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HTPC for <£200 is it possible?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by monkeynuts, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. monkeynuts

    monkeynuts
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    On trying to upgrade my Limit 9900SE, i have managed to downgrade to a Toshiba 340E that doesn't like any DVD-Rs etc.. :suicide:

    So i've almost given up on a DVD player and fancy trying a HTPC

    Currently i am only wanting it to improve on the old picture/sound quality of the Limit and it will only be used for DVD playback and doesn't need any fancy case or massive HDD, Graphics card etc (ATM ;)) tho a quietish setup would be good!

    I am a bit out of touch with PC parts as i have had a high-spec laptop for a year or so, but can find my way round Ebuyer, Aria, Scan etc and can put a PC together and the prospect of onboard graphics, sound and lan sound good.

    Can anyone recommend me a simple but effective setup to solve my problems?

    HTPC will feed:

    Panny AE300 and Marantz Sr6200

    Many thanks :thumbsup:
     
  2. jsap

    jsap
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    as long as you are going to run linux, with a 3rd party front end as you will not be able to get XPmce in that price.

    As for components look at the new athlon semperon processors (socket A), cheap motherboard (any chipset really, most nforce have standard tv-out). You will need at least 256mb ram, should be enough for linux. As for hard disk, as big as you can afford (you can get around 160gb for under £60). Any cheapo case should do, altho you may want to consider a desktop style one to lay on its side and fit in with your components.

    Additionally, you may want a TVin card so you can record TV on it. Also you may need a better soundcard to give you a digital output to your amp, most will do it, but make sure! I think the AE300 has DVI, if so dont worry about the nforce chipset, get a separate graphics card with a DVI socket.
     
  3. monkeynuts

    monkeynuts
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    Thanks for the qvery quick reply!!

    I spotted the Semperon am i right in thinking this is the equivalent in the range to the old Duron used to be?

    I appreciate the limitations of having everythingthing onboard the MB and thats something i need to look into, although i remember coming across as post mentioning how good an new version of the Nforce2 MB was with v good audio outputs....

    I think i'd struggle with anything non XP based, but i should have mentioned that £200 was without software, unless you mean XP needs more Memory etc?

    At the moment i am happy to live without tv card and my laptop has an external DVD-RW drive, but thats something i could think about later.

    Thanks again for the reply, much appreciated :D
     
  4. jsap

    jsap
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    Semperon is now AMD's budget chip, although its performance is comparble to the old athlon range.
    Onboard audio will never be as good as an external card, but it would suffice, at least temporarily -just check it has the correct type of output!

    XP mce (oem) will set you back about £70 + £30 for the remote (if you want it) from ebuyer.For this you may want more memory, but if you are not gaming, or doing anything overly intensive it should be ok!

    also, you may be able to find a cheap shuttle or similar barebones pc which would give you the case, motherboard (with sound and possibly video), and psu. All you would need to add would be processor, memory, hard disk, and operating system.
     
  5. monkeynuts

    monkeynuts
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    Cheers for clearing up the processor question :)

    I've just totalled up a basic system on ebuyer to give myself an idea of what it's going to cost me:


    Asus A7N8X-X SKT A Nforce2 AGP X8 Sound USB 2.0 Motherboard Retail Box £33.71

    AMD Sempron 2200+ (SDA2200DUT3D) Processor Skt A 256cache 333fsb - OEM CPU
    £26.81

    Crucial 256MB DDR PC3200 400MHz 184pin Memory Module
    £23.00

    Seagate Barracuda 80Gb 7200rpm UDMA100 Hard Drive - OEM
    £29.77

    Lite-on Dvdrom 16x48x Ide Black, Bulk With Out Sw
    £13.29

    Total: £126.58 +vat

    Shipping Band: £4.99
    Approx Cart Weight: 3.24Kg
    Shipping Surcharge: £0.00
    SubTotal: £131.57
    VAT: £23.05
    Total: £154.62

    So on top of that i'll need a cheap case <£20 as it won't be in my rack at the front, a quiet powersupply anything from £35>?

    As far as keyboard, mouse and cables go, i think i have enough lurking around here.

    The motherboard has Nforce2 onboard (i think that means Graphics and sound etc is all there) and i haven't had the chance to research the type of connections it offers yet as all the bits above were just put together to just get a rough idea of cost (i.e. is it possible!)

    Does this sound like a feasible start to an improvement over my existing DVD player?

    Thanks again :D
     
  6. monkeynuts

    monkeynuts
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    Oh and a CPU cooler.......
     
  7. PAH

    PAH
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    For the power supply (and any other quiter components) have a look at quietpc.com as they also provide information on decibels per product.
     
  8. Flimber

    Flimber
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  9. Iain Shields

    Iain Shields
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    There are two versions of the Nforce2 chip, one with onboard graphics and one without... I'm not sure if the mobo you have mentioned has onboard graphics but I dont think it has, I could be wrong here but it didn't seem to mention it in the product details page.

    The Nforce2 is a very good choice (I still use an MSI K7N2G- ILSR Nforce2 with onboard graphics), the onboard graphics are surprisingly good and the sound chip used is very good as it is able to decode Dolby Digital "on the fly"

    Regards,
    Iain.
     
  10. monkeynuts

    monkeynuts
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    PAH - spotted quietpc when searching on here, looks like a very good resource :)

    Flimber - that case and PSU looks good at the price but is micro-atx which i'm not sure about regarding what i'm after!

    Iain - Thanks for pointing that out about the MBs i did wonder if it didn't include everything at that price!

    Thanks to everyone who's helped me, appears i may have to up my budget a bit to get what i'm after.....maybe it's worth investing in the use of my DVI input on the AE300, tho i know it's not got a great optimum resolution for playing with! (i think)

    Cheers :)
     
  11. dekoded

    dekoded
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  12. monkeynuts

    monkeynuts
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    Thats a very useful link there Johnnie!

    Could you possilby elaborate on the sound card, is it onboard?
    Also, what outputs do you have from graphics card and sound card?

    Cheers
     
  13. monkeynuts

    monkeynuts
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    Right, having been intrigued to see how easy it is to setup a PC with my projector i've just tried my laptop through VGA and WinDVD

    (My laptop spec: P4 2.4, ATI Radeon Mobile 9000, 512mb DDR, 40gb HDD etc.... it also has a lot of outputs including Spdif....)

    I didn't fiddle with many settings, just used the display settings bit in the ATI control panel to tell it to use the PJ as primary display and hoped for the best!

    I had a play with this combination a while back but forgot just how good it was with no real tweaking.

    My question is: resolution!

    I have read a few Panny AE300 resolution posts in the past and realised that running powerstrip is the only way of getting a reasonably close output resolution, as i appreciate the 960x540 res of the AE300 is a bit of a pain!

    Could someone possibly confirm whether i am on the right track, as i am happy to use this setup as a stopgap, but it doesn't look as good as my Toshiba 340E through component with these current basic settings.

    Cheers and sorry for the long post!
     
  14. monkeynuts

    monkeynuts
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    Oh one other thing (i know i am a pain!)

    Is there any way of getting a 5.1 signal out of my laptop? Maybe USB2 gizmo or through the SPDIF?

    Cheers
     
  15. dekoded

    dekoded
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    No probs, it is an nforce motherboard which has built-in spdif (optical) audio input and output. I just use the software that came with the barebones shuttle for the audio and the quality is very good. There are plenty of options to configure (see jpegs).
    As for the graphics card, well it's just a geforce4 mx420 64mb, which I was given for free ;) , I like this card as it has no cooling fan, so it's silent, and doesn't draw much power from the PSU.
    Not only that, but because it uses nvidia drivers there are plenty of options for resolution etc. (I originally set the pc up using my 17" crt monitor which is capable of displaying 1280x720)
    All I did was take the HTPC downstairs plugged the PJ into the VGA output (using 10mtr roline vga cable and vga to dvi adapter) and turned everything on, everything worked fine.
    I had considered using a better graphics card with dvi output, but I need the signal to travel 10mtrs and would have had problems due to signal degradation.
    As for your sound via usb, I'm sure creative make an external sound card (a small silver box) which might work!
    I have a pioneer dv565 and £50 component cable and my picture is much better from my HTPC via vga!
     

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