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Old July 4, 2013, 10:47 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Ottawa
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Default HTPC a la A10

I mentioned in another thread that I was going to potentially upgrade my HTPC to an A10 to give me some extra resources cpu and gpu wise to play a few more leisurely games.

Now I actually went to Canada Computers this past weekend to get parts, but I didn't quite get everything I wanted. I really don't like dealing with them, I find in Ottawa at least, they're staff are about as useful as kelp

Originally, this (MSI FM2-A85XMA-E35) is the mobo I was looking at, and in hindsight (see pictures), it's the one I should have bought, but I would have had to order since there was no stock locally and I wanted to start the build Sunday before I went to bed since I worked Sunday night so I settled on the Asus at a slight added cost

I also had originally picked up a Corsair Vengeance Pro Blue 8GB kit rated 1866mhz, but had to go back and exchange it for the low profile version of the same kit because it didn't clear the optical drive in my Antec Micro Fusion. I failed to account for the old board not being quite so large from front to back, so the memory wasn't seated so far forward in the case. The Corsair kit I got is shit by the way, I can't get it to run stable above 1600mhz, it won't do 1866 at 10-11-11-27 with 1.7v, and its rated 9-10-9-24 at 1.5v. So very disappointed there and I do plan on calling, or emailing their support and giving someone a very hard time

When I went sunday, they had no stock on the new A10-6700's or A10-6800K's either, so I picked up an A4-5300 just to get the build started. I exchanged it for a 6800K earlier today though and had a few hiccups, system was unstable after the swap until I cleared CMOS, it was running sluggish on and off, even in the uefi/bios setup. It still seems flaky to be honest, but I was able to play need for speed shift for over an hour today, so maybe the idea is just caught in my head still because of how it was acting up initially?

I also picked up 2 fans today, the speed sensor burned out in one of them, as in I could smell something burnt exhausting out of my media center, another reason why I keep thinking there's something wrong with it

I've got windows 8 on it right now, I disabled every feature in it and removed the payload, it's running XBMC as the shell, and to be honest, I'm thinking of going back to windows 7 on the media center, again, mostly because with 7 I was able to customize the boot screen, and login screen to brand it with xbmc all over and the OS was so stripped, you couldn't tell it was windows anyway. I can't do that with Windows 8 the same way, it just doesn't allow for that finished htpc feel

So without further hesitation, I think it's time for some pictures. first up, a shot of original HTPC setup, at least inside. notice the length of the board front to back...



The stack of boxes for new hardware, though some not entirely new since I kind of cheated lol



While I had the case gutted, I opened up the power supply and cut of some extra wires, they just made things difficult since there's no place to really tuck them in, and since I switched to 3/4 pin fans, and all sata drives, theres' no need for Molex connectors



I took this after I unboxed the first fan, at first I wonder "wtf and why", but then I realized, lots of boards still only have one PWM connector for the cpu fan, and then everything else is 3 pin headers. So I guess these were designed to loop though, but I still think it's stupid



Now this is a little better, I cut off the extra extension, and swapped the sensor wire into the PWM connector



Now if you look at the SATA ports in this picture, you'll see why I said I should have waited and just ordered the MSI board I was looking at originally...



I had to cut a hole in the side of the hard drive cage. So Now I can't slide the cage all the way down and screw it in, but I did give me a place to tuck wires under the hard drive, so it's ok. Haven't had any issues with vibration at all, though there's dampers on the hard drive so it works out well enough in the end. I did break 4 dremel discs in the process. The hard drive case is screwed in on one side, but riveted on the other, so there was no way to take it out completely which made it an awkward task to cut



Here we can see the memory, tucked under the cd rom drive and the cables sticking out of it. it's too bad I had to get the low profile kit for this run, but oh well. I'll probably be looking at a different kit soon that will actually run it's rated speed since according to the reviews i've seen, running the rams at 1866 on these boards makes a decent enough difference for the integrated gpu



One more shot of the inside



And a shot of the front of the case. I know there's a hole lol. The case came with a really crappy LCD that kept falling out of place on it's own. Also the software doesn't work right unless the windows shell is running, and since I replace the shell, well, do the math. I'm planning on running the IR sensor from the TV tuner back inside the case in putting it in that empty space, and just blacking out the rest. It's not ideal, but at least it will look cleaner than it does now. I also won't have to worry about propping the sensor somewhere in line of site that it won't fall because I will not tape it to my TV



I thought I had taken a picture of it in its resting place in my TV stand, but I guess I'm still getting used to my DSLR that was recently purchased and didn't actually snap that shot

Now my final thoughts

I really like AMD's apu platform for this type of application. It's not like the old days when having somewhat competent integrated video meant a northbridge running at 150*. These have most of it integrated in the cpu, with a decent enough heatsink you can keep the temps in a decent range without too much noise.

It's a decent balance of cpu/gpu performance for what it is and the price. I've got all the connectivity I need.

The reason I did this upgrade was because I wanted to play some games, and so far my experience is exactly what I was hoping and what I wanted. Considering my TV is only 720p and I have no plans on upgrading, I get decent framerates, I haven't benched or measure for specifics, but it feels smooth, and that's what matters to me since I have a proper gaming system, this is just a secondary if I'm feeling lazy. With 1gb shared memory allocated, I'm running need for speed shift between medium and high detail and it's 100% smooth. I don't see myself playing anything much more intensive to be honest. I may try skyrim, but I don't think I'd actually enjoy playing it with the Xbox 360 controller.

Bottom line is, it's more than adequate and I would totally recommend with platform for this type of application.
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Old July 4, 2013, 11:25 PM
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I like it man.
Im about to undertake a similar project however i wont be using a case. Ill be mounting the entire assembly into the side of my tv stand and building an enclosure for it to keep dust out. I know its a bit impractical however I like doing this sort of thing (once built an old Dell into my dads desk which served him well for another 3 years)
This looks great though and as you said I dont think anyone should be knocking the APU platform. Ive been seeing it do some wonderful stuff recently (playing Bioshock Infinite on high flawlessly) and will look forward to future iterations that may just start me omitting GPUs from my basic build altogether
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Old July 5, 2013, 07:56 AM
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I like it! It looks a lot like my HTPC build:

http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum...g-28-10-a.html
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Old July 5, 2013, 08:06 AM
great_big_abyss's Avatar
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There are a few M-ITX boards that would have given you a lot more space inside you case...

Newegg.ca - fm2 itx
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HTPC: Z77A-G45; 3770K; Zalman FX70; 2x4GB Kingston HyperX 1600Mhz; MSI GTX960; 2x 128GB Crucial M4 SSD; 4TB WD Red, 2x 2TB WD Green; Corsair RM650I; Corsair Carbide 600C;
Son's Rig: M5A97; FX8350; CNPS20LQ; 2x4GB Corsair Vengeance 1600Mhz; Powercolor 7950; 250GB Crucial MX200; 320GB WD Black HDD; SPI 700W; Bitfenix Shinobi;
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Old July 5, 2013, 12:54 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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the only obards listed there with the a85 chipset are asrock....I don't buy asrock, ever. I keep hearing how good some of their stuff is these past few years....I still can't get the bad taste out of my mouth though.

@Varroa, I like the wood panel thing you have going there. If my vintage yamaha amp with the wood grain panels wasn't in my DJ booth, I'd have something to pair up with a look like that.

all in all, I'm quite pleased with this build, it does exactly what I want, and maybe a little more
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Old July 5, 2013, 01:42 PM
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That's a nice htpc case. Low profile gfx card?
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Old July 5, 2013, 01:52 PM
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yes, it's low profile. makes it impossible to find a discrete videocard. the case is the antec micro fusion though. i think i mentioned that in the original post
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