BestConfigs Poll - Home Theater PC

Which Home Theater PC BestConfig do you like best?

  • Dicky's HTPC

    Votes: 24 33.8%
  • SADAMS04's HTPC

    Votes: 31 43.7%
  • Dougie Fresh's Mini-HTPC

    Votes: 16 22.5%

  • Total voters
    71

jpishgar

VP, Global Community
It's time to vote on your favorite build for this category!

Please see below for a list of the choices available.

Dicky's HTPC
Processor: Intel Core i3-2105 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz - $139.99 x 1 = $139.99
Motherboard: MSI H67MA-E35 H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX - $84.99 x 1 = $84.99
RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 4GB (2x2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333 Dual Channel Kit - $29.99 x 1 = $29.99
Graphics Card: Integrated Intel HD 3000 - $0.00
Hard Drive (SSD): OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTX40G 2.5" 40GB - $74.99 x 1 = $74.99
Hard Drive: HITACHI Deskstar 5K3000 2TB SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - $79.99 x 1 = $79.99
Case: SILVERSTONE Black MILO Series ML03B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - $59.99 x 1 = $59.99
Power Supply: CORSAIR CX430 V2 430W 80 PLUS Active PFC Power Supply - $34.99 x 1 = $34.99
Cooling: Stock Heatsink/Fan - $0.00
DVD Burner: LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA - $55.99 x 1 = $55.99
Additional: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TV Tuner PCI-Express x1 - $109.99 x 1 $109.99

Total Price: $670.91


SADAMS04's HTPC

CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE OEM- $70

CPU Cooler: XIGMATEK LOKI SD963 92mm HYPRO - $25

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-880GMA-USB3 AM3+ HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 mATX - $105

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24 - $45

Graphics Card: XFX HD-667X-ZHF3 Radeon HD 6670 1GB 128-bit DDR3 - $84

Hard Drive: Samsung F3 1TB - $65

Case: nMEDIAPC Red Wood Wood/Steel HTPC 8000 - $90

LCD Panel nMEDIAPC Media Center Programmable LCD - $30

Power Supply: XFX Core Edition PRO450W - $55

Blu-Ray Burner: LG Black 12X - $85

Replacement 140mm Case Fan: Scythe Slip Stream Kaze Maru2 140 series 43.5CFM @ 14.3dBA - $13

Total Price: $667


Dougie Fresh's mini-HTPC
Processor: Intel Core i3-2100T $129.00
Motherboard: ASUS P8H61-I (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard $84.99
RAM: Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 KVR1333D3K2/4GR $33.99
Graphics Card: Intel HD2000 IGP
HDD: MicroCenter Sandforce 1222 64GB SSD $99.99
Case: Habey EMC-800B mini-ITX $68.99
PSU: 120W PSU and external adapter included with case
Cooling: i3-2100T low-profile stock cooler
Blu-ray: LG Black 8X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 6X BD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA Slim Internal Blu-ray Super-Multi Combo Drive Model CT21N $84.99

Total Price: $501.95
 

JasonAkkerman

Distinguished
Apr 28, 2008
457
0
18,790
4
Why are there no AMD E-350 builds in here? Everything I have read says they are excellent for HTPC builds and they cost ~$100 less then an i3.

Am I missing something?
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
These builds are very odd. Only the first one has a TV card? SSDs for a HTPC build? SATA 6.0 harddrives? 120w PSU, and I think it's external?

HTPC's should have dual cores or better, 4GBs of ram is fine. But they should also have large heatsinks to keep them cool without being loud, highly efficient PSUs so they don't use a lot of electricity, TV/Cable cards so you can watch/record stuff, large HDDs so you have the space to record your things, and probably AMD video cards so you can have high end HDMI with audio to hook up to your TV/AV receiver. About the best I can say for all those builds is they have Blu ray drives. Wireless is also a good idea unless you have a router in your living room.

I'm voting the second one, but only because it has a 6670 GPU so it can double a mild gaming unit as well.
 

custodian-1

Distinguished
Oct 7, 2010
85
0
18,630
0


My setup uses a server for storage 64GB is plenty of storage
 

custodian-1

Distinguished
Oct 7, 2010
85
0
18,630
0


My setup uses a server for storage 64GB is plenty of storage
 

cknobman

Distinguished
May 2, 2006
944
0
18,980
0
Another series of sh!tty builds. HTPC's should not be relying on integrated Intel graphics.

Went for the only choice that did not have integrated graphics but even that build has questionable processor and a very odd choice of case.
 

schwizer

Distinguished
Jan 14, 2010
118
0
18,690
1
Case: $79.99 Antec ISK 300-65
Motherboard/CPU: $119.99 Foxconn AHD1S-K AMD E-350
RAM: $26.99 Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1066
HDD: $69.99 WD Scorpio Black 500GB
Blu-Ray: $74.99 Sony Optiarc Black
Total $371.95

How about something along the lines of this?
 

max40watt

Distinguished
Nov 22, 2010
63
0
18,640
3
Hmmm I stand by my E-350 based NES HTPC

Case: Old NES
Mobo/cpu: Asrock E-350M1
Ram: 2Gb Patriot DDR3 1066
Hdd: 160gb Western Digital 2.5"
Optical: None
Usb based Wireless N and Bluetooth adapters
80w Pico Psu

Total for watching tv and playing games via an old Nintendo: Priceless, or about $250


 

g-unit1111

Titan
Moderator

dalauder

Splendid
I say we add a write-in vote and give it to the Nintendo.

This vote should be scrapped. All of the above HTPC are terrible. Two use integrated Intel HD graphics, which we KNOW gives lousy video quality compared to AMD or high end GeForce. And the AMD uses too much power and too big of a discrete card. It's a perfectly capable low end gaming build, but not an HTPC.

Quite frankly, the list should include some of the lower power Llano APU's with no discrete graphics in the smallest form factor possible. That would be the ultimate HTPC in my book.
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
I'm not so sure the second one's GPU is to large. I remember reading about the HTPC abilities of the 5670 when it came out and it was the HTPC card to have. IGPs don't have the GPU power needed to do some of the high end stuff that few HTPCs need.

The CPU is to large as you don't need an x3 for HTPC use. It also lacks the TV card that the first build has. This isn't the article I was thinking of, but it should give you a good idea of where the 5670 has issues.

Edit: GAH! Forgot the article. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/hqv-2-radeon-geforce,2844-10.html
 

dalauder

Splendid
Prior to Llano, I wouldn't say the second one's GPU was too large. But considering Llano includes the GPU, there's no reason to do both--that's more what I meant. I agree that typical (non-APU) integrated is inadequate for high-end HTPC usage.

Btw, that's the article I was expecting for the 5670's deficiencies. There's one that compares Intel HD 2000/3000 to integrated, I think, and that might explain more.
 
Me too :)

For those of you complaining about lack of Llano, some of the candidates were submitted prior to the Llano launch. Keep that in mind.

The HQV scores are quite subjective. Personally, I don't put to much weight on post-processing capability, though it depends on your source media I suppose. Most of my media is good quality to begin with.
 

Superbooger

Distinguished
Aug 29, 2011
2
0
18,510
0
Corsair Vengeance 16 GB (4 X 4 GB) @1600
Thermaltake DH-202
Corsair HX Pro Series 750
i7-2600K 3.4Ghz
EVGA GeForce GTX 570 Superclocked
Windows 7 64bit
Asus Sabertooth P67
Tmg I3 Cpu Fan
Crucial 64GB 6Gb/s SSD (OS)
WD Black 1TB internal (Apps)
Sans Digital TR4MB (4 X WD Green 2TB)
Harmony 1100
Optoma HD20 w120" screen

Why can't a build be high end?
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
Depends on what your trying to do. If you have it hooked to a 720 or perhaps even a 1080 screen with just using the audio found on the TV, your fine. (64GBs total for the computer? That's only 5 seasons of things assuming 20GBs for the OS.) I doubt however your system can handle higher end things like 7.1 bit streaming, etc. In addition, your intel graphics will have issues with odd pull downs. What you have is fine for a basic HTPC build like I had.
 

Dougie Fresh

Distinguished
Jan 3, 2010
545
0
19,060
36


You're kidding about this, right?

The replies to this thread have got to be some kind of joke.
 

Dougie Fresh

Distinguished
Jan 3, 2010
545
0
19,060
36
Simplest way I've found is install LAV: http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=156191 and then configure the LAV Audio, checking all the bitstreaming checkboxes. Sending the bitstream to an AVR for decoding has almost no overhead since the stream is being decoded by the AVR not the PC.

You can find several reviews and threads (e.g. AVSForum), that demonstrate support for 5.1 and 7.1 bitstreaming as well as 1080 video with very low CPU usage -- even with the new Celeron G530 CPU operates around 20% CPU usage viewing 1080 H.264 video. Latest drivers/BIOS also provide some of the best 24p support. If you don't need 3D support for can grab a G620 for $75 and a H61 motherboard for $80 and save even more money yet have a more than capable system. I've built both i3 and Pentium-based systems and honestly cannot discern performance or PQ.

As for the SSD, I would never actually store media on the SSD. With several PCs around the house, media is aggregated on a low-power 24/7 home server. How much and where the disks are located is a bit arbitrary depending on how much media you plan to store. Some build 24TB arrays, some would be ok with a 2TB drive in their HTPC. It's therefore not really worth spec'ing out in a generalized build. Where the SSD shines is coming out of sleep, rebooting and launching media applications. Response time is critical in a PC that's trying to act like an appliance. I would not build an HTPC w/o it unless it wasn't in the budget of who it's being built for.

As for E-350, you'll find plenty of reviews and experience saying there are performance issues. Hopefully, the E-450 will be that much better. Llano has yet to be proven and it was not available when these were spec'd. Right now though the SandyBridge setups beat Llano handily in price and for media usage, the extra GPU horsepower makes no difference. If a SNB Celeron for $55 can play H.264 video at 20% CPU usage why would you buy the $80-$120 Llano? For post-processing? Then why is the most widely recommended ATI CCC setting to turn off all post-processing except deinterlacing?

I suggest these for further reading:
Reviews
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridge-review-intel-core-i7-2600k-i5-2500k-core-i3-2100-tested/7
http://www.missingremote.com/review/intel-sandy-bridge-core-i5-2500k-and-dh67bl-motherboard
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4524/the-sandy-bridge-pentium-review-pentium-g850-g840-g620-g620t-tested

Forums
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940972
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1302559
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1303066

Beyond forums and reviews, my own experience building these systems for myself and others shows clearly the SandyBridge CPUs are currently the best bang for the buck for media PCs. They have full HD video and audio support, very low power usage (kill-a-watt readings around 80W using Prime95, 50W tops watching HD video, below 30W idle) and right now kill on price/performance. Two years ago, AMD was rocking this space and that's what I was building with. Now the pendulum has swung to the other side.
 
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