hcpc build help


Prominent Member
hi im new to all this and i wanna build a hcpc, i have choosen a accent 400ht case and ill most likely use a 400wat psu

the rest i am unsure of should a i get an amd or p4, and what speeds?? people say the amd is better? should i get the amd 64 3800 939 or 3500 939 pin??

i wanna use the pc in conjuntion with my pioneer ax5 and pioneer 505xde - i want the pictures to be hidef etc and the sound dd/dts

can you recommend the best motherboard/graphics card/soundcard - anything as i am in a real dilema.

quitepc rec the nec dvd burner which i will most likely go for as it fits perfect in the case, and i want to get minimum of 160gb h/d sata and 300g/b sata..

please help - many thanks :lease:


Established Member
The choice of CPU is sometimes taken too seriously :), there's really no fundamental difference between P4s and XP+s and AMD64s (except for the latter's POTENTIAL benefits when/if 64-bit software arrives) especially when it comes to use in an HTPC. Cost of processors and motherboards can play a part, as can mobo features, for example some of the latest boards for P4s include Dolby Digital Live, on-board Dolby Digital encoding, which can be very helpful in some applications.

That said, my own system is a 3.0 P4 on an ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe board, which is very common and popular, rock solid stability and with mild BIOS-based overclocking if the mood takes you. Northwood's are to be preferred to Prescott's due to less heat generation. Also many people disable the HT feature, I do, it's not uncommon to find playback glitches which go away when HT is disabled).

There are two main choices of graphics cards I think it's fair to say now, Radeon 9600 or nVidia 6200/6600. nVidia 6600GTs are very popular but I see regular reports of stuttering using these cards on systems which are clearly not overloaded, so I remain sceptical of them, I used a 6800GT for a while but had problems with getting 50hz to my H77 projector whereas the 9600 is fine.

For a soundcard it depends on your setup. If you're using S/PDIF to a receiver then the on-board one will usually suffice IMX. Popular soundcards include the M-Audio Revolution 5.1 and 7.1 or further up-maket RMEs.

Be careful about using NEC drives as per QuietPC's recommendation, I could be wrong but I think I recall someone posting on here some weeks ago that the latest NECs had problems with the 400HT .. try using Search on "NEC and QUIETPC" perhaps, or call them to enquire.

Common advice on disks is to go for Seagate Barracudas.


Established Member
Like many things in the PC world personal preference/prejudice often counts more than technical specs. While there are certainly cases of 'x sucks' there are very few cases of 'x is best' unconditionally, beware those who make such assertions without justification. ;)


Outstanding Member
Get an Athlon 64 3200+ Winchester 90nm chip, plenty fast enough for FFDshow and Hidef stuff and a bargain at £125 http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/prod...2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=83377 . For the motherboard it depends whether you want to go PCI express or not. I did originally and had all sorts of problems so went back to AGP, I think seeing as AGP is perfectly good enough for HTPC duties and is more tried and tested I'd be tempted to go for that. The Asus A8V deluxe is very good (that's what I'm using) , costs about £80 but it's feature packed and stable. Another thing to consider with the mboard is if you are going to fit a non standard CPU heatsink/fan e.g. Zalman 7000cu. It's possible but how easy depends on how the standard backplate is attached to the motherboard. In the case of the Asus A8V it's glued on and I had to get a hairdryer to it to heat up the glue in order to be able to remove the backplate and replace it with the one you need for the Zalman cooler. It's a scary proposition but in my case it all worked out fine, just something to bear in mind! If you're happy to use the standard AMD heatsink/fan this isn't an issue at the expense of some decibels..... As for the graphics card, if you've got the AGP route for the motherboard then just something like a Radeon 9600 non pro will be fine, seems to be working well in my setup. For PCI express then a Radeon X600 perhaps, if you want a good all round card i.e. very good for games as well as HTPC duties then an Nvidia 6600GT is a good bet, about £150 though but it's about as good as it gets at the moment for HTPC duties to be honest. As for a soundcard, you may well find you don't need one, at least to start with. I'm not using one at the moment and am perfectly happy with the sound, just use the SPDIF output on the motherboard and send the output to your amp. I'd do that to start with and if you find you can't live with it add a soundcard later. DVD burner, NEC 3520A is good, Plextor 716A is very nice and very short but expensive! Do you need any video capture capability, if so analogue (e.g. from Sky box) or Digital Freeview? Choice of capture card is dictated a lot by what OS you are going to use, with WinXP Pro you have a choice of e.g. Sweetspot for analogue capture or the Nebula DVB card for freeview reception. If you use Win MCE 2005 (I think MCE 2005 is excellent personally) then the black gold cards are the best Freeview option or something like a Hauppage PVR-150MCE for analogue capture from e.g. Sky.

Hope that helps , I know what it's like, I changed my spec I don't know how many times before I settled on what I have now and so far it's working very very well.. in case you're interested this is what I went for:-

Claritas 390A case
Silenx 280W matx PSU
Athlon 64 3200 Winchester (Cooled by Zalman 7000Cu)
Asus A8V Deluxe Motherboard
Radeon 9600 Graphics card
Geil 1GB Dual Channel Ram
Plextor 716A DVD Burner
Hauppage PVR-150MCE (from Gigtek)
Seagate Barracuda 160GB HD
Win MCE 2005
Gyration Ultra Keyboard/Mouse
Theatertek 2 installed and thoroughly recommended!

The above combination is VERY quiet (the HD is the loudest component!). If you're interested I'll take some pics later of it in operation showing what MCE 2005 is all about and how it looks once set up....



Prominent Member
sounds good mate - pics would be a real help - quitepc sell the case with imon software and remote i was told it was good - do u know if it is?


Established Member
The iMon inside is nice for one big reason, you can power-on the system from the remote. I use it to drive TheaterTek, it's pretty easy to configure but it's not the most powerful of tools, still since it's 'free' it's worth installing I think. I also have an ATI Remote Wonder, one of the few wireless remotes.


Outstanding Member
Well if you do end up going for MCE 2005 you get a remote with it anyway which might make the Imon less of a neccessity. Especially since the next release of Theatertek is fully compatible with the MCE remote which is nice! The Claritas case is very nice by the way! I'll sort some pics out, been meaning to do it for ages so this is as good an excuse as any!



I settled on the ASUS A8V with 3200 A64 and currently on-board sound at the heart of my HTPC, the same as Andy. I am currently using a Radeon 9800pro GFX as that is what I had in my donor computer which got transplanted into the Silverstone LC10M case. It seems a fairly common choice of mobo/cpu with enough power for today and scope to add a bigger CPU in the future if you need it.
I have imon inside and have yet to set it up with TT2, maybe Kragon would be kind enough to send me a copy of his config file to save me having to input it myself ;)


Established Member
Actually I didn't do the work myself, I took a 1.5 config which someone linked to in TT's forum and made minor changes after looking at that and understanding how it works.

TT's site is down at the moment .. getting rather regular, let's hope no-one's trying to activate :rolleyes: .. so I've uploaded the orignal download to my website, it's a 2k .ZIP with a small README and the config file, nothing executable to worry about. ;)

I'll happily give you the file I developed but I can't get at my HTPC from work but it's very easy once you see an example and there aren't many very useful new hotkeys, for my use at least.


Outstanding Member
Ok.. some pics. First time I used my new camera (Panny FZ3) so wasn't really sure what I was doing with it and it shows! Quite disappointed how blurred a lot of these came out (think I needed the handshake reduction on!) but they'll give you an idea anyway...

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000002.jpg - this is the main MCE2005 screen
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000003.jpg - highlighted the My Music option and it shows thumbnails of the cover art the most recently played albums
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000004.jpg - now in the My Music option, as you can see it shows cover art for all albums it finds, all my music is stored on my PC upstairs (the one I'm using now) and MCE finds it and plays it back over the wireless network with no dropouts whatsoever
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000005.jpg - When you select an album it displays a track list and gives you other options e.g. create a cd of it
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000006.jpg - now in My Movies, this is an MCE2005 plugin, you tell it what dvds you've got and it does the rest i.e gets the cover/cast info etc. This is the main screen where you have cover art for your dvds
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000008.jpg - select a movie and it gives you an overview, you can also select cast & more....
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000009.jpg - where it will list the actors and you can then get a biography of each actor like here...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000010.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000011.jpg - a WMVHD demo clip hidef, trust me it looks a lot better than this in real life!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000012.jpg - and another WMVHD clip
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000013.jpg - the TV guide, 14 days with info about the programs, very useful
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000014.jpg - select a programme and you get an overview and options to record it etc
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000015.jpg - live TV
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000017.jpg - The online showcase section, you can stream music, get news bulletins etc...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000018.jpg - The Reuters news screen, you can click on any of the thumbnails to get a video news bulletin, pretty cool
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000019.jpg - New things are being added all the time, haven't installed this yet but I might...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000020.jpg - the MSN music main screen (haven't used this yet to be honest)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000021.jpg - it's got a nice ART gallery you can use with loads of collections available, again quite a nice feature
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000022.jpg - In the My Pictures section now, gives you a thumbnail for the pics, again these are all stored on my PC upstairs and are streamed to the HTPC over the network, the slideshow is cool as it does nice transitions between photos
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v136/zAndy1/HTPC Pics/P1000031.jpg - Last but not least a 6ft wide AV Forums!

Hope that gives you an idea of what can be achieved. It was all very easy really with MCE2005, I spent ages trying to achieve something like this using other software e.g. Meedio/ MyHTPC but it was nowhere near as easy as this was!


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