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 Post subject: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:33 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:19 am
Posts: 19
A long time ago in a galaxy...well...here, I specified and built an HTPC (see post here from back in 2008). I've been running with my current MePo (Media Portal) machine for a number of years now and it's beginning to show its age so it's time to build a new box.

My MePo setup is pretty basic. I don't run the live TV stuff as I have a dedicated HUMAX box running some custom firmware to cover that side of things. I run a fileserver in the loft and share files over Gigabit ethernet to the MePo box in the living room. I have kids and any optical media tends to die a quick death when they're about so I rip everything and store it on the fileserver, keeping nothing in the living room. This has the added bonus that there's no slot or tray to post toast/coins/miscellaneous crap into...

I was very happy with my previous build...once I'd put a discrete GFX card in there. Almost completely inaudible, capable of 1080p, full digital audio. Loved it. This time around I'm hoping to take things a step further:
- low power, completely fanless.
- S4/5 suspend/resume.
- ability to deal with the newer UI functions (image cross-fades, etc. are currently a bit jerky).
- faster boot time.

With these goals in mind, I've arrived at the following spec (this spec adapted from a post on the XBMC forums):
CPU: Intel i3-3225
Key points are the TDP (55W) and the integrated HD4000 graphics. My understanding is that this integrated gfx will easily handle everything I throw at it, up to and including 1080p/i content. I've no intention at this point of doing 4K or 3D. I have also read that the all pervailing 24P issue is, if not completely gone, handled well and mostly un-noticeable. Looking at this link on CPU-World, I should see triple the performance (~+180%) of my old CPU (AMD 64 X2 BE-2400).

MoBo: Gigabyte Z77N-Wifi
Mostly chosen for the form-factor, lack of active cooling, high-temp protection and the presence of SATA3, USB3 and S4/5 capability. I'm also a fan of Gigabyte kit. I've run with their motherboards on various machines over the years and they've always been dependable.

RAM: Corsair XMS3 2x4GB DDR3 1600MHz
Reasonably priced, compatible RAM. Not much more to say.

Case: Hdplex H3.S + 80W PSU + Hdplex internal IR receiver
Like the case. Was reviewed well on Silent PC Review (optical drive version). The clever way they handle S5 resume makes this case particularly attractive to me. Having a dedicated internal IR receiver hooked into the ATX connector makes a lot of sense where standard S5 resume is not triggering from USB (and, frankly, given past experience with this I don't trust resume to work as advertised).

SSD: Intel 520, 120Gb SSD
I run one of these on my main machine. Fast, but more importantly, reliable.

So, does this look like a reasonable build? Anyone forsee any problems with it? My biggest concern is that I've not really got the option to fix any audio/video issues I experience post-build by purchasing dedicated cards. I need to keep the TDP down and the PSU won't cope with much more anyway. Got to get this right...


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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
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Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Seems to be a reasonable build. I don't think that mobo has CPU voltage control - so, no undervolting. Here's a fresh review of the H77 version.

If you aren't looking to build until this fall, the dual core Haswells would also be a good fit.

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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:29 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:29 am
Posts: 567
Location: de_DE
I would suggest Haswell for two reasons: 10W lower power draw over Ivy Bridge in movie playback and 23.976 Hz works.
Anandtech's article on Haswell for HTPC is a great read.
If you do use sleep mode you should wait for the revised chipset Intel will be shipping later this month. You should see mainboards septeberish, maybe late august (~6weeks for production and shipping).

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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:00 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
Posts: 1711
Location: Guatemala
I also agree its would be good to wait for haswell dual cores, maybe intel gives a destkop chip the GT3 5200 (i doubt it but no one knows for sure atm). By the time dual cores are released, most of the Haswell mobos will also have the C2 stepping and probably multiple versions of bios have been released so its a nice time to get a setup.

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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:32 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:48 am
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Location: San Francisco, CA
I'd agree with everyone else, if you can wait get a haswell i3 when it comes out in september. Otherwise I'd possibly suggest getting a 4670t, which is a 45w quad core haswell.

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Main: I5-3570K at 3.7ghz, 16GB DDR-1600@1.35v, Asrock Z77 Extreme6, Corsair 330R, Seasonic 760XP2, Sapphire Radeon 7950| Secondary/Lan: Core i3-2100, 4GB, Msi H67MA-E35, Radeon 6790, Sugo SG02| HTPC: Core i3-2100, 4GB, AsRock H67M-ITX/HT, Antec ISK300-65| NAS: Core I3-2100, 8GB, Antec TP-550, Lian Li PC-Q08B, 4X2TB WD Green| Lappy: Latitude D620 Core 2 T7600, Quadro NVS 110M


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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:15 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:19 am
Posts: 19
Looks like the consensus is that I should wait for Haswell i3. The Core i3-4330T with HD4600 certainly looks like it may do the job better than the i3-3225. I'm always a bit wary of picking up very new kit as people haven't yet had the time to find any problems with it, but it can't hurt to wait and see...I still have a broadly functioning HTPC at the moment. I'll give it a couple of months and pick this up again then. Thanks for the advice. :)


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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:41 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:19 am
Posts: 19
After a lot of waiting, I finally took the plunge over the Xmas period. I found a source for the i3-4330T, here's the final spec:
Intel i3-4330T CPU
ASUS H87M-PRO Mobo
8GB RAM
Noctua NH-L12 LP CPU Cooler
Silverstone GD04 Grandia
128GB SSD
430W SEASONIC M1211-430 PSU

I know a lot of people don't like the T series processors, preferring to underclock the vanilla i4330. I was happy to pay a little extra for the processor and run it stock. Initial impressions are good. I'm running with two of the stock Silverstone fans in the case (removing the left-hand fan) and have rigged up the NH-L12 with a single 120mm fan under the cooler (which, although tight, fits...just). I went with the Asus board on the basis that it has Fax Xpert 2 and I wanted to have decent control over the fan setup in the OS. I've benchmarked and configured the fans using this tool. The system is whisper quiet in operation (excepting for a brief period when all fans run @ maximum on boot/reboot). Playback of all content is smooth using the integrated HD4600 GPU in the CPU (note, this is subjective, I've not run any benchmarking tools). I have a couple of minor issues to resolve relating to S3 standby but otherwise all is good. It's already working much better than my old rig. Happy. :)


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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:26 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:37 am
Posts: 24
Did you end up using the HDPlex case like you were planning or did you opt for something else?


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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:50 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:19 am
Posts: 19
qualdoth wrote:
Did you end up using the HDPlex case like you were planning or did you opt for something else?

Nope. I sent a mail to them asking about some features of the case, specifically an integrated IR addon that supported standby/resume. I got no response at all. I was a little wary of fully passive anyway, especially in a media unit (albeit with good airflow...I built it myself) and the lack of response sealed it. I went for a Silverstone GD04. I'm very pleased with the case and, with the proper fan management, it's inaudible to me from more than about a foot away. I've yet to stress the system enough with media playback to have the fans ramp up at all and temps are very good.


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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:59 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:37 am
Posts: 24
Ooops, I just now noticed that you did indeed include the case you ended up using in your previous post. My apologies for missing that. I use a similar style of old Antec case (horizontal full atx) for my HTPC as well, although, am looking at eventually replacing it with a significantly smaller. That size I've found has served me very well for the 7 or so years that I've had it.


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 Post subject: Re: New HTPC Build - Advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:54 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:19 am
Posts: 19
The GD04 is roughly equivalent to my old NSK2400 in terms of width/height but a good deal shorter depth-wise. That makes it much easier to fit into a living-room media cabinet. My old Antec case has given me a good six or seven years of solid service but I wanted something a little less "PC like" that would fit in more with my AV equipment this time around, the depth reduction is just a bonus.


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