New to the HTPC world - need some advice.

markmeus

Standard Member
Hi everyone.

I'm relatively new to the whole HTPC scene, and only really discovered it by chance playing with Media Centre in Win7 However it's made me realise there’s a whole area of home entertainment I never thought was possible.

So first off apologies if I seem a little slow. Built a few computer systems about 4 years ago when AMD were generally perceived to have the edge over the Intel CPUs, but I've been out of the loop for a while and it seems Intel rule the roost these days.

With that in mind I stumbled across this forum trying to figure out what sort of CPU I need for my Media centre PC.

I had a look at the FAQ which has been a great help but I'm not sure how recent the CPU section is.


Basically I want to be able to do the following things with my HTPC
  • upscale DVDs
  • play HD mkv files (as far as I'm aware I need a powerful CPU for this?)
  • watch content from BBC iPlayer/Youtube etc in HD if possible (again from what I've read on here, the lack of hardware acceleration means I need a fast CPU?)
Now for the processor am I right in thinking that a faster clock speed is more beneficial in a HTPC than having loads of cores?

At the moment I'm thinking of a Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3GHz 65w. Overkill? Not enough power? or am I barking up the wrong tree and should I be looking at AMD instead.

As for motherboards, I'm equally as confused. Are onboard graphics good enough for my HD needs? I see a lot of motherboards with HD mentioned all over the specs. Ideally for simplicity I'd like to hook my PC to my TV via HDMI, obviously with a separate graphics card I'm not going to get sound over HDMI but if I get a motherboard with onboard HDMI port will it do the sound as well?

Sorry for the 20 questions, but I'd appreciate any advice.

Thankfully I'm not completely clueless and have made a start - ordered a silver Antec Fusion 430 case and a SATA DVD drive. Also got a 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 hard drive which I've read good things about on here.

I'll keep this thread updated with my progress.
 

RPetto85

Standard Member
I will be watching this thread with interest... looks like your in a similar position to me and ive been looking at the Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3GHz with the samsung spinpoint and antec fusion case.

Leaning towards the ASUS P5Q-EM iG45 Socket 775 motherboard running with onboard sound/gfx but had similar questions as you about whether this would be sufficient. Also Corsair 4Gb (2x2GB) DDR2 1066MHz/PC2-8500.

Not ordered anything yet so may hold off and see where this thread goes...
 

markmeus

Standard Member
Well I didn't really get the response I was hoping for, but maybe I asked too many questions at once.:(

Undeterred, I kept looking on the site, and decided that I'd go for an AMD Phenom II x2 550 Black Edition and a Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H motherboard.

Ordered from OcUK and should hopefully arrive tomorrow :)

Also manged to find out that with this particular motherboard I can get sound and video via HDMI, so that'll be good for a quick and easy link up to the TV.

Maybe in the future I'll upgrade to an amp and surround sound, but the TV speakers will do for now.

RPetto85, I'll let you know how I get on with the AMD combination, only reason I changed to AMD was that it seemed easier to find an socket AM3 motherboard with all the features that I wanted for a decent price, and it seems the AMD785G chipset is very good for this kind of thing.
 

Marie1405

Standard Member
I went for Asus Mobo 775 with entry level core2 CPU.
2gig DDR Geil RAM
ATI 2400XT Graphics (fanless)
2X 1TB sata H/D

Sound output through optical (spdif) through to amp for DTS sound. Plays MKV's spot on doesnt struggle in the slightest. Cant comment on AMD as always stuck with Intel for years but entry level CORE2 chips work a treat.
 

Stez34

Standard Member
Just recently built my first htpc.

I used an amd athlon dual core 5200 which runs everything fine.

The onboard graphics card will be fine for watching hd content will just be insufficent for games.

Good luck with the build.
 

RPetto85

Standard Member
markmeus - id be interested to see how you get on.

Seems alot of people go for the AMD setup. Im unsure as yet wether i will go for a pure HTPC setup using onboard gfx or if i will want to plan the occasional game in which case onboard graphics may not be the right choice for me.
 

markmeus

Standard Member
That was partially why I went down the AMD route, saw quite a few others on here had done the same.

I hope to get started with the build at the weekend, so I'll take some pics along the way and share my experiences.

This will be a really interesting experiment for me, this PC will have to work flawlessly basically 100% of the time, of I'll have the rest of my family on my back asking why the thing doesn't just work.

It's amazing how many little things people put up with when using the PCs in general, eg slowness, applications crashing, etc and it's only when you begin to consider putting a PC in the living room environment that you realise these little niggles will cause great fustration for the rest of the family when all they want to do is watch a dvd, or tv.

So heres hoping that Windows 7 will be as rock solid as the reviews / marketing campaign make it out to be. Fingers crossed...
 

RPetto85

Standard Member
tbh the thing that has suprised me more than anything is how few preBuilt machines are available. Ive seen very very few HTPCs sold by leading companies or even smaller vendors and those that are are typically very expensive compared to what you could buid yourself.

If i could go buy a pre-built machine that was reasonable value for money i wouldnt bother building my own at all.
 

DJWhiteWolf

Novice Member
tbh the thing that has suprised me more than anything is how few preBuilt machines are available. Ive seen very very few HTPCs sold by leading companies or even smaller vendors and those that are are typically very expensive compared to what you could buid yourself.

If i could go buy a pre-built machine that was reasonable value for money i wouldnt bother building my own at all.
Same here.

AS the last one I built gave me two nice CPU desk ornaments. Due to the fact that I bust them trying to fit the fan :eek: :rotfl:

WW :cool:
 

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