Living room gaming/htpc box
December 26, 2014 8:20 AM   Subscribe

In which I make some queries regarding a gaming/htpc box for the living room.

Santa brought newegg cards, so I'm going to start getting parts for a new gaming/XBMC box for the living room. Inevitably, I have queries. I'm grignr on mefightclub (because I'm grignr on minecraft) and asked the same question a while ago over there.

Basic goal is pretty self explanatory: a box. Which we use to sit on the couch and play games on the teevee -- falloutses, bioshockses, borderlandses, skyrim, probably AC unity and Alien: isolation when they're cheaper, maaaaaaaybe Civ3/4/5 or KSP and similar if we can find tolerable configurations to play them across the room. Also we might use it to play Old Skool games through emulators. Also also we will use it to stream movies what live on the NAS, and possibly for netflix if the Win8 interface is better than the PS3 one.

Constraint 1: Sssssssssh. Should be quiet.

Constraint 2: The PC will live on the same circuit that has a window unit in the summer, so power draw needs to be low. My goal is 200-250W under load.

Stuff I'm more or less sold on but am open to be told they're stupid choices:

*Video -- 750ti. Nothing else seems to come close for utility and power draw. Dunno which one has the quietest cooler tho.
*PSU -- Rosewill Capstone 450.
*Keyboard/mouse/controller -- Logitech K400 w/ touchpad, wireless 360 controller.
*RAM -- 8GB ddr3 1600, whoever is cheap and high-rated that day.
*Motherboard -- whatever LGA1150 is best-rated under $100 that day; right now that looks like an H97/mATX from ASRock or Gigabyte.
*Storage -- 250GB range SSD unless it makes more sense to just use an existing 7200rpm drive until I can afford a 500GB SSD.


*Fast i3 or slow (maybe 65W instead of 84W) i5? I had originally planned to swap the chip out for a broadwell one eventually but it looks like desktop broadwell is just disappearing so I might end up living with whatever I get until I can be arsed to swap all the guts out for a skylake mobo/cpu/RAM.

*Nanoxia Deep Silence (1?) or Fractal Design Define R5? Other quiet cases I should consider? Appearance-wise, a featureless black box is just great. No windows, please. Easily avoided or defeated external lights are a plus.

*Is there much point in a CPU cooler more expensive than a Hyper 212?

*Which 750ti?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Consider a hybrid drive. Not sure what the $/GB is like for those, but it should fall between SSD and HDD, and they're a compromise between speed and cheap storage.

I presume you'll be Steaming it up for game-delivery, but an external (and thus removeable to a cabinet somewhere) BD-ROM drive (well, DVD-ROM at least, but BD-ROM may require USB 3.0 or eSATA, some fast external connection) for the occasional throwback game or bluray disk movie.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:34 AM on December 26, 2014

Response by poster: We gots a PS3 for bd/dvd movies, and I don't think there's anything old we'd want to play that's not available for stupid-cheap from Steam/GOG/GMG.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:38 AM on December 26, 2014

Constraint 1: Sssssssssh. Should be quiet.

Here is your resource to solve that one.

I would also suggest that if the files live on the NAS, SSDs are cheap enough now that you could run a 128GB or so drive and no other hard drive. It should help it be fast and quiet.

That will, however, put some constraints on how many games you can have installed at once on it.

I have also successfully used a program called "Synergy" to control the HTPC box with the mouse and keyboard on my laptop but I would suggest also buying an RF wireless keyboard like this so that you don't have to use the laptop to run it every time. We also have a cheap HTPC remote that we got just for the IR receiver and that was really easy to make work with a logitech harmony remote and XBMC (the next version of which will be called "Kodi" since they no longer support it's use on xbox).

The case we're using is this one from Silverstone and I've been pretty happy with it though our HTPC runs on an AMD APU that has the graphics on-board (I use a different machine for gaming).

Tom's Hardware puts together some good articles on the best GPU/CPU for your money that would be good to check out just to make sure you're not missing something.

The graphics card will be the loud thing in there, especially while you're gaming. There is a bracket call the "Kraken G10" that let's you use a closed loop water cooler on your graphics card that will be a lot quieter than any other solution. The heatsink you mentioned should make it easy keep things cool and quiet.
posted by VTX at 2:35 PM on December 26, 2014

Might want to keep your eye on SteamOS development. It's not ready now, apparently, but it could be a good fit in the future.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:33 PM on December 29, 2014

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