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A $400 HTPC Build: Part 2

A $400 HTPC Build - Part 2

Remember that $400 HTPC build that I spoke of last week? Well, it’s now a reality. The parts have been ordered.

CPUAMD Athlon 5350
MotherboardASRock AM1H-ITX
MemoryKingston HyperX Blu 4GB DDR3-1600
CaseAntec ISK 310-150
NetworkingTP-Link TL-WDN4800

After taxes, the build above totalled up to approximately $333. Not too shabby. Like I said before, I will be supplying the solid state drive and operating system. I’m looking to a wireless keyboard and mouse combo as well. I’m leaning towards the Logitech K400. And finally, there will be no optical drive included in this.

Why AMD AM1?

As previously stated, it seemed like the AMD AM1 platform was the right mix of low cost, low power consumption and performance. On a high level, it’s the same APU that’s inside the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One albeit with fewer cores and drastically cutdown GPU. It only sips power as well with a TDP of just 25W.

The AM1 also has the added benefit of being a new socket which means it should have a long life ahead of it. If down the line, APU performance improves dramatically, it’s just a matter of buying a new chip. And at less than $70 for the highest end chip, I foresee affordable upgrades in the future.

Why the ASRock AM1H-ITX motherboard?

There are certainly cheaper motherboard choices but I chose the ASRock AM1H-ITX because of its possibilities. It has all the display outputs including DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI and VGA. It has a higher quality audio codec. It has mini PCI-E slot to integrate a wireless card and even the ability to utilize an external DC power

However, I’m not using the mini PCI-E or DC power options. Those are just nice extras for now. I decided to use a PCI-E 1x dual band wireless adapter and the case I chose already has a built in power supply.

Why a single stick of 4GB?

Yes. I should be two sticks of 2GB for dual channel performance gains but I didn’t want bog down this build’s upgrade strategy. I am willing to sacrifice 10% worth of memory bandwidth now in order to easily add another 4GB of memory in the future. I doubt this streaming box will need 8GB worth of memory but you never know.

What happened to the Silverstone case?

I initially chose the Silverstone Milo ML05B and ML06B because it looked nice. But as I was picking out power supplies, I realized a 300W power supply was overkill for an APU with a 25W TDP.

So I looked for a replacement.

I looked at Chinese boxes, Japanese boxes and even homegrown American made ones. They were small, relatively cheap but all had some little issue with them. Then I decided to backtrack and look at the big case makers once again and stumbled across the Antec ISK310-150.

  • It was simple and relatively small
  • It came with a 150W power supply
  • It can accommodate a half-height PCI-E expansion card
  • It can accommodate an optical drive
  • And if I’m lucky, the case that I purchased will be the revision that has USB 3.0 support

It seemed like a perfect fit.

Much Anticipation

I’m very curious how this build will fare. I hope it will impress and fulfill its role as an HTPC well. I’m looking forward to putting together within the next week or so.

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