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HTPC Guide

Zertz , technodanvan , tacohunter52    -   March 15, 2009
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The Memory:

There really isn't a whole lot to say about picking your memory. An HTPC won't require the massive amount that a good video editing machine would, and really doesn't need anything insanely fast either. Given the prices of DDR2 there is really no reason to go less than a 2GB (2x1GB) kit of DDR2-800 (PC2 6400) memory unless you really want to save some cash. You can get a 2x2GB kit if you like, but you really won't see any benefit from having the added memory for standard HTPC functions. If you're going to be using this rig as a full multi-media system—this includes playing games—the extra RAM might not hurt. In fact if you know you'll be playing games, 4GB is certainly something to consider. Here are a few things to think about before purchasing any RAM:

  • DDR3 is newer, faster, and better, but don't go buy a MOBO just so you can have the newest RAM. Unless you're one of the crazy users that will be using an i7 in their HTPC, DDR2 will suit you just fine.
  • A 2x512MB kit of RAM should be enough for basic HTPC functions. If you already have a kit or just want to save a few bucks, by all means use it. You may run into a little trouble with large high definition movies but otherwise you should be okay. For an intermediate (or better) HTPC, get at least a 2x1GB kit.
  • If you will be using Windows Vista I heavily recommend at least a 2 gigabyte kit.
  • Use only 2 sticks of memory. A lot of boards support 4 sticks, but remember this is likely going into a small case with poor airflow. Keeping memory cool is essential to ensuring it remains stable. If you need more memory, just buy a bigger kit.
  • For our purposes virtually any kit of RAM should work. There are a lot of good brands out there and they offer mostly the same product. If you narrow it down to a pair of kits and you don't know which to go with, base it on the warranty and customer service the companies offer.
  • Don't purchase a kit of DDR2-1066 with the assumption that it is automatically faster than DDR2-800. It has the potential to be, but few processor/motherboard combos will automatically detect and set them correctly. If not set in the BIOS appropriately they'll run at DDR2-800. If you have more questions about this please ask in the forums.

 

 

Okay, here are my choices. Again, there are many other kits available. These are brands I know and have had very good experiences with. You don't need to be spending a whole lot on RAM, so I've tried to keep all kits under $50. With of course the exception of high end builds. Assume all RAM is DDR2 (800) unless otherwise stated.

Basic HTPC:

Intermediate HTPC:

High End HTPC:

 

Now that we have a few choices of RAM, let's move on to the graphics card.




  1. Introduction
  2. The Parts - An Overview
  3. Processor
  4. Processor (cont'd)
  5. Processor - Overclocking
  6. CPU Heat Sink
  7. Memory
  8. Graphics Card
  9. Graphics Card (cont'd)
  10. Sound Card
  11. HD Tuner Card
  12. Hard Drives
  13. Optical Drives
  14. Motherboard
  15. Motherboard (cont'd)
  16. Power Supply
  17. HTPC Case
  18. Final Thoughts
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