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First HTPC build, good, bad or ugly

Maiyr

Member
Sep 3, 2008
117
1
81
Hello all,

This will be my first HTPC build and I was hoping to get some insight from the very knowledge folks here.

What I want this HTPC to do at first:
- Browse and play music from my existing music collection (mostly WAV, some MP3 and FLAC) already established an a drive accessible via the network
- Replace my current Verizon FIOS High Definition DVR and instead use my HTPC to receive and record shows on all subscribed Verizon FIOS channels (Discovery, Travel, Showtime/HBO, Sprout, Cartoon Network, Globo, etc...)
- Hulu/NetFlix/Pandora, etc...
- Use a Logitech Harmony remote to control it all


SilverStone Grandia case GD05 http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=241
Seasonic Series Fanless 400W PSU http://www.seasonicusa.com/Platinum_Series_FL2.htm
SilverStone NT01-Pro CPU cooler http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=367&area=en
Asus Gryphon Z87 motherboard http://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/GRYPHON_Z87/#overview
Intel Core I5 4440S http://ark.intel.com/products/75040/Intel-Core-i5-4440S-Processor-6M-Cache-up-to-3_30-GHz
Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM http://www.kingston.com/us/memory/search/?partid=khx1600c9d3k2/8gx
Samsung 128 GB SSD http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/memory-storage/MZ-7PD128BW
Western Digital 2TB AV Hard Drive (WD20EURX) http://www.wdc.com/global/products/specs/?driveID=1330&language=1
Ceton infiniTV4 cable card tuner http://cetoncorp.com/products/infinitv-4-pcie/
JRiver Media Center software http://www.jriver.com/

Any glaring omissions? Does it appear that this setup will at a minimum provide the functionality I am looking for.

I would be using the Optical out to my AVR for audio and the DVI out to my TV for video.

Thank you for any and all observations of this initial setup.

Thanks,

Maiyr
 

Maiyr

Member
Sep 3, 2008
117
1
81
JRiver caught my attention when I was researching audio related questions I had concerning HTPC's in general. Truth is as far as a difference between WMC and JRiver I have no idea as I have used neither. My plan will be to try both initially.

Thanks,

Maiyr
 

LoveMachine

Senior member
May 8, 2012
491
3
81
Regarding the hardware, the PSU is a nice unit. I have the 460W version. However, there are cheaper PSUs with a fan that only runs as power draw increases. I can't remember any off the top of my head, though. If you are concerned with maximizing cost effectiveness, that would be an area to look into. The standard WD green drives might be a better bet as well. Either will work, but the Greens are great in HTPCs. Mine is nearly silent. For the CPU, why the S model? They are specifically for thermally limited situations, and for the same cost, you could get a faster chip, should you need it for non-media-watching applications (e.g. transcoding mkv's). Are you planning on running the chip with passive cooling (i.e. no fans)?
 

Maiyr

Member
Sep 3, 2008
117
1
81
Thanks for the comments LoveMachine.

Regarding the CPU. I was going to go with the S as I figured the less wattage the less heat to get rid of. Correct, I plan to use no fans on the CPU cooler itself.

From my reading it seems that an i3 is just fine in most situations for an HTPC so I figured an i5 S model would get the job done as well. If I could get away with passive cpu cooling on a non S model i5 I would go that route.

Thanks.
 

pkscout

Junior Member
Aug 30, 2012
24
0
0
That i5 will be complete overkill for the usage you outlined. I have an i3 in mine and the processor never gets to more then 10 - 15% utilization.

You shouldn't really need the S version of any processor. The i3 and i5 run pretty cool under normal usage. In fact, for an HTPC, the i3 and i5 will likely have the same thermal profile, as the use isn't really changing. The thermal rating for the processors is at max capacity. It's obviously good to know that for planning purposes, but you'll probably never hit it.
 

Maiyr

Member
Sep 3, 2008
117
1
81
Thanks for the real world cpu ultilization pkscout. I may just opt for the normal 4440 then.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,209
38
91
That i5 will be complete overkill for the usage you outlined.

The thermal rating for the processors is at max capacity.
Yes and Yes. :biggrin:

I have a simple Pentium in my HTPC, it works just fine... it hardly breaks a sweat streaming video, running Netflix or anything. I do not encode with it, however... I do that on my i5 desktop. You could easily go with a G3220 Pentium chip.

Since you are not overclocking, you could very easily go with a lesser motherboard as well.

I can run my Pentium with the stock Intel cooler in LinX testing, the CPU runs at about 48C and the cooler fan never spools up. I understand your desire for a quiet machine, I would just install the stock cooler with the fan and be done with it... in normal use my HTPC sets at 27-31C.
 

SolMiester

Diamond Member
Dec 19, 2004
5,331
17
76
I love silverstone cases, however I just transfer a HTPC system out of that case as it was useless. Admittedly the case didnt have the fans in the front panel, however everything just got hot in there....
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
641
121
Unless movie watching became CPU/Ram intensive you have an extremely overpowered build for the task at hand. Unless you plan on doing Video Encoding on your HTPC (you have an infitv4 and I record things then reencode them so thy're smaller but I don't do it that often anymore usually just download the stuff instead since it's faster) you really have an EXTREMELY overpowered rig.

I have a 4770K HTPC That I use for gaming.
I have a 6 year old laptop from the Core2Duo days.

Both handle XBMC/WMC exactly the same. You have far more power than you'll ever use for those tasks.

Edit: As for the case. I had the SAME case in mind. I ended up going with Fractal Design Define R4 case instead. It PERFECTLY blends in. I've never had a person go "Oh wow, you have a PC next to your TV?" No one has noticed I had a PC in my room or even known what it was. They just think it's a "Subwoofer" or a "Speaker". If you need a case that big, you might as well get one with decent cooling that is easy to work in.

Since it seems you don't have a server, you'll keep your hard drives in your main HTPC. You'll usually add more. I've added 2 more to my system and am still running low on HD space (I thought 10 TB would be enough.....). Nothing worse than DREADING to do a simple HD addition. My case decision is my favorite part of my system. It's clean black and doesn't draw ANY attention, completely silent from my listening position, and is extremely easy to work inside of.

Edit2: Dunno if I'd go with Jriver either.... XBMC, MEdiaBrowser, Plex, even WMC. I've used a lot and I settled on XBMC.
 
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Maiyr

Member
Sep 3, 2008
117
1
81
Tential,

Thank you very much for your informed reply. I am taking a look at my chosen components to see where it makes sense to down size and save money.

One of my thoughts on some of my chosen pieces is that if the HTPC thing doesn't work out for me I'll be able to use some of them to upgrade my system instead of the whole thing becoming a waste.

I'll also take a look at the case you mentioned.

Thanks again.

Maiyr
 

muffintop

Junior Member
Mar 18, 2014
4
0
0
Hi nice build, let us know how loud the unit gets do you just use the heat sink or fans with heat sink?
 

DrDoug

Diamond Member
Jan 16, 2014
3,547
1,517
136
I agree with others about the i5 being overkill for what you are doing. I just finished my HTPC build (i3-4330, Asrock H87M Pro 4, Samsung Pro 128 GB ssd, 2x 2TB Hitachi Ultrastar HDDs, Sapphire R9 270X, CoolerMaster HAF Evo) and the i3 handles everything we throw at it without breaking a sweat.

It's cool and nearly dead quiet. I'll be testing some gaming on it later tonight but our daughter was beating it up last night testing the Steam game streaming (she's in the beta) and she thinks it rocks.

Ditch the i5 and save some money to spend elsewhere!
 

Binky

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
4,046
4
81
I'd build it without the expensive CPU cooler, and add that later if is seems necessary. Worst case, you have to remove the motherboard to install it later. My guess is that you save $60 and never notice the difference.

The i3-i5 chips run pretty damned quiet in most situations with the stock coolers.
 

Alan G

Member
Apr 25, 2013
127
0
0
I'd build it without the expensive CPU cooler, and add that later if is seems necessary. Worst case, you have to remove the motherboard to install it later. My guess is that you save $60 and never notice the difference.

The i3-i5 chips run pretty damned quiet in most situations with the stock coolers.
Right on! The system as described is overkill (unless money is no object). I've built several HTPCs for family and friends recently and have gone with i3 3225 CPUs (which is also slightly over the top). All run with the stock Intel cooler which you really cannot hear under operating conditions. You only need 4GB RAM and I use Seasonic G360 PSUs which are also silent and rock solid. I've done two builds in Lian Li PC Q-27 cases which are passively cooled (no case fans) and there is no issue with HTPC builds here.

WMC is fine with a cable card and I've been using the Hauppage external USB tuner since the build is with a Gigabyte H77N WiFi mini-ITX board and there is only one expansion slot and since there is no cooling fan in the case, I didn't want things to get too warm with the addition of an internal card. It's been working fine now and all premium channels come in fine. Set up is a little tricky with Verizon FIOS as one of the settings is dynamically assigned and you have to go into the log file to get it otherwise it won't recognize HBO. This is poor documentation on the part of Hauppage and Verizon.
 

Maiyr

Member
Sep 3, 2008
117
1
81
Thanks for all of the great comments. I'll definitely look into downsizing where mentioned.

Maiyr
 

Maiyr

Member
Sep 3, 2008
117
1
81
Set up is a little tricky with Verizon FIOS as one of the settings is dynamically assigned and you have to go into the log file to get it otherwise it won't recognize HBO. This is poor documentation on the part of Hauppage and Verizon.
Thank you for this heads up!

Maiyr
 

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