HTPC First Time Build: Specs Review

Pippa55

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Mar 19, 2013
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Hello,

I am looking to build my first HTPC and I am looking for your feedback on the specs I have selected. Please let me know if this is a good list, if I can improve on anything and if I am missing anything:

Main Build:
1. Chassis: Undecided!!! Suggestions welcome. Hoping for something the height of a PS3 to fit my media centre.
2. CPU: i3-4170
3. Mobo: Gigabyte GA-H97M-D3H
4. CPU Cooler: Stock cooler
5. RAM: Kingston HyperX 8gb DDR3 1600mhz (I know this is overkill but I happen to have extra kicking around)
6. SSD: Intel 730 Series 480GB 2.5" SATA 6Gb/s (I have this on-hand already)
7. Optical Drive: ASUS (DRW-24F1ST/BLK/B) Internal 24x DVD Writer, OEM
8. PSU: Corsair RM Series 450W 80PLUS Gold Certified
9. Wireless adapter: TP-LINK N900 TL-WDN4800
10. OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-Bit English OEM

(Optional)*
Sound Card: Asus Xonar DSX

*I have a Bose Acoustimass 6 Series III 5.1 sound system. Will adding a sound card improve sound quality or is it not worth the extra cost?

Peripherals:
Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Plus OR Lenovo multimedia remote with keyboard N5902
 
Mar 30, 2015
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The iGPU isn't really quite adequete. I'd either go to Skylake or to an AMD A8/10. Either would be alright on Integrated, saving you the trouble of spending more money and time on a discrete card. For a discrete card, should you want one, go for a GTX 950 because of the HEVC support.
 

getochkn

Splendid
Moderator
Well if you want 4K in the future, you'd be better off getting an NVidia card as they are the only ones that have HDMI 2.0 support currently.

If you go HDMI out from the PC into the receiver, then to your TV, that handles all your audio and you don't need an audio card at all, HDMI carries it all. As said, I would go Skylake for HEVC 265 hardware decoding, or a newer NVidia can do it too.
 

madmatt30

Honorable
The igp is entirely 100% adequate for htpc use IMO.
I'm using a sandy bridge i5t CPU & it blasts through everything even full 25gb bluray rips
Wouldn't bother with an add-on sound card - you'll get 5.1 via HDMI no problem at all assuming you're passing everything through the receiver ??

Case wise you want to be looking at a Silverstone model in all honesty if low height is your thing.
http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=395&area=en

Probably your best bet with a full size optical drive & PSU.

With an add-on GPU you'd have to go with the gd series IMO.
Same footprint as the Milo but as high as a standard receiver/amp - still fit under TV nicely though (I own the gd06 myself & you can fit an insane amount of stuff in there - currently running 3x3.5inch & a ssd + bluray writer & a gtx 970 in mine)
 

Ironsounds

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Jul 31, 2011
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Hello... Yes Audio out using your Video card via HDMI can be compatible with some 5.1 receivers...

in the above suggested Case... the PS/CPU cooler/expansion card slots will limit size choices in your build... I have Cooler master HTTP case that has a PS/CPU cooler size limit that I wish I didn't have... For example all the PCIe power connections are on top of the Video cards now, and there is no room for them between the case cover and my video card... B (
But the case Width is thinner, and it looks Good and works well by a TV. An optical drive, in this type of case, can take up room or block something else more important... it's a balancing act... and can limit future upgrade options.
 

getochkn

Splendid
Moderator
An older IGP intel is good for now, but HEVC is coming to Bluray, Netflix and streaming and having either a CPU that can decode it (skylake, cherry trail, AMD carrizo, OR a GPU like the 960 is a benefit in my opinion, as it going to be the new standard and not having any hardware to decode it is going to put a strain on the CPU. I would also build now for 4K, so a 960 with HDMI 2.0 is a good choice as well, it supports HDCP 2.2 which again, for high stream netflix or other things, is mandatory.
 

Pippa55

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Mar 19, 2013
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Interesting feedback re: iGPU. With regards to the iGPU on the Haswell, I will only be watching 1080p at this point and some of the recent HTPC build forums I have been reading suggest that it can handle this pretty decently, hence my selection. I do want to avoid the added cost of a GPU and Skylake seems a little high for my price point, especially as I am also building a new Skylake gaming PC soon.

Just how inadequate is the iGPU (on a scale of "good output" to "good god, is this 1979?")?

Alternately, if I choose to add a GPU, would something like my current GTX680 work well, considering I will be upgrading in the new year.

Thanks for the dicussion.
 

getochkn

Splendid
Moderator
For 1080p it's fine and if you plan to stay there, then you're good for a while with all current material out there. What comes in the next year or so as HEVC becomes more popular, we'll have to see. Just if I was going to build today, I would look at that as an option, but you can always add a GPU for 4K/HEVC/HDCP 2.2 down the road and that would take care of it all too.
 

madmatt30

Honorable
It can handle 1080p & always will be able to mate.
If you're not bothered about 4k streaming from Netflix etc then native HEVC is not important at all.

I understand what's being said - if you may want to add a GPU in future then buy a case that will support a full height card like the gd05/gd06 - the Milo's are great great little cases but will only fit a lp card at best - & none available have native HEVC decoding.
 

Ironsounds

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Hello... +1^ I agree the intel IGT's do a wonderful job of smooth 1080P movie/Video steaming... intel did a great job with it, and adding it to the CPU... 2000 3000 series experience here. Any gaming will require a Video card... or lowest settings.
 

Pippa55

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Mar 19, 2013
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I will be upgrading the GPU, a GTX 680, in my PC next spring. Would keeping the GTX680 for the HTPC benefit in "future proofing" the build for 4k/HEVC, etc.?

Thanks for all your help :)
 
You're overthinking this. iGP + lots of storage for rips should be what to focus on. Also, as not only for HEVC for future UHD streaming or UHD blu-rays. Display needs to support Rec2020, unless you technically can live with downscaling the color, similar to how rendering a higher resolution then downscaling works. Now regardless of HEVC 40% efficiency increase or whatever the real number is, important things to remember for the future UHD content are

HDCP 2.2

HDMI 2.0a

HEVC


Will be interesting to see how Intel/Nvidia solves this for HTPC's.
 
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