Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Build Your Own HTPC - September 2014




Welcome back everyone. Let's build a HTPC or home theater personal computer. This will be a small and cheap build and you will be able to do the following things-

1. Web browsing,
2. Light weight gaming,
3. Game Streaming,
4. Recording TV shows,
5. Seed box,
6. Network Attached Storage.

Lot of potential here so let's look at the parts.

Processor : 

AMD Athlon 5350 Kabini 



Features:

1. Very cheap.
2. Support for 1600MHz Memory,
3. Built in AMD 8400 series Graphics,
4. Quad core 2.05GHz,
5. 25W Thermal design power.

The reason for choosing this processor is of-course it's  good price to performance ratio. This is a quad core processor that runs at  2.05GHz  and pretty much enough for everyday computing, entertainment stuffs like music, movies or surfing the internet and also good enough for light weight gaming, different applications and programming. In overall comparison it beats the Intel J1800 CPU which is slightly costlier than this one so indeed a great value. Memory controller of this processor can handle 1600MHz too which is a plus side as we will be using the integrated graphics processing unit.

Speaking of which the graphics processing unit can even handle 4k videos although in 24Hz but still 4k and like I mentioned above you can do light gaming too. 

Another cool thing about this processor is it's thermal design power, which is only 25W and less amount of heat and noise. Not to mention low electricity bill if you plan to keep it on for seed box or network attached storage.


Motherboard

Asus AM1M-A



Features:

1. Two RAM slots,
2. SATA 6Gbps port,
3. USB 3.0 port,
4. PCI express x16 slot,
5. HDMI that supports 4k,
6. Gigabit LAN,
7. Very cheap.

Asus is a well known brand for innovation and reliability, this board may be cheap but it has enough features to be a perfect base for a  HTPC. It has two RAM slots enough for the works it is intended to do.

This board has SATA3.0 6Gbps support which means you can use high speed storage. Typical configuration might be one Solid state drive as boot drive and couple mechanical drive to hold the media files. It also has USB 3.0 which will allow user to copy data to USB device faster or just plug in a USB device and watch a high definition movie without any issue. It has built in Gigabit LAN controller so better speed over the LAN. If you plan on using it as network attached storage I will recommend using wired LAN.

It has PCI Express x16 and x1 slots, can be used for adding more peripherals and it's HDMI supports 4k resolution.





Looking at the price This processor might cost around 65US$ and board might cost around 35US$, as of September 2014 and in October 2016 the prices are around 40US$ and 35US$ respectively.

 

Memory

For this purpose a 4GB 1333MHz RAM will be enough but if you want you can add in another 4GB kit.



  Single 4GB one will cost around 20US$

 
Now comes the Storage:


To keep the system cheap I will be using a Toshiba 1TB Drive.



Why?

1. SATA 3.0 drive so should give us about 150MBps consistent speed.
2. 7200rpm so seek time should be good.

This one might cost around 38$.


 
Case:

For computer case it is totally up to you get whatever you want. Make sure it has enough airflow and if you plan on keeping it at the drawing room you might want to look for something small and something that can blend in.



Power Supply:

If you want to keep the system running for 24/7 you will need a good power supply for sure. So let's take a branded one.

Corsair CX430




Corsair is a very well known power supply unit maker, CX series might be their lower end series but it will get the job done pretty nicely. This 430W 42US$ unit can provide around 32A on its 12V rail which is more than enough for the whole system build and have enough headroom for adding more storage or even a lower end video card.

 
Last Thing the Operating System:




For the operating system I think it will be great if we use Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a free operating system and it can do most stuffs that windows can do except for gaming. And this system is not for gaming so we don't have to worry about that. And the fact being free makes this operating system very appealing.


First Published: September 2014.
Updated: October 2016.

Hope you guys enjoy reading it.

Read my other posts here. Stay great.

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