Description

Built in February 2015, with changes outlined below over the next few months...

This is the 2015 refresh of my HTPC (previously built in 2012). It's more of a restart than a refresh since nothing was migrated from the old build. The old build is still in production, happily HTPC'ing for Mom and Dad!

I was originally going to go with an AMD build like the last HTPC, and with a much "lesser" motherboard. The ASRock ITX board was on sale plus an additional discount through mail in rebate, so I said "why not?". The first CPU was a 4690k. For my birthday, I bought the ASUS Maximus VII Impact. After a couple days I admitted this was ridiculous overkill for a HTPC build, and the plan became "use the premium parts in a future build".

However, there was an incident involving a bottle of Crown Royal, the ASRock ITX motherboard, and the CPU cap/cover... the story ends with bent pins. Yes, total failure on my part. In a drunken stupor, I decided to go all out and replace the CPU cover... by placing the cap UNDER the retention bracket. On any other day, I probably would have completely skipped putting the cover back on but not on that day, after that much whisky.

After trying to return the motherboard (hahaha) and basically being laughed at (obviously) I decided to rebuild the HTPC using the "premium parts", i.e. w/ ASUS mobo and 4690k. It served its purpose for a couple weeks, but I was annoyed with wasting a sweet mobo/CPU combo on such menial tasks. Additionally, the Noctua NH-L9i had trouble keeping the system cool for my standards (it would idle ~40C, and break 70C during load testing).

I worked here and there on trying to bend the pins back until one day... it posted :) I ran a slew of load/temperature/stability tests successfully, shelved the Impact mobo and 4690k temporarily, and bought an i3-4160 to pair in the new/old/new build.

The CPU is more than enough for HTPC tasks since the machine is basically a stream box. It is more than capable for use as a computer, albeit one attached to a TV. Surfing/productivity and even light gaming are handled very well by the CPU which is a little sparkplug!

I was originally going to turn this system into a pseudo gaming system for some love on the big screen, but decided against it after building the "Mini NINJA". My main rig's monitor is more than enough, and if I ever feel the urge to game on the TV I'll put a video card in the Mini NINJA and connect that to the TV. This is still subject to change... if I find a good deal on a decent video card for 1080p (something like a GTX 960) I might reconsider.

There is a single low capacity SSD for OS/apps... 120GB is more than sufficient since there aren't many apps to speak of. All "large" files are hosted on a NAS, so there is no need for a larger mechanical disk at this time... although I am considering springing for a cheap 1/2TB HDD to give the HTPC another role as an additional "download box".

I bought a Panasonic UJ-265 slim BR-RW for use in another build, but used it here instead since it's a "media" box. All things considered, I should have just bought an external USB BR-RW instead since I rarely need optical disc.

The included 120mm Silverstone slim fan (originally located above the CPU) was moved to the back/bottom/GPU side. I replaced that fan with a Noctua NF-F12 since the low profile Noctua NH-L9i allowed the use of a regular 120mm/ 25mm fan. The Silverstone SX600-G is basically silent in this build since the system is almost never "utilized". The fans are all on a curve, and the two GPU fans plus the fan above the CPU only spin when the CPU starts getting hot (>55C).

All things considered, since I'm not using or planning to install a GPU, I could have gotten a (much) smaller case. TBH, something like the Intel NUC would have been enough. However, I do enjoy the flexibility of having enough parts for an actual PC, and this will most likely wind up in production at Mom and Dad's 3-5 years from now.

The ASUS mobo and 4690k eventually went into this build:

http://ca.pcpartpicker.com/b/wr8KHx

Updates:

  1. replaced Samsung 840 EVO 120GB with 850 EVO 250GB
  2. added Seagate 1TB HDD for downloads and such

Comments

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Great build! I love HTPC's. I've had my HTPC a little over a year now and haven't watched normal TV since. My brain thanks me everyday

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you, and I couldn't agree more (so done with broadcast TV)!

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Are you still happy with the integrated graphics? I hear a gt730 can be significantly better. I am getting a similar PC together in a node 304. I am using an i3-4130 and considering a gt 730 for it

  • 55 months ago
  • 1 point

Honestly, for streaming (watching large media files hosted on my NAS) / surfing / productivity it's more than good enough. For gaming... yeah it's pretty bad. Minecraft and the like are fine but even something like WoW is fairly choppy unless I turn everything down.

If you are interested in some gaming, the gt730 would be a nice option. It's something I'll consider for mine if I do go that route.