HTPC & Main PC upgrade v.Critique

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by dissonance, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    So, I may finally get around to replacing my HTPC and doing some initial upgrades to my main PC that also acts as a file server. I'll hopefully be able to start getting some pieces ordered next week or so. Let me know what you guys think:

    Will be my main PC
    - Lian Li PC-A77B Full Tower >> case
    - Corsair 620HX >> PSU
    - Gigabyte GA-P35-DS4 Rev2.0 >> motherboard
    - Intel E6750 2.66GHz >> CPU
    - Corsair XMS2 4x1GB DDR2 800 (PC2-6400) >> RAM
    - eVGA 8600GT 256MB GDDR3 >> GPU
    - Areca ARC-1231ML-1G >> RAID Controller
    - Areca ARC-6120 Full Height Battery >> RAID Battery
    - 3x Icy Dock MB4555SPF-B 5in3 >> Drive Enclosures
    - 1x Seagate ES 320GB SATA >> OS/Prog Drive
    - 12x Seagate ES.1 1TB SATA >> RAID-6 storage drives. 11+1 hot spare
    - Plextor DVD Burner IDE >> Optical
    - Sony Optiar BC-5100S BD-ROM >> Optical
    - Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit >> OS

    This will be my HTPC
    - Antec 900 >> case
    - Corsair 520HX >> PSU
    - Gigabyte GA-G31M-ES2L >> motherboard
    - Intel E5200 >> CPU
    - Corsair XMS2 2x2GB DDR2 800 (PC2-6400) >> RAM
    - Gigabyte GV-R455D3-512I HD4550 512MB GDDR3 >> GPU
    - 1x Seagate ES 320GB SATA >> OS/etc drive
    - Samsung SH-S203N DVD Burner >> Optical
    - Windows Vista Home Premium >> OS
    - Microsoft Blu-Tooth Keyboard & Mouse >> Input


    I already have:
    - Antec 900
    - Corsair 520HX PSU
    - Gigabyte GA-P35-DS4 Rev2.0
    - Intel E6750 2.66GHz
    - Corsair XMS2 4x1GB DDR2 800 (PC2-6400)
    - eVGA 8600GT 256MB GDDR3
    - 2x LSI MegaRAID 8408E RAID Controllers
    - 6x Seagate ES 320GB Drives
    - 6x Seagate ES.2 1TB Drives
    - Plextor DVD Burner IDE
    - Samsung SH-S203N DVD Burner DVD Burner
    - Microsoft Blu-Tooth Keyboard & Mouse

    The additional drives, drive enclosures, new RAID controller, and BD-ROM will not be including in my first purchase. These items will come in a few months hopefully.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  2. skinjob

    skinjob Active Member

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    Is the antec 900 going to be in the same room as your display? I think the lights and noise make it a poor choice for a HTPC.
     
  3. lowfat

    lowfat 24/Mac/SciFi/PC Crew OT Supporter

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    Why do you want a BD-ROM in your main PC but not in the HTPC?
     
  4. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    Sorry, I should have addressed these in my original post.
    It will be, but the computer sits behind the TV stand and is accessable on the right side. Therefore the lights will be there but just glow off next to the stand beneath the display. I don't think it'll be too much of a distraction and if it is I'll just get different drive bays or switch it out with a different case. I already have it so I figure I might as well give it a try since it doesn't have enough bays to act as my main PC's case anymore.

    As for the noise. Sitting right in front/next to the case now it is not as loud as my cable box. The cable box is only a distraction when the surround for my TV is muted. I think the case's fans won't be an issue since it isn't as loud as my current loudest component plus it will be behind the TV stand. My cable box is in an open component rack right now so I think it will still be louder than the computer will be when behind the TV stand.

    That is what I intended. I forgot to include the BD-ROM in my list of "to buy later items" though. I have a PS3 for Blu-Ray playback for my TV and will have the BD-ROM in my main PC for "ripping" purposes only. The Blu-Ray images will be loaded just as DVD ones are to a virtual drive on the HTPC. The BD-ROM will honostly be the last thing I get.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2009
  5. skinjob

    skinjob Active Member

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    Consider getting a micro-ATX version of the motherboard so you have more options if you choose to replace the case later on.
     
  6. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    Good point, didn't think about it that way. Plus, the same board in micro is $10 cheaper.

    Updated original post...
     
  7. Doomsday

    Doomsday XXX

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    currently $10 diff
    the E5200 is 45nm, and is 65W instead of that 65nm, 95W Kuma
    pretty much same performance
    i'd go with the cooler cpu for an htpc
     
  8. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    Currently on newegg (not sure if that's where you're seeing the price at)

    AMD
    -ASUS M3N78-EM GeForce 8300 is $90
    -AMD X2 7750 is $60
    Total = $150

    Intel
    -GIGABYTE GA-E7AUM-DS2H GeForce 9400 is $130
    -Intel E5200 is $70
    Total = $200

    You think it is worth an extra $50? The computer is only on when in use and I can't imagine heat will be much of an issue since the Antec 900 has plenty of fans, there will be 1 HDD, there will only be 1 expansion card (a Linksys Wireless-G card).
     
  9. Doomsday

    Doomsday XXX

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    does it have to be that board?
    i hate nvidia boards :o

    if i'm building a budget htpc,... i'd pick this combo
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.181196
    plus any of these with passive cooling
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...0549 106792627 1067944922&name=Radeon HD 4350
    should be around $150

    but if i'm forced to go with an IGP solution, I'd go with that Gigabyte with the 9400 IGP. I think it's worth it.
     
  10. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    No, I was just thinking it'd be easier with the IGP. I didn't even really look at the low end video cards....

    I think I will go with a dedicated video card though... original post edited
     
  11. skinjob

    skinjob Active Member

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    If you plan on watching downloaded x264 content, and want to use video card hardware acceleration, get an nvidia card. AMD's drivers still do not support all the encoder profiles that nvidia's do, meaning more content will work on nvidia cards. Plus, coreavc now supports hardware acceleration using nvidia's CUDA.
     
  12. skinjob

    skinjob Active Member

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    Also, if the motivation for going from your original AMD solution to an Intel solution is heat and power consumption, the addition of a video card negates most of the power savings. The best combination of performance and low power is probably the E5200 + 9400 motherboard.
     
  13. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    Currently I don't have any downloaded HD content but do occasionally stream HD via station's websites. Not sure how they encode those. Not a bad idea to go ahead and get the nVidia anyway. I may get some x264 content plus I've never been a fan of ATI drivers...

    The idea behind the original AMD solution was simply price and acceptable HD playback performance. Heat/power consumption really only sways my decision for similarly priced/performing options.

    Do blu-ray iso files use any hard decoding that would differ between an ATI vs nVidia card?

    All I really care about for the video aspect is flawless playback of HD content and native HDMI output, not via adapter (so I get audio+video together).


    I see this nVidia card that would work:
    GIGABYTE GV-N95TOC-1GI GeForce 9500 GT 1GB 128-bit GDDR2 ($65)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125261
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  14. Doomsday

    Doomsday XXX

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    any of the hardware mentioned so far are good enough for smooth HD playback,... if setup correctly along with proper drivers/codecs/player sw.

    what i'm really trying to suggest here is to keep the noise down,... even if you think it will work out on that 'behind the tv stand, cable box is louder' thingy.
    it's better this way since you are not losing anything but noise.

    low power consumption = less heat = less fan noise

    one can argue that the 45W Athlon 4850e with a passive cooler is a better option. i won't recommend this though because it's weaker than the e5200 or Kuma for a few $ diff.
    the point of the E5200 running cooler than Kuma is that it will fair better if ever the heat/noise does become an issue.

    the e5200 + 9400 mobo is an ideal setup, but as you have pointed out earlier, the board is relatively expensive.

    google for debates/reviews about HD4350/4550 vs 9400GT/9500GT
    i suggested the HD4350 because it's cheaper, only draws 20W at full load (9500GT = 50W), and it has more options for fanless cards with native HDMI.
    yes, ATI drivers are shitty. there are workarounds/fixes though since a lot of htpc owners have already used these cards.

    whatever you pick between these components,... they are pretty much similar performance wise.
    price diff isn't that huge either. i'm just suggesting the silent pc route.
     
  15. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    So I went ahead and ordered the following as my initial purchase:
    - Lian Li PC-A77B
    - Gigabyte GA-G31m-ES2L
    - Intel E5200
    - Corsair 2x2GB PC2 6400
    - Gigabyte HD 4670 512MB GDDR3
    - Corsair 1000HX
    - Samsung DVD-Burner
    - Samsung Floppy

    I decided to go with the 1000w PSU since it actually has the number of connectors I would use. I was considering using splitters but decided I'd just get what I actually needed (instead of being cheap and rigging it).

    I decided to go with the 4670 since after MIR it was only a little bit more than the 4550 and should perform much better. I know it has a fan and is therefore louder, I know it draws more power and will run hotter but figure it'll still work just fine.
    (4550 was $50 - $10 MIR = $40 ....4670 is $80 - $30 MIR = $50)

    I got the floppy so I can install my RAID controller driver without having to slipstream them. I know I don't boot from RAID but had a hell of a time getting Vista to allow me to load the drivers from the manufacturers website rather than what it wanted to. This way, they will be there already..... that and I have a bunch of old floppys with stuff on them from the mid-90s I'd like to get rid of. Plus, it was just $7.50 out of $8XX.


    I'd really like to get a new RAID controller, additional drives, and the enclosures but just don't have the money right now. Also, I'm not completely sure I want that Areca card, may go with a Promise SuperTrak 12-Port instead. I know the high end Promise cards are very nice. We design/sell RAID controllers at work but use Promise ones for quite a few things.
     

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