HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

New to PC silencing? Read & post your questions here. Dedicated to rosy_toes.

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
jmoots
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:11 am

HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by jmoots » Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:58 am

We've been using my wife's laptop (Acer Aspire 5610-4537, Core Duo T2250, 1.73GHz, running horrible, horrible Vista) to play back content on our TV (Vizio 42" 1080p) for sometime now, but it runs very hot. We have to pretty much shutdown everything running, and put it on top of a big, slow laptop cooler fan to keep it from shutting down. Anyway, generally it will just barely make it through Netflix shows without any problems, and Hulu/Syfy/ABC.com/etc. are very jerky but we watch anyway. I suppose those latter ones are Flash based and that uses more CPU?

Anyway, I've been reading this excellent website for a couple weeks now, and I'd like to build a fairly silent, low-budget HTPC to take the burden off the poor laptop. The review for the AMD E-350 here a while back looked promising (and also the one over at anandtech) but I'm scared since it only runs at 1.6GHz, which is of course slower then her laptop.

So, is it a risk? Has anyone actually built an HTPC with an AMD Fusion product, and if so, do you like it?

TIA,

-joel

ces
Posts: 3395
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:06 pm
Location: US

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by ces » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:49 pm

Explore the option of using using an inexpensive Sandy Bridge.

See:
viewtopic.php?f=28&t=62092
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=62105
viewtopic.php?p=539590#p539590

nzdcoy
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:44 am

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by nzdcoy » Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:45 pm

I have one at the moment. ases e350m-m (mATX)

I am finding it pretty good so far. At the moment its running windows 7 ultimate.

Haven't done any fullHD decoding yet, but boxee runs pretty smooth playing standard quality tv shows and movies. It hasn't complained yet when I am watching something and someone else is remote desktoped in on the other user account.

It can run portal1 full hd no problem with (if I remember correctly) medium-high graphics set up and 1920*1080 resolution)

-I don't have any expansion cards for it yet so I can't comment on the effect of PVR-type setups
-I don't have a blu-ray reader for it yet so I haven't been able to try out fullHD decoding.
-torrenting, indexing, 2 users on it(1*rdp) and playing tvshows can all happen simultaneously (thats the most I have done at one time so far) without problem

mentawl
Posts: 285
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 10:29 pm
Location: Glasgow, UK

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by mentawl » Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:57 pm

Well, clock speed isn't everything, but the E-350 is probably (at best) on a par with the old T2250 Core Duo in terms of raw CPU capability, probably a bit slower. The advantage comes from the fact that the GPU section of the E-350 can accelerate most forms of video/multimedia if set up correctly.

I'd probably echo ces's suggestions and try to spring for a low-end Sandy Bridge setup if at all possible. In many cases, the E-350 provides "just enough" performance, and it'd probably be useful to have a little extra under the hood if you need it. I'd be tempted by something like this:
Image

Although I guess it ultimately depends what you mean by low-budget =). A SB set up varies from about $40-$80 more than an E-350 configuration.

jmoots
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:11 am

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by jmoots » Sat Apr 30, 2011 6:48 am

Thanks you all for your replies. I do remember reading ces's comments in that other thread, and I was kinda leaning towards the cheapest-sandy-bridge path, but wanted to give someone a chance to convince me otherwise, since it is still $80 more (lowest I can get on newegg -- I don't have a microcenter or anything). Even though nzdcoy does seem satisfied with his setup, one would think that they would need to drop the E-350 boards/cpus even more if I'm not missing something. I realize cpu-wise it's not even a competition, but is it also the case that the SB w/its on-board graphics would still outperform the E-350 as a general rule?

jmoots
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:11 am

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by jmoots » Sun May 01, 2011 4:54 am

Ah, never mind. After reading about the driver differences in the Linux world, that just cinches the deal -- it seems it's Intel for me for sure. Again, thanks for your help!

-joel


jmoots
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:11 am

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by jmoots » Sun May 01, 2011 9:53 am

Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't yet watched your videos, so you may have answered this, but what do you think of that included p/s? (The reviews on newegg seem to think it's not worth keeping.)

Abula
Posts: 3620
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
Location: Guatemala

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by Abula » Sun May 01, 2011 10:05 am

jmoots wrote:Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't yet watched your videos, so you may have answered this, but what do you think of that included p/s? (The reviews on newegg seem to think it's not worth keeping.)
The psu is noisy, my suggestion goes toward you wanted a low budget, check the 3rd video you will it in action. I would replace the PSU with pico like Premium picoPSU-150-XT/12.5A 150W AC-DC. You could also go with the antec posted above, i like the case, but the psu isnt super either, the apex is very low cost case, to me ideal for a pico psu upgrade, then again this is more personal preferences. Or maybe something like Morex T-3500-142W Mini-ITX Case.

Arbutus
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by Arbutus » Sun May 01, 2011 1:12 pm

Recoding assorted content 'on-the-fly' to 1080 for your TV is a challenge. The Core i3 i3-2100T runs at 2.50 GHz and is probably enough cpu power for now. The Core i3-2100 is cheaper and runs at 3.1 GHz. I would get the Core i5-2300 Processor which is a true quad and clocks at 2.80 GHz.

jmoots
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:11 am

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by jmoots » Mon May 02, 2011 8:54 am

Well, from all the above recommendations, I'm thinking of the following:

HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.C HDS721010CLA332 (0F10383) 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
Nexus PWM Series D12SL-12PWM 120mm Case Fan
APEX MI-008 Black Steel Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case 250W Power Supply
MSI H61M-E33 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor 1
Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop

Which comes to about $355 before shipping. Does this sound reasonable? Am I forgetting anything?

I noticed in SPCR's review of the MI-008 case that they said the included p/s was, relatively speaking, not too noisy, so I'm hoping it will turn out OK. If does wind up being too loud or dies, would I be safe replacing it with a picoPSU-150 as Abula suggested?

-joel

Arbutus
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by Arbutus » Mon May 02, 2011 11:43 am

The MSI H61M-E33 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard won't fit into the APEX MI-008 Black Steel Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case.

jmoots
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:11 am

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by jmoots » Wed May 04, 2011 8:51 am

Thanks, Arbutus, for pointing that out! But you made me re-think, and I decided I didn't like the shoe-box shape of that Apex MI-008 case -- I would prefer something slimmer. Anyway, I've split my list into two now -- one for mini-ITX and one for micro-ATX:

mATX
* $61.99: IN WIN BL631.300TBL Black Steel MicroATX Slim Case Computer Case 300W Power Supply
* $ 8.99: Nexus SP802512L-03 80mm Case Fan
* $69.99: MSI H61M-E33 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
* 124.99: Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor
* $39.99: Patriot 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory
* $54.99: HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.C HDS721010CLA332 (0F10383) 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
Total: $360.94

mini-ITX
* $49.99: IN WIN BP655.200BL Black Mini-ITX Desktop Computer Case 200W Power Supply
* $84.99: ASUS P8H61-I (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI USB 3.0 Mini ITX
* Everything else the same.
Total: $363.94

So, I have two questions:
1. Any goof-ups again?
2. If the included P/S turns out to be too loud or burns up, would I be safe picking up a picoPSU-150 in both cases?

TIA,

mentawl
Posts: 285
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 10:29 pm
Location: Glasgow, UK

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by mentawl » Wed May 04, 2011 10:03 am

For what it's worth, Hitachi HDDs are not generally known for being quiet or vibration-free. In a cheaper case like that, you may get some quite loud results from one of them.

Arbutus
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Re: HTPC to replace painful Acer Aspire laptop

Post by Arbutus » Wed May 04, 2011 2:19 pm

You'll probably want an optical drive, RF wireless keyboard/mouse combo, and an operating system. Only use QVL memory. Now your up to around $500-$600.

Another option is a notebook computer, a long HDMI cable and the power settings changed to only blank the screen when the lid is closed.

You can avoid all the hassles of a HTPC style case by using a small tower case. My system sits on the floor beside the the TV cabinet and the sub-woofer sits on the floor on the other side.

The Gateway Intel Core i3-2100 Computer (DX4850-41CU) small tower is CAN$550 at Futureshop.ca.

Post Reply