Should I be doing this?

ChrisArt

Standard Member
I am finally making the move from CRT to LCD. To justify spending a large sum of money replacing what is still a perfectly good TV I want my new one to be able to do more than just look pretty and take up less floor space. Initially I was planning on getting a PS3 with Play TV. This would give me a PVR, internet browser, blue-ray, and media player. However it won’t support broadcast HD. I don’t want to get Sky so the only options currently are Freesat and iPlayer Desktop – which is what brings me to this forum.

It seems that only an HTPC will give me the flexibility to access the web, receive HD broadcasts and handle the widest variety of media files. I don’t mind the extra cost involved (compared to a PS3) but I am worried about how much time it is going to take to set it up and keep it running. Am I going to be spending so much time with software updates and incompatibilties that I haven’t got time to enjoy the almost limitless capabilites?

Originally I was going to buy an off-the-shelf system but after spending some time browsing this forum I am coming round to the idea of building my own. I am reasonably happy tinkering with PC software but my only experience with hardware was installing a hard drive and a DVD writer on an old desktop five years ago. How likely is it that nothing will happen after I plug all my expensive components into the case and switch it on?

The basic components I have in mind are:

Case: Zalman HD160+
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA785GT-UD3H
CPU: AMD Phenom X3 705E (or X4 905E)

My remaining questions are:
Is this a good base to start with?
Is it worth getting the more expensive CPU and do I need a CPU cooler?
Will I be able to add a high-end video card later if I feel the need to play games on a really big screen?
Am I going to regret getting into this?
 

rwttm001

Active Member
I am finally making the move from CRT to LCD. To justify spending a large sum of money replacing what is still a perfectly good TV I want my new one to be able to do more than just look pretty and take up less floor space. Initially I was planning on getting a PS3 with Play TV. This would give me a PVR, internet browser, blue-ray, and media player. However it won’t support broadcast HD. I don’t want to get Sky so the only options currently are Freesat and iPlayer Desktop – which is what brings me to this forum.

It seems that only an HTPC will give me the flexibility to access the web, receive HD broadcasts and handle the widest variety of media files. I don’t mind the extra cost involved (compared to a PS3) but I am worried about how much time it is going to take to set it up and keep it running. Am I going to be spending so much time with software updates and incompatibilties that I haven’t got time to enjoy the almost limitless capabilites?

Originally I was going to buy an off-the-shelf system but after spending some time browsing this forum I am coming round to the idea of building my own. I am reasonably happy tinkering with PC software but my only experience with hardware was installing a hard drive and a DVD writer on an old desktop five years ago. How likely is it that nothing will happen after I plug all my expensive components into the case and switch it on?

The basic components I have in mind are:

Case: Zalman HD160+
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA785GT-UD3H
CPU: AMD Phenom X3 705E (or X4 905E)

My remaining questions are:
Is this a good base to start with?
Is it worth getting the more expensive CPU and do I need a CPU cooler?
Will I be able to add a high-end video card later if I feel the need to play games on a really big screen?
Am I going to regret getting into this?

Hi Chris, (and welcome to the forum)

Things have changed hardware wise in the 9 months since I built mine so I can't really comment on your proposed specs but look at this thread for reference. Basically if you don't want to game right now then it's a good thing to choose your components with a view to balancing power with noise output and economy (it'll be turned on most of the time).

You'll definitely need a CPU cooler:eek:, I have the Scythe Mini Ninja which has lowered both noise and temp levels from the stock heatsink and fan I got with my CPU.

The beauty of a HTPC is that it is scalable, you can add a gaming graphics card (the ATI 5xxx series is due shortly and had full bitstreaming capabilities for HD audio) as and when you see fit. You also get proper net browsing and apps.:smashin:

If there is a downside then there is a certain amount of maintenance involved, Windows/app updates etc etc but W7MC is supposed to be much more stable from a HTPC than Vista MC ever was.

I doubt you'll live to regret it, there's always someone on the forum to help out if things go pear shaped!:thumbsup:
 

tony_park

Active Member
Hi Chris,

looks like it could potentially be a good setup. You can add 2 graphics cards in SLI mode later on, if you require that power.

For an HTPC, the setup you are talking about will be overkill, going for something lower powered, but more efficient may be good, but then you are also talking about playing games on it, so then the power is required. Personally I would look to buy a different cpu cooler, try somewhere like quietpc.com for some ideas.

Also, I would suggest that once you have your pc setup as required, you turn off the windows updates, just allowing important updates through, and make sure you back up the system drive. That way, you can reinstall within an hour and be back up and running...

Oh, I'd install windows 7 when it comes out, as its a lot more stable for HTPC uses, and HD signals.

Tony
 

Cafe Racer

Active Member
as above - good imaging software to keep a "fallback" position is a good idea, but to be totally honest MOST problems I've had have been caused by tinkering, adding software, doing reg edits etc etc.
 

ChrisArt

Standard Member
Thanks for the replies.
I’ll get a ninja cooler as it seems very popular. I don’t plan on doing much gaming on it initially, apart from some online poker, but I (or more probably my kids) may want to in the future.
I thought I would slightly overspec it for my current needs to give me some flexibility and to try and future-proof it a bit. One of the annoying things about PCs is that you find yourself having to upgrade/replace them so often compared to things like DVD players and TVs.
I am planning to install Windows 7 from the outset – is this wise? I am told it won’t have the same problems that Vista had when it first came out.
 
I

insight101

Guest
Second the mini ninja cooler great cooler in a HTPC.
The 785g motherboard looks a good choice as well.
 

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