HTPC Sticky - Builds, Hardware, Software, Specs, Performance, Advice, Links & More.

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by Zarch, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. Zarch

    Zarch
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    Before starting a HTPC build and posting questions, please take the time to read this thread and look at the following posts.

    These are complete start to finish HTPC build threads (and some still on-going).
    They all serve slightly different purposes and use different hardware/software and video/audio setups.

    There should be at least one that you can use a basis for your own build.
    All of them include build pictures and answer all the recurring questions that pop-up. (cases, hardware, software, cooling, noise, codecs, operating system etc etc)

    So please use the "search" feature before posting!

    mickwall HTPC MK1 - E4400 Core2Duo 2 x 2.0ghz CPU based on seperate motherboard and ATI 2600 Pro Graphics solution
    (No HD-DVD or Blu-ray, mainly used for file based playback using Zoom Player on XP sending audio to amp via spdif)
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=586977

    mickwall HTPC MK2 - AMD 4050a 2 x 2.1ghz CPU based on all-in-one Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H 780G motherboard with Nova-S2 satellite card for ITV-HD!
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showpost.php?p=7089148&postcount=353

    tinners (Blu-Ray and HD-DVD included with Media Centre front running Vista)
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=596169

    TeresaTT (another Blu-Ray and HD-DVD build)
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=647458

    Azzin (one of the original threads that inspired most of us with HD-DVD and Blu-Ray)
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=527682

    aerobic247 (dual drive with touchscreen case!)
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=615029

    hickmeister (a simple core 2 duo blu-ray build with a ATI 3450 graphics card! with good build pics!)
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=713771

    Theydon Bois (another great Blu-Ray build around a Q6600 and ATI 3470 card with an amazing use of MediaPortal front-end)
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=718709

    Missing Remote Website (This article builds budget systems using new "all-in-one" motherboards) - Thanks Tinners!
    http://www.missingremote.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2672&Itemid=1

    Software
    Once you've got you hardware built you need to think about installing the correct software.

    For Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, the easiest option is to use Power DVD. (which may or may not come bundled with your Blu-Ray drive). This can also be used for standard DVD's.

    For File-Based files (mkv, wmv as well as standard DVD's). Then theres plenty of "free" software out there.

    It comes in two parts

    1. The Player. Think of this as your front end. Examples being Vista Media Centre (VMC), Zoom Player, Media Portal and even basic Windows Media Player

    And 2. The Codecs. Before any of the above players will play your file you need underlying "codecs" to recognise the file type you are trying to play, make sense of the content, decode the file and pass the output to the player. And for each filetype(ie mkv, wmv) you will need a seperate "codec" installed.

    Now for each filetype there can be different codecs you could use, so with that in mind i created the "Codec and Software Help Thread". (see below)

    Common codecs are ffdshow, coreavc etc

    Codec Help Thread (and other playback software help)
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=652538

    Performance Thread(shows mkv playback is cpu only)
    Another useful thread that I created shows that for file based playback, you don't need a stunning graphics card, its all CPU power.
    This thread also shows the hardware acceleration you get from HD capable graphics card when playing HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=666171

    The thread also serves the purpose of answering the popular question.... "Why can't i get hardware acceleration on my MKV files?"

    In 99% of cases ANY graphics card, no matter what make or model WILL NOT HELP at all with mkv files.
    A HD accelerated graphics card only becomes useful when playing original blu-ray and hd-dvd media.


    See the performance thread to find out about the other 1%

    HD Audio

    Below is a very useful reply by Wo0zy to a question about HD Audio on HTPC's
    The full thread is here for info: http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=758861

    After reading a post on a different forum I am under the impression that PCs may be somewhat limited in the audio that they can decode.

    From what I understand a PC can only output DD or DTS (and in some cases LPCM) over HDMI. Obviously SPDIF does not have the bandwidth to output high definition sound so the only solution for outputting DTS-MA or DD True HD is via the analogue of (certain?) soundcards.

    Is this right? Any thoughts?

    Mostly yes.

    Whether you go down the analog route or go for a motherboard with support for multi-channel LPCM over HDMI, the software player still needs to decode the HD audio first as we have no HD audio bitstream solution for the PC ATM. There are two main reasons for this.

    Firstly only HDMI 1.3 has the protocol support for sending HD audio as bitstream (and this is a option not a requirement hence the reason that NVIDIA's 8200 chipset claims to be 1.3 but doesn't support it). All other PC-based HDMI solutions are 1.2 or less.

    Secondly, the AACS demands "Protect Audio Path" drivers in order to allow untouched HD audio to be sent and currently there aren't any. This is why all of the HD playback applications are "forced" to downsample HD audio during the decode. Cyberlink are apparently working with a number of hardware vendors to develop a secure audio solution but this isn't expected for a while.

    Having said that, even downsampled HD audio sent via multi-channel LPCM to a good AVR sounds very good indeed. I'm sure there are also plenty of people that will claim to be happy with the results they get sending analog via "high end" soundcards as well. Personally I would always trust a good AVR to process my audio if possible.

    Hope this helps.

    Wo0zy


    People always ask what the minimum spec is for a HTPC, here's what I believe.

    For Seperate motherboard/graphic card solutions:
    2.0ghz dual core processor
    1gb ram (2gb preferable for Vista)
    A graphics card capable of decoding HD (ATI 2400XT, (not 2400pro), or any 2600 ,2900 or 3x00 series, plus Nvidia 8x00 series to name but a few). It also has to be HDCP compliant.(For Blu-Ray and HD-DVD playback)
    *Note* The ATI 3650 has replaced the 2600 series and as such is now the recommended bottom line card for HTPC use.

    Whilst it is possible to play lower HD files(720) on lesser hardware than above, this is the recommended spec is for 1080p file based playback and Blu-Ray/HD-DVD use.

    For integrated all in one solutions then its got to be:
    Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H 780G Socket AM2+ onboard VGA 8 channel audio mATX
    Corsair 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL4(5-5-5-12)
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 4050e 2.1GHz Socket AM2 Energy Efficient 1MB L2 Cache Retail

    As you can see from these performance graphs, both the above solutions will play ALL HD MATERIAL:

    [​IMG]

    Operating is down to personal choice. As shown in the above builds either XP or Vista can be used.
    Other software to factor into the cost of your build is the price of PowerDVD Deluxe(required for HD-DVD or Blu-Ray playback)

    Other recommended places for HTPC info are:
    http://www.projecthtpc.co.uk/
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=26/ (the US equivalent of this very forum)

    Useful post regarding ATI & nVidia DVI>HDMI dongle/adapter (a well asked question, thanks tinners)
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=711277

    Great Thread about getting a XBOX 360 Wireless Pad working on your HTPC.
    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762354

    Missing Remote Website's "Top 10 things to do with a Media PC"
    http://www.missingremote.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2294&Itemid=1

    Obviously this sticky is by no means complete, so please get involved.

    I'd love to add guides and links for the following.

    Capture Cards

    Any other topics or links that need adding? Please PM me.


    [Theydon Bois Comment] - Removed all the moderator notes as this post is now included as a Sticky rather than being one.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2009
  2. saibot

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    Definitely recommend http://www.projecthtpc.co.uk/ , philibj's site I believe.

    Where I found out some great info on media-portal (http://www.team-mediaportal.com/) installed it recently on the htpc and its a godsend. Extremely friendly user-interface even the wife can use :thumbsup:

    ps. great idea for a thread Mickwall
     
  3. Azzin

    Azzin
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    Great post Mick, thanks. :thumbsup:

    I've made it a sticky for everyone else to refer to. :)
     
  4. dean999

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  5. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    My build is finished, just need to finalize configuration, which is half the fun :thumbsup:

    Link to thread is in my sig. I will add a total component list soon.
     
  6. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Mickwall, this is my setup specs:

    Username: Theydon Bois
    CPU: Intel E6600 - The Q6600 I bought was for my PC
    Cooler: Mini Sythe Ninja
    Memory: 2Gb ( 4 x Kingston DDR533 512mb)
    Graphics: ATi 3470 256Mb Passive Heatsink Cooler
    Motherboard: ASUS P5B-Deluxe
    PSU: Tagan 480w Silent (sub 26db fans)
    Hard Disk: 1 x 750Gb Samsung Spinpoint
    Case: Zalman HD160+
    Optical Drive: LG Blu-Ray/HD-DVD Drive
    OS: Vista Home Premium
    Media Software Used: MediaPortal

    --------------------------------------------------

    Mods: Please feel free to delete my posts in this thread once the info has been used.

    -------------------------------------------------
     
  7. Matt306

    Matt306
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    Here's my spec:

    username: Matt306
    CPU: Intel Core2Duo E6300
    Cooler: Thermaltake Typhoon
    Memory: 4 x 1Gb Corsair XMS PC6400
    Graphics: Nvidia 7900GS
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA965P-DS4
    PSU: Cooler Master "Real Power" M520
    Hard Disk(s): Maxtor 300Gb & 500Gb SATA II
    Case: Zalman HD160+ (Silver)
    Optical Drive: Optiarc 7200 SATA
    OS: Vista Ulitmate
     
  8. Kibi

    Kibi
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    My spec is as follows :

    Username: Kibi
    CPU: AMD Socket AM2 64bit 5200+ (Dual core 2.6GHz)
    Cooler: OEM Cooler
    Memory: 3GB (2x 1GB Kingston 533MHz and 2x 512MB Kingston 533MHz)
    Graphics: nVidia XFX 8500GT Passive Heatsink Cooler
    Motherboard: Foxconn N570SM2AA (nVidia nForce 570 chipset)
    PSU: Jeantech Arctic Ultra Low Noise 600W
    Hard Disk: 1x 80GB Samsung Spinpoint (for the OS) and 1x 250GB Maxtor Diamondmax 10 (for the media)
    Case: APlus GL2
    Optical Drive: LG H20L SuperMulti BD Writer/HD-DVD Drive
    OS: Vista Ultimate 64bit
    Media Software Used: Windows Media Centre
     
  9. Razor

    Razor
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    My Watercooled Gaming HTPC

    User name: Razor

    Case

    Silverstone LC17 with memory card reader

    Hardware


    Asus Maximus Formula Special Watercooled Edition X38 Chipset
    Core 2 Quad Q6700 @ 3.0Ghz - Q9450 on its way
    8800GTX BFG Watercooled Edition overclocked to 631/2160/1512
    4Gb Corsair 6400 C4 800Mhz
    Samsung Writemaster DVD drive
    Creative X-Fi Music
    620Watt Corsair Modular psu

    Storage

    2 x 750Gb Samsung F1 Spin point HDD's
    1 x 500Gb Samsung Spin point HDD
    3 x Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5 Internal HDD Silencer 2 HDDs with silencers are kept externally and are connected via sata and have their own power source as I couldn't fit all three HDD silencers in the HTPC case.

    External Removable Storage

    All the external HDDs are controlled by remote power switches so I can switch them on or off as I need

    4 x Lacie 250Gb
    1 x Lacie 500Gb
    2 x Freecom 500Gb (1 x Network Drive)
    1 x Icy box via e-sata with a 500Gb Seagate 7200.10
    1 x Iomega 320Gb
    1 x Samsung F1 Spin point 1 Terra (1024Gb) in a Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5 Internal HDD Silencer with a sata and power adapter kit kept externally

    Peripherals

    MX Revolution Mouse
    Perrix Wireless Keyboard
    PC Crossfire so I can use Xbox Joy Pad and Wireless Headset for gaming and Skype
    MS Remote Control Receiver so I can use my Nevo to control my pc (Media centre, Theatre Tek, Power DVD, Windows Media Player)
    2 x USB Hub 7 Port
    Akasa cable wraps to keep things tidy

    Cooling

    Zalman Reserator XT External Watercooling kit
    ZM-WB5 Water Cooling CPU Block
    Danger Den NV-88GTX 8800GTX Water Cooling GPU Block
    2 x Coolink 80mm case fan (11dB)
    2 x Fan Gasket 80mm
    1 x PSU Gasket

    Operating System

    Vista 32bit Home Premium

    My whole setup (Crunchy nut cornflakes added for scale) :D

    [​IMG]


    Inside my HTPC

    [​IMG]


    Zalman Reserator XT Watercooling Kit

    [​IMG]
     
  10. deksawyer

    deksawyer
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    Omaura TF8 slim media pc build

    Asus P5E-VM HDMI
    Intel Xeon 3075
    2gb Corsair XMS PC6400 DDR2
    Hauppauge Nova-T 500 dual DVB-T
    LG GGC-H20L combo BD/HD DVD drive
    2.5” 60gb notebook drive - from PS3 (OS)
    2.5” 250gb Sorpio notebook drive (Recorded TV)
    Elan Vital 400w Greenerger PSU
    Vista Ultimate 32 bit

    Omaura TF8 case black (I've still not received it yet!).

    All media (films/music/photos) are streamed from a small media server located at the other end of the living room.

    Thread here;

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=744911

    D.
     
  11. pablo_paul

    pablo_paul
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    Hardware
    ========
    antec fusion v2 (black)
    ASUS P5K-VM mATX motherboard
    Intel Core 2 Duo E6550
    OCZ 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 Ram
    1 x Sapphire HD 2600XT
    1 x Leadtek DTV1000S pci tv card
    Pioneer BDC-202 Blu-Ray Reader
    1 x Samsung SpinPoint 500Gb
    1 x Samsung SpinPoint 1Tb
    Sythe Mini Ninja (Passive with no fans now)
    2 x Styhe S-flex 120mm case 1600 rpm fans (1600 rpm just to be safe)
    2 X zalman fan mates (so they can run at 800 rpm)
    1 x logitech Harmony 555 remote


    Software
    ========
    Vista Home premium 32bit
    Power DVD 7 Premium/Ultimate for blue ray only
    Any DvdHD
    ffdshow/Media Control for upscaling in Vista media center.
    riva Tuner to keep the sapphire from sounding like a jet engine.
    My Movies Plugin for VMC

    and a couple of hundred hours of learning, rebuilding, and pulling hair out!

    Future
    =====

    Passive gfx card with HDMI 1.3 :rotfl: whenever they appear.
    3Tb NAS because now i have my htpc nearly silent i can here the disks spinning.

    Solid state disk for HTPC.

    completely passive.

    It's a never ending story when you get going.. Edit the post if you like
     
  12. Tumble

    Tumble
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    Username; Tumble
    CPU; ATHLON 64 X2 4850E 2.5GHZ PIB SKT AM2 2X512KB FSB1000 45W
    Cooler; N/A
    Memory; 4GB (4x1GB) Corsair TwinX XMS2, 6400 C4 DDR2 4-4-4-12 800Mhz
    Graphics; Edited - ADDED Sapphire HD3470 Crossfires brilliantly but be careful with Catalyst drivers.
    Motherboard; Asus M3A78-EMH HDMI, AMD 780G
    PSU; 520W Corsair HX Series Modular
    Hard Disk(s); Western Digital Caviar Green Power WD7500AACS 750GB, 5400 RPM Low Power Hard Drive
    Added May 15 Western Digital HD Caviar RE2 750GB SATAII 7200rpm 16MB - WD7500AYYS (it was sitting in the safe, forgot I had it. It was bought as an emergency replacement to restore a raid array on my office PC to safety whilst WD did an RMA on the failure!)
    Case; Zalman HD160+ Black Home Theatre PC Case (HD160-PLUS-BLACK)
    Optical Drive; LG GGW-H20L Super Multi Blu-Ray Writer (you will need Realtek R192/R193 and the PowerDVD 7.3 update specifically for this drive from Cyberlink to get sound & functionality through HDMI. BE WARNED.)

    OS/Software

    Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64 Bit
    Cyberlink DVD Suite

    Add Ons

    Netgear PCI WG311TGE Adapter 108Mbp REMOVED May 25 2008 - hopelessly incompatible with Vista 64 (even with the Netgear software disabled)
    Replaced with Edimax EW-7728in (impressively fast but was exceedingly difficult to configure with Netgear routers - if you buy one PM for set up advice. It took 5 hours to work out!!)

    Linksys Bluetooth USB Adapter (May 27 not recommended has Vista compatibility issues.)
    Asus Xonar DX2 PCI-E 7.1 Sound Card
    Heisei Black Floppy Disk +Int Combo REMOVED

    Logitech diNovo Mini - 920-000586

    (The case comes with nothing in the 3.5” bay. Bluetooth & WiFi on the Mobo would have been useful as well)

    Will review TV Card when Freesat has launched. May 27 still not convinced by any of the available options.

    Edited in on May 6 2008

    After a week of running, and having added a passively cooled crossfired graphics card, & removed the 3.5" combo drive, bcause it won't fit the case and clashes with the Mobo;

    Whisper quiet
    Lightning quick - really impressed with 64 Bit Vista
    Runs cool

    This is the future of converging Home Entertainment centres for ordinary users. We've got 4 more PC's in the house (2 in the home office) & 2 in the kids bedrooms, plus 3 laptops. It is the best computer in the house in terms of usefulness and has really rendered one laptop & 2 PC's surplus. I even run it as a workhorse from my office during the day using Remote Desktop.
     
  13. sarcasmo

    sarcasmo
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    As I'd posted recently seeking some suggestions, so thought I'd add my specs of the final specs ...
    Case: Antec Fusion 430 Silver
    Mobo: ABIT Fatal1ty F-190HD
    CPU: Intel E6550 Core2 Duo (2.32Ghz)
    Cpu Cooler: Thermal Take Blue Orb II
    Optical: LG GGC-H20L (blueray & HD-DVD ROM, DVD-RW)
    GFX: Club 3D Radeon HD3450, low profile 256MB
    RAM: 2Gb
    HDD: 2 x 500Gb Samsung SATA drives
    OS: Vista Home Premium ​

    Interesting points from the build...
    - I had to flash the BIOS before the mobo would recognise the CPU! (not a great start)
    - If you're moving drives from another machine (XP -> Vista), I'd recommend checking that the drive isn't set as a dynamic drive in XP! I'd a mare of a time trying to configure a cross-over cable link between Vista & XP !
    - If you happen to have an Alphason ABR1100 cabinet, think again about going with an Antec case ! it just fits in width, and depth wise you'd want to have a dremmel drill handy to make some cutouts !
     
  14. daman2k

    daman2k
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    CPU :- Intel Core 2 Duo E7200
    Cooler - Sythe Mini Ninja
    Memory - 2gb ocz platinum pc 6400
    Graphics - Ati Saphire 3650 512mb ddr 2
    Motherboard - ASrock Conroe 1333 dvi 2.0
    PSU - Earthwats (inc with case)
    Hard Disk(s) - 500gb Samsung spinpoint
    1TB Samsung Spinpoint
    Case - Antec NSK2480
    Optical Drive - Liteon OEM dvd burner
    OS - Vista Home Premium 32bit
    Keysonic ACK-540RF
     
  15. Freetochat

    Freetochat
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    This is my final spec:-

    Case - Silverstone -Lascala SST-LC20 in Black
    Motherboard - ASUS P5K-E/WIFI-AP AiLifestyle Series P35 Socket 775 Socket eSATA 8 channel Audio ATX
    CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo, E8200, Wolfdale Core, S775, 2.66 GHz, 1333MHz, 6MB Cache,
    Graphics Card - 256MB HIS HD 2600PRO IceQ Turbo (HD 1080p & HDMI) Dual DL-DVI & TV (HDCP) (128bit) GDDR3 PCIe (PAL)
    Ram - 4 GB (4x1GB) Corsair TwinX XMS2, DDR2 PC2-6400 (800), 240 Pins, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 4-4-4-12
    PSU - 520W Corsair HX Series Modular PSU, ATX, EPS12V, whisper quiet
    Case Fans - 2 X 80mm Sharkoon 1000 "Golf Ball" Ultra Quiet 8.9 dB(A) Case Fan - 11.4 CFM
    Hard Disks - 2 X 500 GB and 2 x 1 TB Samsung HD103UJ Spinpoint F1, SATA II, 7200 rpm, 32MB Cache, 8.9 ms, NCQ
    DVD/BluRay - LG Electronics Blu-Ray & HD-DVD-Rom Combo 16x DVDRW Black SATA - Retail Box With Software
    Keyboard - Keysonic ACK-540RF - Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad

    Total Cost - £920

    I already have MS Vista Home Premium, MyMovies Plug-in, AnyDVD HD and Clone DVD. I will get a version of PowerDVD with the Combi Drive so will see what happens with that.

    I need a TV card, but am waiting to see what happens with Freesat. I also need a remote, and have in mind one of the Harmony's (not sure which one yet), but that will come soon.

    The cost of hard disks pushed up the cost. I will be using 1 500Gb disk partioned for system files and TV PVR. The second 500Gb disk as a mirror backup source. The 2 x 1Tb disks are for ripped DVD's etc.

    This link for pictures and build/configuration details.

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=742435
     
  16. Jeek

    Jeek
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    My lounge system:
    TV: Panasonic TH-42PZ80B

    Vista Media Centre:
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 4850e
    Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H, AMD 780G
    Antec Fusion Silver MediaCentre
    500GB Samsung HD502IJ Spinpoint F1
    2GB (2x1GB) Corsair TwinX DDR2 XMS2
    Microsoft Remote XP Media Center Ed (keyboard)
    LG GGW-H20L Super Multi Blu-Ray Writer
    2 x Nova-T USB-2
    Logitech Z-5500 speakers

    Media Centre Software:
    Cyberlink Power DVD Ultra HD
    Ffdshow Tryouts
    Haali Splitter
    MyMovies

    Windows Home Server:
    Antec NSK2480 Desktop Case
    Asus M2A-VM HDMI AMD 690G
    AMD Sempron LE 1100 1.9GHz
    1GB PC2-6400
    2 x 500GB Samsung Spinpoint SATA2 16MB

    The whole setup looks really good on a black and silver glass stand. Although the fusion has a more polished front than the NSK2480, they match up pretty well.

    I've got all our Music, Documents, Video and Photos stored on the home server. Recorded TV is stored on the Media Centre.
    We use a 360 as an extender in the bedroom with a 26" LCD.

    Really chuffed with the setup (finished it on friday - got the plasma). Watched a dvd, blu-ray, hd-dvd, regular freeview, avchd files from our hd camcorder and some xvids and mkvs over the weekend. All played flawlessly with a great picture. Its all very quiet too.
     
  17. Naaktgeboren

    Naaktgeboren
    Distinguished Member

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    Build Brief

    I had purchased a new LCD TV and decided I wanted to make the best use of the HD capabilities. I wanted a system which would connect via HDMI to the screen and would have to be quiet as it would be situated in my living room. The system would be used primarily for it's media capabilities, I also wanted a system capable of playing the odd game.

    I decided on the following specification:-

    Case: Antek NSK2480
    CPU: Intel 4400 Core2Duo CPU Retail
    Memory: Corsair DDR2 TWINX 2GB PC6400
    Storage: 1 X 500G SAMSUNG SATA2 HD501LJ
    Board: ABIT FATAL1TY F-I90HD ATI uATX
    Cooling: Ninja-Mini Fanless Heatpipe Co
    Optical: Optiarc AD7173S x18 SILV SATA
    Remote: MS MEDIA CENTER CONT KIT OEM
    V-Card: NVIDA 8600 GT (256MB)
    Op Sys: Vista Ultimate 32

    Media Player:-

    Media Portal (Monochrome 2.2 skin)

    I already owned Vista Ultimate, total cost of all mentioned components was approx £380.

    Notes

    Fatal1ty Mother Board

    I read mixed reviews of the Fatal1ty board, many said it was unreliable but I noticed around that time, abit released a new board firmware which appeared to fix many of the reported problems. I have now owned the board for 9 months without any kind of problem whatsoever and would highly recommend it.

    The board features ATI's Radeon Xpress 1250-based graphics engine which I found to just fine for various media types but lacking for almost all of the games I attempted to play. Vista's Aero performance was excellent. This fuelled my decision to update to a NVIDA 8600GT. Although far from top of the range, the performance is excellent. My first problem with the new card was how to connect up to my screen, I purchased a DVI>HDMI lead and that solved the picture issue, I then purchased a cheap logitech PC speaker set (i'm ashamed to say) in order to get some sound. I plan to buy a surround sound system this month which I will simply connect from the Fatal1ty's optical out straight into the amp.

    To give you an idea of it's gaming capabilities, I am able to play Guitar Hero 4, Test Drive Unlimited, Gears of War, Medieval Total War and Grid without many problems, on the later admitedly , I have to play on a medium setting but the game is still very playable.

    Memory & Temps

    I over clocked the system once built to 2.6 ghz on stock voltage with no problem whatsoever, my temperatures are 34c idle and no more than 45c at full load which is more than acceptable, these temperatures are partly down to the mini ninja although the case's inbuilt fans do a great job. I was getting temps of 40c idle and a max of 65c under full load which is quiet a difference although the Core2Duo can handle that with no problem whatsoever.

    Case

    The SK 2480 comes complete with a 380W EarthWatts PSU as well as 2 side mounted 120 mm TriCool 3-speed fans. Being an HTPC, system I wanted it to be super quiet, the supplied fans are excellent and really move a lot of air although when set to maximum they sound like a Harrier Jump Jet taking off :) I keep the fans set to medium which does the job :smashin:

    The case features a triple-chamber structure to isolate power supply and hard drive heat for cooler & quieter operation, this works well and will hopefully mean my components will last a lot longer. Installation into the case is easy and there is a lot of room to work with. The hard drives are inserted via removable HDD trays with feature silicone grommets to isolate drive vibrations, these work very well and as a result the hard drive is completely silent, so much so that once I switched on for the first time, I had to double check it was connected properly :D I would recommend Samsung Spinpoints if you are looking for a quiet reliable drive.

    Performance

    My Vista performance score is 5.5, the breakdown is as follows :-

    Processor - 5.5
    Memory - 5.6
    Graphics - 5.9
    Game Graph - 5.5
    Hard Disk - 5.7

    My next step will be to link the system to my new 5.1 surround system which I will buy this month. I also plan to add a 1TB Samsung Spin Point.

    I will also add a Blueray drive over the next few weeks, the prices have come down low enough now and I am looking seriously at the LG model.

    Conclusion

    I feel I met all of my objectives with this build, the system cannot be heard (unless you are under 1 ft away from the system) I am able to play any kinda of media type that I want.

    Like I mentioned, this was all built for under £400 and its the best £400 I have ever spent.

    I hope this information was found to be useful.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2008
  18. kav

    kav
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  19. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Bumped
     

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