JonLad's First HTPC Build

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by JonLad, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Hi everyone

    Welcome to my HTPC build thread. I hope this thread manages to contain useful information and any tips for people looking into starting their own HTPC build.

    I decided to build a HTPC after reading peoples threads on here and seeing the results that you could achieve if you put a little time and effort into the build.
    I recently updated my main PC so i had spare parts left over to build a HTPC, all i really needed was a new case and a Blu-Ray drive as i wanted the ability to watch my Blu-Rays without having to use my PS3.

    I'm running the following in my build:

    AMD 64 X2 4400 @ 2.21GHz
    ASUS A8N32-Sli Deluxe Motherboard
    4GB DDR400 Memory
    Saphire ATI Radeon HD 4550
    Sony Blu-Ray Drive
    Tagan 650w Dual Engine PSU
    Scythe Mini Ninja CPU Cooler
    x2 500GB Maxtor Basics Hard Drives
    x2 HiperFlow 120mm Case Fans
    Coolermaster Elite 335 Case

    Software Used:
    Windows 7
    Windows Media Centre running Media Browser
    CyberLink Power DVD for Blu-Rays
    ffdshow for Audio Decoding
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
  2. surfermc

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    You might be able to get away with a smaller case but at the price the Coolmaster elite 335 looks like good value. The height of the video card and your cpu heatsink are going to be factors in determining the dimensions of the case.

    TV cards and graphics cards are very different beasts. (so if I've misread your post). A graphics card is for output, whereas a TV card is an input device used. for a HTPC you will most likely want both. But you will definitely need a graphics card. I will leave others to recommend cards or have a look through some of the other posts.

    To use are remote you need some sort of IR receiver. It is ususlly difficult to buy the receiver on their own so you probably end up buying an remote as well. The most straight forward is the Microsoft MCE Remote and its various clone, if you are on a budget try the Cyberlink Remote
     
  3. JonLad

    JonLad
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    I was going to use my current cpu cooler which is the Zalman 9500 AM2 but i may look into getting a different cooler if i can base it around a smaller case. Whereas the graphics card am i right in thinking a powerful isn't really needed inside a HTPC if i wont be using it for gaming?

    Thanks for clearing that up about the graphics card/TV card. I think i'll look into just getting the graphics card for now and maybe add a TV card in the future.

    Thanks for the links to the remotes. I might as well buy the remote if it comes with a receiver :thumbsup:
     
  4. pawnstar

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    I'm currently building my HTPC, and I went with the following kit (Budget of £400). I haven't built it yet, but the weekend draws near...

    1 x AMD Athlon X2 5050e Socket AM2 45W Energy Efficient Retail Boxed Processor
    1 x OCZ 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC6400 Titanium Memory CL4(4-4-4-15)
    1 x Samsung HD502HI 500GB Hard Drive SATAII - OEM Green Drive
    1 x Hi-Power 500W 12cm Silent Fan PSU - 20+4pin, 1x PCI-E, 2x SATA
    1 x Antec Fusion Remote Veris Black MATX Media Center Case - No PSU
    1 x Sony BDU-X10S Blu-Ray BD-ROM SATA Black Internal - Retail Box with Cyberlink Software
    1 x Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2H 740G Socket AM2 onboard VGA 8 channel audio mATX Motherboard
    1 x Scythe Mini Ninja with 80mm fan Heatpipe Socket 478, 775, 939, 940, AM2 Processor Cooler

    The 2 major concerns with HTPC are Noise and Heat. Bigger/more powerul components generally make more heat, and need better cooling (Bigger fans) or water cooling. I tried to stick with lower power consumption.

    You're right that you don't need a beefy gfx card, but one that can do DVI/HDMI (HDCP compliant) is a huge plus. Also, the MoBo I got was for the SPDIF out (Which I need for my amp)

    As for the cooler, take a look at the Scythe Mini Ninja (eBuyer is out of stock atm) as it's designed for HTPC, and only 24dB (apparently).

    Remotes, I got one with my case, but I'll probably try and get my Logitech Harmony One to link up, just to make life easier. I'll let you know how easy this was, but the Antec case has built in IR.

    Cases... always an issue. Coolermaster is a great brand, with great looking cases. You've got a lot of options with the ATX size. It's really personal preference, so up to you.
     
  5. Huggy

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    @ JonLad. If you already have a Harmony One, it would be crying shame not to use it. Why not find a dirt cheap MCE remote like this one, have it as standby, and reuse the IR receiver for the Harmony.
     
  6. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Looks like your going to have a nice HTPC there and good luck with the build when you start it.

    I think I'm going to end up getting a cheap MCE remote for the receiver that comes with it to use my harmony one.

    It looks like I might go with the coolermaster elite 335 case for these components. As I say its just so parts from my old pc aren't just thrown out. So in the future I think based on what results I achieve here I will definitely be looking at the mATX cases. Also the main plus at the moment the atx holds is I have no space on my TV stand to hold anymore equipment.

    I'm going to see how this build goes and I might start looking into more power friendly components so thanks for that little pointer.

    Thanks for that :thumbsup:

    I think it would be a waste not to use such a great remote with a HTPC. And thanks for the link. I'll look into getting something like this as people seem to think it's the best option
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2009
  7. JonLad

    JonLad
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    I've been looking at this graphics CARD for the proposed build.

    Can anyone offer any advice on if this card will be good enough, or any recommendations?

    I don't want to go overboard on spend as I’m only experimenting with this build.

    I'm also looking to use the HD that comes with this card and have the sound connected via optical.
     
  8. Huggy

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    Don't know about the card personally, but I see it has a fan. Ergo noise. I find that video card fans tend to be the noisiest component on my systems, so if noise is an issue for you, you may wish to look at a passive card and ensure a case fan is close by.

    Also I note the ouputs are just DVI, and your mobo doesn't have HDMI. You've got a difficult decision. Go sub optimal and get a basic gfx card with associated noise, or buy a HDMI, passive gfx card, which probably would be closer to £100.. or, and this might be unpalatable, future proof yourself and ditch the mobo (painful I know), and get a modern mobo with on board gfx, sound and HDMI. That would cost you about £100 too, but unravels a few problems.

    This will probably confuse your once clear mind ;)
     
  9. Theydon Bois

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    /agree

    Look at some of the other cards, and maybe even step up a notch - some of the 4 series cards are around that price and also include a heatsink:

    PowerColor HD 4350 SCS 256MB DDR2 VGA DVI TV Out PCI-E Graphics Card - Ebuyer

    Force3D HD 4550 512MB VGA DVI TV Out PCI-E Graphics Card - Ebuyer

    Sapphire HD 4550 512MB with 1GB HyperMemory VGA DVI TV Out PCI-E Graphics Card - Ebuyer
     
  10. Theydon Bois

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    This is not a problem, as the ATI card will have a DVi to HDMI convertor, which is what I use in my Passive ATi 3470 to connect my HTPC to my HD TV.

    And to the OP, I use optical from my board to my pretend Amp for audio, exactly as you intend to do.
     
  11. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Thanks for the passive tip. The case i'm looking at has a 120mm rear fan and also the option to add a fan onto the side for graphics card cooling. But like you say this could add more noise.

    Hey thanks for them links. Some of them should do the job. Read the comments on the 4550 and some people say a newer version comes with a fan.

    I looked at this one, any thoughts on it:

    Sapphire HD 4350 256MB with 1GB HyperMemory DDR2 VGA DVI HDMI PCI-E Graphics Card - Ebuyer

    At least i know the optical will work now :)

    Can i have both the optical and the hdmi going to the amp or will this confuse the signal between sound and video?
     
  12. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Just a note about cheap MC remote receivers. They can be problematic in some set-ups.

    There are two ways that Media Center remote controls can work :

    1. Emulating a keyboard and/or mouse
    2. Appearing as a genuine Infra Red receiver

    The genuine MS models (plus the OEM MS models and the Philips models) work as 2. and are easier to use with Media Center (coloured buttons for "Press Red" work, as do triple tap alphanumeric entry)

    Things like the iMon IR receiver and a lot of the cheap "Media Center" remotes are based on 1. They can't fully replicate the functionality of the MS remote (no coloured button support, no triple tap etc.) and are also more problematic to set-up in stuff like Linux as well.

    If it is ever an option - I'd go for a genuine Media Center receiver.
     
  13. Theydon Bois

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    My iMon remote works with triple tap (Moving Pictures uses it like texting to browse for films begining with the letter) and I have coloured buttons, but it does use a keyboard type emulation. Curious to know what is the difference?
     
  14. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Have you got any links on where to buy the MCE remote?
     
  15. JonLad

    JonLad
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    I can finally provide an update.

    I've built my PC and took all the parts out I was going to use in the HTPC.

    I've just ordered an ATI 4550HD card along with the CoolerMaster Elite 335.

    I'm going to be ordering a Blu-Ray drive next week along with a new cooler for the CPU as I was going for a more silent operating HTPC. Also looking for a MCE remote for the receiver so I can use my Harmony One.

    Once the graphics card turns up I’m going to start getting on with the build.

    I'm still undecided in terms of what media browser to use. I am leaning towards using VMC. But that’s as far as my knowledge stretches on this. Can anyone point me in the right direction so I can make it look as good as most people on here with the DVD covers and film information etc?
     
  16. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Well I've completed the build today and installed windows 7 and began to copy my DVD library over to hard disk.

    I'll post some pictures soon.

    I was wondering if anyone out there would be able to help me with a sound problem i'm having. I've installed a Saphire ATI 4550HD Radeon and connected this to my amp through a HDMI cable.

    I'm looking in the sound properties for this and it only says it can support 2 speakers. I'm wondering if anyone else has had problems making the sound 5.1 on their system.

    I've tried the latest drivers and a search around the internet but i cant't seem to find a resolution...
     
  17. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Here's the photo's, please feel free to comment:
     

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  18. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Sorry for the bump, but would anyone be able to offer some help on the above?
     
  19. Theydon Bois

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    Thanks for posting the pics! :smashin:

    What sound is not coming out in 5.1, everything? Have you tried different playback software, different media etc? What software are you using for playback?

    If you post more info, then someone should be able to help.
     
  20. JonLad

    JonLad
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    I'm only getting 2 channel sound from everything. From windows sounds to the DVD playback.

    I'm running the dvd's in media centre and Blu-Rays with the bundled cyberlink 7.2 software i got with the Blu-Ray drive.

    I've checked in the sound properties and when i look at my Amp in the device list, it is only saying it supports 2 channels and HDCP is not supported. I have also tried the onboard optical connection to the amp but this just results in no sound at all. I'd like to get thr HDMI cable to play the 5.1 sound over the optical cable is possible.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2009
  21. Stephen Neal

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    Which version of Catalyst are you running - the latest HDMI Audio drivers are bundled with the more recent versions.

    What happens when you go into the speaker properties in Sound Control Panel for your device - I'm assuming you're running Vista.

    Also does your amp support "TV Passthru"? This will send a 2.0 PCM version of the received sound to your TV. However it confuses many HDMI systems (not just PCs, my Tosh E30 didn't like it either with a Sony HDMI amp) - so try switching it OFF.

    For some reason it sends some EDID saying 2.0 only when enabled - though other EDID also says 5.1/7.1 - it depends on the driver decoding of EDID which it sees?
     
  22. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Hi.

    I'm running my machine on windows 7 64 bit and i downloaded the latest version of CCC drivers from ATI (v9.6)

    In the speaker properties, it tells me it only supports 2 channels and HDCP isn't supported. I've tried running the configuration within the properties but that still only shows that it supports 2 channels.

    You've lost me on the amp settings. I've done a quick search for my amp (Sony STR-DG820) and can't find an answer to your question. The setting your talking about, is this an option on the PC or the AMP?
     
  23. pawnstar

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    Hi JonLad.. Rig looks sweet :) :smashin:

    What do you mean: "I'd like to get thr HDMI cable to play the 5.1 sound over the optical cable is possible"

    I used the SPDIF out from my pc to my Amp, and HDMI to the TV. Win 7 wasn't really clear on How it does things, but I can see my amp gets a DTS signal when watching Blu's, so I'm happy.

    Can you put up a diagram or some pics of the back of what you want to do?

    In my mind, you want Video and 5.1 over HDMI into the amp?
     
  24. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Hey. Thanks for the comments on my setup :thumbsup:

    Overall i would like to have video and 5.1 over the HDMI into the amp but if the optical cable will get me the audio i will start to use that.

    However, i did try the optical cable and didn't get any sound from my amp, but i'm guessing this is something to do with the configuration on the PC.
     
  25. pawnstar

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  26. Stephen Neal

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    It's a setting on the amp. We had an STR-DG820 and it definitely had it I'm sure. (We had to replace with an Onkyo SR 606 when the amp blew up)

    It is a set-up setting on the amp - it is to do with what the amp does with audio on its HDMI output to the display. You can either have the amp strip all audio from the output - so the TV is just fed video and no audio, or you can have a 2.0 PCM output (so the TV is fed stereo). However if you chose that it stops some devices sending anything other than 2.0 TO the amp.

    Looking at : http://www.docs.sony.com/release/STRDG820_EN.pdf

    it seems that in the HDMI set-up menu there is an AUDIO OUT menu. If you select AMP then there is no audio fed from the amp over HDMI to the TV. If you select TV+AMP then your amp DOES send a sound signal to the TV.

    I found that TV+AMP caused problems with HDMI sources being forced into 2.0 only (my PS3 was fine, but my EP30 HD-DVD player dropped from 5.1 to 2.0 output, as did my HTPC ISTR)

    I'd see what your amplifier HDMI->AUDIO OUT settings are and select AMP if it is currently TV+AMP.

    BTW - does your Sony report just L and R audio on it's display - or does it show more channels? (I had a situation where the properties said 2 speaker but it was outputting 6 or 8 speaker audio)
     
  27. pawnstar

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  28. JonLad

    JonLad
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    Lol, i was looking at the exact same thread and image just as i checked my thread here.

    I think i'm going to give this a try tonight, plugging the HDMI into video 1 and the optical cable into video 1. Hopefully this will give me 5.1 and HDCP support.
     
  29. JonLad

    JonLad
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    That's correct, the amp only shows L and R audio and it only outputs sound to these.

    I appreciate your answer on the amp settings. I didn't even know about that setting, so i'm going to give this a try tonight. All my audio is outputed via the amp so i'm guessing its safe to change it to audio out>amp for all devices?
     
  30. JonLad

    JonLad
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    I installed the driver from here:

    Realtek

    Having had another look on this page, there's a ATI HDMI Audio device download. I might try downloading and installing this as well as the driver that is already installed
     

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