specs look good and well thought out. Let us know how you get on with the build...

Does your brother in law need a tv tuner, or is it not being used for recording tv?

Tony

Cheers - will do

I did mention the TV tuner to him, i dont use one myself so not that clued up but is there a decent low profile one that uses PCI (rather than PCI-e) that i could offer him as an option for extra £50 if he wanted it?
 

oliphillips

Active Member
I would re-arrange things slightly. Knock off the graphics card, go for decent integrated Radeon HD4200 gfx allowing you to Upgrade to AM3 board. Upgrade to DDR3 ram and upgrade the CPU.

How about this combo:

AM3 Motherboard: £69.86: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/170230

Corsair 1333Mhz DDR3 RAM: £69.99: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/166463
or
Kingston 1600Mhz DDR3 RAM: £72.06: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/169240

This way you have AM3 mobo, so future upgrades better supported. Faster RAM. Not forgetting the Integrated ATI Radeon HD4200, which I'm sure will run COD MW2 fine. With HDMI out. This has added about £32, but you can take off the cost of GFX card.

So it makes it a total of £14 cheaper. And with the extra £14 you could upgrade your CPU to:

Quad Core!! : http://www.ebuyer.com/product/173368

or

Very overclockable Dual Core 3.1Ghz Phenom: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/166518

So, by doing this you have DDR3 Ram, better CPU and a much more future proof mobo, and graphics wise I'm sure it will handle it OK And then potentially upgrade to a decent graphics card at a later date. E.g. the 4830 @ £48
 
Last edited:

jimmyca69

Active Member
I would re-arrange things slightly. Knock off the graphics card, go for decent integrated Radeon HD4200 gfx allowing you to Upgrade to AM3 board. Upgrade to DDR3 ram and upgrade the CPU.

How about this combo:

AM3 Motherboard: £69.86: Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H 785G Socket AM3 DVI VGA HDMI Out 8 Channel Audio MATX Motherboard - Ebuyer

Corsair 1333Mhz DDR3 RAM: £69.99: Corsair 4gb (2x2gb) Ddr3 1333mhz Xms3 Memory Kit Cl9 (9-9-9-24) - Ebuyer
or
Kingston 1600Mhz DDR3 RAM: £72.06: Kingston 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz/PC3-12800 HyperX Memory Kit CL9(9-9-9-27) - Ebuyer

This way you have AM3 mobo, so future upgrades better supported. Faster RAM. Not forgetting the Integrated ATI Radeon HD4200, which I'm sure will run COD MW2 fine. With HDMI out. This has added about £32, but you can take off the cost of GFX card.

So it makes it a total of £14 cheaper. And with the extra £14 you could upgrade your CPU to:

Quad Core!! : AMD Athlon II X4 620 2.6GHz AM3 Retail Boxed Processor - Ebuyer

or

Very overclockable Dual Core 3.1Ghz Phenom: AMD Phenom X2 550 Black Edition 3.1GHz 6MB L3 Chche Socket AM3 Retail Boxed Processor - Ebuyer

So, by doing this you have DDR3 Ram, better CPU and a much more future proof mobo, and graphics wise I'm sure it will handle it OK And then potentially upgrade to a decent graphics card at a later date. E.g. the 4830 @ £48

Not bad at all :smashin:

Only reservation is the HD4200 being good enough for COD MW2 in full 1080p on LCD screen although if it is think were on a winner :D
 

jimmyca69

Active Member
And if it isn't I would recommend the 4830, amazing deal at Novatech at the moment: 4830 @ £48
:thumbsup:

Link no worky, do you mean this one EAH4830/HTDP/512MD3/A Asus ATI Radeon HD 4830 512MB GDDR3 TV-Out/Dual DVI/HDMI (PCI-Express) - Retail 575MHz Core, 512MB 1800MHz GDDR3 Memory, 640 Stream Processors, PCI-E 2.0, CrossfireX Ready, Avivo HD, 7.1 Audio, 3 Year Warranty with Asus. : novat

Looks good but non low profile so not option for current case :thumbsdow

Also using the tom's hardware guide the HD4200 doesnt look a great option :(

One thing is that i could change the case to something that accepts standard sized cards etc but when looking previously i couldnt find any under £80 that had the lcd screen, good internal layout to ensure cooling and a desktop case.
 

jimmyca69

Active Member
Wasn't that card, can't believe it's gone. Was on there available a couple of hours ago!

Shame - im rethinking the case ideas to allow for a full sized PCI-e graphics card which will free up some money to plump for the DDR3 ram and mobo and upgrade the CPU as you stated before.

Prices like yoyo's at mo so really need to decide and get the cash to purchase before some deals end and prices go back up and i have to start over again
 

bazzie

Standard Member
Hi guys, I am following this thread with some interest...

I have been trying to find a good case, and had considered the one in the orginal post, but decided that low profile might not be the best option in the long run.. Antec have some other nice ones out there...

my question though is do we really need an LCD? I have been thinking about this for a while, i orginally thought that if i was to build a HTPC it would have to have one right? But am i actually going to use it? Is it going to be easier to find a full sixe chase, a little more cost effective without the screen? Does this mean that you need to buy a seperate USB IR reciever for the remote?

I had in the last considered this Antec Fusion Remote Veris Black MATX Media Center Case - No PSU - Ebuyer

Just thought i would throw this in...

bazz
 

The latest video from AVForums

Guardians of the Galaxy Xmas Special, Strange World, Bones and All, and Cabinet of Dr Caligari in 4K
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom