First time builder! Complete! HTPC w/cablecard tuner

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First time builder! Complete! HTPC w/cablecard tuner

Postposted on Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:41 pm

Hey everyone!

Long time computer user, first time builder!

System for: HD video playback, Blu-ray playback, media center
Budget: $500, but can go higher if needed.
Location: United States
Preferred vendor: Whichever has the best price!
ETA: Want to build very soon!

I want to build a solid computer to permanently attached to my big screen tv and use as my whole house media hub (pictures, videos, streaming netflix, onlive gaming, maybe some other gaming, who knows). So, basically, I need a system that has an HDMI out and can easily handle blu-ray disc and 1080p video playback for less than $500 total.

Since I know very little about computer building I have started by looking at barebones kits. I have the feeling that pro builders will probably try to waive me off barebones kits, but there is just way too steep of a learning curve for me at the moment.

I have three kits in the running, but could definitely use some expert advice:

1: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=7380572&CatId=333 Is the current front runner because of its decent price, good clock speed, separate graphics card, and HDMI port.

Specs of #1: ASUS P8H61-M LE/CSM R2.0 Socket 1155 Motherboard, Intel Core i3-3220 Processor, 2x Corsair CMX4GX3M1A1333C9 XMS3 4GB DDR3 Ram, EVGA GTX650 1GB Video Card, DVDRW, Ultra 550w PSU, Mid-Tower ATX Bundle

2: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=7406360&CatId=333 This is currently my number 2. It is training number 1 because it doesn't have a dedicated video card. I read somewhere that it is best to have a dedicated video card for 1080p blu-ray/video playback - not sure how true that is.

Specs of #2: GIGABYTE GA-78LMT-S2P AM3+ Motherboard, AMD Athlon II X4 640 Quad Core Processor, Thermaltake CL-P0500 CPU Cooler, 2xADATA Premier Srs 4GB DDR3 Memory, MSI 4350, DVDRW,2xCase Fans, Case w/450w PSU

and

3: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=5643734&csid=_61 This is currently number 3 because I've read that AMD chips use more power than the i3 and i5 processors. It is close to #2 because it does have a separate video card, not to mention the far cheaper price. If this system would perform well, but not use too much more power, then it would easily be number 1.

Specs of #3: GIGABYTE GA-78LMT-S2P AM3+ Motherboard, AMD Athlon II X4 640 Quad Core Processor, Thermaltake CL-P0500 CPU Cooler, 2xADATA Premier Srs 4GB DDR3 Memory, MSI 4350, DVDRW,2xCase Fans, Case w/450w PSU

For any system, I would be tossing in a http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... CatId=3636 to watch Blu-ray movies and also burn blu-ray backups of pictures and video I take. On a side note, how do these drives do for Blu-ray playback? I was planning on getting Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 12.

On another note, none of these barebones systems comes with a sound card. Do I need a separate sound card to get 5.1 surround out of the HDMI port?

Anyone have some tips or comments on these possible systems? Would you recommend any one of the three over the others? Would you recommend a totally different system?

Thanks for the help!

SoCo
Last edited by southrncomfortjm on Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:15 pm

Welcome to the Tech Report!

A few questions could clarify what you need...
Are you near a Micro Center?
Have you read the System Guide?
Do you want to play games?
Do you want to use this HTPC as a DVR?
Does this PC need to fit into your A/V media center?
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:24 pm

First off, those aren't pre-assembled, they're just bundles so that you get a bit of a discount. If you want a pre-built system, try iBuyPower or CyberPower for pre-built systems that actually use good quality components unlike Dell and such.

Second, what types of games might you play. If they're not too demanding (or you're willing to turn the video detail down), you might do pretty well with an AMD APU like:
an A10-5800K for $130 (as an HTPC-focused alternative (ie, very light gaming or no gaming), this is a good option for $105)
with an inexpensive motherboardfor $70
8GB DDR3 1866 RAM for $45 (good for AMD APUs, for Intel processors you're fine with something like this for $40)
Antec Three Hundred case with USB3.0 for $50 (should we be looking at smaller cases like this?)
430W PSU for $20 (this system with an AMD 7850 graphics card added later would only need 400W. Without discrete graphics you only need 290W)
Blu Ray Burner for $65
[Edit]: forgot a hard drive. This 1TB drive is on sale for $50 right now (half off)

Total before Windows license = $430

Here's an article to give you an idea of the A10-5800K and A8-5600K gaming performance compared to other processors and discrete graphics cards.

Microcenter has the best prices on CPU + mobo combos like an i3-3225 and AsRock Z77 Pro4-m for $190 or an i3-3225 and Biostar H77Mu3 for $140. These Intel systems would be good with an AMD 7770 for $100 which would wipe the floor with that A10-5800K in gaming.
Last edited by DPete27 on Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, Asus GTX660 TOP, 120 GB Vertex 3 Max IOPS, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 8GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Samsung SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Hand-Built Wood Case
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:17 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:Welcome to the Tech Report!

A few questions could clarify what you need...
Are you near a Micro Center?
Have you read the System Guide?
Do you want to play games?
Do you want to use this HTPC as a DVR?
Does this PC need to fit into your A/V media center?


Thank you for the welcome and the reply! Seems like a really great site!

Microcenter - Yep! The Northern Virginia one is minutes away. Didn't even know it was there.

Systemguide - Not so much. Will look at it now. EDIT - System guide reviewed and post updated.

Priorities - (1) HD video playback (video files on HDD, blu-rays from disc drive, Netflix streaming). Included with HD video playback is HDMI support and 5.1 surround sound output (run HDMI to TV and TV to surround sound receiver)
(2) DVR video recording - I can raise my hardware budget to $550 or more or more since I think I will want/need a second hard drive for this and need a TV capture card. Software budget (Windows 7 if needed, Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 12, Beyond TV Software) will be separate from hardware budget. Gaming capabilities can easily be exchanged for DVR.
(3) Relatively low power consumption - want to avoid a large increase in my monthly electric bill if possible.
(4) Non-high end gaming - this is not essential in any way, but it s a nice feature to have. I am mostly an Xbox gamer and use Onlive for computer gaming since all I currently have is a netbook. So, basically, gaming would be nice, but I'm not willing to pay very much extra to possibly play Crysis or something and defintely not at the expense of HD video playback or DVR recording.

DVR - Sounds like it would be a great setup! I guess I'd want a second high data transfer rate drive to use mostly for DVR since that seems like it would really tax a drive. If at all possible on my budget, it would be great if my system could record TV and play back HD video (saved on a different drive or off the blu-ray player) at the same time. Didn't even know this was possible, thank you for bringing it up!

Media center - I currently use a converted Ikea Expedit laid down the long way. I do like the Silverstone enclosure from the Dorm P.C. 2.0 since it seems like the most versatile and compact. Seems like it could easily fit in any media center I bought.

Also, I was planning on using Windows Vista Home Premium to keep costs down for the moment since that is what I have laying around unused. Do I need Windows 7 or 8?

Thanks again for the help!!!

SoCo
Last edited by southrncomfortjm on Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:32 am

DPete27 wrote:First off, those aren't pre-assembled, they're just bundles so that you get a bit of a discount. If you want a pre-built system, try iBuyPower or CyberPower for pre-built systems that actually use good quality components unlike Dell and such.
...
Total before Windows license = $380

Here's an article to give you an idea of the A10-5800K and A8-5600K gaming performance compared to other processors and discrete graphics cards.

Microcenter has the best prices on CPU + mobo combos like an i3-3225 and AsRock Z77 Pro4-m for $190 or an i3-3225 and Biostar H77Mu3 for $140. These Intel systems would be good with an AMD 7770 for $100 which would wipe the floor with that A10-5800K in gaming.


Yeah, I know about the barebones kits needing assembly. I was just looking to save money and get everything I wanted. The prebuilt HP, Dell, etc systems just weren't delivering what I wanted. Also, I like the idea of building my own machine that I can upgrade as the years go by.

Wow, that AMD APU looks like a pretty sick value for only $104. Definitely more to consider when that whole price tag is under $400.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:13 am

Check out this 1TB hard drive thats on sale for half off right now = $50. Thats a really good deal. (forgot to include that in my build suggestions, but it's in there now)

Since you live near Microcenter, I would strongly suggest the Intel CPU and motherboard combo I suggested at the bottom of my earlier post. I cant overstate how much better a 7770 discrete graphics card paired with that system is for gaming than the AMD APU for only $40 more. But, like I said before, I dont know how much the focus is on gaming with this build. I know you mentioned it, but it was mixed in with a bunch of HTPC uses also.

If compact is what you're looking for, you could still buy the i3-3225 from microcenter combo with the AsRock H77M-ITX motherboard for $175 and a CoolerMaster mITX case for an ultra compact rig that will still support a dual slot graphics card like the 7770 or more. The HD4000 graphics in the i3-3225 are good for HTPC usage, but they're still a bit weak from a 1080p gaming perspective. The good thing about this option is that you can add a discrete graphics card at any time. It doesn't have to be part of the initial purchase.

Here's a review of the CM Elite 120 case. It does have its challenges compared to the Silverstone Sugo case, but it also costs half as much. Considering you're probably not looking to stuff this thing with much more than what I've mentioned above, I think this case would do the job well. Keep in mind that a 7770 will consume about 30% less power (70W less) under load than the GTX 560 Ti used in that article which means less heat to dissipate. You should be looking at the green bar graphs in that article which represent the GTS 450 (i think) having roughly the same power draw as a 7770. Those numbers aren't bad.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, Asus GTX660 TOP, 120 GB Vertex 3 Max IOPS, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 8GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Samsung SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Hand-Built Wood Case
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:36 am

DPete27 wrote:Check out this 1TB hard drive thats on sale for half off right now = $50. Thats a really good deal. (forgot to include that in my build suggestions, but it's in there now) Since you live near Microcenter, I would strongly suggest the Intel CPU and motherboard combo I suggested at the bottom of my earlier post. I cant overstate how much better a 7770 discrete graphics card paired with that system is for gaming than the AMD APU for only $40 more. But, like I said before, I dont know how much the focus is on gaming with this build. I know you mentioned it, but it was mixed in with a bunch of HTPC uses also.
Any word on the size you're looking for? HTPC's tend not to be full size PCs so they can be hidden away in the entertainment center. If that's what you're looking for, you could still buy the i3-3225 from microcenter combo with the AsRock H77M-ITX motherboard for $175 and a CoolerMaster mITX case for an ultra compact rig that will still support a dual slot graphics card like the 7770 or more.


Hey Pete,

Updated my second post, and that ends up answering a lot of your questions. Gaming is way down on the list as JustAnEngineer has distracted me with adding DVR functionality. The reason I think I need a graphics card (and I could be wrong about this) is to get the HDMI port and full HD video and 5.1 sound playback from either video files or the blu-ray drive.

I Definitely like that Silverstone SG05BB-450-USB3 enclosure, but that CoolerMaster is definitely in the running because it is less than half the price. Wow. Using my limited tech understanding, it seems like it could accomodate two 3.5inch HDDs which is what I think I need for my DVR setup.

I like the Intel systems better because I've read they use less power and still deliver the same performance. The long term money savings on power are probably worth it compared to the AMD chips IMO.

The HDD you linked is definitely inexpensive, unfortunately it also sounds very cheap as many are arriving DOA. I'm definitely willing to spend a bit extra to get higher quality drives.

So this is what I’ve come up with so far. The Cool Master case really helps keep costs down.

Processor: Core i3 3225 3.3ghz for $109.

MOBO: Biostar H77MU3 LGA 1155 Intel for $70. (What’s the major difference between the ASRock and the Biostar? Don’t want to cheap out for $40 if the ASRock is way better)

RAM: Corsair Vengeance Series 8GB DDR3-1600 for $43 (couldn’t find the ram you listed at Microcenter and this seemed comparable)

Case: Coolermaster Elite 120 Advanced Mini ITX case for $50. Only thing about this case is that it seems to run rather hot. Will it work well with this setup and potentially a lower end graphics card? Also, what would it take/cost to replace the apparently loud fan that the review talks about?

Power Supply: Cooler Master Elite Power 460 Watt ATX for $35.

2x Harddrives: WD Caviar Blue 1TB for $85 each, $170 total.

Blu-ray drive: Asus 12x internal Blu-ray burner for $80.

All told, that’s $557 plus tax and then I just need a video capture card (any recommendations?). As you said, I can add a video card later if I get that itch. I’d also toss on Windows Vista Home Premium since that is what I have available (saves on OS cost too).

Also, you mention some Microcenter combos on the processor and ASRock. Where is that combo? I can't seem to find it. I only seem AMD bundles.

What do you think?

Thanks for the help!
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:00 pm

southrncomfortjm wrote:What’s the major difference between the ASRock and the Biostar?

You'll need a mITX motherboard if you're going to use the CM Elite 120 or Silverstone Sugo. microATX motherboards will not fit. The AsRock H77M-ITX has HDMI right there on the rear panel and supports 7.1 surround (through the HDMI I believe). Other than, that, looks good.

PS, I dont' see any reason not to trust those Seagate 1TB hard drives. The reason they're so cheap is because they're on a limited time sale right now. Most hard drives on newegg have 4-star ratings.

PPS, the combo offers are right here. "$40 off a motherboard when purchased with an i3-3225 or i5-3570K" as shown in the graphic at the top left corner of the page.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, Asus GTX660 TOP, 120 GB Vertex 3 Max IOPS, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 8GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Samsung SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Hand-Built Wood Case
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:25 pm

Okay, looks like I'm all set. System is as follows:

Processor: Core i3 32253.3ghz for $119 - Microcenter

MOBO: Asrock MOBOfor $55 after rebate - Microcenter

RAM:G.Skill Ripjaw 8gb RAMfor $39 - Newegg

Case: Coolermaster Elite 120 Advanced Mini ITX case for $50 - Microcenter

Power Supply: Cooler Master Elite Power 460 Watt ATXfor $35 - Microcenter

2x Harddrives:1tb Seagates at $50 each, $100 total - Newegg

Blu-ray drive: Asus 12x internal Blu-ray burnerfor $80 - Newegg

All told, about $480 with shipping and tax.

Before I purchase all of this, just want to be sure I have everything. I can add a video card down the road - I will test performance without one and see if I need one. Going to tack on a wireless mouse and keyboard too.

Anyone have any recommendations on a good video capture card to use to turn this machine into a DVR? JustAnEngineer mentioned the DVR function, but I don't know what kind of card to buy. Any other things needed for a DVR setup?


Thanks everyone!
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:46 pm

For RAM, These just went on sale for $35. Same 1600MHz, but 1.25V so technically lower power draw and should run a bit cooler, but more importantly they're $5 cheaper on sale. Thats the same modules I'm running in my main system (in signature). Haven't had any problems.

Check this keyboard out. I have one of these for my HTPC. It works great.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, Asus GTX660 TOP, 120 GB Vertex 3 Max IOPS, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 8GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Samsung SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Hand-Built Wood Case
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:08 pm

DPete27 wrote:For RAM, These just went on sale for $35. Same 1600MHz, but 1.25V so technically lower power draw and should run a bit cooler, but more importantly they're $5 cheaper on sale. Thats the same modules I'm running in my main system (in signature). Haven't had any problems.

Check this keyboard out. I have one of these for my HTPC. It works great.


Changes made. The keyboard looks great - I like not having a separate mouse to keep track of.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:26 pm

Here's a decent horizontal Micro-ATX case:
$95 Silverstone Grandia GD05B-USB3.0
$99 Silverstone Grandia GD04B-USB3.0

If you stick with a vertical mini-tower, the Antec NSK3480 is a solid choice.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811129035

Micro-ATX is cheaper than Mini-ITX, and it's much more expandable (four PCIe slots instead of just one).
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:31 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Here's a decent horizontal Micro-ATX case:
$95 Silverstone Grandia GD05B-USB3.0
$99 Silverstone Grandia GD04B-USB3.0


Micro-ATX is cheaper than Mini-ITX, and it's much more expandable (four PCIe slots instead of just one).



Okay, so I could replace the Cooler Master case with this one, and also replace the more expensive ASRock MOBO with the cheaper BIOstar(right?) and it would be a wash on the price. That works. I like the slimmer form factor too.

What about the DVR setup? What do I need for that?
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:33 pm

southrncomfortjm wrote: What about the DVR setup? What do I need for that?
Do you have Cable, Satellite, Over-the-Air or other television service?
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:34 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:
southrncomfortjm wrote: What about the DVR setup? What do I need for that?
Do you have Cable, Satellite, Over-the-Air or other television service?


I have Cox cable here in Norther Virginia.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:40 pm

With cable TV, you'll need a cablecard tuner (like the Ceton InfiniTV4 or the SiliconDust HDHomeRun). You pick up the cablecard from your cable provider, follow the instructions to pair it with your tuner and in less than 30 minutes, you should have TV and DVR functions through Windows Media Center. Slow 5400/5900 rpm "green" hard-drives are fast enough for video. You don't need a 7200 rpm drive, but you will eventually want one in the 2 to 3 TB range.
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:10 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:With cable TV, you'll need a cablecard tuner (like the Ceton InfiniTV4 or the SiliconDust HDHomeRun). You pick up the cablecard from your cable provider, follow the instructions to pair it with your tuner and in less than 30 minutes, you should have TV and DVR functions through Windows Media Center. Slow 5400/5900 rpm "green" hard-drives are fast enough for video. You don't need a 7200 rpm drive, but you will eventually want one in the 2 to 3 TB range.


This is what I am finding: Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe - 4-channel Internal Cable TV Tuner Card for CableCARD

The price is a bit steep, but I'll make that money back in a year from not having to rent the set top box. So I just put this in my computer, install the cable card, the Ceton to my TV via a Coaxial cable, and then run setup through windows? Sounds great. And I don't need any additional software? The Ceton comes packed with the DVR software I need?

Any idea if it works with Vista? I see windows 7 everywhere, so I may just have to install Vista and upgrade to Windows 7.

I will probably have to upgrade to a 3tb drive one day, they are just too expensive at the moment.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:39 pm

Okay, here is the final system:

Processor: Core i3 32253.3ghz for $119 - Microcenter

MOBO: Biostar H77MU3 LGA 1155 mATX Intel Motherboardfor $20 after rebate - Microcenter

RAM:G.SKILL Sniper Low Voltage Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600for $35 - Newegg

Case: Silverstone GD05B case for $100 - Amazon.

Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12Vfor $40 - Newegg

2x Harddrives:1tb Seagates at $50 each, $100 total - Newegg

Blu-ray drive: Asus 12x internal Blu-ray burnerfor $80 - Newegg

Tuner: Ceton InfiniTV 4 Quad-tuner Card for Watching Digital Cable TV on the PC, PCI-Express x1 Interface - $185 on Newegg

All told, about $700 with shipping and tax.

Does it all stack up?

The only thing I'm not totally sure about is the power supply. I think it will fit and provide enough power, but I'm not 100% on that.

Thanks everyone!
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:48 pm

Seems ok to me. Only thing I would say is that if you decided to use a dedicated GPU later on down the road (as you mentioned you might do), depending on the GPU chosen that wattage may not be suitable.

Low end GPU's will be ok on it, but something like a Radeon 7850 or higher wants about 500W to be safe. One of those btw, will compliment that system nicely...
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:50 pm

rcs2k4 wrote:Seems ok to me. Only thing I would say is that if you decided to use a dedicated GPU later on down the road (as you mentioned you might do), depending on the GPU chosen that wattage may not be suitable.

Low end GPU's will be ok on it, but something like a Radeon 7850 or higher wants about 500W to be safe. One of those btw, will comliment that system nicely...


I hear you man. The inner video game/tech geek in me is screaming to put a graphics card in there, but this computer is my HTPC that will be in the living room and I know my wife won't go for gaming in there too often. Better to just enjoy the system the way it is and add a video card later along with replacing the power supply.

Also upgraded one of the HDD to Seagate Barracuda Green ST2000DL003 2TB 5900 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive for a bit of extra DVR storage.

Thanks!
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:05 pm

rcs2k4 wrote: something like a Radeon 7850 or higher wants about 500W to be safe

Not true for this system. If you plug it into a power supply calculator with a 7850, it only requires a 350W PSU.

Amazing how this build started out as a $430 simple HTPC and grew into a full fledged $700 system with quad channel DVR capabilities.
Last edited by DPete27 on Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:10 pm

DPete27 wrote:
rcs2k4 wrote: something like a Radeon 7850 or higher wants about 500W to be safe

Not true for this system. If you plug it into a power supply calculator with a 7850, it only requires a 350W PSU.


So I'm all set either way. Good to know!
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:15 pm

Ohhhh, interesting website... Said I need *only* 753W, but I installed a 900w PSU...

...I still say go over wattage for the PSU every time. They can last years and many upgrade cycles...
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:18 pm

Can I suggest one last thing. Why don't you just get a single 1TB hard drive for now and see where that gets you. 3TB is A LOT of space, the holidays are approaching with holiday deals, and hard drive prices will (hopefully) only get cheaper. Back before the Taiwan flooding a year ago, I bought a 2TB hdd for like $65.
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:21 pm

DPete27 wrote:Can I suggest one last thing. Why don't you just get a single 1TB hard drive for now and see where that gets you. 3TB is A LOT of space, the holidays are approaching with holiday deals, and hard drive prices will (hopefully) only get cheaper. Back before the Taiwan flooding a year ago, I bought a 2TB hdd for like $65.


Man, those were the days huh? You're right. I don't have 1 TB of storage in my whole house currently. I'll just see how the drive holds up under DVR usage and opt for more space later.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:30 pm

rcs2k4 wrote:I still say go over wattage for the PSU every time. They can last years and many upgrade cycles

A system with a 7850 with an i5-750 only uses 180W while gaming. From my estimations, that PSU calculator I linked takes the system power at 90% load and gives it roughly a 1.7 safety factor for the PSU wattage recommendation (using 20% capacitor aging). PSU's hit peak efficiency around 50% load and a system rarely runs at a sustained 90% CPU and GPU load for very long so that should land "average" system power usage in that 50% PSU load range. It definetly doesn't hurt to go over on wattage within reason, you're only sacrificing a bit of efficiency. You just don't want to go too crazy buying a 750W PSU for a system that maybe only draws 100W at 90% load for example. (this doesn't apply to your system here SoCojm, you're good with that 380W Antec)
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:41 pm

Hey guys. So, I bought all the parts, including the Logitech K400 keyboard. Also got a retail copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. Everything should arrive (or be picked up) on Thursday or Friday.

Since this is in fact my first computer building rodeo, I've reviewed the How to Build a PC Guide here (nice guide by the way, makes this all seem very manageable) and think I am all set. Other than getting a SATA cable for the blu-ray drive and having my handy screwdriver, is there anything else I need?

One other thing that is giving me pause is cooling. I read one of the reviews from Amazon on my case and it say:

"The three included fans are probably great if you have three case fan header pins on your motherboard. If not, there is an adapter to allow you to plug them directly into your power supply. However, they will then run at full speed, and I found them to be too loud in that scenario. So, I replaced all three with Antec TrueQuiet fans set to the low setting, and now you really cannot tell that there is a computer running in your living room up by the TV. "

The Biostar MOBO I got lists: 1 x CPU Fan Header 1 x System Fan Header. Seems to me, and i definitely could be completely wrong, that I won't be able to connect the 3 included fans to my motherboard since there won't be enough slots. If that is true, should I go ahead and get 3x Antec Truequiets set at low? Or should I test it all out first?
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:03 pm

southrncomfortjm wrote: Other than getting a SATA cable for the blu-ray drive

The mobo comes with 2 - SATA cables. One for your hard drive and one for your optical drive. If/when you add the second hdd, you'll need to buy/find an extra one.

southrncomfortjm wrote:The Biostar MOBO I got lists: 1 x CPU Fan Header 1 x System Fan Header

From my experience with Biostar mobos, that system fan header will probably not have any fan speed controls available (aka it will just run the fan at full speed) Again, I suggest putting it all together and deciding at that point whether or not it's too loud BEFORE spending money on quieter case fans.

Building a computer is actually very simple if you take your time, read included installation manuals, and are careful inserting the CPU into the socket. It's basically just plug everything in where it fits. With small form factor PCs, the biggest challenge is routing cables to allow the most open space inside the case as possible. Having all the cables tucked away allows the fans to push unimpeded air through the case, which is obviously good for thermals. Speaking of which, its a good idea to stress test your system and monitor temps (especially the CPU) to make sure everything is within a safe operating temperature. I imagine you should see something like 40C idle and 60C under load with a stock Intel cooler.
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:17 pm

DPete27 wrote:
southrncomfortjm wrote: Other than getting a SATA cable for the blu-ray drive

The mobo comes with 2 - SATA cables. One for your hard drive and one for your optical drive. If/when you add the second hdd, you'll need to buy/find an extra one.

southrncomfortjm wrote:The Biostar MOBO I got lists: 1 x CPU Fan Header 1 x System Fan Header

From my experience with Biostar mobos, that system fan header will probably not have any fan speed controls available (aka it will just run the fan at full speed) Again, I suggest putting it all together and deciding at that point whether or not it's too loud BEFORE spending money on quieter case fans.

Building a computer is actually very simple if you take your time, read included installation manuals, and are careful inserting the CPU into the socket. It's basically just plug everything in where it fits. With small form factor PCs, the biggest challenge is routing cables to allow the most open space inside the case as possible. Having all the cables tucked away allows the fans to push unimpeded air through the case, which is obviously good for thermals. Speaking of which, its a good idea to stress test your system and monitor temps (especially the CPU) to make sure everything is within a safe operating temperature. I imagine you should see something like 40C idle and 60C under load with a stock Intel cooler.


"Find" being a good word. I have an old desktop sitting around that I could probably scavenge a SATA cable from if I need it.

Okay, but will I be able to hook up all three fans that are included in the case? And, if I did have to get the Antec fans (or maybe just 1 or 2), would I be able to hook all those up?

Definitely looking forward to putting this thing together and making sure it works. Will definitely run those tests!
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/MSI 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/Asus 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: First time builder! - updated with system specs

Postposted on Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:08 pm

SilentPCReview didn't seem too bothered by the noise having all fans at 100%. If the system is a bit loud with all 3 case fans at 100%, I would play around with how many fans you have running. You might be able to get away with only 2 fans (or even just 1 intake fan) since you won't need additional cooling for a discrete graphics card at the moment. Check your system temps with each setup and decide which one works best.

It looks like you get a 4-pin Molex to 3 fan header adapter with the case (check out the last picture with the accessories). You'll be able to run up to 4 case fans and your CPU fan with what you've got.
Last edited by DPete27 on Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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