My first HTPC build on a budget, questions ??

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essexmirage

Guest
I'm starting to build a mini ITX HTPC based on Ubuntu OS and running XBMC, to go under the TV and linked to my older Yamaha Av Receiver and wanted some advice on various bits both for the build and OS etc, it's going to be a real budget build and will have to use some secondhand parts, along with some new bits like the motherboard and maybe a new SSD to keep the heat down etc
Here goes, I have an old Evesham E Style case which has already got a power supply, although the old mother board is frazzed and there is no hard drive or optical drive, so I will be using this a my base for the build, I've seen a ASRock H61M-ITX H61 Socket 1155 Motherboard on Ebuyer for just short of £56 which seems to be a decent spec ?? I would be interested to hear your views or comments on this board or the Brand ?? The other board I've looked at is the Zotac NM10-E-E D525 CPU Wi-Fi VGA HDMI Out Mini-ITX which seem to be a good spec too for a reasonable price, Zotac have a large range of mini ITX boards and and again I'd like your views or if you have any other suggestions for the motherboard/CPU, thinking of the CPU I was keen on an Intel i3 due to the unbuilt graphics but would settle for a decent dual core, and maybe a seperate graphics card, so suggestions please but keeping the budget build in mind.......... I'd be interested in a secondhand processor if one became available at the right price ?
I had originally thought of using just a DVD optical drive to be able to rip DVDs to a network drive, but due to the low cost of Blu Ray drives may be tempted to use one instead and cover Blu Ray playback too ! To be able to keep the temperature down I'd thought of running the OS on small capacity SSD and to avoid the temptation of loading loads of non needed stuff onto the PC, or maybe even getting a SATA to CF card converter and running that instead as I have a few decent size ones laying around then I could upgrade to a SSD at a later date ??
For the OS I'd thought of having a break from good old Windows and going down the Ubuntu route instead as it's free and seems to work fine with XBMC which is what I was thinking of using as the media interface, and is usable from a remote, once again any other suggestions ??
To be able to connect to my older AV amp I'd need to go with either co-ax, split channel or optical as there is no HDMI connections on the amp but obviously I'd want to run the display out through HDMI to the TV, but still be able to split audio to the amp!

So as you can see loads of ideas and questions and although I have a basic knowledge of building a computer i really need some advice on these points so my build can take some shape and get going !!

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer :) :)
 

bryanchicken

Novice Member
I'm starting to build a mini ITX HTPC based on Ubuntu OS and running XBMC
Good choice :thumbsup:

I've seen a ASRock H61M-ITX H61 Socket 1155 Motherboard on Ebuyer for just short of £56 which seems to be a decent spec ?? I would be interested to hear your views or comments on this board or the Brand ?? The other board I've looked at is the Zotac NM10-E-E D525 CPU Wi-Fi VGA HDMI Out Mini-ITX which seem to be a good spec too for a reasonable price
ASRock are ok as far as i know. Also, the intel graphics will be ok-ly supported under linux. Not as good as nvidia but better than ati.
You won't get hardware acceleration (VAAPI) using intel unless you use a nightly xbmc, until the Eden release that is which i believe will have VAAPI built-in.
However, the i3 will be able to play back anything without VAAPI anyway.

The other board you mention won't be good enough for HD content. IIRC the NM10 chipset doesn't support hardware accleration for x264 content and the D525 atom will be overwhelmed for anything above 720p (and possibly some higher bitrate 720p).

Zotac have a large range of mini ITX boards and and again I'd like your views or if you have any other suggestions for the motherboard/CPU, thinking of the CPU I was keen on an Intel i3 due to the unbuilt graphics but would settle for a decent dual core, and maybe a seperate graphics card, so suggestions please but keeping the budget build in mind.......... I'd be interested in a secondhand processor if one became available at the right price ?
Zotac are an ok brand as far as i'm concerned. I used to have a board til it broke (totally my fault rather than a fault with the board).
Any board with an atom needs to be paired with the ion chipset to make it good enough for HD playback.

Have you considered the fusion (E350) motherboards? They have ati graphics but there are builds of openelec for it and as they are quite popular there is lots of info available over on the xbmc forums about them.

Also, the G series 1155 cpus will have enough grunt i would have thought. They are cheaper, but they lack 3D support i believe, if that is on the horizon at all.


For the OS I'd thought of having a break from good old Windows and going down the Ubuntu route instead as it's free and seems to work fine with XBMC which is what I was thinking of using as the media interface, and is usable from a remote, once again any other suggestions ??
Ubuntu will be fine, but it won't be as easy as windows if you are a non-linux user. If you are prepared to persevere though you will be rewarded IMO. I was a linux noob a couple of years back, its not _that_ hard.
Remote wise, my suggestion would be an RC6 remote. A proper microsoft mce would be best if you can source one (they are scarce nowadays).
There is a remote page on the xbmc wiki somewhere.

To be able to connect to my older AV amp I'd need to go with either co-ax, split channel or optical as there is no HDMI connections on the amp but obviously I'd want to run the display out through HDMI to the TV, but still be able to split audio to the amp!
Not sure what split channel is. Do you mean the analog outs (coloured 3.5mm jacks)? If so, i'd go with optical/co-ax as they are digital. You won't be able to do HD audio with them.
For HD audio you'd have to use the analog outs, but i would guess that the crappy DACs on the motherboard would totally negate the point of HD audio anyway.

To be able to keep the temperature down I'd thought of running the OS on small capacity SSD and to avoid the temptation of loading loads of non needed stuff onto the PC, or maybe even getting a SATA to CF card converter and running that instead as I have a few decent size ones laying around then I could upgrade to a SSD at a later date ??
A laptop hard drive won't up the temp considerably either.
Even cheaper if you have it: you can install ubuntu/xbmc-live on a usb stick.
 
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essexmirage

Guest
Wow thanks for all that info, exactly what I need, what set up do you have then ??
I can't wait to start my build and reckon getting to grips with Linux will help in the long run too, cheers again
P.s. There nay be a few more questions coming your way............. :)
 

bryanchicken

Novice Member
No worries, happy to help. I think more people should get into linux. Quite a few can't be bothered with the effort though, which i fully understand.
Since i started down the linux road i've ended up with 3 linux boxes (1 not _actual_ computer but hardware that i've put linux on - router) and 1 windows box in the house. Previously i was 100% windows.

Currently i have a minimal Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric) with XBMC-PVR on top, with an ATI card (!!).
That certainly isn't the route i'd go down if you are new to linux though, the ati drivers were particularly troublesome without a graphical interface.

I've been through virtually every front-end on lots of versions of windows/ubuntu previously.

By far the easiest ways to start would be:
XBMC Live (Dharma): XBMC install sitting on top of minimal Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid). You will be able to use the linux command line to install things on this system.

OpenELEC: XBMC sitting on a really stripped down system. I don't believe it has a package manager etc so installing stuff other than XBMC addons is difficult. There are special builds for fusion boards if you chose that route.

Ubuntu Desktop + XBMC: this will give you a PC (eg graphical interface) that works as a PC with XBMC on top. Probably the best if you want to play around with all linux has to offer.
 
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essexmirage

Guest
So heres the Evesham Estyle case as it is now prior to being stripped.........
c7880798.jpg
 

spyder viewer

Well-known Member
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essexmirage

Guest
I agree I had looked at the Asus E35M1 I Deluxe too as it's passive cooled and has the E350 chipset with onboard graphics, think that they are good but can be a bit twitchy with which memory they work with, I'm ready to go mow and just deciding on the vital components ie motherboard and CPU and want to buy these new if funds allow.
 

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