$500 HTPC build

Vexorg

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Me and my wife are looking to put together a living room PC/DVR using some money from our wedding, and I'm trying to get an idea of what to aim for. The standard questions:

1) What will you be doing with this PC? Gaming? Photoshop? Web browsing? etc
Using this as a living room PC, will probably also use it as a DVR with the InfiniTV tuner. In theory I might game on it, but I'd probably just use Steam home streaming from my desktop to do that.

2) What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included?
Aiming for around $500, might go a bit higher if I think it would help..

3) Which country do you live in? If the U.S, please tell us the state and city if possible.
US (Seattle area)

4) What exact parts do you need for that budget? CPU, RAM, case, etc. The word "Everything" is not a valid answer. Please list out all the parts you'll need.
HTPC Case (Planning to use either a full ATX or Micro-ATX form factor to accommodate the video card and tuner,) MB, CPU, RAM, HDD (need plenty of space for DVR recordings), Blu-Ray(Optional), PSU, OS, input devices.

5) If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. List make and model.
Reusing a GTX 660 Ti video card that was replaced in my desktop and a Ceton InfiniTV PCI-E cablecard tuner.

6) Will you be overclocking?
No. Aiming for quiet more than performance.

7) What is the max resolution of your monitor? What size is it?
60-inch 1080p TV.

8) When do you plan on building/buying the PC?
ASAP.

9) What features do you need in a motherboard? RAID? Firewire? Crossfire or SLI support? USB 3.0? SATA 6Gb/s? eSATA? Onboard video (as a backup or main GPU)? UEFI? etc.
No specific needs, but Bluetooth on the MB would be nice to have.

10) Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license? If yes, what OS? Is it 32bit or 64bit?
I will need to get one, will probably stick to Windows 7 for now since the tuner card requires MCE.
 

Vexorg

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After some messing around in PCHound, this is what I have so far:

https://pchound.com/OlE7UH/

This would put me around $610 including a copy of Windows 7 and a Blu-Ray drive. I'd also need some sort of keyboard to go with this, but that's probably something I'll worry about separately.

Edit: Fixed a couple of things. I had the Mini-ITX version of the mobo instead of the Micro-ATX version. I also had a case that was likely too small for the video card, so I switched to another one.
 
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D

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I'm not a fan of Seagate hard drives. With that said, I would use Western Digital Red NAS drives. They're a little more expensive, but they're meant to be used in that way.

Also I built and HTPC not too long ago with similar intentions as you. I wanted an HTPC that would handle DVR duties as well as be able to play games. I ended up ditching cable all together and eventually built a dedicated NAS for storage. I was using up more space than I had physical room for in my case. I went from a single 1TB hard drive to adding three 3TB hard drives. Once I needed more storage space I just built a NAS with an additional 3x3TB drives. Now I'm up to 7x3TB hard drives in the NAS and it works great.

I sold my SiliconDust PRIME 3-turner network cable card; but I do intend to get a dual TV-tuner card to use for OTA stations in my area.

My HTPC case looks great, IMHO as a "home theater" piece in the living room. It's the Silverstone GD06 and I was able to fit a hefty GPU (980 GTX) inside for gaming on my 4k TV. Steam streaming is nice. I'm sure it's improved, but I like gaming directly off the HTPC instead. I haven't tried the in-home streaming in a while so maybe it's improved, but I found it to be a little laggy which isn't an issue for some game titles, but others it's important.

I had a bluray drive in the HTPC, but getting Blurays to play was a PITA back when I tried it. I don't even bother buying Blurays anymore and I took the drive out of the case back when I needed to add the third HDD.

Also I use the Logitech K400 keyboard for the HTPC, but in dark/low light situations I find it to be a little difficult to see what keys I am pressing. It's not like it's my full sized keyboard that I use all the time so my memory of what key is what can get skewered. I intend to buy the K830 Illuminated keyboard to solve the problem. It's a little more expensive than the K400 though. Do note that I've used the K400 for a little over a year now without any issues.

Another thing. My HTPC has 8GB of RAM in a 2x4 configuration. I wish I would have went with a single 8GB stick because I'm wanting to upgrade it to 16GB and now I'll have to buy a 16GB 2x8GB kit instead of just 1x8GB. So keep that in mind. If I were you I'd go with a single 8GB stick of RAM. You wont notice any performance differences with a single stick vs two.
 

rennyf77

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i would go cheaper with the bluray drive. newegg has an lg unit with a $15 promo code. i'm actually pretty surprised when gamers tell me they don't watch bluray movies because to me the difference in visual fidelity between an encoded file and the source material is night and day. that said, bluray playback software has become much more stable the last 4 years, and the up-scaling/enhancement tech built into these players do wonders for standard dvds. you have to factor in the cost of playback software.

i'd also go cheaper on the board especially since you're not overclocking.
 
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Vexorg

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The Blu-Ray drive is definitely optional in this setup (we have a standalone player and a PS3 available to play Blu-Ray discs on already) but I figure I'd like to have at least some sort of optical drive here. Then again, I could drop it and either save a few bucks or put the money into something else. Do you think there would be value in moving up from an i3-4160 to an i5-4590? It would be about another $70, but would definitely help if we decided to start digitizing media on here.

As for the hard drive, I can definitely change what brand I get if I can get something more reliable.
 
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D

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If you already have a standalone Bluray/DVD player then adding on to the HTPC would be next to useless. The only use it might get would be the installing of Windows when you first build it.

Playing digital videos doesn't take much processing power at all. I had a Pentium G870 in my HTPC and it played everything just fine. The only reason I upgrade it to the i5-2400 was because it was a huge bottleneck for my 980 GTX @ 4K. Before I had the G870 I had a 750 Ti on it that I played 1080P just fine. Though some games are starting to require at least 4 cores so I'd go no less than an i3 if you intend to game on it. Though if gaming will be done directly on the HTPC and the budget allows for an i5 then I would go that route.

What exactly do you intend to do on this rig anyway? If you don't have any digital media or game on it then what benefit would an HTPC have over say a Roku? I mean, even a Roku can stream media over the network that you have stored on a PC.

Perhaps you could benefit from the Steam Link? It's $50 without a controller or $100 with one. Then grab a Roku 3 for $90 for Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services. Then should you obtain digital media stored on one of your PCs at home you can stream it to the Roku using Plex Media Server.

So you're looking at either $180 if you want a controller or $130 if you don't want a controller.

edit
I forgot you're wanting to use the HTPC as a DVR for the InfinitiTV Turner.

i'm actually pretty surprised when gamers tell me they don't watch bluray movies because to me the difference in visual fidelity between an encoded file and the source material is night and day.

I watch Bluray rips. ;)
 

defaultluser

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You don't need a $60 watercooler for a Core i3. Believe me, the stock cooler is more than adequate.

I own a silent HTPC, and all I'm using to cool my i3 @ 3.3 is the stock cooler.

I didn't watch enough Blu-Rays to justify a drive plus the cost and hassle of playback software, so I just stream movies and play games.

You should be able to game quite competently on that 660 plus core i3. Just be sure your TV has low enough input lag if you want to play FPS games . But for almost any other genre the TV works fine :D
 
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rennyf77

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bluray play back software has certainly been a hassle. if you were like me and began watching bluray on pc from when optical drives were first made available, the years between 2006 and 2009 were a nightmare. playback software was so hit and miss, that from year to year you almost had to buy every major software (arcsoft total mediatheatre, cyperlink powerdvd, and corel windvd) to get every movie released that year to play right. from 2010 until now playback software has been very stable. i bought total mediatheatre 3 in 2010 and experienced flawless performance until last summer when i went 4k and switched to powerdvd 14 to get 4k support. i still run the arcsoft program and it has not failed to play any bluray i've purchased or rented this whole year. if you don't want to shop for playback software then there's no sense in getting a bluray drive.
 

defaultluser

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I would also recommend this PSU over that Corsair:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817438012

Much better reviewed, and EVGA has a better reputation as far as customer support goes.

And if you want a smaller case that can handle the airflow for a GTX 660 Ti quietly while being much smaller than the Thermaltake Core V21, this is the best recommendation I can give you: the Node 304.

http://www.amazon.com/Fractal-Design-Mini-ITX-Computer-FD-CA-NODE-304-BL/dp/B009LHF4FO

But it's more expensive. You can also typically only use 2 hard drives/ssds if you have a 10" dual-slot graphics card installed. But it doesn't sound like you'll need more than one or two drives installed here.
 

Vexorg

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The problem with mini-ITX is that I couldn't run both my tuner card and a video card at the same tine on one, which is the main reason I'm using micro-ATX. Anyway, I think I'm just about settled on the main components, just not sure on the PSU. Currently leaning toward this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151094
Seasonic S12 II Bronze 520W

It reviews well, and the Seasonic X-850 in my desktop has been rock-solid for 2+ years on a fairly aggressive overclock. A few bucks more, but that's not a big deal.
 

defaultluser

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The problem with mini-ITX is that I couldn't run both my tuner card and a video card at the same tine on one, which is the main reason I'm using micro-ATX. Anyway, I think I'm just about settled on the main components, just not sure on the PSU. Currently leaning toward this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151094
Seasonic S12 II Bronze 520W

It reviews well, and the Seasonic X-850 in my desktop has been rock-solid for 2+ years on a fairly aggressive overclock. A few bucks more, but that's not a big deal.

Sounds fine. And I understand the MiniITX can be limiting, just putting it up there as an option :D
 

Vexorg

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So I ran the build I had put together by my wife... and was instructed to move up to a Core i5 for the CPU. I'm guessing it's overkill in this build and it puts the cost closer to $700, but I don't think I'm going to complain...

Incidentally, she was also the one who wanted the big TV...
 

Vexorg

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Still refining this build, but last night me and my wife took a trip over to Fry's and saw the case I was looking at (Thermaltake Core V21) and decided we need to find something else based on the size and the fact that it has no external drive bay for a Blu-Ray drive (Glad I figured this out before ordering...) After some further consideration, I think we're leaning more toward some sort of small mid tower case. I suspect this would change nothing else in the build.
 
D

Deleted member 88227

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Check out Silverstone "HTPC" cases. They're designed for the HTPC and are similar in size and shape as other home theater devices so they'll fit in most places designed for such equipment.
 

Modred189

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Fractal Designs also has some great ones.
This is mine and I love it:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...vftcl7sEeqRIE8X6GRgVMaAlrB8P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds
It's a pretty good case and covered with sound dampening foam. Though the case has been relegated to server duty because when loaded up with hard drives, the video card was a little starved for air. If you aren't loading up with drives it's a great case. The hidden slim-line drisk drive bey is very slick.
 
D

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At the current price of $173 it will take way too much money from the OPs $500 budget. Even with the case he thought he wanted at $78 he was over his budget. Adding another ~$100 to that would really not make much sense.

Although Fractal does make great cases that are extremely quite. My NAS is housed inside an R5. I have to look at the fans to check if it's running. I never connected the LEDs because they're distracting since I have it sitting next to the TV along with my HTPC.
 

rennyf77

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antec p50. understated appearance but a bit big. apevia x qpack3. probably smaller but ugly.
 

Vexorg

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Just ordered the stuff for this. Ended up blowing well past the $500 I had originally planned on, but oh well. Here's what we ended up with (all items from Newegg unless specified: )

Mobo: ASRock H97M Pro4 (MicroATX, $80)
CPU: Core i5 4590 ($200)
RAM: 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws X Series ($46)
PSU: Seasonic S12II 520w ($55)
HDD: WD Red 3TB ($105)
Case: Raidmax Z1000 (not my first choice but my wife picked it out after vetoing several other options for a small mid-tower. I probably would have gone with something like an Antec P70 myself, $40 from the local Fry's)
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium (Need this for the Media Center support, $80)
Keyboard/Mouse: Logitech K400 ($20 on sale from Amazon)

Total with shipping and tax: Around $690
 

Dangman

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Raidmax? Really? Uggghhh.

Well good luck with the build nonetheless!

Still, Raidmax?:eek:
 

Vexorg

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Like I said, it wasn't my choice. She liked it mostly because it had a big shiny power button on the front of it (not that you're supposed to turn off a system being used as a DVR in the first place, but still...) I probably would have gone with a core i3 for the CPU as well, but she wanted the i5. At least I have something I can do some gaming on.
 

rennyf77

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Raidmax? Really? Uggghhh.

Well good luck with the build nonetheless!

Still, Raidmax?:eek:

used a raidmax hyperion in a build recently. big for a cube chassis but i dig it. can't put a 120mm aio cooler in the rear fan port or the side panel won't close but i was pleased with how sturdy it felt. didn't seem cheap like most raidmax cases i've played with.
 

Dangman

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Like I said, it wasn't my choice. She liked it mostly because it had a big shiny power button on the front of it (not that you're supposed to turn off a system being used as a DVR in the first place, but still...) I probably would have gone with a core i3 for the CPU as well, but she wanted the i5. At least I have something I can do some gaming on.
Well, considering that you got a higher-end CPU, I guess that sort of balances out the....less desirable Raidmax case
used a raidmax hyperion in a build recently. big for a cube chassis but i dig it. can't put a 120mm aio cooler in the rear fan port or the side panel won't close but i was pleased with how sturdy it felt. didn't seem cheap like most raidmax cases i've played with.
I've worked with the Hyperion as well. You're right that it's not as flimsy as other Raidmax cases but its quality isn't that great for the money you're paying IMO. With that said, it was significantly easier to cable manage compared to some ATX Raidmax cases I've unfortunately worked with.

Also, are you sure you couldn't fit in an 120mm AIO? IIRC, the Raidmax Hyperions I was working on had the Corsair H55 and H60 AIO and the sides closed fine. A little force is needed but still closed nonetheless.
 

rennyf77

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yeah it was kinda weird seidon 120v and an ibuypower aio made by avc of taiwan wouldn't let me close the side panel properly installed in the back. the panel would bulge out a bit so i'd have to force it closed to secure the thumb screws. it was the width of the radiators that created the obstruction. installed the rad on that floating plate behind the mobo tray instead.
 
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