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Old 07-07-2007, 13:34   #1
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New HTPC rig... all look ok?

I've been looking over things for the last 2 days and my brain is starting to melt over, because as usual with DIY builds, every choice within a budget is always a compromise.. but lts try this!

(All prices taken from ginger6.com, only place I could find with the v2 case, altho not even Antec's site tells me what the diff between v1 and 2 is!)

Case: ANTEC DESKTOP FUSION v2 430W SIL/BLK £107.32
Quite a classic design, alas a compromise as ideally I'd want the Silverstone '16' cases (better VFD, more HDD slots, overall just looks better) but without a PSU includedwe're talking 2x the price. The only 'problem' with the case is it only holds 2x3.5" drives internally, but I'll try counter that later. (I intend on adding a 1x1tb later when the price drops, for now i'll survive on 500gb or borrow a 200gb drive from another box if i need to). I decided this over the NSK2400 on which its based because I like the idea of the VFD (useful for music playing without a TV) a front firewire port might be useful as I shoot video (or hotswapping a HDD) the volume control breaks up the design a bit and it uses a flipdown 5.25" bezel which is much nicer than a 20 quid dvd drive on display.

Mobo: ASUS SKT-AM2 M2N-VM DH S/V/L M-ATX 2000MT/s £55.21
Im usually good at splashing silly money on a motherboard that does it all, but these seem to have all gone down in price now which is great. Asus seem to have literally about 70 models across intel/AMD that all seem to be based on the same thing, but I specifically chose this one as it has an eSATA interface to counter the issue with the case storing only 2x3.5"s. I've seen an eSATA enclosure for £25 so can hide that behind all my gear and still run at internal speeds without using fw/usb2. Card has all the usual stuff plus the 'Digital Home' things I probably won't use (it'll be hardwired to router not wireless, and I intend on getting a full remote in the future anyway) and onboard graphics and sound. Getting a PCIE graphics card (see below) so won't use the onboard, but the soundcard will be fine until I buy something better.

Proc: AMD ATHLON 64 X2 4800+ 1MB SKT-AM2 RETAIL £80.18
Fastest processor before the jump in price is too much. Dual core and a decent clock speed, so can't see this giving me any issues for standard HTPC use and should chug along nicely for anything else I ask of it over the next few years too I'm sure.

RAM: ADATA 2GB DDR2 800 CL4.0 DUAL CHANNEL KIT RET EXTREME EDITION £69.00
Unfortunately the site doesn't give an awful lot of choice with regards to a 2x1gb kit. I presumed 1gb would be enough for my box, others have said to spend a bit more and go for 2. It's more of a gaming chipset which I'm sure is unneeded for me, but hey I suppose I can clock it a bit higher in the future if I need a slight performance boost. £70 for 2gb of RAM on high quality boards seems a good enough deal, so hey I don't mind the £10-15 more it's costing me over value stuff for that factor.

HDD: SEAGATE HD SERIAL 500GB UDMA 300 7200RPM 16MB OEM £66.00
I tend to buy the drive with the most space before gb/£ goes through the roof and 500 seems to be the best. Will partition this to something like 60gb / 440gb for system / storage and as before will add a 1tb internal drive (or more if available and affordable) in the future. Was told Seagate was the most reliable (altho I've had no issues from my Maxtor, Hitachi or WD drives, but nothig owned this big) and therefore happy to go for it.


Graphics: SAP 11117-02-20R HD2600PRO 512MB PCI-E**Insufficient Stock** £56.56
This is the one aspect I need to look over more, I've seen more stats with regards to the Powercolor cards over the Sapphire thats listed here, but I doubt there's much difference. Price seems fine, so happy to get the 2600pro over the 2400xt if its a better card, but it won't make much difference as its a HTPC box. Main point of buying this series is for the AVIVO and UVD features. Whether or not they're truly a big difference is hard to ascertain at the moment as they're so new, but the series should power what I need it to at least.

Extras: I'll stick in a cheapy DVDROM for now and plonk on a decent HSF (any rec's?) obviously I need to keep the rig cool but also silent so that has to be a factor. I've got a spare keyboard and mouse, and I'll work out full controls later (probably get another cheap BenQ wireless mouse and keyboard kit so I can hide them when unneeded and get a decent remote in the future that'll do everything). I intend to run Meedios and run every format under the sun. I have a HDTV thats broken but I will get fixed at some point, and I'm being given a 37" tv of unknown specification so not sure if it'll take a HDTV signal or not. I'm not going to buy a rig that can only do SDTV then have to upgrade in a year tho. I've got an XBOX running XBMC already so if I'm spending a few hundred quid I want it to do the job better than that!

Future:
* BDROM, there's a pioneer drive for under £150 on its way.. that'll do me nicely!
* Xbox HDDVD Drive, had one before and sold it but they're cheap enough to add again if required
* More HDDs.. can't even have enough!
* Azeuntech X-Plosion or X-Meredian sound card, will need to see which one would be better for me.. I run an old Yamaha ProLogic Receiver that takes 6xRCA in so analog outs are what I need, if I can get a good soundcard I won't need to upgrade my amp.. bonus!

Thanks for looking guys, any advice warnings or "you know you've forgotten..."s are appreciated. I haven't done a selfbuild in many many years as I'm usually replacing blown out hardware so tend to customise a PC in a local store and get them to build it for me!
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Old 07-07-2007, 14:16   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PockyMonster View Post
Proc: AMD ATHLON 64 X2 4800+ 1MB SKT-AM2 RETAIL £80.18
Fastest processor before the jump in price is too much. Dual core and a decent clock speed, so can't see this giving me any issues for standard HTPC use and should chug along nicely for anything else I ask of it over the next few years too I'm sure.
Intel E4300 Core2 Duo is the same speed as this at standard clock speed, and cheaper. If you run the CPU at 2.4ghz with standard fan (as I do) it will be much faster than this. Intel walk all over AMD at the moment.

Last edited by pjclark1; 07-07-2007 at 14:16.
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Old 07-07-2007, 14:24   #3
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Cheers for the advice, I'll go look at Intel based mobo's (more of them anyway, oh the joy!) and see what I come up with. Comparing AMD to Intel side by side is still an utter nightmare so I was gonna start looking up a set of reliable benchmarks for this kinda stuff to compare. I knew that AMD prices had crashed recently so presumed they would be the cheaper option, I guess not.

The E4300 would run cooler too I'm presuming?
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Old 07-07-2007, 14:30   #4
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Would definitely go Intel myself - The 4300 runs very cool and is exceptionally good for overclocking - good enough for anything, including HD, at stock speeds anyway.
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Old 07-07-2007, 14:56   #5
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Found a few conflicting sets of benchmarks, no surprise there! But the E4300 and E4400 do seem to be rated between "a bit" and "a chunk" higher on both, so happy to go with that. Any reason not to go with the E440 as its not much more in £ and seems to give an actual performance chunk over the E4300?

Managed to find an Asus MOBO (P5B-VM DO) that has the eSATA controller I was hoping for but comes in £15 more. Nevermind, its the hit you have to take sometimes! Not sure about the DO aspect, I think it has something to do with the Intel SATA controller.. doubt it'll make any differences (there's an almost identical board without the DO element) but its only about 6p more!

I wish there was a way of getting the Soundgraph Ultra display onto either the NSK2400 or Fusion cases, but it'd leave me without an external 5.25"! A shame as the panel looks much better than the VFD provided, but you can't win em all.

Last edited by PockyMonster; 07-07-2007 at 14:56.
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Old 07-07-2007, 14:57   #6
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I unplugged mine as it is too bright when watching films in the dark.
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Old 07-07-2007, 15:39   #7
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Heh that's something I considered, I kinda hoped there would be a "Display Off' button that could be configged ?
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Old 07-07-2007, 15:52   #8
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I have the basic P5B mobo as the price was right at £60, it has an eSATA as well.
http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/produ...uct_uid=113965
the E4300 runs standard at 9 x 200FSB, I run mine at 9 x 266FSB
the E4400 runs standard at 10 x 200FSB, not sure if it clocks higher though

Last edited by pjclark1; 07-07-2007 at 15:55.
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Old 07-07-2007, 18:19   #9
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pjclark: good spot, but thats an ATX formfactor whereas I need mATX. Luckily I spotted or I'd probably have spent an hour trying to jam it into the case!

(Sorry I don't think I made it obvious previously that its an mATX case)
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:25   #10
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Just be careful with your HSF in my experience with that Antec case - I bought a fancy Coolermaster thing to use in my HTPC and to this very day it sits in its packaging as I couldn't get the lid on with it fitted

Having major problems with my HTPC right now - keeps resetting with what appears to be an HDD error, but I haven't the time to look at it right now.
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Old 09-07-2007, 17:18   #11
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The only piece of advice I'd give is to buy a small system disk and large storage disk from the start off. When I had a single partitioned drive like you're planning, I had no end of problems with video playback.

If I were rich, I'd put my operating system and programmes on a 16 or 32Gb solid state drive but a 2.5" laptop drive is a good middle road.
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