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Just a little (or a lot) advice needed

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by rscott4563, Apr 25, 2004.

  1. rscott4563

    rscott4563
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    This is my current PC and in bold are my prospective upgrades.

    Current - Upgrades
    ABIT Max P4 533Mhz Motherboard - ABIT IC7-G
    Pentium 4 2.4GHz (533MHz) - Pentium 4 3/3.2GHz (800MHz)
    Sapphire ATI Radeon 9700Pro 128Mb
    DDR PC3000 Corsair 2x256MB - DDR 3500 Geil 2x512MB
    Creative Audigy 2
    80GB IBM 7200rpm
    40GB IBM 7200rpm
    Pioneer Slot DVD
    Lian-Li PC60
    Enermax 400W PSU
    NEC 17” TFT
    Logitech Cordless Keyboard & Mouse


    These upgrades would give me this starting base for my HTPC

    ABIT Max P4 533Mhz Motherboard
    Pentium 4 2.4GHz (533MHz)
    DDR PC3000 Corsair 2x256MB

    Now I need some advice, firstly is this a good starting point or is there anything specfically wrong with the above components for a HTPC?
    I want the HTPC to be as small and quiet as possible, but I haven't got a load of money to throw at it, probably about £400ish absolute max.
    I assume one of the most important components is going to be the graphics card, what is the current best HTPC card, I don't want to play FarCry or HL2 on this computer (I've got a gaming PC already) its going to be for DVD playback from disc and hard drive, music jukebox duties, web browsing, and possibly a little gaming but nothing overly demanding maybe MOHAA or Warcraft etc.. I'm assuming the most demanding thing I'll be wanting to do is HiDef playback. What would do this in the best and most cost effective way, is it a ATI 9600XT or a NVIDIA 5xxx, also is my current 9700pro any good for HTPC, as this maybe freed up in 4 months or so when it gets upgraded??

    Now what about case, hard drive, optical drive, and psu, oh yeah and keeping it all quiet and cool??

    It will be networked with WiFi(g) to my laptop and gaming PC.
    Please help :lease:

    Oh yeah and I will be using it with a Panasonic 6 series 50" with DVI.

    Thanks

    Ryan :thumbsup:
     
  2. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Hi Ryan,

    Just a couple of thoghts for you:

    1) As far as the video card goes I'd get the cheapest 9600 you can, there's no need for an XT if you're not playing games on it. They do an SE version (which I have) there have been some people who say that it may be better for hidef stuff to go with the slightly more expensive non-pro version as it has more memory (128 or 256 vs. 64MB). Not sure how true this is myself, price difference is about £15-20. The 9700 would be fine, only concern would be noise, you can get fanless 9600s from sapphire whereas the cooler on the 9700 is noisy as hell.

    2) Only case I could recommend is the strata from www.standsunique.com but this is about £290 so maybe a bit out of budget ;)

    3) Hard drives, just bought a couple of samsung spinpoints becasue they were meant to be very quiet. To be honest they are rubbish, they whine like hell and are easily audible from across the room. I'm currently trying to get hold of some seagate barracuda IVs from ebay, these are much better apparantly. If they don't work out then the other option is one of toshibas 2.5" laptop drives, they are expensive (£80 for 40GB) but are supposed to be the absolute best quiet drive there is. It all comes down to how silent you need it to be I suppose, if simply "quiet" is fine then the newer seagate barracudas are cheap and will do well, if you want SILENT, then its going to cost a bit more or be more fiddly.

    4) Still trying to find a suitable optical drive myself, something that can be limited to read CDs at less than 4x so that it doesn't sound like a hovercraft. If you want a decent DVD burner the pioneers have all been fine that I've had (105, 106, 107).

    5) In terms of cooling I'd suggest a Zalman 7000Cu, nice design, very efficient and silent in use :)

    6) For a PSU you've got lots of options, I've just got myself a SilenX 400w one from www.soadvanced.co.uk. Its amazing, you really cannot tell whether its on or not, absolutely silent. As usual this comes at a price though (£99 to be exact - ouch). You can get a 300w Zalman one from www.overclockers.co.uk for £44 and these are meant to be pretty good too.

    7) You'll need a soundcard too, I got an MAudio Revolution 7.1 from www.kustompcs.co.uk and it's great, definitely recommended.

    Hope that little lot helps, one other tip, get a copy of Ghost from norton, it's invaluable when setting up an HCPC like this, takes all the stress out of new software/hardware installation.

    Hope this is helpful, let me know if there's any thing needs clarifying.

    Owain
     
  3. rscott4563

    rscott4563
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    Owain, thanks for the comprehensive reply. :smashin:

    On the graphics card front I think I'll go with a 9600, the difference between the 128MB and the 256MB card is around 6 quid, is there any real difference, for that little price difference I think I'd go with it. Has anyone used a 9600(non pro) with any demanding video such as microsoft hidef stuff, if so does it cope ok or will I need a pro or even a 9800?? I could just use my current 9700pro and put a zalman heat pipe on it, but that would mean upgrading my gaming pc to a new graphics card now and from what I've been advised I'd be much better waiting to see what the next gen cards from Nvidia and ATI are like in a month or so rather than getting a 9800pro now as it offers little improvement??

    What about my processor, motherboard and memory, will all of this be adequate, I currently have my P4 2.4 o/c to 2.7 but I'd rather leave it at 2.4 so that I can keep it all cool with minimal ventilation, will this be ok for good quality dvd and hidef playback?

    With hard drives, I'd also been told that the samsungs are the quietest out there but from what you've said thats obviously not the case, though I'm not after silent with this PC (I don't think I could afford to make it truly silent) I don't want to be able to hear every hard drive write and fan going whilst using it. I'd be interested to hear what you think of the barracudas? I'll probably just go for one drive, less noise, heat and space, so I'll need a large drive, I've seen a 160GB maxtor 5400rpm for £76.38 which seems quite a good price, any opinion on the maxtors? I thought a 5400rpm would be good due to less noise/lower speed/less heat...

    Would I just be able to (for now at least) just use the onboard sound of the motherboard, it has an optical out, would this be able to provide stereo and DD&DTS to my amp?

    I think I'll probably go for another Pioneer slot dvd drive as they are very sleek looking (no clunky drawer) and seem very quiet compared to my cdrw.

    I would definitely consider a SilenX PSU even if it did take up quite a bit of my budget as with my gaming pc the noisiest thing is the psu and I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by having that problem, so a good 400/500W silent as can be psu is a must, it should then last me a fair few years and upgrades.

    By my reckoning I've just spent about £300, which doesn't leave much, if I could scrape together some extra cash, what are my options for a discrete looking small case and a wireless keyboard/mouse combo with about £150-250 to spend??

    Cheers

    Ryan :smashin:
     
  4. james.miller

    james.miller
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    you dont need pc3500 for the cpu unless you're overclocking, and if your overclocking there's no need for the new p4 - just overclock your current cpu.
     
  5. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    hi ryan,

    i'd just go with the 128mb non pro to be honest (or an SE), from what I've read there is no differnce in performance between the 128 and the 256. Its always tempting to go with the "oh well,its only another few quid" but there has to be SOME cut off, I seriously don't think there'll be any difference between the two. Also, how much hidef playback will you be doing? If it's not loads at the moment then just go with something cheap because even an old radeon would be fine for dvd playback - an SE would be more than enough, and would save a few quid.


    2.4ghz is probably the minimum for hidef playback, that said, I'm sure you could run your P4 at 2.7 and still cool it with the zalman on its slowest setting, so should be ok.

    The maxtors are meant to be pretty loud, but Rod from stands unique says he uses one in a strata case and its fine. Have a look here, you could get a 160 seagate for £77. This would probably be the best bet.

    I'd forgotten about the pioneer slot loaders, you can actualy slow these with a utility so that they don't make such a racket - just check before you buy that its one of the supported ones.

    As far as a good keyboard and mouse combo goes, you can't beat the gyration suite. Its a nice small keyboard (but with full size keys) combined with the coolest gyroscopic mouse. Unfotunately its £99 so may not be what you're after. If you want something a bit more economical try www.ebuyer.com - they do some good value rf and ir kits for very little money.

    Like I said I don't know much about cheap cases so I'll let someone else pick that bit up.

    Owain
     

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