Description

So after a little build I did previously for the girlfriend (really, honest, TOTALLY - it was for her). I reasoned that we indeed needed a HTPC. NEEDED!!

It was a reasonable argument with my beloved partner that had all the wit and charm of intelligent, intellectual adults - well, on one side at least. I subsequently lost graciously, but *Cough* quietly built it on the sly anyway ;)

So, I pulled my finger out and finally built a system from scratch! Phew, first full build and I choose an APU in a tiny case with specific sound requirements.. After months of deliberation I kinda lost it. Enough fiddling with old office dungers, enough reasonable researching and reviews! To hell with it! I was fed up dreaming.

The budget kinda went like this: (me talking to myself) "Be reasonable Mr UNi, only buy what you neee..." *Que Radio static and crackle*

I think we've lost him

Me: "it must be small to blend in with the consoles"
Me: "I sooo have to have that sound card... NEED!"
Me: "... Quietness" (whispered)
Me: "OOOW! SSD!"

CHA-ChiNG

.... Damn.

OK, so I suck at sticking to a budget and building accordingly, but this Lounge Lizard inducing HTPC does do everything I had hoped for, even if it's a little whacky on the surface (and costly). Yes, for a little more I could have got a stronger CPU , punched in a GPU and brought a DAC.. Damn, that's exactly what I should have done.. ha! Anyway, the equivalent $$DAC$$ and heat dissipation in my install location was the killer of that idea. Plus, I play weak old games. Just started to re-do Need for Speed Most Wanted... Side note: Does anyone actually remember this game being brutally hard?? What the?!

Currently I have this playing music through an old vintage amp (Sansui AU-4400) and some nice floor standing speakers. It's an amazing improvement to the headphone jack of my old laptop! Movies are huge! So. in. love.. The Mrs seems a little worried thou?

Anyway, as you can probably spot, I have a little bit of a thing for old consoles so this does a fair amount of emulation duties as well as blast HD movies - hence a little extra storage and the optical drive for the odd rip. The A8 seemed like a better buy than the A10 for my purposes, I think the most strenuous game I'll play on this is F1 2012, to which it smashes. I was talked in to a CS:GO LAN to which my lack of skill came to the front in the performance stakes rather than the little A8 pushing 40-50 frames at max. Of note, the Xbox 360 controller has been a PIA to connect and set-up with regular drop-outs and initialisation failures. My back-up/cheap (brought for $10AUD while on holidays) Malaysian XON PS controller, is super slick and easy. Push the receiver in, turn on, play everything. Go figure? I blame the Xbox controller on windows 10 drivers though - I hope this improves in time.

Build issues and my general eff-ups (they were numerous):

  1. The C7 cooler impacts the north bridge cooling fins on this mobo and thus the cooler doesn't properly seat on the CPU without some force. You know that: 'think I'm doing this up too tight' moment? Right before you wreck it? Well, luckily I caught myself before I destroyed the mobo by trying to fold it in half with the super tight cooler mounting hardware. Anyway, a little observation and a trim to the CPU cooler fins here and there with side-cutters and all is well. See arbitrary cooler photo attached.

  2. Note that the CPU socket is rotated 90deg on this board compared to most other solutions - I didn't. This isn't an issue unless you run a tiny case with a small access window and an after-market cooler with a massive back plate.. It all seats ok but the bracket looks a little dumb impacting like it has on the case - I've accepted that I'm the dummy and the bracket is plastic so it's all good..

  3. Ahh, headaches. I initially used an old external hard drive, which gave me a mobo system beep that I couldn't diagnose. I had to strip the cables (that was a another PIA that required many beers, but more on that in a sec) and pull components and test over and over. It was intermittent beeping too. I hate intermittent. Once found, said hard drive was safely put aside as a trap for a despised nemesis, or something.

  4. Cable management I think I did over 9000 times.. So many cut cable ties. So many. The heat is a little up in this case since there's no case fan and the CPU cooler seems a little smaller than other Raven/Milo builds. So I went to town here making sure cables were as out of the way as best it could be. The flat Silverstone cable ribbons hindered rather than helped, and I added a cable extension to the hard drive power cable since the plugs were distanced in a stupidly stupid fashion. Silverstone, I know you guys read this site, split this cable at about 1/3 from the power supply in to a 'Y' rather than a daisy chain that doesn't reach between your own drive mounts.. Serious.

  5. (Shhh, this one is a little embarrassing) During the beeps above, I freaked at about 1am in the morning after frazzling myself looking for the issue. I was convinced that the sound card was overheating but not reporting temps that I could see anywhere. It happens when you're in a mini-mess-of-cables, and closely packed and sequenced installed components. Don't get me started on trying to read AMD CPU temps... I then got the biggest fan I could fit and banged it on performance mode.. A little knee jerk right? Yeah, it's now set to quiet, which it largely is most days. Oh Silverstone (sorry guys), put some fan mounts in the grills of this otherwise awesome case.. Having to make cable-tie mounts is so ghetto.

Summery:

I've come to terms with the build, we had our moments, and I love everything it does. The Mrs has even accepted me back to in to the house (suckered with the right movies, that new Jessica Jones series and a cuddle on the couch - pro tip right there gents ;)

Thanks to PCPP team for the space and resources, and all the crew here! Not to mention others that helped out immensely along the way. Cheers!

(love the spider btw guys..)

Comments

  • 40 months ago
  • 3 points

I like it, funny description btw. +1

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks, gotta have a bit of fun with it :)

  • 39 months ago
  • 3 points

This is an beautiful and refreshing build that had me go off on a research binge on that sound card.

Friend: "You were supposed to see how the ML08 fits you build, not go off looking at audio hardware." Me: "This build is different. It speaks to me in a way that others have not." Friend: "It speaks to you." Me: "Yes." Friend: "What is it saying now?" Me: "That you think I'm crazy." Friend: "Darn right I do." Me: "So you agree that I can converse with pictures of machines?" Friend: "Shut up."

Anyways, I do find this build refreshing in that it focuses more on the Home Theatre aspect of a HTPC: media playback. When I looked at the pictures, I first thought we all were being trolled. I then thought it looked similar to set-top box with those RCA output. Very unique.

As for the DAC, you could have gone for either an ODAC by JDS Labs or a Schiit Audio Modi 2 Uber. But then you would not have such a unique build.

Bravo on this build and being true to yourself!

  • 39 months ago
  • 2 points

lol checkmate on the mate..

Me trolling? never! I'm a stand up guy (:

Thanks so much! I'm glad you liked it - many other builds on this site had the same effect on me while I was searching around so keep your eyes peeled. Yeah the build is a little strange, but I guess it suits me then. You're exactly right, I wanted it to be a home theater first, everything else was second or third tier - in reality, the sound card got picked first and the rest followed.

As for the DACs here, while the ones listed are pretty cool for the money and I would happily add to an existing build or PC, I feel this card had the edge here in the HTPC. I'd have to spend a fair whack more to be happy I think.

  • 39 months ago
  • 2 points

You're exactly right, I wanted it to be a home theater first, everything else was second or third tier - in reality, the sound card got picked first and the rest followed.

Excellent philosophy. :)

I'd have to spend a fair whack more to be happy I think.

I agree.

  • 40 months ago
  • 2 points

Nice build, love the description!

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

ha cheers mate!

  • 39 months ago
  • 2 points

I like the build. Clean cable management for such a tight space.

  • 39 months ago
  • 3 points

Cheers. It's not quite at your build's level but yeah, it was tricky work and I'm 'mostly' happy with it considering.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

I love your cable management. Can you provide me with more details on how you achieved that clean look?

  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

Patience. Lots of it. (a beer or two to keep you company helps ha)

I chose a the connection that I want to be neat and worked back to where I would hide secure the excess. *cough*

I started by picking what I wanted to look top notch (a mobo CPU plug for example is a good start), and looked for hidey-holes and neat natural securing points. Add to that 'points to avoid' (air flow around fans and heat sinks etc) and work back from that 'neat point'. Soon you'll start to see a loom start to form with all the various cables - simply route everything as 'common loom' and branch off like a tree. This tree can become like a backbone and smaller cables secure neatly to it.

Some further tips:
- Cables have a natural way they want lay. Keep this in mind while manipulating them, so work with them and avoid kinks, high twist rates or tension.
- Everything came sleeved or black in this build and that helps visually. Bare cable can look amazing though, you've just gotta work harder on it.
- There's some excess lengths tucked away down the front of the case (in front of the power supply)... Dammit, magician secrets right there.

did I mention that I used a lot of cable ties getting this right??

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for the added information. I kept wondering how it is you got the cable from the HDD to look so good... which led me to your parts list. The cable you used for the bluray led me to the sata power extensions that took an embarrassingly long time to locate. I also got a slim SATA cord that should help with the routing. I have a MSI z87 board that has the USB 3.0 header, sata ports and the CPU power all in that corner farthest from the PSU and drive cages. Yes, that bottom corner. So your case has given me some inspiration and hope in fixing mine up real good. haha. Thanks again for spending some of your time for me.

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey, anytime man. Post results and good luck with your build!

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

I see y you have an ASUS soundcard. Is this still necessary? most onboard audio is good enough to play music. let me know please

  • 39 months ago
  • 2 points

It depends on the quality of the music that you are playing (the mastering and file quality matter here) as well as the output components (headphones and speakers/subwoofers).

There is no one guide to computer audio. These four may help:

http://www.audiostream.com/content/getting-started-computer-audio-part-1-hardware

http://www.audiostream.com/content/getting-started-computer-audio-part-2-software

http://www.audiostream.com/comment/502598#comment-502598

http://www.audiostream.com/content/getting-started-computer-audio-part-3-music

With that said, without knowing if you want to go with headphones, speakers, or both; are on Linux, OS X, or Windows; know what quality your music files are (MP3 or FLAC for example); or want to use the audio output from the motherboard or go with a DAC and an AMP; neither unicykle, myself, or others can help you make the right decisions for you.

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

Agreed, there are many levels to the complex arrangement of music and it's reproduction - everyone has different tastes, attention and budget - no glove will fit all, nor should it.

Awesome links man, kudos where it's due.

  • 39 months ago
  • 1 point

very nice information. Appreciate it

  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

Necessary? No. 'Good enough' is subjective though

It does connect directly via RCA to my old amp. :)

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

how's the gpu's airflow when the case is sideways?

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

There's no GPU fitted here, but airflow is not great if it were. A blower is ideal for a side set up though.

[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
  • 40 months ago
  • 2 points

Probably why they can't pay bills with them

[comment deleted]
  • 40 months ago
  • 1 point

Heck no!

[comment deleted]