My new HTPC

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My new HTPC

Postposted on Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:04 am

I thought Id share my new HTPC build, it's my ultimate (until something else better comes along) HTPC. My old HTPC wasn't as quiet as I'd like it to be, I did consider trying to make it quieter but I couldn't resist the urge to build a new HTPC. So I built a new HTPC.

I had been looking at building a new HTPC with A-Tech Fabrications 2800HP case, so I finally pulled the trigger and did it. And I love it! It's the best HTPC, it's super silent. I call it the silent ninja HTPC because it's dressed in black and it's silent like a ninja!

Specs:
Case: A-Tech Fabrication 2800HP
Motherboard: Intel DH77DF H77
CPU: Intel Core i7-3770T (quad core @ 2.5 GHz, 3.7 GHz Turbo Frequency, 45w TDP)
RAM: 8GB Corsair (2x4GB) 1600Mhz DDR3
HDD #1: Corsair Force Series GT 120GB SSD
HDD #2: Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EZRX 1TB
ODD: Sony Optiarc BC-5650H
TV Tuner: DigitalNow Quad DVB-T Receiver
Wireless NIC: Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 Mini PCIe (6235AN-HMWWB)
PSU: 160 Watt PicoPSU
Graphics: Integrated, HD 4000

Pics:

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My new HTPC next to the old one in an Origen AE S16V case.
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More information and a review of the 2800HP case is up on my blog.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:33 pm

I do love that case; Though the restrictions it poses would annoy me, you've gotta admire the engineering of passive solutions.

I don't keep two machines up to date, I keep one machine really up to date and the HTPC gets all the hand-me-downs, which means full-size cards and active cooling.
This only really works because in the last decade I've not had the financial limitations that previously drove me to overclocking. If I can hear my PC over the sound of the fridge hum in the other room these days, it's too noisy.

Out of interest, where's it going to go? It doesn't look like you downsized for space-saving reasons and that old table it's sitting on in that last photo is, uh... an acquired taste. How do I politely say that that sexy, sharp-edged expensive-looking peice of metal contrasts rather starkly with the (can't see it that clearly but here goes....) slightly-scratched, uh... 'pre-loved' and um... I guess 'economical-with-design-and-functionality' coffee table. (It doesn't even have a bottom shelf, there's no cable management and the leg supports mean you can't even put stuff under it!)
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:44 pm

Wow. That's a nice looking HTPC case! Love that there's finally some creative attempts at passive cooling in small spaces.

The only question I have is re the specs: Why would you put a core i7-3770 in an HTPC (especially since you're stuck with HD 4000 graphcis?). Why not the core-i3?

Now, if one of these cases came out that was a bit larger, but somehow implemented a similar passive cooling solution for a middle range TDP video card (like up to around 150W or so), then that would be really interesting.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:35 pm

cynan wrote:The only question I have is re the specs: Why would you put a core i7-3770 in an HTPC (especially since you're stuck with HD 4000 graphcis?). Why not the core-i3?


Heh, I thought the same thing. In my opinion, the HD size is more of a concern than the CPU in the average HTPC build. This coming from a guy who just upgraded from a 1.5TB to a 3TB in my HTPC.
That 3770 is going to spend a LOT of time twiddling its cores waiting for something to do.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:05 pm

If he uses it to transcode in real time for streaming to other devices (especially multiple other devices) it could be a good choice.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:42 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:Out of interest, where's it going to go? It doesn't look like you downsized for space-saving reasons and that old table it's sitting on in that last photo is, uh... an acquired taste. How do I politely say that that sexy, sharp-edged expensive-looking peice of metal contrasts rather starkly with the (can't see it that clearly but here goes....) slightly-scratched, uh... 'pre-loved' and um... I guess 'economical-with-design-and-functionality' coffee table. (It doesn't even have a bottom shelf, there's no cable management and the leg supports mean you can't even put stuff under it!)


acquired taste LOL. I don't really care that much I look at the screen not the coffee table that the HTPC sits on. It's a table and it does it's job well, i.e. it supports stuff like a champ.

No real reason for downsizing, but if you really want a reason then I wanted a black case that was small and would look more like a bit of Hi-Fi kit. My amp is black and a silver case kinda looks funny with a black amp so i wanted a case that would fit in with other bits of Hi-Fi kit.

Or I wanted something smaller and cuter, something that's easily movable.

I wanted a passively cooled case and I liked the look of that case, size wasn't really a concern.

cynan wrote:Why would you put a core i7-3770 in an HTPC


It's an i7 3770T, the i7 3770 is a different part. I chose it because I wanted a CPU with the best IGP you can get on an Intel CPU which is the HD 4000 IGP (and because there isn't enough space for a dedicated graphics card and a TV tuner), it also had to have a low TDP. The i7 3770T ticks both of those boxes, and the TDP is a mere 45w. So the question is why wouldn't I?

None of the i3's use the HD 4000 IGP, and the only i3 with a low TDP is the i3 3220T which has a 35w TDP but the HD 2500 IGP doesn't cut it.

Besides this build wasn't about building something that is good enough as cheaply as I can.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:14 pm

Looked up the guys that make that case- they've got a nice operation going on there. Prices aren't too far out of whack I don't think, but it is some expensive kit- would be nice to see some AMD options, if they ever get their act together on the power consumption/heat generation front.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:01 pm

There is the i3-3225 with HD4000, 55W TDP. I am betting its actual power draw is equal to or lower than a full 4C/8T i7, even a low TDP one. Maybe you selected the parts a while ago, it was launched in September. 'Why not?' would have been to save money :) but maybe that doesn't matter, and maybe you could set up some automated transcoding from the tuner which would be faster on the i7.

i3-3225 http://ark.intel.com/products/65692/Int ... e-3_30-GHz 55W TDP

I've been looking for similar nice-looking cases too, but wanted a more compact one. I've found some made by Streacom and Wesena that are even smaller than the A-Tech ones and less expensive to boot. They may not be *quite* up to the build quality but the reviews I've found are all positive.
Last edited by MadManOriginal on Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:14 pm

It looks mostly like he ordered straight from the site- which isn't a bad idea, after you stomach the price of the case itself, which is over $700 after you've added the necessities. If you're going to spend that much, you'd might as well get the right parts the first time. That Blu-ray drive, in particular, looks quite difficult to find; slot loading drives never are.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:42 pm

None of the i3's use the HD 4000 IGP, and the only i3 with a low TDP is the i3 3220T which has a 35w TDP but the HD 2500 IGP doesn't cut it.

The 3225 actually does use the HD 4000. HTPC's are the one thing where CPU matters the least while the GPU matters the most. If you aren't gaming there is absolutely little need for all of that extra CPU power.

Want to see what your processor will do while you're watching a HD movie? Here you go.

Image
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:10 pm

kc77 wrote:HTPC's are the one thing where CPU matters the least while the GPU matters the most.


One exception to the rule that I can think of would perhaps be people playing a lot of anime files (I'm not one), since 10-bit encodes have become more common there, and those can't be hardware-accelerated at all.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:19 pm

insulin_junkie72 wrote:
kc77 wrote:HTPC's are the one thing where CPU matters the least while the GPU matters the most.


One exception to the rule that I can think of would perhaps be people playing a lot of anime files (I'm not one), since 10-bit encodes have become more common there, and those can't be hardware-accelerated at all.

Wouldn't it make sense to just transcode those to a format more amenable to hardware acceleration?
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:43 am

Similare to the streacom cases.

http://www.streacom.com/products/fc5-od ... s-chassis/

http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/ ... is_c53.htm

But those are "made in china"... So the dilema is pay $600 for made in USA or $300 for made in china.
If it was 30% more I would be fine, but at double the price...

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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:20 am

MadManOriginal wrote:There is the i3-3225 with HD4000, 55W TDP.


Let me rephrase, none of my favorite computer shops stocked an i3 with a 4000 IGP.

I know CPU processing power doesn't matter much in a HTPC, but the aim of the build wasn't to build a HTPC that was 'good enough' for as little as possible. I don't know why everyone has an obsession with the cheapest kit that is just good enough. I wanted the best and most power efficient CPU not the cheapest power hog of a CPU because I only had a power budget of ~150w. Anyway A-Tech had the i7 3770Ts and I CBF trying to source the i3-3225 (besides the TDP is still 10w higher than the i7 3770T) or a cheaper CPU that is good enough or waiting for AMD to drop Trinity which are power hungry monsters anyway.
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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:49 am

Jingles wrote:I know CPU processing power doesn't matter much in a HTPC, but the aim of the build wasn't to build a HTPC that was 'good enough' for as little as possible. I don't know why everyone has an obsession with the cheapest kit that is just good enough. I wanted the best and most power efficient CPU not the cheapest power hog of a CPU because I only had a power budget of ~150w. Anyway A-Tech had the i7 3770Ts and I CBF trying to source the i3-3225 (besides the TDP is still 10w higher than the i7 3770T) or a cheaper CPU that is good enough or waiting for AMD to drop Trinity which are power hungry monsters anyway.


Power monster only if you let them be that way. You expect an APU like Trinity to run games 2 to 4 time faster then a i7-3770k and still use less power ?
And under normal use Trinity doesn't use any more power then an intel solution, or generate more heat. both architecture at idle/near idle are near identical.
TDP == max power under max load.
I personally prefer AMD solution for HTPC because I also use it for LAN gaming. For a HTPC I value iddle power & GPU performance over low TDP under full CPU load.

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Re: My new HTPC

Postposted on Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:39 pm

just brew it! wrote:
insulin_junkie72 wrote:
kc77 wrote:HTPC's are the one thing where CPU matters the least while the GPU matters the most.


One exception to the rule that I can think of would perhaps be people playing a lot of anime files (I'm not one), since 10-bit encodes have become more common there, and those can't be hardware-accelerated at all.

Wouldn't it make sense to just transcode those to a format more amenable to hardware acceleration?

That's pretty much what I do. Converting a 30 minute 1080p clip takes about 10-15 minutes. The other reason to do it is that VLC just got Hi10p support recently, and XBMC doesn't have it at all. So while it sucks that you don't have HW acceleration, you also can't look at the movie because Hi10P on an unsupported player looks like garbage.
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