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First HTPC

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by fraggle, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. fraggle

    fraggle
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    Hi all,

    About to take the plunge into the HTPC playground :)

    I've decided on a Silverstone LC11M case.

    OS will be Linux, with MythTV and bits, and suitable drivers for the VFD and IR.

    Couple of 250GB hdds (Samsung Spinpoint I fancy - got one and its nice and quiet)

    I'd like it to have a decent Athlon 64 CPU in it, and a gig or two of RAM. And a good DVD-/+R/RW drive.

    Now I know this machine can have 3 cards in it, one AGP or PCI-X and another two PCI slots, so I'm thinking of some sort of decent GFX card, good quality VGA output, and S Video / RGB / component & composite capture. (component not too bothered about, got converters :) )

    Not bothered about DVI or HDCP output, as my Panny plasma apparently gives a better picture when driven by its VGA input, and I can get 1:1 pixel mapping as well.

    HDCP INPUT would be desirable, as I could daisychain say Sky+ HD into the box?

    I also want preferable two digital TV (freeview) tuners in there as well, so thats the other two PCIs taken up. (or are there dual digi tuner PCI cards out there?)

    So I'm after suggestions for suitable graphics cards, DV tuner cards (dual if they exist), HDCP input cards?, suitable micro ATX mobos (there's a restriction on the mobos that can be used in these cases, they've GOT to have the AGP/PCI-X slot in position 1 with a PCI slot in position 2).

    The whole systems got to be powerful enough to easily cope with (for example) playing an HD DVD (doing the scaling/deinterlacing/line doubling, etc), recording another and maybe streaming MP3 audio out to the local network (it'll be used as a music and film server for other machines throughout the house). I realise the bottleneck will be disk read/write speed but I've seen >50MB/s from those Samsung drives!

    Working out some rough figures:-
    Standard DVD is 10Mbps bitrate = 1MBps, so streaming that off HDD and recording the same should be no problem at all.
    HiDef is (I think?) 4 x the bitrate? So doing simultaneous read/write again that should still be a max of 4MBps write and 4MBps read. Can't just simply add those together as the little HDDs head will be rattling like mad between the play and record files :(

    Playing a HD DVD and recording to HDD should be fine, as they're different devices.

    Anyway, has anyone got any recommendations on the hardware bits I need please?

    And any thoughts or experience with building a HD capable system that is capable of doing timeslip on an HD signal? I just can't imagine any HDD is fast enough nowadays to cope with the amount of data, along with the one HDD head doing both reading and writing?


    Cheers!
     
  2. Skunkpipe

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    With the LC11M case, consideration should be given to the motherboard you choose because of the layout requirements for the riser cards.
    You have 2 options.
    Any PCI/AGP based mATX motherboard will fit using the risers supplied with the case.

    If you want a PCIExpress based motherboard you need to source a mATX motherboard that has a PCI slot next tothe PCI-Express x16 slot - unfortunately most motherboards have a PCI-Express x1 slot here. This makes fitting the PCI riser impossible in the LC11M.
    There is one PCI-Express board with the correct layout and so is particulary suited to the LC11M - the MSI RS480-ML2-IL. This board is a AMD64 Socket 939 board and has all the bits you need for a HTPC including firewire SPDIF, tv-out and onboard Radeon X300 graphics etc. If you want to upgrade the graphics though, dont forget you need to purchase a PCI-Express riser for the LC11M (about £20)
     
  3. jrosado

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    Hi:

    I'm also thinking in bulding my first HTPC using the LC11M to connect to my Panny VGA input.

    For the motherboard, i will go to the MSI RS-480. For now, i will be using the on board graphics card. I will be ading an Hauppage PVR150 TV Card for analog TV and a Technisat Skystar for Satelite DVB. That will fill the two PCI slots. Later i may had a PCI-e card. I still have to decide on the DVD drive.
     
  4. fraggle

    fraggle
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    Ok, hardware ordered...

    Silverstone LC11M
    MSI RS480M2-IL
    AMD Athlon 64 3000+
    1GB Corsair TwinX D-DDR RAM
    2 x 250GB Samsung Spinpoint P120S SATA II
    LG GSA-4167SBB DVD-/+R/RW/RAM DL
    Hauppauge WinTV-Nova-T MCE PCI OEM

    Oh, and Scan persuaded me to order Win XP MCE for £75 so I'll install that first and see how good/bad it is :)

    That'll do to start with, to set it up and get everything going.

    I would have liked an Hauppauge WinTV-HVR1300, twin (analogue & digital terrestrial) tuners, hardware MPEG 2 compression, but couldn't find any drivers for it for linux/mythTV.
    I may get one once I find drivers, it'd be nice to be able to watch one channel and record another, and have S Video inputs to the HTPC :)
     
  5. nickwild

    nickwild
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    I'm just speccing up a similar system but based around windoze... what GFX did you order for this or are you using the on-board graphics
     
  6. jrosado

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    Hi:

    Why did you decide for LG Drive? I'm considering the ASUS drive with the DDSSII, in order to have the minimal noise from the drive.
     
  7. fraggle

    fraggle
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    I'm going with the onboard graphics to start with, I'm going to get a Panny 42HD8 and the onboard should be able to drive 1024x768, so long as the video output is nice and clean.

    If its not upto much I'll get another GFX card.
     
  8. fraggle

    fraggle
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    <looks at drive spec>
    Interesting stuff about the DDSS technology.

    I went for the LG as its one of the top 3 drives (LG, BenQ and NEC). I've got an NEC drive (with custom firmware) and I find it excellent at writing DVDs (+R and -R), and I thought I'd try the LG as I fancy -RAM write as well.

    For playback you can fix the rotation speed to something like 2x anyway which should lower any vibration noise a lot anyway (as far as I know you can do this anyway)

    Also since the LG is a very popular drive there'll be plenty of customised firmware for it, increasing write speeds for slower DVD R/RWs, letting you set booktypes, adding compatinility with new media types, etc.

    I'd check that there are people doing this for the Asus drive.

    (I know there's loads of firmwares for the LG4163, the 4167 is the new version of it and whilst I don't know yet if theres people customising firmware for it yet, its a fairly firm bet there is/will be :) )
     

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