HTPC components

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by d0z3y, Jan 26, 2003.

  1. d0z3y

    d0z3y
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    After months of reading this forum and some others I have finally decided to build my first htpc. I plan to use it for mp3 playback, dvd & divx movies and eventually as a PVR for Sky, I will also probably use it for games but this is not a priority. The box will be in my lounge so ideally I do not want noise from the fans / dvd drive / hdd to be too noticeable when sitting a couple of meters away.

    I would be grateful for any comments before I spend my hard earned cash! The system I am planning is:

    LMP case (The best looking case easily available in the UK.)
    AMD Athlon "Thoroughbred" XP 2100+ (This seems to be the best combination of power vs cost. I was considering going for a pentium 2.0Ghz because I think they run cooler however the price made me decide on the Athlon instead.)
    Epox 8RDA+ nForce2 motherboard. (I have chosen this as it is fast, has USB 2, serial ata etc. Also I am planning on using the onboard sound. I had thought about getting an M-Audio 2496 card when I have more money but am hoping the sound storm technology will be adequate in the mean time.)
    Radeon 8500, 9000 or 9500. (I am not sure about which card to go for but am leaning towards the 9500.)
    120 GB Seagate Barracuda V
    Pioneer 104 DVD drive. (This is good, cheap and easy to convert to multi region).
    Enermax power supply.
    512Mb Ram
    Longer term a prolink xcapture card, wireless network card and maybe m-audio sound card.

    I would greatly appreciate any comments of suggestions.

    Thanks
    D0z3y
     
  2. nutcase_1uk

    nutcase_1uk
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    Welcome to the forums :)

    Just the one thought, I *think* that the AMD 2200+ uses the .13 micron fabrication, and runs somewhat cooler than the 2100+, hopefully someone can confirm this as I'm not 100% on that. As noise is a big concern, it may be worth streching to that chip.

    Apart from that, looks good. Enermax are good quiet PSU's, and the later ones have fan speed control on them, I've had a lot of luck with seagate drives. Don't know all that much about later ATI cards, but my 8500 is doing well for me :)
     
  3. james.miller

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    nope, thats wrong. notice he said 2100+ Thoroughbred. thoroughbred's are the cores that are .13micron, wheras the older palamino cores are .18micron.

    Also, they actually run hotter ( because of the smaller surface area of the core), unless you get a t/bred 'b' core, in which case the tempos are about the same as the old pally's.
    the ati 9500 are the cards to have IMO. they can be modded either via software or hardware and turned into fuly working 9700's (which totally destroy the entire nvidia range)

    im curious as to why you need so much power for what will basically be used for playing movies and music. Unless you are a serious gamer, tthose componentsa you have chosen are a little over-kill IMHO
     
  4. nutcase_1uk

    nutcase_1uk
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    Maybe that's what I'm thinking of then? Perhaps the 'b' core came in at the 2200+. Again, not sure :)
     
  5. james.miller

    james.miller
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    no. the 'b' cores are around at speed as low as 1700+. i myself have just installed a 2100+ t/bred b for a friend
     
  6. nutcase_1uk

    nutcase_1uk
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    Ok, ignore me then :)
     
  7. james.miller

    james.miller
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    lol
     
  8. rhinoman

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    I've got a similar setup in a Dign case, Enermax PSU, Asus A7V333 using onboard sound, XP2200+, Silverado Cooler, Extra Papst fans as inlet and exhaust, Radeon 9500 with Zalman Heatpipe Cooler, 512mb Ram. Rave capture card (Xcapture on order).

    I used the XP2200+ because it used to be the slowest on the thinner core and thus supposed to be easier to cool although I think AMD are slowly adding more chips down the range with the thinner core too. I wanted this much processing power to run everything I wanted to throw at it Dscaler wise and it does that superbly, never had a dropped frame (yet). It has been difficult to keep cool though. Originally had a Zalman Flower and they didn't vope at all well so swopped to the Silverado which is better (although quite expensive ~ £40).

    I managed to mod my 9500 with the software hack to open the extra pipelines but I dont think it has made any difference to the PQ though, ( It was better than the 9000 it replaced, better black detail etc), again this has generated much more heat in the case though than the 9000 and has meant adding another 60mm inlet fan to help keep CPU temps down when running Dscaler, even so I'm running temps of about 57-58C at full CPU usage. The LMP case may be better than the Dign in this respect, I'll be interested to see.
     
  9. d0z3y

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    Ok, I'll have a look for a B core T/Bred although I have heard they are quite hard to get hold of at the moment.

    Does anyone have any more advice on the graphics card? What is the best card for DVD / divx playback using S-Video output? As far as the Radeons go, I would expect the 9000 pro to be a better card than the 8500 yet the 8500 seems to cost about £20 more.

    Thanks
    d0z3y
     
  10. rhinoman

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    If your only using the svideo out then any of the radeons will be fine and I doubt your tell any difference un PQ, if your not gaming go for the 9000 non pro as it doesn't have a fan and doesn't run as hot as the 9500/9700 series which means you wont have so much trouble keeping the whole lot cool.
     
  11. henry1234

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    I'm changing the cpu, mobo and memory so it's almost the same as a new build.

    I currently have 1GHZ Thunderbird, KT7A mobo, 256mb PC133 memory.
    Radeon 9500PRO.

    I have been reading old threads about Intel based CPU & Mobo being better for HTPC. Also that M-Audio products don't/didn't like Via chipsets.

    It seems I can get a much higher spec P.C for the same money if I go Athlon/VIA, but will it be worse than an Intel when it comes down to playing a glitch free, lip sync free film?

    Is this an OLD argument nowdays. With the new KT400 chipsets or are there still any problems for HTPC.
     
  12. rhinoman

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    Henry

    Theres plenty of people around that love to knock via chipsets but just make sure you get the latest 4 in 1's and you'll rarely have any probelms. The KT333 and KT400 chipsets are much better than the older ones and come loaded with included features, they're cheap today (Sun) on Scans "today only".

    I use the onboard coaxial out from a A7V8X and its seems pretty good although I haven't tried an audiophile card.

    The only thing with the AMD chips is that they run hotter so are a bit more difficult to cool quietly but, they run hotter without causing running problems so dont worry too much.
     
  13. d0z3y

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    Ok, I think I am going to go for a Radeon 9000 based graphics card. One final thing I want to check - will playback of divx movies with something like BSPlayer be any different between the radeon cards?

    Thanks
    d0z3y
     
  14. henry1234

    henry1234
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    John,

    Thanks for the reply. You seem to know a fair bit regarding P.C's and I would guess you also like to get reasonable performance from your P.C for games.

    If you had £250ish to spend on a Mobo, CPU, & Mem to go with Radeon 9500 for HTPC what what you buy today?

    I'd sacrifice say CPU speed for better memory, say corsair, if it made the system more stable.

    (I'm ordering an enermax PSU. I already have DVD and IBM Deskstar. I won't need RAID. I want to get an M-Audio PCI board but will be happy with on-board SPDIF for a few months.)

    Regards,

    Henry
     
  15. rhinoman

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    Hi Henry

    I'll spend your money for ya:D

    From http://www.scan.co.uk/todayonly/

    Abit KD7 KT400 6 USB2+ LAN + 6CH £59.00+ Vat £69.33

    AMD Athlon XP 2100+ (1.73 GHz) Palomino Core + Coolermaster HCC-002 Heat Sink Fan Delta £65.00+ Vat £76.38

    might not use the hsf or at least slow it down, the asus board has temprature fan control

    and from there useual pages

    LN4074 Corsair XMS 512Mb DDR 400MHz PC3200 Cas 2 - with Heat Spreader 119.00+ vat 139.82

    Total £285.53 + a bit for postage

    If you want to keep to your budget, stuff some no brand memory like

    512Mb PC3200 DDR Memory (Major)
    + Coolermaster Alloy Memory Heat Sink Cooler £94.00 £110.45

    Total £256.16

    I have never bought "namebrand" memory and haven't had any problems although somepeople swear by it. The KT400 chipsets unlocks the muliplyer on Thouroughbread Core Athlons for easy overclocking and my desktop machine with a XP2400+ runs quite happily with a stock HSF and Scan branded memory at XP2800+ speeds.
     
  16. henry1234

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    John,

    Should that read Thoroughbread core? It says thoroughbread on their today only pages. Is it a mistake. I am assuming thoroughbread is better.

    On their usual pages they have a XP2100+ Palamino for £69.57inc vat without heatsink.

    The today only is definately thoroughbred right?
     
  17. rhinoman

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    Sorry Henry, I was just copy and pasting, dont quite know what happened there, yes get one with a "Thoroughbred" core as they are supposed to be easier to cool.

    Edit,

    Just tryed adding it to a basket and it says Palamino in the basket, perhaps wait untill the morning and phone them to double check.
     
  18. henry1234

    henry1234
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    Yer, I do need to check with them first. I definatley want the thoroughbred core.

    One final question:

    The SP/DIF out on the KD7, does it definatley output a full AC-3 signal to transport DD or DTS to my decoder? Not just a PCM digital signal.

    The website doesn't make this clear, whereas the ASUS website makes a big thing about their board sending a full AC-3 DD signal via the SPDIF.
     
  19. rhinoman

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    I cant be sure as I dont have that board but assuming it uses the Cmedia chipset like my other two Asus boards, they both pass DTS and DD from the Coaxial socket.
     
  20. james.miller

    james.miller
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    yes that thinnner core is the T/bred. though xp1700+ t/bred's have benn around for quite a while as i said, and, depending on which core you have - T/bred 'a' or 'b' it could either run cooler or hotter ('a'a run hotter than palamino's)

    henry1234 : why do you want the thoroughbred core? if you want stability over performance then the core you choose isnt going to make any difference, asuming you arnt going to overclock it. if you are going to leave it at stock then i would reccomend getting whatever is cheapest. the only difference between the core is the running tempreature, and the overclocking ability. performance at a given speed is identical
     
  21. henry1234

    henry1234
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    I just thought the thoroughbreds run cooler, so I could use a quieter fan or passive cooling.

    So now I have to look out for a or b, Blimey!

    The mobo issue is really getting to me now.

    I think maybe a Nforce2 chipset may be a better solution.

    Asus A7N8X seems to be a good candidate. My budget is going up the more I find out.
     
  22. james.miller

    james.miller
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    heres a list of the t/bred steppings so you know what your looking at.

    Tbred A Steppings:
    AIRCA
    AIRDA
    AIRGA
    RIRGA
    RIWGA
    AIUGA
    AJUGA

    Tbred B Steppings:
    AIUAB
    AIUCB
    AIUGB
    AIUHB
    JIUCB
    JIUGB


    BTW yes the t/bred 'b's do run cooler, but not that much.
     
  23. Mr. Wilby

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    What kind of card are you going to hook up to it for PVR?

    Nice case, I agree. Quite a stack of dosh though. What others did you consider aside from the LMP?

    Many thanks (in a similar position to you... want a DivX/potential PVR machine)

    Cheers
     
  24. Mr. Wilby

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    Also, I forgot to say, what about the noise? Isn't that box going to sound loud?
     
  25. d0z3y

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    I've had my htpc up and running for a few weeks now. The spec is:
    LMP Case - This is great, looks good, is well made and the customer service from LMP is very good and responsive.
    Radeon 9500 Pro - Very good card on a monitor but have not yet hooked it up to my TV.
    Epox 8RDA+ - No compatibility problems, the onboard sound seems pretty good but do not have decent speakers yet. I am also going to buy another one of these for my main PC, it is a very good, highly specced board.
    Athlon 2100, B Core. This processor was very cheap and yet is extremely fast.
    Zalman Heatsink and Fan - I have this on the lowest fan speed which is barely audible and have no problems with cooling.
    Zalman PSU - Again this is extremely quiet.
    Seagate Barracuda V 120Gb- Everyone recommends this however I didn't find it any quiter than an IBM drive. It is however very fast.

    I spent quite a while searching on the web for cases and almost went for the DIGN case. There were some other cases that looked good in America, however I didn't want the hassle (or the delay) in importing one.

    My requirements for the case were:

    - Looks good (ie looks like another AV component and is a desktop format not tower)

    - Takes a full atx motherboard - the selection of mini atx boards is quite limited. If I had found a small motherboard I was completely happy with then I would have considered a smaller case.

    - Has an LCD display (or space for one, or a spare 5.25" drive bay.) I run this without the TV / Monitor on and yet want to be able to navigate through MP3's etc. The LCD display is 16x2. I would have prefered one which was slightly bigger and supported hardware Marquee but that would have greatly increased the cost.

    The one thing that makes the whole machine hang together is Girder and the plugins available for it. I found this much easier to setup and use than I was led to expect from other posts and find it works really well.

    Next on the list is maybe upgrading to a decent sound card (if the onboard sound isn't good enough). Then add an Xcapture card to use it as a PVR.

    The really difficult thing will be knowing when to stop !

    Hope this is helpful.
    d0z3y
     

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