Building first HTPC, component advice needed.

jonhobbs

Standard Member
Hi,

This is the first time I've ever built a PC but Sky have annoyed me so I'm going to drop them and give it a go.

I've got a list of potential components and need some advice on whether they're all going to be compatible and whether they are good choicesetc. This is what I have so far.


Case OrigenAE HTPC Aluminium S16T Kustom PCs OrigenAE HTPC Aluminium S16T Black £522
Processor Pentium Dual Core E6300 2.8GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E6300 2.8GHz Socket 775 2MB Cache Retail Box Processor - Ebuyer £61
Motherboard ASUS P5QL/EPU iP43 Socket 775 ASUS P5QL/EPU iP43 Socket 775 8 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard - Ebuyer £60
Power Supply Be Quiet 400W Straight Power E7 Be Quiet 400W Straight Power E7 PSU - Ebuyer £52
Memory 2x Kingston 2GB DDR2 667MHz/PC2-5300 Kingston 2GB DDR2 667MHz/PC2-5300 Memory Non-ECC Cl5 - Ebuyer £70
2 satellite cards Hauppauge Hauppauge WinTV Nova-S2 HD/PCI Satellite High Definition Tuner DVB-S2 and DVB-S card - Ebuyer £180
Internal Hard Drive Samsung SpinPoint F1 HD103UJ Samsung SpinPoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 32MB Cache - OEM - Ebuyer £55
External Hard Drive WD 1TB Elements http://www.pcworld.co.uk/martprd/product/seo/959744 £63
Freeview Card Hauppauge WinTV Nova-TD 500 Hauppauge WinTV Nova-TD 500 Dual digital DVB-T PCI TV Tuner card - Ebuyer £50
Graphics card Asus 9600GT SILENT 512MB DDR3 DVI 90-C1CKSA-J0UAY00Z Asus GF EN9600GT SILENT/2D/512MD3 512MB DDR3 PCI-E DVI-I*2 HDCP IN £67
Blu-Ray Drive LG CH08LS10 Super Multi Blu-Ray Reader & DVD±RW LG CH08LS10 Super Multi Blu-Ray Reader & DVD±RW with LightScribe SATA Black - Full Retail Box With Software - Ebuyer £80

Total: £1260

Things to note about the choices...

1) I've picked a board with 3 PCI slots (not easy to find!) because I want to have 3 satellite cards and one freeview card.
2) I've tried to keep the components quiet by choosing a passive graphics card and a cool fan.
3) I've gone for 2 HDDs so that I can mirror them and have a backup of all my photos. Having an external one will also allow me to unplug it and easily transfer stuff from my other PC.
4) I've tried to make it fast enough to do HD video etc but not going to be gaming so haven't gone over the top with the speed.

So, do these seem like logical choices? Have I forgotten anything?

Any advice would be much appreciated.
 

Alphathon

Active Member
Well, it all looks compatible. The only thing I'm not sure about is the power supply (and by not sure, I meen I don't know how much power all those comonents draw so I don't know what you'd need).

You seem to have missed out the operating system, you'll have to add that to the price unless you go for some kind of linux distro. Also, you'll need software to run this stuff. The tuners (which are very good choices btw, I use the Nova-T-500 myself) should come with WinTV, which isn't great, and really isn't designed for a HTPC, but rather for mouse control. You could use Windows Media Center if you get Vista Home Premium or Ultimate (or Win 7 which has it. I don't know which versions have it, but probably Home Premium and Ultimate again) or you could try one of the free/open source alternatives. I personally use MediaPortal, which I like, but I use it on a desktop, so can't really judge. One really useful thing about it though is that you can stream live or recoreded TV to any other computer on your network.

Overall though, it seems a little overkill TBH. You really don't need a mirrored hdd setup for a HTPC, and that case seems very pricey - a quick google shows that they average £50-£150, not £500. The graphics card is also way too powerful, and it takes up two slots at the back, so it would cover up one of your PCI slots. You'll need to go for something smaller if you really want all 3 tuner cards. Incidentally, the Freeview card has dual tuners, so you'll have a total of 4 (unless the satellite ones are dual as well, although I don't see any mention of it).

P.S. I know how hard it is to find a board with that many slots on it these days, and I don't know why. They seem to be trying to push PCI-E x1, but there are so few cards that use it they're pretty much useless. That or or multiple PCI-E x16 for multiple graphics cards)
 
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tony_park

Active Member
Hi,

my system is fairly similar, just using the AMD route - I have a 450W power supply and have never had problems.

As Alphathon says, its a little overkill - I've run my media center on my onboard 8300, and its worked fine - just in media center, when you bring up menus etc, there is a little stuttering, but its decoded blu rays and HD DVDs fine.

Have you considered a network drive to store your photos, if you do go with media center (it comes with windows 7 HP, Professional and Ultimate), this can access these and can then be viewed on the tv.

Not sure how quiet the retail cpu coolers are that come with the intel chips, but you may want to go for something quieter - I'd recommend quietpc.com, they have an excellent range, and if you post something on their forums asking for advice, they're usually quick at responding.

With regards to your DVB-S cards, are you looking to just get the freesat channels or also encrypted channels? Without additional hardware, you'll only get freesat.

Thanks
Tony
 

jonhobbs

Standard Member
Thanks guys, really helpful replies.

In reply to some of the points you've raised.

Windows 7

I already bought a copy of this when they went up for pre-order (Home Premium) and I will be using MCE.

Case

Yeah, I'm aware this could be seen as overkill but it looks really cool with the touchscreen on the front. Having said that I'm not sure what you can actually do with the screen.

Graphics card

Taking up 2 slots is going to be a real problem so I'll have to have a look for another one. I want it to be able to handle everything without stuttering but have no idea what minimum speed you need for that. The motherboard doesn't appear to have any onboard graphics.

Storage

Network drive might be a good idea, although the second HDD isn't a major expense so I might just keep it.


The hardest thing for me is knowing that it's all going to fit together and be practical. I hadn't considered that the graphics card might take up 2 PCI slots, or that the processor might need a different fan to make it quieter so that's really useful.
 

darrylb

Active Member
Take a look at motherboards based on the nvidia 9300/9400 chipset in my opinion. They will easily handle your video needs for bluray etc unless you are looking to do a lot of gaming. Hard to get now but the MSI one is still about and I would highly recommend it.
 

Bossworld

Active Member
Look into PCI-e tuners, they're becoming more common. Blackgold are supposed to be releasing a new card soon, OK it won't be cheap (maybe ~£100) but it willl have dual DVB-S and dual DVB-T so it would be an excellent solution for your needs. Would also free up some slots.

Haven't got the time at work to look at your motherboard choice (so unsure of whether it's m-atx or not) but there seem to be some companies that put the only PCI-e slot on the board right in front of the PCI-e 16x (so that it's essentially unusable because of the graphics cooling solution). Only seen a few boards clever enough to use the one beind the PCI-e 16.
 

jonhobbs

Standard Member
I think the motherboard is my biggest problem at the moment.

I have chosen a new case which has a touch screen but is £100 cheaper - Cool and Quiet

http://cool-and-quiet.co.uk/images/images_big/mon-932b-1.jpg

[Mod Comment - Theydon Bois] Please do not embed images that you have not uploaded yourself.


Only problem is that is says this on their website....

If you are planning to use a Blu-ray optical drive it is recommended that you opt for a motherboard that is 194mm deep. This is because most Blu-ray drives are 200mm deep which will prevent a full size ATX motherboard (240mm deep) to be installed at the same time as a 240mm deep motherboard. This is why a motherboard of 194mm deep is recommended when using a Blu-ray optical drive.

So, it looks like I need a Micro-ATX board for that case and the chances of finding a Micro-ATX board with 3 PCI slots is nill I think.

What with the ultra quiet graphics card taking up the room occupied by 2 PCI-E slots it doesn't look like it's all going to fit at the moment, unless I wait for a dual sat card to come out.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Bossworld

Active Member
I think the motherboard is my biggest problem at the moment.

I have chosen a new case which has a touch screen but is £100 cheaper - Cool and Quiet

http://cool-and-quiet.co.uk/images/images_big/mon-932b-1.jpg

[Mod Comment - Theydon Bois] Please do not embed images that you have not uploaded yourself.

Only problem is that is says this on their website....



So, it looks like I need a Micro-ATX board for that case and the chances of finding a Micro-ATX board with 3 PCI slots is nill I think.

What with the ultra quiet graphics card taking up the room occupied by 2 PCI-E slots it doesn't look like it's all going to fit at the moment, unless I wait for a dual sat card to come out.

Seriously mate you don't need 3 PCI slots, blackgold have previously had a card out that did the same if you can't wait for the new one. I've currently got two PCI DVB-S tuners, which i've only been able to achieve through the use of a riser daughterboard - and that only works on the original motherboard, a swap would render the second slot useless. I'm using a USB DVB-T tuner (used to have a pair) but it was a daft way round, and as you're using newer kit, i'd opt for conveniance, especially as it's cheaper.

What you need is a board where there is at least one PCI-E slot not fouled by a graphics card, eg.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61jRVh1l-jL.jpg

[Mod Comment - Theydon Bois] Please do not embed images that you have not uploaded yourself.

Alright, you'll lose the one in front of the graphics card but at least it's got the one behind it. Your PCI slot should still be usable too (if desired)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Earl_Uk

Member
I have read on another thread that cases with the drive in the middle, although look cool, can have issues for the Graphics cards as there not been enough space for it.

Might be worth getting some exact dimensions.
 

jonhobbs

Standard Member
Seriously mate you don't need 3 PCI slots, blackgold have previously had a card out that did the same if you can't wait for the new one.

Hmm, maybe I'm being thick but I've done several searches for a dual DVB-S2 tuner card and can't see anything, not even on the blackgold website. Some of them call themselves "dual" cards because they can receive DVB-S or DVB-s2 but they are single tuner cards by the looks of it.
 

Bossworld

Active Member
Hmm, maybe I'm being thick but I've done several searches for a dual DVB-S2 tuner card and can't see anything, not even on the blackgold website. Some of them call themselves "dual" cards because they can receive DVB-S or DVB-s2 but they are single tuner cards by the looks of it.
This is the new one: BGT3595 - BlackGold

BlackGold BGT3540 and Pinnacle 7010ix were both dual DVB-S/DVB-T but no DVB-S2 unfortunately. Pinnacle card used to go for pennies too!
 

Cafe Racer

Active Member
Not sure if there's a reason why you've gone for one internal drive and one EXTERNAL, when you've gone for a case with 4 internal drive bays?
 

jonhobbs

Standard Member
Not sure if there's a reason why you've gone for one internal drive and one EXTERNAL, when you've gone for a case with 4 internal drive bays?

There are lots of reasons why I prefer to have an External drive for backups. Firstly it's easier to port your stuff to a new PC if it's external, or when you want to install a new OS. Secondly, it's much easier to just unplug it and plug it into a different pc to back it up or dump a load of massive video files on it.
 

jonhobbs

Standard Member
hmmm, just got a reply from blackgold...

Dear Sir,

We expect to release this to OEM system builders in December and to retail shortly afterwards.

Kind regards,

BlackGold Support

So, if I want my new PC this side of Christmas it looks like I'm going to have to either go for a different case with dual cards or stick with the same case and just use a single tuner until this card is released :(
 

Cafe Racer

Active Member
There are lots of reasons why I prefer to have an External drive for backups. Firstly it's easier to port your stuff to a new PC if it's external, or when you want to install a new OS. Secondly, it's much easier to just unplug it and plug it into a different pc to back it up or dump a load of massive video files on it.

Fair enough, I just checking that you knew it was external - seemed a bit crazy to buy such a big and expensive case, and then have an external drive! But, if you have a reason, you have a reason.
 

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