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Help........One confused MCE newbie here ;o(

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows' started by smokey182, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. smokey182

    smokey182
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    Right, I have been reading up on MCE and want to take the plunge but dont know the best way to go about it and have been advised by a close friend to ask on here as your a helpful bunch

    Right heres what I have got

    Sony Vaio FS315b Laptop
    Home built very high spec PC in the office (AMD FX55 CPU, 2 x 300GB Maxtor HDD, 2gb memory, 2 x 256mb 6800GT Ultra's, WIFI card & Asus MOBO)
    Denon Hifi in living room
    Sony Wega wide screen TV soon to be replaced with a 42" Plasma
    Sky+ box in living room
    Multi room box in Bedroom
    Cat 5 cabling in every room in the house
    Linksys 4 port router

    What hardware do I need to link everything together

    I have been looking at the airport extreme or airport express but these dont look good enough for what I want so I would like to go MCE in the living room.

    Any help much appreciated as I would like to get this all set up over the coming weekend

    Thanks in advance

    Smokey
     
  2. lisag

    lisag
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    If you want MCE you need to install it as an O/S on your existing laptop/desktop, you can either then have that live in the lounge, or use an extender device (more about this later) in the lounge, running from the MCE machine. Or build a new lounge friendly MCE machine.

    MCE requires a supported graphics card (6800gt is fine) a supported tv card, and a supported dvd codec, along with some drivers and other tweaks that we can help you with later.

    So, do you want the MCE machine to live in the lounge, or do you want to look at an extender? The existing Cat5 cable and router will make all of this fairly straightforward.

    lisa
     
  3. smokey182

    smokey182
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    To be honest im not 100% sure what i want.

    What do you suggest?

    I do alot of downloading via p2p so would ideally like to keep the office PC seperate from the MCE machine incase of virii or trojans etc as I would hate to lose all my pics, music and movies (which is about 240gig of media)

    The laptop is primarily used for my business and to surf the net in the living room.

    Should i get myself a swish case for the living room? If so do you suggest I use all my high end hardware in the MCE machine and dig out my old AMD 1700 cpu and MOBO for the office p2p machine or vice versa?

    Should i use the full 600gig HDD in the MCE machine and buy an 80gig hdd for the p2p machine?
    Is a FX55 cpu overkill for a MCE machine?
    Is 2 gig or RAM overkill also?

    Should I go water cooled if having the machine in the lounge?

    I forgot to mention I would also like to be able to use the Laptop wirelessly anywhere in the house/garden

    Thanks for you help and sorry for all the dumb newbie questions :suicide:
     
  4. smokey182

    smokey182
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    Oh and I also have got Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Pro and 7.1 surround sound system which I would like to incorporate into my system.
     
  5. lisag

    lisag
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    Well storage isn't really a problem, as you have a home network you should be able to access anything from any hard drive on any machine via the network and file sharing. You may want to think about NAS (network added storage) which means that you would not have to keep any one machine switched on to access files, but all machines will be able to access files from the NAS whenever.

    An 'ideal' set up for an MCE machine is something along the lines of....
    3ghz CPU
    1gb Ram
    Small partition/hdd for O/S
    Bigger partition/hdd for recorded tv (roughly 1gb per hour of tv)
    TV card (or two for watching one channel and recording another, or recording two channels at the same time - for Sky you will need to connect two set top boxes for this to work)
    A decent graphics card, recommend the nvidia 6600 and purevideo codec, available passively cooled and silent.
    I assume you would use spdif out to an av receiver for sound, so a budget-ish sound card with 24bit support, or onboard sound would do.
    And a nice case, with silent fans and maybe a front vfd/lcd display?
    Also a good quality quiet psu - around 350W
    You could watercool if you want, but if you do some reseacrh on silent cases and cooling it probably isn't necessary.

    That's my opinion anyway - have fun
    lisa
    :)
     
  6. Pbryanw

    Pbryanw
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    I'm also interested in creating an MCE machine. My PC's specs are as required so it's really the software that I've got questions about:

    1. For example, can I use Theatertek for DVD playback and if not how does the inbuilt DVD player compare (can it use FFDSHOW?) and what DVD codecs would I need for an ATi graphics card?

    2. If I want to use the PC to connect to the Internet does it use a Media style interface or Internet Explorer? And if I want to use MS Office can I still install and use it even on an MCE machine?

    3. Does MCE boot up quicker then Windows XP? I don't really want to wait 2 minutes to watch TV or play a DVD.

    Thanks

    Val
     
  7. lisag

    lisag
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    You can use TT via the My Movies plug-in and then have ffdshow set up to run with TT. This is a little bit of hassle but should be seamless when set up, it does mean that you need to add all of your films to the my movies database first. Or just use the default MCE player which should be the same quality wise as MP10 Any of the supported dvd codecs here would work ok with ATI graphics, you could try different ones to see which you prefer.

    You can't surf the net from within the MCE interface, you need to drop out of it - or window it, and then use your usual browser. MCE is XP Pro with the MCE interface as an addition, you still use normal XP from outside of MCE.

    Boot time is the same as XP, but most people either leave it switched on or use S3 stanby - but that's another story!

    lisa
     
  8. Pbryanw

    Pbryanw
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    Thanks for that :smashin: . I think I might install MCE on a second hard-drive and keep XP on my boot HD, then swap between them as required using the BIOS.

    More questions to come I expect but that's all I needed to know for now.
     
  9. boez

    boez
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    Val

    Just for information but MCE *is* just Windows XP SP2. All the MCE 2005 edition adds is a couple of services (one is for getting TV listings in the background) and an application (which you can run like any normal application) to get into the 'sexy' looking interface. You can set it up so that after XP boots MCE runs automatically and so you dont get to see the desktop.

    As lisag says, its possible to have the PC go into S3 standby if your motherboard supports that mode (be sure to enable the BIOS option BEFORE you install MCE). However, a few problems are reported with this enabled, for example my system seems to randomly wake up overnight and so I just power down completely. My reboot time is very short so not too much of a hassle. Also the services I mentioned above have some kind of memory leak and so over time without a reboot performance will degrade. Rollup 2 (a kind of service pack for MCE) 'overcomes' this problem by killing the services and re-starting them periodically - an elegant solutuion or what?!! :suicide:

    HTH
    Andy
     
  10. Pbryanw

    Pbryanw
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    Boez, thanks for clearing that up. I assume it'll be based on XP Home and not XP Professional, in which case I might migrate to MCE then instead of setting up two systems.
     
  11. fraggle

    fraggle
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    Smokey: I agree with everything Lisa says.

    I'd keep your main machine for what you use it for now, its way overspecified for an MCE machine, keep the laptop (if you wanted to convert a laptop into an MCE machine you'd need to use USB tuners, USB soundcards, etc, etc and it'd look ugly).

    Use the spec lisa gave you and build a new MCE machine using a nice cool case (Silverstone make some lovely ones).

    This will let you do a number of cool things like play recorded TV across the network on your main machine and laptop, and also play the movies stored on your main machine on the MCE on your plasma! :)
     
  12. nigelbb

    nigelbb
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    You assume wrong. It's a superset of XP Professional with a couple of features disabled.
     
  13. Pbryanw

    Pbryanw
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    Good, that's what I like to hear :smashin: (Sorry for the thread hijack btw :( )
     

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