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Old 03-21-2012, 05:22 PM   #1
NoodleTech
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Default Pre-Built HTPC Recommendations?

Looking for a small/inconspicuous HTPC for a living room. This will be used for web browsing and music/video streaming. Budget is ~$700. What do you guys recommend?
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Old 03-21-2012, 05:27 PM   #2
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Could get a mac mini since its within your budget. Would you be playing any games on it?
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:56 PM   #3
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Do you need DVD / blu-ray playback? If not, the Mac Mini does seem ideal.

I have an old core 1 solo mini for testing our Mac software at work and it's a great little computer. If there was a mini with blu-ray I'd buy one for my HTPC.

If you need DVD, Acer and Gateway make mini-ITX based intel sandy bridge PCs that are small and quiet. I have an Acer i3 model for media playback and we got my mom an almost identical Gateway version for her birthday last August.

They run cool and quiet and the intel HD2000 graphics are fine for anything except modern 3D games. Even there I played about 80 hours of Torchlight on mine.
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Old 03-21-2012, 07:06 PM   #4
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Lenovo q180. Or any of the companies that make Brazos based HTPCs like Zotac, etc.
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:03 PM   #5
NoodleTech
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Thanks for the suggestions. I had never considered the Mac Mini, but it may be the most viable choice.
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:08 PM   #6
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Budget option, not entirely pre-built:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856119050

Add memory, hard drive, and operating system for another $250 or so. It should draw 15w or less, so you can leave it running all the time if desired.
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:40 PM   #7
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There are better choices out there, imo.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:42 AM   #8
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This: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...ock-_-56158029

If I had the cash, probably what I'd buy, imo. Doesn't have a lot of internal space, but I have a file server for that, sounds like you do too (or streaming from the web.)
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chapbass View Post
This: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...ock-_-56158029

If I had the cash, probably what I'd buy, imo. Doesn't have a lot of internal space, but I have a file server for that, sounds like you do too (or streaming from the web.)
You still have to add the OS and RAM to that machine. So you are talking another $140 or so. Having taken the ASRock machines apart they are small, proprietary and cheaply made. The mobile CPUs really don't save much energy either for HTPC and there is really no reason to use them, imo.

Again, for not a whole lot more there are better options out there. Even custom options.
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Old 03-30-2012, 02:29 PM   #10
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Another option is get a slightly older SFF pre-built PC. My personal personal preference is many of HP business PC's. Like the DC7800 SFF. You can usually find some on eBay for under $100 and usually all you need to do is add a video card and Windows 7. Most of these usually come with XP Pro or Vista Business. You could also probably load one of the XBMC distros out there like OpenElec or XBMCbuntu.
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Old 03-31-2012, 04:26 AM   #11
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This is worth a look

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856205002

It's totally fanless. CPU is obviously an Athlon II X2 270u, look up specs on cpu-world.com

At 2.6" height, the optical drive would be a notebook style. Add 2.5" hard drive (SSD?) and OS and you're likely done for $500 tops.
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:25 PM   #12
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I would consider an HP Microserver + half length Nvidia GPU (GT 210 or something similar). You would need to install your own OS (windows 7 works fine on it btw).

Usually HP give 100 cashback in the UK so I would be surprised if the same deal isn't offered in the US.

Personally I don't use mine that much, so gauge how much you think you might use it as you might be better off getting a laptop with an HDMI port so you can connect it up to the TV as you like.
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:03 PM   #13
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I dont know of any realy good HTPC boxes. Most media extender type of equipment are designed to be too low end and for singleness of purpose. It is hard to find a truly flexible htpc, that is also a general use computer. Just build a low-end PC and maybe add an inexpensive HD TV Card.

I dont think you really need a video card. An i-3 2105 would give you a nice flexible processor that has the Intel 3000 HD Graphics. That and a motherboard with one or two HDMI/Displayport outputs might make a nice device you can access the internet with. If you want Cable or satelite TV you can use an HD TV card with your cable box, or you can access your VCR/Blu-Ray device. I have not been willing to pay for TV much because it is just getting too costly, and there is too little on that is watchable. Who wants to watch government brainwashing channels anyway? I built a computer in my signature for just around $700. You can probably cut about $100 off the price by just using a i3 processor or to use one of the lower end processors for around $60-$90 depending on the model. Sometimes Frys or Micro-center stores have low-end Processor Motherboard combos. I just built mine in an Antec 300 case because that case was on sale with a 430 watt power supply. That case also has fans with 3-way speed switches, so you can turn down the fans to lowest speed to reduce noise.

Dont know much about pre-built.

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellsto...inspiron-620s&

Some people like these DELL Inspiron 620 ST because you can lay them down on their side and put them in a console cablinet like a BLUE-RAY. I dont really think they are that good. But you can get them in the low watt version processors. They should have a version with the HD3000 graphics, but that is not an option. However, I think you can get a Radeon video card also, or just add one on your own later with HDMI.

I think some companies like happaug (Spell) sell some DVR type of HD media extenders that can access the HDTV and let you record it on your PC.

I think Direct TV has an IP based TV service that might be nice if you want TV. It is part of their new U-VERSE launch.

http://www.att.com/u-verse/explore/d...rue/uid=id4700

There is an option on newegg.com where you sign up for the newletter deals. You have to get the newsletter to get the deals and you need the codes from the newsletters to get the deals.

For instance there was a combo deal going on for a gigabyte mb, 4 gigs of hyperx ram and an i3 2120 for 194.99 -- Seems like a good deal.
Might make a nice grandma or htpc kit.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboD...mbo864926-LM2A

The i-5 2500k is also on sale for 204.99
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:25 AM   #14
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This is a site that builds HTPC's. I dont endorse it but it appears they know what they are doing. They have this chart with different configurations. I think from my research that the heart of any HTPC is the kind of software they install and how they install it. The site also seems to have a lot of technical information about HTPC.

http://dvr.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/X...assinhtpc.com/

Audio Visual Science Forum
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/
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