M-ITX and Net Tops for HTPC
Lately I've been using my WD TV Live box for video and audio needs on my stereo, but I do miss having a physical computer on my TV. In the future I'd like to be running one again, and don't really know what's worth it. I'm also starting to fill up my HDD and don't know if buying one for this system is maybe not needed if I buy one and put it towards an M-ITX system (assuming costs are not outrageous).
M-ITX has all the capabilities of a computer, and can be build to handle much more then a HTPC would need to do, but it seems the costs would be higher. Net tops like Asus EEE systems and Zotac all in one units are another option but I'm not sure they could handle the loads at acceptable speeds for HTPC tasks (I'm not looking to stare a many loading screens).
Just curious what everyone's thoughts are, I did some searches but didn't see much mentioned. I guess my solid questions would be..
1.) Is a Net Top enough for 1080p video, 5.1 audio, and internet browsing, while never feeling overly bogged down. Also, how are they for hardware expansion/setup and usability (software side)?
2.) What is the cheapest M-ITX system you can build today to handle HTPC duties (ball park it, don't waste to much time)?
Depends on if you are looking for new or used. If you are looking for used you can probably pick one up off of the B/S/T for around 100-150$ depending on how old it is.
To construct one yourself you're probably looking at around 250-3000$ after taxes, case and power supply factored into that.
I've found as long as it has something that can do 1080p playback, either a broadcom hd card, amd apu or the newer intel apu on the SB cards (though the most expensive route) will work for you.
You won't have that much room with upgrading unless you go with say an amd apu or a SB apu equivalent as they typically come with 1 x16 pci-e slot.
This at least from experience I've found by running numerous netop or htpc systems starting from/with the N230 series and being happy with what I have now (though that'll run you about 350-400$).
A nettop won't let you have much expansion room for storage. On the other hand, some mitx case have up to 6x3,5' slots. You can use and AMD APU, it'll let you play 1080 smoothly, and some light games if you ever want to.
If you can fit a 40GB ssd as boot drive, the HTPC will be very smooth and reactive.
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