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Help build a mATX for us

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
So I am probably going to be moving out with my GF in the next year to our own apartment.

I'm going to be trying to save money, by convincing her to go all-online for our entertainment. She mainly watches ABC family - secret life of american teenager.. for right now at least. And I like my sports.. local channels would be just fine, and I can play video games and browse the web for sh... if I'm bored. So first question: Would Hulu + be a good idea for an HTPC? Or not really?

Now the MEAT:

I would like to build a relatively cheap HTPC..
MAX would be $500

But I'm looking more around 2-3 hundred.

I'd like to buy a mATX case from the egg..

This rig MUST play:
H.264 / XVID / aac3 / BluRay formats /

Basically anything media based..
and if it could run WoW at medium settings it'd be a plus. But I'll look into building her a PC for that..

Would on-board graphics be enough? I'm willing to spend up to 50 bucks on a card that'll output HDMI if the board doesn't support it. I hear onboard HDMI is bad anyways.

So.. bang for your buck? (AMD) or the other route (Intel)

Also, is there a way to get Over the air local channels with a small Hauppauge Tuner? I also have a ATI HD 550 Pro laying around somewhere, that any good for anything?

One last note - Is there a way to run XBMC on a separate partition? Or something like that? I'd like to use this as a computer by Downloading and surfing the web from time to time, but also it'd be nice if it had that "THEATRE" look to it that XBMC brings.. =/ I'm torn on what to do about this..

Thanks in advance!

- WuLF
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post #2 of 29
For that budget go AMD. for sure. Also, on board graphics will not be sufficient. edit(was referring to WoW for that part, sorry its early.Gimme a few minutes and I'll see what I can find in that price range.
Edited by EVILNOK - 5/5/11 at 4:15am
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Lol.. thanks a lot Evilnok for the swift reply. It IS early. haha. And I haven't been to bed =/ Pulled an all-nighter.. was probably due to the Stacker3 pill I took.. all that caffine.. hah

But yeah.. I'll prob. end up building her a mid level pc for gaming or letting her use mine, something like that. Thanks for your reply!
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post #4 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by WuLF View Post
And I like my sports.. local channels would be just fine, and I can play video games and browse the web for sh... if I'm bored. So first question: Would Hulu + be a good idea for an HTPC? Or not really?
Nope. For sports, stick to pay TV. There are a lot of games that you won't be able to get on the locals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WuLF View Post
I would like to build a relatively cheap HTPC..
MAX would be $500

But I'm looking more around 2-3 hundred.

I'd like to buy a mATX case from the egg..

This rig MUST play:
H.264 / XVID / aac3 / BluRay formats /

Basically anything media based..
and if it could run WoW at medium settings it'd be a plus. But I'll look into building her a PC for that..

Would on-board graphics be enough? I'm willing to spend up to 50 bucks on a card that'll output HDMI if the board doesn't support it. I hear onboard HDMI is bad anyways.

So.. bang for your buck? (AMD) or the other route (Intel)

Also, is there a way to get Over the air local channels with a small Hauppauge Tuner? I also have a ATI HD 550 Pro laying around somewhere, that any good for anything?

One last note - Is there a way to run XBMC on a separate partition? Or something like that? I'd like to use this as a computer by Downloading and surfing the web from time to time, but also it'd be nice if it had that "THEATRE" look to it that XBMC brings.. =/ I'm torn on what to do about this..
Why would you need to have a separate partition (and I assume dual-boot) for XBMC? You do realize there's a Windows version, right? There's even a Windows Media Center plug-in for launching XBMC, so you could use WMC for live TV/DVR and XBMC for stored movies.

Blu-ray support is what would make the build expensive. BD-ROM drives would cost you around $50 and the software is around $60~100 (depending if you can find a coupon/sale).

Definitely go AMD. At that price, they offer better bang for the buck. Here's a shortlist of parts I have from another thread:
  • Case: Cooler Master Elite 360 w/350W PSU, $50
  • MB: Biostar A880G+, $55
  • CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 255 3.1 GHz, $63
  • RAM: cheapest 1.5V 4GB DDR3 kit you can find, $40 (it's only like $10 diff going from 2GB to 4GB)
  • Remote: Logitech Harmony 300, $30 + MCE IR receiver, $5~10 (ebay)
  • TOTAL: $243~248

Build's missing a few items such as HDD, etc, since the OP on the other thread already had some spare parts.
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post #5 of 29
Zacate build. Not sure on how well it plays WoW but HERE is a review with Zacate in a laptop and them playing WoW: Cata around 24fps or something like that.

Can easily build a nice Zacate low power rig for $300.
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post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by rui-no-onna View Post
Nope. For sports, stick to pay TV. There are a lot of games that you won't be able to get on the locals.


Why would you need to have a separate partition (and I assume dual-boot) for XBMC? You do realize there's a Windows version, right? There's even a Windows Media Center plug-in for launching XBMC, so you could use WMC for live TV/DVR and XBMC for stored movies.

Blu-ray support is what would make the build expensive. BD-ROM drives would cost you around $50 and the software is around $60~100 (depending if you can find a coupon/sale).

Definitely go AMD. At that price, they offer better bang for the buck. Here's a shortlist of parts I have from another thread:
  • Case: Cooler Master Elite 360 w/350W PSU, $50
  • MB: Biostar A880G+, $55
  • CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 255 3.1 GHz, $63
  • RAM: cheapest 1.5V 4GB DDR3 kit you can find, $40 (it's only like $10 diff going from 2GB to 4GB)
  • Remote: Logitech Harmony 300, $30 + MCE IR receiver, $5~10 (ebay)
  • TOTAL: $243~248

Build's missing a few items such as HDD, etc, since the OP on the other thread already had some spare parts.
That definately looks good to me,

However i suggest getting a quad just in case you want to start using the HTPC to rip blu-rays.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1302559

This thread from AVS helped me alot when i was going to build a htpc.
Edited by lilraver018 - 5/5/11 at 8:57am
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post #7 of 29
i3 2100 $125
m-atx h61 $65
Coolermaster Case/PSU $50
RAM 4GB $40

I know the i3 is a bit pricey, but it is a great CPU.
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post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilraver018 View Post
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1302559

This thread from AVS helped me alot when i was going to build a htpc.
Lol, assassin's biased towards Intel (Core i3 Clarkdale and Sandy Bridge in particular). The only AMD build in his recommendation is Zacate and that one, he mentions, can be problematic with certain content.

I recommend renethx's Guide to Building a HD HTPC, instead. That one gives you a wealth of options at different price points and form factors for both AMD and Intel.

If you're willing to wait, though, Llano's coming up and that's a much better option particularly if you plan to do some light gaming. The IGP on Llano is around HD 5550 level so no need to buy a $50 entry-level GPU.

As for the suggestion to go quad, unless he needs it now, don't bother particularly since he's on a tight budget. Soon, we may be seeing used Phenom II X4's or even X6's selling for $50-100.
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post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks to EVERYONE! for all the fast replies. Sorry, my day has been kind of busy. Running everywhere with prom tomorrow.

Yes, I COULD wait and have better, more advanced options next year. But I'm looking to build this thing over time.. And I think rui-no-onna hit the gold with your reply. I think a Dual Core AMD processor will do us just fine. I could even go Quad Core if I so chose to. Which AMD chips provide the best Internal Graphics Processor?

I'm only going to be watching television / movies on this thing. I've decided. No gaming or Blu-Ray support. Just capable of playing all codecs no prob.

Also This has good reviews.. Was wondering what the difference was besides 3.1GHz and 2 dollars..

Maybe I can get a few of these items cheap when Newegg sends out their newsletters to me.

Just had a talk with my dad about how to receive the digital OTA signal. He bought a Hauppauge USB Tuner That he says works just fine with his laptop. Would this be a good choice to use to receive (Around 10 local OTA channels is what he said) Would this work?

Note: I realize Cable is the best option for receiving many more Sporting events.. but there's always realtime online stats via ESPN / team websites for games that I want to see.. Even radio stations online you can listen to. So this isn't that big of a problem for me.
Edited by WuLF - 5/5/11 at 5:38pm
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post #10 of 29
by playing blu-ray formats do you mean blu-ray rips or actual discs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rui-no-onna View Post
Lol, assassin's biased towards Intel (Core i3 Clarkdale and Sandy Bridge in particular). The only AMD build in his recommendation is Zacate and that one, he mentions, can be problematic with certain content.

I recommend renethx's Guide to Building a HD HTPC, instead. That one gives you a wealth of options at different price points and form factors for both AMD and Intel.

If you're willing to wait, though, Llano's coming up and that's a much better option particularly if you plan to do some light gaming. The IGP on Llano is around HD 5550 level so no need to buy a $50 entry-level GPU.

As for the suggestion to go quad, unless he needs it now, don't bother particularly since he's on a tight budget. Soon, we may be seeing used Phenom II X4's or even X6's selling for $50-100.
what problems are there for the zacate?
Edited by kujon - 5/5/11 at 6:39pm
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