Looking for feedback on my HPTC design (1 Viewer)

snewman

Portal Member
January 30, 2006
44
0
Australia
Hi,

Here's the system config I'm considering at the moment:

Case: Cooler Master ATC 620
Power Supply: Zalman Noiseless 300W
Motherboard: ASUS A8N-VM
CPU: AMD Athlon64 3200+
Memory: 512MB DDR400
Hard Disk: 300GB (not sure which one)
DVB card: Twinhan DTV Mini Ter

The motherboard provides an onboard nVidia 6150 GPU with DVI and RGB outputs, so I don't need a separate video card.

I'm after some feedback on a couple of points:

- Has anyone had any experience with the ATC 620 case?
- Do I need to get 1GB of RAM or will 513MB suffice? The HTPC will be used primarily for watching XVids, DVDs and DVB TV, with some recording now and again.
- Any recommendations for a quiet 300GB HD? Noise level has to be low for this HTPC.

--
 

ASiDiE

Retired Team Member
  • Premium Supporter
  • January 14, 2005
    902
    5
    USA
    Plus seagates come with a 5 year warranty! I use seagates for this alone and you get the added benifet of them being one of the quietest drives around. When I get my drive I head on over to seagates website and check the warranty information and write it on the drive. Having something that will still work or be replaced till 2010 is awesome!
     

    onkl

    Portal Pro
    February 18, 2005
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    Wageningen
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    Netherlands Netherlands
    snewman said:
    - Do I need to get 1GB of RAM or will 513MB suffice? The HTPC will be used primarily for watching XVids, DVDs and DVB TV, with some recording now and again.
    - Any recommendations for a quiet 300GB HD? Noise level has to be low for this HTPC.
    My advise would be related to the stock cooler of the AMD. (it's a great CPU, no problem with that.)
    I've heard about people saying it's silent and others compare it to a airplane.
    So I'd buy 1* 512 and reserve some money for a Zalman cooler if you are unhappy with stock.
    If you like the stock cooler, spend your money on some extra RAM. It might be useful, but you won't *need* it.

    On HDD, I'd agree with Seagate.
     

    snewman

    Portal Member
    January 30, 2006
    44
    0
    Australia
    Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    I've been looking around and Seagate and Samsung seem to be the HD of choice for low noise.

    Any thoughts on price/performance comparison between the two?

    Does the Samsung have a long warranty?

    Onkl - I was looking to replace the stock cooler with something quieter and more efficient - everything I've read suggests tossing the standard cooler. Any recommendations on a model?

    --
     

    jawbroken

    Portal Pro
    August 13, 2005
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    I picked up the Zalman 7000B-Cu and I am very happy with it. Quiet, well built, puts out enough air to flow over my passively cooled northbridge. Can be some problems with compatibility with motherboards, so check the website for a list of compatible models. Also: it is quite heavy, which shouldn't be a problem, especially not if your motherboard is horizontal as in a lot of HTPC cases.

    http://zalman.co.kr/eng/product/view.asp?idx=141&code=005

    If you click "View" under the compatible CPUs and Motherboards for the socket CPU you are thinking of, it will take you to a list of compatible and incompatible motherboards.
     

    Tech Geek

    Portal Pro
    January 29, 2006
    354
    0
    Denver, CO USA
    snewman said:
    Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    I've been looking around and Seagate and Samsung seem to be the HD of choice for low noise.

    Any thoughts on price/performance comparison between the two?

    It depends on the model but Tomshardware has an article comparing some drives.

    I picked it up OEM Samsung for $209 locally, no rebate. It's a 250GB SATA 300 drive and that's barely more than what I paid for a Seagate 200 a couple months ago.

    Does the Samsung have a long warranty?
    No idea.

    Onkl - I was looking to replace the stock cooler with something quieter and more efficient - everything I've read suggests tossing the standard cooler. Any recommendations on a model?

    Standard coolers are about the equal of an under $10 aftermarket cooler... if not worse.

    I have a Thermaltake Silent 939. They cost less than a Zalman, are very quiet, provide excellent cooling and fit in a space a Zalman won't. It should fit most of the places a stock cooler will. It looks like a standard heatsink + fan but adds heatpipes to spread heat to the top of the fins better and faster. It seems to work. Oh yeah, and it has a grill over the fan to help keep away wires and fingers. I've broken a couple over the years. Also, if the fan goes it could be replacad with an off the shelf fan. Good luck doing that on a Zalman.
     

    snewman

    Portal Member
    January 30, 2006
    44
    0
    Australia
    Okay - more research - changes to my system design:

    Case: Silverstone LC16M
    (much sexier, more room, better cooling, VFD and remote)

    Power Supply: Cooler Master Extreme Power 430
    (more power, still quiet like the Zalman, cheaper)

    Motherboard: MSI K8N Neo 4-FI 1394 Nforce4 Ultra
    or Gigabyte GA-K8NF-9
    (I now leaning toward separate video card)

    CPU: AMD 3200+
    (need a 939 CPU now)

    Memory: 2x512MB DDR400
    (may as well get a decent amount of RAM now)

    Hard Disk: 300GB Seagate

    DVB card: Twinhan DTV Mini Ter
    (no change)

    Video Card: Gigabyte X1300 Pro 256MB
    or Sapphire X1300 256MB
    or HIS X1300 Pro 256MB
    (I want to take advantage of the AVIVO capabilities to get the GPU to do more work with upscaling, deinterlacing etc)

    So the new questions:

    - Anyone with experiences of the Cooler Master PS? Is it quiet?

    - Any recommendations on the motherboard?

    - I've seen one other post about the Sapphire passive X1300Pro running pretty hot - what about the Gigabyte and HIS cards?

    --
     

    Tech Geek

    Portal Pro
    January 29, 2006
    354
    0
    Denver, CO USA
    The Sapphire passive X1300 runs hot but when I yanked 1 of the 2 I purchased out so I could test the other one I was able to hold it just fine. Even pressed it to my face to see just how hot it felt. It wasn't bad and it had only been about a minute since I turned off the machine. Just make sure you have air flowing over it and it will be fine.

    The only drawback with the passive model I've found was related to HDTV. If you aren't using HDTV it's pretty cheap, silent and has Avivo.

    The PRO models of the X1300 have a much higher memory clock and 256bit memory models like the HIS may work with HDTV given they have double the memory bandwidth.
    HIS has a great reputation so I'd expect it to run pretty warm but not so much it's a problem. I'd guess it's about like the Sapphire. I'd do a google search on the model to see if you can find any discussion on other forums.

    The Samsung OEM drive I purchased has a 3 year warranty.
    I also purchased a Samsung DVD +- RW dual layer and it seems like a decent drive so far.

    I have an Antec 430 in my HTPC and it's overkill. Way more than I need but it wsa $40 after rebate... which came in the mail yesterday.

    As for motherboard. I just spent something like $110 for my CPU + motherboard shipped. Not sure why most people need a killer CPU and board. But... that's just me.

    I used a Tul socket 754 in my HTPC and a Jetway in my desktop. They are both based on the same ATi + ULI + Realtech chips. Well... the Jetway has the ATi 200 and the Tul has the 200P but the Tul was half the price of what a new Jetway is and for most stuff there isn't a noticable difference between the 2600+ and the 3500+.

    For converting video formats to XVID, DivX or H264 a faster CPU will have an advantage but I also use a Sempron 2400+ Socket A system for doing that and I start it before I go to bed and forget about it till morning. H264 takes hours to encode a single hour of video so if you plan on using it go nuts on the CPU if you can afford it.
    I think all of the video utilities I've used would be faster if they weren't I/O bound so a SATA II interface and SATA II drive is going to be an advantage for that. Without it CPU speed increases offer diminishing returns. I also found using one drive as an input and another as an output when doing a conversion made a difference. I'd guess more than SATA II with one drive and if the programs were designed to take full advantage of it, it would be even faster.
     

    Tech Geek

    Portal Pro
    January 29, 2006
    354
    0
    Denver, CO USA
    snewman said:
    Video Card: Gigabyte X1300 Pro 256MB
    or Sapphire X1300 256MB
    or HIS X1300 Pro 256MB

    I just read some reviews where the Gigabyte seems to have heat issues. It has the highest clock rate for the X1300 passively cooled cards but the smallest heatsink.
    At $75 it might be worth a try. I just wouldn't overclock it and it might not hurt to place a fan blowing over it.
     

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