Description

Was moving to a new place and had to get cable. So I figured I would save some money and use a SiliconDust HDHomerun PRIME in place of a cable box and beam it to an HTPC. My two main goals with this were to have it be 1) low power draw and 2) as silent as possible. I set a loose budget of around $500 for just the HTPC going into this. I know I could have gone a lot cheaper on some of the parts, but I feel like what I got suits my needs.

CPU: I also wanted to achieve my goals without sacrificing too much in the power department. That led me to get the i3-4130T. 35w TDP, 2.9Ghz dual-core, and Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics is all I really need to watch TV and any blu-ray movies (and movie files).

Motherboard: The ASUS H81M-A had the features I needed: LGA1150, HDMI output, and Micro-ATX size. Ideally, another USB 3.0 header would have been nice, but the lack of it was not a dealbreaker.

Memory: I was considering just 4GB, but figured it couldn't hurt to get 8GB. To keep things easier, I like having a few memory sticks as possible, so I went the 1x8GB route. I've used this Kingston memory on my desktop builds before and have had no problems, so I went back with them.

Storage: I have network attached storage, so I felt like I could live with a minimum of on-board storage. This AData boots Windows 7 Pro in about 2 seconds, which is very nice. If I didn't have NAS, I probably would have gone with a 256GB SSD (and it probably would have given me a bit better value in terms of $/GB).

Case: Nice, basic, cheap HTPC case. The main drawback is the space for the power supply being on the same side as the optical drive. This means that if your power supply is too long, it won't fit in the case with an optical drive. Rather than risk it with a regular ATX power supply, I just went with a SFX size. The case also has a bar going across the top of the inside to help stabilize the case in case you decide to put another box or a TV on top of it. Nice gesture, but I'm not sure I'm going to risk it.

Power Supply: As mentioned above, went with an SFX power supply to ensure that I had enough room to fit both the power supply and optical drive into the case. I was thinking about getting the modular version of this power supply, but based on the reviews, the fan in the non-modular was significantly quieter. I was willing to sacrifice some cable management for a bit quieter performance. 450W is more than enough power too.

Optical Drive: This LG unit was the cheapest blu-ray reader on the market. Works like a charm so far. Your own software is needed to play blu-ray discs, though.

Custom: MCE remote control for Windows Media center. Well, this was really more for the IR dongle, so I could program my universal remote...


I was also thinking about getting one of the Intel NUCs for an HTPC, but decided against it for 2 reasons: 1) expandability/upgradability. If I ever get to a point where I need to replace/upgrade/enhance parts of the HTPC, I'm mostly sure I cannot do that with a NUC...and 2) I also heard the NUC can get a little noisy. I'm still definitely looking at future NUCs, though.

Comments

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

An NUC Would have done the job just fine, but like you said, you cannot upgrade it (CPU wise) and they definitely get noisy under load.

I've been looking into a cable streamer to make use of my HTPC that's now collecting an absurd amount of dust (i5 680, 8gb RAM, 500GB HDD, AMD Radeon 7750) since I built my primary gaming rig. They don't look that hard to set up, I mean, If I can build a rig, I can set this up, right?

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, the biggest point of failure in setting up the PRIME is the cable company. Works like a charm once its set up, though.

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

That might be an issue... My cable company is a small northern company, still using analog, and won't get digital for at least another couple of years.

  • 68 months ago
  • 1 point

What O/S are you using? What are all the functions of your HTPC (eg. what all does it do?)

  • 67 months ago
  • 1 point

I had an old copy of Windows 7 Pro lying around, so I'm using that for WMC. I use it to watch TV through WMC (via the PRIME), watch video files (x264, 10-bit, etc), watch movies (both blu-ray and DVD), watch streaming content (Netflix/Amazon Video), and occasionally browse the internet with an old media center remote keyboard that I had. I have no plans on doing any gaming or productivity tasks on this computer.

  • 69 months ago
  • -3 points

eh, as a value look to it, you could have just bought an premade pc. idk, even though all it is used to is "watch TV and any blu-ray movies (and movie files)" example

  • 63 months ago
  • 3 points

The computer you linked is $300 more, does not have SSD, and will not play Blu-Ray disks.

  • 69 months ago
  • 1 point

i agree