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7 posts

Wannabe Geek

#55591 6-Jan-2010 17:47
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I am after some hardware advice for the best new HTPC setup.  I have My Movies DVD library set up off a Windows Home server for serving DVD content and also I am considering using a HD HomeRun FreeView decoder.

Main requirements are:

Must fit under existing TV cabinet for Wife Acceptance Factor  – i.e. must be 110mm or lower in height (i.e. Less than 4 and half inches high)


Low Noise

Ability to play blu ray high definition video to a 42inch TV (TV has HDMI and VGA ports)

Will not be used for games at all so low heat/noise more important than gaming performance

Gigabit ethernet

Room for a blu Ray DVD player
Windows 7 Media Centre
I have a external USB sound blaster audigy device which connects to the amp via digital coax so probably don't need high end on board sound.


Could you please provide any recomendations? Are the new integrated graphics on the latest motherboards good enough or do I need a separate graphics card?

Cheers TechAddict.

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2867 posts

Uber Geek

  #287511 6-Jan-2010 18:08
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It depends on whether you plan to have Freeview HDTV.

If you want freeview HD, then TV3 (1080i h264 dvb-t) has quite high gfx requirements. Therefore onboard gfx tend to be a little hit and miss, so if you go for onboard gfx, and need live tv, then make sure you case can take an addon gfx card if needed. Most people on this forum tend to prefer nvidia over ati for Freeview HDTV.

If your not planing on doing 1080i HDTV, then all of the newer iGPUs that support DXVA will be fine for bluray.

The AMD chipsets are 780G/758G/790.  If you go for a AMD setup then you must get an HT3 capable CPU. This is because the CPU HT speed effects how fast the iGPU can access the shared memory. People seem to like the Athlon II X2 240. You also have to choose between motherboards with/without sideport memory.  As far as i know 790 is an overclocked 780, whereas 785 is a newer chip.  So I think 785 is probably the better choice.

I'm not sure if the new intel/nvidia integrated gfx (Intel G45 / Nvidia mGPU 9400) are influenced by the CPU choice or not.

HTPC / Home automation (home assistant) enthusiast.

722 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #287587 6-Jan-2010 21:52
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The best advice I can offer is to research thoroughly. There are a number of recent threads here, & on plenty of other sites, concerning what configuration a user should have. Do the due-diligence first, it will mitigate any issues down the track. And, know exactly your now & future (at least near-future) requirements, it will dictate what the minimum configuration will be.

Regarding your statement on sound: a high-end soundcard is not necessarily a must. If you intend to send the audio to an AV receiver, at present the best means is via SPDif. But that doesn't transmit the newer HD audio, available on Blu-ray (BD). There are solutions on the near horizon (ATI video card bitstreaming), or even here at present, for that. But this illustrates the necessity for thorough research. It is not an easy task, but is well rewarding for the end result! I hope you have some spare time Wink

Once you decide what your requirements are, add about 30% to the bottom line, in terms of hardware. The minimal extra costs will far outway the heartache of having upgrade prematurely.

Silverstone LC14 HTPC Case/Intel E4600 CPU/GA-EP35-DS3 MOBO/Asus EN9500GT graphics/2GB RAM/total 2TB HDD space/HVR-2200 & 2X 150MCE tuner cards/LG GGC-H20L BD Drive/MCE2005/Mediaportal/TVServer 1.1.0Final/LG 55"3D LED-TV/Denon AVR-1803 receiver/X1 projector


635 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #287630 6-Jan-2010 23:21
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A quick search on one retailers site only offered 7 HTPC cases under 110mm in hieght. Lian-Li PC-C35x looked the best of those.

I would suggest that case, with a new Intel DH5x motherboard, and an Intel Core i3 5x0 CPU. This will give you all the HD features you need on the mobo and Computerlounge list a SilverStone TOB02 blu-ray player for about $189 including.

All you will need after that is a tv tuner or two and software, win7/cyberlink power dvd etc for bluray playing.

Home Server: AMD Threadripper 1950X, 64GB, 56TB HDD, Define R6 Case, 10GbE, ESXi 6.7, UNRAID, NextPVR, Emby Server, Plex Server.
Lounge Media Center: NVIDIA Shield TV 16GB: Kodi18 with Titan MOD, Emby.
Kids Media Center: NVIDIA Shield TV 16GB: Kodi18 with Titan MOD, Emby.
Main PC: Ryzen 7 2700, 16GB RAM, RX 570, 2 x 24"

2584 posts

Uber Geek

Mod Emeritus
Lifetime subscriber

  #287660 7-Jan-2010 06:24
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Ouch that case does not support any add in cards. Not even half height. It also seemed to have poor cooling with a couple of tiny 40cm fans. But then I am not sure if there is anything better when limited to that height.

For the op you state it needs to be 110 or lower. Is that with plenty of room for air circulation? If not you may need to re-think where you are going to put it.
There is also a direct correlation between size and noise. The smaller the case the more noise it will need to make to keep cool. Of course you are also a lot more limited in what will fit in the case.

Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64

2867 posts

Uber Geek

  #287757 7-Jan-2010 12:47
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Some cases have an external PSU that sits outside the case. That maybe an option.
There are also PCI-E rises that have a 90 degree angle adaptor this means you can install the video card parallel with the motherboard. However doing this may interfere with you adding any additional cards (eg. TV tuner).

Something like this
external PSU / <110mm height / takes 2x addon cards
however quite old (2006 case)

HTPC / Home automation (home assistant) enthusiast.

2867 posts

Uber Geek

  #287758 7-Jan-2010 12:51
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Some of the new small small form factor HTPCs can also attach to the VESA mount on the back of your LCD TV/PLASMA

HTPC / Home automation (home assistant) enthusiast.

2867 posts

Uber Geek

  #287767 7-Jan-2010 13:12
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Ahh I found what i suggest you look at

Recommended HTPC Systems – November 2009 Edition (AVS FORUMS)

You have to login to the forum before viewing the thread, so that you can see the attached case pictures.

HTPC / Home automation (home assistant) enthusiast.


699 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #287808 7-Jan-2010 15:08
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The Lian-Li PC-C37x supports half height PCI cards and is under 110mm in height. Great looking case in my opinion, can use a standard ATX PSU aswell. Otherwise the best option would be a nettop mounted on the back of the screen on the VESA mount.

2867 posts

Uber Geek

  #287820 7-Jan-2010 15:34
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There is also PC-38/39 ; one of which includes IR receiver and remote.

HTPC / Home automation (home assistant) enthusiast.

361 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #287830 7-Jan-2010 15:58
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I have a Lian-Li PC-C37x and it's fantastic.

The new Intel Core i3/i5 chips look perfect for an HTPC as well.

Cloud Guru
4060 posts

Uber Geek


  #287949 7-Jan-2010 22:50
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seeing as you have the home server for storage, i'd look at the lowest power consumption cpu, an integrated graphics board and perhaps a 2.5" laptop disk to power this thing and go with the hd homerun option. 40mm fans might be noisy so you might need to replace them with better qualiity fans, or create a 'funnel' or duct that has an 80mm or 120mm fan at the end which could hang out the back and suck air out

7 posts

Wannabe Geek

#288069 8-Jan-2010 11:06
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Kiwijunglist, 1gkar, browned, Nety, PANICnz, Buttonmash and Regs thank you for your advice I really appreciate it. To answer your questions:

Live FreeView HDTV (1080i h264 dvb-t) - Yes I definitely want to watch live FreeView HDTV as well as slightly delayed to skip the advertisements. I’d like to see if I can get away with onboard GFX to keep heat and noise down but will upgrade to a half height card if I need to.  Also, What is the advantage for a HTPC in sideport memory?

1gkar – Sound. I have a 24bit external Soundblaster card which looks like it supports HD audio. This connects to the PC via USB and to my amp via digital coax which works well and is cheaper than spdif. I agree with your overspec by 30% comment.

Cases - I looked at the Lian-Li cases and really like them but I don’t need brushed aluminum for a case that going to sit hidden under the TV table. I’m currently favouring this case from Antec – good price and well know make and it is under 120mm high I also have a Haupauge USB remote that works with MCE so don’t need a remote built into the case.

Nety – also get your point about noise and case size.  I’m hoping to keep heat and noise to a minimum by using integrated and/or external components such as LAN based Freeview video decoder.

Vesa mount HTPC – interesting concept but it won’t work with my lounge as the back of the TV is viewable from the dining room. Also I want to try and stay with main-stream NZ sourced components for warranties etc.

Reg – good suggestion on the 2.5” laptop drive as it’s basically only a boot and local cache drive anyway. I have 3TB on the Home Server and prefer to keep my multi-media content centrally for access and back up of family videos and photos. Also the Home server is in the garage so noise isn’t an issue.

7 posts

Wannabe Geek

  #288070 8-Jan-2010 11:09
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Here is my currently preferred configuration (excluding hard drive and blue ray drive):

ANTEC Minuet 350 Black Micro ATX Slim Case w/350W

MSI 760GM-E51 AM3 DDR3 AMD 760G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail 

AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition 3.1GHz Socket AM3 Dual-Core Processor - Retail 

OCZ Platinum Edition 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR3-1333 Dual Channel Kit OCZ3P13332GK - Retail 

699 posts

Ultimate Geek

  #288081 8-Jan-2010 11:33
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Even most cheap motherboards will have a SPDIF header on them allowing you (in conjunction with a cheap SPDIF header) to output digital audio to your AMP without the external USB soundblaster. Personally I would avoid the soundblaster where possible.

SPDIF only has enough bandwidth for 7.1 channel LCPM, if you want full bitstream for blueray then you'll need a AMD 5x00 card, such as the 5750. The AMD cards can do bitstreaming over the HDMI port.

I'm not a big fan of AMD intergrated chipsets for HTPC's, but it should be fine under windows if you intend to use Mediaportal or WMC. If your considering XBMC then nVidia is a better option, as XMBC only does GPU HD decoding under Linux (AMD Linux support is crap).

If I were you I would consider the ITX form factor, with a HD homerun and intergrated video there really isnt a need for a full M-ATX board. Most ITX boards even have a PEG slot so if the intergrated video isn't quite what you expect you can upgrade to discrete video card.

2867 posts

Uber Geek

  #288145 8-Jan-2010 14:44
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With regards to Mobo/CPU

Sideport memory makes the video card faster, as it has dedicated memory which it can access faster than the shared memory. AFAIK sideport memory is limited to 128mb, so if you use more than 128mb the memory requirement overflows into the shared ram.

Is that CPU low TDP? ie. lower power useage. If possible get a low power cpu, which will generate a lot less heat. This is very important if going for a very small case. It will also mean less noise. Low power AMD chips often have an 'e' suffix identifying them.

If you want to watch Freeview HD then you need a tv tuner (DVB-T type). Make sure that the motherboard / case has room for an addon video card after you accomodate the tuner.

Onboard SPDIF is fine for sound (Doesn't support bitstreaming/DTS-HD/HD Audio) so your onboard sound should be fine unless your one of those nutty audio chaps. I don't think your Exernal Live soundcard does HD Audio, as it has no mention of HD Audio or HD Audio logos on the page you provided.

HTPC / Home automation (home assistant) enthusiast.

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