New build for family room

By LeeRichLuck · 29 replies
Mar 15, 2011
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  1. Hi All and thank you for reading what looks like another headbanging pc build question. ;p lol

    Basically i want to build a pc to sit next to the TV in the lounge, so we can surf the net, look at our pic's and watch some movies i have downloaded.

    I have a main custom built tower in my office upstairs so even a wireless conncetion to this unit would do, to keep costs down on large HDD in the new build. I could try the home group thing ?

    It doesnt have to be a fancy pc, just something fast enough to play HD movies via a HDMI cable preferably and normal surfing etc.

    So i just need some advice or suggestions on,

    1 Motherboard (Gigabyte preferably)
    2 CPU (Intel)
    3 RAM
    4 PSU
    5 Graphics card.
    6 wireless adapter of some sort (i know nothing about these)

    Other bits like case, CD drives etc i can probably sort myself.I live in the uk so Amazon or Ebuyer would be perfect for source.

    I would like to keep my budget to around £300 or there abouts ($480)

    I appreciate any info/advice given and again, thank you for reading.


  2. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    This is a good place to start.

    I just priced a system using this bundle. This suppliers shop has all the other parts you could need but it might be worth hunting around for a good quality PSU in the £50 to £60 area, this shop only has the very cheap ones or more power than you need, 400W should be adequate.

    Adding on a DVD burner, a good quality PSU and a sata hard drive I got it to around £250. You will also need a wireless card for your internet connection, a graphics card if you want HD.(The on board graphics with the above board is OK'ish but you might want something better). Then for connection to the TV you will need another card for multimedia output. And finally a case to put it all in which is likely to go a bit over your budget of £300. This is very much a level entry board and although the CPU is 2 X 3GHz dual core I personally don't think it would be worth the small saving in cost you would gain by going to a lower power CPU.

    Please ask if you need any further advise.
  3. LeeRichLuck

    LeeRichLuck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    Wow, thanks for the heads up on that supplier ;)

    So just to clarify, if i were to purchase those items i would need ...

    1 A case for an atx micro board ?
    2 Graphics card, possibly a Gigabyte GT 240 1GB GDDR3 DVI HDMI
    3 HDD
    4 CD drive
    5 Wireless card
    6 PSU
    7 O.S.

    Whats the media card you mention ? also i know nothing of AMD, i have an i7 950 in my main tower, always had intel, so is the amd chip in the above auction good enough for surfing, picture viewing and playing my videos via the above suggested graphics card using the HDMI outlet ?

    This is great, i look forward to your further input mate, thanks again.
  4. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,073   +219

    Hmm you could actually buy a xbox for like 120$ now but i believe it only goes to 720p, then the ps3 is what 300$ now? If all you want to do is surf the web and watch hd movies it might be cheaper to just buy a console.
  5. LeeRichLuck

    LeeRichLuck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    Mmmmm, another option i see, i know knowthing about consoles so if i were to get, lets say an xBox (i never liked sony stuff) would it wirelessly talk to my modem and be able to stream from my main pc ?

    Also would it use my modem to surf the net or use the modem to connect to my pc to use the net ?

    Like i said i am absolutely stuck when it comes to consoles, but i am very interested in the idea ? i am sure my daughter at some point will want to play games too and i know PC's are never upto date with the next latest games lol

    Please can you explain in "baby" talk how the console idea would work.

    Cheers ;)
  6. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    That's a yes to the list of items.

    If you have a graphics card (as above) with an HDMI output you would not need any other card (I didn't explain that very well) The HDMI output would connect directly to your TV as long as it has an HDMI input, most modern TV's do.

    And yes, the AMD CPU will be fine for surfing. I use an older AMD Athlon 64 3GHz dual core and it is fine. It would only be worth going to a higher spec if you wanted the PC for high end gaming.
  7. nazartp

    nazartp TS Enthusiast Posts: 178   +12

    New (slim) xBox 360s have wireless adapter built-in.

    "Talking" to the modem is a different question. Typically, the modem is just a box that can be connected using network cable to a computer and connect you to the Internet. Some of the Internet providers give out the modems with built-in wireless routers, i.e., a device that allows you to share your internet connection. (Not sure if you need that level of baby talk.) Or you can buy a wireless router. Alternatively, inquire with your Internet service provider if they offer free wireless routers. Mine did, but that's in the US with new service. In any case, if you have a wireless connection at home, your xBox 360 S will be able to connect to the Internet. You will be able to browse the Internet and play some games. I am not sure what kind of streaming services are offered in UK, but xBox should be able to get those.

    You will be able to hook up the console to the TV and to the sound system.

    The older xBox 360 will require a purchase of a separate wireless adapter.
  8. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,073   +219

    They connect to the internet just like your computer. But if you buy a console that needs a wireless adapter like an old xbox 360 model you will have to also buy a network adapter made for a xbox 360 that console, they are sold everywhere. Any who yeah you can connect from your xbxox to your computer wireless and move data (movies likely) from your console to your computer and vice versa. You can also probably stream from your computer through your console but it would be smarter to just transfer them to your xbox and play them on there because your xbox will likely have a better video card then your old computer or main computer as you called it. You can always try both ways and see what looks better.

    I really don't use my xbox 360 for all that but when I saw this post I thought to myself you know what a console might be the way to go for your needs.

    p.s. there is no computer you can buy as good as the xbox 360 for 120$. But I bet you can build a computer tower for 300$ that smokes the ps3.

    Just my 2 cents happy shopping :)
  9. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    To be honest with you, the best thing for you to do at that pricepoint is get pre-built from a major manufacturer.

    £300 including an OS is just too tight a budget to build a computer really, unless you're prepared to severely reduce your expectations of some components - something I'd never do.

    At this price point the likes of Dell are unbeatable due to discount on volume purchasing they get.

    For example, a Intel i3 540 CPU is £90 Inc VAT alone. I'm hitting £328.00 before delivery and thats without the case, and the operating system (approx £75 alone). Its actually £162.42 Inc VAT for Windows 7 Home premium OEM, plus that CPU alone. So over half your budget has gone on two items.
  10. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    In respect of what you will be using this PC for you should have no problems using the old faithfull Windows XP, you can pick up a legit copy of that on ebay for £20. XP will be supported for about four more years by Microsoft and then you should be able to pick up a copy of Windows 7 for peanuts. Or you could use Linux which is free.
  11. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    I use an external NAS (network attached storage) plugged into my BT Home Hub router and PS3 connected wirelessly, can stream content from the NAS to my PS3 (as it's always turned on - low power state when not being accessed, unlike my main PC). Also the PS3 supports DLNA so I can actually view pictures/stream videos to it from my HTC Desire HD smartphone. In addition to the NAS it even picks up our laptop as a media server when its switched on, allowing content from that to be played through the PS3 on the TV.

    The PS3 browser is a bit hard to navigate using a PS3 controller, haven't tried a mouse but had a bluetooth keyboard connected to it without problem. Might be worth looking into it to see if a mouse can be used to navigate the PS3 browser. I would think it would be supported. Although it's suitability depends what kind of browsing you want to do. It might not play flash games through its browser, but I certainly rate it as a bluray and media player.

    Previous computers i had were connected only to my TV and lived on the TV stand underneath it.


    If you really want to go down the route of an HTPC then you could have a look at the more basic models of Shuttle small form factor PCs (barebones systems that come with motherboard some with onboard video, PSU, cooling system for CPU, case).
  12. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Maybe something like the Shuttle XS35 might be enough power for the usage you have in mind.
    Or the GT version with better video/graphics capability
    These units are using Intel Atom processors which makes them comparable to netbooks performance wise, but with better media capabilities (at least the GT model would definitely have superior video capabilities).
  13. LeeRichLuck

    LeeRichLuck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    Wow, thanks to everyone for the input, i got a lot to think about lol really have no idea which route to go down now so will have to read up on your ideas.

    Many thanks fot the input thus far, i will post again with what i find within my research.

    think i am edging towards the Xbox idea but need to see one in action streaming and surfing. I'm lucky that my brother has one so might be able to test drive this idea.

    Appreciated peeps ;)

    Love this idea too though - - - - - - Shuttle XS35 GT ?
  14. LeeRichLuck

    LeeRichLuck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    Ok, had a look at some options and after looking at what i can expect from specific types i.e console over media centers, i am still keen to venture into the self build option...maybe lol

    Please take a look at the list of items i am looking at possibly putting together and give me your opinion on what might work better or need changing.

    This is still only an idea i am thinking about but i feel spending a little more would give me a better lounge baced PC rather then a media / games machine. ??

    The build would be a total of £430 delivered.

    I am still open to ideas, i cant seem to find a good pre built system that matches the above so any other thoughts are very welcome.

    I appreciate your time in looking over this for me ;)

    P.S. sorry i can only add a pic, i dont have enough posts to add links yet.

    Attached Files:

  15. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Spec looks OK mate, but if you can afford a couple more quid I would definitely upgrade the power supply, which happens to be the most vital, but often forgotten part of the system - Always get the best PSU you can afford, from reputable brands like below.

    Something like these, will be considerably better. I personally would choose the Corsair, as use them on all my computers and highly recommend them:

    Coolermaster Elite Power 500W PSU - £33.93
    Corsair CX430 430W PSU - £35.28
    Antec VP450P 450W PSU - £37.78

    Other than that, looks good mate. :)
  16. LeeRichLuck

    LeeRichLuck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    Thanks Leeky, i just read a few reviews on the one i metioned and they were all good, but i will take your advice and go for a better one, i have got a coolmaster silent pro in my main machine so i will go with your first choice.

    I think the spec of this build is certainly good enough for web browsing and watching films so if anyone else has any input worth considering it will be most appreciated.

    Cant thank you all enough for your input thus far.

  17. nazartp

    nazartp TS Enthusiast Posts: 178   +12

    Definitely looks good and I agree with Leeky - get the best PSU. That was the only thing that I did not like on your list. And I'm also partial to Corsair.
  18. rockyjohns

    rockyjohns TS Rookie Posts: 80

    The Coolermaster is the weakest of the 3 PSUs listed. My vote is with the Corsair. Also take a look at how much more (or little) it would cost to upgrade to 500w instead of 430w. The 430w is more than adequate for the usages discussed thus far, but the 500w keeps open the option to add a larger, more mainstream video cards later if you choose to.

    The mobo on you list does not have integrated video - it has no video. ga-h55m-ud2h

    You might want to select a board with integrated video or add a video card. You can find a lot of recommendations for upgrading the video card for HTPC purposes at different price points here:

    Earlier you mentioned a GT 240 but the list on the site above includes the lower priced GT 220 but better ATI cards in the price range of the GT 240.
  19. LeeRichLuck

    LeeRichLuck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    Thanks rockyjohn, i wanted to keep costs down so wasnt planning on upgrading the pc anytime soon so the minimum PSU is all i need really, admitted a better make then i first picked.
    I was under the impression that i didnt need a graphics card as i have read the i3 cpu has intergrated support coupled with this MB ?
    Can someone clarify this please or have i missed something here ?
  20. Mark56

    Mark56 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,886

    I got this from the specs, so it does indeed have graphics on board.

  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,020   +2,548

    The interesting thing is that some Gigabyte boards with H-55 chipsets (integrated Core i3 video), have >>4<< different video connections, VGA, DVI, HDMI and Display Port. (Some new monitors have bypassed HDMI because of the HDMI license fee). That said, Core i3 integrated video should handle 1080P video, such as Blu-Ray, without a problem. Especially in light of the fact that this would , (tentatively), be a single monitor system.
  22. LeeRichLuck

    LeeRichLuck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    Thats great, i thought i had read something wrongly. thanks guys.

    Just a thought but as i am planning this as a lounge PC/media lump i may as well put a blu-ray drive in it.

    I have looked at the samsung one on ebuyer but it doesnt mention HD disks. I know this is probably a stupid question but i know nothing about blu-ray or HD DVD's, what optical drive would i need to play normal, HD and Blu-ray disks....any suggestions ?

    What i have read is i will need something like PowerDVD 9 to watch blu-ray...i think ?

  23. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    HD DVD is pretty much dead as a format. So unless you have a stack of HD-DVD's I wouldn't scour the net for a player that can read both formats.
    Most Blu ray player come with a basic version of Cyberlink's PowerDVD9 - such as this HP drive. or OEM drives such as this Samsung
  24. LeeRichLuck

    LeeRichLuck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    OK i'm just about there with a decision lol, i just need a couple of clarifcations on...

    1. Do i need to worry about HDCP ? i have know idea what it is, it just keeps popping up in things a read about blu ray and HDMI

    2. As i will be using W7 64bit i will be putting 4gig in the unit so should i get one 4gig stick or 2x2gig sticks ? i assume its non ecc ? here is a link to my ram supplier for your inspection.

    And finaly after a few changes quided by yourselves (big thanks) here is the list of items i will buy to build this pc...i guess what i am asking is will this work ? remembering all it will be used for is watching blu-ray films as well as downloaded ones i already own and normal web surfing etc. It will be connected via a HDMI cable i already have to my Pioneer plasma 1080i TV.

    Thanks again in advance for any input, it is trully appreaciated ;)

    1. Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H H55 Socket 1156 VGA DVI HDMI Out 8 CHannel Audio mATX Motherboard
    2. Intel Core i3 540 3.06GHz Socket 1156 4MB L3 Cache
    3. Corsair 430W CX PSU 4x SATA 1x PCI-E
    4. Samsung HD103SJ Spinpoint F3 1TB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 32MB Cache
    5. Samsung SH-B123L/RSBP 12x BD-ROM DVD±RW DL & RAM Lightscribe SATAII Optical Drive
    6. Cisco Linksys Wireless-N PCI Adapter
    7. Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
    8. Casecom MA-1199 Shiny Black MATX Tower Case
    9. KeySonic 2.4Ghz Wireless Keyboard with Integrated TouchPad
    10 RAM as mentioned above.

    Have i forgot anything ? or overlooked something ?

  25. LeeRichLuck

    LeeRichLuck TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 42

    really sorry to bump my own post but if any guru out there could give me a heads up on the points i raised above and give me a green or red light, i can get this build underway ;)

    Thanks again peeps.

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