Advice needed on HTPC

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by s_inman, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. s_inman

    s_inman
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    Im am shortly going to be building my first htpc, I built a gaming rig around 4 years ago so I do know what to expect and plan on using some parts from that, mainly the hdd, dvd drive, my copy of XP etc.

    I am swaying towards the antec fusion case as it looks nice and comes complete with a psu! What would you suggest as suitable cpu, motherboard, ram etc? I want to keep the cost to around 300-400.

    I plan on mainly playing hd clips from usenet, 1080p is not necessary as my plasma only does 1080i/720p. but I may intsall a hd-dvd/blu-ray drive at a later date. NO gaming will be done on this HTPC as I have a 360 for that!

    What would be the best way to connect to my plasma? I only have 1 hdmi and that is in use.. Would vga be ok? Does HDMI make that much difference? Would I still get a true HD signal?

    One last thing, I have a sky dish but no box etc, would I be able to get a tuner card that I can plug directly in to the lnb on the dish and get the free channels? Mainly for bbc hd! If so what options are there as I am not sure what I should be looking for.

    Sorry for all the questions but I am new to the world of htpc and want to get the best possible for my money :thumbsup:.

    Thanks in advance, Stuart.
     
  2. badbob

    badbob
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    The Fusion is a MATX case, so you'll need MATX motherboard. A fast single core or basic dual core, with onboard video will be fine. Try and use DVI-HDMI as it offers the least picture processing. If you want BR/HD then I would go for 2ghz dual core, then add PCI-E card with HD acceleration, but the latter can be done later.

    The biggest problem with the Fusion is the lack of vertical height for the best and quiestest CPU coolers, ie Scythe Ninja/Mine or Tuniq Tower.

    Look at 1GB, although memory price is so low might as well fit 2GB, even under XP can just go over 1GB (my htpc is XP machine) with Opera, Outlook open memory usage is 700mb, peaking to 900mb. If you're using shared memory deduct 128MB from system
     
  3. s_inman

    s_inman
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    Thanks for the reply, I was planning on getting a seprate motherboard and graphics card to save cost at a later date.

    What would you sugest as a good cheapish solution? :)
     
  4. badbob

    badbob
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    Around £400, need to add OS. Either XP MCE, Vista (one with MCE front end) or XP Home with Media Portal

    Microsoft Windows XP Media Centre 2005 Remote Controller
    Corsair 2GB DDR2 Value Select PC5300C5 Dual Channel Kit
    Asus M2NPV-VM Micro ATX (Socket AM2) PCI-Express DDR2 Motherboard
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4200+ 2.20GHz (Socket AM2) - Retail
    Antec Fusion Black HTPC Case - 430HE Watt PSU
    Samsung SpinPoint T HD501LJ 500GB SATA-II 16MB Cache - OEM

    Above system is an example, could go for Intel C2D setup. Stick with Samsung drives though as quietest (seek isn't audible)

    You could go for the Antec NSK2400, it does the same thing, just not as pretty. No VFD but really you don't need it. Fair bit cheaper too. Add a wireless keyboard/mouse. Ebay have Keysonic one at £30, it's good but lacks play and other transport controls, but use the remote control for that.

    Choice with CPU, go with retail and use stock HSF which is bit loud, or get OEM and a better one, although not sure what'll fit in a Antec Fusion/2400 as it's bit cramped vertically.

    In a A64 system enable CAQ in BIOS and in Windows set to portable mode. That'll mean CPU is reduced in speed, only ramps up when needed. Thus lower amount of heat, and slower rpm for HSF required.

    The Abit MATX boards seem quite good. Also check for digital audio, you'll want that if sending audio to your amp.
     
  5. cpdave

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  6. badbob

    badbob
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    That case is non standard, can't fit any suitable (quiet) HSF or add in cards, or use standard ATX PSU. In essence useless if you have any plans on upgrading.

    Because it's so small the fan(s) in it will be much louder than ones in a larger case. That 4000rpm 40mm fan will probably be louder than my entire system (4x12cm fans, 1x8cm fan)

    The Antec 2400/Fusion is bigger, but at least everthing in it is standard. ATX PSU, space for hard drives, cable routing, all PCI & PCI-E slots can be used, and space for larger CPU HSF.
     
  7. Bruciebaby

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    BadBob:
    Hi, I too am looking to get a HTPC a going. Here are some questions that I hope you can answer please.

    I want to use the htpc for receiving HD TV broadcast, playing HD format discs BR/HD. downloading HD content and recording to HD/DVD.

    I also want to surf the internet probably at the same time as watching the TV etc. or do some computer based stuff like spreadsheets/word etc.

    I think that the HDMI connectivity has to be HDCP from source to receiver. Does that mean the TV card, The Graphics card, The Motherboard, The sound card, the av receiver and the LCD display all have to be hdcp?

    I know that some graphics cards say they are, and some LCDs say they are, but I have yet to hear about the TV cards or motherboards or av receivers.

    Is it just a case of when u see an hdmi connector then assume that it is hdcp? also how can u tell if all the hdmi connections, cables etc are the same version ie. ver 1.3?

    also (sorry) I assume that big is best, big CPUs, big GPUs, HDTV tuners, 1080p, 100hz, 6ms, high contrast etc LCDs.

    Oh.. and quiet and cool (little heat)

    ;)
    really be grateful for any input here :lease:
    Bruce
     
  8. badbob

    badbob
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    hmm too many questions which I can't ask, not into tuner side of it. But I do know that you'll need dual screen to do what you're asking, which is a bit of a problem as HTPC front end software causes problems on the other screen, need to alt-tab and when you do HTPC front end seems to drop out. I use DVI-HDMI and that works 1920x1080, and 1080p videos but don't know anything about copy protected, I believe you would need a videocard with HDMI out, HDCP supported. Also unsure how HD audio is sent, on the videocard HDMI out? Or onboard? No idea sorry.

    My HTPC is dual screen system, 17" LCD as primary, 40" LCD as secondary. I was using XP MCE for a while, but Media Portal has just got open up on secondary working, so moved back to MP.

    I would look at a full ATX system, perhaps Silverstone Lascala, try and fit everything passive, and any fans use low rpm ones.
     
  9. Bruciebaby

    Bruciebaby
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    Thanks badbob, just one more thing. U know that on a lot of graphics cards it says TV out. whats that then? I thought that u just connect the dvi/hdmi to the tv dvi/hdmi in. Or is it that the tv out from the graphics card does something about the scan/refresh etc? i don't know :(
     
  10. badbob

    badbob
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    TV out is S-Video. If you're connecting to a LCD TV you'll either use VGA or DVI-HDMI. Always use native resolution.

    Oh regarding front end and doing something on the other screen at the same time, just installed latest media portal and svn build, it now supports loading up on secondary screen, and you can use the primary screen at the same time. You can't do that in MCE, it just hogs the front end and crashes.
     
  11. Bruciebaby

    Bruciebaby
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    Thanks again badbob:) U mention two screens, primary and secondary. I was thinking more in line with just one LCD 37" 108p or 720p at least as a single display. Using a TV tuner card to watch TV in a window and doing other stuff in other windows. Can it be done? and connecting an av receiver vis optical or coaxial for surround sound.
     
  12. s_inman

    s_inman
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    Thanks for all the help guys, I ended up buying the following system.

    Item: Foxconn P4M9007MB-8RS2H Socket 775 P4M900 onboard VGA DDR2 mATX
    Qty: 1Cost: 33.37

    Item: Intel E4400 Socket 775 2x2.00GHz 800MHz FSB 2MB Cache Retail Boxed Processor
    Qty: 1Cost: 63.78

    Item: Antec Black Fusion V2 MATX MediaCenter Case - Aluminium Front Bezel with 430W PSU
    Qty: 1Cost: 93.60

    Item: Sapphire HD 2600 Pro 512MB DDR2 Dual DVI TVO PCI-E Graphics Card
    Qty: 1Cost: 47.65

    Item: Call of Juarez Game OEM for bundle with ATI 2600 and 2900 series not for resale
    Qty: 1Cost: 0.00

    Item: Corsair 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL5(5-5-5-12) Heat Spreader Lifetime Warranty
    Qty: 1Cost: 54.63

    Item: Samsung SpinPoint HD501LJ 500GB SATAII Hard Drive 16MB Cache - OEM
    Qty: 1Cost: 50.86

    Also got myself a dinovo edge keyboard from amazon, came to £500. Slightly over budget but I am happy with what I got.

    I will get some pics up of the build, should be here monday :smashin:.

    I have also decided to get a sky hd box rather than a tv card :).

    Stuart.
     
  13. Nokmondoo

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    hi, where did you get the Antec Black Fusion V2 MATX MediaCenter Case - Aluminium Front Bezel with 430W PSU
    Qty: 1Cost: 93.60 case from? Cheapest i could find was £110 ish.
     

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