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Sub $500 HTPC

by spikej56



CPU Clock Rate

3.5 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

36.0° C


I wanted a quiet new Haswell build that would allow me to run XBMC and play movies with ample post-processing power, and do some light emu-gaming (NES/SNES/Genesis/N64/Playstation).

The build took slightly longer than expected because of the size of the case -- cabling was a bit of a challenge, as was getting the motherboard in. The stock cooler fit in with plenty of room.

The 128 GB SSD is a bit overkill, but it was cheaper than the 64 GB I was originally going to buy. The games don't take up much room, and movies and tv shows stream off my NAS or the internet.

I priced out an A10 build, and it would have cost me around the same. I went with Intel because it'll run cooler.

Prices include shipping and taxes.

Comments Sorted by:

twaelbroeck 6 points 63 months ago

Looks great for the room you've got to work with - not to mention the price which makes it all the better. Nice work. :)

resin34 3 points 63 months ago

That is one small case, Nice build!

Zeus 1 Build 3 points 63 months ago

Wow, that case is only slightly larger than my wifi router ahah

DragonFireXY 2 points 54 months ago

It's smaller than mine!

millerjd0315 2 Builds 2 points 63 months ago

Great build. I am so close to putting together a similar build for my bed room. The one thing that I am having trouble commiting to is a good case, I'm glad I saw this build because I really like yours. Anything other than what you listed in the description prove to be a problem with this case? I am looking at this one http://www.mini-box.com/M350-universal-mini-itx-enclosure but still on the fence. And why did you choose that CPU? again I ask because the i3-4130T http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80646i34130t uses alot less power but still unsure about the performance, no one has built a computer with it on here yet.

+1 for the build

spikej56 submitter 1 Build 3 points 63 months ago

I had considered the M350 as well. All the reviews I had read said that everything would have been a tighter fit. I decided it wasn't worth the trouble. This case is small enough. I was worried initially about the stock cooler fitting in, thinking I'd have to buy a low-profile one. But in this case, there were no such issues.

I was planning on buying the 4130 (not T), but the 4330 was cheaper on sale during Black Friday. The T versions seem to be the same but under-clocked/volted. I decided it wasn't worth the extra $40.

Also, bonus is that the 4330 has 4600 HD instead of 4400 HD. Not sure what difference that makes, but it's newer :P I had issues with the driver from the ASUS site. You should download the latest graphic drivers directly from the Intel site. The latest one from there fixed display issues I had with XBMC.

superninjaleprechaun 2 points 63 months ago

:D Love that case!!! +1

flyboy88 2 points 63 months ago

Looks like a router lol, perfect tiny build

LukePRTR 1 Build 2 points 63 months ago

Great BUILD! but a raspberry pi would have been my option since it can also run XBMC.

spikej56 submitter 1 Build 2 points 63 months ago

I wanted a computer that could run Windows.

Also, raspberry pi can't handle some of the flashier XBMC skins.

LukePRTR 1 Build 2 points 63 months ago

I can understand that and you go throw in a cheap gpu and a hava decent gaming pc

DragonFireXY 2 points 56 months ago

The case don't fit GPUs. D:

chrismillar1847 1 Build 2 points 63 months ago

how is the ssd in this... i heard that sub £80 ssd's can be quite dodgy (i call bs but best being safe) i was told that they fail quite a lot.

spikej56 submitter 1 Build 2 points 63 months ago

So far so good.

It's my first experience with an SSD. It's quite the upgrade in speed from the 7200 in my old HTPC.

JamJam21 1 Build 2 points 63 months ago

very neat, nice job!

krazykiller 1 Build 2 points 62 months ago

Hi there, little late to this one but just wanted to say "excellent build" and ask if you have any performance issues considering that you do go slightly over wattage, if I can I'd like to do something pretty similar.

spikej56 submitter 1 Build 3 points 62 months ago

No problems so far.

XBMC runs smooth as ever, and I can play New Super Mario Bros Wii on Dolphin at 2x native without any issues.

Temperatures don't seem to go above 47 while playing last I checked...

bloodroses75 1 Build 2 points 59 months ago

I have been looking at doing a similar build for running as a XBMC client for a running Plex server as well as using Retroarch for Playstation and older emulation. I figure it'd be great to have hooked up to a TV instead of having to drag the desktop there every time. I see you have tried Dolphin w/o much issues on the system. Have you had much luck with PCSX2?

spikej56 submitter 1 Build 2 points 58 months ago

I've tried ePSXe with mixed results but haven't tried PCSX2. For what it's worth, the games/settings, etc for ePSXe used to work fine on my old machine with an ATI card. I stopped playing those games and never bothered trying to get them going again on this new build.

devianter 1 Build 2 points 58 months ago

Hi! I just build a htpc based on g3420 and asus h87i plus. may i ask you something? My hdmi port was working ok until i installed intel hd graphics driver. my screen started acting weird, black dots and a lot of artefacts everywhere on the screen it's not usable! if i change from aero to basic it becomes a little more stable but still, scrolling and doing stuff like that it becomes full of artefacts.. oh god, i installed all the drivers i could install, tried everything .. nothing. can't make it work. how's yours? and what do you think could it be? i can return it to amazon but i don't know if it's the mono (since hdmi without intel driver ( i guess onboard chip) works fine, maybe it is the CPU?) guys, please help me!

spikej56 submitter 1 Build 2 points 58 months ago

For my build, I found the drivers downloaded from Windows Update screwed up video playback on XBMC 12 (and nothing else). The drivers from Intel site specific to my board fixed the XBMC issues. I'm using Aero and it's going through HDMI...

devianter 1 Build 2 points 58 months ago

thanks for the reply! amazon switched my mobo and cpu and it works now. must have been something wrong with one of them, or either. yeap, the windows drivers (and the drivers from asus mobo CD) made plex show weird artefacts but the driver from intel site works well. :)

leftyrojas430 1 Build 1 point 63 months ago

So small, yet so awesome!!! I'm a noob to htpc so what is XBMC and raspberry pi?

DragonFireXY 2 points 56 months ago

XBMC is a program for windows,linux,and mac. It's designed for HTPC's and it has all kinds of video watching sites like hulu and netflix. A Raspberry Pi is a small $35 computer that runs linux(which means you can get XBMC on it).

Intercept007 1 point 47 months ago

Have you encountered any power problems with this build? The included PSU seems under powered.

spikej56 submitter 1 Build 1 point 46 months ago

No issues at all.

Side note: The amount of RAM really did end up being overkill -- rarely ever seem to hit 4 GB

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