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Recommended Specs

Aug 25, 2014 at 3:41 PM
I am currently planning out a build for my first HTPC. I am looking to run Win7 WMC, MCEBuddy, PlayOn, and Plex servers. I will have WMC extenders for my family and bedrooms.

My question is, what is a base recommended CPU and ram for handling all of this? Obviously the most expensive CPU will handle the job but the goal is to not break the bank and keep it quiet by using lower wattage and less heat producing parts.
Coordinator
Aug 25, 2014 at 4:59 PM
For MCEBuddy the best option would be buy an Intel chipset (e.g. Ivy) that supports QuickSync. That way the hardware does the encoding freeing up the CPU for other things.


Aug 25, 2014 at 10:46 PM
I've got an I7 4770 with 8 gb of ram. No video card. Works just fine. Of course I'm also running HDHRFling, so I need a bit more processing power.
Aug 25, 2014 at 11:20 PM
Edited Aug 25, 2014 at 11:24 PM
Here's the build I'm almost 100% ready to purchase. Do you think it will satisfy my goals listed above? I could easily spend the extra few dollars for an i5 over an i3 but I was looking at keeping the wattage low. The only multitasking I plan on doing is watching TV as MCEBuddy may be transcoding so I don't expect to benefit from a quad-core CPU.
Aug 26, 2014 at 4:01 AM
If this is just an HTPC only with just media stuff then you'll be overpowered with the i3. Really, it takes very little power.

Myself, I went with the 4130t as it's a 35w tdp processor. It runs at 2.9GHz and 4 threads. I was using an AMD 1.9GHz 17watts tdp turiuom processor with 2gb ram and it ran everything smoothly. I only upgraded to i3 as quicksync will save a little time transcoding video. Other than that, what you have is fine.

To save money I'd get a H81 or similar motherboard. That Z97 OC motherboard is way overkill. A good H81 motherboard is around $50. It'll usually have 2 memory slots and 4 sata ports for drives. usually enough for home stuff. All Intel 8x and 9x series boards have quicksync, so you won't have to worry there. older chipsets are hit and miss.

Stock cpu coolers are fine. I don't think that 212 evo will fit in that case anyway. It is a good cooler and I have one in my HTPC fanless and it keeps it cool and save an extra couple of watts.

Your psu is great, but your system will be lucky to pull a 100watts full load. You can get some high quality 350 watt or less 80plus psu for $50ish. I see on newegg they have some good seasonic psu 300watt for under $40 with 80plus bronze rating.
Marked as answer by rboy1 on 8/28/2014 at 1:45 PM
Aug 26, 2014 at 7:02 AM
rmjohnson144 wrote:
It is a good cooler and I have one in my HTPC fanless and it keeps it cool and save an extra couple of watts.

Your psu is great, but your system will be lucky to pull a 100watts full load. You can get some high quality 350 watt or less 80plus psu for $50ish. I see on newegg they have some good seasonic psu 300watt for under $40 with 80plus bronze rating.
I'm interested in finding out more about your fanless HTPC. That's my goal, a completely silent system. That's why I chose the psu that I did. If I could find a fanless 300watt psu I'd choose it.

I like the 35watt cpu as well. Thanks for the mobo advice.

I just heard that Win7 will soon be free when Win9 is announced. That would save another $100 but I can't confirm. Is anyone aware of Microsoft offering free operating systems just because they're two generations old?
Aug 29, 2014 at 12:34 AM
There is a feature on some of the new 80plus Platinum and gold PSUs that the fan doesn't come on until about 50% load. I don't think they've given it a name, so you'll need to read reviews.

They also have 17watt CPUs as well. They are laptop versions and work just fine for home servers/HTPCs. They take special G-series motherboards as they have pins on the CPUs. I think the G3 was the last series. Not sure if Haswell will use G4 or a new series.

I heard Win9 will be a free upgrade to 8.1 purchases and maybe to OEMs. Nothing official or anything. WZOR said this and he is usually a good source, but not 100%.

As for free Windows 7, I'd have to say absolutely no. I don't see MS giving any OS away.
Aug 29, 2014 at 5:34 PM
I forgot to mention probably the most important thing in a silent pc, a silent case.

Without fans you'll need good airflow in the case to let the hot air escape. I really like my Cooler Master HAF XB. It has lots of holes in the sides and a mesh top. It's almost a bench case and has removable sides and top to be almost a full bench case.

TEXT

This one is rather large and needs a large footprint. There are similar ones you can buy in different shapes and sizes. This one is a full ATX case. They make micro-ATX (mATX) and Mini-ATX cases in this style as well. Just make sure there are plenty of ventilation for the air to naturally escape out the top.