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Building my first HTPC - suggestions needed

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RMCWS

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I have done my part of reading and the more I read and gather info, the more confused I become.

Was going through an old thread of Sam9s and a relatively new one by prepress. I found it very inspiring and informative, especially sam9s thread as I am planning to build HTPC with XBMC.

My requirement is exclusively for movies (BD rips from torrent) as well as playing music (flacs). I have separate BD player for playing bds. I will be connecting this way ---> HTPC ---> AVR ---> TV

Is it possible to build a single unit (i.e. HTPC) and use it for both movies and music and get the best out of it?

I have not yet decided on the components yet, but a friend of mine is going to help me technically to assemble the unit as I am not very tech savvy.

Components:

Processor:
Is i3 powerful enough for only playing movies and music. Does the quality of the movie matters? I plan to play rips of 1080 with 5.1 audio. Is it possible? Not looking for any 3D right now but if I get an external graphics card later for 3D, will it be fine? I will not use it for gaming at all. Music will be flacs/ 320 mps.

Mother board
My requirement will be same for what I have mentioned for processor. I don't need anything fancy or which will overkill. Just something which will serve my purpose of movies and music via XMBC.

Though I would like to have HDMI out so that I can directly connect it to my avr (Yamaha 373) and also to have HD audio (don't really know if I require this because of BDrips). But a proper 5.1 audio is always preferable. And for music I want as good as possible within the budget.

RAM
Planning to get crossair 4GB. Currently I am using the same for my desktop. Or a 2GB RAM will be good enough?

Cabinet
Something horizontal and cheap (budget 2--3K)

Saw something cheap for Rs800 on ebay. Another VIP slim Cabinet for Rs2700.
Zebronics has few under their slim category. SilverStone will be out of my budget right now.

HDD
Will go for a new 2TB or use an existing one for the time being.

Graphics and audio
For graphics I want to play 1080 movies with 5.1 audio and HD audio if available. No gaming.
For audio, I want pure stereo.
So for this do I need to buy an additional graphics card or sound card or will the integrated stuff will be sufficient.

Budget is around 12-15K for Motherboard/ processor/ RAM/ Cabinet/ HDD.

Currently my desktop has i5 3330 and Intel Desktop Board DH61WW with 4 GB RAM and a very old graphics card Nvidia GeForce 6200. Will it be a good set up for movies and music too? No requirement for gaming.

Will wait for your suggestions and feedback.

Thanks in advance. :yahoo:
 

Neeraj0272

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I don't think you should rule out gaming. You only have to add a good graphics card and you will be set with an excellent all propose machine. Even if you don't use it for gaming, you will be losing nothing.
 

haisaikat

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Your desktop is a overkill for HTPC. If you want to reuse it, nothing is going to stop you and eventually will save budget, may be at max get a graphics cards, that will be all.

If you still want to go for a separate hardware. i3 is more than fine. My first HTPC was just dual core (link in my signature) and with dedicated GPU that was doing just fine. Although 3D was never my requirement and hence not tested.

Recently I built a PC for a cousin with AMD Sempron 2650 APU with a compatible motherboard from Gigabyte (the combo costed me less than 5K) and it was able to play 45GB rips (MKV) flawlessly with bitstreaming HD Audio over HDMI (mind it the onboard HDMI and no dedicated GPU) and it is way weaker (spec wise) than the dedicated dual core I previously had.

Currently I am building a new HTPC with previous cabinet, SMPS, etc where I am using this motherboard MSI A78M-E35 Motherboard - MSI: Flipkart.com and another low end APU from AMD AMD A4-4000 Processor - AMD: Flipkart.com although I plan to use the existing dedicated GPU anyway.

I am a AMD fan though :) because these AMD APU which come with inbuilt graphics are cheaper than intel CPUs and if you plan to use with 2D only the onboard graphics is more than fine.

On your rest of the lineup, zebronics cabinets are value for money and I am using for 2 years with no problem. But before you go for slim series cabinet remember that those come with compromises like you cannot use any full height pcie cards be it GPU or SoundCard and you will have to confined to those models of cards that come in low profile edition.

2GB RAM is just fine for HTPC running xbmc but 4GB will never hurt and I believe the price difference is not much. Remember when it comes to RAM, 4GB of a slower RAM (say 1066 MHZ) is better than 2GB of faster RAM (say 1600 MHZ) since the difference in the speed will be imperceptible to us for the kind of jobs we intend to do.

Regarding music, let us take that up separately as any hardware, even pentium 2 was enough for music. So let us concentrate on HTPC for the time being.
 
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RMCWS

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@haisaikat - I have not yet decided whether to use my existing desktop for HTPC but most probably I will build a new one exclusively for the purpose as I need my desktop for regular work and downloads.

Thanks for the AMD suggestions but I have always used Intel. Though I won't mind as long as it works and within my budget. Any ways I will research a bit more and finalize soon.

Regarding the cabinet, I was reading your 3 years old thread for a cabinet search. Very informative, but since its very old, not sure those models exist anymore or not. Or may be there are better versions out now.

For cabinet, I do not require exactly a slim cabinet but a horizontal one, which will look and feel like my AVR. My AVR is 6" x 17" x 12"(D) so I am okay upto 5-6" height cabinet. I will be making a dedicated rack after I build the HTPC, so shelf will be adjusted as per requirement. So I guess, in this case, I will not have to worry about fitting any card, if required, in future.
 

RMCWS

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Today I spent around 2 hours at Chandni market (it is a market in Calcutta where you get branded and local electronics, pc parts, electricals etc.) looking for a horizontal cabinet. I failed to find any dedicated horizontal cabinet after searching in more than 20-25 stores.

There were few slim/ mini cabinets which can be placed horizontally but they were not a dedicated one. The slim cabinet of Zebronics was available for Rs.1500 while one model of iball was available for Rs.1800

The best/ suitable cabinet I found was a atx (not mini but slim) cabinet by a company called Poweron. Though it is not a dedicated horizontal setup, but was the best out of what I found. Price was Rs.1100.

Have anyone used this cabinet from Poweron? I was unable to find any info after researching.
 

gobble

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Just get a cubox i4-pro that runs on 10W of power and forget about the humongous HTPC. Get a NAS if your storage demands are high and enjoy.

See the other threads for the discussions on cubox.

G0bble
 

ranjeetrain

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Haisaikat has a good advice. I'd also suggest to not pay that much attention to PC's main specs. Pay attention to the graphics card and sound card. Use a good quality cabinet with good airflow and higher quality SMPS.
 

sam9s

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Just get a cubox i4-pro that runs on 10W of power and forget about the humongous HTPC. Get a NAS if your storage demands are high and enjoy.

See the other threads for the discussions on cubox.

G0bble

or a Rasp Pi .... but HTPC is still a different ball game .... I have personally used Rasp Pi, Cubie Box and HTPC all with all sorts of XBMCs all variations, and can easily say, HTPC gives me the best experience specially when I use it with XBMC Gothem. One reason can be that I use lots of plugins n all to shape up my XBMC experience, which when done on dev board are not very friendly/smooth how so ever you may put it. (yes including cubie box).
As far as power foot prints goes, as long as you are not running HTPC for like 24 hours it should be fine. Like I just power on my HTPC only when I want to watch movie(s). Currently for music as well......as I am using the same setup for music (will separate it in near future).
 

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Selecting components AND then finding where they are available AND buying them for reasonable price can become a very difficult process. But then the carefully assembled system lasts pretty long and serves well for many years. So be patient I would say and operate at a comfortable pace. One that doesnt take the fun out of your endeavour.
***End of Lecture***

Now the parts:

CPU) Anandtech has an article that tests video performance Intel IvyBridge. Results say that Ivy Bridge has good enough features and quality is now pretty good. Also i3 will not feel slow for a long time. So that I think is a good choice.

MB) Definitely go for an HDMI out MB. Benefits - it will save money on Graphics card AND Sound card. Why not make use of your AVR for sound processing? Its not like Sound cards are going to give much better sound. Except of course if you use something like Xonar D2X or Essense 7.1.

Case) Cooler Master has an Elite 361 which I find very good for the job. It doesnt look so good but for this price its a CM & its horizontal.

PSU) This is the MOST vital part. It provides that which runs every other part. A good quality PSU will provide good quality current to all parts and hence prolong their life as well. Get a good one. Additional benefit:save electricity. Also cheap PSU will degrade sound quality (first hand experience).

Best wishes and dont forget to enjoy your journey !
 

haisaikat

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@RMCWS, there is a HTPC for sale in the classifieds section "For Sale by Owner" thread for 12K. Check if that serves your purpose. But otherwise if your cabhet search is still going on then I would suggest that go for the one you desire be it iBall 315 or Coolermaster 211 or Zebronics slim. Many of the shops will not keep the one you desire but you need to place an order (if required talk to their regional sales office) to their distributor / dealer and wait for it to arrive, That is how I got my case right in the first place.

If you plan to go for dedicated graphics card then ensure you have a 300 Watts + smps at least
 

RMCWS

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@RMCWS, there is a HTPC for sale in the classifieds section "For Sale by Owner" thread for 12K. Check if that serves your purpose. But otherwise if your cabhet search is still going on then I would suggest that go for the one you desire be it iBall 315 or Coolermaster 211 or Zebronics slim. Many of the shops will not keep the one you desire but you need to place an order (if required talk to their regional sales office) to their distributor / dealer and wait for it to arrive, That is how I got my case right in the first place.

If you plan to go for dedicated graphics card then ensure you have a 300 Watts + smps at least

If you are talking about this HTPC in the sale section, then already contacted the seller but the said unit has only vga and does not support 1080.

baby31517-01-201313-16-17__L.png

This iball 315 is available for 1800 bucks, but it only support Micro ATX and mini and this is my only concern. Looking for something bigger and spacious like an ATX.

By the way, could not find any Coolermaster 211 on net. Can you help?
I found a zebronic slim too for Rs.1700-1800 but they are all suitable for micro atx.
 

sam9s

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By the way, could not find any Coolermaster 211 on net. Can you help?
I found a zebronic slim too for Rs.1700-1800 but they are all suitable for micro atx.

If you gonna spend close to 2000 bucks on cabinet I would definately recomed Cooler master than iball or Zebronics. Something like CM Elite 310
 

haisaikat

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If you are talking about this HTPC in the sale section, then already contacted the seller but the said unit has only vga and does not support 1080.

baby31517-01-201313-16-17__L.png

This iball 315 is available for 1800 bucks, but it only support Micro ATX and mini and this is my only concern. Looking for something bigger and spacious like an ATX.

By the way, could not find any Coolermaster 211 on net. Can you help?
I found a zebronic slim too for Rs.1700-1800 but they are all suitable for micro atx.

Sorry for the typo Cooler Master: Mini 210

On the other point, you want a horizontal cabinet that is spacious correct? HTPCs do not tend to become that hot if you do not have a "sunny" GPU inside. So may I ask what is the rational behind chosing a more airy cabinet than these slims? Not that airy ones arent available but they are costlier like the Elite 360 / 361 (not remember exactly) from CM and of course the Silverstone series.
 

ch@ts

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If you want a bigger cabinet get the Cooler Master Elite 361. I've got one for my HTPC. It's compact, simple, horizontal, and reasonably good looking.

For the CPU/motherboard get the Biostar A68I-350. It's low power, and it'll playback your movies and audio without a problem.

The cabinet costs about Rs.2000, the motherboard about Rs.4500 (ebay-with coupons).
You'll also need 4GB RAM minimum, which is another 2.5k, and a HDD(3-5k).
You'll also need a PSU (2K) which should be fanless, and can be under 300w, as your system won't use more than 70-80w under full load.

http://www.ebay.in/itm/181286085598?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649
http://www.theitdepot.com/details-Cooler+Master+Elite+361+ATX+Cabinet+(RC-361-KKN1)_C5P15477.html
 
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RMCWS

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If you want a bigger cabinet get the Cooler Master Elite 361. I've got one for my HTPC. It's compact, simple, horizontal, and reasonably good looking.

For the CPU/motherboard get the Biostar A68I-350. It's low power, and it'll playback your movies and audio without a problem.

The cabinet costs about Rs.2000, the motherboard about Rs.4500 (ebay-with coupons).
You'll also need 4GB RAM minimum, which is another 2.5k, and a HDD(3-5k).
You'll also need a PSU (2K) which should be fanless, and can be under 300w, as your system won't use more than 70-80w under full load.

USB3 0 Hdmi SATA3 Biostar A68I 350 Deluxe Mini ITX Combo Motherboard Onboard CPU | eBay
Cooler Master Elite 361 ATX Cabinet (RC-361-KKN1) price in india Rs.2130. Buy Cooler Master Elite 361 ATX Cabinet (RC-361-KKN1) online : Theitdepot.com

Thanks for the link. I was considering this cabinet too. It's within the price range.

If you gonna spend close to 2000 bucks on cabinet I would definately recomed Cooler master than iball or Zebronics. Something like CM Elite 310

Sorry, I am looking for a horizontal case but this one is not one.

Sorry for the typo Cooler Master: Mini 210

On the other point, you want a horizontal cabinet that is spacious correct? HTPCs do not tend to become that hot if you do not have a "sunny" GPU inside. So may I ask what is the rational behind chosing a more airy cabinet than these slims? Not that airy ones arent available but they are costlier like the Elite 360 / 361 (not remember exactly) from CM and of course the Silverstone series.

I plan to use the htpc only for playing movies and music. I will use my current setup for downloading and other purposes. I am looking for a bigger cabinet only so that it looks and matches with size of my avr (6"x17"x12").
 

sam9s

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Sorry, I am looking for a horizontal case but this one is not one..

well the iball or zeb aint Horizontal as well, and so is Cooler Master Elite 361, suggested by chat.....for which you said "Thanks for the link. I was considering this cabinet too"....:rolleyes: ........

I suggested this keeping those examples in mind .......

For horizontal nothing is cheaper than CM mini 210 as suggested by haisaikat.
But its strictly Mini ATX with notebook optical drive, and you cannot fit a regular GPU (incase you decide one). It really is a cramped up case .....
 

haisaikat

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well the iball or zeb aint Horizontal as well, and so is Cooler Master Elite 361

I think RMCWS is looking for a case where the Optical Drive bay is horizontal when the cabinet itself is kept horizontal. By the way the CM 361 probably has a Logo which can also be changed orientation
 

RMCWS

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I think RMCWS is looking for a case where the Optical Drive bay is horizontal when the cabinet itself is kept horizontal. By the way the CM 361 probably has a Logo which can also be changed orientation

Exactly, I am looking for a cabinet which will have the optical drive in the horizontal position when the cabinet is placed horizontally, even if the cabinet is not exactly a horizontal cabinet. CM 361 is nice and the logo can be rotated 360 degree.

The official site of CM says,
"With the rotatable CM logo and four rubber stands, the case can be placed vertically or horizontally as users wish."
. I can understand about the rotatable logo, but does the rubber stands can be changed too if the cabinet is placed horizontally? Any idea?
 

haisaikat

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I can understand about the rotatable logo, but does the rubber stands can be changed too if the cabinet is placed horizontally? Any idea?

Quote from link Cooler Master Introduces the new Elite 361 PC Case - MEGATechNews
The case comes with four rubber feet the user can use for either position

From another amazon review
just be sure to use the rubber feet provided if you're going to lay it on down

Flipkart Reviews confirm the same (infact nowadays flipkart reviews are way better than amazon reviews :) ) Cooler Master Elite 361 - Cooler Master : Flipkart.com

So you should be good, but just a note from the flipkart reviews, it seems HDD will be vertical when cabinet is placed horizontally.
 

sam9s

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Exactly, I am looking for a cabinet which will have the optical drive in the horizontal position when the cabinet is placed horizontally, even if the cabinet is not exactly a horizontal cabinet. CM 361 is nice and the logo can be rotated 360 degree.

I think RMCWS is looking for a case where the Optical Drive bay is horizontal when the cabinet itself is kept horizontal. By the way the CM 361 probably has a Logo which can also be changed orientation

I wont go with those cases personally, neither would recommend, reason, Vertical cases (usual ones) that can be kept horizontal will have most of the inside component placing as vertical (and Versa) (except optical drive and logo maybe) so when kept horizontal every thing would be oddly placed inside it (except the optical drive again).

If you want to have an Horizontal case, go with a case that is made that way to have all components installed in it in proper horizontal fashion ........

Just my 2 cents here .....
 
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