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994 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 23406 28-Jun-2008 14:33
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Hi guys,

First post here on Geekzone but I've been a lurking for a while. I want to build an HTPC for the lounge that functions as a DVD/BLu-Ray/CD player, video & music center, HDTV, weather, sports & news AND as a gaming rig. I realise there are some compromises I will have to make (noise & heat vs performance). I guess my budget (exlc case) is about 2K so I should be able to make a pretty good rig. I dont expect high end gaming out of it but would like it to not need major upgrades for a while (functioning as an htpc)

Anyway, my plan so far is to build the following rig:


Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, 2.4GHz, LGA775 (undecided on heat sink/fan setup yet)

G.SKILL 4GB DDR2-800 PC6400 CL4-4-4-12 Memory (2GB x 2)

Asustek P5K Intel P35 ATX motherboard

Geforce 8800 GT, 512MB, PCI Express
(remove fan and attach nexus 120mm fan)

Western Digital Caviar Green Power 1TB 5400rpm HDD

M-Audio Revolution 7.1 PCI Sound Card

LG GGC-H20L Blu-ray / HD DVD Rom & DVDRW

Hauppauge HVR-2200 Dual Digital/analog PCI-E Tuner/capture card
(already have this)

Wireless network card

Wireless keyboard & mouse


Case undecided but will be replacing stock case fans with nexus fans too

PSU undecided but will need to be around 550w I think

That lot comes to around 1600-1700 on pricespy but I may be able to get some cheaper from overseas. Will spend up to $500 on a case (I like the ones with 7-inch LCD but Im not shelling out 900+ on a case (yet anyway :D) but havn't seen the perfect one yet. I want one in silver to match my pioneer av receiver and my Panasonic 37" lcd. It really has to look professional and be well built (as well as big enough to fit all that crap and have good airflow)

Software I will tackle once I have decided on hardware....

As far as gaming goes. Id like it to be able to play most games on max settings and others on reasonable settings. Will be playing FPS games, car games and flight sim mostly.

Please critique anythign and everything and ask any questions. Do you guys have any experience with these componenets in a htpc rig. Anything look incompatible or out of place? All comments welcome

Cheers guys ♠




HTPC: Silverstone Crown CW02 case | Asus P5Q-L main board | Intel Dual core E8400 3.0GHz CPU | Thermalright Ultra120-Extreme Passive CPU Cooler | Blackgold BTG3540 TV Tuner & Hauppauge PVR-150 MCE Edition | Asus EN9600GT-Silent Passive GPU | 4GB Supertalent DDR2 800 RAM | 5+TB HDD space | LiteOn DH-401S BD/DVD/CD reader | Corsair HX-520w PSU | 1 single Noctua Silent Case fan | Logitech diNovo Bluetooth Media Desktop | Logitech Harmony 785 Universal Remote | Logitech Wireless Rumblepad 2 | Windows 7 Media Center, MediaBrowser & Arcsoft Total Media Theatre

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299 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 141041 28-Jun-2008 14:56
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Hey there and welcome!

Overall it looks ok, but could do with a few changes.  I personally wouldn't bother buying a separate soundcard as most onboard sound chips are fine these days.  I would also upgrade to a 7200rpm HD as well.

Before I can comment further when you say that you will be using this for games are you playing games on your TV or a monitor?  If it's a monitor then let us know what size it is.  Also what OS are you planning to use?

You've also contradicited yourself by first saying "I dont expect high end gaming out of it", but then say "As far as gaming goes. Id like it to be able to play most games on max settings" - so what is it?  High end gaming = max settings so you'll need to clarify a bit more.




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  Reply # 141042 28-Jun-2008 15:04
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agreed with redjet - 5400rpm will be painfully slow to access your media.  also try going for a passive 8600gt gpu - asus or the like.  8800 is overkill, and active cooling - no matter with custom or stock fans is still too loud for a htpc.  256/512mb 8600 is perfectly adequate even when operating blu-ray.

also i think it a better idea to decide on your software first, and then build the hardware around it.  decide what it is you want to achieve as an end result, what you can and can't live without, what works best for your location and environment, and then what front end you want to be using.  once you have that vision in mind the prospect of putting the hardware together becomes much easier.  it also makes it easier to troubleshoot any weirdness that may arise once you've got your machine built and running.

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 141043 28-Jun-2008 15:18
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For hard drive make it a Samsung Spinpoint F1 640gb (7200rpm). They are incredibly fast, not sure on sound.

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  Reply # 141048 28-Jun-2008 16:07
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The WD Green series 1Tb drives are variable RPM, 5400-7200. I'm using one in my own myPVR unit and the performance is excellent.




Generally known online as OpenMedia, now working for Red Hat New Zealand as a Solution Architect for all things Linux, Virtual and of course Cloud. Still playing with MythTV and digital media on the side.

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  Reply # 141053 28-Jun-2008 16:44
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Why a combo BD/HD-DVD drive? Do you have a collection of HD-DVDs?  The particular drive you quote has dropped from $550 to $330 in the past two months, and I believe has a ways to fall yet.  Unless you are able to access a reasonable number of BDs could I suggest you just use a legacy DVD burner (as I have) until the price of drives comes down and more BDs are available in NZ?  The money can go towards something else in your system you need to get it running.




Areas of Geek interest: Home Theatre, HTPC, Android Tablets & Phones, iProducts.



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 141057 28-Jun-2008 17:08
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Hey there and welcome!

Overall it looks ok, but could do with a few changes.  I personally wouldn't bother buying a separate soundcard as most onboard sound chips are fine these days.  I would also upgrade to a 7200rpm HD as well.

Before I can comment further when you say that you will be using this for games are you playing games on your TV or a monitor?  If it's a monitor then let us know what size it is.  Also what OS are you planning to use?

You've also contradicited yourself by first saying "I dont expect high end gaming out of it", but then say "As far as gaming goes. Id like it to be able to play most games on max settings" - so what is it?  High end gaming = max settings so you'll need to clarify a bit more.


Thanks. I really want great quality sound and am prepared to spend a bit of cash on it. I've read so many posts on many forums where people have said thet thir onboard sound just doesnt quite cut it.

SilentPC rated the Greenpower HDD as the quietest dektop drive theyve tested as well as the most efficient. Apparently it's not too bad on performace either and the average user wouldnt be able to tell. It has large 250GB platters too

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article786-page1.html

As far as the gaming goes, I mean I dont expect inasne frame rates at insane resolutions. I just want great gaming on my Panasonic TX37LX75A (1366 x 768). I would like to play games like COD4 and Doom 3 on or near max but dont expoect to be doing the same with Crysis. I want good quality for Grand Theft Auto, Flight Sim and car games too.

agreed with redjet - 5400rpm will be painfully slow to access your media.  also try going for a passive 8600gt gpu - asus or the like.  8800 is overkill, and active cooling - no matter with custom or stock fans is still too loud for a htpc.  256/512mb 8600 is perfectly adequate even when operating blu-ray.

also i think it a better idea to decide on your software first, and then build the hardware around it.  decide what it is you want to achieve as an end result, what you can and can't live without, what works best for your location and environment, and then what front end you want to be using.  once you have that vision in mind the prospect of putting the hardware together becomes much easier.  it also makes it easier to troubleshoot any weirdness that may arise once you've got your machine built and running.


I want the 8800 for gaming, otherwise would have gone with 8600. There is a passive 8800GT I've been eyeing up that I suppose I could use if I can get the airflow good enough. I will be using windows vista 32bit (as I already own it) and plan on using mediaportal and powerdvd for viewing. I believe my current hardware choice should go well with that.

The WD Green series 1Tb drives are variable RPM, 5400-7200. I'm using one in my own myPVR unit and the performance is excellent.


Cool, do you experience any problems at 5400rpm? Do you think it may affect gaming and I should try and find a quieti 7200rpm?

Why a combo BD/HD-DVD drive? Do you have a collection of HD-DVDs?  The particular drive you quote has dropped from $550 to $330 in the past two months, and I believe has a ways to fall yet.  Unless you are able to access a reasonable number of BDs could I suggest you just use a legacy DVD burner (as I have) until the price of drives comes down and more BDs are available in NZ?  The money can go towards something else in your system you need to get it running.


I like the specs and reviews of that drive. Its the second cheapest drive available in NZ. I dont need HD DVD, ity just happens to have that capability. The video store near me has quite a few BluRay videos and I wanted to future proof. I suppose I could get this one instead

http://c1com.co.nz/shop/step1.php?number=13878

Id save myself $50 anyway. Will be using windows vista 32 bit SP1 and will be using HTPC exclusively on the 37





HTPC: Silverstone Crown CW02 case | Asus P5Q-L main board | Intel Dual core E8400 3.0GHz CPU | Thermalright Ultra120-Extreme Passive CPU Cooler | Blackgold BTG3540 TV Tuner & Hauppauge PVR-150 MCE Edition | Asus EN9600GT-Silent Passive GPU | 4GB Supertalent DDR2 800 RAM | 5+TB HDD space | LiteOn DH-401S BD/DVD/CD reader | Corsair HX-520w PSU | 1 single Noctua Silent Case fan | Logitech diNovo Bluetooth Media Desktop | Logitech Harmony 785 Universal Remote | Logitech Wireless Rumblepad 2 | Windows 7 Media Center, MediaBrowser & Arcsoft Total Media Theatre

722 posts

Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 141072 28-Jun-2008 17:50
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Asmodeus: Hi guys,

First post here on Geekzone but I've been a lurking for a while. I want to build an HTPC for the lounge that functions as a DVD/BLu-Ray/CD player, video & music center, HDTV, weather, sports & news AND as a gaming rig. I realise there are some compromises I will have to make (noise & heat vs performance). I guess my budget (exlc case) is about 2K so I should be able to make a pretty good rig. I dont expect high end gaming out of it but would like it to not need major upgrades for a while (functioning as an htpc)

Anyway, my plan so far is to build the following rig:


Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, 2.4GHz, LGA775 (undecided on heat sink/fan setup yet)

G.SKILL 4GB DDR2-800 PC6400 CL4-4-4-12 Memory (2GB x 2)

Asustek P5K Intel P35 ATX motherboard

Geforce 8800 GT, 512MB, PCI Express
(remove fan and attach nexus 120mm fan)

Western Digital Caviar Green Power 1TB 5400rpm HDD

M-Audio Revolution 7.1 PCI Sound Card

LG GGC-H20L Blu-ray / HD DVD Rom & DVDRW

Hauppauge HVR-2200 Dual Digital/analog PCI-E Tuner/capture card
(already have this)

Wireless network card

Wireless keyboard & mouse


Case undecided but will be replacing stock case fans with nexus fans too

PSU undecided but will need to be around 550w I think

That lot comes to around 1600-1700 on pricespy but I may be able to get some cheaper from overseas. Will spend up to $500 on a case (I like the ones with 7-inch LCD but Im not shelling out 900+ on a case (yet anyway :D) but havn't seen the perfect one yet. I want one in silver to match my pioneer av receiver and my Panasonic 37" lcd. It really has to look professional and be well built (as well as big enough to fit all that crap and have good airflow)

Software I will tackle once I have decided on hardware....

As far as gaming goes. Id like it to be able to play most games on max settings and others on reasonable settings. Will be playing FPS games, car games and flight sim mostly.

Please critique anythign and everything and ask any questions. Do you guys have any experience with these componenets in a htpc rig. Anything look incompatible or out of place? All comments welcome

Cheers guys ♠


I've read on overseas forums they recommend 5400rpm HDDs for HTPC use as they are quieter & it isn't an issue for media file access. Seeing as the drive you're looking at is variable speed I don't imagine that would be an issue.

Do people actually use the 7" LCD screen on those HUGELY expensive cases? I couldn't imagine getting out of my chair just to press it. My remote is far more appropriate. Maybe just spend the money on a top-of-the-line remote which has real advantages. I don't even use a case with a VFD as it is just another distracting light-source IMHO.

You obviously got in on the Hauppauge HVR-2200 first shipment. Quick thinking. Ditto.

Going with a Bluray player will also supply you with the PowerDVD codec capable of h.264 playback for FreeviewHD. Money saved there in  the long run.

I'm assuming you will be using the M-Audio soundcard for gaming use as HTPC sound would probably be SPDIFed to you're Pioneer receiver.

Just a word of possible warning. I have read a decent number of posts regarding issues with RMAing hardware back to c1com if problems evenuate. Never used them myself, so this is striclty third-party. I have a preferred local (Auckland) reseller. PM me if you want their name. They have been brilliant over recent itmes & they are usually near the top of any of Pricespy's lists, too.




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

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 141106 28-Jun-2008 20:44
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Can you confirm the exact model of the ASUS motherboard you are planning on buying?

It sounds like you are wanting to have a quiet PC and I don't really think that the HD will be your biggest noise contributor, however if that HD can vary between 5400 and 7200 rpm then cool, go for it.

As for onboard sound it's kind of hit and miss TBH.  I think you should hold off buying a sound card and first test out the onboard sound - it may surprise you and if it's bad then go and buy a sound card.

If you are only gaming at 1366 x 768 then the 8800GT would play most games at max settings, however I'd be inclined to go with something like the 9600GT which offers performance close to the 8800GT but at a lower price, plus ASUS have a silent model that may interest you: http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=365601 - The only catch with a card like this is that you'll need good airflow and ventilation in your case oitherwise it will be inclined to overheat.  Most people put silent 8600GT's in their HTPC's but they suck for gaming so a 8800GT or 9600GT is your best bet.

Also I agree with the other posters, a screen on a HTPC looks good but you'll probably never use it.





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  Reply # 141213 29-Jun-2008 13:37
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1. Do some reasearch on the 8800GT or GTS, I recall reading that the 8800 uses an older GPU which has no h.264 hardware decoding for freeview, H.264 is somehting you NEED! Maybe it was just hte GTS that had this issue can't rmemeber.

2. Surly don't get a Q6600 it uses the older 65nm techology, if you need a quad core, why? then get a Q9300 much nicer 45nm CPU :)

3. Why get G.Skill RAM, get some generic, the cheaper the better. RAM is RAM is has certain specs, it's either faulty or working anything else is just marketing!

4. I agree with the comment about the VFD, what's the point? It looks neat for about 5 mins then it's just something anoying that you never use.

5. As for sound if you don't already have one then get a receiver with digital (optical/coax) input then just use onboard sound, digital is digital.

6. The mobo is great, lots of PCI(e) slots for more tuners that you might want to add later.

7. For an HTPC, if you don't game on it and keep with the bare minium software you need for HTPC/PVR and make as few changes as possible then you'll have a smoother ride.

8. For freeview HD if have anything less than a perfect picture on Prime then you'll be in for some pain. If you have a crappy pic on prime and you can't get it perfect save you're self the pain and just go with SAT.

9. Be prepared to put in LOTS of hours of tuning and lots of hair pulling!

All IMHO :-)







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  Reply # 141246 29-Jun-2008 15:43
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Get a MS Wireles remote (you can get the matching keyboard)
Its just the easiest to setup for HTPC.
Ive been finding out many PC remotes have pretty poor HTPC support.

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  Reply # 141269 29-Jun-2008 17:21
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mcraenz: 1. Do some reasearch on the 8800GT or GTS, I recall reading that the 8800 uses an older GPU which has no h.264 hardware decoding for freeview, H.264 is somehting you NEED! Maybe it was just hte GTS that had this issue can't rmemeber.

2. Surly don't get a Q6600 it uses the older 65nm techology, if you need a quad core, why? then get a Q9300 much nicer 45nm CPU :)

3. Why get G.Skill RAM, get some generic, the cheaper the better. RAM is RAM is has certain specs, it's either faulty or working anything else is just marketing!

4. I agree with the comment about the VFD, what's the point? It looks neat for about 5 mins then it's just something anoying that you never use.

5. As for sound if you don't already have one then get a receiver with digital (optical/coax) input then just use onboard sound, digital is digital.

6. The mobo is great, lots of PCI(e) slots for more tuners that you might want to add later.

7. For an HTPC, if you don't game on it and keep with the bare minium software you need for HTPC/PVR and make as few changes as possible then you'll have a smoother ride.

8. For freeview HD if have anything less than a perfect picture on Prime then you'll be in for some pain. If you have a crappy pic on prime and you can't get it perfect save you're self the pain and just go with SAT.

9. Be prepared to put in LOTS of hours of tuning and lots of hair pulling!

All IMHO :-)




1. Thats the 320/640 version. The 8800GT and the 8800GTS 512/1024 should work fine.
2. Q6600 is a fair bit cheaper but i agree
3. No, its not just marketing. Since hes gaming he might consider overclocking, which is almost impossible with generic ram. Branded ram is also known to be a lot less faulty than generic. Overclocking a HTPC is a bit strange since it increased heat and therefore noise from fans, but you might not mind that. I agree though to get generic if its not going to be overclocked and you dont want heat spreaders on it or the like.
4-7. Agreed
8. Prime is off an older and iirc less powerful transmitter. Theres been a few who have got a slightly grainy prime picture but perfect freeview.
9. Hell yes.

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  Reply # 141530 30-Jun-2008 15:15
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Nice work, looks like you are well researched and on the right track.

From my own experience there are a couple of things you might want to consider...

Q6600 run hot and use more power, I run one of these in a shuttle, but opted for a core2 Duo 45nm for my HTPC as it runs much cooler and would never notice any difference in performance (my kids play the odd game or 2 on the HTPC)

I use a passive 9600GT and it works very well for HTPC duties, running at around 60-70deg but on games will quickly shoot up past 100 when a good game is run, am still dealing with how to manage that, my case traps heat over the card so might have to get the dremel out. Otherwise the card is a solid performer, has never been unstable even when running hot

Go for a good high quality PSU with some wattage headroom, I use a corsair silent HX620W, point being that if you don't skimp here you will run less risk of any problems down the track.

Consider using an outboard USB dac for sound, I have a citypulse 2.03 but there is now plenty of choice around, I was going to buy a Perreaux one made locally, but wanted to save some cash. Benefits are: cleaner signal, less background interference & a noticable step-up in sound fidelity if you are feeding it into a quality sound system. It also leaves lees gear in your case to add to heat etc

Good luck, it is a pretty exciting project. One last thing, I had a lot of trouble finding the ideal case as it needed to blend in with a Plinius amp and be minimalist. I don't like the screen front ones, but I reckon this comes down to personal preference. I also went with a blu-ray drive as I dont have any legacy HDVD's and didn't want to pay for a feature I would never use. It is a stunning treat watching blu-ray over DVD, worth the effort. I picked mine up some months ago for around $200 in Aussie.

AJ



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 141733 30-Jun-2008 23:16
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OK, cheers for the replies guys. I guess the quad core and the 8800GT are just going to be too hot and/or loud for a proper htpc. With this dual core and a 9600GT I think I'll be OK. Was originally gona go with a 9600 but thought Id try and push it. After reading your and other replies and thinking a bit more, Ive amended my list to the following (core components only)

Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 2.66GHz LGA775 (undecided on heat sink/fan setup yet)

G.SKILL 4GB DDR2-800 PC6400 CL4-4-4-12 Memory (2GB x 2)

Asustek P5K Intel P35 ATX motherboard

Geforce 9600 GT, 512MB passive cooling


Western Digital Caviar Green Power 1TB 5400rpm HDD

LiteOn DH-4O1S-08 4X BD/DVD/CD-ROM

Hauppauge HVR-2200 Dual Digital/analog PCI-E Tuner/capture card
(already have this)

Case undecided

PSU undecided

Not saving much money with that cpu, am I saving much heat? I dont plan to do any overclocking on this pc and yes I get sweet prime reception here




HTPC: Silverstone Crown CW02 case | Asus P5Q-L main board | Intel Dual core E8400 3.0GHz CPU | Thermalright Ultra120-Extreme Passive CPU Cooler | Blackgold BTG3540 TV Tuner & Hauppauge PVR-150 MCE Edition | Asus EN9600GT-Silent Passive GPU | 4GB Supertalent DDR2 800 RAM | 5+TB HDD space | LiteOn DH-401S BD/DVD/CD reader | Corsair HX-520w PSU | 1 single Noctua Silent Case fan | Logitech diNovo Bluetooth Media Desktop | Logitech Harmony 785 Universal Remote | Logitech Wireless Rumblepad 2 | Windows 7 Media Center, MediaBrowser & Arcsoft Total Media Theatre

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  Reply # 141762 1-Jul-2008 07:59
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Well I'm not a CPU guru, but unless you are using it for heavy transcoding, the duo actually runs a bit quicker, uses less power and runs noticeably cooler. A quad would be better if you were doing transcoding. Really comes down to the stuff you are looking to do with it.

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  Reply # 141842 1-Jul-2008 12:20
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Yeah it's looking good. If you need the quad then get a Q9300 but then that's more $$$ again. IMHO the 45nm CPUs are much sweeter than the 65nm.




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