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 Post subject: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:35 pm 
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Posts: 133
I am looking to build a Windows Media Center 7 machine for recording TV. As such, it will be a 24/7 machine, and in the main room in my apartment, so I want it to be quiet. I have pared it down significantly, and the 35W TDP of the Core i3 is really, really attractive, so I dropped down to that from an i5 (before that it was an i7). Nothing too special, a 3TB drive for the recordings, SSD for a boot drive. It doesn't have to be totally dead silent, but it's trying to be equal to or quieter than the Comcast box.

What I'm struggling with is the PSU and case. This is how I have it spec'ed out now:

Core i3 3220T - $128
Biostar H77MU3 motherboard - $50
8 GB Corsair DDR3 - $47
OCZ Agility 3 SSD - $99
WD Caviar Green 3TB - $140
Antec NSK3480 case - $100 (comes with PSU)
Nexus Quiet fan - $10

Plus some multimedia stuff like the TV tuner that's the same no matter what.

However, I was looking at the Temjin TJ08-E, which does not come with a PSU, so I would get the Seasonic X650. I like the look of this case a LOT more, and it eliminates the PSU as a potential top noise source, as the one wtih the Antec NSK3480 isn't as quiet. However, it is TOTAL overkill for a system of that size, and now drives up the cost of a relatively inexpensive machine by $150, and makes the PSU the most expensive component in the system (!!!). This just doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me, even justified in the sense that the case and PSU are critical to the look and acoustic profile of the machine in the living room.

Thoughts/ suggestions?


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:08 pm 
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Location: Toronto
You could keep the case and get a different PSU (keep the Antec one as a spare). I am assuming it's simply a bundle with a normal ATX power supply.

I can't imagine the PSU will even be that bad; you may as well try it first. You didn't say if you're using a 3rd party HSF for the CPU either; the stock one may product some noise, as will the hard drive.

In the long run, for a 24/7 I'd minimize the number of moving parts for reliability and cleaning purposes; you could always get a fanless PSU and install it. Top mount shouldn't be a problem for a good fanless PSU.

I have an X460 running 24/7 and have no regrets.

The 35W TDP, while nice, is not necessary; Intel CPUs do not produce a lot of heat and at idle, they're all comparable enough to not matter. You can either save money or get a faster processor.

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:34 am 
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I was thinking of the case thing more in terms of aesthetics, as I always could get a new PSU with the cheaper one. Are there any good reasonably quiet PSUs that are less than $100? It's not like I need a lot of wattage here.

I am going to use the stock CPU cooler, and if I can't get it to behave well acoustically, then I'll look into a replacement, but no point in doing that right off the bat when I can probably get it to perform fairly well. The hard drive is a necessary evil. You really can't store TV on an SSD, the $/GB just doesn't work out. Plus, I already have one in there, and I can't hear it, so I figure this one shouldn't be much worse.

I looked at the X460, and it's yet another $30 above the X650, even though the idea of a full fanless PSU is quite attractive, as is not oversizing quite so extremely.

So is the idle power of a 65W TDP and a 35W TDP similar? How similar? I was thinking about that, and I couldn't find a clear answer. The other thing is, I'd go from idling two cores, to idling four cores when moving from an i3 to an i5, but obviously gain the advantages of a quad-core processor.


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:37 am 
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I just looked on Newegg (should have done that before), and the Earthwatts 380 PSU that comes with the Antec case is $44 on it's own. So combining that with the Temjin case would only cost $44 over the Antec NSK-3480. That might be my answer... Thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:04 am 
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Seasonic G 360, 80+ Gold, $60.

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 9:29 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Seasonic G 360, 80+ Gold, $60.


Looks like a good fit. Those wires are pretty bad though.... I guess I can't have it all and I'll have to decide whether the cleaner wiring is worth an extra $70.


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:19 am 
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The 450W version is semi-modular.

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Support SPCR through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:24 pm 
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What about the Silverstone Precision PS07? It's a bit more cheap than the Temjin and it doesn't have the 180 mm fan which can't be made very quiet.

You could also consider a very cheap case like a Cooler Master Elite 341 or a Fractal Design Core 1000. Or simply go mini-ITX.

The vibrations coming from the hard drive will probably make a lot of noise even though the hard drive isn't know to vibrate a lot. The hard drive cage Precision/Temjin does very little to reduce noise from HD vibration. So perhaps an aftermarket HDD suspension system.

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:57 pm 
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Posts: 133
kuzzia wrote:
What about the Silverstone Precision PS07? It's a bit more cheap than the Temjin and it doesn't have the 180 mm fan which can't be made very quiet.

You could also consider a very cheap case like a Cooler Master Elite 341 or a Fractal Design Core 1000. Or simply go mini-ITX.

The vibrations coming from the hard drive will probably make a lot of noise even though the hard drive isn't know to vibrate a lot. The hard drive cage Precision/Temjin does very little to reduce noise from HD vibration. So perhaps an aftermarket HDD suspension system.


I like the look of the PS07. But if they fan is so hard to quiet, why does it get such a good review from the sticklers at SPCR? I do know that there are proven quiet 120mm fans out there much more so than larger ones. That case would look sharp next to my HT gear too.

Not looking to go Mini-ITX.

I'm not worried about seek noises. I did build a system 9 years ago with two drives in RAID 0 in an alphonos suspension, but for this machine, hard drive seeks aren't a big deal. The 9 year-old machine has been downgraded from a power user's machine to my dad's web surfing box, and it's not silent anymore after its' fan controller bit the dust, but it soldiers on with the alphonos suspension in place.

@CA_Steve, that looks much better. Well worth the extra $20 IMHO.

So here's what I've got, I think it's much better than the first go-around:

Core i3 3220T - $128
Biostar H77MU3 motherboard - $80
8 GB Corsair DDR3 - $42
OCZ Agility 3 SSD - $99
WD Caviar Green 3TB - $140
SilverStone SST-PS07B - $70
Seasonic 450W - $80
Nexus Quiet fan - $10

That looks like a reasonably priced HTPC build.


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:00 am 
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Looks good. Just a thought on the CPU - the 3220 and 3220T will have similar power consumption for idle and low CPU tasks (like video playback). If you use Handbrake or other high CPU utilization tasks, you'll be trading off load power for task completion time as the 3220T is basically a downclocked 3220. (3.3 vs 2.8GHz)

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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 Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:32 pm 
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Posts: 133
CA_Steve wrote:
Looks good. Just a thought on the CPU - the 3220 and 3220T will have similar power consumption for idle and low CPU tasks (like video playback). If you use Handbrake or other high CPU utilization tasks, you'll be trading off load power for task completion time as the 3220T is basically a downclocked 3220. (3.3 vs 2.8GHz)


I think I'll go with the 35W TDP. I guess I could always overclock it a bit? I really don't think I'll have the need for that much power.


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:46 pm 
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I ordered the machine, and thanks you all of your help, I think I ended up with a great system. Pretty excited to build a computer. The last time I built, my P4 2.4C, ABIT IC7-MAX3, ATI Radion 9600 PRO and twin 120GB Seagate drives in RAID 0 were some hot stuff. (remember ATI and ABIT?). I'm a Mac laptop user now as my main computer, but this machine is going to replace that god awful POS box from Comcast!


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:31 am 
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Location: San Clemente, CA, USA
To add another candidate to the PSU mix, I've had the Kingwin AP-550 Absolute Platinum at the top of my build lists for a while. I read a review somewhere (techpowerup?) testing it at over 85% efficiency down around 40w, and it's apparently very quiet due to the temperature controlled fan (it runs fanless until you rev things up). Street prices were around US$100 last time I checked, so another $20 over your current Seasonic...

[Why is it so hard to find good, small PSUs? The whole industry is being driven to lower power devices by the mobile market, yet the vast majority of PSUs are 500w plus (which these days is bordering on total overkill for a desktop).]


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:00 pm 
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Posts: 133
Wow, silence really has come a long way in the past few years. I built this machine, and the case fans are so quiet on 12V that I have to put my ear up to the thing to hear them. The CPU fan was pretty noisy at first, but then I found the motherboard's auto speed regulation feature, and that brought the noise way down. If I were leaving the CPU idle, the stock fan would be nearly silent, but since I run the i3 at 100% load 24/7 (Folding), it's noticeable, but not loud or really annoying, so I will probably replace it at some point. I'm also cooling the whole system with one 12-mm case fan and the PSU's fan, and it seems to run cool. WOW, progress has been made!


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC Build... unbalanced cost
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:50 pm 
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Congrats on your build!

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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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