First time builder looking for help

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First time builder looking for help

Ok, so I'm going to start building my first HTPC.  I am embarking on a very ambitious project for someone just starting out.  I am going to convert an old stereo, which is a piece of furniture, into my HTPC.  I have read through the guides and have constructed a list of items to purchase to begin this build.  I have only built desktop gaming pc's over the past few years, so my normal experience is, the bigger the better, to a point, but I know that does NOT necessarily need to be the case here.  I have kept my parts list modest, i believe, and light on major drive space, as I will expand storage capacity as I become more familiar with the whole HTPC thing.  Here is my list of items:

ASUS M4A88T-M AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX450WFGMBOX

Crucial Ballistix 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model BLT3KIT2G3D1337DT1TX0

Western Digital AV-GP WD10EURS 1TB 64MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe MKNSSDCL40GB-DX 2.5" 40GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Antec EarthWatts Platinum Series EA-450 450W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS PLATINUM Certified Power Supply

CyberPower Intelligent LCD Series GreenPower UPS CP1000AVRLCD 1000VA 600 Watt 5 x 5-15R Battery/Surge Protected 4 x 5-15R Surge Protected Outlets UPS

My question is, is this a too powerful set up?  Could I save money on ram by only getting 4gb to start instead of 6?  Also, the OS will be Windows 7 Home Edition.  Is the OS sufficient?  I would like to keep the entire build well under $1000 to start and expand as the years/months go on. Thanks ahead of time for the assistance.

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I'm not entirely sure why you picked out such outdated hardware, do you have them already?

If not I'd suggest something based on these:

CPUs

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103955

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116399

 

Motherboards

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157261

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131797

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131716

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121506

 

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shadz wrote:
My question is, is this a too powerful set up?

I'd say not powerful enough. Any reason why you're choosing AMD over Intel? For a bare bones HTPC i'd recommend an Intel setup with the Sandy Bridge setup at minimum. The on-board video and CPU combo will yield you better results in the long run.

Quote:
Could I save money on ram by only getting 4gb to start instead of 6?
Never run odd numbers, always run even (2gigs 2x1gig, 4gigs 2x2gigs, 8 gigs 2x4gig or 4x2gig, ect...) 4 is minimum, most now recommend 8.

Quote:
Also, the OS will be Windows 7 Home Edition.
Home premium I am assuming? if so that should be fine. if you don't need remote desktop capabilities into the pc.

Senior Editor | Twitter: @UMDivX |

 

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If you can, go with Intel-branded board. They are stable and have an Intel network interface. Many people often overlook this and get a board with a Realtek NIC which can end up causing headaches for many users. If you want Micro-ATX, you should consider their H67 or H61 boards. If you want to go cheap and don't need more than client functionality or hardware-based transcoding, you can get away with something like a SandyBridge-based Pentium or even Celeron.

4GB RAM is acceptable for most cases.

Save a few bucks and get the 380W version of the EarthWatts power supply. You save initially and a bit more on your monthly power bill. Even 380W is overkill for your system. More is not better with power supplies (unless you truly do need it e.g. running a monster gaming GPU).

40GB will work for the SSD, but consider 60GB because it gives a bit more flexibility. You can potentially run into issues installing service packs with smaller SSD sizes depending on what applications you install.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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I'm going to keep an eye on this link. If I can't fix my stuttering I think I'll be checking out the ASUS board. If anyone gets bored and wants to create a publish wish list that would be awesome. INTEL based. I've been AMD only for about ten years but I think with SandyBridge out it is now time to jump brands. Would the processor and ASUS board posted by Crim support 8 tuners and 5 extenders? Father's day is coming so I need to get my list ready.

 

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Crim, didn't realize I picked outdated hardware.  I just did a few search parameters in new egg and that was what came up (AMD), so I picked a few options.  Since Intel is the "on top" company right now, I'll look into that instead.

Josh Shenkle, Thanks.  Again, Intel seems the way most people are leaning, so I will look into it.  Not against intel at all.  As for the ram, I'll probably start with 4 then and up to 8 at a later date, or if I see there is an issue with something.

Aaron Ledger, Thanks for the tip on PS.  I wasn't sure, since the only thing I've built over the past 8 years is 2 gaming rigs, where more power is better.  Right now planning on running the onboard audio/video, since they seem to be pretty good.  I may upgrade to something else later, not sure.  Also, I'm not limited by form factor either.  With the build I will be able to use a standard size board, if this will be better, let me know.

PAPutzback, I have sworn by ASUS for years and it has never let me down.  Over the past 10 or so years, 3 gaming computer builds, each build lasting around 5 years before needing an upgrade, I have NEVER had an issue with my ASUS boards.  I would highly recommend this brand.

 

Thanks all for the help so far.  A little more information, I am currently running a 5.1 surround set up through my dated A/V receiver.  Would using the onboard audio be an upgrade to sound quality for me?  My receiver is about 10 years old and does NOT have an HDMI port on it.  I've never had an issue with it, but do I really need one with going to an HTPC?  Also, if I don't, how would I hook them up to the computer, as these are wire only speakers, meaning I plug 2 wires into the back of the speaker and 2 wires into the back of the receiver.  Would I need new wires with the correct "plugs" on the ends? or is there something out there that is PnP that would accept this set up? 

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Assuming that your receiver accepts SPDIF (AKA optical audio, TOSLINK), make sure the motherboard you purchase has this capability. This will allow you to bitstream Dolby Digital and DTS audio sources to your receiver for true 5.1 surround sound.

Another option would be to use multi-channel analog into the receiver if the receiver supports it. If you plan to do this, you need to make sure you purchase a motherboard supporting 5.1 or greater analog outputs. The possible advantage of this over optical audio is that you can fully decode HD audio soundtracks found in Blu-ray and send them to the receiver. The possible downside to this is that the DAC on the motherboard may not be as good as that of your receiver.

A third option would be to use only the stereo output of the motherboard. This is the worst option and will not give you true 5.1 surround sound. Every audio source will only be output as stereo.

If you're happy with your receiver capabilitites and performance, there's no reason you need to upgrade to a new one. It will work the same with an HTPC as any other source device.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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Another question.  All the motherboard choices do NOT have an onboard video chipset, but DO have an HDMI output.  Does this mean I need to buy a video card? 

Aaron Ledger's picture
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Newer Intel and AMD processors have integrated graphics functionality so that a separate graphics chip on the motherboard is not needed.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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OK.  So here is my new system specs.  What do you think?

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Personally, I think the slightly less expensive DH61BE board is a better choice due to the superior LAN interface, two additional 6Gb/s SATA ports and two USB 3.0. However, you would require a DVI to HDMI adapter if you need HDMI. An additional consideration in favor of the Intel board is that if you get a newer one, it will be compatible with the next-gen Intel Ivy Bridge processors. I am not sure about the Asus.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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Also, I'm going to need a cableCARD device.  I looked through the posts in that section, but this is totally new to me.  Not sure what "quad tuner" means?  Since I'm trying to stay in a budget, is this a better option for me?  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116072&Tpk=Hauppauge%20WinTV-DCR-2650

 

 

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BTW, I should point out that in the board I recommended, I am not sure that the Intel board will send audio via DVI to HDMI adapter, so if HDMI audio is a requirement for you, you are probably better off with the ASUS or step up to an Intel DH67BL.

Quad Tuner simply means four tuners in the device. In other words, the device can tune four different cable channels simultaneously. This article may be helpful to you.

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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Aaron Ledger wrote:

BTW, I should point out that in the board I recommended, I am not sure that the Intel board will send audio via DVI to HDMI adapter, so if HDMI audio is a requirement for you, you are probably better off with the ASUS or step up to an Intel DH67BL.

Quad Tuner simply means four tuners in the device. In other words, the device can tune four different cable channels simultaneously. This article may be helpful to you.

     Thanks Aaron.  I did read the article you linked to, but was still confused by a few things.  So with a quad tuner, I could potentially record 4 shows at once?  Or record 3 shows while watching a 4th live?

 

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Thanks Aaron.  I did read the article you linked to, but was still mildly confused a some things.  Like SDV?  what is SDV and why would I want/not want it? 

     So, with a quad tuner card, i could record 4 shows at once?  Or, record 3 shows and watch the 4th live?

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SDV = Switched Digital Video. It is a technology used by some cable companies to allow multiple channels to share the same bandwidth since not every channel is being watched all the time everywhere in the cable system. Using SDV, the subscriber requests that a channel be sent when tuning it. Due to the nature of CableCARD, this requires a SDV adapter which the cable provider must give to CableCARD subscribers. The SDV adapter is plugged into the CableCARD device via USB.

Hopefully, you're on a cable system that doesn't employ SDV since it requires you to just have one more thing laying around to hook up. You might be able to determine this by looking at a list we've been maintaining for various cable systems here.

That's correct regarding the quad tuner. You can record four programs simultaneously (or record three and watch a fourth live).

Senior Editor | @swoon_

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Ok, so, surprise, surprise, things didn't work out as planned for my build last year.  Go figure, right?  Anywho, I am going to get to move forward shortly with my build, though a little less aggressive on the modification of an old stereo unit as a home base.  Just to ensure I'm still on the right track, I've updated my list of supplies for my first HTPC build.  Let me know if I missed anything essential:

MOBO: ASRock B75M  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=13-157-356&Tpk=N82E16813...

CPU: Intel Pentium G620 Sandy Bridge 2.6GHz  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=19-116-399&Tpk=N82E16819...

RAM: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-148-347&Tpk=N82E16820...

Main HDD:SanDisk 32GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-171-667&Tpk=N82E16820...

Storage HDD (already own): Western Digital Red 1TB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822236342

Blu Ray Player: LG  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=27-136-252&Tpk=N82E16827...

PS (already purchased):Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=17-371-033&Tpk=N82E16817...

UPS:CyberPower Intelligent LCD Series 600W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=42-102-082&Tpk=N82E16842...

OS:  Windows 7 Home Premium

Case:SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / Steel Lascala Series  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=11-163-193&Tpk=N82E16811...

 

So, there it is.  Now, the 1TB drive is my first drive.  Next year I'm going to expand to 2 WD Red 3TB drives in a raid configuration for more storage and data security.  I'll take any and all feedback.  I have just two questions:

Is the SSD @ 32GB storage, enough to run windows and some other light programs?

(i know this one is going to sound dumb) Does the HDMI port on a mobo supply sound like a regular HDMI from say a DVD player?

I want to make sure I don't miss anything.  I am going to hook this up to my reciever and wanted to make sure that I wouldn't need any additional wires/connections to ensure the sound is pumped through the reciever.  Ok, that's it for now.  FIRE AWAY!!!

 

 

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shadz wrote:

RAM: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-148-347&Tpk=N82E16820...

Get DDR3 1600.

shadz wrote:

Main HDD:SanDisk 32GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-171-667&Tpk=N82E16820...

I'd get at least a 60GB.

shadz wrote:

(i know this one is going to sound dumb) Does the HDMI port on a mobo supply sound like a regular HDMI from say a DVD player?

Yep.

Senior Editor | @babgvant

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babgvant wrote:

shadz wrote:

RAM: Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-148-347&Tpk=N82E16820...

Get DDR3 1600.  This is easy enough

shadz wrote:

Main HDD:SanDisk 32GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=20-171-667&Tpk=N82E16820...

I'd get at least a 60GB.  Being a budget build, I will have to look into this further.  Anyone ever get a "refurbished" SSD from New Egg?  I was wondering how that might work out.

shadz wrote:

(i know this one is going to sound dumb) Does the HDMI port on a mobo supply sound like a regular HDMI from say a DVD player?

Yep.

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shadz wrote:

Being a budget build, I will have to look into this further.  Anyone ever get a "refurbished" SSD from New Egg?  I was wondering how that might work out.

I get that, but it's a $30-40 difference and the trade-off is that you'll be able to put more than just the OS on it. 32 isn't big enough, 40 is really tight, 60 is OK, I don't use anything < 90 (but I like to install apps that most people won't).

Senior Editor | @babgvant

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For the OS Drive, I can reccomend the Mushkin Enhanced Chronos 60GB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226247 . I've got this drive and it has worked very well for me for over a year now.

For the CPU, why not get the G860 for the same price? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116405

 

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I used a 64GB vertex 2 as my htpc OS drive for a couple years, but I just replaced it with a 120GB (samsung 840 pro, but that part doesnt really matter).

 

I found that if you want to use a 64GB you are going to have to spend a little more effort making sure you don't install too much and are getting rid of temp files. Every so often I'd have to clear off some room because I was down to a couple GBs free.

 

its not a huge difference, but I don't think i'll have to bother with that now that Im at 120GB. looking at slickdeals or the deals forums at various larger messageboards (i use hardforums for this purpose) you can get a solid new 120GB for ~$90 (and there are a couple options out there at the moment). If you can swing the difference, id suggest it.

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babgvant wrote:

shadz wrote:

Being a budget build, I will have to look into this further.  Anyone ever get a "refurbished" SSD from New Egg?  I was wondering how that might work out.

I get that, but it's a $30-40 difference and the trade-off is that you'll be able to put more than just the OS on it. 32 isn't big enough, 40 is really tight, 60 is OK, I don't use anything < 90 (but I like to install apps that most people won't).

I understand that, however, the other pieces that you don't have are the Ceton InfiniTV4 tuner card ($200) that I will also need to purchase, as well as the need to purchase a new reciever, as mine is making a popping noise and going into safe mode periodically.  (It's a 10 year old Sony unit, so it has served me well).  So the $30-$50 extra will actually break the bank on this one. 

Techbutton's picture
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shadz wrote:

 So the $30-$50 extra will actually break the bank on this one. 

Just wait a few days and you can probably find a SSD on sale online somewhere.. shop around.

Kyle Button (techbutton)
Twitter @techbutton

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Ok, so parts have started arriving.  Some good news, I was able to up my SSD to a 64GB unit.  Looks like I may be waiting until next week to see my case, but that's ok, no rush.  I also had to change the mobo, due to the one I listed was "discontinued" and I couldn't be bothered to try and track one down.  I decided to order this:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130656

It's an MSI board similar to the ASRock B75M I was going to get. Also, to my suprise, the ceton infiniTV 4 quad tuner card I got came with a Rosewill RHRC-120001 Media Center Remote,  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16880101009 , for free, so that was nice too. 

I also added a logitech k400 keyboard w/ an integrated touchpad:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005DKZTMG/ref=oh_details_o01_s02_i02?i...

I can't wait for all this to get here and finally put it together.  I'm jonsing real bad.......

   

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