mITX HTPC build - Advice needed

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wilco3d Offline
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Post: #1
Hi guys,

Decided to build a HTPC for streaming and managing mainly HD content to my TV and devices in the house. I also want it to serve as a bit of a NAS, although just having 1 big hard drive is fine.

I've got a couple of options, and don't know which route is best - or if I should be looking at different parts completely.

Here's my main requirements
  • Stream 720p/1080p content via HDMI
  • Be able to manage content grabbing - All this means is ill be running XBMC within a W7 environment
  • Act as network storage for all my devices in the house
  • Needs to be relatively small as I want it to sit behind next to / behind my TV
  • Needs WiFi & Ethernet


Right now I see 2 main routes to go down, I have a spare Core 2 Duo E6750 that's been sitting doing nothing since I got my i7 machine almost a year ago. With that in mind, I've come up with this spec


BUILD #1
------------

Mobo - Zotac GF9300-K-E ITX WiFi Motherboard - £89.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zotac-GF9300-K-E...739&sr=1-5

CPU - Core 2 Duo E6750 - £FREE (already own)

RAM - Corsair CMX8GX3M2A1333C9 XMS3 8GB Two Memory Module Kit - £37.52
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Corsair-CMX8GX3M...ers_text_b



BUILD #2
------------

Scrap using my existing C2D, and put it in the pile of unused stuff with the GF 8800GTS & other bits ;-)

Mobo - Asus AT3IONT-I DELUXE NVIDIA ION Integrated Intel Atom N330 CPU (1.6GHz) Motherboard - £150.40
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asus-at3i...x-with-psu

RAM - 4GB kit (2GBx2), 240-pin DIMM, DDR3 PC3-8500 - £21.59
http://www.crucial.com/uk/store/mpartspe...35A5CA7304


For both setups, I quite like this case - although I do realize id need to get a PSU for setup #1, so may just look elsewhere.

Lian Li Mini-Q PC-Q07 - £56.24
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lian-Li-Mini-Q-P...895&sr=8-9

For both setups id just stick to a generic 2TB HDD

Samsung HD204UI 2TB Spinpoint F4 Hard Drive SATA II 3Gb/s - £52.31
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/2tb-samsu...e-89ms-ncq

And once again, probably this BR drive for both

Lite On BD-ROM, IHOS104-37, SATA, Black, OEM - £38.75
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/liteon-ih...c-software


Bringing #1 to £274.81
and #2 to £319.29

Although bear in mind ive not looked up cheapest prices on the net yet. Either way I wanted to spend less then £400, which is done easily - but if there's any noticable upgrades anything thinks would be good, then do let me know. I've still got quite a bit of scope in terms of budget, that's not the real issue here.


My questions on them are...

Would Build#1 be over powered? produce too much heat/noise for a small HTPC ?
Would Build#2 with the Atom approach be powerful enough?
Which Build would best suit my needs?
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wilco3d Offline
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Post: #2
Probably swap the ASUS board on build #2 to the newer ASUS AT5IONT-I DELUXE - hadn't seen that, and i've got fair bit of movement left on budget.
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numb7rs Offline
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Post: #3
1: Yes, build 1 will be much more powerful than necessary, and will be hotter (therefore louder) than the Atom system. However, you will save a considerable amount of money by already owning the CPU. You could also underclock the CPU, reducing the voltage it requires, to reduce heat and noise. Also, 8GB of RAM for a HTPC is double what you'll actually need. 4GB is plenty for a Windows system doing not very much.

2:
The Atom systems are perfectly capable as HTPCs. You may not be able to run the heaviest of skins, as these can be CPU intensive, however the GPU can handle full HD playback without issue. I have the non-deluxe version of the AT5IONT board (they didn't sell it in the UK when I bought my system) running XBMC and a media sharing server, and have no complaints. If you do decide to go for it, bear in mind that it takes laptop RAM.

3:
This is down to you. Both systems will provide you with what you need. You need to decide which properties you consider most important. If you go for the Atom system, you will have a small, quiet box that you can use to watch TV, browse some webs, and distribute media to the rest of the house, but not much else. If you go for the more powerful system, you'll have all the capability of the Atom system, but with headroom for some more demanding uses, especially if you get an additional graphics card. However, this increased performance will be offset by the need for more active cooling, so more noise.

Asus AT5IONT-I in an A+ CUPID-3 + 2TB Seagate LP + 16GB SSD + Ubuntu + Samba + XBMC

AT5IONT-I Problems? Check out my Motherboard I/O Map for troubleshooting tips.
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eskro Offline
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Post: #4
i dont particularly suggest mixing an ATOM/iON system with WIndows7 + XBMC,,,,
I dont think you'll be happy with the performance you'll have,,

1080P via WiFi is not recommanded,,,

However, u already have a CPU, i'd use it!

WiFi-G on the ZOTAC GF9300-K-E is reviewed as not so good,,,

i'd suggest you use the ZOTAC G45ITX-B-E.....
it has WiFi-N and the video chipset X4500HD is also perfect for FULL HD 1080P!!
check this build here --> http://forum.xbmc.org/showpost.php?p=793169&postcount=1
(This post was last modified: 2011-08-29 00:02 by eskro.)
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wilco3d Offline
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Post: #5
Thanks for the advice guys, much appreciated.

numb7rs, processing power wise the most important task that id want the rig to do, would be to extract large (4-10gb on avg) compressed archives, not saying it needs to do this at the same time as streaming 1080p, but I just don't want it taking a considerable amount of time. I don't want to use my main machine for anything, in hope to not have to deal with transferring to the htpc at all.

Noise is an issue though, as it would be sitting under my TV - would you expect a c2d build to be too noisey in this situation?

Thanks for your input Eskro - would the performance of W7 really be that bad on a ATOM/iON system? It's difficult to gauge due to such mixed reviews out there.

I've also been considering quite a slim-line case, as I realised the Lian Li case I picked has no chance of fitting where id like it to go. I've been looking at the Silverstone LC19 (http://www.scan.co.uk/products/silversto...ard-reader)

It looks really nice which is important, although quite expensive and needs a slim line optical drive, but I'm not too tight on the budget here so that's okay. It's quite restrictive height wise though - would I fit a c2d with heatsink/fan in there on the ZOTAC G45ITX-B-E suggested? Or do you know of a more 'friendly' slimline case with a bit more movement?


Sorry for all of the questions!

Cheers,

Joe
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bluray Offline
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Post: #6
here is your complete system-

1. APEX MI-008
2. ZOTAC GeForce WiFi LGA 775 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard G45ITX-B-E
3. Silenx IXP7409 iXtrema Pro Fan
4. LG Black 12X BD-ROM
5. HP OEM Windows 7 Vista XP Media Center MCE PC Remote Control
6. SAPPHIRE 100324L Radeon HD 6570 2GB
7. Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6700 2.66GHz (in your possession)
8. G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3
9. Corsair Force CSSD-F40GB2-A 2.5" 40GB

more storage option with this esata external drive- Fantom GreenDrive 2 TB USB 2.0/eSATA

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
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CpTHOOK Offline
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Post: #7
Hello...

I guess since you had your own CPU the forum is letting you off easy, but check out the feedback I received when I posted plans for a similar build with a 775 socket MOBO and CPU.. Build recommendation came from BluRay at that....!!

http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=108084

Good luck!! BTW, per aggresive recomendations i switched to the i3 build with an 1155 socket MOBO which may allow me to upgrade CPU's in the future. 775 socket CPU ugrades are limited!
(This post was last modified: 2011-08-29 04:22 by CpTHOOK.)
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eskro Offline
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Post: #8
Your right CpTHOOK, we did suggest you to get an 1155 socket build,,,
since you started fresh, its the rigth way to go,,,

but since he already has a CPU laying around, its good to put it in use!

Now bluray, the op is looking for a slim case, why do you suggest him the APEX MI-008?
i know i did too, in post #4, but now, space-wize, he needs a slim case...
also, i would suggest avoiding G.SKILL RAM,,,
i know thats what i have but, i feel lucky i got a working set,,,
reviews on GSKILL ram are demolishing,,,

Ok so, wilco3d, Here's option#3:

[Image: 9mefm.png]
CPU: You already have
CASE: SilverStone ML03B
MOBO: Intel DG43RK
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 380W
GPU: ASUS HD5450
RAM: Kingston HyperX 4GB (2x2GB)
WiFi: ASUS PCE-N13


All that for a TOTAL of --> ~£218,17 shipped to your door!!
this will meet all your needs no questions asked!!

What do u think of option#3?

Smile


Also, note that u could get an 1156 socket HTPC too!
so option#4, would look like this:

[Image: 9mefm.png]
CPU: Intel Pentium G840
CASE: SilverStone ML03B
MOBO: Gigabyte GA-H61M-S2-B3
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 380W
GPU: ASUS HD5450
RAM: Kingston HyperX 4GB (2x2GB)
WiFi: ASUS PCE-N13


TOTAL of --> ~£264,25
so this will cost you like ~£46,08 more then option#3 but,
you'll have 'current' technologie so to speak,,,
oh yeah and, the INTEL G840 crushes/destroys the INTEL E6750!!

What do u think of option#4?

Smile


As for Hard Drive, you plan on using one laying around or?
go for an SSD?

hope this helps...
(This post was last modified: 2011-08-29 08:31 by eskro.)
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wilco3d Offline
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Post: #9
Thanks again for the input guys, much appreciated.

Eskro, I like the idea of an i3 due to having future upgradability but I want something smaller, mitx rather then matx, could you recommend a 1155 socket mitx board? I see zodac do a few but lots seem unavailable. Would be nice to know I could above an i5/7 in there at a later date maybe when I upgrade my main rig for example.

Bluray I like this build option too, as I'm sure it will meet my demands easily - will keep it in mind with my options - I like the case but may need something smaller, I'll measure it up later to check.

As I want it for storage im looking at a 2tb drive, no need for small ssd in my case as it'll be left on 24/7, boot times aren't important really, although if it did have a wake up on demand via network then even better ;-)



Cheers,

Joe
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bluray Offline
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Post: #10
wilco3d Wrote:Bluray I like this build option too, as I'm sure it will meet my demands easily - will keep it in mind with my options - I like the case but may need something smaller, I'll measure it up later to check.

Cheers,

Joe

here is your new list-

1. APEX MI-008
2. ZOTAC GeForce WiFi LGA 775 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard G45ITX-B-E
3. Silenx IXP7409 iXtrema Pro Fan
4. LG Black 12X BD-ROM
5. HP OEM Windows 7 Vista XP Media Center MCE PC Remote Control
6. SAPPHIRE 100324L Radeon HD 6570 2GB
7. Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6750 (in your possession and it's a good cpu)
8. G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3
9. Hitachi Deskstar 2 TB 3.5-Inch CoolSpin

i'm not sure how tight is your cabinet. apex case is merely 5" in height!

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
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eskro Offline
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Post: #11
wait a sec, so you want a 2TB hard drive that act as OS drive + storage drive?
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wilco3d Offline
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Post: #12
It'll store all of it's own media yes, BR-rips, music etc.

It won't be needed for anything more advanced then that storage wise.
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eskro Offline
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Post: #13
Ok so, is the APEX case too big?

we need to know,,,
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wilco3d Offline
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Post: #14
Just took some measurements - it would fit with about an inch room above, but to be honest, I'm not to keen on the plastic front! and confused why it has a 3.5" drive bay shield!

I much prefer the LC19 I mentioned earlier, full aluminium, and only 2.68 inches tall! Would would go lovely in my entertainment unit.

Just going back to the onboard CPU/GPU - just comparing the Atom D525 w/ ion2 with the E-350 with Radeon HD 6310, which one is the better performer?
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bluray Offline
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Post: #15
wilco3d Wrote:Just took some measurements - it would fit with about an inch room above, but to be honest, I'm not to keen on the plastic front! and confused why it has a 3.5" drive bay shield!

I much prefer the LC19 I mentioned earlier, full aluminium, and only 2.68 inches tall! Would would go lovely in my entertainment unit.
i see, and i'm suggesting to go with whatever make you happier!

wilco3d Wrote:Just going back to the onboard CPU/GPU - just comparing the Atom D525 w/ ion2 with the E-350 with Radeon HD 6310, which one is the better performer?
i don't have the atom d525, but my asrock e350m1 w/ hd 6310 can playback everything i threw at it so far.

>Alienware X51- do it all HTPC
>Simplify XBMC configurations
>HOW-TO Bitstreaming using XBMC
I refused to watch movie without bitstreaming HD audio!
find quote
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