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Budget $300 HTPC Critiquing and Finalization!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm building a system for my girlfriend on a budget. It's going to be hooked up to a large 1080P LCD LED TV. Originally it was purely an HTPC build, but I've expanded it to a multipurpose system. If you notice a similar parts list, I had this in the HTPC section, but would like a more general opinion on this with value/performance in mind.
I'm going with microATX so I can get a cheap case and so it won't take up too much space. Obviously on this budget I'm not expecting much, but I think I've built quite a powerful system here, take a look.

AMD Phenom II X4 830 OEM (Microcenter) - $50

COOLER MASTER RR-H101-22FK-RA 80mm Long life sleeve bearing CPU Cooler - $15

BIOSTAR A780L3L AM3 AMD 760G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $35


Pareema 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3
- $21

GIGABYTE GV-R645D3-512I Radeon HD 6450 512MB - $40 -$20 rebate

TX-606 mATX Mini-Tower Computer Case - $20

Logitech Cordless Desktop EX 100 Black USB RF Wireless Standard Keyboard and Mouse - $32

DVD Reader/Burner OEM (Microcenter) - $15

Generic 380W PSU w/ 18A on the 12v Rail - Already have, negligible cost

Windows 7 OS - Already have, negligible cost

Wireless Adapter (PCIE or USB) - Already have, worth ~$15

Hard Drive ~300GB - Already have, worth ~$35
*Going to ignore the current crazy prices and value it at a pre-flood, reasonable price of $35. Even so you can still find 1TB drives for $50-$60.

+$7 tax from Microcenter

So we have about $285 worth of parts. Free shipping on all the newegg parts except the mouse + keyboard, I need to browse around and find a better/cheaper deal on the wireless mouse + keyboard.
That's only $235 out of pocket, or $215 AR

Where could I improve? Any deals out there that I'm overlooking?
Edited by Dezixn - 11/19/11 at 8:30am
post #2 of 21
Why do you need a sound card? With the 6450 having HDMI output, you can use that to transmit sound.

Other than that, it all looks good, tad extreme for a simple HTPC. In mine, I have an Athlon x2 4000+ and a HD4350, for pure DVD/Blu-ray playback.
post #3 of 21
I'll leave it to others to comment on other aspects of the build, but with regard to the soundcard, there's really no need I think.

The onboard sound should be fine with surround sound speakers of the quality you're buying, they won't be good enough to expose any differences between onboard vs dedicated sound (not that I know much about those exact speakers, it's just that you have to spend more than that for it to make a difference).
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post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scorpii View Post

I'll leave it to others to comment on other aspects of the build, but with regard to the soundcard, there's really no need I think.
The onboard sound should be fine with surround sound speakers of the quality you're buying, they won't be good enough to expose any differences between onboard vs dedicated sound (not that I know much about those exact speakers, it's just that you have to spend more than that for it to make a difference).

That wouldn't matter. When using the HDMI on the video card for audio, the onboard sound doesn't come into play. You get raw digital audio output.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by desmin88 View Post

Why do you need a sound card? With the 6450 having HDMI output, you can use that to transmit sound.
Other than that, it all looks good, tad extreme for a simple HTPC. In mine, I have an Athlon x2 4000+ and a HD4350, for pure DVD/Blu-ray playback.

Sound issue is addressed bellow.
As for the 6450, it's $20 with a rebate ($40 without) at newegg! That's pretty darn cheap, and a great bang/buck. Some of it is a bit overpowered though, I could get a cheaper PSU, I'm open to suggestions on that.

How does the Athlon X2 fair for such use? I figure it would be ideal for such a simple HTPC/web browsing setup without compromising too much speed.

Also, wasn't sure about the HDMI thing. I thought it used the onboard. Never messed with HDMI before.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scorpii View Post

I'll leave it to others to comment on other aspects of the build, but with regard to the soundcard, there's really no need I think.
The onboard sound should be fine with surround sound speakers of the quality you're buying, they won't be good enough to expose any differences between onboard vs dedicated sound (not that I know much about those exact speakers, it's just that you have to spend more than that for it to make a difference).

Alright, you make a good point about the sound card. I guess I was putting this together too quickly and was thinking about how awesome my speakers + soundcard setup is. This speaker system is low end and I doubt many could tell the difference between a $20 sound card and onboard audio with such speakers.
Also I didn't think that motherboard I had in the newegg list supported 5.1. The now obvious, simple solution is to use a motherboard that does support 5.1. In fact, the spare mobo I have does support 5.1.
That issue is solved. I'll edit my post to reflect that.
Edited by Dezixn - 11/14/11 at 3:01pm
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dezixn View Post

Sound issue is addressed bellow.
As for the 6450, it's $20 with a rebate ($40 without) at newegg! That's pretty darn cheap, and a great bang/buck. Some of it is a bit overpowered though, I could get a cheaper PSU, I'm open to suggestions on that.
How does the Athlon X2 fair for such use? I figure it would be ideal for such a simple HTPC/web browsing setup without compromising too much speed.
Also, wasn't sure about the HDMI thing. I thought it used the onboard. Never messed with HDMI before.
Alright, you make a good point about the sound card. I guess I was putting this together too quickly and was thinking about how awesome my speakers + soundcard setup is. This speaker system is low end and I doubt many could tell the difference between a $20 sound card and onboard audio with such speakers.
Also I didn't think that motherboard I had in the newegg list supported 5.1. The now obvious, simple solution is to use a motherboard that does support 5.1. In fact, the spare mobo I have does support 5.1.
That issue is solved. I'll edit my post to reflect that.

The Athlon 64 x2 4000+ that I have is great, can play 1080p flawless + blu-ray.

AFAIK, and somebody correct me, since the HDMI would transmit just raw pure digital audio, it would just bypass the onboard audio....
post #7 of 21
I have 3 htpcs that get used quite often with very similar specs.
Athlon II x2 and Athlon x2's
Cheap micro ATX
3450, 4350, and a 5450
None of them pull over 200w.
None of them use sound cards, either HDMI to the tv or to a receiver.

As for the Power supply, my experience is cheap ones are much more audible and at $40 you can't beat that one.
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post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dezixn View Post

Working up a plan for a budget HTPC for my girlfriend. Trying to stay ~$400 total, and < or = $300 for the barebones (no speakers or sound card). No need for the ultra silent jazz, It will have a few fans and I'll make sure they are on low. Sound won't be an issue. It will be hooked up to a >50" LED 1080p 120hz TV and used to play movies/shows from the PC and general internet use.
Here's a quick and rough newegg workup (let me know if it doesn't show up. Total ended up being about $440. As I mention bellow, I have some of these parts, so the ~$300 goal isn't reflected in the newegg list.
Oh and of course black friday is around the corner. I intend to purchase all of this then so I should be able to get some awesome deals. I haven't started looking for deals yet though. Feel free to mention relevant deals if you have found some!
375

So, I have some of these parts, but put them in here just to keep a price list/placeholder.
I have a cheap but decent and non-flamboyant black mid tower case.
I have a decent AMD ATX motherboard with a PCIE slot. It's probably worth about $60 retail but I have no use for it.
I have the rosewill wireless adapter (works pretty good actually, I was surprised, went through 3 walls).
I have Windows 7.
I have a decent sized hard drive (it's a 320GB or ~500GB). We could upgrade this later when prices are reasonable if needed.
Some of the things I could probably go cheaper on.
PSU: I would imagine a generic 300W PSU that comes with cheap cases would be fine, I actually have one sitting around. A 6450 is ~40W, AMD II X2 is 65W, 2-3 fans ~30w, a hard drive ~20W I think, then throw in maybe 50W for the mobo and you're only at ~200W. The Antec 450W is more than enough, I suppose I could go cheaper too. I'd like some opinions on what to do with the PSU.
GPU: How's the AMD HD6450 for this purpose? Seems like it's got plenty of power to play blu-ray files. Not only that it has enough power to play some games as a bonus! Reviews showed it doing pretty well in games like Left for Dead 2, though on low settings of course.
CPU: Pretty sure I can find the AMD Athlon II X2 a bit cheaper elsewhere. Any opinions on CPU choice? I'm going with AMD since I have an AMD board and they seem to win the budget build prize.
Sound Card: Well, I wasn't thinking this through. My spare motherboard has support for 5.1 so I will simply use that. The low end card I wasn't considering wouldn't make a difference.
Speakers: This is one thing I'm having trouble with. I though those Logitech Z506 5.1 speakers for ~$90 would be a great buy and a huge improvement over the built in TV speakers for a pretty cheap price. I'm thinking, have these logitech's hooked into the PC onboard audio and they can be used whenever a movie is being watched. If someone is simply watching regular TV channels, the TV speakers will suffice and no complicated change needs to be made(who wants to watch FOX in surround sound?). That seems like a pretty simple plan. And if someone wanted to watch a TV series from the PC on the TV without surround sound, they could switch from 5.1 to 2.1 through the sound card (that's doable right? I haven't had 5.1 speakers in years).
Anything I'm missing about an HTPC here? No plans to record TV or anything fancy.
+rep for constructive input!

Here's my HTPC. I've got an AMD 255, and it is flawless, so I am pretty certain you will be fine with the 250. Since you already have that mobo, then the GPU is fine. If you didn't have that already, I would have recommended just an 880 so you didn't have to spring for a GPU. Other than that it looks good! Enjoy!

EDIT: Oh! And you REALLLY don't need that sound card... Unless you want it for looks it won't make a shred of difference with those speakers.
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post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by raiderxx View Post

EDIT: Oh! And you REALLLY don't need that sound card... Unless you want it for looks it won't make a shred of difference with those speakers.

Wrong.... if he is using Digital (HDMI connection through the 6450), then no matter what a sound card won't actually come into play. If he intends to use analog for audio, then yes, get a sound card.
Otherwise, Digital is digital, simple 0s and 1s, and therefore nothing can degrade that.
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Did a new work up. I think I've improved it a ton, thanks to some more reasearch, thinking, and input here!
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