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Replacing HTPC, can't decide

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
G'day

So i need to replace my HTPC components (PSU blown, looks like it did some mobo damage as it freezes on bootup at the bios screens constantly), anyway thats a different story

For now im just browsing for something cheap to replace this old clucker (it was a old P4 prescott 3.2Ghz with a Geforce 6600GT gfx card on ubuntu/XBMC, it could do 720p just, but not 1080 which be nice)

Been looking at the guides on the forum but the choice in Australia is pretty limited plus im not looking to spend tonnes of cash on it.

I was looking at Core2 Duo's as they can be had pretty cheap (under $100 for fairly good ones, all "i" intel processors, like i5/i7's are atleast $120+) but mobo's are extremely limited for the old 775 socket. So i switched to looking at AMD's.

I can get my hands on an AMD Athlon II X2 260 for $74 or a AMD Athlon II X4 640 for $103
but im stumped at a good mobo for it. Could some recommend a good motherboard from this list that is at most around the $100 range (unless like theres an superb mobo/best pick thats a bit over budget feel free to post it anyway) with a good onboard video card (i could reuse my 6600GT but im sure i saw a few boards with like 4350 integrated gfx and such which would no doubt be much better than my 6600GT, atleast it'll do till i can scrape together some cash to buy a more up to scratch card)

My HTPC doubles as a NAS and a host for various game servers/file downloads/etc so getting lots of SATA slots would be good (for future hdd upgrades) and the X4 would propably make multitasking on it much better when hosting servers and downloading and watching video at the same time (which happened a lot which ment i had to stop the others to do one thing at a time)



And what do you guys think would be better, 1x4Gb stick of ram (around $50), or 2x2Gb sticks (also around $50)? im leaning toward the 2 sticks?

cheers all
Edited by ShadoX - 1/28/11 at 11:33pm
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post #2 of 7
For a HTPC, any board will do, but microATX is the preferred way to go. Unless youre using HDMI for both video AND audio, consider getting a motherboard with optical and/or digital coax for 5.1channel+ audio if youre hooking up to an AV receiver / surround speakers for DolbyDigital and DTS 5.1+

Any AMD dualcore 2.5ghz and up would be sufficient for 1080p playback when combined with a viable video card. I never trust onboard graphics but from what ppl say, it seems the ATI 4250 would be good enough for 1080p. If u want to be on the safe side, get atleast an ATI 5450 ($25 after rebate), or a 5770(about $100) if u want to do more than just HD media playback.

I also recommend getting a motherboard that supports DDR3 because it's dirt cheap right now. DDR2 is becoming increasingly expensive.

From your list, the best deal looks to be the
Gigabyte GA-880GM-USB3 Motherboard

----- 4 slots ddr3, hexcore support, onboard ati 4250, HDMI/DVI, optical/toslink audio, usb 3.0.
I also like the fact that Gigabyte uses double the copper of other brands in their boards. Everything should run cooler and be more reliable.
Edited by cozmo5050 - 1/29/11 at 3:57am
    
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post #3 of 7
if you want dirt cheap grab 2x1gb of ram too, unless you are going to game or encode. And grab the dual core AMD.
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post #4 of 7
I am running the Gigabyte GA-880GM-UD2H in my main rig and an Athlon II x4 630 or 640 in my main HTPC. That mobo would make a great HTPC board. The onboard video is more than enough for HTPC usage. I've got 2 Arctic Cooling PWM fans daisy chained and the bios does a great job of keeping them quiet. I originally meant to get the USB3 version, but settled on this one, and am very happy with it. Not sure if the USB3 version has the same fan management options in the BIOS.

The dual core will do a fine job, but I always get quads or dual/triple cores that can be unlocked. I just don't believe in screwing myself later if I want want the extra cores over the $25 premium. Sure, they draw about 20W more, but I am not that concerned - if you are, you can usually shut down a few cores in the BIOS.

Definitely go for 2x2GB DDR3 sticks - Running 2 sticks vs. 1 allows the memory to run in dual-channel mode for increased performance. Because most boards have 4+ slots, if you always buy cheap 2x2GB sets, you'll max out at 8GB... more than enough for 99% of common uses.
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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
ok cheers guys i was also looking at that board, or its full ATX brother,

@ozmo5050 are mATX boards no good for Audio over HDMI or something? that would make the setup a bit cleaner if i could do HDMI V+A (right now im on Stereo output and VGA cable )

just a little iffy about the low amount of SATA ports and that they're only SATA 3.0, As i said above the PC does NAS duties too and is already up to 3TB full, so ill need to add some more room soon + 1 Sata on a DVD drive so thats 4 out of the 5 of the ports on the $99 board used) wheres the full ATX has 8 ports, 6 of which are Sata 6.0 (others are 3.0 handy for the future) and 2 eSata ports (which'd be good for my external HDD), of course, i'd be paying an extra $23 but surely thats less than buying a dedicated SATA card (which seem difficult to find stocked in Aus, maybe im looking in the wrong places though)

i know most people use little cases and such for HTPC's but mines in a full tower case (actually an old TT Armor) hidden near the TV so its fine if its full ATX

cheers all
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post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadoX View Post
I can get my hands on an AMD Athlon II X2 260 for $74 or a AMD Athlon II X4 640 for $103
but im stumped at a good mobo for it.
At those prices, I would certainly get the AMD x4 640 for a few dollars more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadoX View Post
ok cheers guys i was also looking at that board, or its full ATX brother,

@ozmo5050 are mATX boards no good for Audio over HDMI or something? that would make the setup a bit cleaner if i could do HDMI V+A (right now im on Stereo output and VGA cable )

just a little iffy about the low amount of SATA ports and that they're only SATA 3.0, As i said above the PC does NAS duties too and is already up to 3TB full, so ill need to add some more room soon + 1 Sata on a DVD drive so thats 4 out of the 5 of the ports on the $99 board used) wheres the full ATX has 8 ports, 6 of which are Sata 6.0 (others are 3.0 handy for the future) and 2 eSata ports (which'd be good for my external HDD), of course, i'd be paying an extra $23 but surely thats less than buying a dedicated SATA card (which seem difficult to find stocked in Aus, maybe im looking in the wrong places though)

i know most people use little cases and such for HTPC's but mines in a full tower case (actually an old TT Armor) hidden near the TV so its fine if its full ATX

cheers all
I only mentioned micro-ATX boards because ppl who build HTPC's usually want everything in a smaller form factor/enclosure but any board will do

If youre using a newer HDTV(1080p plasma/LCD/DLP/projector), then under the best/ideal situations HDMI would be used for video & audio.

Having optical/digital coax would give you more flexibility should you run into complications connecting to older home theater equipment
--- for example, I have an older A/V receiver with no HDMI inputs, So in order to get 5.1+ DolbyDigital/DTS, i need to use optical(toslink) or digital coaxal, from the HTPC and bitstream the audio signal to my receiver for decoding.

If you want to run SATA at the latest 6GB/s speeds, i believe it'll only run at those speeds if you have it paired up with the newer SATA III drives.

You could always buy an add-on card like this at a later point: ASUS U3S6 PCI Express Expansion Card - 2x USB 3.0, 2x SATA-6G.
Here is the to the same item.
Using up one PCI-E 1x slot, it'll add two SATA 6GB/s ports and two usb 3.0 ports.

Most HTPC builders never use up all the ports on their boards, but for your needs, the ATX brother looks to be the right choice
Edited by cozmo5050 - 1/30/11 at 5:39am
    
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post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic1337 View Post
noooo, stay away from ati when it comes to htpc. i`m not being an intel fanboy but really, if you want a good-good htpc its either atom or the celeron e3300, google it, its about as fast as a c2d and it only uses 20watts.

for the video card, hd5550(hd5450 will be grinding hard so get some headroom) or gt430, i lean on nvidia because they pass hdmi audio without connectors and they have the future 3d output.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~
70$(ouch) termaltake lanbox(aint it cute?) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811133045

50$ celeron ftw(its a god**** c2d for crist sake, they just took out 2mb of cache) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-264-_-Product
reviews : http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu...0_8.html#sect0
(ati seems to eat a buttload of power compared to intel, thats why i lean to it)

60$ motherboard(you can pick anything but i preffer those mobos that has ddr3, less power consumption and more headroom for OC, well, if you plan to) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131650
(you have an option between ddr2 and ddr3 on this mobo.)

50-70$ GPU(its either these two and dont go below, because you`d suffer when playing high-res and with those eye-candy enchancement, it doesnt hurt to give a headroom but it freakin hurts when you put overkill parts on it. ex: gtx570) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-397-_-Product or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...407R-_-Product

46$ ram (2x2gb is more than enough) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820104206
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~

sums up to around 300$, tho lacks the blue-ray room and a couple of harddisks, if you change the case then you get it more cheaper.
this.
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