Advice needed on HTPC Build - Software, Hardware, and Configuration

jonlai9

Standard Member
After careful research I bought the parts to my first HTPC build:
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5050E
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-M78SM-S2H GF8200
Optical: LG GGC-H20L BluRay/HDDVD/CD/DVD Burner

Also:
- Hauppauge USB2.0 External TV Tuner

I intend on using the HTPC for the following purposes:
1) Watching media (movies/drama/etc.) via a fancy menu system
2) Record and watch TV with TV Tuner, like a PVR
3) Play Blu Rays directly off the drive
4) Act as a file server for other others
5) Allow use of the menu system to be distributed to other computers on network
6) Use my Harmony 550 to control everything
7) Install a LCD Module (because I cheaped out on the Antec Fusion) to display some information

I want to set up my HTPC so that I can connect it to my TV directly via HDMI, but the audio can have the option of going through my receiver, or not going through my receiver. My Motherboard has Optical out. I wish to output DTS whenever possible.

What type of software should I use?

I understand MediaPortal is very common around the forums, and the 4TheRecord addon would allow 4) to work, according to the website. However, others have suggested it takes a long time to set up. Are there other software that can do what I want, but easier to set up?

Can MediaPortal or any other media center software do all the things I want under one roof? I would prefer that I do not require to open several different programs to do all these tasks if possible.

I heard that certain software will move the load off the CPU onto the video chipset on my motherboard. What are some of these players and can they be embedded into media center software like MediaPortal or others out there?

Also, I live in Canada. Are there any Canadians here? How hard is it to automate the process of extracting the TV Guide into my HTPC so that I can use it as a PVR?

I also want to install a LCD Module. How hard are these to configure and program on my own? Where can I go buy one, and how much are they roughly?

Thanks for your help.
 

MCGlausa

Standard Member
I've heard good things about Mediaportal from a friend, but I can't vouch for it myself. I am a Linux user, so YMMV, but I like both XBMC and MythTV. MythTV can take quite a bit of work to set up, but it's really great for PVR once you get it going. XBMC should basically work out of the box, but does not have any live TV or PVR support yet.

MythTV should do 1,2,5,6,7 quite handily. It is particularly good for 2 and 5 IMHO. I believe both MythTV and XBMC support external players, so if they don't do it natively 3 should be doable with some tweaking (if running Windows).

As for 4, the fileserver question, do you want general file serving, or specifically media files? If the latter, I'd suggest looking at one of the many uPnP server programs. A friend is particularly happy with TVersity - it even streams to his PS3.

I live in Waterloo, Ontario, and I was able to get program guide information into MythTV using this service: Schedules Direct. I don't think there's an easy, completely free way to do it, but their service was well worth it to me.

Now, if I may ask - have you already got your mobo/CPU running? I have just got the same mobo/CPU combo and I can't get it to start up. Gigabyte doesn't show the 5050e as supported, and it would be really helpful to me to know that it works for someone.

HTH,
Adam

Edit: I not connected with Schedules Direct other than as a happy customer. I'm not currently running the PVR, but when I did (maybe 6mo ago) it was a good service.
 
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