Best buy budget HTPC components?

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by MX5BBRTURBO, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. MX5BBRTURBO

    MX5BBRTURBO
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    I'm considering either buying a Blu ray player or putting the money towards upgrading my PC to handle HTPC duties, but not if it's going to cost far too much. I like the idea of building an HTPC because I want to play 720p files as well as Blu ray discs. I've got a good 720p projector which I sometimes use and the rest of the time use a 28" Panasonic CRT tv which has a better picture than any cheap plasma or LCD screen (hence why I've still got it).

    Firstly, is there any graphics card or motherboard with onboard graphics that would be able to output a signal to the tv, monitor and also be able to handle the HD home theatre duties? I'd also like it to be able to handle 1080p for the day when I finally give in and replace the crt tv.

    What bits should I be looking to buy? I don't play PC games, already got a full size ATX case w/ 500W PSU that I'm happy to keep in my lounge, already got a HDD so I'm looking at mobo+CPU+RAM or mobo+CPU+RAM+GFX but don't know which I should go for.
     
  2. andy1249

    andy1249
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    There are plenty of graphics cards out here at the moment capable of outputting to a CRT.
    Likewise there are motherboards that can do the same.

    However , graphics output to a CRT is usually limited to composite or S video , unless your TV can take a component signal in.

    That being the case , the picture is going to be poor at best , especially when trying to read destop icon text and menu text onscreen. This is where flat screens excel.

    your projector will do much better as a lot of cards can manage HD material over component or VGA connections.

    The best HTPC budget components at the moment are all HDMI capable , such as the various Gigabyte motherboards with HD3200 onboard graphics and upwards. They wont look good at all on a CRT though.

    Again with the Blu ray drives , LG do some very good budget drives , they all come with some version of PowerDVD and this can have lots of problems if you dont have a HDCP capable display device , which a CRT most definitely is not.
     
  3. peackshelb

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    FYI my HTPC has a scart output, but I don't know if these are still available, and it doesn't have an HDMI output.

    May I suggest, that if you could post the inputs available on your CRT, projector and monitor (and sound system/speakers if separate), you'll have a better chance of getting some concrete recommendations from the knowledgeable folk (like andy1249) around here.

    HTH :)
     
  4. andy1249

    andy1249
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    Wow , Ive seen a hell of a lot of HTPC's and never seen such a thing , was it off the shelf ? What model was it?
    Ive seen composite and s-video leads running into scart adaptors alright , but no actual scart connections on HTPC's.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  5. MX5BBRTURBO

    MX5BBRTURBO
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    Right-o!

    TV has scart input only (I currently connect to the TV using an S-video cable + adaptor, it's not amazing quality but is perfectly adequate for what I want to use it for - low def video e.g. BBC iPlayer when I don't want to darken the lounge to use the projector).

    LCD monitor is bog standard Compaq 15" (I use it whenever I want to read text e.g. general computer use such as posting badly thought out questions on AVForums) and I think has VGA input only.

    The projector is an Optoma HD65 and has most modern inputs (I have invested in a good quality HDMI cable which currently feeds it, it's fed by an annoying Cambridge Audio upscaling DVD player and the DVI output of my old PC, although the system sadly can't handle HD).

    Sound-wise I run separate amplifiers for my front, rear, centre and subwoofer speakers and as such I require line-level output for each channel but I've seen there's well respected sound cards that provide this that can be bought for under £30 so I'm not too concerned about whether the mobo does it or not.
     
  6. peackshelb

    peackshelb
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    It is a Medion - off the shelf from Aldi - yes the discount supermarket. :)

    Medions PCs a few years ago when I bought mine offered unbeatable value(A lot cheaper than building your own pc), but in recent years haven't been nearly as compelling. I haven't looked at the latest offering value-wise as I'm still happy with my current setup, but I notice that the latest Medion from Aldi still includes a scart output:
    ALDI - Thursday Special Buys 13th March 2008
     
  7. andy1249

    andy1249
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    Does it do RGB by any chance ?
     
  8. andy1249

    andy1249
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    Ive had a look here ,

    GIGABYTE - Product - Motherboard - Products


    And while there are plenty of boards with onboard graphics that will cover 2 out of 3 of your requirements , I cant come across one that covers all of them , ( at least not yet anyway ).
    What you need is a board with HDMI , VGA or DVI A ( both DVI and VGA analog) and an SD analog out , typically the latter is a modified S-video connection that lets you output both component and S-video.

    There are plenty of standalone graphics cards that do this though , but thats an extra expense.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
  9. MX5BBRTURBO

    MX5BBRTURBO
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    Thanks for having a look Andy!

    How much extra would the separate graphics card and motherboard cost? Would the motherboard be cheaper than one of the suggested Gigabyte ones, thereby offsetting some of the cost?
     
  10. peackshelb

    peackshelb
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    Mine doesn't, but the specs for the new one include component out. Just follow the link in my previous post and scroll down for a list of all the connections.
     

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