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HTPC a la A10 
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Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 2:20 am
Posts: 1085
Post 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.

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 refresher on the original HTPC setup

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

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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

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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

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

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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...

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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

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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

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One more shot of the inside

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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

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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. 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.

_________________
Main System: Intel i7 2600K | Asus P8Z68 Deluxe Gen3 | 16gb Corsair 1600Mhz | Zotac GTX660 Ti | 128gb OCZ Agility 4 | 1tb WD Black | Corsair HX850 | FD Arc Midi | Mac OS X 10.8.5
Gaming Rig: Intel i7 3930K | Asus Sabertooth X79 | 32gb Kingston HyperX 1866Mhz | 2x EVGA GTX780 SC ACX | 2x Mushkin 60gb SSD (RAID0) | 2tb WD Black | Corsair AX1200i | FD Arc Midi | Windows 8
HTPC: AMD A10-6800K | Asus F2A85-M Pro | 8gb Corsair 1866Mhz | 2x 256Gb Samsung 840 Pro | Antec MicroFusion | Windows 8.1


Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:24 pm
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