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 Post subject: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:13 am 
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Hi all,

Been lurking this forum for a while and lots of helpful advice all around. I wanted to run a few ideas past you guys. First, my goal with this rig: initially will be on strictly HTPC duties, but eventually next spring I will buy a decent video card. The reason for waiting is that I basically want to wait until the new Sim City is out since thats the next game I'm really looking forward to that is very graphics intensive at all. Otherwise I occasionally play whatever is on sale on Steam kind of thing--not a big time gamer at all (outside of Sim City haha). Otherwise I will use it only for HTPC purposes but don't see a point in building a HTPC now and then a gaming machine in the spring when I think the GPU will be the only critical part at that point. At this point i've outgrown my old XPS m1330 that I have hooked up to play movies on my HT as it stands now.

Here is what I've put together: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/jkVR

As for the case, I'm waiting for this Fractal Node 304 to eventually be available. I love the look, its silenced, and I think it should have some good airflow for the passive PSU. I am open to other suggestions though.

The video card is just some old passive card I already have lying around. Should be fine for watching videos until next year. The processor I'm not sure about, I could be convinced to bump it up to an i5, but would obviously like to keep the wattage low and I'm not sure if its necessary.

In any case, interested in any feedback you guys have...


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:42 am 
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Hi and welcome.

I'd get the i3-3225 (+$15) for the HD4000 graphics and delete the Nvidia 210. It'll cover your HTPC needs and game better than the 210. The only reason to move up to an i5 is if you plan to do a lot of video transcoding.

I'm not familiar with the Enermax cooler...maybe others can comment. Looks like the Fractal case will accept coolers up to 165mm.

Mini-ITX mobo is great if you never plan to add another card (like a tuner for your HTPC). If you do, consider the Micro-ATX versions from ASUS.

Consider getting low profile RAM instead of those with taller heatspreaders - in case of potential cooler clearance issues.

WD Green is great for media storage. Don't know how well it'll work for stutter-free Sims play. Consider an SSD if you have the budget for it. More on that later - if you do.

PSU - the x400 is great - if you want to spend less $'s, consider the G-360.

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1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:01 am 
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Thanks for replying so quickly. I will certainly switch up the RAM (which honestly I probably gave the least amount of thought haha), and good advice to just leave out the card entirely for now.

As for the SSD--again good point. I did forget to mention that I have a 120GB SSD that I was planning on using on another machine a couple months ago but never did. I would have to look at the model again but I believe its an OCZ Vertex 3, anyways I will use that as the primary and that Green drive as the storage. I hear they are good for power consumption.

As for the cooler its either that or the Scythe that people seem to rave about. Really I'm just going for quiet and that Enermax had some of the lowest dB levels--I would have to read more reviews to see if real world noise levels match up.


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Well, $30 after rebate is pretty cheap. Haven't found any reviews for the Enermax cooler with the T.B. Fan to compare versus anything here. I did find a review of the -VD version at Technic 3D (googlish)

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1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

Support SPCR through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:20 pm 
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Cheap bad or cheap good? haha. I may just stick to the Scythe then people seem to swear by them...


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:37 pm 
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Heh. I was hoping you'd take one for the team and let us know how well it works.

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1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

Support SPCR through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:45 pm 
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Aha! Now I get it. Yeah why not really I'll stick with it. Maybe actually contribute to the board instead of just mining it for into haha


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:47 pm 
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The Fractal Node 304 can hold a tower cooler up 165mm high. Get a Thermalright HR-02 Macho (162mm) it extends only one direction over the CPU socket, so it doesn't interfere with a graphics card. You should get RAM with a shorter heatspreader or without one at all to avoid incompatibilities.

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:14 am 
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That Thermaltake might be just what the doctor ordered. Now to just find it--especially in Canada haha.

I'm just anxious for this case to show up for sale--was supposed to be the end of September but as far as I can tell no word yet...

edit: do you guys have any preference for the low profile RAM?


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:36 am 
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Unless you are overclocking, I think most RAM is pretty generic. Look for 1.5V or less. Here's one example of better than average.

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1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

Support SPCR through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:03 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Unless you are overclocking, I think most RAM is pretty generic. Look for 1.5V or less. Here's one example of better than average.

Especially with Intel integrated graphics the MHz advantage is purely for CPU overclocking: http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/ram/38613-gskill-tridentx-ddr3-2400-ivy-bridge-memory/?page=6. The Samsung sticks Steve linked performed very well in the review. I can personally recommend G.Skill Snipers, in case the Samsungs are not available; 1.25 V, DDR3-1600, CL9, low heatspreader. Low heatspreaders are good for compatibility (as huge heatspreaders provide little to no thermal advantage anyway), and low voltage is a case of "why the hell would you use high voltage". Since there's no public research into it, I can't link reviews or theses, but I'm pretty sure there's a valid reason why companies have been dropping the voltage with every generation of DDR SDRAM. From experience I take it and/or low CL as a sign of higher quality (overclockable) chips.

Oh, and definitely go for the HD 4000. Been quite happy gaming with mine, although I have an i5. Examples of games played: Assassin's Creed 2 & Brotherhood (1440x900), Dota 2 (1680x1050), Spec Ops: The Line (1920x1200), all Company of Heroes titles (1920x1200), Guild Wars 2 (1920x1200). All played with stock clocks and 1600/CL9 RAM. The lower resolutions are so I could bump up visual quality and have more responsiveness.

PS. Never confuse Thermaltake and Thermalright. If there is a way to make something noisy, Thermaltake will find it. (as a wise man once said) :D

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Case: Define Mini
Parts: P8Z77-M Pro µATX, i5-3570K, N650Ti-1GD5/OC, 8 GB G.Skill DDR3U, Xonar DX, WD G 1 TB, mx100 256 GB SSD, RX-5300 PSU
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 + Scythe SS PWM, 2x Noctua NF-P12
Extras: Eaton UPS, Dell 24" EIPS, Ducky TKL, SteelSeries Sensei Raw, Synology DS213j 6 TB NAS
idle-load: CPU 32-44 °C @ 300/600-600/800 RPM, GPU 35-65 °C @ 1200-1650 RPM


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 6:46 am 
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Saunamies, thanks for the extra info. I ended up ordering that Samsung kit. I'm glad to hear that the integrated graphics can pack such a punch. Should be fine in the short term! I ended up ordering all the parts yesterday-- makes for a great (Canadian) Thanksgiving when I get an email Saturday morning saying that the Node 304 is finally available!

Will post some build shots later in the week when I actually get the stuff. Again thanks to all of you for your input!


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:24 am 
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Sounds good, all the best with the build!

I forgot to mention I'm a long-time FPS gamer, so responsiveness for me is everything (some people will accept 20 FPS in a game and claim it's good, BAH). Battlefield 3, sadly, was too much for the HD 4000, but I do not miss it or Origin. MW3 ran acceptably when I played it this past weekend, which was free on Steam, but then again it looks like it was made for Playstation 2.

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Case: Define Mini
Parts: P8Z77-M Pro µATX, i5-3570K, N650Ti-1GD5/OC, 8 GB G.Skill DDR3U, Xonar DX, WD G 1 TB, mx100 256 GB SSD, RX-5300 PSU
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 + Scythe SS PWM, 2x Noctua NF-P12
Extras: Eaton UPS, Dell 24" EIPS, Ducky TKL, SteelSeries Sensei Raw, Synology DS213j 6 TB NAS
idle-load: CPU 32-44 °C @ 300/600-600/800 RPM, GPU 35-65 °C @ 1200-1650 RPM


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:07 am 
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Well I can definitely side with you on that one. No sense in having things looking good if you're constantly a behind the action haha


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:18 am 
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So as an update I started building the machine. I have all the parts except the damn RAM (thanks Newegg). Will take some pics yesterday but holy crap it was my first time with an ITX build and jeez are those boards small. Very happy with the whole layout though.

One interesting thing--ended up getting the Tranquillo v2 (http://www.gelidsolutions.com/products/ ... d=12&id=64) knowing it would be a tight fit but worst case I would save it for a mid-tower I'm going to be building in a couple weeks for a friend. Ended up being a VERY tight fit. Being bored and wanting to complete the Node build I left the fan off it thinking that the exhaust fan at the back of the 304 would be enough to cool it. So far appears to be working alright--loaded up into BIOS and watching the temps it settled at 33C (ambient is 21C). MB temps are 31-32C.

Personally I'm interesting to see what will happen under load... Will load on a copy of Windows tonight and see! As it stands though, the fans that came with the Node are whisper quiet, and of course the Seasonic Fanless is too. Very pleased with the build so far!


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:21 am 
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Good to hear! Especially good since now we have compatibility data for the case and a personal estimate of another fan+cooler combo, thanks for reporting back.

That temperature sounds very acceptable, but I would expect nothing less from the i3 with its 55 W TDP, which is lower than some old low-power models even (which had 65 W). What Aero, Flash and games will do to it remains to be seen, but I haven't even found my i5 and its 77 W TDP breaching 50 °C when gaming, it is hardly into the 40s with idle around 30 (15 minutes into Windows and surfing we are still at 28 °C, ambient 24 +/- 2 °C).

I bet the GPU is holding the i5 back under load, which works out well all around, if that is the case: result is acceptable performance AND silence. 8)

PS. Add XCOM: Enemy Unknown to the list of games. Unreal Engine 3 chugs at times at high res, but why go 1080p when it looks the same as 720p (1440x900 sweet spot, again). For once I can appreciate console graphics.

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Case: Define Mini
Parts: P8Z77-M Pro µATX, i5-3570K, N650Ti-1GD5/OC, 8 GB G.Skill DDR3U, Xonar DX, WD G 1 TB, mx100 256 GB SSD, RX-5300 PSU
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 + Scythe SS PWM, 2x Noctua NF-P12
Extras: Eaton UPS, Dell 24" EIPS, Ducky TKL, SteelSeries Sensei Raw, Synology DS213j 6 TB NAS
idle-load: CPU 32-44 °C @ 300/600-600/800 RPM, GPU 35-65 °C @ 1200-1650 RPM


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:34 pm 
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boogityman wrote:
I will certainly switch up the RAM (which honestly I probably gave the least amount of thought haha) ...
Heat spreader height isn't the only thing you need to worry about. Sometimes mobos are finicky about RAM (I have no idea why), so try to get a make/model the mobo manufacturer lists as compatible. It's rarely an issue, but frustrating enough when it happens that I'm willing to spend a few bucks more as insurance.

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:39 pm 
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So as an update, I continue to be very happy with the current setup. I installed a copy of W7 Home Prem I had and tried to stress the processor running Prime95, HD YouTube videos and finally HD Netflix Streaming--and the max temperature I hit was about 42-43C, when ambient was about 22C. MB Temps were 34-35C. And I can't stress how quiet this thing is. Its still on my workbench but my head is about 1.5m from it and its just about at head level and I can only hear it if I really listen for it.

I've attached pictures to this post to give an idea of the layout of the Node 304. Cable management I found was tough in this case, as I expect it would be in any mITX case as there is not a whole lot of space to hide. I mostly tried to suspend the cables towards the sides to allow that front-to-back airflow to be maintained over the passive PSU and CPU cooler. Thats why a couple of those pictures are obstructed by the cables. In any case certainly a bit more work to do in that department before I close it up and actually hook it up to the HT :). I think for now I'll keep the CPU fanless too. Note I mounted the Tranquillo at 90 degrees to the rear exhaust fan. This was to leave the PCI-e slot open for when I add in a dedicated GPU. Now it may turn out that the extra heat in there would make me need to put the fan on the CPU cooler anyways (and swap the cooler as it would be too big at that point), but I'll worry about that if/when the time comes.

edit: sorry pics didn't post for some reason:

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC that will eventually be upgraded to Gaming HTPC
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:45 am 
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Hello boogityman, I bought the same case, and seasonic-X series PSU.. I found out that node 304 screwing hole does not match the Seasonic-X series, it's like they are 0.2cm apart.. are you getting the same thing? on the base of the node 304(where you place the psu) are you having 3 rubber kind of stuff for supporting the PSU? or 4? i only got 2 at the back, and 1 at the front left. Hope you can clarify this 2 issue that im facing, appreciated it.


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