New HTPC/Server Build

Killroy

Gawd
Joined
Aug 18, 2005
Messages
727
So, I am putting together a new HTPC build, like so many others on here, and I would greatly appreciate some feedback on it. It will function as a server and HTPC, it will only be on when we need it and there is no problem with needing to wake it from sleep. It will primarily be used to playback my backed-up collection of HD-DVDs and Blu-rays in .iso format. I know that .iso files take up considerably more space than .mkv's and other file types but I don't want to lose any quality and maintain the menu structure and extras. It also takes enough time as it is without compressing/encoding. There is the chance that down the road I will need it to playback .mkv's, so I would like it to be able to play them back decently.

Software-wise, I would really like to use Windows 7 x64 but I know there are difficulties with getting the drivers, programs and codecs to work correctly with it for HTPC use. I am currently using Windows 7 Beta and pretty much have everything working the way I would like it to, but that may not be the case with this new build. I also have a copy of Vista Ultimate I could use. I plan on using Windows Media Center with the MyMovies add-on and PowerDVD 7 to allow the playback of HD-DVD and Blu-ray .iso files. I use AnyDVD HD to create the images of the dvds but it is painfully slow, usually 3-6 MB/s. I have only used it with Windows 7, so I don't know if it works better/faster with Vista, but is there a better/faster imaging program?

The HTPC will be connected to my 50" plasma at 1080p through HDMI and using the tv's integrated speakers until I can convince the wife we need a surround sound system. I would like for the computer to be able to output all of the Dolby Digital 7.1 surround types, can't remember what they all are.

I have read the forums here and other places, and come up with builds around AMD, Intel socket 775, and Atom, and have decided that AMD is probably the best option.

As for my needs of the hardware:

Case: Must be aesthetically pleasing, quiet, black, room for at least 4 hdds (preferably 6) and 1 dvd drive. I would like for a MCE IR sensor and remote to be included and an LCD display on the front would be nice. The case I had in mind is theSilverstone GD-01B-MXR.

Price $239.99-$70.00 MIR + $20.99 shipping

Processor: Must run cool, at least dual-core, and be low wattage. Which brings to what seems to be everybody's processor of choice, the AMD X2 5050e.

Price $59.99 with free shipping

RAM: I want to go with 4GB because it is so cheap, so I was thinking about getting the OCZ Reaper HPC Edition 4GB DDR2 800.

Price $53.99 - $15.00 MIR with free shipping

My only concern with the RAM is whether or not the heatspreaders will cause clearance issues due to their extra height. I don't suppose the heatpipe portion of the coolers comes off or can be rotated, can they? I like the idea of larger than normal heatspreaders because I would like for things to still run cool with the amount of airflow through the case. If there does end up being clearance issues, then I will probably just swap the RAM with the 4GB I have in my main rig.

Powersupply: I want a modular PSU so that cable management is easy and airflow through the case is as good as possible. I would also prefer that it is high efficiency, 80+ certified. It would need at least 4, (preferably 5 or more) SATA power connectors. I plan on using at least four hdds and possibly a SATA blu-ray/hd-dvd drive. I am considering this Enermax Liberty ELT400AWT-ECO because the price and features seem to be good. I also thought about the Corsair 520HX, but it only has 4 SATA power connectors and is $30 more.

Price $79.99 - $20.00 MIR with free shipping

Harddrives: I currently have 4 x 640 GB WD Black, a 1 TB Seagate, a 500 GB WD, and a 74 GB Raptor. I will probably use the 1 TB and 2 to 4 of the 640 GB drives for this build, and possibly purchase a 1.5 TB drive in the near future.

Price $0.00 for now

Video Card: I plan on using the integrated video on the motherboard until I see the need for more power.

Price $0.00

Motherboard: It must have integrated video with enough power to playback HD-DVDs, Blu-rays, and the occasional .mkv, .wmv, .avi, etc. at 1080p. It needs to have audio pass-thru over the HDMI and an optical SPDIF port would be nice. There must be a minimum of 5 Sata II ports, eSata ports would be a bonus, one PCI-E x16 slot for the possible addition of a video card down the road, 7.1 channel audio with support for the different Dolby formats if possible. Would I need to purchase a soundcard to play back these audio streams? The motherboard I am looking at is the ASUS M3A78-EM 780G.

Price $78.99 + $4.19 shipping

I also considered purchasing a 790GX motherboard instead, like this Jetway HA07, because of the better integrated video and an additional SATA port, but it does not have an optical SPDIF port and is about $20.00 more.

HSF: I plan on using the Scythe Ninja Mini unless anyone knows of a better cooler that will fit in the case.

Price $29.99 + $3.60 shipping

This brings the total price for all of the components I selected to
$537.94 + $32.18 shipping = $570.12 - $105 MIR - $14.79 Live Cashback = $450.33
I know the Mail-In-Rebates are a gamble, and I am somewhat ok with the total without them. This is pushing the upper-end of my budget for this build and I would like to drop the price before rebates down some if possible.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
 

sirmonkey1985

[H]ard|DCer of the Month - July 2010
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Sep 13, 2008
Messages
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good build.. the reaper memory is overkill.. with the 5050e your lucky if you see even 40C.. i actually ran my be-2350 (same 45w processor just at 2.1ghz instead of 2.6ghz theres no temp difference at 2.1 or 2.6ghz ive checked) with the fan unplugged on accident when i was swapping it and my phenom II 940 back and forth.. and at full load it was only pushing 35C, with the fan it sits around 30C..(this is with the stock junk heatsink).. at 3.05ghz @ 1.38v it was pushing 50-52C on the stock cooler..

so after that long speal back to the memory.. i dont think you will need any insane cooling for the memory..

btw good idea to stick with the asus instead of the jetway.. also the asus 780g will support atleast 5.1 possibly 7.1 audio through dvi --> hdmi.. you just need to setup the audio drivers for it..

but other then that.. looks like a nice build..
 

Killroy

Gawd
Joined
Aug 18, 2005
Messages
727
good build.. the reaper memory is overkill.. with the 5050e your lucky if you see even 40C.. i actually ran my be-2350 (same 45w processor just at 2.1ghz instead of 2.6ghz theres no temp difference at 2.1 or 2.6ghz ive checked) with the fan unplugged on accident when i was swapping it and my phenom II 940 back and forth.. and at full load it was only pushing 35C, with the fan it sits around 30C..(this is with the stock junk heatsink).. at 3.05ghz @ 1.38v it was pushing 50-52C on the stock cooler..

so after that long speal back to the memory.. i dont think you will need any insane cooling for the memory..

btw good idea to stick with the asus instead of the jetway.. also the asus 780g will support atleast 5.1 possibly 7.1 audio through dvi --> hdmi.. you just need to setup the audio drivers for it..

but other then that.. looks like a nice build..

Thanks for the advice.

The ASUS motherboard states that it supports 7.1 channel audio over the HDMI port, but one of the reviews on Newegg says that it does not support lossless 7.1 over it. I will be using a 1.3 HDMI cable to connect it to the tv, so there shouldn't be any issues. I may over or underclock the cpu depending on how well/hot the system runs, so that information is good to know.

I think I will just go with this 4GB Corsair set that has just normal sized heatspreaders so that I don't have to deal with any clearance issues and it is a little bit cheaper.

That brings the total price to
$535.94 + $32.18 shipping = $568.12 - $115 MIR - $14.73 Live Cashback = $438.39

I would appreciate feedback from anyone else because I plan on purchasing the parts either tonight or tomorrow.

Thank you, again.
 

sirmonkey1985

[H]ard|DCer of the Month - July 2010
Joined
Sep 13, 2008
Messages
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Thanks for the advice.

The ASUS motherboard states that it supports 7.1 channel audio over the HDMI port, but one of the reviews on Newegg says that it does not support lossless 7.1 over it. I will be using a 1.3 HDMI cable to connect it to the tv, so there shouldn't be any issues. I may over or underclock the cpu depending on how well/hot the system runs, so that information is good to know.

I think I will just go with this 4GB Corsair set that has just normal sized heatspreaders so that I don't have to deal with any clearance issues and it is a little bit cheaper.

That brings the total price to
$535.94 + $32.18 shipping = $568.12 - $115 MIR - $14.73 Live Cashback = $438.39

I would appreciate feedback from anyone else because I plan on purchasing the parts either tonight or tomorrow.

Thank you, again.



if anything instead of underclocking the cpu turn cool 'n quiet on.. it will downclock the cpu.. the minimum voltage for the 5050e is 1.1v i believe so your not going to save to much heat.. i believe its 2ghz@ 1.1v is the minimum.. but with cool n' quit it should drop it to some where around 1ghz@ .90v or something.. i never really ran cool n' quiet on my be-2350 since i overclocked it to 3ghz the first day i got it..


also its 7.1 PCM.. there really isnt anything that actually does lossless 7.1 unless you get a addon card.. but using the onboard speakers for the tv you wont notice a difference for now.. and on an audio system i doubt you will notice much of a difference either unless you want a receiver that does DTS-HD.. though there really arent any addon cards that do DTS-HD yet and the ones that are there are pricey..
 

Logan321

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Oct 9, 2003
Messages
1,900
Mobo of choice now is the Asus M3N78-EM (for 8300) or -VM (for 8200). Nvidia chipsets but capable of lossless 7.1 through HDMI. The 780 is last week's news. :)
 

Archer75

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Oct 10, 2001
Messages
6,471
The 780g chipset only does 2 channel lossless over HDMI. But that's yesterdays news ;)
An Nvidia 8200 board is fine. The 8300 board doesn't give you anything special. If you get an add on card the ATI 4650 will offer the best visuals.
Personally I prefer Intel chips right now with a Nvidia 9300/9400 board but really with a HTPC it doesn't matter.
A AMD phenom chip is required on the 8200/8300 for advanced deinterlacing. Of course if you don't watch interlaced content this doesn't matter.

HDMI is capable of lossless audio. Any format.

If you want Dolby True HD or DTS-HD you will need the Asus HDAV sound card. At least if you want to bitstream it. Your receiver needs to support it.

You can do LCPM of those formats but it will be downsampled.

The ram is overkill. Not only the ram you choose but the amount of it. I understand "ram is cheap so i'll just get 4gb" if you are shooting for low power and cool i'd drop 2gb.

I have an enermax liberty in my HTPC and my server. It's a great PSU.
 

Killroy

Gawd
Joined
Aug 18, 2005
Messages
727
I would like to build the system around an E5200 and a 9300/9400 nVidia chipset because they would be more powerful and I am more familiar with them, but there is a definite price increase along with it. I am also thinking about getting the Noctua NH-U9B instead of the Ninja Mini because there is enough room in the case for the added height and because the cooler is narrower, there may be enough room for the fan.

So which of these three setups do you guys think I should go with:

Option 1:
AMD 5050e + ASUS M3A78-EM with ATI 3200 = $588.57 - $115 MIR - $15.28 Live Cashback = $458.29

Option 2:
AMD 5050e + ASUS M3N78-EM with GeForce 8300 = $599.57 - $115 MIR - $15.59 Live Cashback = $468.98

Option 3:
AMD 5050e + Biostar TA790GX XE with ATI 3300 = $604.12 - $115 MIR - $15.72 Live Cashback = $473.40

Option 4:
Intel E5200 + Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H with GeForce 9400 = $640.56 - $115 MIR - $16.71 Live Cashback = $508.85

Or if you think I should go with a different board, let me know. Thanks again for the great advice, I was unsure about all of the audio stuff.
 

Archer75

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Messages
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Option 4 is my first choice but you don't need a 9400 board. It doesn't give you anything over a 9300 board for a HTPC. You can go with a slower CPU here if it will save you some money. I use a 2.2ghz Core 2 Duo in my HTPC.

Option 2 is my second choice. Perferrably with a Phenom. The other AMD chips are not capable of keeping up with some deinterlacing. Not an issue with the Core 2 Duo you picked.

I would not even consider Option 1 or 3 with those boards. Unless you get a ATI 4650.
 

Killroy

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Aug 18, 2005
Messages
727
Option 4 is my first choice but you don't need a 9400 board. It doesn't give you anything over a 9300 board for a HTPC. You can go with a slower CPU here if it will save you some money. I use a 2.2ghz Core 2 Duo in my HTPC.

Option 2 is my second choice. Perferrably with a Phenom. The other AMD chips are not capable of keeping up with some deinterlacing. Not an issue with the Core 2 Duo you picked.

I would not even consider Option 1 or 3 with those boards. Unless you get a ATI 4650.

I know the performance difference probably isn't much between the 9300 and 9400, but the only mATX 9300/9400 board that is cheaper than it is the Zotac GF9300-A-E by $10. I don't know much about Zotac and the quality of their components, but I do have a Gigabyte motherboard in my computer and I haven't had any problems with it.

I like the E5200 because it is the cheapest dual-core 45nm Intel.
 

Killroy

Gawd
Joined
Aug 18, 2005
Messages
727
I just purchased option 4 from Newegg. I actually went to purchase it last night, but the Enermax powersupply was sold out and I didn't feel like trying to find a different one so I put it off until today. A little less than 24 hours later, the powersupply was back in stock so I bit.

Thanks a lot for all of your help. By the end of the week I should have my new HTPC built.:D
 

EndersShadow

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Dec 27, 2008
Messages
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Just stumbled across this thread. I dont know if it is better but there is a heatsink made just for your case by silverstone. I am using it in my build later this month. Based on its configuration you can run it passively as it lines up with the rear exhaust fans in the case.

Link here
 

Killroy

Gawd
Joined
Aug 18, 2005
Messages
727
Just stumbled across this thread. I dont know if it is better but there is a heatsink made just for your case by silverstone. I am using it in my build later this month. Based on its configuration you can run it passively as it lines up with the rear exhaust fans in the case.

Link here

I saw it on Silverstone's website while looking at their different cases and considered getting it, but I decided to go with a larger cooler for hopefully better cooling. I think that cooler is designed to fit in their smaller cases and from the reviews I read, a cooler as tall as 140mm should fit.

Thank you for the input, though. What case will be using for your build?
 

EndersShadow

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I saw it on Silverstone's website while looking at their different cases and considered getting it, but I decided to go with a larger cooler for hopefully better cooling. I think that cooler is designed to fit in their smaller cases and from the reviews I read, a cooler as tall as 140mm should fit.

Thank you for the input, though. What case will be using for your build?

I am going with this case. I might splurge and go for the version with the display in it but not sure just yet. I will be replacing all the fans with Noctuna fans to kill any noise as I have heard the 2 80mm in the rear are a little noisy. I also like that I can hold up to 7 HDD's. I wont bore you with the other details of my build which can be found here. Should be posting something in the Worklogs shortly after ordering all my parts.
 
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