Late to the party with building an HTPC but it let me view many of the builds on this site first so I could lots of research (thanks to so many of you!).
Main decision behind all of the future choices in parts - I was particularly taken by the Silverstone ML03B case. However after waiting for 3 weeks with no update from the supplier on the actual delivery date, went with the ML04B instead. I thought that the drop-down front would prove painful when playing DVDs but as so much of my stuff is streamed it has not been a disappointment at all. In fact it provides a lovely clean front, and the dimmable LED means that it is not intrusive in a night-time theatre environment.
Key drivers for decisions, after selecting the case above first… Power - Lower the better. Noise – Lower the better. Budget – hmmm, well I decided the previous two decisions would mean I have to spend some money, maybe a little more than I wanted to, but that’s what Australian Dollars does to a build!
So a quick run down on the rig in the parts list below, reasons for choosing and any issues with the build….
Optical digital extender card. Got this on Ebay. Not sure if I would need it. My amp and the motherboard are handling the HDMI digital 5.1 surround sound well so may have been able to skip this in hindsight.
Also splurged on a PS4 adapter for controlling my small set of Steam Games (and allows me to use the kid’s PS4 controller). Works well but they have to re-pair it with the PS4 after I use it. Easy decision, then, to buy a new PS4 controller.
(Edit) Couldn't wait and got the graphics card so have moved it up from Next Steps below.
GT 1030 2GB graphics card. Looking at the Gigabyte Low Profile Silent card. Again likely overkill but does provide some future proofing for some games and takes the stress off the motherboard and CPU. Being quiet and lowpower may be a great solution. Works well - had to adjust the cabling and shift some under the card and also used an extra combination of cable ties to ensure the main 12V power cable did not touch the heatsink.
While I am very happy with how the unit is working, I will likely do 3 things to finish the HTPC – Hauppauge QuadHD TV Tuner – probably overkill as we already have a smart TV but I like the idea of using the HTPC fully as TV and PVR (using Windows Media Centre or Kodi or similar)
Noctua NF-R8 or Arctic Cooling PWM 80mm case fans – at the moment not needed as the case is very cool. If it does into a cabinet rather than sitting on top it may need 4 ( 2 push – 2 pull) but will see how it goes first.
So there you have it! Hope that some of you who are about to journey on to an HTPC find some help in my notes. Yeah I know – 10 years late and what about a NUC TV etc….
Kaby Lake I5 – 7600. Almost went the overclocked version but given I wanted lower power the TPD of 65W vs 91W for the faster unit was hard to justify. I had fun overclocking my first PC build but now don’t tweak as much so took the “greener” option this time. Having said that the processor seems well suited for HTPC.
Although probably not needed as I was not going to overclock so much, after having a great experience with Noctua I couldn’t resist going with another one. This one is incredibly quiet and fits brilliantly in the case. One thing I did not note though was that it needs to be mounted from underneath. This meant a 10 minute detour in uncabling and unscrewing the motherboard, carefully balancing it in one hand while mounting the cooler with the four large screws supplied, then re-mounting motherboard and cables. Not a biggy, especially in different cases, but would have been smarter if I had read the fan instructions first ????
Went for this one as I had already bought a 250GB M.2 SSD so I wanted a micro ATX board to suit. Also wanted 4K HDMI output as have a new 4K TV (the real reason for this build!) There were lots of other choices but having had an Asus ITX board before I knew I would be happy with the quality. So far the 4K output has been good, but did have to kick the processor settings to Extreme to get past some stuttering that occurred on some streams. The unit was still very cool and quiet so may leave Extreme as the default. Graphics card may be an option too – see below.
Having used Hyper-X before I reasoned that it made sense to stick with them as they have been very reliable. 16GB probably overkill for HTPC but figured some gaming would appreciate the headroom.
As noted earlier I had already bought this as it was on a great special and I knew it would be perfect for the HTPC. Win 10 starts in around 6 seconds. Coupled with the ASUS motherboard /Win 10 power management it goes to sleep quietly after a period of non-use.
Even though I am streaming a lot from a NAS, I liked the idea of storing some of the larger files locally just in case buffering became an issue. The unit works nicely and is one of the quieter and lower power HDDs (hence the decision to go Blue rather than Red). Plenty of room in the case as the OS SSD was nicely seated on the motherboard.
Fits the case really well. Also has low-profile adapter so it can fit the back of the case properly. Adapted the cabling to go under/past the card. Software and driver installations very easy. 4K works without missing a beat.
ML04B – chosen as ML03 was not available and had same footprint and inner workings. Others have said there is not enough cable management but I found the mounts in the floor and the bar across the top provided plenty of anchor points. Build quality is great and lots of cables and screws/mounting nuts to provide plenty of options
After reading about issues with space in the Silverstone case I decided to err on the side of caution and go mid-power (450W) and small (SFX). Thermaltake seemed on par with Corsair, but went with Thermaltake if for no other reason than I was happy with the previous case I got from them. In retrospect, not so sure as the supplier provided a model with European power cable so had to use an existing 240V three pin “kettle” cable I had lying around. Also the main 12V power cable proved to be very tight fitting – was worried about the cable causing stress on the motherboard but after checking it was seated firmly at both ends it has worked ok. On a positive note - the smallness of this unit means cabling is a breeze, and that was one of the reasons for selection.
Probably my main disappointment as I forgot about licencing and software for this. Works OK as a burner in Windows but will likely need a copy of PowerDVD or similar to be able to play my library of Blu-ray discs. The unit itself is solid and will no doubt give plenty of years of service.