The Gaming HTPC Thread (Part 2 with updated info)

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Razor

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Here is part 2 of the HTPC gaming thread. I have added and updated some of the info and links from the previous thread.

Part one of the HTPC Gaming Thread can be found here:


http://www.avforums.com/forums/home-cinema-pcs/989505-gaming-htpc-thread.html



If you are thinking of building a HTPC for gaming or want to convert your HTPC for gaming then read on.

If you are thinking why bother as I have a xbox 360 or a ps3 then there are a number of reasons. The main reason for me is that the graphics are allot better with a pc compared to a console. The difference is night and day.

You can get full 1080p gaming with a pc instead of up-scaled 720p or sometimes lower than that (600p). Frame rates are higher and lighting, rendering effects are allot better. DX10/DX11 effects also add to the list as well as total control on how your game looks.

You can also use a 360 or PS3 pad on a pc see link below for more info.

http://www.avforums.com/forums/pc-games/834424-using-game-pad-pc.html

Using a pad these days is very much plug and play and no set-up is normally required. Especially if you use a 360 pad be it wired or wireless. It really does feel like you are playing on a next gen console when your in your lounge with a pad in your hands running around with 1080p visuals and all the eye candy turned up. There are also great exclusives on the pc as there are with any platform and the pc has a wider variety of games compared to the consoles.


Here are a few in game screen shots take from Crysis Warhead on my pc.

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Some in game shots of Battlefield Bad Company 2


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Specing and Building a Gaming HTPC

When building a gaming HTPC there are a few things to remember:

Cooling - HTPC cases are small with poor to average cooling. Gaming in a HTPC can raise temperatures allot so the cooling side of things has to be correct and work well as well as being as quiet as possible.

HTPC Case - First off pick a HTPC case with 80mm fans as a minimum. Avoid cases where the fan size is 60mm. 60mm fans hardly move any air compared to 80mm fans and are allot louder. Look for 2 x 80mm exhaust fans for the rear of the pc and if the case has a side fan like a Silverstone LC17/20 then this is a bonus.

Here are some good cases with some decent airflow. There are obviously other cases out there but these are a few off the top of my head, some with examples.

SiverStone LC13-E

Silverstone LC17 - http://www.avforums.com/forums/9339437-post76.html - http://www.avforums.com/forums/10668688-post451.html - http://www.avforums.com/forums/10073141-post570.html - http://www.avforums.com/forums/pc-games/1011688-get-your-rigs-out-lads.html#post9657616
Silverstone LC20 - http://www.avforums.com/forums/9609540-post397.html
Silverstone Grandia GD01B-R - http://www.avforums.com/forums/9616229-post403.html
Silverstone CW02 - http://www.avforums.com/forums/9466220-post93.html
Silverstone CW03
Antec Fusion 'Remote' Max Premium
Zalman HD160+ - http://www.avforums.com/forums/9487013-post160.html


As you can see with this picture of the Silverstone LC17 there is a good layout for getting rid of hot air and keeping your hardware cool.


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Avoid cases which have the DVD centred in the middle of the case as this will stop you installing a decent graphics card as the DVD drive bay will get in the way. Here is such a case its the Silverstone LC16. Its a nice looking case but useless for installing a long graphics card.

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Fans - Once you have chosen your HTPC case its time to swap out all the fans. All stock case fans can be improved upon in terms of noise levels along with the amount of air they move (CFM = Cubic Feet per Minute). Below are some fans I would recommend with their dB levels and their CFM rating.

80mm Fans
80mm - Coolink 11dB fan - 21.1CFM - SWiF-801 80mm Case Fan
80mm – Noctua NF-R8 - 10db – 23CFM with supplied LNA adapter - NF-R8 80mm Quiet Case Fan
80mm - slim line 15mm deep fan (ideal if you cant fit a standard depth 25mm deep fan) - SilenX Ixterma Pro – 11dB – 18CFM - SilenX Fan Ixtrema Pro 11dBA 80x80x15mm Slim 18CFM : IXP-52-11 |UK's leading Water cooling, Hardware and Gaming peripherals retailer

92mm Fans
92mm – Noctua NF-B9 Vortext-Control - 13.1db – 31CFM with supplied LNA adapter - NF-B9 Vortex-Control 92mm Quiet Case Fan
92mm - Scythe Gentle Typhoon 13dB - 25.9 CFM - Gentle Typhoon 92mm 1700 RPM Cooling Fan

120mm Fans
120mm - Noctua NF-S12 800 RPM - 8dB - 35 CFM - NF-S12 800 RPM 120mm Quiet Case Fan
120mm - Noctua NF-S12 1200 RPM - 17dB - 48 CFM - NF-S12 1200 RPM 120mm Quiet Case Fan
120mm - Noctua NF-S12B ULN Ultra Low Noise RPM – 6.8dB – 33.5 CFM - NF-S12B ULN Ultra Low Noise 120mm Cooling Fan, 500/700 RPM

I always add Anti-Vibration Fan Gaskets to the build just as an added measure to reduce noise.

Fansis Fan Gaskets


CPU Cooling - Now we have the basics out of the way ie case and case cooling we look at the cpu cooling. When your using a HTPC you are restricted with what cpu cooler you can use. This is mainly due to the height of the HTPC case. Double check your clearance height inside the HTPC case you buy to make sure a the cpu cooler you want will fit in it. There are so many decent cpu coolers out there today do your research and and pick one that can cool efficiently and run quietly. I like cpu coolers where you can swap out the fans for after market ones.

One of the best air cpu coolers about at the moment is the Scythe Mini Ninja as shown below. If you go this route swap the fan out which comes with the Mini Ninja for a 80mm/90mm/120mm fan.

Mini Ninja Heatpipe CPU Cooler


Ninja II Heatpipe Cooler, with 120mm fan


Noctua NH-U9B CPU Heatpipe Heatsink with NF-B9 Fan


A decent cpu cooler will keep your cpu running temps down and allow you to overclock your system for extra performance if you so wish. It will also keep you HTPC running quietly which is one of the main goals of a HTPC.


Watercooling - This is and another route you can take for a HTPC and this works very well. It is allot more expensive than air cooling but it works a treat and will allow you to overclock your setup to gain more performance without worrying about heat build up in your case. I use a Zalaman Reserator XT on my HTPC but there are other products on the market that do the same job. I run a Core i7 @ 4.0Ghz and a 4870X2 in a Silverstone LC17 case in a semi restricted av rack with good temps. This would be impossible without watercooling.


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Another benefit of watercooling is that it runs allot more silent than a normal air-cooled set-up as you can cool your cpu, chipset and graphics card all with water which reduces the amount of fans needed and noise levels.



Hardware



Motherboard - If you are looking to game you will need a semi decent motherboard especially if you are looking to overclock. I tend to stay away from micro atx mobos and go for full sized ones, but you can game on both with no problems at all. If you are looking to overclock your cpu then do your research and buy a decent motherboard which is known for overclocking well. Also look at things like how much heat does the chipset give off.

Graphics Card
- Now this is one of my favourite pieces of hardware and this is what will make your set-up a gaming one. You can have 1080p capable gaming card these days for very little money. The more money you spend the more eye candy you can have in game. Effects like Anti-aliasing and Anisotropic filtering can be turned right up which make a big difference to how a game looks. For an explanation on what AA and AF is and does read the links below.

Anti-aliasing - What is Anti-Aliasing, how does it affect our graphics
Anisotropic filtering - Anisotropic filtering - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Direct X

Direct X gives us different levels of eye candy and the higher the version of Direct X (DX) the better the games look. We currently have 3 different types of Direct X.

DX9 - Most common version of DX is DX9. DX has been with us for years. All cards and operating systems can use DX9.

DX10/10.1 - This version of DX has been around for 3 years now. There is an increase in visuals with DX10/10.1 but the difference isn't huge but it is noticeable. You will need Vista or Win7 and a DX 10 capable card to use DX10. All graphics cards from the nvidia 8000 series to present day and ATI 2000 series to present day are DX10 capable. DX10.1 is a revised version of DX10 and runs approximately 25% better than DX10. If you want DX10.1 you will need a DX10.1 capable card. At present only ATI 4000/5000 series support DX10.1.

DX11 - This is the new version of DX. Games supporting this format are to be released at the end of 2009 and will be thin on the ground. If you want to experiance DX11 then you will need Vista or Win7 Operating system installed on your HTPC and a DX11 capable card. So far the only cards on the market that support DX11 is the ATI 5000 series. Expect Nvidia GT300 series to support DX11 when it is released at the end of 2009 beginning of 2010.

Please note that Windows XP cannot use DX10/10.1 or DX11. Only Vista and Win7 can run this level of DX.


I will separate the current crop and older crop of cards into sections for performance.


Last gen

Older cards are listed below and can be picked up very cheaply 2nd hand.

Any Nvidia 8800 card will be able to handle 1080p gaming with ease, The same goes for 9800 Nvidia cards and 9600GT.

ATI cards like the 3870, 3870X2 will do 1080p gaming. Be aware that the 3870X2 is a hot card.


Current Gen

Next up is what graphics card to go for. If your looking for sheer power then these cards are top of their game at the moment (in order of power, most powerfull at the top).

We also have the new Dx11 capable cards which will give you new eyecandy once games start supporting Dx11.

ATI are first to the market with Dx11 cards with the 5000 series. These cards use less power than the older 4000 series and are what are known as next gen cards. Expect Nvidia to bring out their Dx11 cards by the end of the 2009 for the enthusiast range and mainstream range early next year. This means that the 4000 ATI series and 200 Nvidia series are all end of Line and will soon be phased out.


These cards are for enthusiasts who demand the best:

5970 - Dx11 capable dual gpu card
GTX 480 - The fastest DX11 single gpu card but runs very hot and uses allot of power
295GTX - Dual gpu card only DX10 (phased out now)
4870X2 - Dual gpu card only DX10 (phased out now)
5870 – Dx11 capable card
GTX 470 - Dx11 capable card
5850 – Dx11 capable card

Mid range cards:

GTX 460 - DX11 capable card
GTX 465 - DX11 capable card
5830 - Dx11 capable card - Price too close to 5850 to consider
285GTX - Cooler running faster version of the 280GTX (phased out now)
280GTX - Phased out now


The next level down would be (in order of power). All these cards can game at 1080p:

4890 - More than enough power for today's games (phased out now)
275GTX - More than enough power for today's games (phased out now)
260GTX 216 shader pipelines - (phased out now)
4870 - A good card (phased out now)
5770 - Dx11 capable card
260GTX 192 shader pipelines - Phased out now
5750 - Entry DX11 card - Price too close to 5770 to consider
4850 - Good entry card (phased out now)
4770 - Good entry level card (phased out now)
4830 - Good entry level card (phased out now)

These are the bottom end of the market and I wouldn't really recommend these cards as you can get better for the same money or a few quid more. They are basically old tech re badged and re marketed.

4670 - Basically a 3850 re badged. Now the 4770 is out there's no point in buying this card
250GTX - Expensive for what it is and its basically a re badged and over clocked 8800gt

I would also recommend going for cards with more than 512mb. 512mb will be fine but at higher resolutions like 1080p, but more memory is needed if you want to apply higher levels of AA. If you are gaming at 720p this wont effect you so much but I would still recommend going for more memory if you can afford it.

GPU Cooling - One thing to pay attention to is the cooling side of these cards. ATI has the worst stock coolers in terms of noise and cooling. The stock cooler sounds like a leaf blower and isn't recommended for a HTPC at all. At idle its quiet but it also runs the cards hot so I can't recommend using an ATI 3000/4000 stock cooler in a HTPC. If you want an ATI card get one with after market cooling on it like the HIS ICEQ4 or Saphire Vapor X. Temperatures are approximately 20c lower than stock coolers and they run silent.

Nvidia cards have better stock cooling and you might not need to buy a card with after market cooling.

If you already have a graphics card and the stock cooler is noisy you can swap out a stock cooler for an after market one which are sold at most on-line retailers.

I have done this with my 4870X2 and a waterblock. If you want to see how its done there is some info in the link below, the same method of swapping coolers should apply to an air-cooled gpu cooler:

http://www.avforums.com/forums/home-cinema-pcs/972521-razors-watercooled-silent-gaming-htpc.html


One thing to look for when buying a gaming graphics card for a HTPC is don't get a passive card as all that will happen is that your HTPC case will get very hot and it will end up shutting your pc down due to the high temps. A graphics card with a decent cooler will run silently and wont be heard in operation.

I would recommend getting a graphics card with a dual slot cooler like this one:

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With a dual slot cooler all the hot air from your case and gpu gets vented outside the back of your HTPC and not blown around your case as it would with a single slot cooler.

A decent graphics card is an essential part of a gaming set-up especially if you are gaming at 1080p as at this resolution most of the work is done by the graphics card and not the cpu.


CPU - Any decent dual core cpu will be fine for gaming. If it can play HD formats then paired with a graphics card it will be fine for gaming. I would say that the minimum spec for a dual core cpu would be 2.0-2.2Ghz. There are of course tri core and quad core cpu's out on the market and these are also good for gaming especially as more and more games are starting to use more cores.

At the present time we have a few different cpu solutions.

Intel


Currently the king of the hill in terms of power. Clock for clock nothing can touch them. I will list the benefits of each cpu and socket.

Core i7 Socket 1366 - It has hyper threading, triple channel DDR3 memory supports SLI/Crossfire with 2 or 3 16x pcie 2.0 express sots and will also get 6 core cpus next year. This is known as ultra high end gear and on average will cost about £100 than a similar core i5 setup.


Core i5/i7 Socket 1156 - This platform is very similar to the 1366 but it aimed for more mainstream users. The core i5 is cheaper than the core i7 (1366 cpu). There is no triple channel memory on the 1156 socket and it uses dual channel DDR3 memory instead. There is only 1 x 16xpcie 2.0 slot on this socket. Core i5 has no hyper-threading but core i7 1156 cpus do. Core i5 use slightly less power and give off less heat than the socket 1366 core i7's mainly due to the fact that there is no hyper-threading.

What does this mean? It basically means that with the 1366 socket you have an upgrade path to six core cpus, performs better if you were to go crossfire or sli and when apps and games start using triple channel memory you will see some benefit. Also the socket 1366 core i7's seem to overclock a little bit better than its 1156 socket brothers.

What is hyper-threading? Hyper-threading is a useful thing to have if you like to multi task but it isn't really taken advantage of in games yet. Hyper-threading basically splits a core into 2 threads.

For example if a cpu is only using 20% of one core to do a task that leaves 80% of that core going to waste. What hyper-threading does is allocate that 80% of the unused core to another task. This means a quad core cpu has 8 threads instead of 4, which means it can do 8 things at the same time instead of 4.

Both core i5/17 1366/1156 will give you an excellent base for a gaming rig and as both sockets are new and will have a good upgrade path. Which one you go for is totally up to you the user depending on which route you want to take and what kind of rig you are looking for.


Socket 775 - This is now the outgoing socket and it has been with us for 3+ years. This was the previous king of the hill until core i7. This is still an excellent platform and should still have years of life left in it. You can get dual and quad core cpu's on this socket and they are very cool running cpus.


AMD

Phenom II - There are tri core and quad core X3/X4 cpus. These are what are known as the bang for buck processors. Clock for clock they aren't as fast as the Intel core i5 and i7 cpus and come close to the socket 775 cpus. However the AMD Phenom come with high clock speeds out of the box for very little money. This is handy if you are on a budget or cannot overclock. These cpus will be fine for gaming on and if you are on tight a budget. This cpu supports DDR3 dual channel memory.

AMD Athlon II - This is the older AMD cpu and again isn't as fast as the intel cpu's clock for clock and is also slower than the its bigger brother the Phenom II.



Memory - The sweet spot for the amount of ram you have installed is 2gb, you can add more and it will benefit some games but most games are happy with 2gb.

Good makes of ram are:

Corsair
Crucial
OCZ
Kingston

There are 3 different types of memory you can buy. Make sure you buy the right one if you are building a new rig. DDR2, DDR3 (dual-Channel) and DDR3 (triple-Channel).



PSU
- Please don't skimp on the psu by buying a £30.00 600 watt all singing and dancing psu. As it can and probably will die on you taking your hardware with it. If your going for a lower end graphics card say a £100 or below then a decent 500watt psu will be more than enough to power your set-up. If you are going for one of the more expensive or top end graphics card then look at buying a 600watt+ psu.

Here are some decent makes of PSU's:

Corsair
OCZ
Seasonic
Enermax
Bequiet

If you are not sure on what wattage psu you should buy here is a handy psu calculator to help you.

eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Lite v2.5

As long as you stick to a quality psu you cant go wrong. Also try and get a modular psu as there isn't much space in htpc cases and a modular psu will help you cut down on cables in your case. This will give your case potentially better airflow and make the install easier.


Sound Card - All games benefit from using a decent sound card. X-fi cards are the best in terms of compatibility and giving accurate in game sound.

You can experience Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect whilst playing your favourite games. It does add allot to the whole gaming experience and is well worth doing if you have a surround system.

There are a few different sound solutions to try on a pc.

- Onboard sound from the mobo. This solution is fine for gaming but it wont give you the most out of your system. You wont be able to get multichannel surround sound from your games and you will be limited to stereo or pro-logic.

- Sound from an ATI graphics card. This will give you multichannel digital surround sound which is a nice step up from onboard sound. This is easy to setup and will output sound via a HDMI cable so make sure you have an amp/receiver with a HDMI input. Another benefit of the newer 5000 series of ATI cards is that they also bit stream HD audio to your amp if you so wish. The ATI 4000 series can also do HD audio but passes the signal as PCM.

- Separate sound card. This will give you the best in game sound, you will be able to experience Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect in any game. This does add allot to the whole gaming experience and is well worth doing if you have a decent surround setup.

I have tried a few sound cards solutions and one sound card which I will say is not great for gaming on is the Asus HDAV1.3. This card is a good card for HD audio but when it comes to gaming it has issues. The HDMI pass-through on this card sometimes doesn't like to play ball with certain games and doesn't like any res which isn't 1080p or 720p. This can cause issues as some games boot up for the very first time with strange pc resolutions like 640x480. This will lead to a blank screen.
One thing I would like to point out is that all Asus sound cards don't do any of the gaming sound decoding on hardware. They do this decoding via software which can give you a hit in your frame rates ie more load on your cpu. If you have an Asus sound card ie non HDAV gaming will be fine but please be aware that your frame rates will probably take approx a 10% hit.

Here are a few recommendations of some good gaming sound cards.

Auzentech Forte
Auzentech Prelude
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Gamer



Useful Apps for a Gaming HTPC


Overclocking and Monitoring your Graphics card temps -

Ati Tool - ATi Tool 0.27 b2 download from Guru3D.com
RivaTuner - RivaTuner v2.24 download from Guru3D.com

Monitoring HTPC Temperatures -


GPUZ - techPowerUp! :: Download TechPowerUp GPU-Z v0.3.4
Coretemp - Core Temp

Benchmarking -

Futuremark 3D Mark 06 - Futuremark - Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - Download
Futuremark Vantage - Futuremark - Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage - Download

Latest Graphics Card Drivers -


ATI & Nvidia - http://www.avforums.com/forums/pc-games/629682-latest-graphics-card-drivers-nvidia-ati.html



Final Word

You can build a gaming HTPC really cheaply these days and it will give you decent gaming on a 1080p display which will far outperform a modern day console and if done correctly will be just as quiet as a non gaming HTPC.

Here is an example for a cheap gaming HTPC basic components

Intel E5200 clocked @ 2.5Ghz - £50
Asus P5Q SE Socket 775 - £70
ATI HD 4770 - £70
2gb DDR2 800Mhz - £23

Add on HDD's, case, fans etc as you see fit..

If you already have a HTPC then all that is really needed is a graphics card. Just make sure your psu is powerful enough and monitor your temps whilst gaming by using some of the apps listed above.

If you would like to see some examples of what hardware you will need for a gaming HTPC build then scroll down a few posts as I have included a few templates for different budgets to get you started.

http://www.avforums.com/forums/home...-thread-part-2-updated-info.html#post10593393


I hope this little guide will help some people get into pc gaming and give others who are looking to build or add to their existing HTPC some ideas.

Any questions you may have please post away. Also if anyone has any pictures of their gaming HTPC set-up please post them up. :)
 
Last edited:

Razor

Distinguished Member
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Razor

Distinguished Member
Getting more out of your Gaming HTPC

Now you have built your gaming htpc here are some tips to get a bit more out of your new rig.


Bottlenecking


Bottlenecking the Graphics Card

What is bottlenecking? Bottlenecking is where one piece of hardware is stopping you getting the most out of the rest of your hardware. The most common form of bottlenecking on a gaming pc is the cpu bottlenecking the graphics card.

If the graphics card has to wait for the cpu to process the information from the gpu because it is too slow this is known as a bottleneck. The gpu shouldn't have to wait before it can send along the next bit of data for the cpu to process. The gpu should be able to pass the data onto the cpu with no delay.


If you are running a recently new card like a 4000/5000/6000 ATI or a 9000/200/400 series Nvidia card then you will need to have your cpu at a certain clock speed to get the most out of the gpu. If you don't have the cpu at a certain clock speed then you will still get good results but you wont be getting the maximum performance out of your graphics card.

To find out and remove a bottle neck in your system you will need to do the following.

a. Be able to overclock your cpu. This is fairly easy these days and can be done in the bios by changing a few settings or by an app which is normally included with your motherboard. Overclocking in the bios is the best and most stable way to overclock but if you are not up to this or a bit scared to mess in the bios a mild overclock can be achieved with an app.

b. Running 3d Mark Vantage which can be found here:

Futuremark - Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage - Download


To see if your system is being bottlenecked at stock speeds for your cpu you will have to run Vantage and look at the gpu score only. Now increase your overclock on your cpu by say 10% and see if your gpu score increases. If it doesn't increase then your cpu isn't bottlenecking your graphics card. Chances are the gpu score will increase, if it does increase then carry on overclocking your cpu until the gpu score does not increase and stays static. Once your gpu scores on vantage stop increasing you have successfully removed your bottleneck.

This is a very simple test and it will help you get the most out of your graphics card which should give you more frames per second in game and even allow you to turn up the eyecandy in certain games.

From what I have experienced 3.0ghz on a 775 socket Intel cpu is about the right clock speed for the cpu for it not to be a bottleneck on a modern day graphics cards ie 4000/5000/6000 ATI or a 9000/200/400 series Nvidia.

You will need a slightly higher clock speed with AMD cpus to obtain the same results. This is because Intel 775 cpus are faster clock for clock than the AMD cpus.

If you have a core i5 or i7 you can get away with less then 3.0Ghz as these cpus are allot faster clock for clock than the Intel 775 socket cpus as they are newer more powerful tech. I would say you could run a core i7 920/860 or a core i5 860 @ stock and you will not be bottlenecking your graphics card.


Bottlenecking Dual Graphics Cards and Dual GPU Cards (Crossfire/SLI)

If you have a dual gpu set up be it two gpus on one card or two separate graphics cards ie Crossfire or SLI set-up in your system then you will need an even faster clock speed for there not to be a bottleneck and to get the full performance out of your purchase.

I have a 4870X2 which is two 4870's on one graphics card. I originally paired this with a Q6700 2.66ghz on a 775 socket Intel cpu. With my cpu at stock speeds I was basically getting similar performance to 1 x 4870 as the throughput from the dual cards was way too much for my Q6700 to handle. As I overclocked my cpu I noticed the gpu scores rise. However when I hit 3.0Ghz I still wasn't getting all I could from my 4870X2. For dual gpu set-ups you really are looking at obtaining a 3.6Ghz clock speed from a Intel 775 socket cpu in order to remove the bottleneck on your graphics card. You will also find that a quad core cpu will handle a dual gpu set-up better than a dual core cpu.



Overclocking your System


Overclocking the CPU

As you can see overclocking your rig is very helpful in getting the most out of your hardware and not bottlenecking your graphics card. I wont go into how to overclock a cpu in this thread as there are many different platforms to cover and there are also some very good guides on the web which will show you how to overclock particular cpu's and motherboards. All I will say is that overclocking will increase your performance and temperatures the higher you go with an overclock. A mild overclock wont effect your system temps much at all, an extreme overclock will raise the temps but a fair whack and careful consideration to your systems cooling will be needed. Which ever you go for mild or extreme take your time, monitor your temps and make sure your system is stable before settling on a final overclock.

Overclocking can be a great way to get the most out of your system and also extend the usable shelf life of your system. A bottom end cpu can be overclocked past the speeds of a top end cpu and cost you next to nothing to buy. Always use a custom after market cpu cooler if you intend on overclocking your system. You can use a stock cpu cooler but these will limit your overclock a hell of allot and are not designed to be used for overclocking.

Anyone who says that you cant overclock a cpu in a HTPC is wrong. If you follow this guide and use the right case & cooling you will be able to increase your cpu speed and still have a quiet system.



Overclocking the Graphics card


Overclocking the graphics card is very easy to do and can also help you increase your in game frame rate. Overclocking your graphics card can be done with apps like Catalyst Control panel (ATI only) or the following apps.

RivaTuner (ATI & Nvidia) - RivaTuner
ATITool (ATI & Nvidia) - ATITool - Overclocking utility for ATI and NVIDIA cards

AMD GPU Clock Tool
(ATI only) - AMD GPU Clock Tool v0.9.8 download from Guru3D.com
EVGA Precision (nvidia only) - EVGA Precision 1.7.1 download from Guru3D.com


Take your time with overclocking the gpu and don't just put the clocks on the highest setting as you can damage your card. A 10% overclock is a pretty safe and expected overclock on a graphics card unless you already have a factory overclocked card. Factory overclocked cards are normally taken to the limit with the overclock and and you probably wont be able to squeeze much more out of the card.

In ATI TOOL there is an app you can run which will test your overclock for artefacts. Artefacts are corrupted graphics and if you are seeing this your overclock on your graphics card is too high. This can damage your card so please back your overclock off.

You can monitor the temps of your graphics card with this app:

GPU-Z - GPU-Z Video card GPU Information Utility


Most graphics cards are ok to be run upto temps of 90c. Of course the lower the load temperature of your graphics card the better. Different graphics cards idle and load at different temps according to the gpu and cooler being used.



Storage


Solid State Drives

Solid State Drives or as they are better known as SSD's. SSD's are fairly new to home user market and perfect for a htpc setup. SSD's are normally used as the Operating System drive and have super fast access times, no moving parts, are totally silent and give of very little heat.

The main difference you will notice in using a SSD drive over a normal mechanical HDD is that there is no spin up time and the access time is instant. At first its a bit of a strange sensation as everything you click relating to the OS will open up instantly. Windows boots up allot quicker and when windows does boot up there is no delay in the loading of your apps, they are all ready loaded and ready to go.

An SSD will totally transform the way your pc feels and reacts, the whole OS will become very snappy and almost feel as though windows or apps are launching/running before you finish clicking on them. Add to this the much faster transfer speeds of SSDs compared to normal mechanical HDDs which are normally double that of normal HDDs.

If you want to silence your htpc even more and have a super responsive pc then look at getting your self an SSD card. I would recommend a 60/64gb SSD would be about right for your Operating system. Also look at the transfer speeds as the cheaper SSD drives arent that fast, although they still have the super fast access time of 0.2ms. A good SSD to go for would have a read time of 200mbs + and write time of 120mbs +.

SSD's are not really designed to be used for media storage. Apart from being a very expensive way to store your media there is no benefit in using these drives for media storage at all. These SSD drives should really only be used for your main Operating system and applications. You can also use it for gaming if you so wish, the main difference will be faster booting times.

Are SSD's worth it? I think they are a nice upgrade if you have everything else in place ie good gpu, cpu, cooling etc..... They do transform the feel of the system and are the future. However these drives are expensive for the size of storage they offer which might put some people off. Since installing my SSD card I wouldn't want to go back to normal mechanical HDD for my OS.
 
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Razor

Distinguished Member
Gaming Templates


In this post I will spec up a few systems for a gaming HTPC. I will use the essentials across all three set-ups which can be changed or added to if you so wish. Please note that I haven't spent time looking for the best prices on the web for the following hardware. I am sure if you google about you will be able to find certain prices cheaper or if you use a different brand of hardware like the motherboard or psu. All the parts I have choosen are of a good quality and you wont go wrong if you stick to these.

The Essential part can also be changed to suit your needs be it a different case, more storage or a bluray writer. Please add the Essential price to the price of the system level you want

ie Essential + Basic = £531

If you already have an Operating System, HDD's or DVD writer then you can knock that cost from the price.



The Essentials for a HTPC


HTPC case Silverstone LC17 - £70
Pioneer DVD writter - £18
1 Tb Samsung F1 Spinpoint - £60
Noctua NH-U9B cooler - £40
Operating System - £80

Total - £268



Basic System

Intel E5200 clocked @ 2.5Ghz - £50
Asus P5Q SE PLUS Socket 775 - £63
ATI HD 4770 - £65
2gb DDR2 800Mhz - £30
Corsair VX 450W ATX Power Supply - £55

Total - £263



Mid Range System

Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 2.66GHz 4MB-cache - £120
Asus P5Q SE PLUS Socket 775 - £63
ATI 5770 - £110
4Gb of DDR2 1066Mhz - £60
Corsair VX 550W ATX Power Supply - £69

Total - £422


Upper Mid range system

Core i5 750 - £140
Asus P7P55D - £115
ATI 5850 - £230
OCZ Gold Low Voltage 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C8 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit - £70
Corsair HX650 ATX Modular PSU - £95

Total - £650


High End System

Core i7 920 D0 Stepping 2.66ghz - £200
Asus P6T - £175
ATI 5870 - £340
Corsair XMS3 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C9 (1600MHz) Tri-Channel - £108
Corsair HX650 ATX Modular PSU - £95

Total - £918


Ultra High end


Core i7 920 D0 Stepping 2.66ghz - £200
Asus P6TD Deluxe - £205
ATI 5970 - £540
OCZ Gold 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3 2000MHz - £170
Corsair HX 850W ATX Modular PSU - £126

Total - £1,241



Not Essential but Recommended

Budget for 3 fans starting @ £12-14 each. The 80mm fans are for the HTPC case and the 92mm fan is for the HDD cage. The fan that comes with the noctua cooler is good so you wont have to swap that one out.

You don't have to swap the fans out from the HTPC case but I find replacing them will bring down noise levels and move more air through your HTPC. Its totally up to you if you wish to do this. You could just buy the HTPC and run the stock fans to see if you think the fans are noisy before splashing out on replacement fans.

Noctua 80mm 2 x fans - £12 (to replace the exit fans on the case)
Noctua 90mm 1x fan - £14 (to cool HDDs)
Noctua NH-U9B cooler - £40



I add these on as a matter of course, they are cheap and meant to stop any fan vibration going through the case. This is probably the least essential part on the HTPC.

Anti-vibration Fan Gasket - £2-3 each
Anti-vibration psu Gasket - £2-3 each


Lastly we look at the gamepad control for a HTPC.

Official Xbox 360 Wireless Controller - £30
Microsoft Xbox 360 Crossfire Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows - £13

or you can go for the wired version

Official Xbox 360 Wired Controller - £17



Altering the Spec

Now you have a rough template you can upgrade each of these sections to suit your needs and budget. If you want a more beefier graphics card but don't want to jump up to the midrange quad core setup you could upgrade certain parts of the build. Go to the first post and look at the graphics card list and select a more powerful card for your set-up as shown below, the list is in arranged in order of power.

Basic plus

Remove the ATI 4770 and replace it with a 5770 for £110
Remove the 450 watt PSU and upgrade it to a Corsair HX 650watt Modular Power Supply for £95

Basic Plus setup now costs - £348 excluding essentials (ie case, hdds, OS etc).

A little tip for those that buy a non modular PSU or a larger than 650watt corsair psu. The Corsair HX650watt psu is 150mm long and will fit easily in an LC17 htpc case. If you go for the non modular (VX range) or oversized psu 180mm+ (750watt and above) you will find it a bit harder to fit in the psu with a full HDD cage. If you do go for an oversized or non modular psu you might have to loose one of those HDDs in the HDD cage opposite the psu. You can however mount an extra HDD in the DVD Drive cage with a HDD silencer caddie or a HDD 5.25" mounting kit.
 
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Razor

Distinguished Member
Screen grabs of various games from my pc all taken @ 1080p but avforums scales the pictures down.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2



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Borderlands


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Farcry 2

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Metro 2033

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Mafia 2

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Razor

Distinguished Member
(reserved)
 

Daytrader

Well-known Member
better make sure i am subscribed to part 2 ;) oh and a question while im at it, 6 gig ram i think i am going to use, any recommendations, cheers

oh might be a good ideal to put a link to part 1 for new people.
 

Daveybryce

Well-known Member
Razor, I know it was kind of informative regarding the build of Dr. Force's Enthusiast Gaming HTPC, but do you think it a good idea to keep this to topical questions regarding issues, GFX & Cooling, settings, apps, some hardware discussions and general questions and kill full build threads within this thread.

Just my tupence worth, I found it difficult to search the last one for info relating to HTPC gaming.

Cheers:thumbsup:
 

Razor

Distinguished Member
better make sure i am subscribed to part 2 ;) oh and a question while im at it, 6 gig ram i think i am going to use, any recommendations, cheers

oh might be a good ideal to put a link to part 1 for new people.


I have put a link to the last thread at the very top of this thread. I can highlight it more to make it easier to read. :)

As for the memory I am guessing you are wanting DDR3 tri channel? If so are you going to overclock the cpu? If so get the fastest memory you can afford. 1600/2000Mhz will allow you to get a 4.0Ghz overclock on a core i7 920 cpu. :)


Razor, I know it was kind of informative regarding the build of Dr. Force's Enthusiast Gaming HTPC, but do you think it a good idea to keep this to topical questions regarding issues, GFX & Cooling, settings, apps, some hardware discussions and general questions and kill full build threads within this thread.

Just my tupence worth, I found it difficult to search the last one for info relating to HTPC gaming.

Cheers:thumbsup:


You have sort of lost me a bit mate. Sorry. :oops:

Are you trying to say that you found it hard to follow the thread as there was too much build info from others?

I want to put a few templates on the reserved slots for others to use and add a bit more info on building ie cable management, SSD cards, HDDs silencing etc... Is there any specific info you would like me to add to this thread? :)

EDIT: I think I know what you mean now mate. I want to have all the important info in the first few posts of this thread then help others in the rest of the thread with any questions they might have.
 
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cabanatuan

Banned
I have put a link to the last thread at the very top of this thread. I can highlight it more to make it easier to read. :)





You have sort of lost me a bit mate. Sorry. :oops:

Are you trying to say that you found it hard to follow the thread as there was too much build info from others?

I want to put a few templates on the reserved slots for others to use and add a bit more info on building ie cable management, SSD cards, HDDs silencing etc... Is there any specific info you would like me to add to this thread? :)

EDIT: I think i know what you mean now mate. I want to have all the important info in the first few posts of this thread then help others in the rest of the thread with any questions they might have.


You should have reserved more posts mate. i found your first thread very easy to read and understand.
 

Razor

Distinguished Member
Thanks Jonney. :smashin:

I think 3 extra reserved slots will be enough to cover it all. :)
 

Daveybryce

Well-known Member
Kind of Razor,

It's okay, i lose myself a lot of the time.

I think if peeps are planning on a complete Gaming/HTPC build then to start a thread of their own like HTPC builders do. As basically a Gaming HTPC is a high spec PC but with silence built in mind in a HTPC Case.

Maybe I'm missing the boat or point to these threads, if so shoot me and tell me where to go.
 

Mr Footlong

Active Member
Hello stranger ;). Bit of an all round expert in this area too but I have waaaaaaay to much on to contribute here. 1 thing I will say though is that personally, I tend to avoid cases which only have 80mm/92mm fan holes like the plague! If watercooling then I can understand but I just never ever get results anywhere near as good as when using silent 120mm fans in media centre cases. Just my 2 cents :). I do modify anything that I see as worthy of being modded though in the pursuit of silence and performance.

Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000 120mm fans are still my weapon of choice for all my silent cooling (4 Media Centre pc's here, 2 at my folks, various done for friends and more xbox 1's modding to within an inche of their lives than I can remember!)

Lol that reminds me, my sig is well out of date!
 

Razor

Distinguished Member
Kind of Razor,

It's okay, i lose myself a lot of the time.

I think if peeps are planning on a complete Gaming/HTPC build then to start a thread of their own like HTPC builders do. As basically a Gaming HTPC is a high spec PC but with silence built in mind in a HTPC Case.

Maybe I'm missing the boat or point to these threads, if so shoot me and tell me where to go.

I see what you mean. I think most people seem to pop in here for advice then go off and then setup their own build thread which I normally pop in a help them there. :)


dont know how i missed that link, cheers

:smashin:

Hello stranger ;). Bit of an all round expert in this area too but I have waaaaaaay to much on to contribute here. 1 thing I will say though is that personally, I tend to avoid cases which only have 80mm/92mm fan holes like the plague! If watercooling then I can understand but I just never ever get results anywhere near as good as when using silent 120mm fans in media centre cases. Just my 2 cents :). I do modify anything that I see as worthy of being modded though in the pursuit of silence and performance.

Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000 120mm fans are still my weapon of choice for all my silent cooling (4 Media Centre pc's here, 2 at my folks, various done for friends and more xbox 1's modding to within an inche of their lives than I can remember!)

Lol that reminds me, my sig is well out of date!

Hello mate, it has been a while. I hope all is good with you. :smashin:

I agree cases with small fans arent the best for cooling however most htpc cases bar a few have small fan slots. This is where the challenge comes into building a gaming htpc in a small htpc case which has average cooling.

There are allot of people that think gaming in such a small case is impossible and also impossible to do it silently (the main idea of a htpc).

If you set up a htpc correctly with the right fans, cpu cooler, gpu cooler etc it can be done really easily. Silent fans are very popular these days and if you pair them with the right hardware, case etc you can have very good results. :)

Also this thread is aimed at people who already have a htpc in their lounge and want to game on it. :)
 

simuk84

Active Member
Hi, I asked a question in the last thread which went unanswered. I don't know if that's because people didn't have an answer or because the question went unnoticed but either way I thought I'd ask again in here rather than start a new thread.

Basically, those who have a htpc in there lounge and use it for gaming, what do you do with regards to keyboard and mouse placement? Do you put it on a table, a stand? Is there anything on the market that will allow someone to game on their k/b & mouse from their sofa?

Personally, I don't get on with gamepads unless it's for football or platform type games. I have a G25 for racing with and as far as I'm concerned the k/b & mouse is the only option for FPS games and strategies but not having a desk kind of presents an ergonomic problem. I would imagine putting them on a table infront of the sofa would be uncomforable because you'd have to lean over and obviously having them just rest on your lap is no good. Is there something obvious I'm missing here or do people play all their games on a pad?
 

wolvers

Distinguished Member
Razor I agree with Daveybryce.

Once someone has decided to do a build they should be encouraged to start a new thread and then post the final results in here to stop your thread becoming full of lots of build threads.

Oh and thanks for linking my build as a CW02 example. :) There'll be an update soon.
 
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Razor

Distinguished Member
Hi, I asked a question in the last thread which went unanswered. I don't know if that's because people didn't have an answer or because the question went unnoticed but either way I thought I'd ask again in here rather than start a new thread.

Basically, those who have a htpc in there lounge and use it for gaming, what do you do with regards to keyboard and mouse placement? Do you put it on a table, a stand? Is there anything on the market that will allow someone to game on their k/b & mouse from their sofa?

Personally, I don't get on with gamepads unless it's for football or platform type games. I have a G25 for racing with and as far as I'm concerned the k/b & mouse is the only option for FPS games and strategies but not having a desk kind of presents an ergonomic problem. I would imagine putting them on a table infront of the sofa would be uncomforable because you'd have to lean over and obviously having them just rest on your lap is no good. Is there something obvious I'm missing here or do people play all their games on a pad?

I think I must of missed your post. Sorry.

Like you I dont like hudling over a coffee table whilst playing so I dont use the keyboard and mouse much at all on my hptc. I mainly use the pad or mouse on the sofa for games like CnC3.

I have seen a contraption which sits on your lap and holds the keyboard and also has a small area next to the keyboard to use the mouse. I think it was posted up in the pc gaming section a while ago. If I can find it I will post it up. :)



Razor I agree with Daveybryce.

Once someone has decided to do a build they should be encouraged to start a new thread and then post the final results in here to stop your thread becoming full of lots of build threads.

.

Ok I see what you mean.


Oh and thanks for linking my build as a CW02 example. :) There'll be an update soon

No worries on linking your build, you have a nice htpc. :smashin:
 

Mr Footlong

Active Member
Couldn't agree more on the graphics cooling. Except in situations where a manufacturer doesn't adhere to reference PCB designs, exhaust coolers when coupled with powerful graphics cards are an absolute must. The Akasa Vortexx Neo coupled with a Zalman Fanmate is very good in this situation and with a bit of electrical tape, properly added to the end of the exhaust to extend the ducting right up to the rear hole, can be made to vent almost 100% of the heat straight out of the back. The 487x/489x cards create huge amounts of heat, it is quite amazing. Recent higher end Nvidia cards are no better either for this. With cooling in general with a HTPC case/confined quarters, a lot of little tweks, no matter how insignificant they may seem, can make a big difference in running temps/reliability.

Of 4 4870's that I have done recently, 3 were direct bolt on jobs and one XFX card that didn't adhere to the reference board design required a fair bit with a dremel to the Vortexx and a ton of work to the mosfet sinks to fit! Again, the results though make it well worth it though.

I have yet to find 1 single card passively cooled card that I could recommend in a Media Centre either. I Have come across more than a few that have cooked themselves to death. Running a half up to date card in silence still requires proper cooling in my opinion and this comes in the form of coolers like the Zalman VF900's with fanmate for example. I use these mostly on cards like 3650/4650's and the like where the heat load isn't enough to necessitate an exhaust cooler. I was using these though before the Vortexx came to market and they cost a lot more so the Vortexx could be the better bet all round, subject to PCB compatibility.

Regarding cases with 120mm holes, there are 2 that I tend to stick with, mostly because friends have low budgets and want everything 'cheap cheap...' lol. Sadly despite having 120mm fan holes, they are both restrictive on height so need normal style coolers, not tower styles that can vent directly towards the case fans. Also, both are mATX style so limits you a bit on really great motherboards but there are some out there. Cheap choice number one is the Antec NSK 2480 series case. The fans that it comes with are not too bad, but far from silent and the PSU that comes with it is fine if running really low power kit but gets quite noisy when under prolonged load. I bin the PSU straight away and let the future owner decide on fan choice.

The attached image shows the 2nd choice of 'budget' case. Aspire X-Qpack. These are more of a square shape, which can be very useful in certain situations. These have a lot of potential if you are handy with a dremel. Ignore the PSU that comes as standard and you are all set. The side panels allow plenty of air to come through (well, all the cases I have had pass through here have venting on both side panels) and the single rear 120mm fan works very well along with the PSU positioned directly above the motherboard expansion slots. These can take pretty long graphics cards, with the only problems being that if your cards have PCI-E power sockets that stand up from the top of the PCB and not out the back, then it's dremel time where you have to cut slightly in to the bottom of the dual 5.25" cage in order to fit the connectors perfectly. While you are at it you can trim back the support plate that the PSU sits on for optimal airflow.

Both of the cases mentioned above work brilliantly if you buy the appropriate kit and are aren't afraid of a bit of modding in the case of the 2nd one.

I personally use both of these cases in the house, along with an old Coolermaster CM281 case for the primary Media Centre that hase been absolutely hacked to pieces internally for optimizing but looks pristine on the outside! All of them also have custom made remote power on/off courtesy of old X3IR's coupled to IR eyes unsoldered from original Xbox DVD dongles which give excellent range, spliced in to ATX 15cm extension cables, sounds simple enough ;). With the IR Eyes being so small they can easily be given a bespoke look on a case too.

Just for reference (but I don't want to detract from the thread), I will layout the spec of the 4 Media Centres in the house, 3 of which tear through games in silence!

Living Room - Plays games beautifully

Coolermaster CM281 case heavily modified, 2x Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000 fans
Modded Asus P5E Motherboard
Intel Q8400 CPU (no need to overclock this machine)
8GB OCZ Reaper PC6400 low latency RAM
2x WD Scorpio Blue 2.5" 160Gb, RAID 0 with AAM/power management disabled
XFX Radeon 4870 1Gb Graphics Card with Akasa Vortexx Neo cooler fitted +fanmate, runs 1080p
Tagan Old School 480W modular PSU
Zalman CNPS 9700 CPU cooler with Fanmate on lowest voltage
Custom made remote power on/off
Windows 7 Enterprise 64bit with IR Server Suite and XBMC for media duties

My Bedroom - Plays games beautifully

Ebuyer case mentioned above (Aspire X-Qpack), for space reasons and the 120mm fan, dremeled for maximum PSU cooling/noise and for dual PCI-E graphics power connectors, 1x Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000 120mm fan
Gigabyte G33M-DS2R Motherboard
Lapped Q6600 G0 CPU @3Ghz +speedstep, doesn't even need it
8GB Corsair XMS PC6400 low latency RAM
2x 2.5" Hitachi Travelstar 100Gb, 7200 RPM RAID 0 with AAM/power management disabled
Radeon 4870 1Gb with Akasa Vortexx Neo and Zalman Fanmate, runs 1080p
Seasonic S12 600W PSU, not modular so that was a bit of a squeeze! ;)
Zalman CNPS 8700 CPU Cooler with fanmate on lowest voltage
Custom made remote power on/off
Windows 7 Enterprise 64bit with IR Server Suite and XBMC for media duties

My Office machine/Media Centre - Tears through everything

Mountainmods U2-UFO case, modded for extra cooling capabiliries and lighting switches etc, 11x Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000 120mm fans
Heavily modded Asus Maximus Formula Motherboard
Lapped Q9650 CPU @4Ghz
8Gb Kingston PC8500 Low Latency RAM
5x WD 2500AAKS Hard Drives, RAID0
Radeon 4870X2 2Gb Graphics Card, runs 1080p
Creative X-Fi Fatality Soundcard
Hauppauge Wintv-Nova 500 DVB card
Enermax Liberty 600W Modular PSU and Enermax Liberty 480W Modular PSU, powers up off relay from 600W.
D-TEK Fuzion CPU Waterblock, EK 4870X2 Waterblock, Swiftech MCW30 Chipset Waterblock, 2x Laing DDC Ultra pumps on Alphacool plexitops, 2x Thermochill PA120.3 rads, 1 mounted externally on roof,EK Multires 250, 2 bleed valves fitted
Custom made remote power on/off
Windows 7 Enterprise 64bit with IR Server Suite and XBMC for media duties


Housemate's bedroom (He's a bit cheap lol ;))

Antec NSK 2480 case mentioned above complete with nasty original PSU and standard fans
Asus M3N78-VM Motherboard
AMD Phenom X4 9950 CPU
4Gb Crucial Ballistix PC6400 RAM
2x 2.5" Hitachi Travelstar 160Gb, 7200 rpm, RAID0 with AAM/power management disabled
Radeon 3650 512Mb with Zalman VF900 cooler fitted with Fanmate on min, runs 1366x768
Zalman CNPS 8700 CPU Cooler with fanmate on lowest voltage
Custom made remote power on/off
Windows XP Pro with IR Server Suite and XBMC for media duties

Now I am may well get some AMD lovers arguing with me on this but the results can't lie from all the machines I have built over the years, the last machine listed runs A LOT slower for general load times, multi tasking etc etc than the Intel machines. Even if I changed the graphics card it would still feel very blunky in comparison to the Intel rigs. For Media Centre stuff they are fine but I wouldn't want one for daily use tbh. I use whatever is the best at the time, have had lots of AMD kit in the past but have been using Intel only myself for the last 3 years at least with good reason ;).

Wow, that was a load of random info but some people may find something useful amongst that lot ;)

Cheers,


Nick.
 

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Daytrader

Well-known Member
good post nick, so the Coolermaster CM281 can be used as a tower or as media case on its side ? its RC-281 correct. cheers
 

Razor

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the detailed post footlong. :)

The only real reason I dont recommend the antec htpc cases are that they cant take full sized atx mobos. This for me is a main draw back. Also their air cooling is not really any better than a LC17. The reason I say this about the cooling is that 2x80mm are equal to 1x120mm fan in the amount of CFM of air that they move. A lC17 can be set up to have 2/3 intake fans of 2x92mm and 1x80mm. Exhausting can be done with 2x80mm.

If a htpc user already has an antec htpc case then as you say you can still game on it I just wouldn't recommended one if you are building a htpc from scratch. Especially as a LC17 only costs £70.

The Coolermaster CM281 is a nice case and I have considered one in the past. :)

BTW I love Mountainmods U2-UFO cases and will may just get one in the future for my desktop pc. They are a seriously nice bit of kit especially if you want go with water cooling. :smashin:
 
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Mr Footlong

Active Member
good post nick, so the Coolermaster CM281 can be used as a tower or as media case on its side ? its RC-281 correct. cheers


Yes but I haven't seen it around to buy for quite some time! Also, subject to where exactly your primary PCI-E graphics slot is located on your motherboard, you may have to modify the case slightly to allow the connectors to come off the rear of the card properly or be 'quick & dirty' and alter the PCI-E plugs as they come off the cable. Done it myself with previous cards I had in there but I am in no way recommending that other people do this.
 
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Mr Footlong

Active Member
Thanks for the detailed post footlong. :)

The only real reason I dont recommend the antec htpc cases are that they cant take full sized atx mobos. This for me is a main draw back. Also their air cooling is not really any better than a LC17. The reason I say this about the cooling is that 2x80mm are equal to 1x120mm fan in the amount of CFM of air that they move.

I wasn't recommending it especially, I was just making sure that is was known as an option for 120mm fan HTPC cases :) for people not wanting to spend loads. It does have 2x120mm fan holes so has enough cooling capacity. The PSU is housed in a seperate area so helps to reduce heat in the main board area.

For Combo HTPC/Media Centre duties, there are plenty of mATX boards up to the task of gaming well without overclocking. While you and I like overclocking and know what we are doing, there are an awful lot of folks that aren't interested, so the reasons against a good mATX board are reduced a bit IMO.

I used to have Silverstone cases for Media Centre stuff but personally found that the cooling via 80mm fans just wasn't up to scratch as the hardware specs got faster inside. For a lot of people they will be perfect but I prefer 120mm fans is all and the noise level/lower audible tone that they produce. I am not trying to detract at all from anything you have said mate, just adding more info/options :smashin:.

By watercooling the CPU and the 4870X2 you are taking a huge heat load out of the case, making the remaining heat load easy enough for the 4 80mm fans to dump :D.
 
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