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Minimalist HTPC - opinions please (surprise, surprise)

barnclos

Established Member
Hi,

I've been lurking here for quite a while, and have finally decided to build an HTPC for bluray disk and DVD rip playback.
I'm trying to keep things as simple as possible, and built with as few components as possible ('cos this is my first attempt at a build). So here's what I had in mind:

Antec Veris Fusion Remote
Corsair VX - 550W
Asus M3N78-EMH HDMI
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4850e
Corsair XMS2 DDR2 PC2-6400 TWIN2X2048-6400C4 - 2 GB Kit
LG GGC-H20L
Samsung SpinPoint F1 DT SATA II - 750 GB
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 - 32bit

Motherboard was chosen to avoid the need for a separate graphics card, and HD video and (7.1 LPCM) audio can be output via a single HDMI cable. I appreciate that the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H (and more recently the DS2H) is widely recommended, but the last point about HDMI for everything is very appealing to me.

Antec case was chosen for the two large (120 mm) exhaust fans, as I was hoping to try the supplied heat sink without a fan. This is all new to me, so I'd be happy to learn now (before I buy) if this is a bad idea - perhaps I need a better heat sink, or a CPU fan (which targets the main heat source) is much more important than a couple of exhaust fans (which just do general cooling).

I went for a 550 W power supply 'cos it was only marginally more expensive than the 420 W, even though I guess that the smaller PSU would be cooler, and would be OK with only the mobo, HDD and BD to power. Again, I'd be happy for my reasoning to be corrected.

Everything else is bog-standard.

Any comments would be very gratefully received.

All the best,


Keith
 

jameson_uk

Prominent Member
Motherboard was chosen to avoid the need for a separate graphics card, and HD video and (7.1 LPCM) audio can be output via a single HDMI cable.
Would check this out first. I seem to recall reading a fair amount about people struggling to get this to work...

Antec case was chosen for the two large (120 mm) exhaust fans, as I was hoping to try the supplied heat sink without a fan. This is all new to me, so I'd be happy to learn now (before I buy) if this is a bad idea - perhaps I need a better heat sink, or a CPU fan (which targets the main heat source) is much more important than a couple of exhaust fans (which just do general cooling).
You probably can run this CPU passively but not with the stock cooler. You would need something much better at cooling such as the Scythe Mini-Ninja. Would need to do some digging to see if others have your CPU running passively. (I have a Noctura 80mm fan on my Mini-Ninja with an Intel E4500, which needs more heat dissipation than yours, and that is near enough silent anyway)

Other than that seems a fairly typical build at the minute and should do the job. Only thing missing is software...
 

barnclos

Established Member
Thanks for the comments jameson_uk.

Your comment about people struggling with the mobo has sent me on a weird and wonderful trawl around various discussion. I found a couple of people here (Digicon and shawnf) who seem to have got things working the way I'd like - software (PDVD) decoding then output as PCM over HDMI :thumbsup:.

BUT, this trawl has led to another question. Do PowerDVD and the other software possibilities (TMT, WinDVD, ...) all decode/output HD audio as 16bit/48kHz PCM? As I understand things, HD audio can be (but never has been) encoded at up to 24bit/192kHz, and my amp (Denon 2807) can accept 24bit/192kHz.
I appreciate that this is all a bit theoretical, as my hearing is almost certainly not up to distinguishing between 16/48 (the audio resolution on standard DVDs I think) and 24/192.

I'll get a Mini-Ninja - although there's a thread which shows that passive cooling should work (http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=789396), I'll go down the belt-and-braces route.

Finally, the software. To be honest, I had been burying my head in the sand a bit: it seems that the most popular playersare PowerDVD and TMT, but both have issues. I'll keep trawling, and have another look at the sticky about codecs etc..

All the best,


Keith
 

Stephen Neal

Distinguished Member
In theory TMT and the Zonar (Xonar?) HDMI 1.3 sound card will output multi-channel PCM or (with a forthcoming upgrade) bitstream Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio / High Resolution streams.

The latter will be as encoded on-disc AIUI with no decoding, resampling or bitdepth reduction. Not sure abut the former.
 

barnclos

Established Member
In theory TMT and the Zonar (Xonar?) HDMI 1.3 sound card will output multi-channel PCM or (with a forthcoming upgrade) bitstream Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio / High Resolution streams.

The latter will be as encoded on-disc AIUI with no decoding, resampling or bitdepth reduction. Not sure abut the former.

Thanks for the suggestion Stephen. I just hads a look in Asus's "Xonar HDAV1.3 DVD/Blu-ray Disc Playback User Guide" and it seems that the user can choose whether or not to to downsample LPCM. The Windows Vista Scenario 1 (starting on the bottom of page 13) gives an example of 7.1 LPCM output at 24bit/192kHz.

Only problem now is the cost of the Xonar - even with a copy of TMT, it ain't cheap.

All the best,


Keith
 

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