Shave some dollars of this HTPC

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Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:26 am

I've decided to go with the following HTPC build. After some thinking I decided that I won't be gaming on this system in order to save space.

I've never built an HTPC so I'm not really sure how much power I actually need. I am, however, sensitive to total power draw. That is why I chose an Ivy Bridge chip instead of an AMD APU. If anyone thinks AMD is worth it even with the increased TDP I'd love to hear about it.

My planned system is listed below. Anyone have an area where I could save some money (i.e. it's more powerful than necessary)?

CPU: Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($127.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Samsung 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($64.40 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 380W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($49.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $352.35

Thanks!
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:50 am

Not sure you can shave much off that.
Cheaper RAM maybe.

You picked some nice components for great prices.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:53 am

What hard drives or SSD or whatever are you going with?
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:26 pm

kumori wrote:If anyone thinks AMD is worth it even with the increased TDP I'd love to hear about it.


Only if you plan to do heavier gaming.
A Trinity will run most modern games well at 720p with medium/high details whilst An i3 will require you to turn settings down to minimum to maintain playability.

If you don't plan on using Quicksync, you could go for a $50 cheaper Pentium G2100T - The hyperthreading of an i3 isn't really that useful for video decoding from what I've read. Whilst slower, it ought to be fast enough and you are talking about a 35W chip instead of a 55W chip.

I only mention it because you're trying to save money though - because I'd probably get the i3 anyway.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:01 pm

What hard drives or SSD or whatever are you going with?


I'm reusing some older 2.5'' drives I have. Two are mechanical and one is an SSD. The SSD is an old Kingston 64GB drive that I bought a few years ago and have since replaced with an Samsung 830. The two mechanical drives are a WD Blue 1TB 5400RPM drive and WD Black 500GB 7200RPM drive.

A Trinity will run most modern games well at 720p with medium/high details whilst An i3 will require you to turn settings down to minimum to maintain playability.


Yeah, I was kind of thinking Trinity so I could have the option to run games, but I think I'm leaning toward a lower energy footprint. As far as Intel Graphics is the HD 4000 worth paying extra for. That is what I've currently selected, but I really don't know anything about integrated graphics.

Not sure you can shave much off that.
Cheaper RAM maybe.


I've gone back and forth on this. I've had so many problems with RAM in the past that I think I'm willing to go with slightly more expensive RAM to be sure that it works without a hassle.

I was thinking about maybe only getting 4gb, but with 8Gb being so cheap I went for that because I'm not that sure what an HTPC requires. Would 4gb be plenty?
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:20 pm

kumori wrote:Yeah, I was kind of thinking Trinity so I could have the option to run games, but I think I'm leaning toward a lower energy footprint.


It's easy to lose sight of the big picture when you're trying to lower energy bills:

Remember that a 42" plasma can consume 400W, a 42" Cold-cathode LCD screen 250W and even LED-driven panels at that size are going to be 100W - so If you're not running an LED screen already, that is where your money should go to lower energy consumption.

An extra 10W to get the 65W Trinity A10-5700 is a relatively small price to pay for gaming capability and Trinity (whilst slower than an i3) has best-in-class idle power consumption. To answer your question about an HD4000, yes, it's better than the utterly woeful HD2500, but it's still a long way behind even An A8, let alone an A10; You either want to game (Trinity) or you don't (Ivy + HD2500).

Trinity + motherboard + RAM probably works out a few bucks cheaper than the intel equivalent, too - you could spend the difference on a cooler that will be quieter than anything that comes bundled with either Intel or AMD processors.
Last edited by Chrispy_ on Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:30 pm

I think Trinity is the better option for you, unless you plan to have this thing running full load 24/7. My reasoning is such:

1) Trinity is a better chip for the hybrid role of an HTPC (in my opinion). It allows you to play some games and reasonable levels on your TV, without needing a dedicated graphics card. I think TR's review of the A10-5800K shows this pretty well in the IGP performance pages.

2) You will probably only run full load a few hours a day. From this TR article, idle power consumption is roughly the exact same for a Trinity APU and an i3. The ~60W difference at full load, even if you're fully loading it 3 hours a day, that is only 1.8 cents per day cost difference. That's $6.50 a year. And that's for an A8/A10, and you could save quite a bit of cash by getting an A4 or A6, which would have lower power consumption.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:22 pm

I decided that an A8-5500 with 7560D graphics (same as the A8-5600K benchmarked here) would be enough for me. It's $30 cheaper than the A10. Make sure you get 1866MHz RAM if you go with a Trinity so the IGP can beathe. I got this 8GB kit on sale for $40. You surely don't need 8GB RAM to just watch videos, but W7 superfetch will make use of additional ram and it helps to have 8GB in games sometimes. My htpcs don't get replaced for a long time (~5 year cycles so far) so I went for 8GB now instead of upgrading later.

Also, you may want to check out anandtech's articles regarding Trinity and Ivy Bridge from an HTPC perspective. I found them very helpful.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:03 pm

That's grossly overpowered if you're just doing playback, if you're transcoding on it then it's fine. You definitely don't need 8GB RAM either way though, a single 2GB DIMM will suffice for playback or dual 2GB DIMMs for encoding. My own HTPC has a AMD A4-3300, an ASRock FM1 socket motherboard with HDMI and a single 2GB DIMM (<$100). It's running Windows 7 and playsback Full HD and HD Flash video like a total champ, I'm not remotely interested in PC gaming on the big screen though so I can get away with a modest 'APU'.

I leave my gaming rig on overnight running handbrake in order to transcode video or I run it in the background when downloading or browsing the net. Unlike the HTPC it's not going to overheat from lack of airflow and the hard drives stay nice and cool. There's also really no need for me to have two computers in the house capable of fast transcoding when the more powerful one of them sits idle so much of the time.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:47 am

I think Trinity is the better option for you, unless you plan to have this thing running full load 24/7

2) You will probably only run full load a few hours a day. From this TR article, idle power consumption is roughly the exact same for a Trinity APU and an i3. The ~60W difference at full load, even if you're fully loading it 3 hours a day, that is only 1.8 cents per day cost difference. That's $6.50 a year. And that's for an A8/A10, and you could save quite a bit of cash by getting an A4 or A6, which would have lower power consumption.


I'm kind of sold on Trinity after this reply. I read about idle Trinity's low idle power draw, but if I also use this HTPC as a backup server will the sporadic read rights result in a significantly higher power draw than the i3 the because CPU is consistently being drawn out of its idle power state? My initial thought is that this would not result in significant power draw, but I'm not sure.

Also, I live in Tokyo so the cost of power is higher, but your point is well taken.

Also, you may want to check out anandtech's articles regarding Trinity and Ivy Bridge from an HTPC perspective. I found them very helpful.


I actually read those articles, but the conclusion seems to be either will be fine for an HTPC unless you want gaming.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm now thinking of going with this AMD based build. I'm not sure about the RAM. Its not listed on the motherboard vendors approved list, but it should work right?

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75 Pro4-M Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($81.97 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($64.40 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green 380W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($49.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $356.33
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:29 am

kumori wrote:
Not sure you can shave much off that.
Cheaper RAM maybe.


I've gone back and forth on this. I've had so many problems with RAM in the past that I think I'm willing to go with slightly more expensive RAM to be sure that it works without a hassle.

I was thinking about maybe only getting 4gb, but with 8Gb being so cheap I went for that because I'm not that sure what an HTPC requires. Would 4gb be plenty?

Go the 8GB. in the end it is worth the extra few bucks.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:56 am

I would say you could buy the antec nsk2480 as it comes with an earth watts 380 and works perfect for microatx mobos. You have a bare bones build so there really isn't room to shave.

http://pcpartpicker.com/part/antec-case-nsk2480
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:13 am

I'll second that Antec case too. I used it, and the PSU in a previous HTPC, as well as an early 8-node renderfarm and it's a perfectly decent case, even if it's a little large (front to back). Cooling is very good for that form factor - I had a 95W Quad-core and a 150W GTX460 in it at one point....

As long as you have enough space in your TV unit to accomodate it, of course.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:50 pm

I'm using the Antec NSK2480 for my HTPC. The EarthWatts 380 PSU is a fine unit. The case itself doesn't really thrill me. I do like that Antec have cleverly hooked the NSK2480's front-panel LED to the power supply so that it goes out and does not blink when the motherboard is in sleep mode.

The NSK2480 works well enough, but I'd choose the smaller footprint of the Silverstone Grandia GD04 or GD05 if I were doing it over. Unfortunately, the price of those cases doesn't help the OP to reduce cost.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:01 pm

4GB RAM and a less expensive PSU are about the only places to shave without truly decreasing functionality. (You'd notice a CPU/IGP decrease difference before a 4GB/8GB RAM difference.) It's funny though that the OP asks for advice on shaving money and replies are saying 'get 8GB anyway, it's worth it' - that's not shaving money off :P For a less inexpensive 80 Plus Bronze PSU option, watch for price+MIR deals on the Corsair CX430.

But yeah, the build is pretty barebones already so not much left to shave off without further deal hunting.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:11 pm

MadManOriginal wrote:watch for price+MIR deals on the Corsair CX430

That unit frequenty goes for $20 after MIR on newegg and is good quality for the price. Speaking of which, why does the OP live in Tokyo and is shopping on US sites?

MadManOriginal wrote:But yeah, the build is pretty barebones already so not much left to shave off without further deal hunting.

Nailed it. I think the OP has a pretty well balanced and cost-effective build there...minus the A10-5800K which I think is excessive. Of course there are things that can be shaved and I think people have pointed these things out. The question is whether or not the OP is willing to sacrifice the performance/functionality/aesthetics/quality. A cheaper mobo is fine if you retain the needed peripherals, cheaper CPU if you aren't going to use it for gaming, cheaper case is a possibility, cheaper PSU like the CX430 after MIR (or a case that includes a PSU), or 4GB ram. (to sum up all prior posts)

Heck, an A4-5300, 4GB RAM, CX430, AsRock FM2A75M-DGS, using the same ML03B case would only cost about $220 and would play/record movies just fine. $130 SHAVED!
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:40 pm

You wont game to save space ?

For a pure HTPC, I think the i3 is overkill, you can go with a much, much lower end CPU.
8GB is overkill. If you dont game 2GB is more then enough.

So you can save probably 20% of the price listed and you will never notice any difference.

Now if you plan to game, ever, I would switch to an A10-5800k, or wait for the A10-6800k (with 4GB of ram)

note: HTPC mostly spend time in deep sleep mode, second is video playback (A GPU task). And AMD is pretty much equal to Intel on that front.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:13 pm

Thanks for all your help. I guess I'll have to decide if gaming is really something I want to do on this thing.

Heck, an A4-5300, 4GB RAM, CX430, AsRock FM2A75M-DGS, using the same ML03B case would only cost about $220 and would play/record movies just fine. $130 SHAVED!


Interesting idea, I'll consider it.

Speaking of which, why does the OP live in Tokyo and is shopping on US sites?


I'm going back to the U.S. in a week and I'm going to source the parts minus the case there. Most items are about 10% more expensive here.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:43 pm

If gaming is something you 'might' do, you could always look at cases that accept full-height cards instead of half-height. There are solidly mid-range cards like the GTX 650 to GTX 660 or equivalent Radeons that are virtually silent and have very low power draw at idle, and are not loud when gaming too.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:01 pm

MadManOriginal wrote:If gaming is something you 'might' do, you could always look at cases that accept full-height cards instead of half-height. There are solidly mid-range cards like the GTX 650 to GTX 660 or equivalent Radeons that are virtually silent and have very low power draw at idle, and are not loud when gaming too.


I've actually looked at that because I've got a HD 6870 that I could reuse. All of the cases that accept full height cards are pretty big compared to the case I've selected.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:11 pm

You chose a mATX case. Ones that accept full-height cards with the exact same layout exist, they're just taller. But maybe that counts as too big for you.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:35 pm

After some price checking in Tokyo, I found that I could buy most of the parts at pretty similar prices so I went ahead, bought the parts, and put the build together.

I ended up going with an i3 system and the Asrock H77 motherboard. I got 4GB of Patriot RAM, the SilverStone ML03 Case, and 350w 80 Plus Gold certified PSU to finish off the build. For getting the PSU I had to rely on the shop clerks guidance because I wasn't familiar with a lot of the brands (or what company actually made the parts inside).

The build was relatively easy, though getting all the hard drives in place took some time. The ML03 didn't have holes drilled for standoffs that aligned with two of the corners of my motherboard and I had to raise the PSU slightly to get it align with the screw holes in the case.

I really like the UEFI on the AsRock (My last build was LGA1366) and how fast the motherboard finishes its initial operations and starts booting Windows.

All and all pretty happy with this build especially considering its pretty low end hardware.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:57 pm

kumori wrote:350w 80 Plus Gold certified PSU

Exactly which unit? A good low wattage PSU is kind of harder to find here in the US.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:40 am

Here's the Amazon.co.jp Listing and here is the company's page.

The brand is Kuroutoshikou (meaning something like pro-ambitions) and they sell all kinds of computer parts including GPUs and sound cards.

A little bit of googling found this article from Dec 2012 covering the release. The article also mentions that a high effenciency 300w power supply has been announced by Huntkey, another Japanese brand.

Maybe they'll turn up soon in the U.S.?
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:34 am

Looks like the Seasonic OEM (350GT). Good stuff.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:50 am

That's great.

I'm was a little nervous trusting the sales clerk because in the U.S. they're normally there to sell you the product with the highest markup or some sort of insurance you don't need, but it turned out well.
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Re: Shave some dollars of this HTPC

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:59 pm

If you're interested in reducing power consumption further, you could consider undervolting the APU. It might be possible to save 10W or more on the APU.

http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/20 ... 3225!.aspx
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