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first try HTPC, help me decide what to upgrade


Senior member
Jan 23, 2007
I'm thinking of putting XBMCbuntu on a mini PC that I got from Newegg more than 2 years ago:
It has the Intel GMA 950 graphics onboard - which can't handle mpeg4/Blu-ray, evidently

It is a Foxconn Intel Atom dual core mini system that had just enough room to install a 3.5" SATA hard drive internally and a 5.25" optical drive in the front. It uses an external power supply brick, much like my original TI 99/4a home computer did in the early 80's.

At the time, I didn't put any thought into the fact that this only has VGA out onboard, since I was still using a VGA CRT monitor at home myself.

However, I'm helping a friend put this together. He has a nice 50" plasma screen, and I go over there fairly often. It would be nice to have an easy way to watch various videos that I might have on a flash drive, and he'd like to be able to watch the occasional Blu-Ray. It has turned into a collaborative effort.

Trouble is, somehow I ended up with a low profile pci express radeon 5450 video card. I thought I was getting just PCI. A look online seems to show that a 5450 with hdmi (what we would prefer to connect to the Plasma TV with, for simplicity), low profile and pci instead of PCI-express runs about $75.

That also seems to be about the same price as this:
which has hdmi out, pci express slot, and built in Radeon 6310 graphics for $64 shipped

I hate the thought of spending $75 on the video card, when I see similar PCI-express versions of the same card going for about $25. The $64 option would seem a better choice for what we want to do - but then I would have to buy ddr3 ram, instead of the DDR 2 we already have. So again, the cost for going that route would be $84 or more.

I'm open to suggestions on this. I thought we would be able to get it up and running, but now I have a PCI-express video card we can't use, and it looks like we would have to spend at least another $75 to $80 to get the thing up and running.

Since it has been a full two years since I bought the Foxconn mini system, I now wish I had just waited and bought later! Sometimes what seems like a great deal at the time turns out to not be as great as you thought.

Anyway, I'm open to any thoughts you guys might have about which direction we should go on this. I've checked Craigslist and Ebay, and haven't found any deals on low profile PCI video cards with HDMI out. (at least any that wouldn't draw a lot more power, & make a lot more heat than a 5450) I'm starting to think that perhaps the AMD motherboard with onboard radeon graphics might be our best option in the long term. Of course, no matter what I do, I'm sure something even better will come along in 6 months!
Last edited:
Apr 21, 2012
I was thinking AMD's supported DDR2 as well as 3 on their boards.....might check that out. If not I would think 2GB would be enough for XBMC though i could be wrong, the price wouldn't go up that much.

The E-350 would be the better choice in the long run, I know you've already got the investment in the Atom but the E-350 is a pretty solid processor for what you're doing and not having to use the PCI slot for graphics means you could install a TV tuner or WiFi card later on down the road.


Diamond Member
Jan 28, 2000
Not a fan of the 5450. I have one and its crashed many times with some driver issue. No fun getting bluescreens in the middle of recordings.


Diamond Member
Dec 19, 2004
I actually use the LAN ethernet port on the back on my 50" Panny, and Plex Media to serve up the movies....You could check the TV, this way, you wouldnt need to buy anything!