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Review My HTPC Build





PureReborn
Hi Guys, I'm making a cheap HTPC for my parents for them to watch DVDs/Movies and online streams.

The TV is a 1080P 40inch Sony Bravia, but I doubt my parents would really be watching anything in 1080P thus no blu-ray or anything too great.

Trying to keep it around/below $400 (before tax):
(BTW all prices in Canadian)

CPU + MOBO: Gigabyte MA785GM-US2H Motherboard & AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+
Price: $137.99
Link: http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=5317385&sku=B69-3259

HD: 640G WD6401AALS
Price 49.99

RAM: 2GB Corsair XMS2 PC6400 800MHz 2GB DDR2
Price: 74.99 (Are DDR2 RAM still this expensive? I thought I could find 2GB for around $50)
Link:[url] http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4517034&sku=C13-6134[/url]

Case: Apevia X-Master Desktop HTPC Case
Price: 61.99 ($20 rebate)
Link: http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3986717&sku=A107-1122
Anyone used this case before? it is MicroATX since I want it to be small and out of the way. Hopefully it is quiet and has good cooling with the fans.

and finally a DVD Drive:
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4974035&sku=M452-5004
Price: 37.99

Total Price: $376.95

Any suggestions/comments/past experiences with any of these parts?

Thanks Guys.
ahnguye5
My suggestion would be to buy a cheaper system. I think for your needs you can save more money if you bought a "mini/booksize barebone system" as it is called. You can find them on Newegg.com for around $200. They usually come equipped with an Atom processor and the NVIDIA ION graphics chipset which can handle up to 1080p video playback. You're gonna have to purchase the notebook hard drive and RAM that it takes -- might be an extra 100 or so dollars. There's your HTPC for ~$300.

Your CPU doesn't come with a fan so you've gotta factor that in too. And, of course, you're gonna have to buy an OS whichever route you choose unless you've got an extra Windows license or you plan to install Mythbuntu or something like that.

Here's the link to the system I'm referring to:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856119017

You should also try to shop around on Newegg if you choose to stick with your choices. I find that they have much better pricing 100% of the time. I don't even bother cross-referencing anymore. Among Newegg, TigerDirect, and CostCo, Newegg has better prices, free shipping on lots of items, and a good feedback system so you get a good feel for what you're purchasing.
PureReborn
Was considering ATOM/ION but still have doubts about their performance (havent seen once in action IRL). But i'll look into it.

I can get a Windows 7 Keys from my school for free so that's taken care of. Thanks for reminding me of the CPU fan though! (Thought it was an packaged CPU not OEM, does the MOBO also come w/o any connectors?!).

Gonna price compare with newegg later (definately for the RAM)
ahnguye5
PureReborn wrote:
Was considering ATOM/ION but still have doubts about their performance (havent seen once in action IRL). But i'll look into it.


The ATOM/ION is definitely geared towards HTPC builds. If I had the money, I would definitely go your route. Because, although the ION should have great performance it terms of rendering the HD content, it's the CPU side that'll cause me frustration. Check out this review of an HTPC they built on HD Nation -- it's got the Atom/ION chipset:

http://revision3.com/hdnation/roadtrip#rev3Player

Basically, the ION does well but the Atom is not powerful enough so the rest of the computer experience may be a little slow. What do you expect? This is a processor that comes on netbooks. I can see myself not liking the lag when moving from one menu item to the next in Windows Media Center.

So, once again, you've got to choose between price and quality. You said cheap so I had to suggest the Atom/ION.

PureReborn wrote:
I can get a Windows 7 Keys from my school for free so that's taken care of. Thanks for reminding me of the CPU fan though! (Thought it was an packaged CPU not OEM, does the MOBO also come w/o any connectors?!).

Gonna price compare with newegg later (definately for the RAM)


The MOBO may come with a SATA and IDE cable, I'm not sure. You're probably gonna have to buy one or a couple more sata cables online also to connect your CD and hard drives. Don't forget like me and have to go to Office Depot to pay $20 for a SATA cable.
ahnguye5
Correction: The link I gave you was a review of an Atom/ION system that was prebuilt from Puget Systems.

Here's the link to the HTPC that was built by them:

http://revision3.com/hdnation/mymovies#rev3Player

Also, I just remembered that you might want to shop around for a remote if this will indeed be an HTPC that'll be in the living room or wherever. Gotta have the remote for the home theater feel.
seemidip
I guess in the same budget you can buy a good ION2 platform such as those from ASROCk or ZOTAC.
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