Very Cheap HTPC on eBay, is it worth it?

Nail_Lad

Member
I've been doing a bit of research into Media Centre PC's with a view to building my own. I have a rough idea of the spec I want and have visited several online custom build sites to obtain quotes. However, in all my research I keep coming back to this item:

MEDIA CENTRE UNIT QuadCore 10.6Ghz/4GB/500GB/2X9500 1GB on eBay, also, Desktop PCs, Computing (end time 12-Oct-08 11:05:31 BST)

on eBay and I can't help thinking it's very cheap for the spec of PC. Ok, the graphics card isn't brilliant, the audio is integrated and the case won't win a beauty contest but for the RAM, CPU, hard drive etc it looks serious value for money.
 

socom23

Active Member
In one word - no.
 

Nail_Lad

Member
Read the third link http://www.avforums.com/forums/home-cinema-pcs/839682-makeshift-htpc-dvi-hdmi-queries.html and as you will see a Full HTPC less TV card and DVD (£40). Your link to the E-Bay site does not even state that Vista is included?
Interesting, still missing a few things though. Maybe I'm just wimping out of building my own. Guess I need to come up with a few possible configs for my £500 budget.

O/S I don't need, TV card I want but has to have DVB-S ideally with 2 inputs. Needs a decent PCIe graphics card able to handle full res very well. Would like it loaded with RAM and a decent processor. Onboard LAN etc. Maybe a good 5.1 optical/coax sound card but happy to integrated for now. Oh and it needs to be quiet so fanless PSU and good CPU cooling.
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
I don't know of any widespread dual tuner DVB-S or DVB-S2 cards - you may need to install two separate cards.

(If you are limited for space in your case you can daisy chain Firewire-connected external FireDTVS2 or install Floppy DVB-S2s without taking up a PCI or PCI-e slot (by installing in a 3.5" drive bay) - though they will also fit into PCI or PCI-e slots (no electrical connection - just using the socket to physically support the card!)
 
No.

No because they incorrectly put 4 x 2.66 = 10.xx. Quads run concurrently, not adding up.

No because quad cores on HTPCs are not really needed - Duals are just about being utilised correctly.

No because no OS installed.

No because 2 x 9500 cards are installed and indicates that you will have 2GB of gaming processing, when the RAM on the system will be used to feed them, and one, two or three 9500 cards are of no use in a system that is normally associated with something that needs to be quiet and cool.

No HiDef drive installed.

Check the sticky at the top of this, read Mickwalls thread, add a HD/Blu-Ray drive for £60, and you will spend less than this (you will need to add £60 to the ebay machine for Vista anyway), have the satisfaction of building it yourself.
 

Nail_Lad

Member
No.

No because they incorrectly put 4 x 2.66 = 10.xx. Quads run concurrently, not adding up.

No because quad cores on HTPCs are not really needed - Duals are just about being utilised correctly.

No because no OS installed.

No because 2 x 9500 cards are installed and indicates that you will have 2GB of gaming processing, when the RAM on the system will be used to feed them, and one, two or three 9500 cards are of no use in a system that is normally associated with something that needs to be quiet and cool.

No HiDef drive installed.

Check the sticky at the top of this, read Mickwalls thread, add a HD/Blu-Ray drive for £60, and you will spend less than this (you will need to add £60 to the ebay machine for Vista anyway), have the satisfaction of building it yourself.
Thanks, interesting points made and mostly confirmed what I kind of suspected. I guess I'm lacking in confidence/inspiration to 'go it alone'. I think the worry about CPU and motherboard performance has been concerning me most. It's exhausting stuff doing the research! Will look at Mickwalls thread thanks.
 

s.pinkney

Standard Member
Hi Nail Lad,

I went through the exact same process a week or two ago. Saw something on eBay, eventually figured out it was missing 80% of what I actually needed, realised the case wasn't good etc. etc.

Eventually decided to build my own as per the thread here: http://www.avforums.com/forums/home-cinema-pcs/834158-sub-500-hd-htpc.html

I had built a PC or two back in my Uni days (about 10 years ago), but not since. However, like everything else, if you take it slow, follow the case and motherboard instructions to get you going, you should be fine. There are also a few vids on YouTube showing the basic steps to go through, which was a helpful reminder for me.

Good luck!

Stuart.
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
Yep. I've built a couple of PCs in my time - and have an engineering background - but I am by no means an experienced system builder.

With the motherboard and case manual, and also a laptop close-by where I could look up any questions I had (my case had slightly different cables to those mentioned in the manual) it wasn't too daunting. I allowed myself lots of time, got everything set-up and laid out, and just slowly put stuff together AND double checked each connection I had made. I also checked I had everything I needed before starting - and read all the manuals.

I think as long as you take things slowly, have a set of reasonable tools (decent set of screwdrivers, and I found tweezers and small pliers quite useful for connecting some fiddly headers and rescuing the odd screw) and check stuff it isn't that bad. Make sure you observe basic anti-static guidelines, and you should be OK.

It IS fun to do and you get a great feeling of satisfaction the first time it works properly.

Even after taking things slowly and being really careful, it still took less time to build my PC than it did to properly install Vista and download all the windows updates!

On the other hand - I can understand that this isn't for everyone. However if you've fitted new hard drives or optical drives to your PC, and upgraded RAM, then you've got a pretty good idea what you need to do!
 

Mobeer

Novice Member
No because they incorrectly put 4 x 2.66 = 10.xx. Quads run concurrently, not adding up.
My favourite item on ebay remains:

Pentium Dual Core 5.6 GHz!

because:
2 * 2 GHz processor cores = 4 Ghz
Then dual cores run 40% faster than single core
So 4Ghz * 140% = 5.6 Ghz
 

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