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El Quintron
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Budget HTPC upgradable to General Purpose PC later

I have a friend from work who's looking to build an HTPC that he can later on convert into a full PC. He's looking at about $400 to start off with.

I've discussed this at lenght, and he's told me size isn't a factor, so we can go big, but he wants something economical that he can hook up to his TV, play blu-ray discs and consume net based media.

He has a copy of Win7 home premium, speakers and a TV already, so I was thinking of an i3 build, Micro ATX, with onboard video.

The most important things for him are: flawless 1080p playback, Blu-ray playback, and a ~$400 price point,

I was looking at the other thread:

»[Parts Check] Budget light gaming build under $600?

And was wondering if I could pull some sort of $400 build out of that seeing as no gaming would be involved... your toughts?
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Krisnatharok
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My i3-550 does blu-rays fine without a dedicated GPU. Start with the build I had there in the final post, drop the monitor and GPU, pair down to 4GB of ram, and upgrade the ODD to a blu-ray player. You should be very close to $400 at that point.
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signmeuptoo
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reply to El Quintron
400 bucks and have bluray and have the motherboard be good enough for a desktop? You're asking a lot. Especially when figuring in costs of:

OS
drive
RAM
mainboard
video (ok, built in)
bluray drive (expensive)
power supply
case
processor that support graphics...
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El Quintron
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reply to Krisnatharok
said by Krisnatharok:

My i3-550 does blu-rays fine without a dedicated GPU. Start with the build I had there in the final post, drop the monitor and GPU, pair down to 4GB of ram, and upgrade the ODD to a blu-ray player. You should be very close to $400 at that point.

Sounds like a plan, I'll post the tentative with build with links as soon as I lay it out.

He does want a bit of future proofing, can you recomment an ivy-bridge i3 processor?
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El Quintron
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reply to signmeuptoo
said by signmeuptoo:

400 bucks and have bluray and have the motherboard be good enough for a desktop? You're asking a lot. Especially when figuring in costs of:

OS
drive
RAM
mainboard
video (ok, built in)
bluray drive (expensive)
power supply
case
processor that support graphics...

The cost of the OS doesn't need to be factored in,

What I'm really concerned about is CPU, BR player and Mobo, Kris' initial build at $595 is what I'm basing this on.
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Krisnatharok
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reply to El Quintron
said by El Quintron:

said by Krisnatharok:

My i3-550 does blu-rays fine without a dedicated GPU. Start with the build I had there in the final post, drop the monitor and GPU, pair down to 4GB of ram, and upgrade the ODD to a blu-ray player. You should be very close to $400 at that point.

Sounds like a plan, I'll post the tentative with build with links as soon as I lay it out.

He does want a bit of future proofing, can you recomment an ivy-bridge i3 processor?

Desktop Ivy Bridge i3 CPUs are not coming out until September. Right now you have Sandy Bridge i3/i5/i7's and Ivy Bridge i5/i7's.
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markofmayhem
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reply to El Quintron


El Quintron
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reply to Krisnatharok
said by Krisnatharok:

Desktop Ivy Bridge i3 CPUs are not coming out until September. Right now you have Sandy Bridge i3/i5/i7's and Ivy Bridge i5/i7's.

Good to know, September is just around the corner, so it might go into september before we buy the gear... Assuming I buy a LGA1155 mobo, is there one where I could eventually swap out a Sandy bridge i3 for some other Ivy-bridge chip (theoretically speaking seeing as he'd like to expand this machine eventually anyway)
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El Quintron
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reply to markofmayhem
AMD may be a reasonnable compromise because I don't think he's ever going to be a gamer (or at least not a serious one anytime soon), I'm curious what would be the downsides of an AMD chip if any?
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Krisnatharok
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reply to El Quintron
These are all LGA 1155 mobos:

Sandy Bridge chipsets (B65, H61, Q67, H67, P67, Z68), except Q65, Q67 and B65, support both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs though a BIOS upgrade is required. All Ivy Bridge chipsets (B75, Q75, Q77, H77, Z75, Z77) and motherboards support both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPUs.

tl;dr buy a Z75 or Z77 mobo and it will support Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge.
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El Quintron
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said by Krisnatharok:

tl;dr buy a Z75 or Z77 mobo and it will support Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge.

10-4
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Octavean
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reply to El Quintron
The Ivy Bridge Core i3-3225 should be about $134 and should be available in less then two weeks


El Quintron
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said by Octavean:

The Ivy Bridge Core i3-3225 should be about $134 and should be available in less then two weeks

That's a perfect timeframe for him... and the price is right too.
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markofmayhem
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reply to El Quintron
said by El Quintron:

AMD may be a reasonnable compromise because I don't think he's ever going to be a gamer (or at least not a serious one anytime soon), I'm curious what would be the downsides of an AMD chip if any?

Pound for pound, Intel's solutions outperform AMD's in benchmarks regarding the CPU. The IGP is superior on the AMD APU to Intel's. At the extreme low end, AMD can usually push an "equal-to-slightly-superior" product in the sub $100 range.

$85 AMD A6-3650 vs. $120 i3-2100
»www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/403?vs=289
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markofmayhem
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1 recommendation

This may be helpful as well... while it is pointed toward "gaming", an HTPC has slightly higher demand on graphics (just like games) than an "average" computer, though gaming is more demanding. Either way, a nice listing grouped into price ranges:

»www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gam···106.html
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El Quintron
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reply to markofmayhem
said by markofmayhem:

At the extreme low end, AMD can usually push an "equal-to-slightly-superior" product in the sub $100 range.

Considering the budget this may be appealing to him, but he is concerned about future upgrades... so I might try to sway him towards the ivy-bridge system instead.
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markofmayhem
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said by El Quintron:

said by markofmayhem:

At the extreme low end, AMD can usually push an "equal-to-slightly-superior" product in the sub $100 range.

Considering the budget this may be appealing to him, but he is concerned about future upgrades... so I might try to sway him towards the ivy-bridge system instead.

Personally, since roughly 2009/2010, I have been suggesting Intel over AMD. I caught myself one-time on a double check suggesting an i3 when it was overkill on a push to lower the price-point; it was my wife regarding a computer in the living room since we bought a nice TV just before the "smart" TV's came out and she insisted we should be able to see videos captured on her phone on the TV. I'm still "shopping"

It depends on the "later" and the "upgrade". If the "later" is 2 or more years away, today's choice of CPU in the i3/A6 range is not really going to matter: it will need replaced. The PSU will probably be too poor in output and quality to handle the upgrade to a "woth it" discrete GPU. The memory may need expanded. Etc, etc. I have found the "upgrade later" rarely ever occurs. A "base" system today with "upgrade later" possibilities should start with an i5 (such as the 3570K) and a PSU able to handle a 25 amp discrete GPU.

$400 will be very challenging, but not impossible, if you can forego the mouse, keyboard, display/monitor, discrete GPU today, etc. A case, PSU, mobo, ram, and CPU may be possible ~$500 if you deal hunt aggressively. $80 for a good PSU, $80-90 for Mobo, $220 for CPU, $35 for 4 gigs of RAM should leave a good $80 or so for a case and Blu-Ray ODD. Get a few combo deals, free shipping, or "shockers" and a $5-$15 discount here and there may bring it to $450?
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Krisnatharok
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said by markofmayhem:

$400 will be very challenging, but not impossible, if you can forego the mouse, keyboard, display/monitor, discrete GPU today, etc. A case, PSU, mobo, ram, and CPU may be possible ~$500 if you deal hunt aggressively. $80 for a good PSU, $80-90 for Mobo, $220 for CPU, $35 for 4 gigs of RAM should leave a good $80 or so for a case and Blu-Ray ODD. Get a few combo deals, free shipping, or "shockers" and a $5-$15 discount here and there may bring it to $450?

My thoughts:
• The Corsair builder series 430 can be had around $25-35 on sale. I've had one powering my HTPC for about 18 months now.
• The Ivy Bridge i5-3450 is $150 alone, no need to go for a $220 CPU unless you are building a power-hungry i7 system. You can get the Sandy Bridge i3 for $100-$120 at a place like Microcenter, possibly with $50 off a mobo.
• Mobo shouldn't be less than around $80.
• 4GB of ram will be $18-21, 8GB runs you $37-42.
• Case can be had around $40, like the Rosewill Redbone
• Blu-ray drives aren't cheap, I haven't really seen any for less than $50-60 (then again, I haven't looked too hard either)


markofmayhem
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Nice suggestions. I was thinking 2 years down the road when the 3450 may be struggling (bad opinion by me), but NICE picks! I'd up the PSU a bit, overshoot it slightly (550-650, 55+ amps on the 12v rail).

CPU $150 (i5-3450)
PSU $80
Mobo $80
RAM $25 (it really is this cheap this week, SWEET!)
Case $40

Leaves $75 for a Blue-Ray ODD for a ~$450 budget.

Get the Corsair 430 PSU and it leaves $65 for a Blue-Ray ODD on a ~$400 budget. Depending on the "future upgrade", that PSU may need replaced, though. It should handle low-to-middle range discrete GPU's; if that is the range of the upgrade, Krisnatharok See Profile has done it again!
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Krisnatharok
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One common misconception about PSUs is that buying large is future-proofing. That may be true in a situation like this one (where you are going from iGPU to discrete at some point down the line; personal note: I am still using integrated on the i3-550 for the HTPC without issue), but if you already have any sort of GPU, there is probably no need to "go large" on the PSU as each successive generation of GPU that comes out is more energy efficient than the last one.

Consider for a second that the GTX 680's TDP is 198w, compared to the GTX 580's 244w, compared to the GTX 480's 250w. The GTX 660 Ti's TDP is 150w.

To put things into perspective, you could probably get away with using the 77w Ivy Bridge i7 with a GTX 680 under a good (Corsair, Seasonic, Rosewill) 450-500w PSU.
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El Quintron
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said by Krisnatharok:

To put things into perspective, you could probably get away with using the 77w Ivy Bridge i7 with a GTX 680 under a good (Corsair, Seasonic, Rosewill) 450-500w PSU.

That's very cool, would you run out of power if you had a bunch of addons though? (eg: multiple HDDs, Media boards, sound cards etc) I'm running a 750w PSU right now.
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Krisnatharok
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Possibly. 600w would give you more than enough headroom, and 750w will guarantee you never have to upsize again if you go SLI/Crossfire. Short of tri and quad-card setups, you shouldn't have to go higher than that.

Remember that you want to keep the PSU fairly loaded so efficiency stays high. A PSU rated at "550w Continuous" should be able to perform under a 550w load 24x7, with occasionally spikes higher (like a HDD spinning up, system turn-on, etc.).
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El Quintron
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This is the beast:

»www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/···tId=2533

Speaking of PSUs here some porn for everyone:

»www.evga.com/articles/00687/

And I thought I had to monopoly on beastly power supplies...

EQ
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Krisnatharok
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I've seen the EVGA 1500w before. Keep in mind EVGA is one of the only companies that makes a dual-CPU socket motherboard, and that's primarily for benchmarking enthusiasts who are also running two dual-GPU cards (two 690s/7990s) or four top-end cards (680s/7970s).

Four 680s will suck down about 1000w max, and then you need your CPUs (2x 77w or 125x) and everything else.
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