Building my first HTPC: Budget €250

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gnolan Offline
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Post: #1
I'm hoping people can help me with this. I'm looking to build a HTPC for around €250. The idea will be to run XBMC on it. Due to my low budget i'll probably have to run it over linux. To be honest, i've never used Linux before. Is it difficult to adapt, and is XBMC straight-forward to install on it?

I'm not an expert in this field at all. From searching around it seems that, for the mostpart, mobos with integrated CPUs and GFX cards are cheaper than buying the components separately. I'd be all for keeping costs down, but i would like to have the option of upgrading a few years down the line; which i assume can't be done with the integrated mobo/cpu/gfx.

I'd like it to be able to play 1080p content; not that i do at the moment but i may at some stage in the future. I'd also like to be able to use whatever skins i want - basically make the most out of everything that XBMC can do.

So, my budget would need to include:
mobo
cpu
gfx card
fan??
mini-itx case
RAM (4GB??)
SSD (32GB??)
2TB HD (WD Green)

Have I left anything out? Do you think this is possible?

Would it be possible to leave out the SSD and still have a responsive system, even with a heavy skin?

Something to note is that i'm in Ireland, so i can't purchase from Amazon.com, newegg and a lot of others.

Thanks for the help.
(This post was last modified: 2011-08-29 12:52 by gnolan.)
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gnolan Offline
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Post: #2
Can anyone give me their opinion on the AMD A8-3850 and the A6-3650. They both have integrated graphics, AMD Radeon HD 6530D and AMD Radeon HD 6550D respectively.

Both drew my attention because of their price performance on cpubenchmark.net. Both are FM1 sockets, is this a problem.
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ramaht Offline
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Post: #3
You can leave the SSD out.
You also don't need a lot of CPU power or memory (2GB is sufficient).

Cases are expensive, so you might want to save some money on that part.


And well, maybe give us an online shop to visit. Rather difficult to judge prices in a foreign country...
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gnolan Offline
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Post: #4
ramaht Wrote:You can leave the SSD out.
You also don't need a lot of CPU power or memory (2GB is sufficient).

Cases are expensive, so you might want to save some money on that part.


And well, maybe give us an online shop to visit. Rather difficult to judge prices in a foreign country...

Will try to use mostly www.dabs.ie, maybe scan.co.uk and probably crucial.com for RAM. Think i might buy the hard drive from amazon.co.uk.. But mostly the first link because of free shipping over €90, and amazon has free shipping over £25. Crucial, i think ship anything for free.

The case is actually giving the biggest problem at the moment, all the cheapest ones look absolutely terrible. Would be happy enough to leave out the SSD, will this make much of an impact on performance when using a heavy skin?

What do you think of either of those two processors i linked to above and their integrated graphics?
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chcknbrst1tst Offline
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Post: #5
http://http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread....post727463

this is a link to a nice cheap htpc im building it with some small chages
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LaurensBER Offline
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Post: #6
Basically what I want for a HTPC is the following :
  • Fast GUI
  • Fast boot/shutdown/standby
  • Hardware 1080P support
  • Silent

You could go with the CPU you mentioned but those CPU's use a lot of power, are not very silent and are not well supported under Linux.

I recommend an Nvidia ION system, the Linux support is incredible (plug and play basically), those machines are almost silent and the video decoding performance is awesome.

You can probably get an Nvidia ION set for 170 Euro now, add a harddrive (1 or 2 TB doesn't matter much, just pick what suits you best) and a SSD if you have the money (a SSD will make everything feel 10x as fast and a 32 GB SSD is half the price of a A6-3650).

This way you can get an awesome silent system that can play every video you throw at it (in very High Quality!), that boots in 10-15 seconds and feel really "snappy".
(This post was last modified: 2011-08-29 18:16 by LaurensBER.)
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dfis4 Offline
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Post: #7
Pixmania.ie and Komplett.ie are also good. Don't forget ebay too!
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gnolan Offline
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Post: #8
dfis4 Wrote:Pixmania.ie and Komplett.ie are also good. Don't forget ebay too!

LaurensBER Wrote:Basically what I want for a HTPC is the following :
  • Fast GUI
  • Fast boot/shutdown/standby
  • Hardware 1080P support
  • Silent

You could go with the CPU you mentioned but those CPU's use a lot of power, are not very silent and are not well supported under Linux.

I recommend an Nvidia ION system, the Linux support is incredible (plug and play basically), those machines are almost silent and the video decoding performance is awesome.

You can probably get an Nvidia ION set for 170 Euro now, add a harddrive (1 or 2 TB doesn't matter much, just pick what suits you best) and a SSD if you have the money (a SSD will make everything feel 10x as fast and a 32 GB SSD is half the price of a A6-3650).

This way you can get an awesome silent system that can play every video you throw at it (in very High Quality!), that boots in 10-15 seconds and feel really "snappy".

I see what you mean. Would those AMD processors i was looking at be very loud compared to the Atoms? Are the Nvidia Ion systems upgradeable or are the CPU and GFX integrated into the board?

How does this and this compare? I can see that the Asus one has a slightly better processor, is there anything else to it?

Also, can you recommend a cheap mITX case + psu?
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Driver 944 Offline
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Post: #9
gnolan Wrote:Due to my low budget i'll probably have to run it over linux. To be honest, i've never used Linux before. Is it difficult to adapt, and is XBMC straight-forward to install on it?

I built a system that Eskro was recommending a while back, but he changed it to a system with more power.
Celeron Processor - E3400
Zotac motherboard with Nvidia
2GB memory
MI-008 case
SSD drive for Operating System
1TB drive for media
Remote Control
Wireless keyboard and mouse

I chose Linux Mint 10, undervolted the processor and my jaw hit the ground when the system booted in 14 seconds. Mint 10 installed and upgraded everything. I would say Mint 10 is along the lines of "Linux for Dummies". It works very nice with XBMC and a remote. I have Boxee and Hulu Desktop, and it was a no brainier to install. There are tons of free applications, but deciphering the names they use is like learning a new language. Surf the internet with Firefox, burn CD/DVD's if you have a burner in the system, JDownloader and alot more. Desktop works just like Microsoft.

There is a learning curve, but it's actually easier than I thought. It doesn't require alot of time to catch on, and if you get stuck help is easy to find. The only part that had me for a while was no sound - change mute in alsa mixer settings, works.
You can burn a disk, boot from dvd drive and it will work - slow, but expected from a DVD, and give you a chance to test it before you install. Best to have a wired internet connection but you can get your feet wet.
http://www.linuxmint.com/release.php?id=15 - (Supported until April 2012) Upgrade to Mint 11 when XBMC makes it's new release -PERFECT!
(This post was last modified: 2011-08-29 20:56 by Driver 944.)
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Balinus Offline
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Post: #10
I also use Mint 10 (KDE) for my laptop running XBMC. No problem, google is your friend. Smile
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gnolan Offline
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Post: #11
Maybe i'll go with Linux mint then.

Can i get anyone elses opinion on the AMD A6-3650 and this motherboard? I'd be quite enthusiastic about this combo provided they were compatible and that i could keep the noise down.

The APU seems to be great according to cpubenchmark.
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eskro Offline
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Post: #12
why not going the e-z way and get a Zotac ZBOX ND22 (Price: £202.25)??

BTW, http://freetocompare.ie/shopping seems a good place for Ireland.....
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gnolan Offline
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Post: #13
eskro Wrote:why not going the e-z way and get a Zotac ZBOX ND22 (Price: £202.25)??

BTW, http://freetocompare.ie/shopping seems a good place for Ireland.....

Hi eskro, thanks for that. The price is appealing alright but does it not have a kind of bad processor?

I suppose i'm looking for something that i can update in a few years. Would that Zotac be zippy and responsive and be able to handle a heavy skin?
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wsume99 Offline
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Post: #14
^^I don't know about "zippy and responsive" but many users report that the CULV CPU in the ND-22 is adequate for heavier skins. The downside is you cannot upgrade that system in the future because the CPU is soldered directly onto the MB.

HTPC: Win 7 Home 64-bit | MB | CPU | GPU | RAM | Case | PSU | Tuner | HDDs: OS, Media | DVD Burner | Remote
Media server: unraid 4.7 | CPU | MB | RAM | Case | PSU | HDDs: Parity-2TB, Data-2x2TB
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gnolan Offline
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Post: #15
wsume99 Wrote:^^I don't know about "zippy and responsive" but many users report that the CULV CPU in the ND-22 is adequate for heavier skins. The downside is you cannot upgrade that system in the future because the CPU is soldered directly onto the MB.

I think that might be might of a clincher for me. I want to be able to adapt the one unit to my future needs.

How does this setup look:

ASRock E350M1
WD 2TB hard drive
32GB SSD
1x2GB Kingston Value RamConfused??
mITX CaseConfused?
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