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HTPC Build from 4 year old PC

bmather9

Junior Member
Jul 12, 2013
22
0
0
So I recently decided I didn't need my gaming rig style desktop PC any longer since I'm a grown up now and don't play games :|

I purchased a workstation class laptop to use with a docking station as my primary PC and I'm interested in converting the old gaming rig into an HTPC. Here's what I have:

CPU: Intel Core i7-920
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7
RAM: 18GB
GPU: XFX Radeon 5850 HD Black Edition (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814150454)
HDD : 1TB
Case: Thermaltake Kandalf (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811133024)
PSU: Corsair 850Watts

For storage I also have a 250gb Samsung SSD, but I'll probably be installing that in the new laptop when it arrives; so I anticipate needing another small SSD to boot the HTPC with proper speed. I don't have a blu-ray drive, but I'm not sure I'd want one considering I already have a separate blu-ray player. I'd probably end up adding a TV tuner card, unless I can talk my wife into cutting the cable and ditching TV subscription.

My main goals are for it to look nice and run quiet, assuming performance is good as well. So I'd like to use the components I already have and I'm not really too concerned about power consumption, because I plan for the PC to sleep when not in use.

I really like the Silverstone cases so far, and it seems I'll need to opt for a larger one to fit my current hardware. The cases I seem to like best don't have an external space for Blu-Ray, so I'll have to make a decision there. Any other nice case setups out there?

Cooling is my toughest decision. It seems like most people would recommend air cooling for this purpose, but since I already have everything I need to run it on water, I'm trying to see if I can make it work. I'm already cooling CPU, GPU and NorthBridge on water with solid overclocks on all.

I'm willing to underclock/undervolt if necessary and have thought about trying to run a passive water cooling setup (no fans). My thermaltake case has a rather large radiator that I could make use of, but I doubt it would fit properly as part of the HTPC case? I'm pretty handy, so I could even try to mount it externally somehow, but don't want it to be sore thumb. Any ideas are appreciated.

I also have a brand new swiftech MCP-655 pump with adjustable speed, so I could turn it as low as heat allows to reduce noise. Maybe I'll need to purchase a smaller radiator with 1 low speed fan and get a different fanless PSU and solve all my problems?

So any tips of passive water cooling, or water vs air for keeping things quiet in my situation would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for the ideas!
 
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Binky

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
4,046
4
81
The cost to watercool that beast might be close to the cost of just buying a smaller more efficient system. Personally, I'd see what fleabay prices might get you and price out a smaller system. Then do the math and see what makes sense. :D

More stuff (overpowered system, complicated cooling) just makes for more trouble, both now and in the future.
 

bmather9

Junior Member
Jul 12, 2013
22
0
0
The cost to watercool that beast might be close to the cost of just buying a smaller more efficient system. Personally, I'd see what fleabay prices might get you and price out a smaller system. Then do the math and see what makes sense. :D

More stuff (overpowered system, complicated cooling) just makes for more trouble, both now and in the future.
I probably didn't explain properly, but I already have all the water cooling components, except I would likely need to purchase a smaller radiator, with or without a fan, to fit on the back or inside the case.
 

bmather9

Junior Member
Jul 12, 2013
22
0
0
Against better judgement I'm still considering using my existing parts, because I should be able to make everything work for about $160.

So my first decision is with the case. If I'm going to do this, I know there are some decent full ATX cases out there that I may end up going with (such as: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811204037). But I'd like to find something lower profile if possible; yes I know what I'm looking for doesn't make sense, Full ATX and low profile, but here are a few examples of similar cases to what I'm looking for:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811133029
http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=69&area=en
http://www.origenae.com/en/htpc_x10.htm

The first 2 use PCI-e risers to get the job done, which seems like an excellent way to accomplish what I want. Unfortunately neither of them are available, at least that I can find. Are there any other cases that take Full ATX that use PCI risers for thin profile? Other problems with these are that my PSU wouldn't fit, and there's almost certainly no room for my reservoir and pump.

The 3rd choice is one of the thinner Full-ATX cases I've found that doesn't use PCI riser and is probably a much more realistic option for what I'm trying to do. So bring on the thinnest Full ATX cases you know of.
 

Slugbait

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
3,633
3
81
...so I anticipate needing another small SSD to boot the HTPC with proper speed
First, the ideal HTPC doesn't boot often...it resumes. SSD is (still) overkill, IMO. My old 80G Raptor resumes my primary HTPC within just a few seconds.
I'd probably end up adding a TV tuner card, unless I can talk my wife into cutting the cable and ditching TV subscription.
In my area, Comcast scrambled Expanded Basic channels three years ago. They started scrambling Limited Basic channels last week (I've so far lost ABC, CBS, one of two PBS stations, and the primary FOX channel...NBC, the other PBS station, the "backup" FOX channel and the *.2 subchannels are still being received...for now). If you want a tuner card and you want to continue with cable, you need a CableCARD tuner. If you want a much-less expensive ClearQAM tuner, you need an antenna (my ClearStream4 is scheduled to be delivered by FedEx on Monday).
My main goals are for it to look nice and run quiet, assuming performance is good as well.
Your specs are overkill for an HTPC. Let's concentrate on looks and noise.
I really like the Silverstone cases so far, and it seems I'll need to opt for a larger one to fit my current hardware.
I agree, on both counts. I went with an LC17-B three years ago, I still love it. And you're likely going to need the same amount of room with your current components.
Cooling is my toughest decision. It seems like most people would recommend air cooling for this purpose
Count me among those people. Especially with the size of case you're looking at, we're talking a lot more time and frustration, and you will likely have MORE noise from radiator fans, rather than less noise. And overclocking? Voltage tweaking? I clocked down to stock speed my "recycled" C2D/EE, and it handles HTPC duties with aplomb. After adding a GTX460 last year, the damn thing plays Crysis at 1920x1080 without a hiccup (but I still game occasionally...you don't, right?)
 
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Rio Rebel

Administrator Emeritus<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
5,195
0
0
Your specs are overkill for an HTPC. Let's concentrate on looks and noise.
Most important statement of the thread.

You need no more performance than what you have. Focus on the right case and how to cool without making too much noise. An SSD is not necessary (feel free to stick it in and be even more overpowered - nothing wrong with that if it's what you want...just not necessary and not value added.)
 
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BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,481
931
126
You can sell this gaming PC and have enough money to get HTPC and some balance too !
That's likely very true.

Like I said in another thread about "Media Center," I personally violated all the common wisdom. My main "super-overclocked-PC" functions for . . . everything. Home security cameras, Home Theater PC, business and database computing. And even for violating the common wisdom, it's rock-stable, totally dependable for all these functions.

Oh! One more point -- about the SSD's and HTPC needs. The way I see it, you could use a small SSD (enough for the OS plus a margin) for a dedicated HTPC, but for DVR functions, you'd want a second HDD. A regular HDD is way fast enough for the buffering and recording you might do on an HTPC. Maybe -- for rendering captured video -- you could use an SSD for that.

My setup has a 64GB SSD with ISRT caching on a 600 GB HDD, and a 500 GB HDD dedicated to the HTPC buffering and DVR capturing. But then -- I violated all the common wisdom . . . .
But the common wisdom is to build a dedicated HTPC that can "sleep" and "wake-up," in a small footprint (HTPC case), needing only a low-power CPU (like an old C2D or Wolfdale core), graphics that is less than top-end, and a cooling solution that fits in the small box.

Sheee-**! you can do what you want -- Whatevah! Whatevah! as they say on Gerry Springer.
 
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olds

Elite Member
Mar 3, 2000
49,571
403
126
My HTPC is close to the same specs. But I only call it a HTPC because it's hooked to my HT and I game on it. I don't use it to watch or record TV channels. I do use it for Amazon Prime videos and Netflix.
This is the case I use.
 

rbk123

Senior member
Aug 22, 2006
718
309
136
I have an old E2140 based box as my HTPC and it's more than enough. The only thing you'd need any horsepower for is video encoding but that should be done elsewhere.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,199
931
126
Only water ur HTpc if ur gonna double it as a primary desktop as well as a htpc.

Otherwise it is overkill.
 

bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
31,926
11,130
146
My HTPC is close to the same specs. But I only call it a HTPC because it's hooked to my HT and I game on it. I don't use it to watch or record TV channels. I do use it for Amazon Prime videos and Netflix.
This is the case I use.
Who got to decide that a HTPC is only a true HTPC unless you use it to PVR/DVR? Is there some certification spec from the HTPC industry trade association that says so? As far as I'm concerned, if you have a PC and it's connected to your HT then it's a HTPC.
 

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