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So is it build or buy....

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by U187146, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. U187146

    U187146
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    Not seen much on the forum with regard to new off the shelf media centres of late.

    Seen some interesting stuff coming onto the market, including a Demonite which looks the business as they are using the Uneed case with optional built in touch screen LCD, which I think looks fabulous and presumably means that you can control music selection without turning on main LCD screen. I think there are some out there with "VFD" displays that also allow you to choose music (rather than simply display what is being played, which is pretty pointless in my view). All we really need is an MP3 player type interface, a default folder on the server and hey presto - no need to turn on the big screen to listen to some music. Anyway, check out http://www.demonite.com/systemprod.asp?systemvar=7 Prices don't look too bad, though I haven't got as far as pricing up the hardware.

    Acer also has a new box out there which looks interesting as a budget option, though it doesn't have a display. I also see that the PC World in-house brand (can't remember the name of it) is selling a Hi-Grade DMSII look a like for £999.

    Talking of which, I haven't see much comment on the HiGrade DMSII of late on the board, though I see they have launched a "dual" version of the 6600GT and a digital TV card. How are people getting on with these now. The Extreme series also looks interesting and I saw a recent review of a much small one using an AOpen case and M series intel processor)

    Any other interesting ones out there that anyone is aware of. I'm surprised the market hasn't been flooded as I am sure there will be strong demand when it moves into the mainstream and Joe Public get to grips with the potential of HTPCs / Extenders etc... I am considering building my own, though this slightly intimidates me as the last time I messed around with the guts of a PC was about 6 years ago.

    As an aside, I am having Ethernet cable put around the house and was assuming that Cat5 would do the job, but now there is all this talk about Gibabit HDTV and I am no longer sure whether Cat5e will still suffice. Can someone put me straight on this.

    Cheers and thanks !!

    Chris
     
  2. lisag

    lisag
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    My opinion....

    Build your own - get exactly what you want, and think of all the fun you will have in the process....! Decide on a case and what sort of tv (freeview sky, cable) and folks on here will help you choose the rest of the components.

    Ethernet - 100mbps will be fine for now, if you are actually having the cables embedded into walls etc and will be a major job to replace, go for the 1000mbps.

    lisa
     
  3. U187146

    U187146
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    Thanks Lisa - I am tempted to build my own. With regard to Ethernet cable, which one do I need for 1000mb. I am assuming from your comments that Cat5e doesn't cut the mustard.
     
  4. SeanT

    SeanT
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    hence the specification of Cat 6!!!
     
  5. stoner

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    Also CAT6a 10 times faster then CAT6, dont know about CAT 7 actually working , i dont think its working out very well, some home auto guys are claiming that they are installing CAT7 while the bigger data guys (the real pros) are pushing cat 6a.
    If i was you i'd put in either cat 6 or cat 6a , maybe cat6A cabling with cat 6 components, when the spec for your HW come up and the cat6a components come down you can changeover the components and you wont have to rip the walls down.
     
  6. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Build your own - those who don't have the time or interest to build their own, are probably not suited to having an HTPC, which requires a lot of effort with regard to set-up, fine tuning, bug fixing and updating.

    Cat6 may be a fair bit more expensive than Cat5e, once you allow for Hubs, patch cables, patch panels etc. Check what you need first. Cat5e may well be enough for most uses well into the future.
     
  7. rdhir

    rdhir
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    err chaps

    Cat 5e does work for 1000 or gigabit ethernet, that's why its called 5e or Cat 5 enhanced. It certainly works fast enough for the modern CPUs and what you would see working in a home. Its not the cable that stops you getting the theoretical rate, but the speed of the CPU and the fact that the bus wasn't fast enough. However you should see a rate of around 300mbps with a reasonable machine.

    If you want to get technical and want better performance then both machines would need to be new, with modern chipsets that have a Gigabit Ethernet access in the Northbridge.

    Like anything else though long cables are susceptible to poor connections, breakage, and interference. So you can go for higher spec cables on the grounds that they will still perform with a little damage. But honestly its unlikely in a home environment you'll have a problem that can be fixed by better cables.

    Cheers

    Rajiv
     
  8. meansizzler

    meansizzler
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    That's the same as having a Seperate LCD Screen but instead it is just built in...oh and Cat 5 cabels should cut it for Gigabit etherent, just don't get some cheapy one, Cat 6 cables are expensive, I got a Belkin Cat 6 cable, it's like 45CM long and cost me £9, I use it with the Xbox.., no point really since it's only Fast etherent, only really need to get a Cat 6 cable if you have a Gigabit Hub/Router...and to my knowledge there is only one Gigabit Router on the Market...the D Link Gamer Lounge I think..
     
  9. The Dude

    The Dude
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    yep..rdhir is quite correct. cat5e runs absolutely fine at Gigabit rates.

    I think some of you have missed the point slightly on cat5/6 differences,
    Cat5e terminated properly can be used at 10/100/1000 rates, the cable itself isn't going to make a difference, not one that you'll ever notice in a PC environment anyway...

    If you want a good, safe, install, get Cat5e FTP cable, a 305m box will cost you about £55-65.
     
  10. lisag

    lisag
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    Oh good, glad we cleared that up - sorry if I misled anyone :suicide:
    lisa
     
  11. U187146

    U187146
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    I didn't understand half of it, but bloody fascinating all the same. I'll stick with Cat5e for home use - I haven't even got around to streaming MP3's yet, so by the time I get around to HD everyone will probably be wireless anyway !!

    Thanks for all the responses on this and thanks Lisa (again). Increasingly warming to building my own.
     
  12. rdhir

    rdhir
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    stop agreeing with me!;)
     
  13. Andyuk911

    Andyuk911
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    I built a HTPC but with the help of loonatic(big thanks). He worked out the spec and I just went crazy and bought the lot. I use it to drive a 50 MXE1 via DVI. I also use Theatre Tek for DVD playback and use mymovies from www.mymovies.name
    The storage is 300gb for DVDs 300gb TV stuff and 160gb for MCE and music. Now I have had problems but now most are sorted. BTW it cost a lot the case is Dign X15e at over £500 alone.
     
  14. CTID

    CTID
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    Without a doubt you should build your own. I've got 2 different bought machines and each is full of frustrations. I am now about to build my own, how I want it to work and I expect to spend £400 less then the current top two (Elonex/DMS2) which I think are overpriced.

    BTW Cat5e definately works with gigabit.
     
  15. U187146

    U187146
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    Andy, I am trying to do exactly the same probably using the X15e case (expensive but nice). Any pointers would be really welcomed as I something of a PC build virgin. Would be interested in seeing your spec. Thanks.
     
  16. BryanKitts

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    CTID mentioned in passing the traditional alternative to the DMSII: the Elonex Artisan. Does less well in reviews than the DMSII (and seems to have had more problems on the AVForums threads) but has more upgrade potential than the DMSII. Hush are also a pre-built option: a bit more expensive but completely passively cooled. I think trustedreviews has a review of the latter. Oh, and Alienware have a DMSII clone. Disappointed nobody's reviewed the DMSII Dual yet.

    Like you, I'm surprised there isn't more choice in this market, particularly as such systems seem to have a high markup compared to non-'lifestyle' systems.

    On the subject of self-build, there's a recent "how to" article in Digital Home Magazine (http://www.digitalhomemag.com) for a twin digital tuner system. May or may not be useful...
     
  17. rhemsley

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  18. BryanKitts

    BryanKitts
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  19. BGoff

    BGoff
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    one option is to cheat like i did. i used www.bigbry.co.uk who custom built the pc to my spec.

    I got a P4 3.00, 1 Gig DDR2 ram, 6600gt 128meg, 200g SATA hd, single analogue tuner that's connected to my cable box, sony dvd-rw, multi-format card reader (its built into a 3.5" drive bay, but ejects to work externally via usb) all built in a Silverstone Lc03v case (same as the hi-Grade in post above, but shiny silver) £880 well worth it for me because i wanted to chose the spec but didn't have time to build it.

    Its running MCE and works very well, no problems so far (had it a month)
     
  20. BryanKitts

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    I'm also coming to the conclusion that my best bet could be to build my own, but I'm unsure about a couple of things:

    1. How easy is it to build a near-silent PC like the Elonex/DMSII, compared to building a "normal" PC? That's to say, if I choose quiet components (passively-cooled graphics card and PSU, say) will I get an almost silent machine fairly easily without having to go down the massive-heatsinks-on-case/Zalman XYZ/heatpipe road, which seems a bit hard-core.

    2. Do cases with LCD displays usually come with drivers that integrate well with Windows MCE (e.g. automatically display CD track names) or is this hit and miss? Ditto control buttons on the front of the case. (I've been looking at some of the Silverstone cases).

    Or to put it more generally, how hard is it to self-build a good (well integrated, quiet) Windows MCE HTPC, compared to building just a normal PC?
     
  21. lisag

    lisag
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    It is still a PC so the actual building should be straightforward, it is the research that is the hard bit, and getting the right components, that really are silent and up to the job.

    Someone else may be along to give you specific makes/models etc., if not is it possible to get a detailed hardware breakdown of the machine you are aiming to copy, or if you research on www.thegreenbutton.com or www.xpmce.com you will probably find someone who has already achieved what you are after, and ask them for a specific breakdown of which components they used, then copy them!

    lisa
     
  22. U187146

    U187146
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    Thanks Mike and everyone for keeping this one going. Got some bad news in that the X15e (of LCD screen fame) is too wide for my kitchen cupboard. Looks like it will need to be a small case for starters. Oh well - there's always the living toom :smashin:
     

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