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Small HTPC under $450

Dave3000

Golden Member
Jan 10, 2011
1,029
36
91
I'm right now using my gaming/business PC for Kodi but I prefer to have a dedicated device for Kodi because I find my PC slightly too loud for movie watching because of the case fans mostly, it's bulky, and I just don't like watching movies on a PC that I use for business. This is my only PC as well. I tried a Nvidia Shield, a NUC with a Pentium N3700 recently, and about 2 years ago a NUC with an i3 (HDMI handshake issues with my receiver on that one). I had stuttering issues with Netflix on the Shield and sometimes movies from streaming services would not load up, requiring a reboot as a temporary workaround. I did not get a chance to test Kodi much on the Shield but for the few minutes I tested Kodi out on the shield it seemed to work well. Maybe I'm better off with a low-end PC for Kodi usage and use my Xbox One for Netflix streaming? I was thinking about purchasing this PC for Kodi usage.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/lenovo-ideacentre-300s-desktop-intel-core-i3-4gb-memory-500gb-hard-drive-black/4777902.p?id=1219819308902&skuId=4777902

I plan to use two 6TB WD Green hard drives in a dual USB external dock connected to a USB port, so I'm looking for something that won't have issues supporting this hard drive configuration. Also I need quietness, something no louder than an Xbox One.
 

DesiPower

Lifer
Nov 22, 2008
15,368
740
126
Raspberry Pi 3 might be worth a try, it's only $45, if it does not work just toss it on CL. If you want to go PC route, I would suggest to get one with a Nvidia low profile card, 9XX or at least a 7XX. I dont like to rely on IGPU, i know, i know, there is nothing they can't handle media wise, but still, I personally do not trust them
 

Dave3000

Golden Member
Jan 10, 2011
1,029
36
91
Raspberry Pi 3 might be worth a try, it's only $45, if it does not work just toss it on CL. If you want to go PC route, I would suggest to get one with a Nvidia low profile card, 9XX or at least a 7XX. I dont like to rely on IGPU, i know, i know, there is nothing they can't handle media wise, but still, I personally do not trust them
I would like the option of adding a video card in case I run into some compatibility issue with the onboard GPU and that's another reason why I'm considering a PC with at least one PCI-E x16 expansion slot. How good is the onboard Intel HD 4400 graphics with playing uncompressed blu-ray rips with HD audio formats? Any issues with 23.976 fps?
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,220
39
91
4th Gen i3 should be fine running uncompressed BD rips.

Biggest problem would be the PSU... to upgrade to GTX9xx video card, you would have to also upgrade the PSU most likely.
 

Dave3000

Golden Member
Jan 10, 2011
1,029
36
91
I could go for this one.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/lenovo-h50-desktop-intel-core-i3-4gb-memory-500gb-hard-drive-black/4322500.p?id=1219734818692&skuId=4322500

I won't be as limited in upgrades. It looks like it takes a standard ATX power supply and a standard profile PCI-E video card. I saw photos of the same system on newegg. It has no exhaust case fan. My mom has a Lenovo H50 series with the A10 CPU with the exact same case and it's very quiet but it also has no exhaust case fan like the one pictured in newegg. Do I really need an exhaust case fan if I"m just going to use it for Openelec, especially if it does not come with one?
 

SMOGZINN

Lifer
Jun 17, 2005
13,121
2,704
136
Here is my HTPC:

Pentium G620
BIOSTAR TH61 ITX LGA 1155
G.Skill DDR3 1333 4GB
Fractal Design Array R2
Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB
WD Black 4Tb (Replaced the Seagate POS after two of them failed in a row within months)
Windows 8.1 (Upgraded to Windows 10 now)
Kodi as the frontend.
Flirc

I paid $489 for it when I built it several years ago, I've been running this system pretty much nonstop since then and have found nothing it can't handle with ease, and I've thrown everything at it. It does not take much processing power to do HTPC. The only thing I would recommend is that if you want to run other programs in the background you might want to add more memory, and adding a SSD has made the whole thing more snappy which is nice.


I have since upgraded this system to be a light gaming PC. I added a second 4GB DDR stick, a 128GB SSD, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti. The extra memory and SSD has made the system more responsive but I've not noticed that the GPU did anything for the system as a HTPC (it has obviously let me do much more gaming).
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,613
315
126
How good is the onboard Intel HD 4400 graphics with playing uncompressed blu-ray rips with HD audio formats? Any issues with 23.976 fps?
Anything Haswell or better can play 1080p Blu Rays perfectly, and nail 23.976 every time.

The reason to want a better GPU is to upscale content. So for example if you are using a monitor as a display device you can upscale the chroma of the content, of if you have 480p/720p content you can properly (as in, as good as a Oppo Blu Ray player) upscale it to 1080p. That become a rabbit hole, as MadVR at its best settings needs a medium range GPU for peak performance.

Overall I am not a fan of the PC you are looking at though. Reviews say it is loud, which I wouldn't doubt given its business class fans. Quite honestly there isn't a prebuilt PC of a small size (that isn't a NUC) you can count on to not be kinda loud in a HTPC environment.

That is why in December I just built my own Mini ITX rig based on a Fractal Node 304 case which has large fans that are designed to be quiet. The larger the fan the better when I comes to quietness usually, and fractal has great fan designs overall. The case looks slick and has the capacity for a decent GPU and a large hard drive without overheating. I recommend it highly. Or if you decide you don't need a GPU because all your content is 1080p on a regular TV then just get a NUC. Many of those can be very quiet.
 
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