"Best" mobo+CPU combo for efficiency
I'm very much enjoying using XBMC, so much so that I'm getting ready to get an HTPC built for it.

This is the component list so far...

Silverstone ML03B - Seems cheap... but looks right.. anyone suggest one that looks like an A/V item but doesn't have a drive?
Edit : The Silverstone Grandia does have DVD slots, but it also has a front door which I could close and it'd leave it looking 'right'.

Huntkey Jumper 300W - Best PSU for job, not the cheapest, but I think it's worth it.

i5-2400 - Not a lot over 2100, but probably not needed.

MSI H61M-E33 Intel H61 - Lowest priced motherboard

XMS3 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C9 - On offer, cheap

OCZ Vertex 2 50GB - Only a few quid more than the Kingston 30GB I had selected

Scythe shuriken low profile

No optical drive

Is it worth considering a sound card? Does the quality of the sound card matter on the motherboard matter greatly?
Edit : I've just realised that I'm going to be outputting sound through HDMI for most of the time, so it'd depend on the graphics card - which I've neglected to select.. (doh, it did feel like something was missing!)
And if I later do add to the sound setup I can just pop in a sound card if needed.

Graphics card will be a 430, I'm going to trawl reviews to find one that's near silent, if I can. Hopefully I can find one with a PWM fan.
I can't recommend OCZ SSDs. I've experienced failure as well as several friends, there's even a thread here. I'd go a different brand personally. I have a mushkin that works very well, and the Corairs seem to be popular as well.

mushkin or corsair = FTW!!

OCZ is for BSOD loverz....
I used to moderate the OCZ SSD forums, and I really have to disagree with that advice.

Simply put the advice is wrong.

OCZ sell far, far more drives than Corsair and Mushkin combined, as a result of that you'll see more failure reports of OCZ drives.

Additionally OCZ are usually first with firmwares and new technology, Corsair follow far behind (they are improving) and Mushkin are a mere blip.

There's currently issues with latest Sandforce drives - from every manufacturer. Your chances of a fix are higher with OCZ because they have a stronger relationship - that said when the fix comes everybody will be fixed pretty much at the same time so trying to make any mileage out of that would be misleading.

The amount of OCZ users with problems is very small indeed. Most of the time the problems with the drives are in updating the firmware - BIOS blocks the updates, or drivers do in most cases.

However what it all does boil down to is that OCZ, Mushkin, Corsair, etc etc etc all are not manufacturers. They sell broadly speaking the same stuff, trying to say the ones with Mushkin stickers are better than the ones with OCZ stickers is silly. (To be entirely accurate OCZ have now bought Indilinx and it's quite possible they could become manufacturers again). Indeed Anand Shimpi's last "state of the union" on SSDs said as much.

Finally I've had experience with people from Muskin and from Corsair in the past and I have nothing bad to say about them at all. The Corsair guys in particular have always struck me as being nice blokes. I'm certainly biased in favour of OCZ as I know a few of em.

Back to the topic... Smile

Since last night I've cooled off the 2400, as despite being good value for money on those extra cores, I just don't have a need for em. So it'd be the 2100 I went for. I did look at the low power version, but I found threads here discussing it and reviews at SPCR which seemed to show the low power version was not more efficient, and I expect I'd get the same results with a touch of an undervolt.

The motherboard is something I'm really not too hot on. I've been using AMD since Athlons, the last Intel I had was last century... I'm broadly aware of the differences between the Intel chipsets and I can't see anything that would be useful to me. However I don't know if there's much to choose from in motherboards - perhaps some are more energy efficient? - or if I should just go for any.

The only other thing is the graphics card... there's a competing Radeon - 5570 - which is (and I may very well be wrong) better in Windows for image quality. I'm basing that on reviews which are many months old now and may be out of date. If I did instead go Linux then I'd most likely have at least some issues with the Radeon card, as nVidia seems to be the hands down winner. I have a spare retail license for W7 Home Premium, so I'd use that over Linux... although I do have a Debian server which I'm comfortable with, so I may very well try it on Linux later.

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