Budget HTPC Builds £200 to £300

6
Found 2nd Apr 2012
After reading various deals for the Acer RL70, R3700, and Lenovo's IdeaCentre Q180 HTPC's I got the urge to go out and buy one. I was close to buying the Q180 but then read various reviews of the processor and came to the conclusion that whilst these machines are satisfactory for general video streaming and as a basic media player, they have no real guts and struggle with tasks such as Silverlight streaming (Sky Player, Netflix etc).

This was enough to put me off buying one of these pre-built machines and investigate whether it's worth building my own HTPC. After quite a bit of research, I thought I'd share 3 builds that I've come up with. They are slightly more than the machines mentioned above but you get so much more for your money.

Build 1:

Case: Novatech Vision Media Centre Case £49.98
Processor: 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i3 2120 3.3GHz Socket LGA1155 - Retail £89.99
Motherboard: ASRock H61M/U3S3 Intel H61 (Socket 1155) Motherboard £56.99
RAM: Novatech 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-10666C9 1333MHz Dual Channel Kit £18.98
Harddrive: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 16MB Cache Hard Drive SATA 6GB/s 8.5ms 7200rpm - OEM £57.98
Total: £273.92

Build 2:

Case: Novatech Vision Media Centre Case £49.98
Processor: AMD LIano A6-3670K 2.7GHz (Socket FM1) APU Processor - Retail £85.98
Motherboard: ASRock A55M-HVS AMD A55 (Socket FM1) Motherboard £47.99
RAM: Corsair XMS3 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C9 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit £23.99
Harddrive: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 16MB Cache Hard Drive SATA 6GB/s 8.5ms 7200rpm - OEM £57.98
Total: £265.92

Build 3:
As per build 2 but with a AMD LIano A8-3870K Black Edition 3.0GHz (Socket FM1) APU Processor costing £103.98
Total: £283.92

All prices are as per the Novatech site.

The reason I've opted for these builds over the standard is that all of theses are capable machines able to steam HD with no problems. The AMD builds are also able to game at low/medium settings due the power of their built in GPUs. It's worth reading reviews comparing i3 to AMD Llano as they meet different peoples different needs, i.e. the i3 is the better processor if you plan to use a separate graphics card in your build whereas the AMD Llano are better if you plan to use the onboard graphics.

Notes:
- you can probably spec these cheaper using a site other than Novatech
- the case comes with a remote and so I've made sure all motherboards have an IR header for easy integration
- these specs can be reduced in size to the ITX standard. To do this, you'd need a locate an ITX case and ITX compatible motherboard. For me, the Novatech Case suited my needs as I am not looking for a super discrete HTPC solution

I'd appreciate anyone's comments/thoughts but thought I'd share with the community what are also available for a similar price to pre-built HTPC's.
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6 Comments
Original Poster
Ahh, something I hadn't considered. Thanks for pointing this out. So the drawback to having a more complete solution is that they may be too noised in the home environment I'll do some more research. However, I'd hope the A8 wouldn't need to run too hot for general media player usage and wouldn't be too loud?

Have you had experience with the Novatech case and hence noise level?
my main query with building a htpc is how do you keep fan noise down?

with a core-i3 you're going to need a cpu fan, and with a decent graphics card you're going to need a gpu fan, on top of a psu fan.

that's the one thing blocking me from building a htpc instead of buying a revo3700 etc. also do the amd a8's work with linux yet (and catalyst drivers)?

i'd use a small ssd not a hard disk too, reduces heat, noise and size, and increases speed.

good point someone raised about a medium-spec laptop probably being just as good. not a nettop though - they're worse than revo's as no nvidia gfx.
Edited by: "sej7278" 2nd Apr 2012
What do you think of the Asus E35M1-M PRO board?
Amazon — ASIN: B004KX216E
That should run from one of those DC-DC power supply boards, keeping the noise levels down.
Original Poster

That's

u0421793

What do you think of the Asus E35M1-M PRO board?Amazon — ASIN: B0 … What do you think of the Asus E35M1-M PRO board?Amazon — ASIN: B004KX216EThat should run from one of those DC-DC power supply boards, keeping the noise levels down.


That looks like a great idea, having the processor integrated in to the mobo. Unfortunately it's the E-350 and I am looking for a little more punch from my set up. I've decided on the A8 3870K. It has overclocking potential and can handle games on low/mid settings which I what I am after. I'll post my final setup shortly.
Original Poster
Here's what I finally went for. Total price will be about £270 after various discounts etc as I am listing Novatech list prices:


Case: Novatech Vision Media Centre Case - 49.98
Processor: AMD LIano A8-3870K Black Edition 3.0GHz (Socket FM1) APU Processor - Retail - 103.98
Motherboard: ASRock A75M AMD A75 (Socket FM1) Motherboard - 62.99
RAM: Corsair XMS3 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C9 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit - 23.99
Harddrive: OCZ Agility 3 SATA III 2.5" 60GB Solid State Hard Drive - 59.99
Other: Novatech Adapter Kit to Mount 2.5" HDD in 3.5" Drive Bay - 6.98
danakajoel

Here's what I finally went for. Total price will be about £270 after … Here's what I finally went for. Total price will be about £270 after various discounts etc as I am listing Novatech list prices:Case: Novatech Vision Media Centre Case - 49.98Processor: AMD LIano A8-3870K Black Edition 3.0GHz (Socket FM1) APU Processor - Retail - 103.98Motherboard: ASRock A75M AMD A75 (Socket FM1) Motherboard - 62.99RAM: Corsair XMS3 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C9 1600MHz Dual Channel Kit - 23.99Harddrive: OCZ Agility 3 SATA III 2.5" 60GB Solid State Hard Drive - 59.99Other: Novatech Adapter Kit to Mount 2.5" HDD in 3.5" Drive Bay - 6.98



How did the build go? I too am interested in the Novatech Vision Media Centre Case along with the AMD A8-3870K APU, how did they fit into the case? Enough space with the heatsink and fan? Also is the included power supply handling the whole system power draw?
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