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Old 12-27-2012, 10:17 PM   #1
Sirrion
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Default Review my build please (save me $$?)

Okay so I am looking to create my first HTPC to be used for my HDTV via HDMI. It will be located near the HDTV and I will probably run a wired network connection to it (but may do Wifi at some point, not sure).

I am looking for this HTPC to do basically 1 thing: play .mkv movies in 1080p FLAWLESSLY through my network via Cat5 cable (or as i said, wifi maybe...). No gaming, no tvtuner, maybe a little basic web surfing and Netflix. So the thinking is, Computer 1 upstairs stores my movies and through the router, i play those movies through Computer 2 located downstairs connected to the HDTV, makes sense?

Ok so with that being said I have come up with the following configuration for an HTPC and I would like to know answers to the following:

A) Is this setup Overkill? Just Right? Not Enough?

B) Is there something else out there that would suit my needs better and/or be a lot cheaper for same function i need?

C) How can i save money on this build by possibly changing out components for similar performance?

Silverstone ML03B Case $70 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...&SID=u00000687

Asrock H61M/U3S3 Mobo $73 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813157236

Antec Earthwatts 380w PSU $50 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817371033

Pentium G860 Sandy $67 - http://www.directron.com/bx80623g860.html / http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=G860BOX

Samsung 840 SSD 120g HDD $99 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820147185

Corsair 4gb DDR3 1333 $20 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820145322

Win7 Premium Home 64-bit - $90

Western Digital 1TB HD - $80 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822136939

Total runs around $550 or so...Any thoughts? I would REALLY like to not spend more than maybe $300 but I can go higher if i must.
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:38 AM   #2
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I may not be understanding you correctly but...

You have two computers...one upstairs with the media content. This should have the big hdd's.

Then you have another medial client next to your TV downstairs that is networked to the storage computer upstairs. This computer downstairs doesn't need a big storage hdd. In fact, my Win7 64 is about 32-35GB installed on my 60GB SSD. So you don't even need 120GB hdd on the media client that will be playing the media streamed from the upstairs computer. You might be able to save a few bucks on the smaller ssd on the media client.

I have an Intel G620 in a media client that plays ripped DVDs (some in MKV containers) easily (obviously not 1080p). However, I've read on htpc forums that the sandy bridge Pentiums are excellent at all 2d htpc work. I'll let others comment on SB pentiums and 1080p.

This past summer I built a media client for ~$340, not including the win7 64 license I had laying around. And I used the ML03B for my case. Also, depending on how you plan to install Windows, you may need to include an optical drive. Since you'll likely be ripping BDs you can get an inexpensive dvd burner for ~$20 on newegg or borrow one from another machine to install windows and then return it.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:50 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammor View Post
I have an Intel G620 in a media client that plays ripped DVDs (some in MKV containers) easily (obviously not 1080p). However, I've read on htpc forums that the sandy bridge Pentiums are excellent at all 2d htpc work. I'll let others comment on SB pentiums and 1080p.
I have a Celeron G530 in my HTPC, running ubuntu + XBMC. It can play bluray remuxes perfectly smoothly, both using hardware-assisted video decoding and pure software decoding. They are amazingly capable chips, especially given the price.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:55 AM   #4
Sirrion
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammor View Post
I may not be understanding you correctly but...

You have two computers...one upstairs with the media content. This should have the big hdd's.

Then you have another medial client next to your TV downstairs that is networked to the storage computer upstairs. This computer downstairs doesn't need a big storage hdd. In fact, my Win7 64 is about 32-35GB installed on my 60GB SSD. So you don't even need 120GB hdd on the media client that will be playing the media streamed from the upstairs computer. You might be able to save a few bucks on the smaller ssd on the media client.

I have an Intel G620 in a media client that plays ripped DVDs (some in MKV containers) easily (obviously not 1080p). However, I've read on htpc forums that the sandy bridge Pentiums are excellent at all 2d htpc work. I'll let others comment on SB pentiums and 1080p.

This past summer I built a media client for ~$340, not including the win7 64 license I had laying around. And I used the ML03B for my case. Also, depending on how you plan to install Windows, you may need to include an optical drive. Since you'll likely be ripping BDs you can get an inexpensive dvd burner for ~$20 on newegg or borrow one from another machine to install windows and then return it.

Nope, you understand me perfectly. So yes, I could probably drop the big 1TB storage HDD for the downstairs computer and drop the SSD to maybe something <100g, So i will look into doing that. Are you also suggesting i lower my CPU? The G620 runs around $60-$70 as does the G860 if looking in the right place so Im not sure it would be worth changing that?
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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Yes, drop the second hdd.

Also drop windows if you're just streaming movies. Xbmc has a Ubuntu package, as mentioned above. Install that for free.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:34 AM   #6
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Ohh yea? I was actually going to use Xbmc for everything and id love to save myself $90 and go with Ubuntu but honestly i've never used any other OS than Windows (well DOS and Android i guess). Is it easy to pickup and learn?
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:51 AM   #7
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No idea.

But since you can download from xbmc.org a package that includes ubuntu bundled with xbmc so the xbmc is ready to go upon installation, it seems like it's worth a shot. Xbmc does a good job at making things pretty easy. If it turns out difficult spend the $90 and buy windows then.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:04 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Sirrion View Post
Nope, you understand me perfectly. So yes, I could probably drop the big 1TB storage HDD for the downstairs computer and drop the SSD to maybe something <100g, So i will look into doing that. Are you also suggesting i lower my CPU? The G620 runs around $60-$70 as does the G860 if looking in the right place so Im not sure it would be worth changing that?
If they're both priced about the same, the 860 is better value. I pd ~$60 for the 620 and was a better value than 8xx sandy bridge pentiums at the time.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:07 PM   #9
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Ohh yea? I was actually going to use Xbmc for everything and id love to save myself $90 and go with Ubuntu but honestly i've never used any other OS than Windows (well DOS and Android i guess). Is it easy to pickup and learn?
I'm not a Linux expert but I do run Ubuntu 10.04 as a file server and fine it easy to use and navigate for what little I use it.

I've never used XBMC but their wiki and forum are very good (have perused it on several occasions). If you can install Windows, I can't imagine installing XBMCbuntu or whatever its called would be that difficult. XMBC prides itself on easy set up / configuration.
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Old 12-28-2012, 01:09 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dirigible View Post
No idea.

But since you can download from xbmc.org a package that includes ubuntu bundled with xbmc so the xbmc is ready to go upon installation, it seems like it's worth a shot. Xbmc does a good job at making things pretty easy. If it turns out difficult spend the $90 and buy windows then.
If you are willing to go with the XBMCbuntu you don't even need a hard drive at all, just run it off a USB flash drive, the entire install size is under 8GB.

As for the Linux, I installed mine on Mint Ubuntu with no prior knowledge of Linux OS. It was not that hard, and there is lots of information out there to help you if you run into a problem.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:46 PM   #11
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As long as you're only installing / running XBMC, why not just buy a WDTV Live Streaming box or a Boxee Box and be done with it?
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:44 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Sirrion View Post
Ohh yea? I was actually going to use Xbmc for everything and id love to save myself $90 and go with Ubuntu but honestly i've never used any other OS than Windows (well DOS and Android i guess). Is it easy to pickup and learn?
yes very, ubuntu is all about (over)simplicity and is as easy to use as windows in most cases.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:24 AM   #13
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FWIW, XBMC with windows works really well. The only issues I have ever had would be with with HDMI audio and ALSA.

I've used linux many times over the years and ALSA always gives me fits. But once you get it working all should be good.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:50 AM   #14
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Any processor on the market right now will do what you are wanting. So get something cheap. If it is only a couple bucks to get something faster do that and under-clock it to save some power.

I would also recommend getting Win8 if you go the windows route. It is only $40 ATM and I think the interface is well suited for a HTPC (not desktop though).

I was just thinking about doing this sort of setup for myself the other day and was thinking about only using a 32gb jump drive as the hard drive. I am not sure if you can make windows install on the jump drive, or make the BIOS think the jump drive is a hard drive. I did find a CF-card to SATA adapter that will basically turn a CF-card into a SDD, which is probably cheaper than the SDD.

You could probably go with a smaller PSU, no video card, only one HDD, no overclocking. Also be sure you get a quite one. If you get any case fans spend some extra money and get quite ones.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:06 PM   #15
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Regarding using the 1TB drive on your main computer vs your HTPC -

I have 2 HTPCs, a desktop computer, a general purpose server, and a NAS drive. I still haven't found the perfect setup of how to divide and store my media library, so my only advice is to keep things open.

Having ALL of my media on my NAS drive is nice because the NAS is always on, uses little power, and is generally very reliable. Unfortunately, because it is an older nas cannot handle 2+TB drives, and I am limited on storage space.

Having TV recordings and ripped TV/movies locally on the HTPC is nice because connectivity/availability is never a problem and the speed/responsiveness is the best, but requires more and more drives to be crammed into the small HTPC case. If you like to stream your HTPC collection to laptops or tablets, the HTPC has to be on 24/7 unless you go with an elaborate sleep / WOL setup for the HTPC.

Storing all of your media on a desktop I would advise against unless the thing is absolutely 100% rock solid and never goes to sleep. In my early days of having only 1 desktop and 1 htpc, having to keep getting up to turn on the desktop computer just to play a movie got old real fast. First world problems, I know.
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