Feedback on HTPC Build

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by Bpsingh, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. Bpsingh

    Bpsingh Junior Member

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    Hello All,

    The last time I built a PC was about 15 years ago, so when I decided to build a HTPC, there was a lot catch up reading to do.

    I am thinking about building a middle of the line HTPC. The main requirements are:
    • Stream movies from either an internal hard drive or NAS (I am planning to acquire one in the near future)
    • Light gaming. Possibly some emulators. For now I am leaving out a dedicated video card but I want to leave an option to add one later on.
    • After reading some of the reviews, I am keen to have an SSD for OS and a 2-3TB drive for storage until I get the NAS
    • No plans to have a TV Tuner card yet but once again, I want to leave enough room to add that feature later on
    • I want the build to be silent but not looking for a serious fan less build or anything like that

    So here is the list that I have come up with so far. Any suggestions/help is greatly appreciated. Also, I am currently living in Australia and I am sure the cost of some of these parts is going to be higher here than US but for the sake of simplicity I am using the US prices. My budget is around 800-1000.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($136.65 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-M PRO Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($136.99 @ Amazon)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($49.98 @ Outlet PC)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($129.99 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.99 @ Adorama)
    Case: Lian-Li PC-C33B HTPC Case ($169.98 @ Newegg)
    (Couldn't Find the C37U on the website so I picked C33. They are about the same price. C37U link
    )
    Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling Silencer MK III 400W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($63.98 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Lite-On ihes112-04 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($54.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $872.55
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-04 00:31 EST-0500)


    Do I need an aftermarket CPU cooler? From what I have read, the stock cooler is good enough.
    Is the C37U case too big? Since, I don't need a lot of internal storage, can someone recommend a smaller case?
    I would like to run XBMC on this build. My wife and I are going to be the major users of this device. Do I fork out money for Windows 8 or stick with Linux? Is DVD playback well supported on Linux?

    Thanks for all your help.
     
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  3. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    Everything looks pretty good...

    I don't think you can get too much of a smaller case while staying with an mATX board, and if you want the possibility to expand, I would stick with mATX.

    I would also ditch the Ripjaws RAM and go with something more low profile. Ripjaws has tall heatsinks that may (or may not...) get in the way in the tighter HTPC case.

    The stock Intel fan is fine, that's what I'm using.

    The 400W PSU is probably overkill as well, but is not a bad choice if the price is right. If you can find a 300W less expensive, that would do as well. My G620-powered HTPC never even hits 100W in LinX testing... hardly taxing the 430W PSU I picked.

    You will also need some sort of BluRay software to be able to play BR disks... it isn't plug-n-play.

    XBMC is pretty good but don't discount Windows Media Center... it's pretty solid, particularly with Media Browser added. I have XBMC on mine but prefer WMC.
     
  4. crashtestdummy

    crashtestdummy Platinum Member

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    Is the "light gaming" going to include modern games? If not, you probably don't need an i3 and could to fine with a Pentium or Celeron. (About $50 cheaper.)

    Don't bother with the Samsung 840 Pro. The regular 840 will do you fine and is about $35 cheaper.

    As Charlie said, 400W s overkill. You're not likely to ever go over 250W for this system, even if you add components.

    Stock cooler will do you just fine.

    High end ram isn't important and heatsinks won't be needed. You also likely won't need more than 4GB in total unless you're playing modern games.

    The only way you could shrink would be to go with miniITX, and that would bring you down to one expansion slot.

    You don't need to spend nearly so much on a motherboard, though. Unless you want dual video cards, an H77 chipset will be plenty. ($70 cheaper)

    XBMC will be fine for your needs as long as you don't need to run Nextflx or play Bluray discs (Netflix requires silverlight and Bluray decoding on Linux is a little iffy).
     
  5. Bpsingh

    Bpsingh Junior Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. It was very helpful.
    • I am going to keep the i3 but switch to a H77 chipset.
    • The power supply is the cheapest modular one I can find. The 250W modular one is the same price so I'll just keep this one
    • Switched to the Samsung 840 regular
    • I am going to keep the 8Gb ram but will do my research to ensure that it will fit in the case I eventually pick. In case it doesn't will switch to the regular ram. They are all basically the same price
    • Will install Windows 8 and try out both XBMC and WMC.
    Thanks for the help. Will post when I start putting together the build.
     
  6. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    I wish I would have gone with the i3 simply for the horsepower, particularly if you are encoding (ripping) DVDs to storage.

    8GB RAM isn't a bad decision, either. It's not necessary, but not a bad idea.... I'll probably upgrade mine someday (if I can find some Samsung RAM available... )

    Try WMC with Media Browser add-on... I really like it. There is also an add-on that will allow you to run XBMC from WMC, so you can use a WMC remote to run it all.
     
  7. Aikouka

    Aikouka Lifer

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    I do use WMC for TV, but I haven't grown very fond of Media Browser. So, this sounds rather handy! Do you have the name of this off-hand?
     
  8. Bpsingh

    Bpsingh Junior Member

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    Here is the revised build. I changed some parts because the original ones are not available here in Australia. I am actually pleasantly surprised that the price difference is not too large between Australia and US. The case and power supply are about a $100 more expensive but otherwise, the prices are fairly similar.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($136.99 @ Amazon)
    Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4-M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Amazon)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($49.98 @ Outlet PC)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($138.98 @ SuperBiiz)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.95 @ Adorama)
    Case: Fractal Design Node 605 HTPC Case ($159.99 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: SeaSonic X Series 400W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($130.17 @ Newegg)
    Total: $796.05
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-05 18:59 EST-0500)


    Has anyone used the Fractal Design Node 605 case? Any thoughts on quality, size (i am a tad worried that this thing might be too big), temps noise etc?

    Second, can someone recommend a slimline blu ray drive? I just need a reader. No plans to do any bluray writing on this device. I can also add this feature later on.

    Thanks
    Bhanu
     
  9. crashtestdummy

    crashtestdummy Platinum Member

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  10. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    That looks like a pretty nice case... I never caught that one when I was shopping for my HTPC case. It can take a full ATX board and 4 drives (if I'm reading the specs correctly,) so it's not small, mind you.

    I would compare dimensions with the comparable Silverstone and Lian-Li cases if there is a question of it being too big.
     
  11. coolkish

    coolkish Junior Member

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    If you are located near microcenter you can get a great deal on i3-3225 and Mobo combo. You can also look at Gigabyte Z77 mini-ITX Mobo.

    Your parts list is good enough- my personal preference for cases are Silverstone or Lian Li.
     
  12. Bpsingh

    Bpsingh Junior Member

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    Given the bad reviews on the Fractal Design Node 604, I have had to to shuffle my whole list. I started looking around for another case. While the Lian-L1 C37U is a good case, I just couldn't get over the fact that it looks like an old VCR :p

    So, I have been looking around for another case and I am starting to lean towards the Silverstone FT03 Mini. It's a mini-ITX case. The Anandtech review of the case was quite helpful and the reviewers seem to be quite happy with it.
    I am still tempted to go with the bigger Silverstone FT03 and keep the microATX and keep the option to expand later on. With the miniITX, I am limited to one expansion slot. That means if I want to add a dedicated video card later on, then I have to stick to a USB TV Tuner. That doesn't sound too bad. Any thoughts on the MicroATX vs. MiniITX build?

    If I switch to a miniITX build, then I am thinking the list below. Any feedback would be great:
    (These are all Australian prices, so ignore the price difference. I just want to know if this will be a good build )


    Here are my main questions:
    • Micro ATX or MiniATX? For the most part, I am happy with the build above but I am still a bit uneasy about future expansion options (dedicated video card and a tv tuner). I am also a bit worried about not having an additional hard drive in there ( I had a WD 3TB in my original build). I am planning on buying a NAS in the near future but it will be nice to have some storage in this build. Thoughts? I could go for a 256GB SSD
    • I couldn't find the low profile samsung memory here in australia. Will the GSKill sniper be ok for this case?
    • Thoughts on the motherboard? I like the built in wi-fi option. The alternative would be to get the AsRock Z77 miniITX ($164), the Gigabyte H77 board with Wifi ($118) or the AsRock h77 board ($110). Given the slight discounts, I am keen to stick with the Gigabyte Z77.
    • Finally, in the Anandtech build, they use an after market CPU Cooler. Given that this is now a mini-TX build with a much smaller case, what are your thoughts on getting an aftermarket CPU cooler? I was thinking this one
      Noctua's NH-L12 ($84)

    I am pretty much ready to pull the trigger on this build. It would be good to get some opinions on the main Micro ATX vs. Mini ITX issue. Thanks guys.
     
    #11 Bpsingh, Feb 7, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
  13. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    The Sniper has taller heatsinks... with points on each end... I wouldn't recommend them. (It's good RAM, that's what I started with, but the heatsink is silly.) Every maker, including G.Skill, makes 'value' RAM... cards with no heatsink.

    I'm still not sold on the ITX form unless that is exactly what you want... it really eliminates a lot of flexability if you want to change things later. I've always thought mATX was the way to go (and did so for my HTPC.)

    I would just stick with the Intel CPU cooler... very compact and certainly adequate.

    Storage questions only you can answer. A 256GB SSD won't hold just a whole bunch of video, but some, and if you are going the server route soon it wouldn't be a bad choice. An SSD with the ITX board would make a very small case work well.
     
    #12 Charlie98, Feb 8, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  14. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    http://xbmcwmc.teknowebworks.com/

    ;)
     
  15. coolkish

    coolkish Junior Member

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    For case silverstone ML03 or Temjin TJ-08 is my recommendation.
     
  16. Bpsingh

    Bpsingh Junior Member

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    I am finally picking up the hardware today. Can't wait. Two questions that I need help with.

    First, for the life of me, I cannot find a slot loading, internal Bluray drive out here in Australia. There are only a few available on newegg and Amazon and they are quite expensive. I have read that the Silverstone one is pretty good but its out of stock and besides, Amazon won't ship it out here anyway. So, can someone please recommend a good bluray internal slot loading drive?

    Second, windows 7 or windows 8? I plan on testing out both WMC and XBMC and I have read that its better to have windows 7 for wmc than windows 8. Thoughts?


    Thanks
     
  17. lucklessgorath

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    In my opinion;

    Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.

    Without a TV tuner; XBMC

    With a TV tuner; WMC + Media Browser.
     
  18. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Diamond Member

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    WMC comes with W7, not with W8.

    Slot loaders are harder on disks than tray loaders, just FYI. Yes, they are cleaner looking, true that.
     
  19. pkscout

    pkscout Junior Member

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    I'm using XBMC and ArgusTV for TV viewing and recording and very happy with the results. I think it's worth looking into.