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Hello, so currently I am using a Dell C2D setup for my HTPC with a few external drives attached. I want to build a new HTPC that is more up to date. What CPU brand would you guys recommend? I want to keep the build as cheap as possible but still work fine. I run XBMC "Frodo" and want to be able to play my 720p and 1080p .mkv files without a hitch. I also will have the HTPC hooked up to my surround sound system so the mobo needs to have HDMI out. Does anyone have some good case recommendations that look nice and don't break the bank? I would like to keep it as small as possible, so mATX is probably the smallest I can go since I will need to fit in 2-3 3.5" HDD's and 1 2.5" SSD.
 

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Old school gamer
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You can go ITX and still be fine. I would go with an APU since you are looking for small, low cost and good video output. With the case you can go a Node 304, it will look good in an entertainment center. Also consider a Lian Li Q28 or Q25.

The Node and Q25 will both have an issue in the fact you cannot mount an optical drive. However if this is for streaming then both are great options.
 

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I'm building my second HTPC (this one is for my daughter) with the Lian Li PC-Q27B - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112400 It's a mini-ITX case and will hold up to 3 drives (4 if you don't need an optical drive) and is passively cooled. I'm using Ivy Bridge i3 with Intel 4000 HD graphics (it's a little pricy so maybe an AMD chip might be an alternative) and picture is great. MoBo is Gigabyte GA-H77-N WiFi so streaming is wireless.
 

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My claws fix anything
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Any APU should be able to do what you're asking of it quite easily. I run Frodo on an older laptop (second gen i3, nvidia GT310) doing basically the same thing, and it streams HD just fine.

I don't have an "official" HTPC case yet (using the lappy for right now until I free up my current rigs parts for the HTPC and build myself a new main rig), but I have my eye on the Silverstone GD04. It will easily fit the number of drives you need, and to me the most important part is that it looks the part of a proper home theater system (8mm thick brushed aluminum front panel). That, and its the size of a reciever, so once again it fits well into your entertainment center.

Thats just my two cents though.

Good luck with whatever you do
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