Budget HTPC Build for June 2012

There are tons of deals floating around if you're looking to build a HTPC this month. The prices for hard drives haven't completely recovered from the Thailand floods, so its slim pickins out there for high capacity drives, but on the flip side, DDR3 RAM is super cheap...so that makes me happy!

Today we're looking to build a home theater / media center PC on a budget and will be finding some sweet deals on the components. I have two main requirements for a budget HTPC build : 1) it provides smooth video playback (of course) 2) It is quiet. Those are two features it's really not worth it to skimp on no matter what the budget.

Now that we have that straight, let's dive right in.

Computer Case | Linkworld 727 mAtX - $19.99 at Micro Center

Linkworld Case

Linkworld 727 mAtX Computer Case

I think this case is a great buy for the money. It feels cheap on the inside but has a glossy finish and looks better than any case near this pricepoint that I have seen. It won't work for you if you have a ton of peripherals or hard drives, but it is solid for a standard build. You also probably won't like it if you open your case a lot to tinker with components or are OCD with cable management. This Linkworld 727 is a decent barebones budget case that looks good, so that's a win for me. It also gives you the flexibility to add a full size video card if you go that route in the future.

Alternative: APEX DM-318 Micro ATX Slim HTPC Computer Case w/ 275W Power Supply for $38.99 + $9.99 Shipping = $48.98 at Newegg

Alternative #2: Rosewill RANGER-M MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case at Newegg for $24.99 after applying promo code EMCNDJA25

Alternative #3: Search Stingycoin for new deals on computer cases.

CPU | AMD A6-3500 65W Triple-Core Processor - $59.99 at Microcenter OR $69.99 at Amazon

AMD A6-3500 APU with AMD Radeon 6530 HD Graphics 2.1/2.4GHz Socket FM1 65W Triple-Core Processor

If you have a Micro Center nearby, you can get this great HTPC CPU on the cheap for $59.99. For the rest of you unfortunate folks, Amazon was the cheapest I could find. This chip runs cool, is quiet, and the built in graphics will handle any media you throw at it.

Motherboard | ASRock A55M-HVS FM1 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $53.99 at Newegg

ASRock A55M-HVS Motherboard

ASRock A55M-HVS FM1 AMD A55 (Hudson D2) HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

Nice deal for this budget board. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles such as USB 3.0 or SATA III, but for a basic budget build you'll be just fine. On the plus side, it does have integrated HDMI so you won't need a discrete graphics card. Reviews on Newegg are pretty solid.

Memory | Pareema 4GB DDR3 1333 - $19.99 at Newegg

Pareema 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model MD313C81609L1

4 gigs of RAM is typically plenty for any HTPC and sufficient for most people's computing needs for other builds types of builds as well. You could get away with 2 gigs, but DDR3 RAM is dirt cheap these days so its worth it to snag 4gb. Be glad you don't need any DDR2!

Power Supply | Cooler Master Elite 460W ATX - $34.07 at Amazon

Cooler Master Elite 460W ATX

Since this is the BUDGET build HTPC, this power supply is a good bet that won't blow up your system. It is quiet (I am really picky with quietness and I have this in my HTPC in my bedroom) and has an ample amount of connection options. It doesn't look super sexy, but you'll save some dough and have plenty of power.

Alternative #1 : Antec VP-450 for $34.98 at Amazon . If you'd like to learn more than you've ever wanted to know about this power supply, check out Hardware Secret's review of the VP-450

Alternative #2 : If you want to kick it up a notch to better efficiency, try the Antec EarthWatts EA-380D Green for $10 more.

Hard Drive | Western Digital 1 TB Caviar Blue SATA III - $94.99 at Amazon

Western Digital 1 TB Caviar Blue SATA III 7200 RPM 32 MB Cache OEM Hard Drive - WD10EALX

With a HTPC, you're gonna want a lot of space for your media. This 1TB hard drive from Western Digital is a good starting point. The floods in Thailand have had a huge impact on hard drive prices the last year or so. Back in the good ole days you could get a terabyte for $40 or less! Today's reality has terabyte hard drives hovering around a hundred bucks or so. Not too many deals going on at the time I wrote this article.

Well, that's about it! Hope this post will give you a good starting point for your build.


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