Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Budget HTPC/home server pointers?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Beans
    2

    Budget HTPC/home server pointers?

    I tried to search for recent threads about similar issues, but could find none with replies.

    [Background]
    I've been contemplating the idea of building a small HTPC/home server(mostly file sharing and remote access) for a while now, and for the past few days I've been trying to get the process started.
    Of course, first on my list is hardware selection. Since it has been over half a decade since I last built a PC, or followed hardware discussions, I'm rather lost.

    I figured I could just start combing through the compatible hardware thread here and start eliminating all the options that would not be suitable for my purposes. But that would take weeks, especially since I'm rather busy with other things in my life at the moment, thus I figured I might as well try asking the people who probably already have vast amounts of knowledge on the matter.

    For OS I'll probably just go with ubuntu(or some flavour of it, kubuntu etc). Mainly for stability and not having to pay for windows. But also because I have not used linux much in the past and am looking to change that. This seemed like a fine project to start with, and to prepare me for the time I buy my next laptop(since current one can't run linux). Once this is done I can finally afford(not enough space at the moment) to dual boot win7/Ubuntu on my desktop as well.
    [/Background]

    My short list of requirements so far:

    • Quiet & energy-efficient. I intend for it to be on 24/7, and the less noise it makes the better.
    • 1080p quality video output. Currently my tv is 720p, but I intend to upgrade it sometime soon.
    • Linux compability(I don't intend to run windows on it, after all)
    • Low Price.


    Things I don't need:

    • DVD/Blu-Ray drive
    • keyboard/mouse
    • screen
    • DVR card(although would like to add one in the future)


    Regarding storage media:

    I'm currently considering only buying one Seagate 2TB Barracuda or Barracuda Green initially(2TB would be enough for everything I have on my computers/NAS currently, with few hundred GB to spare). Or, if possible without exceeding the budget too much, an additional SSD for the OS.


    As for the case, I am currently thinking something like Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced because:

    • I need room for at least two HDDs(for storage, only one initially, one slot for possible expansion in the future) and one SSD(possibly; For OS).
    • It can fit in the space I have for the case (WxHxD, 36cm x 30cm x 45cm ).
    • It fits my budget(50€ or less for the case).


    However, as for the rest of the hardware, I have no clue where to even begin, so if anyone could offer their insight or possible options, I'd appreciate it greatly. My budget for the project is 400€ or less, 50€ of which is reserved for the case(Core 1000 would cost 40€, CM 120 49€).
    I of course realize hardware prices are not the same everywhere, and most probably higher here(Finland) than in most other places(due to taxes). However, I figured The budget would give you some idea of what I'm looking for, and it does have a little wiggle room to accommodate higher local prices(470€ is my absolute maximum). But still: the less the parts will cost, the better.


    In conclusion: Pointers, hints, etc as to how and where to start looking for components, as well as opinions on any already mentioned would be appreciated. Suggestions for specific MB, Processor, power supply etc even more so.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Portsmouth, UK
    Beans
    Hidden!
    Distro
    Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

    Re: Budget HTPC/home server pointers?

    You can get away with very little; I've a ye-old HTPC with a 400W PSU, bought for about £150 online. I threw in a passive GT520 and 4 2TB drives, and it will decode 1080p at any bit-rate you throw at it. I recently built one for a colleague; it contained an ancient 3Ghz CPU, and same passive GT520 - that also decoded with ease.

    If you're happy with a basic box, it can be done cheaply, and easily. If you want something more compact and aesthetic, you may desire a slim front-end, and a beefier back-end. Naturally, the latter costs significantly more; a nice HTPC front-end case could easily cost to £100-400+.

    For a quiet PSU, avoid the tiny 'media centre' PSUs. They aren't that much smaller, and they tend to make far more of a din.
    Last edited by Grenage; September 14th, 2012 at 02:07 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    /tropics/islands/statia
    Beans
    275
    Distro
    Kubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Budget HTPC/home server pointers?

    Based on the system I built in June, I'd say:

    Intel i3-2120 (3.3GHz dual core with hyperthreading) should give you ample processing power. Retails for around €110
    RAM: 4GB should be enough, around €20.
    GPU: Asus Geforce ENGT430 1GB will handle 1080p with ease. €55
    SSD: Corsair Force GT 60GB holds my OS, with lots of room to spare, but you'll be hard pressed to find something smaller. €80.
    Add the case for €50 and you have €185 to find a motherboard to tie it all together.
    Since you want a HTPC, you could consider a discrete sound card instead of on-board sound. Creative SB 5.1 is dirt cheap (<€20), well supported and unless you're an audiophile with speakers that cost €10.000, sound quality is adequate. Or a Creative Audigy for around €25.
    Motherboard, for instance a Asus P8B75-M LX (not sure if it fits in the case, check), €60.
    All together: €395, so you still have money to spare for extra RAM or a bigger SSD.

    ... and for the PSU.
    Last edited by Statia; September 14th, 2012 at 02:19 PM. Reason: PSU

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Beans
    6,526

    Re: Budget HTPC/home server pointers?

    I built one this year in a Silverstone ML03 case - about the size of an old VCR, it's a squeeze but I got an SSD plus 2x3.5in HDDs and an optical drive in there. I put 2x80mm case fans in the side but they never turn on - it's essentially silent.

    I based mine on an AMD A8-3870 APU however one of the lower-end A6 chips should be quite sufficient. It's running mythbuntu. The only thing to be aware of with these APUs from a Linux POV is the slightly flaky proprietary Radeon drivers, otherwise they are great value imo where you just need 1080p 2D graphics.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Beans
    2

    Re: Budget HTPC/home server pointers?

    Thank you for the replies.
    Mostly based on Statia's suggestions, I'm currently considering the following:

    Case: Fractal Design Core 1000 (for micro-ATX)
    MB: Asus P8H61-M LX B3, LGA1155, Intel H61, DDR3, µATX
    or AsRock H61M-HVS, LGA1155, Intel H61, DDR3, mATX
    Processor: Intel Core i3-2120
    SSD: KINGSTON 64GB SSDNow V200
    HDD: Seagate Barracuda 2TB
    RAM: 4GB Kingston , DDR3 1333MHz, CL9


    As far as I can tell, I would not need a separate GPU with this setup. Though switching to a cheaper processor / MB and adding a dedicated GPU(such as ASUS ENGT430) could possibly cost less.. Will have to look into that as soon as possible, since with this setup it seems I'll have 60€(or 70€ with AsRock MB) left for PSU until going over budget

    EDIT: I haven't taken a look at PSU yet, but I suppose 250-300W should be enough? I should also be able to find some nice, silent ones with that wattage range.
    Last edited by Stoich; September 22nd, 2012 at 12:32 PM. Reason: links

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Beans
    43

    Re: Budget HTPC/home server pointers?

    You might check into some mini-ITX form factor cases/motherboards before you buy this stuff. If its just an HTPC/File server, you don't need a case as large as a Micro-ATX Fractal Design tower. Even though its a micro atx, they still have quite a large footprint. It just so happens that I have been trying to piece together a mini-itx build for a client of mine and I have been looking at cases by a company called Lian-Li, I'm sure most PC enthusiasts on here will recognize that name. But they have an excellent selection of super small cases that you could use for an HTPC and still use powerful hardware. Sure its a tight fit getting everything thing in there but who cares.

    I myself am looking into the BitFenix Prodigy case (white) for my own upgrade into the world of the core i3/i5/i7 from my outdated Q6600 quad core. Its a mini ITX case as well and it will be smaller and faster than anything I have built thus far. Browse newegg for HTPC cases or search for mini ITX form factor.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    NT, Australia
    Beans
    338
    Distro
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Budget HTPC/home server pointers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rsxhawk View Post
    You might check into some mini-ITX form factor cases/motherboards before you buy this stuff. If its just an HTPC/File server, you don't need a case as large as a Micro-ATX Fractal Design tower. Even though its a micro atx, they still have quite a large footprint. It just so happens that I have been trying to piece together a mini-itx build for a client of mine and I have been looking at cases by a company called Lian-Li, I'm sure most PC enthusiasts on here will recognize that name. But they have an excellent selection of super small cases that you could use for an HTPC and still use powerful hardware. Sure its a tight fit getting everything thing in there but who cares.

    I myself am looking into the BitFenix Prodigy case (white) for my own upgrade into the world of the core i3/i5/i7 from my outdated Q6600 quad core. Its a mini ITX case as well and it will be smaller and faster than anything I have built thus far. Browse newegg for HTPC cases or search for mini ITX form factor.
    +1 for the bitfenix prodogy. It's an amazing little case.

    Personally I muh prefer to have my htpc's and Server's separate. I'm actually looking into getting one of those awesome little odroid-X arm SoC's. It's similar to the raspberry pi, but it's got some pretty epic hardware (same cpu/gpu/ram as what's in the Samsung Galaxy S3) and is about $120. Also it's Arm v7 so it can run full on ubuntu as well as android.

    At the moment I'm using an old (well 2010) HP laptop with a broken screen running ubuntu-minimal with xbmc+openbox. It handles 1080p streaming video flawlessly, and that's even with the usually troublesome amd catalyst driver. So basically a HTPC really doesn't need much grunt at all.

    I am just streaming most of the media from my desktop at the moment, but will be converting a old core2duo desktop into a nas soon for that purpose when I have the money to buy a few hard drives.

    Good luck with your build

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •