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New HTPC build - getting close to perfection (for me)


mar2k

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Here's the build list.

 

HD-PLEX H3.S Fanless Chassis

Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory

Intel DH67CFB3 LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Motherboard

Intel Core i3-2100T Sandy Bridge 2.5GHz LGA 1155 35W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000

Intel X25-V SSDSA2MP040G2R5 2.5" 40GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) (system boot drive)

Samsung Spinpoint M8 ST1000LM024 1TB 5400 RPM 2.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Notebook Hard Drive (data drive)

80W open frame fanless PSU Magic Power MPI-706H

Windows 8 Pro

 

A few comments:

 

I probably have around $775 or so tied up in all the parts. Many of the parts were last year (Sandy Bridge etc) because I had everything and did not get around to putting everything together until now (a 3 and 7 year old in the house...!).

 

This is a mini-ITX case, it will fit a 3.5" HDD in addition to a 2.5" drive (or 3 x 2.5") but I opted to go with a single 2.5" notebook HDD as the data drive for noise and heat reasons (if you're going to go cool and silent - go all the way was my thinking).

 

Ditto for the i3-2100T. Some efficiency is lost by going with the 35W variant of this i3 part but again the thought was go for the lowest power part. HD 2000 graphics could be better but for the use case its not an issue here. Not streaming Blu-Rays, just DVDs, Media Center television content, and converted MP4 files (Handbrake)

 

The boot drive is a little small, but I have several apps and programs loaded and still have over half the disk space. This drive was acquired middle of 2011. In the current market I would have gotten an 80GB or 120GB drive for roughly the same price. This was built as a pure HTPC so ultimately this isn't an issue.

 

Case is designed to fit a pico-PSU power supply if that is preferred. I went with the internal 80W to avoid having to deal with the external power brick.

 

Running all day testing it having it record shows, playing videos, run apps the exterior of the case is barely warm. As I post this from the machine in question the Kill-A-Watt is cycling between 20-22W.

 

Went with Windows 8 Pro - for $39 this was a no brainer for me mainly due to the ability for the W8 Pro machine to act as a Remote Desktop host. Administering this from my Surface RT is a delight. I know the issues with not booting directly into Media Center but I have just one user account on this PC with no password. I am setting a single icon up on the Start screen to launch Media Center and this works fine with the remote so even with an occasional reboot this just isn't going to be a big deal. Even the lock screen goes away just hitting any button on the remote but I will probably disable it anyway. I changed the lock screen to a picture of the inside of a movie theater so it actually looks pretty slick.

 

 

A few last comments on the price of the case. For me a completely silent PC was a long term dream. Now unless I stick my ear on the case to hear the HDD ticking I now have what I dreamed about the first time I laid my eyes on Media Center at an HP display in a mall. The price of the case has actually increased around $20-25 over the last year. I probably paid around $280 with the power supply included and it would be more than that now. The current revision of the H3.S case has a single USB 3.0 port on the front which I am very jealous of. This is not really reflected on the website but looking at some pictures from their support forum this is indeed the case. Let me say this, Larry who runs the show over at HD-Plex personally responds to every e-mail inquiry and over the course of the last year the case and parts have been refined based on the feedback he gathers. I had a small issue with the power button as had others and now the power button has been completely reworked for the current shipping units. Now the grooves for the copper heat pipes are left unpainted on the newer units to allow for even better heat transfer. Basically anything that can be done better has been reworked and done better on an ongoing basis. I asked for some extra screws and a couple of other small parts - these were sent free of charge. The power supply arrived with a bent pin - I had a brand new one in my hand by the end of the week. Everything arrived in well-labeled boxes and bags down to the tiniest screw. I can't say enough about the customer service I have received so any premium I paid has been well worth it in my opinion.

Edited by mar2k
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Thanks for the details mar2k. Just think; when you eventually get an SSD into that case it will be completely silent. It sounds like it's great company.

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Thanks for the details mar2k. Just think; when you eventually get an SSD into that case it will be completely silent. It sounds like it's great company.

 

Its just the 1TB Samsung data drive that's spinning. The boot drive is the Intel SSD. If I wanted to go to the extreme I could throw in another SSD but it would just be because I could... ;) .

 

Ok, back up. I want to see the workbench! Tool hangers, monitor hung up there. Looks like a cool spot!

 

Its not quite that slick with a monitor on the wall etc (though that gives me an idea!). I'll post a photo if I can ever figure out how to get it coded in. The image pops up in the preview when I paste in HTML but when I post it I just see the code....trying to link from Flickr or Skydrive...

 

8213373982_52b9fd5e61_b.jpg

Edited by cskenney
added pic to post
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...Its not quite that slick with a monitor on the wall etc (though that gives me an idea!). I'll post a photo if I can ever figure out how to get it coded in. The image pops up in the preview when I paste in HTML but when I post it I just see the code....trying to link from Flickr or Skydrive...

 

I fixed it for you.....I know magic!

 

When you are in the editor making your post there are icons above for changing fonts, paragraph indentation, etc. There is a button that looks like a picture and when you place your cursor over it the balloon says IMAGE. Select the button and it asks for a URL to your picture location. I took the URL you tried to use and pasted it into the URL box for IMAGE and what you see in your post is the end result. Hope you don't mind the help.

 

BTW - Since I am subscribed to this thread I get an email every time someone adds a new post. This gave me your original attempt at adding the pics which included the location for your picture.

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Its just the 1TB Samsung data drive that's spinning. The boot drive is the Intel SSD. If I wanted to go to the extreme I could throw in another SSD but it would just be because I could... ;) .

 

 

 

Its not quite that slick with a monitor on the wall etc (though that gives me an idea!). I'll post a photo if I can ever figure out how to get it coded in. The image pops up in the preview when I paste in HTML but when I post it I just see the code....trying to link from Flickr or Skydrive...

 

8213373982_52b9fd5e61_b.jpg

still really like the media center case on right side :) passive heatsink case is cool

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I really like the passive heatsink case too. In fact, I was just talking to my wife about a HTPC for in our living room. This forums is a bad influence on me!

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ImTheTypeOfGuy

I don't get all the talk about fans being too loud. My HTPC is about six feet from my sitting area and you can't hear the fans at all. Not even if I take the panels off the case. Just turn your tv up if you can hear the fans.

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I think it's about personal preference. PCs have become much quieter in the past couple of years as the processors have improved. My old Pentium 4 sounded like someone had a wind turbine running in the room.

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