The smallest HTPC possible.

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The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 8:56 am

So I am thinking about adding a HTPC to the Living Room but there are some requirements I am looking for:

1) Smallest footprint possible (I am thinking mini ITX)
2) Best bang for the buck, I would like to keep is cheap
3) most power for its size (In other words if I wanted to play Far cry at reasonable levels I could :P )
4) must have HDMI
5) Did I mention smallest footprint possible?
6) Wireless a plus....but they always make USB stuff for that so....not necessary.


Any suggestions?
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 9:00 am

Most of that sounds like it's up to the mobo to support it, a decent AMD system is probably what you'll be looking at I think. Athlon II x3, fanless 5570, 2GB DDR3 on a decent Mini-ITX board with integrated WiFi.
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 9:17 am

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1314/

That looks like a good option. It probably won't play Far Cry (then again, any HTPC that could play games wouldn't really be an HTPC anymore).
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 10:34 am

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/pcs/20 ... d-review/1

The Dell Zino is also a viable option.

Here is a good website to see what's available in mini form as well: http://www.mini-box.com/site/index.html
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 12:21 pm

Kurotetsu wrote:http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1314/


Theres got to be something cheaper that I can build.......
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 8:37 pm

You might find some ideas that you like here:
Micro-ATX: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=72060
Mini-ITX: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=70774
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Sat May 29, 2010 9:59 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:You might find some ideas that you like here:
Micro-ATX: http://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=72060
Mini-ITX: http://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=70774


Ooh thanks that Mini ITX set-up looks promising!
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Sat May 29, 2010 5:23 pm

The problem with Mini-ITX is that it has only ONE expansion slot (compared to four for Micro-ATX). If you want a TV tuner and a gaming graphics card for your mini-ITX system, you'll have to use a USB tuner.
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Sat May 29, 2010 6:39 pm

tanker27 wrote:So I am thinking about adding a HTPC to the Living Room but there are some requirements I am looking for:
1) Smallest footprint possible (I am thinking mini ITX)
3) most power for its size (In other words if I wanted to play Far Cry at reasonable levels I could :P )

There aren't many motherboard choices available in mini-ITX, and the ones that do exist have serious compromises compared to the wide selection of do-anything micro-ATX motherboards on the market.

Intel:
Motherboard:
$130 +7½ -15 MIR Zotac H55ITX-A-E mini-ITX H55 LGA1156 motherboard with WiFi and one PCIe X16 slot
or $80 -15 MIR ECS H55H-I mini-ITX H55 LGA1156 motherboard with one PCIe X16 slot

Processor:
$115 Intel Core i3-530 hyper-threading dual-core 2.93 GHz LGA1156 processor and on-package IGP with HSF
or $2?? Intel Core i5-655K hyper-threading dual-core 3.2 GHz LGA1156 processor and on-package IGP with HSF
or $280 Intel Core i5-750s quad-core 2.4 GHz LGA1156 processor with HSF
or $373 Intel Core i7-860s hyper-threading quad-core 2.53 GHz LGA1156 processor with HSF

Memory:
$120 2x2 GiB PC3-12800 G.Skill F3-12800CL7D-4GBECO (DDR3-1600, CAS 7, 1.35V)
or $99 2x2 GiB PC3-10600 G.Skill F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT (DDR3-1333, CAS 9, 1.5V)

I might choose the $200 Core i5-750 2.66 GHz on a decent micro-ATX motherboard, but the ECS mini-ITX motherboard board cannot provide enough power for a regular quad-core 45nm desktop processor. The Zotac board can. Neither of them can handle the $280 Core i7-860 2.8 GHz.


AMD:
Motherboard:
$130 Jetway JNC84-LF mini-ITX 785G+SB750 socket-AM2+ motherboard with IGP and one PCI slot
or $100 -20 MIR Zotac GF8200-C-E mini-ITX GeForce 8200 socket-AM2+ motherboard with IGP and one PCIe X1 slot

Processor:
$62 AMD Athlon II X2 250 dual-core 3.0 GHz socket-AM3 processor with HSF
or $142 AMD Athlon II X3 405e triple-core 2.3 GHz socket-AM3 processor with HSF
or $179 AMD Phenom II X4 905e quad-core 2.5 GHz socket-AM3 processor with HSF

Memory:
$95 +1 2x2 GiB SO-DIMM PC2-6400 G.Skill F2-6400CL5D-4GBSQ (SO-DIMM DDR2-800, CAS 5, 1.8V) - for Jetway
or $110 +2 2x2 GiB PC2-8500 GeIL GG24GB1066C6DC (DDR2-1066, CAS 6, 1.6V) - for Zotac

I would choose the $62 Athlon II X3 425, $100 Athlon II X4 635, $160 -15 card Phenom II X4 955 BE or $200 Phenom II X6 1055T on a decent micro-ATX motherboard, but the mini-ITX motherboards might not provide enough power for more than a 65-watt CPU.
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Sun May 30, 2010 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Sun May 30, 2010 8:30 am

I am thinking Micro ATX isnt the way I would want to go because of two things 1) cost and 2) footprint. For what I am going to use this HTPC for is a replacement for my WD TV Which has been giving me problems lately.

I am willing to sacrifice the whole "gaming" aspect to keep it small. Heck by the time I will pull the trigger Boxee Box would probably be released. (but no price on that yet)
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Sun May 30, 2010 9:44 am

You can get more power for significantly less money in micro-ATX than you can in mini-ITX.

What are the dimensions of the space that you need the HTPC to fit into? Are you looking for a cube, a slim-line desktop, a skinny tower, a 1U rackmount or have you not made up your mind?

Mini-ITX cubes:
The SUGO SG05 is 222 x 176 x 276 mm (8.74 x 6.93 x 10.87 inches) WxHxD.
The SUGO SG06 is 220 x 177 x 286 mm (8.66 x 6.97 x 11.26 inches) WxHxD.
Mini-ITX slim tower:
The WT-02 is 91 x 276 x 320 mm (3.58 x 10.87 x 12.60 inches) WxHxD
Micro-ATX cubes:
The SUGO SG02 is 270 x 212 x 393 mm (10.63 x 8.35 x 15.47 inches) WxHxD.
The SUGO SG03 is 200 x 360 x 312 mm (7.87 x 14.17 x 12.28 inches) WxHxD.
Micro-ATX mid-tower:
The TM-210 is 170 x 355 x 395 mm (6.69 x 13.98 x 15.55 inches) WxHxD.
Micro-ATX slim-line HTPC:
The MicroFusion Remote 350 is 39 x 12 x 41 cm (15.1 x 4.5 x 16.1 inches) WxHxD.
The 7K09BB is 367 x 99 x 381 mm (14.45 x 3.90 x 15.00 inches) WxHxD.

Of these cases, the slim-line cases turned vertical would have the smallest "footprint".
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Sun May 30, 2010 9:25 pm

Here's an inexpensive micro-ATX option with plenty of power for gaming:

$95 Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H micro-ATX 880G+SB850 socket-AM3 motherboard with IGP, one PCIe X16, one PCIe X4, one PCIe X1 and one PCI slot
$97 -17 AMD Athlon II X4 630 quad-core 2.8 GHz socket-AM3 processor with HSF
or $62 -15 AMD Athlon II X2 250 dual-core 3.0 GHz socket-AM3 processor with HSF
or $200 -20 AMD Phenom II X6 1055T six-core 2.8 GHz socket-AM3 processor with HSF
$120 2x2 GiB PC3-12800 G.Skill F3-12800CL7D-4GBECO (DDR3-1600, CAS 7, 1.35 V)
or $99 2x2 GiB PC3-10600 G.Skill F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT (DDR3-1333, CAS 9, 1.5 V)
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Mon May 31, 2010 6:58 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:You can get more power for significantly less money in micro-ATX than you can in mini-ITX.

What are the dimensions of the space that you need the HTPC to fit into? Are you looking for a cube, a slim-line desktop, a skinny tower, a 1U rackmount or have you not made up your mind?

Of these cases, the slim-line cases turned vertical would have the smallest "footprint".


I was thinking a slim line case.

EDIT: I know I am going to sacrifice any semblance of gaming by going this route, I am ok with that. Besides I have both PS3 and a 360 connected in the living room.
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Sat Aug 14, 2010 3:53 am

I wish the ITX market would open up more for this exact reason honestly.
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Low profile graphics

Postposted on Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:15 am

If you want gaming, this is the fastest low-profile graphics card that I have seen. Sparkle makes a LP 9800GT.

This Gizmodo review of the Radeon 5570 shows how they stack up, pulling Tom's Hardware numbers from various games. (The 9800 GT and 8800 GT have almost identical specs and performance...so much so that I actually have a system which SLI's the two without any flashing of bios necessary.) Min FPS for FarCry 2 with the 9800 GT is about 45, for the 5570 about 29.

Now, the 9800 GT ups the power usage, but in the test the peak system draw is well within power supplies that you can get for slim systems.

The mITX motherboard selection for Intel is better than for AMD, but NewEgg has the ASUS M4A88T-I AM3 board with 2x USB 3, 1 x eSATA, dual WiFi antennas (802.11n), and Bluetooth. It even takes processors up to the Phenom II X6 1055T. The one slightly odd thin is that it seems to use notebook memory...which isn't insanely more expensive...just something to watch out for when ordering if you go this route.

That will give you all of the slim-line mITX gaming potential that you could ask for and a system to which you can connect external drives to give you tons of storage. It does mean a USB tuner...but overall this is one of the best mITX boards that I've seen.
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:28 am

Wouldn't your PS3 cover your home-theater needs? Just a thought. Note that I don't own a PS3 myself, so I don't know all it can and can't do... But a friend of mine has one, and he uses the PSN, and pretty sure he watches anime series he downloads from the 'net on it, streames from his laptop...
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Re: The smallest HTPC possible.

Postposted on Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:53 am

Since you say you're thinking of foregoing gaming...

I like the ION/Atom SFF machines like the Acer Aspire Revo 36xx. (Asus has one as well; I'm sure others do). I picked up one recently on sale for C$365:
Win 7 Home Premium, 4GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, Atom 330 and ION chipset (very roughly a 9400M). I've seen them in the past for as low as about $200 for a bottom end configuration with only 1 GB RAM, 160GB HDD, weaker graphics and Linux.

The 2GB and 4GB RAM models have no trouble doing 1080p H.264 playback provided you use a DXVA-compliant media player.

With a dual core (HT-enabled) 1.6GHz processor and circa 9400M graphics, you'd not be getting great gaming performance mind you. (Older stuff, circa 2003 tends to run ok, as do many casual games).

But the price is good, and the form factor is close to unbeatable, assuming you don't want or need a built-in DVD drive. They also run virtually silent with the fan only audible to me at startup.
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