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Building HTPC. Need advice.


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4 replies to this topic

#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Andy Olivera

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Posted July 22 2008 - 10:02 PM

Greetings all,

In preparation for finally upgrading to an HD set, I'm building this PC so I can take full advantage of it. However, I have the bulk of it done, but I need a second(or third) pair of eyes to confirm if I've missed anything. Here's the configuration:

Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610W
Motherboard: Foxconn A78AX-S
Processor: AMD Athlon X2 4850e 2.5GHz
Processor Cooling: SilenX IXC-92HA2
Memory: OCZ Platinum 2GB DDR2-800
HD: Western Digital 160GB SATA2
Graphics: EVGA Geforce 8800GT Superclocked
Graphics Cooling: SilenX IXG-80C
Optical: Lite-On Blu-ray Drive DH-4O1S

All of this will be going into an old Enermax Mid-Tower I have. The advice I need regards the mobo; I'm fairly certain it will be able to support the 2.1v the OCZ RAM needs, but what I'm not certain about is whether or not the SATA Blu-ray drive is going to be recognized. There are many reports of SATA optical drives not being seen by some boards, but I don't see any reviews of this particular board, and I can't find a list of the affected chipsets.

As for the rest of the setup, I'll just be praying the power supply and graphics card will fit in the old case and I won't need a new one.Posted Image

Thanks in advance!
"It is not, and never should be, the policy of the law to require the protection of the foolhardy or reckless few and therefore to deprive, or interfere with, the enjoyment by the remainder of society of the liberties and amenities to which they are rightly entitled." -unknown

#2 of 5 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 26 2008 - 03:02 AM

Sounds like a pretty good system to me.

Just out of curiosity, are you stuck on building or have you considered a pre-built system? Building is frequently cheaper, but sometimes there's a good enough deal out there to beat it out. Something to consider is the following:

The Dell Online Store: Build Your System

It's a Dell Inspiron with a 2.4GHz quad-core processor, 3GB RAM and 500GB disk for $499. You would need to upgrade the video card for $60 to run BluRay and you would need to add the BluRay player to it, but it would be a pretty sweet system.

#3 of 5 OFFLINE   Andy Olivera

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Posted July 26 2008 - 10:42 AM

You're right, that's a pretty good deal. I think the best thing to do would be to buy the PC as is(plus the $10 DDR2-800 upgrade) and add the BD player/8800GT myself for around $300. I'll drop by Fry's in the next couple days to see if they have a better deal, but if not I'll probably go with the Dell.

After being drained from all the researching I was perilously close to scrapping the whole HTPC idea and buying a PS3. Not that the PS3 is a bad choice, but I'm fairly certain the next time I got the urge to play a PC game I'd be kicking myself. Posted Image

Thanks, Seth!!! I'll post back with the results when I get everything up and running.

Now the only thing I have to be concerned about is whether the Dell might be too loud or not have the right connection for the PCIe card. and there was much rejoicing...
"It is not, and never should be, the policy of the law to require the protection of the foolhardy or reckless few and therefore to deprive, or interfere with, the enjoyment by the remainder of society of the liberties and amenities to which they are rightly entitled." -unknown

#4 of 5 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted July 26 2008 - 09:59 PM

I think you'll be fine with the PCIe card. The possibility of it being too loud is a real possibility. I've never tried to replace the stock heat sink in a pre-built machine, but that may be an option if you are not satisfied with the noise level.

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   Andy Olivera

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Posted August 03 2008 - 11:11 PM

Well, my plans didn't work out so well. I went with your idea of buying a pre-built PC, except I went with the Compaq SR5550f, which was on sale at Fry's. I got home and began working on it, first by replacing the power supply(the 250W PS included didn't even have a PCIe connector). Luckily, I had one lying about, and it fit(just barely). Next up was the 8800GT and the BD-ROM drive. Everything was running smoothly and I thought I was home free when I loaded SpeedFan to check the temps: my shiny new GPU was a blazing 75C at idle(50C ambient)!

Since removing the side panels on the case had no effect, I was left with a few options: buy a new power supply with a bottom-mounted exhaust fan and/or replace the HSF on the card. Given that I was looking at another $100, I was trying to come up with alternate solutions, the most likely of which was transplanting everything into the old case I mentioned above. That, of course, wouldn't work, because the motherboard in this new system was micro-ATX, while my case was ATX only.

The reality was the Compaq case just didn't have the necessary ventilation for a high-powered GPU. So, after hours and hours of tinkering and finally coming to the conclusion this PC just wasn't going to work without more money, I decided to scrap the HTPC idea for now. I realized I only really wanted an HTPC on the off-chance I would want to play a PC game sometime in the near future, and it just wasn't worth the money. Besides, I had a brand new plasma TV sitting idle for days and I hadn't even started the software portion of the installation.

It was back to Fry's for me, this time to pick up a PS3. Read the manual, hooked it up and a minute later I had a 1080p signal showing up on my new TV. Beautiful!

I've definitely learned a valuable lesson from this: pre-built PCs are great, but only if they can do everything you need right out of the box; otherwise, a full DIY build is the way to go.
"It is not, and never should be, the policy of the law to require the protection of the foolhardy or reckless few and therefore to deprive, or interfere with, the enjoyment by the remainder of society of the liberties and amenities to which they are rightly entitled." -unknown