Cheap HTPC laptop needed

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Cheap HTPC laptop needed

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:31 pm

I'm looking for a cheap HTPC laptop to run XBMC, stream media, and house my media collection. The cheaper the better, hopefully somewhere between $350-$600.

Needs:
HDMI
500GB+ hard drive space
Gigabit NIC

Wants:
Intel i3/i5 horsepower (as opposed to weaker Atom/Fusion chips)
USB 3.0
Blu-Ray

Don't care:
Build quality
Screen quality
Battery life
Portability

This laptop covers my needs, and some of my wants, and the price ($400) seems hard to beat.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Asus+-+Lapt ... &cp=1&lp=1

Any other suggestions?
Last edited by Spyder22446688 on Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Spyder22446688
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Re: Cheap HTPC laptop needed

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:12 pm

I just built an HTPC for next to nothing with the following goodies:

ECS MS200 Intel Socket LGA1156 Intel H55 2 x 204Pin Intel HD Graphics from CPU Black Mini / Booksize Barebone System

Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)

LG Black 8X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 6X BD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA Slim Internal Blu-ray Super-Multi Combo Drive Model CT21N - OEM

Intel Core i3-550 Clarkdale 3.2GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics BX80616I3550

I already had an SSD from black friday, but a 500GB drive shouldn't be too hard to get. I'm really happy with the system. It's whisper quiet, and looks better wired up than a laptop could hope to, since all the wires are in back like a normal system (and it even has a vertical mount thing). It also has your gigabit, wireless N, HDMI, and lots of USB ports (no 3.0 though unless you forgo the wifi and pony up for this Koutech Add-On Card Model IO-MPEU230 and hack it to the front connectors).

Note that it already comes with a slim-line DVD burner. I just ponied up some extra for the blu-ray.

Finding a laptop at your price range may not be the easiest thing, especially with the bluray. Lots of external slimline models available though.

**Ninja edit**
I didn't even notice that that system is 2nd gen i3. For the cost, it's definitely got mine beat. I still like mine for how it looks among the rest of my media equipment, and I never trust laptops out in the open.
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mac_h8r1
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Re: Cheap HTPC laptop needed

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:15 pm

Sorry, it's gotta be a laptop. Also, let's forget about Blu-Ray, I agree it drives the cost up.
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Spyder22446688
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Re: Cheap HTPC laptop needed

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 4:51 pm

Sorry, it's gotta be a laptop


Okay, I'll bite. Why?

Better option, IMO, is to build a simple NAS (dualcore Atom is enough to saturate GBe, if you're transcoding on-the-fly to DLNA/etc you might want a Core i3) for about $300 (doable if you're staying on Atom, but drives aren't cheap right now) and then drop $100 on an Apple TV 2, jailbreak the sucker, and run XBMC.
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Re: Cheap HTPC laptop needed

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:17 pm

PeregrineFalcon wrote:Okay, I'll bite. Why?


I don't mean to drop the hammer on you specifically, and heck, I'm even guilty of this behavior from time to time. :lol: BUT, I'm a bit annoyed about asking for advice on a specific topic, then getting nothing but push-back from people who think I should be doing or considering something completely different. Granted, this type of behavior is generally well-intentioned, because maybe I overlooked a good idea. I might even enjoy the discussion of alternative solutions if accompanied by on-point suggestions. Example: "Here are two decent laptop choices, but have you also thought about a small-form-factor option?"

Here, I've asked a specific question concerning laptops. I've been pretty detailed about what I want, too. Instead of any laptop suggestions, I've gotten suggestions for a small-form-factor PC, a NAS, and Apple TV. :roll:

I want a laptop for two reasons. One, it might need to be used as a laptop would, for normal mobile computing purposes, on moment's notice. Second, I don't want to deal with an external keyboard or display. No, I do not want to hear argument about why my reasons aren't good or smart, or why I could be considering something different...

Any suggestions for cheap laptops fitting the bill would be greatly appreciated!
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Spyder22446688
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Re: Cheap HTPC laptop needed

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:57 pm

Spyder22446688 wrote:I want a laptop for two reasons. One, it might need to be used as a laptop would, for normal mobile computing purposes, on moment's notice. Second, I don't want to deal with an external keyboard or display. No, I do not want to hear argument about why my reasons aren't good or smart, or why I could be considering something different...

Those are fair reasons, but when you're asking for an unusual solution that appears inferior to competing options, you really ought to anticipate the question.

Also note that laptops and any SFF desktops that use a laptop-style power supply, usually have poor grounding characteristics. If you produce a static shock while using the computer with any wired peripheral, the TV takes the entire brunt of it at the port connection. Using a wireless keyboard setup minimizes the day-to-day risk, although with the laptop there is still a risk of causing trouble while disconnecting or reconnecting the unit for travel.
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Re: Cheap HTPC laptop needed

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:11 pm

ludi wrote:Those are fair reasons, but when you're asking for an unusual solution that appears inferior to competing options, you really ought to anticipate the question.


I don't think laptops as HTPCs are very unusual, nor are they inferior to the competing options, considering a laptop will satisfy my stated needs and likely be the cheapest. Spending quite a bit more for a small-form-factor box of similar functionality? Buying an Atom-based NAS and hacking a 720p-only Apple TV? Hardly seem like the better solutions. If price wasn't an issue and I didn't want a laptop, I'd totally trick one of these out:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6856158027

Anyways, I'm not trying to be nasty or start an argument. Just a little frustrated that, after about ten posts, no laptop suggestions. I don't think my request was really that strange or unusual. Shrug. To each his own, I guess. I'll just go somewhere else for advice.
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Spyder22446688
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Re: Cheap HTPC laptop needed

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:55 pm

HP Pavilion G series works for me. I have the AMD A4 APU and a 500gb hard drive. Works great with Win 7 Media Center. Gotta think it would work well with your apps too. Intel CPU is also available, but slightly more spendy. A4 version set me back $350 at Staples just before Christmas. HP does a nice job of posting drivers and BIOS updates for it on their web site.
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Re: Cheap HTPC laptop needed

Postposted on Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:20 pm

cjcerny wrote:HP Pavilion G series works for me. I have the AMD A4 APU and a 500gb hard drive. Works great with Win 7 Media Center. Gotta think it would work well with your apps too. Intel CPU is also available, but slightly more spendy. A4 version set me back $350 at Staples just before Christmas. HP does a nice job of posting drivers and BIOS updates for it on their web site.


Fancy that, I was checking out the G series last night. The model I was looking at was 10/100 only on the NIC, but I should shop around, thanks for the suggestion. Everyone I know complains about their HP laptops, but I've been really impressed with the two budget models I've used.
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Spyder22446688
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