HTPC System Advice
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Author:  matchu [ Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:43 pm ]
Post subject:  HTPC System Advice

Hi all

Wanted to get my hands dirty in making an HTPC. The purpose would be to play local media (no plans for network storage yet) and stream HD videos online (Youtube, etc...). Secondary purposes include general web browsing and light gaming (D3, SC2, some shooters from the past 2 years) at low or moderate settings. Budget = 500-700 CAD

Requirements include a thin enclosure (I don't want a full-sized ATX pc on its side) and for it to be, of course, tolerably quiet in a typical living room.

Here is my shopping list of parts and general ideas

Case: Silverstone ML03
CPU/MB: not yet determined (leaning towards FM2 + Trinity APU)
CPU Cooler: Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B
PSU: Seasonic G-series 360W SSR-360GP
SSD: any 60GB SSD
HDD: any 3.5" 1TB HDD
ODD: deferred (no physical media)
RAM: any 2x2GB 1600MHz or higher
NIC: deferred (wired; might try wireless USB dongle; later upgrade if needed)
Mouse + Keyboard: Visiontek Candyboard (or other suggestions?)
Remote: My Galaxy Nexus with XBMC App
OS: XBMCbuntu

The thing that's still most up in the air is the CPU/MB. Trinity is just around the corner! I'm kind of excited. I was debating an ivy bridge i3 with HD4000 graphics, but I wanted something with a bit more flexibility. However, your input is appreciated - I kind of expect trinity and ivy bridge to be more than adequate for HTPC purposes.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated (especially around short cases, CPU , cooler , and keyboard/mouse options) thanks!

Author:  CA_Steve [ Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

The GPU info, some gaming performance and HTPC results are out for Trinity. Wander over to Anandtech for the details.

Trinity for Gaming: The good news is Blizzard's games aren't that cpu or gpu intensive and in most cases a fast dual core will do on the cpu side. That said, it looks like the top end APU can handle Starcraft 2 at medium quality and 1680x1050. Diablo 3 is a little more harsh on the GPU and you might have to dial down to a lower resolution for smooth gameplay.

Trinity for HTPC: Looks pretty good.

Pricing is expected to fall in somewhere around the same as the i3 IVB. So, it might be a good fit for your uses if gaming at 1680x1050 or less works for you. If you need to add a discrete GPU then there's probably more tradeoffs.

SSD: If you have the spare $'s, consider getting a 128GB drive instead of the 64GB. Performance takes a hit at the lower capacity due to less chips/read-write channels. My favorites are Samsung 830 and Crucial m4. Samsung has just released the 840 and 840 Pro with best in class performance...but it's a new controller and doesn't have a track record, yet.

HDD: WD Green. Or, if you want to go 2.5", WD Scorpio Blue.

PSU: good.

CPU cooler: looks good.

Author:  boost [ Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

Does Linux support hardware acceleration in Trinity or Intel chips?
Afaik only nvidia is supported, but that information could be outdated.
The build itsself looks good, btw.

Author:  kuzzia [ Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

Why not go for 2 x 4 GB? It only costs a bit more and it is much easier to sell once DDR4 goes mainstream.

HDD: as CA_Steve says, go for WD Green. They are generally the most quiet hard drives according to SPCR. If you want to go for the 2,5" HD then the Scorpio Blue most have the following model name: WD5000LPVT. Scorpio Blues from previous generations are not as quiet as the WD5000LPVT.

SSD: Here, I disagree with CA_Steve. A 64 GB SSD might not perform as well as a 128 GB in theory, but in practice, you will not be able to feel the difference. So the only reason to choose a 120/128 GB model would be if you needed the additional space or if you were drawn to the low price pr. GB.

Trinity: If you even prioritize gaming by just a tiny bit, go for Trinity. According to the review by Anandtech, Trinity is far better than Intel when it comes to gaming when using the integrated GPU.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6332/amd- ... iew-part-1

Author:  Das_Saunamies [ Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

  • Case: up to your preference. HTPCs should be silent enough to do with any case - mostly important for CPU cooler compatibility.
  • CPU/MB: Trinity looking good, especially for 3D gaming, as previously noted. Any Asus board with Fan Expert 2 or Xpert + obvious recommendation. Any board with adjustable PWM header works with splitter and PWM fans.
  • CPU Cooler: very compatible, decent performer, no arguments here. If you change cases, however, consider something beefier.
  • PSU: solid choice, will power a HTPC no problem, correct wattage.
  • SSD: 128 GB. 60/64 GB is obsolete IMO, you can get affordable and fast 128 GB or 90 GB models for such low prices it makes no sense to go lower, bar mobile devices or shoestring budget. The performance difference might not be immediately obvious, but the extra space should come in handy and guarantee usefulness in the future.
  • HDD: WD Green, unless you can NAS and remove the last big noise source from that HTPC!
  • RAM: get as much as your budget will allow, it's cheap and it's good for the GPU - note that faster RAM may benefit integrated GPU, especially in 3D gaming. I've had my whole 8 GB used by the Intel HD 4000 in some games.
  • NIC: wireless is very nice for a clean room, but can't beat Gbit in case you want to defer storage duties to a NAS.

+ fans, I've been very happy with PWM Slipstreams. Scale down very low, quiet overall, noise signature pleasant.

Author:  lhopitalified [ Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

Das_Saunamies wrote:
[*]SSD: 128 GB. 60/64 GB is obsolete IMO, you can get affordable and fast 128 GB or 90 GB models for such low prices it makes no sense to go lower, bar mobile devices or shoestring budget. The performance difference might not be immediately obvious, but the extra space should come in handy and guarantee usefulness in the future.

I agree. With just Windows 7 and a few recent games, you're going to fill 60GB very quickly (unless you plan to only have 1 game installed at a time).

Author:  matchu [ Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

Thanks for the replies, everyone!

The feedback has been very helpful

Cost is definitely a factor, but given some of these suggestions, i'll try to harvest some old parts to make this work.

1. I bought a 120GB Corsair SSD for my laptop a few months back. I'll swap the old HDD back in and make use of this ssd for the htpc. My laptop was working pretty well before this anyways!

2. I'll swap out my 1TB green drive from my gaming desktop and put it into this htpc. Perfect, since all the media I want to be on that htpc is already on there anyway! I'll use an old portable HDD to access media for my desktop

3. as per the ram, i'm kind of debating between 2x2GB 1833MHz RAM vs 2x4GB 1600MHz ram. I read that Trinity will support higher frequency memory... will look that up some more, but if anyone has any insight, that'd be sweet

4. Will also look up that information about Trinity and linux hardware acceleration. My initial readings aren't very cheerful =( maybe i'll have to get a copy of windows 7 =(

(EDIT: Or I can get these!! Mushkin 2x4GB 1866 9-9-9-27 versus Viper 3 Mamba Black 2x4GB 1866 9-9-9-24)

Author:  CA_Steve [ Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

Might as well wait for the other shoe to drop on Trinity performance and see how much benefit there is for faster RAM. Ya can't buy the APU yet, anyway.

Author:  Das_Saunamies [ Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

Mushkin is established and reliable. Consult your motherboard's Qualified Vendors List or equivalent though, in case one of the kits might be on there. Even in this day and age not all components get along. As regards to speed, the X-bit Labs article I linked suggests Trinity benefits from faster RAM beyond the AMD "support", but it's up to you to decide what the cut-off point for value here is - and as CA_Steve pointed out, we don't have the full picture yet.

If it comes down to More vs Faster, go for More up to 8 GB at least. Browsers can eat up ridiculous amounts, Windows will have its share, and some games will make sure you can say goodbye to the rest (although this may be driver/code related). I'm not experienced with minimal-type HTPCs and their specific programs though.

With a fast SSD as the retrieval source in case of a Page Fault, it's not such a big deal, but memory is cheaper than big(ger) SSDs.

Author:  matchu [ Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

Quick update: I placed an order on newegg for the AMD A10-5800K and the ASUS F2A85-M PRO MicroATX motherboard and the AMD A10-5800K APU. Also, I'll aim for some sort of low profile 2x4GB 1866MHz 9-10-9-27 RAM, once something goes on sale.

Once it all comes together, I'll let you know how it goes =] thanks everyone

Author:  CA_Steve [ Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: HTPC System Advice

Have fun with your build! Take a look at this Samsung RAM.

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