Need advice on a living room HTPC build

Vexorg

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jan 2, 2001
Messages
1,818
I am looking into the possibility of doing an HTPC for the living room, and wanted to get some advice on what I might build with these parameters

1) What will you be doing with this PC? Gaming? Photoshop? Web browsing? etc
This will be an HTPC for the living room. Will likely be replacing my DVR with this (which means it will end up being an "always on" system), and also using it for some gaming (although I may be able to use Steam Home Streaming off my main PC for this purpose.)

2) What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included?
Looking at about $500-600 or so.

3) Which country do you live in? If the U.S, please tell us the state and city if possible.
US, Washington (I do have a Fry's nearby.)

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.
MB, CPU, cooling, RAM, drives, case, PSU

5) If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. List make and model.
I have a GTX 660Ti video card I'm no longer using in my main system. I will probably also move over my Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe card to this box if I build it.

6) Will you be overclocking?
Probably not. I'I will probably want to keep this one as quiet as possible.

7) What is the max resolution of your monitor? What size is it?
Currently a 40" 1080p TV, may eventually upgrade to a bigger one.

8) When do you plan on building/buying the PC?
Within the next couple of months.

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.
I need at least one PCIe slot, possibly two to accommodate both the video card and the tuner card if I decide to go that route.. I figure I will be using a wired Internet connection, so I don't need WiFi. If I don't use the video card I would need onboard video, but pretty much everything in this category seems to have that these days.

10) Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license? If yes, what OS? Is it 32bit or 64bit?
I will most likely need to get a new copy of Windows for this build.

I've looked at some of the Shuttle boxes (such as a SZ87R6) as a possibility to base this off of, but I think I would have to go either/or on the video card and tuner card with one of those (then again, I may not even need the video card if I can stream games off my main PC.) It seems that a lot of what is marketed for HTPC stuff is in micro-ATX and mini-ITX form factors. If needed I could probably just go for a full ATX mobo, but I'm thinking that might be overkill here.

Given those parameters, what should I target?
 
Last edited:
D

Deleted member 88227

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You need to narrow down your time frame to no more than a month. Prices and hardware change so frequently that what is recommended to you this week most likely wont be the same as next week. Prices are known to change that fast plus a lot of times we try to get you the best deal using promo codes/coupons at various online retailers. They generally expire after a few short days. So to save us time we like to do builds when the builder is ready to buy right now.

1080P is the resolution even if you intend to go bigger or are you going to go with a 4K TV when you get a bigger one? Physical dimensions aren't as important as the resolution. 1080P is 1080P.

What kind of cooling are you wanting? Aftermarket heatsink are are you asking for "case" type cooling. Most of the HTPC style cases come with adequate cooling, but I can understand if you want an aftermarket heatsink/fan combo so it's not as noisy as the stock ones. With that being said I've been rocking the stock Intel HS/Fan combo on my Sandy Bridge built HTPC for a while now. I had intentions of going with a quieter cooler, but I've yet to run into an issue with the fan being so noisy it disturbs whatever I am watching. Your GPU fan will most likely be the loudest fan in your system.

While the Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe is a nice card I highly recommend you looking into a network TV Tuner card such as the SiliconDust HDHomeRun PRIME 3-Tuner. Back when I had Cable I had just one of them on my network and it was extremely nice to be able to watch TV from any PC connected to my network including my laptop(s). I also didn't need an additional card in my HTPC case disrupting airflow and adding heat. Something to think about. I believe they're much cheaper than when I first got mine.

One additional thing you might want to add to your motherboard requirements is an HDMI connection IF you don't use that GPU. While an onboard GPU is pretty common, HDMI connections on the motherboard are not so much. I left out this small little detail when I built mine. So while I'm using my HTPC without a discrete GPU I can't use HDMI unless I use an adapter.
 

Vexorg

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jan 2, 2001
Messages
1,818
I know Ceton has a network tuner available as well (the InfiniTV 6 ETH) and that might be an option as well, but that by itself is $250, and doesn't exactly fit into the budget for this for the time being.
 

Dangman

Ninja Editor SuperMod
Joined
Dec 15, 2005
Messages
46,062
You need to narrow down your time frame to no more than a month. Prices and hardware change so frequently that what is recommended to you this week most likely wont be the same as next week. Prices are known to change that fast plus a lot of times we try to get you the best deal using promo codes/coupons at various online retailers. They generally expire after a few short days. So to save us time we like to do builds when the builder is ready to buy right now.

This +1. Wait until you're relatively close to buying the parts to ask for advice.

With that said, while you're waiting, figure out if you really want to use that GTX 660 Ti. If you do, you're looking at a mATX setup for that. A few mATX cases:
$75 - Silverstone PS07B mATX Case
$90 - Corsair Obsidian Series 350D mATX Case
$105 - Fractal Design Arc Mini mATX Case
$130 - Silverstone TJ08B-E mATX Case
$105 - Silverstone GD05B mATX HTPC Case
$115 - Silverstone GD04B mATX HTPC Case


If you're not using that GTX 660 Ti, you could go with a mITX setup. The price difference between the two setups isn't that big. Some mITX cases to check out:
$40 - Silverstone SG05BB-LITE mITX Case
$48 - Coolermaster Elite 120 Advanced mITX Case
$50 - Coolermaster Elite 130 mITX Case
$80 - Bitfenix Prodigy Arctic White mITX Case
$80 - Bitfenix Prodigy Midnight Black mITX Case
$85 - Corsair Obsidian 250D mITX Case
 

rhansen5_99

2[H]4U
Joined
Nov 12, 2001
Messages
2,153
If you are just watching movies and stuff I would recommend setting up a Plex server on your main PC and getting a device like a Roku for the tv and the Plex client on there. Way simpler if you have wife and kinds :) . Other alternatives for fun might be to get a chromebox and side load openelec (basically XBMC Linux), or you can go the whole computer route. Unless you plan on gaming on there I would say the 660 is way overkill, maybe look at an itx build with an AMD A10 7800 or something and use the pciexpress for your tv tunner. Microcenter generally has really good cpu and motherboard combos if you have one near.
 
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