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HTPC Project - My Build Story

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by Zarch, Jul 4, 2007.

  1. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Just ordered the 2 Samsung Spinpoints from Scan, but won't be here until Tuesday!! Damn!

    Ah well, gives me Monday night to get the cpu/motherboard etc all in the fusion case! :smashin:

    I've held off getting the ATi graphics card at the moment. After reading allsorts of advice i've decided to go for the 2600 range rather than the 2400 as theres evidence that the 2400Pro maxes out on high bitrate HD streams.

    I would love a silent 2600, but theres nothing around at the moment. Although dealers seem to be getting shipments within the week. Ebuyer have some Gecube models appearing on the site as i type, currently 0 stock, but i assume that is because they are adding them.

    Will look at those with interest, hopefully tomorrow. Then i can have one here early next week! :clap:
  2. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Just orderded the HD2600pro.

    I asked overclockers why they quoted the asus 2600pro as "Silient" when it had a fan.
    http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX-135-AS&groupid=701&catid=56&subcat=938

    They replied "The fans on these cards will be thermally controlled by the driver and as such at low to moderate temperatures the fan will rotate very slowly."

    Not sure exactly how true all that is, but as i'll be using it for HD playback rather than games i'd hope it wouldn't run too hot anyway.

    So added onto the hard disk order from Scan, be here Tuesday!! :clap:
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProductID=632513
  3. Mac Sami

    Mac Sami Member

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    Will certainly watch this thread with interest. I am looking at a HTPC build, and think I will go for the Asus 8500GT passive, so will let you know how that route goes (although it's subject to change!)

    I know you've ordered the mobo now, but Asus do a range of motherboards with SPDIF onboard. I'm looking at the P5B, about £60 but IMO they're pretty good motherboards.
  4. dmce

    dmce Member

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    I think the HD2600 has better image quality then the HD2400 anyway. Although i think the new drivers for the nVidia cards increase it quality dramatically.

    Good luck!
  5. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Happy to report some good news on the Plasma front! :smashin:

    I've spent the last 3 to 4 weeks scouring kelkoo/pricerunner and sending those prices off to John Lewis for the TH37-PX70-PED, only to get knocked back again and again.

    It was virtually every store on kelkoo and pricerunner starting from £730 upto about £770. But after no luck i submitted Empire Direct at £799 and JL called me yesterday and confirmed they would match that as long as i paid the ED £30 delivery charge. Well i wasn't going to argue, so got it for £829.99

    Now that might be 100 quid more than Dixons, but i get the 5 year warranty etc which is deffo worth £100.

    But to make it sound even better is that i've just bought 800 quids worth of John Lewis vouchers from MBNA Lifestyle for £720.

    I've already got £30 worth free already to make up the £830 i need. So i've got it for £720....... you can keep your Dixons!!

    Vouchers and confirmation letter are in the post, so hopefully they'll both be here by the end of week when i'll be able to go in store and sort delivery!!

    Its took a good while, but i think its been worth it.

    With the HTPC stuff coming Monday/Tuesday its all falling into place. Get this hectic week out of the way and think about getting onto SKY for SKY HD in time for the start of the footy season..... oh what joy!! :clap:
  6. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    I've solved the problem of having 2 toslink outputting devices (htpc and sky-hd(to be ordered)) and only 1 input on the surround kit by buying this switch box.

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/3-Way-Optical-TOS-TOSLink-Selector-Switch-DVD-XBox-PS_W0QQitemZ170131287530QQihZ007QQcategoryZ96942QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    Will probably upgrade the surround kit at some stage in the future, but this functional bit of kit should get me by for a while.


    Other great news, all the components arrived today (well, everything apart from hard disks and 2600 graphics card). Will post pics later when i start to build the damn thing!! :clap:
  7. GoldCoast

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    what sound kit do you have
  8. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Its a Sony DAV-SC5, which is an all in one dvd player and surround kit. Its very good actually and suits my setup perfectly. :smashin:

    All my kit is listed page 1, post 1. :thumbsup:
  9. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    This little lot arrived today.

    1 x Foxconn P4M9007MB-8RS2H Socket 775 P4M900 onboard VGA DDR2 mATX 126717 Not Allocated £27.82
    1 x Intel E4400 Socket 775 2x2.00GHz 800MHz FSB 2MB Cache Retail Boxed Processor 127326 Not Allocated £73.52
    1 x Corsair 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL5(5-5-5-12) Heat Spreader Lifetime Warranty 98710 Not Allocated £58.71
    1 x Antec Fusion V2 MATX MediaCenter Case - Aluminium Front Bezel with 430W PSU 129281 Not Allocated £93.60
    1 x KeySonic 2.4Ghz Wireless Compact Keyboard with Integrated TouchPad 104608 Not Allocated £25.12

    Here's some pics (yeah, i've got my Canon A70 back from the repairs!!)

    [​IMG]


    And so let the build begin!


    Loads of power etc in the Fusion

    [​IMG]


    All plugged into the motherboard

    [​IMG]


    Into the case she goes

    [​IMG]


    Just about all cabled up (and DVD Writer fitted), cables to be tidied obviously!!

    [​IMG]


    To be honest, i don't think i've even been as frustrated with a build as i have been with this. It didn't take very long at all, but i'm sat here now waiting till tomorrow for the hard disks and graphics card to come. And without the disks i can't start the OS build etc. :mad:

    Grrrr!! Ah well, i've powered it up and all looks well from that point of view.

    Christ, the fusion is a heavy beast, even with very little in it!!

    Right, twiddle me'thumbs time now till tomorrow!!! :thumbsdow
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  10. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    YEAH, the hard disks and the graphics card arrived as planned, good old scan.

    Been itching to get home from work and get building. :rotfl:

    Right, heres the stuff.


    All Boxed,
    2 x Samsung 320gb Spinpoints and
    1 x Asus HD 2600 Pro 256mb Graphics Card


    [​IMG]



    Unboxed! Graphics card came with DVI to VGA connector and S-Video to Composite

    [​IMG]



    Look at the Size of that Heatsink! Thats gonna cause problems!!!

    [​IMG]



    Everything in its place!

    [​IMG]



    Told you it'd cause problems that heatsink.... i've lost a PCI slot!

    [​IMG]



    Final shot before the lid goes on, all cables nice and tidy!

    [​IMG]



    So, i'm gonna go and install Vista now and see what happens there. I just wanna play my first HD clip and see what how it performs. :thumbsup: :clap:

    BIG WARNING about that graphics card, the heatsink is giant. So don't even think about putting one in a Fatal1ty board otherwise you've lost your only PCI. :thumbsdow

    Thankfully i'm not using any at the moment. But makes you think!! :rolleyes:

    Will report back later!!

    Toodaloo
  11. andyr300

    andyr300 Member

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    cool,me likes photos,ill have to watch out for those giant heatsink problems for my build.
  12. Buck37

    Buck37 Member

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    Great photos & cool build.

    I'm just about to begin my build, using similar components.

    CPU E6420 + Cooler
    Case Antec V2 Fusion
    Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-G33M-DS2R LGA 775 Intel G33 Micro ATX
    Ram OCZ 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 CL 4-4-4-15 PLATINUM XTC
    Harddrive 500GB Samsung SATA II 300 Hard Disk Drive 16MB cache 7200rpm
    Harddrive 500GB Samsung SATA II 300 Hard Disk Drive 16MB cache 7200rpm
    Graphics Card XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB DDR3
    DVD Drive Pioneer DVR-112D
    Keyboard Keysonic keyboard
    Sound Device SPFIF Bracket
    Wireless card Mimio Adapter

    As much thought that the graphics card would knacker a PCI slot, oh well that's life.

    Never built a HTPC before and been reading up on the forums, but it looks reasonabley straight forward.......I say that now.

    Let us know when you get it up and running and tell us your thoughts on the noise & coolness levels ........this is the main reason I went for this case over the Origen H6.

    Also are you overclocking anything or keeping to stock?

    And as you have finished any tips for a newbie builder.

    Cheers

    Mike
  13. sinizterguy

    sinizterguy Member

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    How did you get the JL vouchers for cheap ?
  14. DoktorAvalanche

    DoktorAvalanche Member

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    Nice build & pics.
    If I understand correctly, you are planning to run your spin points in raid 0?
    I tried this with x2 250gig Barracudas’ in Raid 0, after over 5 re-installs in 3 months I got the message -don’t do it!
    The OS really can’t cope being stripped, no reinstalls 9 months since reverting to the OS being on one drive.
    Best wishes for the rest of the build.
  15. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    You need a MBNA credit card to take part in their lifestyle scheme.

    http://www.mbna.co.uk/lifestyle/

    Use the entry code MBNA, then you can buy JL vouchers at 90% value, along with many other high street retailers and other offers.

    You need a MBNA credit card as that is the only thing you can pay for them with at the end of the transaction.
  16. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Very strange Shazzam, i've had Win XP running in RAID 0 on 2 x Maxtor drives on my dekstop machine for about 3 years now and not one problem at all.

    Better keep my fingers crossed i suppose!! ;)
  17. Buck37

    Buck37 Member

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    Just a quickie....when you run 2x 500gig drives in raid 0 have you then only got 500g of total storage capacity?
  18. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    No, raid 0 is called striping, its probably raid 1 you're thinking off, which is also called mirroring.

    With raid 1 you get the protection of the mirror, but lose the capacity because of it. So yes, you'd only have 500gb with 2 500gb drives.

    With raid 0, you use the full amount of both disks with data striped across both disks for performance, but you have no redundancy, but that is no different to having a single disk in the PC.
  19. Buck37

    Buck37 Member

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    Ah ok I see.

    I understand the issues with Raid 0 in that you would potentially lose all data in the case of a fault arising in any of the drives, but I can live with that, therefore would you reccomend using this set up as I understand it will greatly improve overall performance.

    If so do you have any recommendtions of a sire that will explain In noob style how to set this up.

    Your help is appreciated.
  20. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Its a piece of cake, you do it through the raid bios that pops up when you power on the pc. press tab or whatever it says to get into it.

    Choose your drives, create array (raid 0 or raid 1) and thats it. (all data will be lost doing this)

    install your OS, vista will pick the raid array up automatically, but XP will require a floppy with the raid driver on (usually supplied with motherboard).

    And thats it.

    For a HTPC, there isn't a great need for raid 0 as its mem/cpu and gpu that take the hammer when playing video clips. A single drive will suffice.

    But you will see great performance increases in the likes of video decoding, using rar etc, quickpar and other disk intensive actions. Even booting of windows is quicker!!

    There is also the noise angle to consider as the addition of a 2nd hard disk will increase that too.
  21. Buck37

    Buck37 Member

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    Thanks mate.

    Actually my HTPC is also a jack of all trades.

    I will be doing video encoding/ ripping DVD's/ playing games etc and therefore it might worth me considering this option.

    You have worried me about the noise level however, although thats the reason I chose the Samsungs as they are supposed to be very quiet.

    Decisions decisions...........

    Anybody running a similar set up??
  22. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Plasma Update:

    Just popped into JL Sheffield with my undersales letter and MBNA vouchers, no problem. Ordered my Panasonic TH37-PX70 and PED stand, paid for it and getting delivered next Friday (could have had it as early as Tuesday, but can't due to work!)

    Matched Empire Direct Leeds at £799, but had to match the £25 ED delivery too, so a final price of £824. Ordered my 800 quids worth of JL Vouchers on Sunday for £720, they arrived this morning by special delivery.

    So it cost me £720 + the £25 delivery. Fantastic!! :clap:
  23. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    OS Build Update:

    Installed Vista Ultimate, fresh install, installed updates etc. Used CD that came with card and rebooted, then got the following message on restart from Catalyst.

    "no ATI graphics driver is installed, or the ATI driver is not functioning properly. Please install the ATI driver appropriate for your ATI hardware".

    If I go into device manager, I see the Asus EAH2600 listed, but it has a Yellow Exclamation mark along with the message:

    "Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problem. Click "check for solution" to send details about this device to microsoft and see if there is a solution available."

    Clicked it, to no avail.

    Tried uninstalling and installing the latest drivers from both ATI and Asus sites, same message.

    Upgraded the motherboard bios to latest, played about in the BIOS, still no good.

    God was i frustrated. So i whipped out the SATA drives, found an old PATA drive and installed MCE2005, installed the drivers on the supplied Asus CD and guess what....... worked first time!!!

    At least its not the card thats faulty. Its either Vista or the drivers.

    Grumble, Grumble..... no one said this was gonna be easy!! :eek:
  24. DoktorAvalanche

    DoktorAvalanche Member

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    I hope the raid 0 works for you might just be one of the many foibles with my mobo.
    Oh & Cheers for the heads up on MBNA lifestyle -I think my wife will melt her card tonight!
  25. sinizterguy

    sinizterguy Member

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    Thanks for the tip about MBNA lifestyle. I might consider getting a new credit card. This would give me both interest free period as well as the ability to buy these discounted vouchers.
  26. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Sorted it, but what a pain in @rse!!

    I'd built the machine complete with the 2600 in and installed vista straight away. So i tried uninstalling all the drivers, taking out the card and booting vista using the onboard graphics. That was fine. But curiously it said it had installed a driver for a Standard VGA Device!! So powered off again, re-installed the 2600Pro and started vista. Vista instantly recognised the card and worked fine. I've now installed 7.7 and it all appears to be well and i confidently put the top back on the HTPC! LOL.

    For those interested, the Aero scores in Vista for my machine are as follows:

    Processor: 4.9
    Memory: 4.6
    Graphics(aero): 5.4
    Graphics(gaming): 4.9
    Primary Hard Disk: 5.9

    So my memory is the weakest link and my hard disk(s) the best bit!! :eek:

    Hopefully bring you some proper thoughts and performance figures soon about the 2600 card and the whole box in general!! :clap:
  27. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Software Update:

    Vista installed and looking very nice with all its Aero bells and whistles.

    Downloaded and installed ffdshow for all the codecs required
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/ffdshow-tryout/
    ffdshow is a DS filter and VFW codec for many audio and video formats, such as DivX, Xvid and H.264. Over 60 bugs have been fixed, codecs have been updated, and support for a few new formats has been added in the tryouts. Windows Vista is now supported.

    Downloaded and installed MediaPortal as my Media Centre Front End.
    http://www.team-mediaportal.com/

    Also installed PowerDVD 7.3, but i think i will remove this tonight to see if the above 2 freebie downloads do everything i want.

    Mediaportal looks EXACTLY what i'm looking for. You just points the "movies" directory at a folder on your hard disk and it just looks in there for compatiable files, you can browse the files, hit the button it plays them. So far its played 1080p wmv and 1080i mpeg2's that i've sourced from usenet and some dvds that i ripped as files using dvd decrypter.

    I will try and get some performance stats posted for you with regard playback of the HD content too.

    With MediaPortal able to handle DVD playback, internet radio, pictures, music straight away with little configuration, it seems like an amazing freebie package. On top of that you've then got all the available plug-ins that i've not even looked at yet.

    Currently watching and testing all this stuff on my 17" LCD Monitor! :thumbsdow Can't wait to get the Plasma in and working a week today! :clap:
  28. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    Major Recommendation:

    If you're going to build a HTPC and are going to watch .mpg or .wmv HD rip files, make sure you get at least 2GB of RAM.

    I was plyaing some clips last night and task manager was reporting around 1.2GB of mem used. (Vista, Mediaportal and ffdshow)

    With the price of RAM so low it should be a no brainer really, but worth mentioning. :smashin:
  29. Zarch

    Zarch Active Member

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    For Marcus's benefit, here's a recap of the final hardware that i bought to put this HTPC together:

    From Ebuyer
    1 x Foxconn P4M9007MB-8RS2H Socket 775 P4M900 onboard VGA DDR2 mATX 126717 Not Allocated £27.82
    1 x Intel E4400 Socket 775 2x2.00GHz 800MHz FSB 2MB Cache Retail Boxed Processor 127326 Not Allocated £73.52
    1 x Corsair 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL5(5-5-5-12) Heat Spreader Lifetime Warranty 98710 Not Allocated £58.71
    1 x Antec Fusion V2 MATX MediaCenter Case - Aluminium Front Bezel with 430W PSU 129281 Not Allocated £93.60
    1 x KeySonic 2.4Ghz Wireless Compact Keyboard with Integrated TouchPad 104608 Not Allocated £25.12
    2 x Belkin PureAV Blue Series Optical Audio Cable 1.8m 72811 Not Allocated £16.56
    1 x Ebuyer Extra Value HDMI To DVI-I Dual Link (Black) 1m 88444 Not Allocated £2.54

    From Scan
    2 x 17225 320G SAMSUNG SATA2 HDD HD321KJ £74.98
    1 x 19297 256MB ASUS EAH2600 PRO HTDP £51.49

    Which is £424.34 ex VAT and £498.60 including VAT

    Only thing i didn't buy that i used is a SATA cable as the motherboard came with only one.
  30. Marcus D

    Marcus D Member

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    :clap:Cheers Mickwall

    If ur even down Oxford way (bring a canoe!) or Im in sunny Sheff' I' will hunt you down and buy you a pint or two.

    Right some shopping for bits me thinks.

    Like the look of the case you have used, may be a duplicate of your machine in Oxford soon. I will follow your lead a post some pics.

    Again, thanks mate you saved me bundles of time

    Marcus
    :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap:

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