Can you help me find a good processor to go with this Motherboard?
April 5, 2009 1:16 PM   Subscribe

FINALLY getting my own media center/boxee box/VM Toy runner. I realize that I won't be able to run any beefy creatures on this, but I intend to use the VM's mostly as toys, or to occasionally sync my finance's iPod. NO BLURAY/HD Content required for now. I've already decided most parts, but I need a bit of help picking a processor. And if you can find some better parts then the ones I've chosen, please let me know, I'll happily take 'em into consideration. Oh, and I'm trying to go as little over $300 as I can...

First off, while many parts I'm using are from newegg, I'm not at all married to the site. I've found just a PERFECT Mobo. HDMI, plenty of space for RAM, and it should be big enough for the future (I would hope). I've got a fine case that is coming highly recommended by a friend. A single 500 gb HDD will work until maybe next year at the latest when I can afford a proper RAID setup. Some cheap RAM, and what ever other little cables, and accessories as I need.

As you can see, I think I'm most of the way there (lemme know if I forgot something important, I already own a DVD drive). I'm just looking for a processor that will be compatible with the Mobo I've found that will work well with VM's (so I guess it would support VT-x?)... and cost less then $100, or at least right close by. I'm prepaired to upgrade the processor later, but I need to start with something that will work with Boxee or XBMC from the get go.

Any thoughts? And thanks in advance!
posted by TrueVox to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I just built a Boxee/XBMC setup on Ubuntu 8.10 with my old P4 2.8 system. It works great, aside from the numerous bugs in Boxee. I have an AGP x1600 Pro vid card in it with DVI out which I convert to HDMI to connect to the tv.

For your processor, I would get a Pentium dual-core at a minimum (~$70.00), but of course you can go as high as you want. The cheapest core 2 duo is $120, so that's a pretty big jump, but it may be worth it if you move into Blu-Ray eventually. If you're willing to upgrade, maybe get the base Pentium E5200 now and get a quad core when the prices drop? The RAM you picked out should be fine, but if you're getting into VM, the memory will make or break you. What OS are you going to run? If you're going with 64 bit, consider getting a lot more ram. Your money will go farther there than just about anywhere else.

Do you need a wireless adapter? What about bluetooth? TV Card?
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 1:42 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: I do not need wirelss, bluetooth (yet! :D) or a TV Card (again, yet, but that too is coming, thanks for the reminder).

For VM's I'm not planning on running anything beefy, just maybe something like "FreeNAS" constantly, and as I said, for short durations, windows to update my fiance's iPod.

I'll likely be going with Ubuntu Linux as my base OS. As for 32 or 64 bit... I don't know. I figured I'd worry about 64 bit once I got above 4 gigs of RAM. Am I off base on that?

Do you think that this processor would work OK for my needs?

Oh, and I'm NOT worried about BluRay. Maybe in a couple of years, but for now, not an issue.

Hey, thanks a lot for your quick reply, by the way!
posted by TrueVox at 2:18 PM on April 5, 2009

Best answer: I just built an HTPC with the help of a very useful guide at AVS Forum. Your build is quite similar to the system listed as low-end Micro-ATX Intel/NVIDIA. In the section titled "So are my recommendations really enough for HD contents?", the author claims success at playing back a 1080p mkv file with a Pentium E5200, 2 GB of RAM, and a Geforce 9400 iGPU. It's likely whatever you get will be able to play BluRay though you may not be able to do much else while its playing.

As far as Intel processors go, you should start with the Pentium E5200 and go up from there. There are the E5300 and E5400 also, but you may get more value with the Core 2 Duo E7400 though it is out of your preferred price range. If you're willing to upgrade later, the E5200 or E5300 would be fine for now.

Other things to consider:
Do you want a TV tuner?
Do you already have an operating system?
Will this PC be hooked up to a TV? Do you want a remote or a wireless keyboard or mouse?
RAM is dirt cheap. You could get 4 GB of RAM for around $40. If you're willing to pay the extra $20, go for it. Otherwise, 2 GB should be fine.
posted by mathlete at 2:27 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: I will eventually want a TV tuner, but it's not happening right now, I have an OS picked out, it WILL be hooked to my TV (which is why I need the HDMI out, I only have an HDMI left on my TV, the rest of the inputs are taken). I would LOVE to go for 4 gigs, but I don't know if the little woman would be OK with that since I'm already over budget.

The processor suggestions are great, thank you! And I'll go check out that guide you linked to.

posted by TrueVox at 2:35 PM on April 5, 2009

The Neuros Link is a $300 Ubuntu box designed to be a TV-connected media device. They've done a bunch of research on how to make the same kind of machine you are trying to make for as cheap as possible, and you can just use the same parts they use:

Asus M3A78-EM motherboard (similar to the board you picked, but AMD/ATI instead of Intel/nVidia) with integrated ATI Radeon 3200 GPU, 2.8Ghz Athlon, 1GB SDRAM. With that setup they can do HD 1080p H.264 playback through Boxee or XBMC.

Later, if you are interested, they use an Adesso WKB-3000 wireless keyboard/mouse.
posted by rajbot at 2:38 PM on April 5, 2009

Best answer: That processor (E5300) looks good to me. It'll fit the socket correctly and should run Linux and boxee just fine. The Intel page says it's good for 64 bit, so that option will be available to you. Like I said, I'm running my system on a P4 with no issues, so a dual core should be good to go. And that mobo shuold do everything you need- HDMI and digital audio output too.

32 bit is good for now, especially because Boxee isn't available directly from the repositories for 64 bit yet. There's a workaround, but I wouldn't want to go there if I didn't have to.

What are you doing to control it? Need a wireless keyboard/mouse? Or extension cables so you can sit on your couch? A USB/infrared remote control? A bluetooth adapter will let you use a Wiimote as a mouse, which is very cool. Another consideration is noise- make sure you have some quiet fans in the case, or it'll take away from the experience.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 2:41 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: Hmmm, so I don't mean to be foolish or ungrateful, but are you suggesting that I buy their box? Do you think it's a good purchase? Or are you saying I should build a similar one? Have you used it? It DOES look tempting...
posted by TrueVox at 2:42 PM on April 5, 2009

The Neuros Link looks like a great no-hassle solution, but your build would be more powerful. (More memory, faster processor, better graphics, better upgrade path etc). All the software they mention is free, most of it comes in Ubuntu or the MythTV-Ubuntu combo distro, aptly named Mythbuntu.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 2:51 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: Wait it doesn't look to have a hard drive... so I dont' think that will work for what I need. Or am I wrong?
posted by TrueVox at 3:00 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: OK, great. Thanks! So I'll scratch theirs (though it did look cool) and keep rocking mine.
posted by TrueVox at 3:00 PM on April 5, 2009

Hmmm, so I don't mean to be foolish or ungrateful, but are you suggesting that I buy their box?

Heh. I dunno. I was trying to basically build the exact same Ubuntu box you are, and was contemplating buying the Neuros Link because it is so easy.

However, I have just figured out how to get OS X to display 24p over DVI->HDMI (took forever), and I have an old mac laying around, and bluetooth keyboard+mouse works great for reading MeFi and watching YouTube from my couch, so I am just going to use that. Plus, I don't have to deal with 24p/60p judder when watching 1080p24 H.264 videos, which was driving me nuts.

I haven't used the Neuros Link myself, so I can't really recommend it, but thought it would be of interest. It seems there is a good community around it, but there is no reason you can't build a similar box yourself if you want a big hard drive or a different case.
posted by rajbot at 3:02 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: No, everything on it looks fine, I just want a big HDD. :D I'm planning on converting to a RAID setup in the not too distant future.
posted by TrueVox at 3:10 PM on April 5, 2009

Response by poster: OK, so just for the record books, I DID indeed go with the E5300, with hopes to upgrade at a later date. Thank you all for all your help, and wish me luck! :D
posted by TrueVox at 3:23 PM on April 5, 2009

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