I’ve been messing around with the AMD E350 platform for a few months now and have been trying out VMWare and Freenas on it. The results were impressive. Don’t underestimate the E350, it can do some lifting. I then got curious with HTPC. I was able to use my existing hardware. I also had spare parts if needed. The only thing I bought was a small tower. So here’s the build.
- MSI E350IS-E45 $90
- Raidmax ITX0907BP (comes with 300W PSU) $40
- 4GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 1333MHz CL7 1.65V (I can’t find the link to the CL7 so the link is for the CL9) $30
- 60GB SSD OCZ Vertex Plus OCZSSD2-1VTXPL60G $60
- OpenElec 1.0.2 (for AMD APU) running XBMC version 11 (eden) $0 open source, free
So for less than $200 (before taxes), you can build yourself a nice HTPC. I didn’t include an optical drive in the price since I won’t be using it to play media. All of my media is streamed from my NAS server. It has a VGA, DVI, and HDMI port already built in. It also has a gigabit ethernet port. The SSD is somewhat of an overkill but currently the prices for SSD drives are a lot more appealing than traditional platter HDD. I have been able to play 1080i videos at 24FPS.
The PC runs well and responsive. It can handle the default and AEON skins just fine. There have been some lag on the interface when video is playing in the background, but understandable with the CPU capabilities. The only thing I don’t like with this setup is the tower. The PSU fan is a bit loud for an HTPC. I may look for another one that’s quieter. For a $40 tower with 300W PSU, I can’t complain and should’ve expected that. You just have to wait for deals. The idle temps float around 45-50° C. While playing a movie file located on the local hard drive, the temps go up 5° C. CPU usage aren’t bad either. Idle is at around 30-40%. During video playback it can get around 60%. There were times that it hit 100% but only a few seconds.
I may be getting rid of the MSI E350 and looking to upgrade it with an Intel i3 2100. We’ll see how prices change once the Ivy Bridge CPUs are in the market. Here are some pics I took.