Resarf's Gaming HTPC Build / Upgrade thread

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by Resarf, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Resarf

    Resarf
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    The computer was purchased from the classifieds on this forum though I have added quite a bit to it and changed out some parts. As I didn't build the computer myself I don't have any pics of the initial build. Have taken a couple of pics just now though to show the computer how it is at present.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Current specs:

    Silverstone LC13
    Asus P5E-VM HDMI
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.40GHz
    4 GB DDR2 RAM
    Radeon HD4890
    Lite-On Blu Ray ROM
    OCZ GameXStream 850W PSU
    3 x Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB
    Maxtor 1TB HDD

    Software:

    Vista Home Premium 64bit
    Windows Media Centre (with My Movies 2 Plugin)
    TotalMedia Theatre 3 Platinum
    Power DVD7
    Any DVD HD

    I have replaced the stock CPU cooler with a Scythe Mini Ninja, the PSU with a near silent, higher voltage one, and all the case fans have been replaced with same size AcoustiFans (1 x 92mm and 2 x 60mm). I know 60mm is far from ideal as exhaust fans due due to size constraints it is the best I can do.

    There is a metal frame which holds the cages in place and it extends right to the back of the case. Unfortunately this support goes right over where the CPU fits so the Mini Ninja wouldn't fit (didn't bother to measure before hand) so I had to cut a part of it away. The main part of the frame still seems secure despite the suport being removed.

    [​IMG]

    More recently I upgraded the PSU as the old one was noisy and insufficiant to power the Radeon HD4890 and all the drives. I went with a OCZ GameXStream 850W which I now kinda regret. Space is very tight on that side of the case and I wish I had gone modular.

    It was after fitting the new PSU that disater struck. I managed to break off the tiny little L shaped piece of plastic that holds the SATA data cable in place on the main HDD. I considerred cloning the HDD but I didn't want any unforseen issues with Vista or any of my other paid for software. I have managed to stick the L shaped connecter back onto the HDD using Areldite. It isn't perfectly secure but I can't see the cable becoming unplugging itself unless maybe if the PC is moved. In the future I will do a clean install of Windows on a different hard drive, probably when Windows 7 is released.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2009
  2. Resarf

    Resarf
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    Reserved for future updates.
     
  3. Resarf

    Resarf
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    Moved the fan over to the left hand side of the mini ninja hopefully it wont make much difference to the temps as it is now blowing towards the PSU and not the rear case fans. I also replaced the 400GB Maxtor drive with a new Samsung Spinpoint 1TB drive I just bought.

    I tried sticking the sata cable onto the contacts on the HDD with Areldite. Seemed secure at first but it became unstuck again when attempting to out the drives back into place. I could try soldering the contacts but that seems risky and would be difficult. Anyone got any expirience with hard drive cloning? The HDD that is damaged is the main drive that has Windows and all the programme files on it. I have never done this before and I am worried it will cause problems with Windows and the software installed like Any DVD HD which I don't want to have to repurchase a license for. Its Vist Home Premium 64bit if that makes any difference.
     
  4. William YZF-R1

    William YZF-R1
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    There is software that will let you copy/clone your damaged drive to your new one, thus transferring your working Vista and installed programs.
     
  5. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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  6. gvers

    gvers
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    If the mothboard has raid I tend to mirror the drive (raid 0) then remove the old one and break the mirror.

    Hav you considered replacing the Mini Ninja with something like the Shuriken? It would have saved some of the case mods. You can get 90 degree sata cables which would bring the cable down from the back of the drive instead of horizontal.
     
  7. Resarf

    Resarf
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    I was aware of these two programmes though I read some horror stories of Vista not working after being cloned so I wanted to get a second opinion. I Will download the free trial of Acronis later on.

    As for not buying a bigger case, while the idea does appeal, I don't want to spend any more on the computer as I have already spent a small fortune on it and gone way overbudget. The only other major expense I am looking to spend on it is with some passove cooling for the gfx card.

    Again due to budget I dont want to replace the Mini Ninja. That thing was a pain in the ass to fit too and I don't want the hassel of fitting a new CPU cooler. 90 degree sata cables is a great idea though, may invest in some of those. Now the Ninja fan has been moved though there is a lot more room to get into the back of the drives.

    Not sure about the motherboard. Don't really know much about raids.
     
  8. Resarf

    Resarf
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    I decided to forget about cloning the drive as I could see all kind of problems coming about as a result. Tried gluing the cable onto the HDD again and it seems to have held better this time. Have closed up the case and am going to take a break from hardware tweaks for the time being.

    I gave up on Power DVD 7.3 and have Purchased TotalMedia Theatre 3 Platinum. It is so much better in almost everyway and all the issues that plauged me with Powere DVD are gone.

    Finally got round to sorting out my front end. I was initially going to go for Media Portal, it looks great when all set up and customised but also seems really complicated to set up. In the end I settled for Windows Media Center. I am just using the default skin at present and it looks really dull and sparse. Will look into customising it with skins in the future as I really am not a fan of it's look at all. I did install the My Movies plugin and it is really good. I am very happy with it, now going through the process of adding all my online and offline movies to it's library.

    Really happy with the way TMT3 and Virtual Clone Drive integrated seamlessly into WMC and MM2.

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Only things left to do now is get it working with my Harmony One and do something about the GPU noise, as it is loud as hell. Need to sort out a couple of audio issues and get DX10 working too. Toying with the idea of upgrading to a bigger and better case but I really don't want to spend anymore money on the computer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  9. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Nice! Have you specifically put images in of HD-DVD or Blu-Ray DVD covers, or has it automatically masked it depending on your selection in some way?
     
  10. Balerien

    Balerien
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    Looks good!

    Can you confirm then that TMT3 and /or PowerDVD 7.3 plays HD-DVD's flawlessly in Vista SP2? I'm trying to get as many first hand reports as possible before potentially going back to Vista from 7 and / or buying TMT3 Plat.
     
  11. Resarf

    Resarf
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    It does it all automatically. You can manually search for the disc with the title (and you need to select country and format) or by the UPC/EAN barcode, or by the disc ID (it automatically detects and prompts to add it when you play a new disc or mount an ISO). Or you can take a picture of the barcode of the movie and it should add it also (which I haven't tried yet but will be cool if it works). Their database must be huge and I haven't yet had a single issue with a disc not being identified correctly.

    My Movies is comprised of two different programes. The frontend that's integrated with Media Center and a Collection Manager where you well, manage your collection. There is an online component two where you can show your collection online , but i haven't tried that yet. The whole thing is really easy to set up. Media Center by itself only takes 5-10 minutes to set up and if you are planning on playing iso's you really need My Movies. Media Center doesn't natively support Blu Ray and HD DVD and without a bunch of registery changes wont let you play ripped DVDs from your computer.

    I'm still on SP1 myself putting off updating as I read others have been having trouble with it.
     

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