Here is my New HTPC Build

Lugger

Standard Member
Firstly, hello all, and secondly what a great site this is. I hav done some research here (read the FAQ etc) and have come to the following conclusions thus far:


Existing Hardware
  • Amp: Technics SA-DX930 supporting Dolby Prologic, Dolby Digital AC-3 and DTS
  • Plasma: Panasonic TH42PWD6 (non-HD) with SCART and VGA connections
  • Auto switch-box that my DVD player, Sky+ and Wii plug into, as my plasma only has a single Scart input
  • 5x B&W speakers for surround sound, no sub-woofer
Requirements
  • Will transfer all my DVDs and CDs onto a local internal HDD so I can pack them away in the loft and have a tidy/smart living room again!
  • HTPC to be future-proof in terms of being HD-ready, as I shall be upgrading my poor old plasma to an HD one in the near future
  • May install freesat card or carry out the Sky+ mods to watch TV through the HTPC, again sometime in the future
  • Budget of below £500
Proposed Hardware List
Questions

  • Am I wasting my time as I only have an old plasma? Some specs I found online are here (may be inaccurate):
    • Aspect Ratio 16:9
    • Number of pixels 852 x 480
    • Contrast Ratio 3000:1
    • Brightness 400cd/m²
    • Pixel Pitch 1.08mm
    • Displayable Colours 16.77 million colours
    • Colour System NTSC, PAL, PAL60, SECAM, Modified NTSC
    • Scanning Format 525i (480i), 625i (575i), 525p (480p), 625p (575p), 750p (720p),1125/60i,50i,
      24p, 24SF (1080/60i, 50i, 24p, 24SF).....SMPTE 274M
    • PC Signals VGA display, VGA, (SVGA,XGA,SXGA,UXGA compressed)
    • Horizontal scanning frequency 15.5 - 110kHz
    • Vertical scanning frequency 48 - 120Hz
  • I think the motherboard has SPDIF output which I can use to connect directly to my amp. Is this the best way to go with my setup?
  • Does the rest of the hardware look ok, it should do as it has been cribbed from here hehe!!
  • I have various options with O/S and can install licensed copies of XP, Vista or Windows 7. Basically I do not mind, but want a great looking frontend software install, any recommendations? Was going 32bit O/S as 64bit drove me driver-mad on my gaming PC.
  • Am I better off connecting my HTPC via VGA to the plasma or via a composite/scart connection which would have to go through my switchbox.
  • Have I missed anything?
Thanks all, in advance. If I go ahead with this it will be soon, and yes I will do a progress report with pictures and post it all here.
 
Last edited:

Theydon Bois

Distinguished Member
Looks like a good build, and welcome to the board!

I think the motherboard has SPDIF output which I can use to connect directly to my amp. Is this the best way to go with my setup?

Does the rest of the hardware look ok, it should do as it has been cribbed from here hehe!!
I have various options with O/S and can install licensed copies of XP, Vista or Windows 7. Basically I do not mind, but want a great looking frontend software install, any recommendations? Was going 32bit O/S as 64bit drove me driver-mad on my gaming PC.

Am I better off connecting my HTPC via VGA to the plasma or via a composite/scart connection which would have to go through my switchbox.

Have I missed anything?

SPDIF out is a good way to get your sound through the amp, and is the way I use.

32 bit is better for you simply because you dont have in excess of 4Gb of RAM, nor are likely to use many 64 bit apps. For frontends, I use the Media Portal with the StreamedMP skin, very easy to set up. Check the sticky for more and see which you like - they are all free...

Connect via VGA.

Dont think so, (unless you want to add a remote?) but thats why its best to ask :smashin:
 

Lugger

Standard Member
Going to order the parts this weekend I think. Under pressure from she-who-must-be-obeyed as we are hoping to move house, so I may need to adopt some creative accounting ;)

Currently got all my DVDs on my gaming PC and they take up 1.2TB :eek: so I am contemplating buying a 1.5TB drive instead of 1TB, enabling me to expand this further with a second one in the future etc. Each DVD/vob uses about 6GB, I assume vobs are the right (only?) way to go?

I shall let you all know how I get on and upload pics once I get started. In the meantime I shall be reading about the software as I am currently lost on the different combinations available hehe.
 

wolvers

Distinguished Member
This is what I would do; Get a 1.5tb drive for storing all of your stuff on and also a 320gb drive for your OS.

Also, keep all of your stuff that's on your Gaming pc still as a backup.
 

Lugger

Standard Member
Update to my original idea, which was put on hold by the disappearance of the motherboard I was after :confused:


Motherboard
1 x ASRock M3A790GMH/128M Motherboard AMD Socket AM3 AMD 790GX+SB750 MicroATX RAID Gigabit LAN (Integrated AMD Radeon HD 3300 Graphics)

CPU
AMD Phenom II X2 Dual Core (545) 3.0GHz Processor L2 Cache 2x512KB Socket AM3

Memory
1 x 4GB 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 (9-9-9-27) DIMM (Kit of 2)

Power Supply
1 x Akasa Ult quiet PSU 460w Blue fan 24

Hard Disk
1 x HD Caviar GP/1.5TB SATA III 7200rpm 32MB

Case
Antec Fusion Remote (Black)

Optical Drive
Will be getting the LG Blu-Ray HD DVD H20L drive

  • I think that motherboard is ideal for an HTPC, looks like it should be
  • Going for 4GB of RAM, do people use 32bit or 64bit O/S (I shall be installing Windows 7) and are there problems with the 64bit version at all?
  • That PSU claims to be ultra-quiet at 18dB so again seems ideal. I appreciate it is higher-powered than I need right now.
  • The 2TB drives are still a bit too expensive for me, so going for the 1.5TB version for local storage. I can always add another in as required
  • The case has a remote so I assume I can simply connect up the infra-red header on the MoBo and I am up and running?
What do you chaps think?

Thanks all.
 

Mr_E

Active Member
Spec looks fine (your case looks very similar to mine). I didn't bother with 4 gig when I built mine a year or so ago, but memory is cheap so stick it in.

  • I think the motherboard has SPDIF output which I can use to connect directly to my amp. Is this the best way to go with my setup?

This is exactly what I do to connect to my old Nakamichi. And it works well. Beware of a couple of things.

BluRay won't output HD sound via SPDIF (standard 5.1 sounds pretty good to me).

Potential for sync issues between vision and sound - depends on the delays through panel and amp. Mine appears fine, but I may just be lucky.

If you move to a more modern amp and want to push HDMI out of the GFX card into the amp, and then from the amp to the panel, ensure that your GFX card is HDMI out (with audio) and not DVI (no audio).
 

Lugger

Standard Member
Spec looks fine (your case looks very similar to mine). I didn't bother with 4 gig when I built mine a year or so ago, but memory is cheap so stick it in.



This is exactly what I do to connect to my old Nakamichi. And it works well. Beware of a couple of things.

BluRay won't output HD sound via SPDIF (standard 5.1 sounds pretty good to me).

Potential for sync issues between vision and sound - depends on the delays through panel and amp. Mine appears fine, but I may just be lucky.

If you move to a more modern amp and want to push HDMI out of the GFX card into the amp, and then from the amp to the panel, ensure that your GFX card is HDMI out (with audio) and not DVI (no audio).

Yes I figured I might as well stick in 4GB of RAM, as you say, its cheap enough to do so these days.

You made me panic about the SPDIF as I hadn't checked this other motherboard had one.....but it does phew!
 

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