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 Post subject: Building a HTPC/server with an old Core 2 Duo (E6300)
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:21 pm 
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Posts: 5
Hi everyone! Great website and great forums!

I've been thinking about building a HTPC/server for a long time, but I just couldn't justify the idea for myself. I got to the point however, where a separate (staging/testing) LAMP server would be very useful, so finally I have something reasonable to hold on to. And I'm looking for a LAMP/HTPC/backup solution. I've been reading the site and forums for some time, but I'm still a complete noob with regards to getting all the power and thermal requirements together (I have some vague idea after reading reviews and searching the forums).

I've deiced to merge building a small server with an update to my everyday box and I'll have some parts left: Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz (to be replaced by Core 2 Quad) and 2x1GB DDR2 800 (to be replaced by 2x2GB DDR2 800). This leaves me with a mini-ITX socket 775 mb.

So, my starting point: C2D E6300 (1.86), Zotac 9300 or Intel DG45FC board, 2x1GB DDR2. Does it make sense at all? (If it doesn't just skip the longish part below...)

The PC will be placed behind a TV. We don't watch TV much, so no real problem with heat generated by it. Sometimes we spend time in that room without any devices (TV, stereo) on, so the PC should be as quiet as possible.

My current ideas, I have no clue which could turn out to be the most quiet and stable. I don't put any particular weights to case shape or extra possibilities, I've mentioned them just to show which options I've been considering. Still, sound and stability are more important than discrete graphics or extra storage space.

1.
Case: Antec ISK300-150 (or ISK300-65)
MB: Intel
Disk drives: SSD 32-60GB + 1TB 2.5 HDD
Optical drive: maybe later
There was a review at the SPCR website, actually including a C2D and a Zotac 9300 board. The result is kind of tight (CPU 67C with two Noctua fans), the test did not include a second HDD or a DVD drive.
Doubts: Only 2.5 HDD, power brick to put somewhere

2.
Case: Sugo SG-05 300W or 450W
MB: Zotac
Disk drives: SSD 32-60GB + 2TB 3.5 HDD (like Caviar Green or Samsung Eco)
Optical drive: maybe later
Possibility to install a discrete video card is a plus (for my 720p TV a 300W PSU won't be a limitation here).
Doubts: power efficiency? noise?

3.
Case: Lian Li PC-Q07 with some modular ATX PSU (which one?)
MB: Intel or Zotac
Disk drives: SSD 32-60GB + 2TB 3.5 HDD (like Caviar Green or Samsung Eco)
Optical drive: ASUS DVD-ROM SATA drive (it's pretty quiet)
It seems to be possible to install discrete graphics too, but it's more tight. If the PSU fan is going to face the CPU, do you think it is possible to go fanless on the CPU (with some bigger heatsink)?
Doubts: aluminium case means vibrations and noise?

4.
Case: Chenbro ES30068 150W
MB: Intel
Disk drives: SSD 32-60GB + 2TB 3.5 HDD (like Caviar Green or Samsung Eco)
Optical drive: maybe later
Now I don't think I'll need much more storage (250GB+80GB+DVD burner has been perfectly sufficient for the last couple of years) before the board and cpu become obsolete, but what if I do? This is the only case allowing for easy expansion of storage (one extra 3.5 HDD).
Doubts: much less reviewed than the above, external power brick again.

Which one do you think would be the most quiet option?


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 Post subject: Re: Building a HTPC/server with an old Core 2 Duo (E6300)
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:51 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:53 am
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Location: CT
Hi,

Welcome to SPCR !!

Have you considered the PC-Q08 ? It has the big advantage of allowing bigger graphics cards (Q07 "only" fit 18cm cards) and giving them more room to breathe. Also, you can fit more HDs if you decide to add some backup later. And like the Q07 it fits regular ATX PSUs.
If it were me, I'd get a MB without integrated graphics, use the RAM and CPU you have, get a small passive GPU (gts 430 ?) and a Nexus value 430 PSU. Get an extra nexus or scythe quiet fan to replace the stock one in the case and you're good to go. This should cost you no more than 150$.
On top of that, remember that, ideally, you'll need an aftermarket CPU cooler (passive should work).
And with carefull airflow managment, you'll get away with using just one fan at low speed.

To go back to your original list (I got a little carried away :) )....
the sugo is a nice case but I don't like the power supply (SFX). The other cases, I don't know.

For the hard drives, why not go with 2 single platter 500GB drives, and have one be the backup, and the other one the main data storage ? A single 2TB drive is nice for capacity but if you never use it, I don't really see the point.

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 Post subject: Re: Building a HTPC/server with an old Core 2 Duo (E6300)
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:44 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:45 pm
Posts: 5
PC-Q08 is a nice case, but I forgot to mention that space behind my TV is seriously limited...

So:
width max 20 cm (7.9 inches) (unless height is less than 18cm (7), this way Sugo SG05 makes it)
depth max 30 cm (11.8)
height - no limits! (well, almost)

Of course, there is more space and one side is limited only by a frame where the TV is mounted, so still there is some airflow.

For the storage: I'd prefer to have more than enough at once (I thought about ripping my CDs into FLAC or something), but I'll reconsider. I thought that if we are in the room with this HTPC/server and we don't play music, the bigger disk is not in use and should not generate much noise?

For the motherboard: it seems that Zotac will be the only choice, Intel board is almost impossible to get now where I live (BTW it doesn't have a PCI x16 port anyway).

And because the Zotac board is quite expensive, I'm looking for a possible mATX solution too (mATX + GT 430 would cost less than Zotac 9300 mini-ITX!). The thing is, the choice of slim tower mATX cases is quite limited (most are around 35 cm in depth), the only thing that seems to fit is In-Win BK644 (actually better than many of the mini-ITX cases). Not many reviews and SFX PSU again (but I could get a Seasonic or be-quiet! SFX PSU and stay within my budget).


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 Post subject: Re: Building a HTPC/server with an old Core 2 Duo (E6300)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:17 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Posts: 11957
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
You can forget about a quiet PC if you go with the In-Win BK644. Guaranteed to have a PSU that is either noisy right from startup or quickly ramp up to higher noise as the PC heats up. It looks to have horrific ventilation. Don't do it!!

One salient fact about a dedicated HTPC: If you use it the way I use it (to play video, stream audio files, download stuff and web surf), the load on the CPU or the GPU is never at 100% for more than a few seconds -- ok, maybe 20s). This means you don't have to pay any attention to what happens at 200W load -- but focus more on what happens at idle. My AMD780G based system (w/ 45W TDP CPU, integrated graphics, laptop drive, 4gb ram, and OEM Seasonic 80+ PSU) idles (not sleep) at~32W AC and maxes out at maybe 58W peaks in the most demanding 1080p HD video play. Typical avg load on HD play is around 50W or less. When streaming audio to a Squeezebox, it's maybe 40W. I leave this PC on all the time.

It sounds like you will have a similar usage pattern; then the Antec ISK300 or Silverstone Sugo SG05 are fine choices, with the nod to the latter for better cooling and lower noise potential in hot weather (about the only time your system's thermally controlled fans might ramp up, assuming good air space/ventilation around the PC). But you might be able to save room by hanging/bolting the Antec vertically on the back of the TV (fans facing up). Two 500gb 2.5" drives would set you back $120. Or a single 640g around $80. Noise difference between 2 and 1 quiet 5400rpm drives from 5-6' or more is not really audible, and you can always set them to sleep when not in use.

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Support SPCR by buying your gear through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: Building a HTPC/server with an old Core 2 Duo (E6300)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:10 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:45 pm
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In the meantime I have found another retailer with more reasonable mini-ITX board prices and more choice - including Zotac G41 and G43 boards, 9300 still looks better though (BTW: where is SEO when one needs it? it took ages to dig through search results to find them...), so the price advantage of mATX is smaller.

I liked SG-05 right from the beginning (I was planning to build a Sandy Bridge based PC in this case, but I decided to upgrade and build a HTPC/server instead). So far only 450W version in retail (this time I went through all Google results in my language). Would it be much worse (or better?) than 300W?

Thanks for looking at the BK644 and for warning me. Do you know any decent mATX cases of similar size?


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 Post subject: Re: Building a HTPC/server with an old Core 2 Duo (E6300)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:07 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
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The 450w version might be a touch less efficient at <50W loads, but not by more than a watt or 2. It might stay quieter to a higher load.

mATX cases are a dead zone. No brand really pays any serious attention to it. Bigger, yes, smaller yes, but mATX? It's the forgotten zone for elcheapo systems. It's very unfortunate. I can think of several ways to make a really nice small matx case -- but these days, no case maker seems willing to risk development cost for such a thing. Since the Fusion/NSK2480 I designed for Antec, and maybe their NSK1480 and "mini" P180, there's been virtually nothing new -- save the awkwardly shaped Lianli PC-v3... series. I really don't like the "shuttle" style cases for mATX -- proportions are so clunky. Most mATX HTPC cases are too deep/big for your needs or too poorly ventilated. You could dig through some of Silverstone's smaller htpc cases and see if anything strikes you... but I don't think they have anything really worthwhile for small mATX.

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Support SPCR by buying your gear through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: Building a HTPC/server with an old Core 2 Duo (E6300)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:43 pm 
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Thanks MikeC, I kind of understand that choice of case producers - if I wasn't using my old C2D, a mini-ITX board (and case) wouldn't have been an issue. It's just tough to get a socket 775 mini ITX at a decent price.

I went through most offers from manufacturers more or less recommended here and I found nothing useful (either too big or not in retail). In-win was a kind of last resort (perhaps there are more possibilities from companies that even a relative ignorant like me knows not to look at), I haven't heard/read anything about them before.

So, now on to reading about low-profile coolers...


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 Post subject: Re: Building a HTPC/server with an old Core 2 Duo (E6300)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:40 am 
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Have you considered using a Lian Li Q07 with a Pico PSU?
That leaves room for the biggest coolers and can be very quiet.
The Lian Li Q11 is a bit bigger, with room for a dual slot graphics card, a 3.5" hard drive and two 2.5" drives.

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