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HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - fillasophy - 04-06-2013

So, after several problems uprising and being quelled, it's finally that I can take it apart and build it with my students...this should be...interesting...

Anyway, see pics below the specs, and a "short" story about my "quest" below that.. haha.
The new build (finished):

Silverstone ML03 HTPC case
ASRock FM2A75 Pro-M FM2 Motherboard
AMD A6-5400K Trinity 3.6GHz APU (CPU+GPU)
G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 4GB RAM (2x2GB)
Antec VP-450 450W PSU
Samsung 840 120GB SSD
WD Caviar Green 1.5TB HDD
Lite-On 4x BD-ROM
Apevia 80mm Case cooler (x2)
Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCI 4-tuner CableCard TV tuner
Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, set to auto open Media Center
Rosewill Win7 Certified MCE IR remote

[Image: IMAG0038_zpsab87f0a4.jpg]

[Image: IMAG0039_zps66c48304.jpg]

So this was quite possibly the most complex build it could have been...definitely the most complex I've ever done.
The goal was to create an HD-ready SFF HTPC based on available suggestions from the site, while maintaining a fairly low-power profile. As the HTPC article hasn't been updated in a while, I basically created a media-modified SFF tier 0.75 gaming build. Since the case is too small to accomodate a decent graphics card, the Trinity line seemed appropriate, and I wouldn't need more than the A6 for media viewing/recording. There were a lot of complaints about the fan being noisy, and it the mobo default max setting. I modified the bios to have the fan default to lowest, and it keeps it under 40C while whisper quiet when watching TV. Altogether it looks great, fits in my TV setup (I'll add a pic once I clean my place up - post build !@#$, and was a learning experience... Now, for the learning...

This build was plagued with issues... First off, I bought the wrong mobo (no HDMI), so I had to RMA it, which cost me an extra $10 for shipping. The correct board just barely fits in the case with everything else, which caused some spacing issues with the hard drive. If you look in the pic, you'll notice that the SSD is sitting on a stand partially above the mobo, with the 24-pin squeezed underneath.

Also, the USB3.0 case cable fixture is a bit bulky on this case, which prompted me to saw a corner off of that stand to add a little more clearance - it's still being pushed off to one side slightly (although it never felt terribly secure to begin with...). To top that off, I was originally going to put the HDD there instead, which would have been a nightmare. (The HDD is hiding under the disc drive bay - see the other pic).

Because I used a BD-ROM, the clearance between the drive and the PSU is/was TIGHT. The PSU I'd originally bought for the build, a Seasonic 350W 80+Bronze, had 90 degree SATA power to fit behind the drive, but only had a 4-pin, which the correct mobo had an 8-pin. I ended up swapping out for the 450-Watt (which has an 8-pin) from a different build where the mobo only needed a 4-pin. But when I go to plug the power into the BD-ROM, guess what, no 90 degree sata, so not enough clearance... Easily fixed by a $5 regular to 90 degree adapter. Also, in the older build, the 4-pin from the new PSU wasn't quite long enough to reach the socket in the mobo - another quick fix $5 extender cable.

Also a funny little thing. I had wanted to two 80mm case fans to point different directions (one in, one out) to circulate air, but the one facing in made noice. Turned out it had something to do with how the air was being pulled in through the case siding - turned it around and no noise...

Finally, managing the cables has been a challenge. If you look at the corner of the mobo near the drive bay, it's basically covered by wires (PS - is this safe?), as I stuffed all the cables either in the little corner or under the rear of the drive bay. Actually fits well, and only slightly pushes up on the drive.

As one last little issue, when I press the "green" button on the remote I got, it functions correctly on the computer, but somehow "half" turns on my XBOX360... I say "half," because it doesn't register on my TV's input list, and turns itself off after about 10 minutes... Weird...any thoughts on what that is/how to fix it?...

But all said an done, this was a fun build, and it'll be more interesting when I get my students to help me rebuild it in a few days. I moved Win7 from a different old build to the new build for the Media Center, bought and installed Win8 on the old build, took the BD-ROM (no burner, sadly) from that build and put it in to this (replaced the BD-ROM in the old build with an extra DRD-RW I had around) and headed over to EBay for the TV tuner, as it seems to be one of those things people would part with while in good condition if they ditch cable. Final cost, with the OS, dumb RMA, and re-using old parts (old part costs not included): $725. Also, the TV tuner is taking some getting used to, and has a few odd video issues I'm working out, but yea, fun (really)! Smile I'll post pics of the whole process once I do it again.

Re: HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - Phrosty - 04-06-2013

Man you aren't kidding when you said it is super tight in there. Glad you finally got it all out together though. I may have missed it somewhere but you said students, what is it you teach?

Sent from my rooted evo 4G using tapatalk.

RE: HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - mattr4569 - 04-06-2013

Nice build man. Hope you can take it apart and build it again without any problems Wink

RE: HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - fillasophy - 04-06-2013

(04-06-2013, 04:28 AM)Phrosty Wrote: Man you aren't kidding when you said it is super tight in there. Glad you finally got it all out together though. I may have missed it somewhere but you said students, what is it you teach?

Seriously. Actually cut myself on one of the edges of the case, but didnt' even feel it because my hands were cramped in there...
But yea, I teach high school math, making me the Glorious Uber-Nerd Tongue

(04-06-2013, 06:05 AM)mattr4569 Wrote: Nice build man. Hope you can take it apart and build it again without any problems Wink
Thanks! Me too...oy. I actually tried turning the CPU cooler around, which required taking it off the CPU. It was hard to remove, so that's the thing I'm most scared of... that, and again, cable management was a !@#%... I've actually told them that we'll build it and get it running, then I'll fix all the cables afterwards.

RE: HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - Brandonsr - 04-06-2013

Nicely done Smile

RE: HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - fillasophy - 04-07-2013

Hey guys, so a secondary questions about this build... I have an old wireless keyboard/mouse currently for the setup for when needed, but the reception isn't too good, even with the dongle on the front of the case, and the mouse can be really hard to use without a smooth surface. Can anyone suggest a good mini-keyboard with a touchpad, the cheaper the better? A few I've seen that look interesting and fit the price point are the following:

This is to supplement a remote I already got for the system, so I already have an IR dongle, but don't have BT connectivity... I probably won't get this until at least a month or so from now, but any suggestions/help is greatly appreciated! Smile


Oh! And I don't know if anyone caught this in the first post, but my IR remote keeps turning my XBOX on when I press the sleep or "green" buttons. Turns out the Xbox wasn't plugged into the TV, so that's why it was turning off...and the remote actually fully turns it on... Any thoughts on how to fix this, short of blocking the XBox IR receiver or putting the XBox in another room?


RE: HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - MathieuB - 04-07-2013

Going by the customer reviews, I'd go with the logitech one (4th link).

Not sure about the IR remote and the xbox, is there anything you can do to program the remote to use a different "channel" or something?

RE: HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - PwnBroker - 04-09-2013

way cool dude, congrats.

RE: HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - fillasophy - 04-09-2013

So I did the rebuild, and besides it taking a bit longer than expected (this small build is hard!) it went well. I even managed to improve the cable management a little, I think - sata and case pins aren't quite so cluttered. That said, the stupidly long USB3.0 cable was diverted to between the Tuner card and the PSU, but should be ok there.

Here are some pics of the process (I kinda forgot to take pics at the start, but you get the idea...)

[Image: IMAG0042_zps94a5cda3.jpg]
[Image: IMAG0043_zps544aa0af.jpg]
[Image: IMAG0044_zpse276036a.jpg]
[Image: IMAG0045_zpsf7391434.jpg]
[Image: IMAG0046_zpsedc09507.jpg]
[Image: IMAG0047_zpsf68c9b18.jpg]

As a weird side question, when I first turned it on after rebuilding it, it would run the bios fine, and it seemed ok while booting windows, but once it finished booting, windows would "flicker" on the screen and then black screen with the occasional image popping up... Now, it's normally hooked up via HDMI to my HDTV, and this was trying out the VGA port, which previously had worked fine... Any ideas what might have caused this (resolution issues since being connected to a high res TV?)? A screwdriver was was working with became magnetized somehow during the middle of the build, so I was a little worried that something might have happened to the mobo or SDD, but everything seems to be find now it's on my TV again...

RE: HTPC/Low-tier Gaming Hybrid - MathieuB - 04-10-2013

Either you need to update the video card drivers or the cable isn't fully inserted on one of the two ends. Make sure to fully secure the VGA cable with the two thumbscrew like pins where you plug in the cable.

No worries about a magnetized screwdriver, unless you use a big magnet right on the hard drive, it won't do anything to the SSD or motherboard.