Help me build a HTPC for a friend


Aug 2, 2004
His old HTPC gave up the ghost and he asked me how to proceed with a new build.

Requirements; inexpensive, wants to be able to bit-stream audio to his receiver, and strictly for media playback-no DVR capability.
I was thinking Intel i3;
He can get an i3 for $100 and an H55 based motherboard for $80-$100. It'll have plenty of power to decode HD streams, is fairly inexpensive, and it can bitstream HD audio.

I know you can bitstream with AMD setups as well with a discrete GPU, but i have no idea what processor, chipset, and GPU to recommend. What would a comparable AMD based system cost?


Dick with a heart of gold
Oct 22, 2003


Intel s775:

Intel s1156:

The baseline systems are what it will take to build a cheap HTPC that can handle HD content easily, the problem with it is that the Atom CPU used is a bit too slow if you have a large media library; it'll choke on the HTPC's GUI. If you go the Linux route and use something like XMBC then the Atom does better, chokes less.

Stepping up to the AMD setup you've got a formidable system capable of HD video playback and it supports 7.1 LPCM HD audio over HDMI. It'll handle anything you throw at it.

Either of the Intel setups support the same features as the AMD systems with the addition of supporting TrueHD and DTS-MA audio over HDMI on the s1156 based systems but it is more expensive for a feature you might not even be able to use if you don't have the proper audio setup. The G45 and the 9000 series systems are pretty much identical to the AMD system.