Considering new HTPC build

cmcghee358

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 1-2 months BUDGET RANGE: 400-600

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: HTPC, webbrowsing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, TV card

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: i3 maybe?

OVERCLOCKING: No SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 1080i on a 50" plasma

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm trying to get an idea of other peoples experience dropping cable all together and going straight HTPC. I want to compare the monthly cost of cable, vs the cost of building an HTPC to sell the wife on the idea.



Antec HTPC case 139.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129054

Athlon IIx3 435 2.9GHz: 69.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103723&cm_re=Athlon_IIx3-_-19-103-723-_-Product

MSI Motherboard with ATI 4290 onboard video: 129.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130269&cm_re=MSI_890GXM-G65-_-13-130-269-_-Product

2 GB of Crucial DDR3-1333 memory(will I need more than this?): 58.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148194

Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB HDD: 75.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185&Tpk=Samsung%20Spinpoint%201%20TB

Antec Earthwatts 380W PSU: 45.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371033&Tpk=Antec%20Earthwatts%20Powersupply

BluRay Drive: 59.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135205&cm_re=Bluray_Drive-_-27-135-205-_-Product

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but whats you guy's opinions.

Total cost atm is: 541.00 before shipping. Obviously I will check for combo's before buying.

Considering Linux or maybe a student Win7(which will be harder to finagle)
 

antisyzygy

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I do this exact thing. I bought an Xbox 360 and use Netflix on it. I also use the Xbox360 to stream video from my wife's Mac and my PC. You can also hook up a external hard drive to it to watch movies on. I want to build a dedicated file server / htpc but right now I can't justify the cost (to MY wife) since we have a solution that works.

The benefit of a HTPC is that you can at least store all your media there without having to worry about the transfer between a PC and Xbox 360 like I do (which was a problem for a little while till my wife actually found a solution much to my dismay).

The benefits are that you can watch what you want to watch when you want to watch it, and you dont get bombarded by commercials all the time. Most of the time cable has nothing on it anyway, and you can get all your news online. Ive saved probably 500 bucks since I stopped paying for cable almost a year ago. Netflix is so much cheaper.

I would suggest 4 gb DDR3, stick with the Corsair or G.skill. Otherwise it looks like a solid HTPC.
 
I kicked cable a year ago and the only programming I miss are the live sports (TNT, FSN, ESPN, etc.) and some HBO series like The Pacific. To put a positive spin on it, I hang out at other people's houses more often now to watch sporting events. Usually = free beer.

My wife misses her food network shows too.

Between OTA, hulu, netflix, and iTunes, we get about 90% of what we want on the HTPC.
 

antisyzygy

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Nope. I don't watch sports. Netflix and Hulu dont have everything but there are "sources" to find the other material. One problem you will have is that you have to wait a bit longer to get certain episodes of things unless you download them legitimately or illegitimately. For example, I cannot watch the new V series or Lost without paying to download or getting them through a torrent (not that I do the latter).
 

cmcghee358

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Well with my TV card now I should be able to get CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS etc in High Def through coax regardless of a cable provider, I believe.

Well I think Im going to try to sell the wife on it.

Do you have any suggestions or tips for a 1st time HTPC build?
 
You'll need BD software for that OEM BD drive, so keep some budget for that. I recommend TMT3 Platinum, but I hear PowerDVD 10 is pretty good too. It's $90 but you can get 20% off with a coupon code found here.

Do you need a movie library front end? I've got some tips on that too.

How about mkv playback?

I've also got tips on how to get sequential recordings on the same channel to overlap instead of having the beginning of show #2 clinging to the end of show #1. Though I see you just have the one tuner, so there's no avoiding that problem (for now).

I have lot's of experience with HTPC and increasing the WAF.
 

cmcghee358

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Ok heres my question. Why is the i3 superior for HTPC? I tried to find an 1156 Motherboard with onboard video, but newegg had 0, of any brand making me think it's just not an option. So if the i3's socket doesnt support motherboards with inegrated graphics, what does the i3 do special specifically for HTPC?

@rwpritchett Most of what you said, I know nothing about. Obviously I need to do some more HTPC research.
 

builderbobftw

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^ the i3 has an Graphics chip right on the board, so the motherboards don"t need onboard, so the CPu has onboard!

2. The i3-530 is rather fast, but not that expesnive.

3. The i3-530 overclocks like a champ (4.4+ on a nice air cooler like a DH-14)

4. Power usage is out of this wolrd low!
 

builderbobftw

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1. i3 is faster. Much faster.

2. The i3 has much lower power use. By a mile.

3. only a 50$ price diffrence.......
 

cmcghee358

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Im not quite sure I understand why a faster CPU is going to pay off in an HTPC. It's just referencing the internet, playing Bluray from a drive or loading saved video from a HDD.

I mean honestly what kind of performance increase am I looking at between an i3-530 and an Athlon IIx3 435 that justifies a price increase. I just don't see one.

Oh and lol @ putting an aftermarket HSF in an HTPC, wtf is that about.
 
Boys... boys... no fighting now.

Here's the facts:

Core i3 has lower power usage, but it's also a dual core so that's to be expected.

The Core i3 not that much faster than the 435 X3. Instead of Tom's gaming list, check out Anand's review which has both CPU's compared.

i3 is the better option for HTPC in my opinion only because it can bitstream HD audio and AMD can't. Both solutions are more than enough to get the job done.

Value is important however, and AMD 785G motherboards are less expensive for the same features on an Intel H55 board. The CPU is cheaper too. Looking at newegg, an i3-530 plus H55 mobo will run about $225 while the 435 X3 plus 785G mobo will run about $150. That's top tier (Asus & Gigabyte) mobo's BTW and a $75 difference that can buy another tuner card, RAM, or whatever.

With that said, if I were building today I would go i3+H55 because of the bitstreaming. With the OP $400-600 budget, I think AMD is the better choice.
 
Here's a key:

WAF = Wife Acceptance Factor (this acronym is thrown around a lot on the AVS forum)

mkv = the latest, most used container for video files. Think of it as the newer .avi

Front End = software that organizes and presents your video library to the viewers. For example, here is what my movie library front end (media browser) looks like:


 

antisyzygy

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My point is that its cheaper and AMD has good motherboard options for HTPCs. If hes going to go up in price range a Phenom II X3 performs at the same level for 25 bucks cheaper than a i3-530. Your power consumption comment is a valid concern if he is going to have the PC on all the time like a server (which is not an unreasonable assumption). Its 73 watts vs. 95 watts. For regular TV usage I doubt the savings in power will matter all that much and will probably be like 1-2 bucks more a month for the Rana over the i3. If the price range went up, I would say the i3 may be worth it over a Phenom II x3 since in 6-12 months you may spend 25 bucks less on power.

i3-530 vs Others :

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i3-gaming,2588-13.html

Benchmark of Athlon II X3 and others :

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/athlon-ii-x3,2452-10.html
 

antisyzygy

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Bitstream is supported on ATI HD 5000 series cards (which is sort of a crappy work around). I am not sure most people would be using this anyway.
 

cmcghee358

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So this is a little late in the game, but I remembered I have an AMD Phenom IIx4 920 2.8 GHz sitting around. It's an AM2+ socketted chip. I also have 8 GB of DDR2-800 RAM in my main computer. So I'm thinking of getting an AM2/AM2+/AM3 board and just using 4 GB of my own RAM and the Ph2 920 chip.

Thoughts?
 
That sounds like a winner to me. The only downside is you will be limited to DDR2 motherboards (no 880G for you).

Actually, I did something similar with my build. I reused some old parts and put them on a 785G DDR2 motherboard.
 

cmcghee358

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With combos, and including Win7 Im at 530 after shipping...

Also apparently the wife is fed up with the Cox bill too. $160 per month.

I talked her into using her laptop as an online only(no TV tuner) for a week and see how she does.

I also bumped up to a 2 TB Samsung 5400 RPM HDD.
 

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