HTPC Build Advice £300 possible?

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by BiffBoy, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    Hi guys,

    Having just purchased a new 32¨ LCD I am not saving up and planning to build a HTPC. I want it to replace my Humax Freeview recorder, my Xbox running XBMC and my DVD player. It will be used for the following

    Watch & Upscale DVD´s to 720p
    Watch & Upscale TV/Film DIVX files to 720p
    Stream MP3´s from NAS (already got this)
    Record/Pause etc TV
    Future - Blu-Ray and/or HD-DVD drives added.
    Future - Rip BRD & HD-DVD to NAS or internal drive.
    Future - possible re-encode ripped HD media to 720p

    It will also be used as a PC (email and stuff) but only very rarely as it´s going to live in my lounge. It will also play the odd game, but I´m not too fussed on a huge spec to cope with the latest games as anything I build now will be 100x better than my current PC!

    Overall I want to see how cheap I can make a system that will do this.

    This is the spec I have come up with so far - plz let me know what you think and suggest any alternatives or glaring mistakes!

    CASE:

    Looking at these -
    Extra Value Black Opera ATX Desktop Case 500W PSU (20+4 pin) - £39.98
    http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/prod...hvd19wcm9kdWN0X3Jldmlld3M=&product_uid=125291
    or
    Extra Value Sonata MATX MediaCenter Case - With 220W PSU 20+4pin - £39.99
    http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/127950

    CPU:
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.1GHz) Socket AM2 Energy Efficient L2 1MB (2x512KB) Cache Retail Boxed Processor - £42.25

    MOTHERBOARD:
    ECS RS485M-M V1.0 Socket AM2 Sata onboard VGA (Radeon X300-based) and Audio (Realtek ALC655 6-Channel audio) mATX - £28.42

    HDD:
    Seagate ST3500630AS 500GB Hard Drive SATAII 16MB Cache 7200RPM OEM - £64.95

    Memory:
    Kingston 1GB DDR2 533MHz PC2 4200 Non ECC CL4 1.8V Unbuffered Dimm 240 pin - £20.45

    Tuner Card:
    Hauppauge WinTV Nova T 500 Dual digital DVB T PCI TV Tuner card - £54.95

    Total - £251

    I already have WinXP and MCE2005 but will probably go with one of the free MCE clones, like GBPVR (I think it´s called) or a Linux version so s/w is sorted.

    I know this will be a pretty low spec compared to some peoples systems, but if it can accomplish what I need and will be quiet enough to use in my lounge then I would be happy.

    There are PCI slots available for maybe a better VGA card and I was wondering if the VGA connection will give me a good picture onto my LCD or should I consider a better VGA card with HDMI out?

    Also, SPDIF out would be good to connect to my Amp.

    Well, there you go, please advise away as I am sure I need it! :D
     
  2. tinners

    tinners
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    With youre requirements I would recommend you go the Intel rather than AMD route, and also the F190 motherboard has better graphics which will even support HD and HDMI.

    E2160 ~ £48.99
    Abit Fatal1ty F-I90HD ~ £64.61 (HDMI & SPDIF)
    Samsung 500Gb HD501LJ ~ £62 from ebuyer (have 2 of these they're very quiet)
    1Gb Corsair Value Select PC5300 ~ £21.84 (slightly faster memory for no more money)
    Case - £40 (up to you)
    Hauppauge Win TV Nova-TD 500 MCE ~ £52.75

    That lot adds up to about £290. (all from Scan except drive)
    You may also want to add a media center remote thingy which are about £20.

    Re your needs:
    Watch & Upscale DVD´s to 720p - easily
    Watch & Upscale TV/Film DIVX files to 720p - easily
    Stream MP3´s from NAS (already got this) - easily depends on your network
    Record/Pause etc TV - yes plenty of drive space
    Future - Blu-Ray and/or HD-DVD drives added. - this system will do that but even better just add a £40 2400XT or 2600PRO graphics and you'll be flying.
    Future - Rip BRD & HD-DVD to NAS or internal drive - Youll need another drive - the movies are ~ 30Gb each!
    Future - possible re-encode ripped HD media to 720p - the dual core Intel will help greatly here.

    In terms of OS I would recommend you try out all of them and then decide. I am using a hybrid of Vista MCE and GBPVR but am thinking of ditching both for Mediaportal. It's a matter of taste.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    Thanks for the advice. I had seen that motherboard since my post and was wondering how good it was. I like the way it would cover SPDIF and HDMI too.

    I will be getting a Harmony 525 sometime so I guess I could use this ok?

    My network is already set up for this so no worries.

    What extra benefit would I get by adding these cards over the inbuilt VGA?

    I like playing with PC´s too so I may even run them all and try them out.

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  4. tinners

    tinners
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    Yes if the case has an inbuilt receiver or you buy the microsoft remote eye and use the harmony
    The video playback is done on the card with its own memory, and the GPUs are better on the discrete card. I reckon the F190 will do you fine but you might need to think again when you go bluray.
     
  5. SeanT

    SeanT
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    Au contraire - cheapest AMD X2 and mobo combo, get the graphics card now - other option?
     
  6. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    Excuse my ignorance but (apart from the French) I don´t quiet get what you are saying!
     
  7. SeanT

    SeanT
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    If you have £300 to spend on a pc, and it's likely to be used for playing back HD content in the future, it makes sense to save money on the processor - ie. buy a 2GHz 64 bit dual core AMD instead of a 1.8GHz dual core Intel - and corresponding mobo - and just get the HD capable graphics card now - for htpc use you aren't going to notice a performance difference between an AMD 4000+ or such and a newer intel chip of core 2 duo descent and a future upgrade will involve replacing the lot likely anyway!
     
  8. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    I see what you mean. I guess a HD card will come with HDMI anyway so all I need to make sure I get on my mobo is SPDIF.
     
  9. Knyght_byte

    Knyght_byte
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    if he goes the intel route though wont that give him more chance for upgrading in future? ie the fact that the mobos taking the current AMD chips wont give him as much processing power as a dual core board will because the faster dual cores far outstrip the abilities of the AMD's....also the fact that the cheaper dual cores can be overclocked quite often very easily to a high level anyhow.....

    i may be wrong here, but i seem to remember even an E6300 can be overclocked (if you get a good one) and leave behind the fastest available AMD chip.....
     
  10. SeanT

    SeanT
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    Bear in mind that you are unlikely to overclock an HTPC...
     
  11. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    thats true, once I have built a HTPC that is capable of playing DVD/MP3/BRD/HD-DVD and can surf the net etc I really won´t need to upgrade anything, maybe apart form storage which is easy.

    When I build a PC, even my gaming rig, I don´t really upgrade that often - my current PC was upgraded maybe 2 yrs ago then over 5 yrs before that. The only thing stopping me from enjoying some current games is a non DX10 VGA card.

    But any HTPC I build now will be vastly superior than my current PC and will play any games I may be interested in - like Civilization.strategy style games. I have an XBOX 1 but rarely play games on it, just the odd footy game!

    Right, I think my choices of parts are getting more clearly defined, thanks fo the advice. I will do some research and post back with my findings.
     
  12. RockySpieler

    RockySpieler
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    If you are still thinking about the ebuyer "Opera" case, are you going to get a passive CPU cooler, and relie on case fans for ventilation?

    If so had you checked out which ones fit the internal case height?
     
  13. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    thanks for mentioning that, I had considered a silent fan but not sure.
     
  14. tinners

    tinners
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    With the C2D Intel CPUs you can overclock at stock volts and only bumping up the heat a small amount (e.g. 4 degrees on my E6300 which is at 2600 up from 1800 stock)
    That said the only real advantage I get is when encoding video as my GPU does all the video decoding.
     
  15. deksawyer

    deksawyer
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    My advice, and you can take it or leave it, is don't rely on a PSU from a £40 case not to blow up and fry all your new equipment or to be the slightest bit quiet.

    You'll get a decent Forton 120mm fanned PSU for a little over £30, and although I've used one of these on an earlier HTPC, I now use an Elan Vital 430w PSU (now Nesteq) on my HD HTPC and I trust it totaly from a reliability point of view. Plus it's totaly silent (which is very important if it's sitting under the telly).

    :thumbsup:

    D.
     
  16. cantona.no7

    cantona.no7
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  17. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    I´ve put a note in that thread with a few q´s for you. Thanks. Steve
     
  18. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    What do you guys think about this system for possible Blue-Ray and/or HD-DVD playback? :

    Antec 2400 HTPC case complete with matching silver lite-on dvd drive, upgraded power supply - Seasonic S12 psu, ASUS p5ld2-vm mATX M/B + P4 3.0ghz, sound card with spdif in/out

    I would add a HDD, 1GB DDR2, 2400XT & TV Tuner card.

    Would a P4 3.0 be up to the task of 720p HD if there´s a dedicated HD VGA card (the 2400xt) doing the biz?
     
  19. tinners

    tinners
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    For 720p that should be fine. One thing i would say is with my mobo the passive 2400XT takes up one of the PCI slots so I could not fit a tuner, sound card and the graphics. I had to drop the soundcard iand use the onboard. I think though for £120 its a good price bearing in mind the new price of the case. I think that board also supports Core 2 Duo chips for a cheap upgrade to something like the E2160 / 4400 should the P4 not be up to the job.
     
  20. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    I´m not sure if it´s any good for me then as I need to add a tuner, a HD vga card for 720p etc & a sound card to get spdif out to my amp...:(
     
  21. cantona.no7

    cantona.no7
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    which passive graphics card are you thinking of? it will take up one pci slot as long as it does not obstruct the slot next to it, you should be ok.

    i was able to fit a nvidia 7600 card with zalman cooler, the sound card and a wi fi card in on the available slots,
     
  22. cantona.no7

    cantona.no7
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    this is it with the sound card, a wifi card and an nvidia 8500gt with stock fan fitted. so depending on the thickness of the heatsink on the 2400 you should be ok.
    Or if your amp has a 5.1 multi channel input then go down that route
     

    Attached Files:

  23. tinners

    tinners
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    Didnt fit - seems to have a large heatsink :( But the 8500GT or a 2400 with a fan will be fine I'm sure.
    [​IMG]
    In terms of the PC, the VGA card should be no more that £40-50, the sound card < £20 and the tuner card (PVR150) another £40-£50. You should try posting a wanted ad on the forums sure you'l l get sorted out in no time.
     
  24. cantona.no7

    cantona.no7
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    Cheers tinners for the pic, the heatsink looks quite chunky:(
     
  25. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    ahh right, so it´s got the slots to take a Sound card, vga card & tv card but it depends on the size of them width wise. Mmm, interesting!
     
  26. cantona.no7

    cantona.no7
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    yes mate has 2 pci slots + 1 pci x16 - graphics card slot
     
  27. BiffBoy

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    Right, been doing some more research, how does this look guys?

    AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Socket AM2 1.8GHz 512KB L2 Cache OEM Processor - 21.51

    Gigabyte GA M61SME S2 GeForce 6100 Socket AM2 onboard VGA 8 channel audio mATX Motherboard - 33.40

    Hauppauge WinTV Nova T 500 Dual digital DVB T PCI TV Tuner card - 49.99

    Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE 7.1 OEM PCI Soundcard - 15.71

    Asus 2400XT 256MB DDR3 DVI VGA TVO PCI E Graphics Card - 40.08

    Samsung SpinPoint HD501LJ 500GB SATAII Hard Drive 16MB - 59.89

    Corsair 1GB DDR2 675MHz PC2 5400 XMS2 Memory Non ECC - 14.00

    Antec NSK2480 MATX Desktop Case Black & Silver - With 380W EarthWatts PSU - 62.23

    Total - 296.21

    Then I will save up the £80ish for a Pioneer BDC-202 to add to this.
     
  28. tinners

    tinners
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    Unfortunately I think personally I'd get something second hand and dual core and ditch the sound card and get a motherboard with onboard sound. I think buying something new and single core now is not worth it really.
    The CPU wont manage the HD decoding when you get the Bluray drive. Not all processing can be done on the graphics card.
     
  29. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    I´ve been trawling thorugh ebay and think I couldprobably find a decent system new or 2nd hand that will nearly fit the bill apart from a Hi-Fi style case, quiet fans and TV card.

    The only problem is that most if not all the mobo´s in these systems ahve the onboard sound with the 3 stereo outputs for 5.1 PC speakers and no sp/dif....is there any adaptor that will make this work for me or a cheap but good sounding sound card that has spdif?
     
  30. BiffBoy

    BiffBoy
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    A bit more shopping around and I have found this sytem, which includes SPDIF onboard so I can get a Dual Core CPU & be within price, any suggestions/advice on the below pelase fire away. (Blu Ray drive to be added at a later date):

    ASUS M2N-X nForce 520 Socket AM2 6 channel audio ATX
    £32.17
    Antec NSK2480 MATX Desktop Case Black & Silver - With 380W EarthWatts PSU
    £52.96
    Corsair 1GB DDR2 675MHz/PC2-5400 XMS2 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL4(4-4-4-12) Heat Spreader Lifetime Warranty
    £11.91
    Samsung SpinPoint HD501LJ 500GB SATAII Hard Drive 16MB Cache - OEM
    £50.97
    ASUS 2400PRO 256MB DDR2 DVI VGA HDCP HDTV out Silent PCI-E Graphics Card
    £26.07
    Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T 500 Dual digital DVB-T PCI TV Tuner card
    £41.03
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.1GHz) Socket AM2 Energy Efficient L2 1MB (2x512KB) Cache OEM Processor
    £36.18

    Total inc vat - £306.93
     

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