Help me design a new PC (but a bit different from the rest)

GTV V6

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Right you guys, you all know the drill :p

I'm wanting to make a little PC for my 42 inch plasma screen, for playing Blurays and a bit of surfing & downloading.

I have another PC so this is a sort of secondary one, so I don't want to spend too much and here lies my quandary...

I could go with an Atom 330/Nvidia ION motherboard, but I'm worried it would be slower than a very slow thing and hence not enjoyable to use and hence a waste of money.

The other option is a socket 775 based board with a cheapo pentium in it, trouble is this will be worth al least 50 euros more than the Atomic option ...

Here's what I'm looking at...

  • Motherboard ZOTAC ION MINI-ITX ?117.80 (with atom incluided)
OR
  • ZOTAC 9300-ITX S.775 MINI-ITX ?99
  • Pentium E5400 ?71.90

The rest

  • Case LIAN LI PC-Q07 MINI-ITX ?49.99
  • PSU BE QUIET! PURE POWER L7 350W 80plus ?40
  • COOLER CPU ARCTIC COOLING FREEZER 7 LP ?16.6
  • GeIL DIMM kit 2 GB DDR2-800 ?48.99
  • LiteOn iHOS104 BD & DVD reader ?63.9
  • Seagate ST3250318AS 250 GB (Barracuda 7200.12) ?36.99

The 2 options come out at...

Atom version ?374.27
Cheapo Pentium version ?427.37

The Socket 775 version has other advantages, it has integrated WIFI and a PCIe slot (just in case) AND I can shove in something with more poke at a later date if necessary.

Other justifications...

The case, is small, it fits where it needs to fit, but uses a normal ATX PSU and a normal sized optical drive for cheapness.

PSU is small enough but enough to power a PCIe card if needed.

Geil 2Gb kit is the cheapest that I can find that isn't generic or Kingston.

Optical drive is just a reader, it won't write anything, that's why it's cheap, I have a DVD writer on the other PC.

HDD is the smallest & cheapest modern drive and I have a soft spot for barracudas. I have other external HDDs.

I'll be using the on board graphics and sound. "Apparently" in both cases they can play BD movies at full resolution.

So what do you think ?

Edit, in both cases Windows 7 home Premium will be the OS of choice.
 
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Matt2000

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Want to stand out? Build your own equivalent to the Level 10 case. + points for making it look really industrial (using box section and stuff). :)

level-10-case-500x332.jpg
 

MadCow809

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sounds good, i'd go for the 775 option.

you will regret with the atom route.
 

GTV V6

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Want to stand out? Build your own equivalent to the Level 10 case. + points for making it look really industrial (using box section and stuff). :)

level-10-case-500x332.jpg

Yup seen that before, but unless they make a MINI-ITX version, I don't think it will fit into the 30x30x30mm hole next to my TV.

Christ, I don't think the case I'm looking at even comes up to the second drive bay (FROM THE BOTTOM) on that thing :)

sounds good, i'd go for the 775 option.

you will regret with the atom route.

What do you reckon to cheapo Pentiums though, how much better are they than an Atom ?
 
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thevictor390

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The Pentium Dual Cores are actually quite good for the money, as I understand. People use them in budget gaming rigs.

Personally I'd and go for a micro-ATX motherboard to save some more money. Wifi cards are super cheap and not the best way to stream media anyways.
 

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sounds good, i'd go for the 775 option.

you will regret with the atom route.

I don't regret mine one bit. Handles all the HD I throw at it, browses fast enough for the little quick things I tend to do, handles flash no problem now that it supports hardware acceleration, and uses way less electricity than the cheapo Pentium system it replaced. Also much smaller and pretty much completely silent.


EDIT: I do have to say that a cheap Pentium or C2D system will be better power/$, but you have to keep in mind what you actually want this computer for.
 
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awdrifter

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smib

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^That's what the ION is for. Does Blue Ray no problem.
 

MadCow809

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What do you reckon to cheapo Pentiums though, how much better are they than an Atom ?

miles better, atom struggles with simple multitasking functions and smooth HD playback (although it is possible with tweaks and non-resource hogging codec packs)

The Pentium Dual Cores are actually quite good for the money, as I understand. People use them in budget gaming rigs.

Personally I'd and go for a micro-ATX motherboard to save some more money. Wifi cards are super cheap and not the best way to stream media anyways.

+1

You will save so much money if you go with the microATX route, not to mention you can always upgrade it to a gaming rig in the future. You'll have endless upgrade possibilities with a decent microATX board, whereas your options will be restricted with an ITX board that only runs an onboard gfx (IIRC, no sideport/dedicated memory).

As for the CPU option. Something like an entry level c2d ($50 E3200/2.4ghz) or the phased out E21xx series will put the atom to shame. No need to get a E5400.

Currently, the best bang for the buck HTPC option is a cheap dual/quad core AMD + the 785G board. It's pretty much the best option you can get.

785G - $70
AMD Athlon II X2 240 - $50
Total $120

Price should be on par with the Ion option, and you will have no problem with 1080p playback + occasional gaming without much lag. Ion will struggle to play games, multi-task, or have any smooth FullHD playback.
 

awdrifter

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Matt2000

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I mostly ignored the first post and concentrated on the 'unique' requirement. I have a Mini-ITX project on the cards (using what I assume to be the same board as you) using an old PSX as a case. I'm planning on using it as a media PC though so the requirements are different.
 

thevictor390

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my grandpapa has a micro-atx in small case, and it sounds like a jet-engine, is super extremly noisy.

Depends on what fans are in the case and on the processor.

Didn't consider the on-board graphics, it is true that the 8200 is miles ahead :blush:

I still say you're much better off with a standard PC, be it AMD or Intel. More options for future upgrades and much, much more powerful.
 

GTV V6

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I don't think you have realised what a small amount of space 30 x 30 x 30 cm (Thanks for that WillDAQ) is.

The case I'm looking at is about the size of a sheet of A4 and only 20cm thick.

None of the uATX cases I have found that have the motherboard vertically can fit in the space, or, if they do, they have PSUs included without connectors for PCIe graphics cards.

No horizontally mounted motherboards come close to fitting.

The good thing about this case/MB combo is that

I can have a PSU with a PCIe connector if I want.
So... I can put in a discrete graphics card if I want to. The motherboard has a PCIe x 16 slot.
The case is really cheap.
The case is really Tiny
The case fits Std size optical drives, no expensive slimline rubbish.

As for the AMD argument, It's worth looking into, I am struggling to find mini ITX motherboards with "decent" on board graphics.
If I can't find something with "Decent" on board graphics, then I'll have to buy an extra Graphics card, thus defeating the object :)

As for the Intel Vs. AMD conflict, it doesn't bother me, I've had a few of both.

It's a puzzle really isn't it :) , Thanks for your ideas so far.

EDIT ...

Zotac do make a Mini ITX motherboard for AMD with the GForce 8200 GPU, 3 bad things though...

First it's AM2+ not AM3, so not so big a choice of CPUs.
2nd, No HDMI port on board, so needs a "Dongle" (Read... big fuck off yellow plug round the back).
3rd, No PCIe slot (Booo!)

2nd Edit, Shuttle SFF PCs will also fit, but the price is through the roof (relatively speaking of course)
 
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thevictor390

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Many AM2+ boards support AM3, sometimes you need a BIOS update.

Sounds like you are on the right track.
 

Ice_warmer

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Depends on what fans are in the case and on the processor.

Didn't consider the on-board graphics, it is true that the 8200 is miles ahead :blush:

I still say you're much better off with a standard PC, be it AMD or Intel. More options for future upgrades and much, much more powerful.

i think it has 2 fans on the case, too cool it down (and they work rather well)
but it seems that they couldn't fit fans bigger than those of small video cards, wich i very doubt you could seamlessly diy a 120mm fan instead.

on my comp i have 2x 120 mm fans, one for the psu and one for the hdd.
and i like to belive that the most noise coming from my computer is from my hard drive.
 

awdrifter

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EDIT ...

Zotac do make a Mini ITX motherboard for AMD with the GForce 8200 GPU, 3 bad things though...

First it's AM2+ not AM3, so not so big a choice of CPUs.
2nd, No HDMI port on board, so needs a "Dongle" (Read... big fuck off yellow plug round the back).
3rd, No PCIe slot (Booo!)

2nd Edit, Shuttle SFF PCs will also fit, but the price is through the roof (relatively speaking of course)

The Zotac board can accept most AM3 cpus, since AM3 cpus have both DDR2&3 memory controller on die, you can use DDR2 rams.

I don't think the HDMI converter would look too bad, and it's at the back of the case, where it's not likely to be looked at.
!BfUBI4!Bmk~$(KGrHqQOKj4Eq46Sind8BL!wNueP1g~~_12.JPG


No PCIe is a downside, but very few mini ITX boards have PCIe, if you're only using this as a media/HTPC, the onboard 8200 is sufficient.
 

MadCow809

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Why are you forcing yourself on an miniITX setup? I don't see the need.

microATX will deliver more performance for considerably less complications and less money involved. Plus you will get headroom for future upgrade.

And the 8200 doesn't even come close to ATI's 875G onboard graphics. Doesn't make sense to go miniITX unless you are struggling with space.

btw 300x300x300mm is not small at all, most microATX cases should do the job.
 
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