• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."
  • Community Question: What makes a good motherboard?

Cheapest small NAS/htpc product or build?


Senior member
Apr 7, 2002
Hi all,

I'm looking for something to replace my WDTV Live Plus since it runs so slow.

Ideally I'd like one small box that can double as a 1 or 2 drive NAS (3.5") and also be powerful enough to play 1080p media files.

Here are my requirements and requests:

- be low power since it will be on all the time, prefer around 20w or less
- be inexpensive, without the storage should cost < $300, preferrably < $200.
- be able to play netflix
- be powerful enough to play 1080p
- be network connected to act as a NAS
- be able to house at least 1 3.5" drive
- cpu should run whatever UI I go with (xbmc, etc) very snappily. I can't stand how slow my WDTV is
- have HDMI outputs
- at least 1 USB port (prefer 3.0, but 2.0 could be ok)

Would really like, but not required:
- USB 3.0 ports
- Ability to play 4k res stuff in the future (this is probably the dealbreaker)

What's my best option right now? I was looking at the ultra low power processors like the ivy bridge celeron 1037u, the bay trail chips, and the newer haswell celerons, all of which run around 5-15w. However, since they are all mostly BGA, I'm not sure how many are actually available to purchase.

Any existing HTPC or NAS solutions that might already handle this? Give up and try to build my own with mini-ITX?

I saw the NUC's with the 1037u, but the drive would have to be mounted externally, and they tend to be quite pricey. Something like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856164005 is already $150, not including RAM or storage (plus no room to fit a 3.5" drive in the case).

Any suggestions?


Senior member
Apr 7, 2002
I just saw this Bay Trail NUC announced for Q1 2014:


Looks like it only fits a 2.5" drive though. Was hoping to find something just slightly bigger that would hold a single 3.5".

I've seen the 1037u motherboard on newegg for $80 which looks interesting, but by the time I added a case ($80 for a nice wesena), RAM ($30 for 3gb), and power supply ($30?), I'd be right around $220. The 1037u is also starting to get dated with the newer haswell versions coming out.
Last edited:


Senior member
Dec 8, 2005
Low power consumption is nice, but $220 goes a long way towards electricity when reusing older components. I recently setup a Dell Inspiron Core2Duo E6550 as a HTPC for someone using the onboard video (but could easily go with a 6450 for arguments sake).

It draws about 60 watts at idle. Remove the DVD drive, add a low power GPU and you'll probably be about the same.

For the 40watts delta over a low power system, you'll spend an extra $40/year on electricity.

I got my dell system for free from a recycling center, so this assumes 0 cost by going with an older setup, and that may or may not be true depending on what you have and what you know you will need (nice case, HDMI port through add-in GPU, etc).

If I were you, I'd go with a re-purposed old system and upgrade as you need to or as you find good deals on motherboards, cases, etc. If you need to go mini-itx, you'll have to buy the motherboad and case at the same time, but you get the idea.


Feb 11, 2005
Look at the Acer Revo line if you are wanting a complete unit including OEM windows license.

I just bought a refurb one for $250ish with an icore3 1.9ghz ivy bridge but I got lucky on that price.

They still have them as complete sets (HDD, windows license, ram ect) so they come out much cheaper than the intel nucs and if cost is your concern then the NUC's i5 and i7 lines arent of any value anyways.

Only weak point in the Acer Revo's is the 5400 rpm harddrives but they will be fine for an htpc and that they dont have space for a 3.5"
Last edited:


Diamond Member
May 13, 2008