New HTPC - ideas

villieb

Novice Member
Hello all :hiya:! This is my first post here so please be gentle....

I've been thinking about replacing my PopCorn Hour C-200 with a custom built media centre. The c-200 is fine but I want something a little more customisation.

I've spent the last few days doing a little bit of research and made a list of all the components I think I need (or would like) for my new build

CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 250 3GHz Socket AM3 2MB L2 Cache OEM Processor
Case: SilverStone LASCALA LC17B Black Aluminium Desktop ATX Media Center Case
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5 Socket AM3 7.1 Channel HD Audio ATX Motherboard
RAM: Corsair 2GB DDR3 1333Mhz XMS3 Memory Module Unbuffered 1.5V CL9 (9-9-9-24)
PSU: Coolermaster Silent Pro 500W Modular PSU
Graphics: Gigabyte HD 6450 Silent 1GB
Operating System: Ubuntu & XBMC
Operating System HD: OCZ 60GB Agility 3 SSD
KB/Mouse: Logitech DiNovo Mini

This so far fits the build. I've got the power in case I need it, a dedicated graphics card with HDMI 1.4a

Now if I can persuade my wife to let me part with about £500 I'll start buying.

What do you experienced HTPC builders think of the list? Are some of the items an overkill / need something with a bit more oomph??

Cheers and I look forward to reading up on this forum regularly....
 
Last edited:

Boro David

Standard Member
Hi,

I've got a similar hardware specification which I built a couple of years ago, so I'll give you some observations:

CPU - the OEM CPU will not come with a cooler, so you will have to add one in.
Motherboard - seems to be very expensive ~£136, I think I spent about £50 on mine. As you are not using the on-board graphics I would have thought you could find a cheaper option.
PSU - seems overkill, my system runs fine with 380W and more power hungry components.
Storage - assume you have a NAS for media storage?

General observation - have you looked at an Intel i3 or AMD Llano option at all? You may not need a separate graphics card in this case.

Hope this helps

Dave
 

villieb

Novice Member
Hi Dave,

Thanks for you reply. I forgot about the cooler - I'll have to try and source one.

I suppose the Motherboard is a bit expensive, Looking on ebuyer, I've seen the Biostar TA870 for less than half that price. I think I was going for the Gigabyte motherboard because I knew the brand.

The cheapest i3 processor on ebuyer is £100 whereas the AMD CPU is £41. I went for the Athlon CPU because I wanted a dedicated graphics card for HDMI output and to let the GPU do processing rather than the CPU.

I was under the impression that because of the GPU I've selected, I needed a PSU with a little bit more power. If I don't need that much power, I can go for the Powercool PSUPC450AUBAM 450W Modular power supply at only £31 :

The case has room for 6 hard drives, I've got a few 2TB drives lying around the house and intend to use them for file storage and media
 

DavidT

Well-known Member
Where will the HTPC be installed? Thats a big case to accommodate and with multiple hard drives will be noisy.

David
 

DavidT

Well-known Member
Last edited:

STdrez625

Banned
2gb of ddr3 ?? pointless! get at least 4gb or more preferably 8gb (or even 16gb) .. ddr3 is cheaper now than it will ever be again.
I reckon you could get away with a SandYBridge Pentium or Celeron G530 (£37?) thru to G860 (£83?) or an I3 will give you Hyperthreading for more oomph, no graphics card needed for any of these.
 

DavidT

Well-known Member
2gb of ddr3 ?? pointless! get at least 4gb or more preferably 8gb (or even 16gb) .. ddr3 is cheaper now than it will ever be again.
I reckon you could get away with a SandYBridge Pentium or Celeron G530 (£37?) thru to G860 (£83?) or an I3 will give you Hyperthreading for more oomph, no graphics card needed for any of these.

For htpc use with a seperate gpu no more than 2GB ram is required but a lot of people go up to 4GB. He could buy more ram but it would sit idle and be a waste of money.

David
 

graham.myers

Distinguished Member
I agree, 2gb is fine for discrete cards and 4gb if using onboard. Going beyond 4Gb just because you can is just a waste. And memory is already going up in price. If you intend to do things other than HTPC then yes, consider more
 

longplay

Standard Member
My X2 with 2GB uses onboard graphics and plays back everything fine (I can happily record two channels and watch a ripped blu-ray at the same time), I'll probably go for 4 on my next build but 8 is serious overkill.

Agree with the others mobo sounds pricey if not using all the features (like onboard graphics).
 

BeardOfBees

Active Member
I just built this:

Gigabyte GA-H61M-S2PV H61 Socket 1155 7.1 Channel HD Audio mATX Motherboard £40.60
Intel Celeron G530 2.40GHz Socket 1155 2MB L3 Cache Retail Boxed Processor £33.03
XFX HD 6450 1GB DDR3 DVI HDMI Low Profile Graphics Card £30.94
Crucial 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333MHz/PC3-10600 Memory Kit CL9 1.5V £17.99
Novatech Vision Media Case £49.98
ClimaxDigital DTV395 USB 2.0 DUAL DVB-T TV Tuner £26.99
Windows 7 Vista XP Media Center MCE PC Remote Control £13.98

Total - £213.51 (had a HDD already)

It plays back everything I've thrown at it so far, running MediaPortal over Windows 7. Even get Tomb Raider Anniversary playing at 720p with anti-aliasing etc cranked right up. Looks lovely!
 

longplay

Standard Member
I've always discounted the Celerons as not worth it in the long term (short term saving but you'll need to replace it sooner), but this seems to get fairly good bang for the buck, and less than half the price of the bottom end i3, which the board will support.

A nice budget build (with some components I may not have taken a risk on but clearly I should!).
 

BeardOfBees

Active Member
The G530 deserves better than the Celeron name really, it's great for the rock-bottom price.

An HTPC doesn't exactly need a lot of grunt anyway. This does what I need at a low power overhead and without breaking the bank.

I was going to pick up a Llano APU but some advice on here led me to the sandy bridge chip. The other advantage as you say is that the setup is easier to tinker with in the future!
 

longplay

Standard Member
My only issue with it is the TDP of 65W, my X2 manages 45W which means I can run it passive (with a large heatsink obviously). Not that the i3 is good (although it's supposed to be very power efficient, standard is 73W, mobile is 35W).
 

villieb

Novice Member
Thanks for the reply guys.... i appreciate the input.

I'm in the process of selling and buying a new house and with the cost of the build that BeardofBee's built, I may re-think of the components and still have change leftover from my original build idea
 

DigitalKnave

Standard Member
Rather than start another "Comments on my build" thread I thought I'd post a reply in here for comment.

In a couple of months I'm planning to replace my home-built and ageing HTPC running 7MC. Its getting on a bit and seems to be having trouble playing some of the newer stuff. Plus its beginning to get a little noisy.

The specs I'm looking at are:

CASE: SilverStone LASCALA LC17B Black Aluminium Desktop ATX Media Center Case
PSU: Corsair 430W V2 CX Series PSU
MOBO: Asrock A75M-HVS AMD A75 Socket FM1 5.1 Channel HD Audio mATX Motherboard
CPU: AMD Llano A6 A3500 2.1GHz Socket FM1 3MB L2 Cache
COOLER: Scythe Shuriken Quiet Low Profile Socket 1366, 1156, 478, 775, 754, 939, AM2, AM3 Processor Cooler
RAM: Corsair 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz
HDD: OCZ 120GB Agility 3 SSD - SATA-III

I need a BluRay drive to go with that (suggestions?) and I'm considering the following DVB-T2 card:

TBS PCI-E DVB-T2 Dual TV Tuner Card TBS6280

I suspect the PSU is overkill so any recommendations there, along with thoughts on the complete config gratefully received! I won't be building it until the summer and appreciate hardware might have changed but I'm hoping the above is reasonable.

Also, I'm trying to go with on-board GPU if possible as checking the web quite a few sites recommend that if you don't need full-on gaming GPU power (which I don't).
 

ChileanLlama

Active Member
DigitialKnave, that looks good.

I would change the SSD for a Crucial M4 (just less horror stories). I'd lose the cooler, the A6 comes with it's own if you buy the retail version (which you linked to) - I can't hear it on my A6 3650 for HTPC duties. The GPU is more than enough for HTPC use, and would allow some light gaming too.

I'd also consider putting in 8GB of RAM while it's so cheap, certainly not necessary.

I'm also using TBS DVB-S2 cards in another HTPC and have had no problems whatsoever.

PSU is on the heavy side, I'd expect 200-250W to cover it (mine is about 120W without BD and TV card and is a 100W version of the A6 APU).

Finally, AMD are due to refresh/replace the Llano APU this year, it might lead to a bargain, or more new options for you :)
 

DigitalKnave

Standard Member
Thanks ChileanLlama - I'll look at the SSD and PSU changes.

Interesting forum name too as I'm about to head to Chile (not specifically to see Llamas, but hey you never know!)
 

DigitalKnave

Standard Member
So based on ChileanLlama's suggestion I've ditched the CPU cooler (for now - see below) and changed the PSU and SSD to:

PSU: Huntkey Jumper 300W PSU 80Plus Gold Certified
SSD: Crucial 128GB M4 SSD - 2.5" SATA-III - With Bracket

I've also decided to change the case to:

SilverStone Grandia GD05B Black MicroATX Case

However there are some comments on this case about the optical drive not fitting (not enough headroom) if the CPU cooler is too high. From the above comment the A6 chip comes with its own cooler but I don't know how much clearance this has. Anyone any ideas?
 

ChileanLlama

Active Member
Hi Dk, my name is a vague reference to a film :)

Don't think you'll have any problem, the GD05 has 70mm clearance with the optical drive in. I'm fairly certain the standard cooler is less than that as my entire case is only 95mm high!

I've not heard of that PSU. If you're buying from ebuyer I'd go for the Antec one which is a similar price.

Have a good trip :)
 

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