Can anyone help me build a HTPC

ddlo

Standard Member
Hi all,

Ive just got a tosh 37" 1080p lcd.

I am trying to build a HTPC as my current pc is too noisy and cant cut the mustard. Its a asus motherboard barton 3200 cpu, 2gig of ram, gforce 7600 gt. I cant even play HD-DVD/BLU-RAY smoothly at 720p never mind 1080p.
Its jerky.

My priorities are 100% smooth playback of both hd-dvd and blu-ray at 1080p with the most demanding titles with at little noise as possible. I do play the odd game but im not bothered too much about the res on games or whether they play smoothly.

I need a horizontal / desktop case to fit on my hifi rack (plenty of headroom so it can be a big case), preferably in black as all my hifi gear is black.

So far im thinking: -

Gigabyte GA_P35_DS4 motherboard £112
Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 CPU £110
Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 PC2-8500C5 1066MHz Memory £112

Im struggling with the graphics, I could do with a fanless card that has a hdmi socket.
So far I can only find the Gigabyte GV-NX76G256HI-RH 7600 GS.
I fear it wont cut the mustard.

Im also struggling with finding a decent case, lots of them are small form factor, I want a full blown atx case.

Any ideas?
Ive been searching all week, pulling my hair out now. I would of thought a few of these computer hardware sites would of made a category for HTPC stuff. Maybe they havent taken off.
 

SeanT

Distinguished Member
You could try looking at some of the other threads in this forum, and then ask more specific questions once you have, rather than someone pointing you towards places where these topics have been discussed in the last 24 hours...
 

badbob

Banned
Checkout Silverstone Lascala, pretty good prices. If you don't need the PC on your rack, and can place it elseware then you could just use a normal tower case instead. I have a Silverstone TJ-08 MATX and that's behind my LCD screen. I'm considering replacing that with a black Antec P180 so I can fit another HD, and at least easier to work in when I need to.

Onboard 6150 and ATI X300 is fine for 1080p, it's all down to CPU. So a basic £50 passive card will be fine (except for gaming)

The only difference between a normal PC and a HTPC is noise levels, you want quiet hard drives, passive motherboard and videocard, limited number of hard drives, quiet PSU and case fans. And IR receiver and MCE OS or Media Portal/other media centre front end.
 

ddlo

Standard Member
Yeah but I have a spare shelf on my hifi rack and want to feed it through the amp.
I would rather it be close to the hifi and use a longer hdmi lead an utilise the spare interconnect I already have to my valve pre amp.

Sorry for repeating what might be elsewhere, you can get lost in those threads. I have been reading around tho.
 

badbob

Banned
Why do you need full ATX size motherboard? Are you planning on fitting several PCI cards? Why not get a MATX motherboard/MATX case?

Antec NSK2400 or Antec Fusion are good enough for a HTPC, unless you want to fit 3 or more hard drives. Can fit ATI X1800XT no problem, standard ATX PSU size. Bit limited on CPU height (can't fit largest HSF ie Ninja/Tower) but a low profile heatpipe unit ie Thermelright SL-120 should fit.

This is a ATX case, with VFD. You'll still need a IR receiver and remote control, I believe you can get more expensive versions with IR receiver, close to £200.

ATX
http://www.silverstonetek.com/

MATX
http://www.thecoolingshop.com/product_info.php/manufacturers_id/108/products_id/2310
 

ddlo

Standard Member
I could consider the Antec fusion, it looks quite nice. A bit limitied on space and I worry about heating issues, especially since Ive had bad experiences with a shuttle pc. I could try it with the Asus P5K-VM Micro ATX
motherboard, that has 2 PCI slots. Hopefully I can turn off the onboard graphics.

I would be less worried with a bigger case but I suppose these are designed for the space consious.

I am planning on putting a HD satellite card in there and I have an expensive dal card deluxe pci card for converting vinyl.
 

ddlo

Standard Member
Do you think that an external usb hard drive is fast enough to play 1080p hd-dvd from?
 

badbob

Banned
Yes, easily. But USB enclosures are usually noisy with a little fan spinning away. A single USB enslosure is louder than my HTPC, which has 4x12 and 1x 8cm fans.

I suppose if you're planning to lots of cards then ATX is the way to go.
Onboard is fine for video 1080p playback, although it'll eat up some of your system RAM, so go for 2GB (1GB minus 128MB is just about ok for XP, but loading up applications will go over)

If you want suitable cooling and quietness, look at a case with 12cm intake and exhaust fans. It'll be quieter than a identical case with 6 or 8cm case fans.

A Antec P180 placed out of direct sight is quiet, with plenty of HD spacing, and suitable cooling. If using the Microsoft USB IR receiver it can be out of sight, and save space on your racking. Also much cheaper than a HTPC case, which really is the same thing, but more expensive. You don't need a VFD in a HTPC either.

You could pickup a second hand quiet tower case, build your HTPC up, and then later buy a nice HTPC case, a good one will cost £200+, so imo if you want a HTPC up and running put that into the hardware first.
 

fathazza

Active Member
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/ProductInfo.asp?WebProductID=465752
is quite a nice case for the money.

ati hd2600xt would probably do you for a graphics card as it has built in hdmi and had inbuilt HD video decoding on the card itself. The sapphire one is quite good as it comes with a voucher for half life 2: ep 2, portal and tf2. And is about £65

If i were you id probably spend a bit less on ram and spend 50 quid more to get the cheapest quad core cpu.

Although you could save yourself some cash and get an amd 690G motherboard with onboard HDMI (http://www.komplett.co.uk/k/ki.aspx?sku=335583) and an x2 4600 or above. (the two would set you back around £125 together)

A combo like that should decode 1080p video just fine. Tho they wont be much cop for games.
 

SeanT

Distinguished Member
As other discussions, quad core is largely unnecessary for an HTPC, AMD does represent a nice budget option too :)

The Coolermaster cases are worth a look too imho, good value too :)
 

Zarch

Well-known Member
As other discussions, quad core is largely unnecessary for an HTPC, AMD does represent a nice budget option too :)


Correct.

I've got a Core 2 Duo E4400, 2gb ram and a Asus/ATI 2600Pro graphics card and even the most processor intensive video files have the cpu at 40% and the graphics card around 50%.

See my thread for full specs etc.
 

enablerbro1

Well-known Member
How deep is your hifi rack because desktop cases tend to be as deep as a normal tower. If you really want to put your case on the rack then I'd start with trying to find a suitable case and then work from there. I'm guessing you'll wind up with a pretty slim case and so airflow will be limited which means, unless you're happy having a hurricane blowing through the thing, you'll want to run as efficient a setup as possible to limit heat. AMD AM2 and a 690G/V mobo will probably be a good start. Chuck in a "silent" 2400/2600 and you're away.

Finding the right case will be the tricky and, probably, expensive part.
 

ddlo

Standard Member
My hi fi rack shelf is 60cm wide, 19cm high anf 40cm deep. There is extra room between the rack and the wall. possibly 45cm deep.

Ive been looking around and I thinking of the mcubed classic case but it might burn a hole in my wallet, lol.
Would be nice to be totally silent especially with high end hifi.
Fan noise seems to stand out alot more using a hifi as apposed to the tv speakers, especially on breaks between adverts, goes totally silent with a hifi.
 

tinners

Well-known Member
Yep, with Zalman resistor cables (about £2 each) you can choose 12v/5v/7v for your fans.
In terms of fans Nexus 80mms are excellent even at 12v, Acoustifan or Nexus (Yate Loon) 120mms are also very quiet esp at 7v. You can actually buy off the shelf 5v and 7v versions of the Nexus 120mms.

In terms of noise, the only thing I can hear on my system is the bluray disc drive when it spins up. When I first built the machine I could hear the system hard drive I had in (160Gb Seagate) but I've now replaced that with a 2nd HD501LJ 500Gb and now I cant hear anything :)
(Vista keeps using the system drive for some indexing or something so this means it's going all the time and needs to be a silent drive.)

For info I moved from a Silverstone LC16M to a Zalman HD160. The build quality of the Zalman is a huge improvement over the Silverstone in my opinion. In addition the LC16 is restrictive in terms of the graphics and DVD drives you can use and also is a pain to work in.
 

badbob

Banned
You don't need to buy in line resistor cable, just do the 7v molex mod. Just be careful and don't use the Y splitter for other 12v items, just fans.
 

SeanT

Distinguished Member
Running two fans at 6V or 3 fans at 4V is really easy too :)
 

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