Total HD HTPC Build Mark II

kmark40

Active Member
Having changed everything in my original build, apart from the mobo and RAM. I thought it prudent that I just start my build thread afresh. So here we go..

Original thread

Current config

Hardware
  • Black Silverstone LC17B HTPC case – Brilliantly laid out, with loads of HDD bays
  • Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD3P Socket AM2+ ATX Motherboard – changed my original 780G board to this in order to keep costs down and utilise my 4GB of DDR2 RAM.
  • AMD Phenom II X2 550 CPU (Now a II X4 B50) –AM3 CPU. Have unlocked both of the dormant cores using a BIOS to make it quad core.
  • Scythe Mini Ninja Heatsink – can be used passively. Though I have replaced the fan with a noctua fan.
  • OCZ ModXStream Pro 600w - Modular PSU to help keep cables tidy and aid airflow.
  • 2 x Samsung SpinPoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB Hard Drive - One drive is master and has all of the OS on it. The other (slave), I have filled to the brim with media and have now spilled over into the master dive. By doing this, I was hoping to speed up the master drive. Not sure that this will work though.
  • 2 x Corsair 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL4(4-4-4-12) to take system up to 4gb
  • 2 x Noctua RF-8 fan – Replaced rear exhaust fans
  • LG Electronics Blu-Ray & HD-DVD-Rom Combo – Superb piece of kit. Highly recommended. Watching and ripping DVD, blues and Reds.
  • HIS ICEQ 4 HD 4850 Graphics card - purchased this to do some gaming and for the HD audio option. With this I am able to decode HD Audio (Dolby Digital TruHD, DTS MA etc) and output in LPCM via hdmi to my receiver. Would prefer bitstream, but this seems the best option at the moment. Gaming on this card is also excellent on my 1080p plasma. Absolutely kicks my xbox 360 all over the place.
  • Pinnacle 3010ix Tuner card – Dual DVB-T tuner to receive freeview. A 7010ix without the DVB-S tuners. This was a bargain £9.99 off fleabay.
  • Hauppauge WinTV Nova-S2 HD – To receive Freesat HD channels
  • Pioneer 50" PDP-LX508D Plasma - :)

Software

  • OS - Windows 7 7600 64bit (Windows 7 Home Edition on pre-order)
  • ATI catalyst software and drivers 9.4 - allows me to display in Limited RGB (16-235 I think). I use the profiles in the catalyst software that comes with this to change Refresh rates using ALT +2 for 24hz; ALT +5 for 50HZ and ALT +6 for 60hz. Catalyst software and drivers are currently on version 9.9 when I last checked. Every update I have made since 9.4 has left me with really messed up blacks. I don't know what it is, or how to articulate it, I just know that all video looks a whole lot better with 9.4.
  • CoreAVC 1.9.5.0 - By far my favourite video codec software. I use this to decode H.264. This version allows hardware acceleration, but only with nvidia cards.
  • Slysoft AnyDVD - Allows me to watch my Bluray's without region coding and also facilitates the ripping of all of my optical discs (DVD, Blu and Hddvd) to my hard drive. Latest versions come with some sort of automatic refresh rate changer, but reports of its effectiveness are negative at the moment.
  • Daemon Tools - mount the ISOs from my rips to be played
  • Total MediaTheater 3 - BD, HDDVD and DVD. Have done away with powerdvd 8 and 9. I am EAGERLY awaiting the release of Slyplayer from Slysoft.
  • KMPlayer 1434 - will play everything you throw at it.
  • imgburner - creates iso's
  • mediaportal 1.02 with streamedmp 08.448 (superb frontend. all media, other than hddvd and bluray discs are accessed through this). Still experimenting with this new version of mediaportal. It includes an automatic refreshrate changer. More info on MP here or Theydon Bois' excellent build thread Theydons HTPC and PC upgrade Project
  • Haali MKV splitter – I am using a 64bit beta from here
  • MakeMKV – I use this to archive my DVD and Blurays. It is very good and relatively quick, though it will not archive HDDVDs, which is mighty frustrating.

The catalyst for the recent changes was me attempting to update the BIOS on my mobo. This resulted in an unbootable machine, with all of my data on it. After many tests, I gave up the ghost, retrieved most of my data, using an application called getdataback and reformatted the HDD. After reformatting, I created 3 x separate partions. 1 - Vista 32bit, 2 - Windows 7 RC 64bit, 3 - Data (movies, music etc). I kept the vista partition, as I wasn't sure whether I would like Windows 7.
I do have to say that I'm impressed with w7 so far. I don't know whether it's because it's a clean install with partitions, but there's been absolutely no disk thrashing. It's very slick and hugely user friendly.
The aim is to keep the system as streamlined as possible, though windows 7 seems a lot less resource hungry than vista.
Mediaportal and kmplayer all still work good under W7, but I am still experimenting with W7 Media Center and the tuning aspect, to give me an all in one solution. I will expand further, but the main problems were explored and dealt with in the following threads.

DVB-T Decoder error

DVDViewer not finding all channnels

Massive thanks to Davey Bryce for build inspiration and help with 7MC. I'm sure, I'll be calling on him again soon.



More updates when I am near done.
 
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kmark40

Active Member
mine
 

kmark40

Active Member
Photos added

139527d1253529782-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8437.jpg


The first image is my tried and trusted antec fusion, absolutely stuffed with components. As I wanted to expand, the LC17B was an easy conclusion.

139528d1253529809-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8438.jpg


The second image is the new LC17B with the top off and nothing attached.

139529d1253529829-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8439.jpg


The third image, again is an LC17B, from behind. You can see the two drive bays with the potential for 6 x HDD and a fan in each, though I only added 2 x HDD, but a third may be included soon rather than later. You can also see two vents at either side of the case and I think 2 x 80mm fans at the rear.

139530d1253529903-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8440.jpg


The fourth image is the case with all of the drive bays removed and the PSU fitted. Notice, that it is on its side with the exhaust fan facing the side vent. I was also clearing the way for the case cables and 12V ATX cable. This I found the most frustrating and time consuming part. Routing the cables, so they would appear next to their respective connections on the mobo, without them overlapping and getting squashed. I did this with the help of some masking tape and keeping the mobo loose, so I could move the cables, when needed, during the install. I already knew that the ATX cable would not be long enough to reach its socket, so I purchased a 4 pin cable extender when i ordered the case.

139531d1253529942-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8441.jpg


The fifth image, shows everything loosely fitted. I realised that the mobob only had one connection for the fans to connect to, so i attached the other fan to one of the molex connectors on the PSU. This was a mistake, as the fan sounded like an airplane, when I later fired up the PC. I was informed by Dave Bryce that I would need to connecct the two fans up using a 3 pin Y splitter. This did indeed work, though the fans are still a little too audible for my liking. They will be replaced by Noctuas at a later date. Also in the pic is my noctua fan connected to the Minja in an attempt to pull air across the HS and out toward the exhaust fans.

139532d1253529995-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8442.jpg


The sixth image has everthing fitted. You can see that the drive bays have been inserted and I have had to the noctua to the side vent. I have all fans set to pull air out of the cae at present, but did consider using the noctua to suck air in and the case fans suck air out. The cables aren't as tidy as I would have liked, but hey ho.

139533d1253530030-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8491.jpg


Final image. Added the pinnacle card to the PCIe slot (which I didnt know existed). System works beautifully.

To buy

2 x 80mm Noctua NF-R8 fans
1 x 1TB/1.5TB HDD
 

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kmark40

Active Member
139543d1253536800-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8493.jpg

New case inside its cabinet. The cabinet had to be taken apart and readjusted for the last case. This case fits a lot nicer.

139542d1253536771-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8494.jpg

Taken from rough seating distance. The wooden flowers are my other half's input :)
 

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Daveybryce

Well-known Member
Looks awesome dude, and great pics too, very tidy, that space under the HDD caddy is a god send for extra cables from the PSU. Glad my thread was of use to you ;)

I didn't know you had a 4850! what resolution do you game at? and what are you playing at the moment. As you know I'm on the quest for a new GFX card and have pretty much decided on the Toxic HD4870, but always interested to hear other peeps impressions of hardware.

Have you decided on the move to Aussie land yet?

Enjoy your HTPC

Oh..... love the wooden flowers :rotfl:
 

oliphillips

Active Member
What are your CPU temps like? I think I need to reposition the fan on my heatsink like yours so it pulls in air from outside the case.
 

kmark40

Active Member
Looks awesome dude, and great pics too, very tidy, that space under the HDD caddy is a god send for extra cables from the PSU. Glad my thread was of use to you ;)

I didn't know you had a 4850! what resolution do you game at? and what are you playing at the moment. As you know I'm on the quest for a new GFX card and have pretty much decided on the Toxic HD4870, but always interested to hear other peeps impressions of hardware.

Have you decided on the move to Aussie land yet?

Enjoy your HTPC

Oh..... love the wooden flowers :rotfl:

The HIS 4850 is useful as it vents completely outside of the case.

It depends on the game tbh. I havent played since installing Win7 and an extra 2GB of RAM. I always go for 1920 x 1080, but if its something like Crysis or evn Arkham asylum, then you have to balance out the eye candy. For those types of games, I cant play at full whack, but I haven't tested it with 4GB yet. Whatever I shoose looks better than the 360 though.

My interview Australia is on the 30th in London. So pending the result from that, I am definitely going :D

What are your CPU temps like? I think I need to reposition the fan on my heatsink like yours so it pulls in air from outside the case.

I havent tested the temps yet and am not sure whether what I am doing is ok. Though as soon as I know I will post the results.
 

Donnacha

Distinguished Member
Looks very nice. I have the same case as you, wished mine looked as tidy inside! I'm running an old P4 2.8 with an ATI 2600 AGP card and XP SP3 for blu ray and HDVD. Works OK, but temps are a bit dodgy at times. Depending on the film / weather I have to adjust the fan to stop the machine from rebooting. It works, but its a bit noisy at higher settings!

I am tempted to upgrade internally, i.e. new board and CPU but don't want to miss out on being able to use my PCI soundcard and PCI Freeview card, I could live without AGP graphics !! If you don't mind me asking what did the mobo, CPU and RAM set you back?
 

kmark40

Active Member
Looks very nice. I have the same case as you, wished mine looked as tidy inside! I'm running an old P4 2.8 with an ATI 2600 AGP card and XP SP3 for blu ray and HDVD. Works OK, but temps are a bit dodgy at times. Depending on the film / weather I have to adjust the fan to stop the machine from rebooting. It works, but its a bit noisy at higher settings!

I am tempted to upgrade internally, i.e. new board and CPU but don't want to miss out on being able to use my PCI soundcard and PCI Freeview card, I could live without AGP graphics !! If you don't mind me asking what did the mobo, CPU and RAM set you back?

The mobo has been replaced by the newer 785G and 790GX series of boards. The RAM is now discontinued as well. I got my additional 2GB off the avforums classifieds. Definitely worth a look there for some bargains. I'll have to get back to you about the PSU
 

kmark40

Active Member
I'm struggling to get 7MC to use coreavc for mkv, despite going into registry as per Dave Bryce' instructions

I have however, downloaded mediabrowser and configured kmplayer for use of playback. Massive thanks to Eiren. I went into MediaBrowserXml.config in the mediabrowser folder (on my PC its C:\ProgramData\MediaBrowser ) and pasted in the following. Beware that if you do it, your program file location may be different. I literally cut and pasted Eiren's and changed the command location to mine. I'd save a copy of the original Xml, just in case you mess things up.

<ExternalPlayers>
<ExternalPlayer>
<MediaType>Avi</MediaType>
<Command>C:\Program Files (x86)\The KMPlayer\KMPlayer.exe</Command>
<Args>"{0}"</Args>
</ExternalPlayer>
<ExternalPlayer>
<MediaType>BluRay</MediaType>
<Command>C:\Program Files (x86)\The KMPlayer\KMPlayer.exe</Command>
<Args>"{0}"</Args>
</ExternalPlayer>
<ExternalPlayer>
<MediaType>HDDVD</MediaType>
<Command>C:\Program Files (x86)\The KMPlayer\KMPlayer.exe</Command>
<Args>"{0}"</Args>
</ExternalPlayer>
<ExternalPlayer>
<MediaType>TS</MediaType>
<Command>C:\Program Files (x86)\The KMPlayer\KMPlayer.exe</Command>
<Args>"{0}"</Args>
</ExternalPlayer>
<ExternalPlayer>
<MediaType>Mkv</MediaType>
<Command>C:\Program Files (x86)\The KMPlayer\KMPlayer.exe</Command>
<Args>"{0}"</Args>
</ExternalPlayer>
<ExternalPlayer>
<MediaType>DVD</MediaType>
<Command>C:\Program Files (x86)\The KMPlayer\KMPlayer.exe</Command>
<Args>"{0}"</Args>
</ExternalPlayer>
<ExternalPlayer>
<MediaType>PlayList</MediaType>
<Command>C:\Program Files (x86)\The KMPlayer\KMPlayer.exe</Command>
<Args>"{0}"</Args>
</ExternalPlayer>
</ExternalPlayers>/>
 

jameson_uk

Well-known Member
New case inside its cabinet. The cabinet had to be taken apart and readjusted for the last case. This case fits a lot nicer.
Completely off topic but what cabinet is that? I have been looking for a new one for ages but not found anything... Is that a 42" TV on there?
 

kmark40

Active Member
Its an Alphason ABR-1100. I purchased it about 2 years ago. I have removed the glass from the front and most of the back panel, as well as making the centre compartment smaller. My intention was to fit black speaker mesh on the front, but I never got round to doing it.

Theres a thread here about them.

The TV is a 50" Pioneer LX-508 attached to the wall. The black thing on the wall is a piece of D-Line trunking for the cables. I didnt want to channel.
 

jameson_uk

Well-known Member
The TV is a 50" Pioneer LX-508 attached to the wall. The black thing on the wall is a piece of D-Line trunking for the cables. I didnt want to channel.
Ahhh does look like a cantilever stand which is what I am after as can't mount of the wall :(

Also I have a feeling 43cm deep is too short.. (by about 3 cm)

Damn I wish I could find one that will take my HTPC, my damn Onkyo 876 (which is 23KG and massive) my center speaker and raise the TV up nicely....
 

Hambox

Novice Member
Jameson - I have the same cabinet and the Onkyo 875. I removed the two centre uprights and the glass shelves, got a new piece of hardboard for the back and cut a hole so the Onkyo can stick out of the back :) Might be a solution for you... I have also installed two Noctuas in the hardboard to keep things cool. Need to do a build thread myself!
 
[*]mediaportal 1.02 with streamedmp 08.448 (superb frontend. all media, other than hddvd and bluray discs are accessed through this). Still experimenting with this new version of mediaportal. It includes an automatic refreshrate changer. More info on MP here or Theydon Bois' excellent build thread Theydons HTPC and PC upgrade Project

First up, thanks for the props, and secondly, I have a seemless intergration of Blu-ray and HD-DVD playback through MediaPortal and TMT3, check this post here:

http://www.avforums.com/forums/home...-htpc-pc-upgrade-project-49.html#post10344377

No exiting and restarting another app :smashin:
 

kmark40

Active Member
Cheers for that. I already have those apps installed, but am looking at ditching Sky HD to save some money. Unfortunately I have never been able to get the TV part of mediaportal to work, otherwise, I would stick with it, as I am used to it and Ii like the customisation.
 

kmark40

Active Member
Have managed to install 1.0.2 with tv-server, using SQL Server 2008. Got TV with all the freeview channels, but no sound!

I'll post when I've found out whats wrong.

The key to me getting TV "working" is the 2008 version of SQL, which I am informed, is W7 compatible.
 
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kmark40

Active Member
OK, I'm a Mod Comment: word removed, Circumventing the swear filter MP was on mute.

Just to clarify, I am trying to do this the same as Theydon, using the internal playerand just the standalone codecs (haali, coreavc etc.)

I have the same problem as 7MC. The movies are not being played in coreavc, despite me selecting h.264 be decoded by it. My MPEG-4 TS reccordings off sky, have sound, but only a tiny proportion of the picture blown up into 4:3 AS. I assume that is because haali isnt being utilized? Cant see an option for engaging that. Anybody?

The codec options are now greyed out invideo player options.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kmark40

Active Member
Its taken 3 years to get my 1st infraction, which isn't bad considering my day to day language isn't particularly clean! Sorry mods.

I dont think mediaportal is for me anymore. My frontend will have to replace my sky hd box, as well as play my hd movies and mediaportal is just way too much hard work.

Nothing has touched the interface of 7MC so far, so am willing to persevere with it. I cannot, for the life of me, despite successfully applying the registry hack, get coreavc to do the donkey work for h.264 in either videos or mediabrowser. I have had some success so far, in that I have utilized kmplayer as an external player for mediabrowser. This however, is not ideal, as kmplayer doesnt respond to my remote control. The quest goes on.
 

kmark40

Active Member
I've given up on trying to use coreavc in 7mc. I'm in the process of integrating dvbviewer into 7mc, so will essentially be using 7mc as frontend.

I've re-installed dvbviewer (long story) and, for what its worth, enabled ITV HD using the following instructions (coutesy of marko on another forum)

find the new audio channel 10510 (under arquiva or unknown - not BskyB)
using channel editor
change the video pid to 3401
change the audio pid to 3402
choose H264 as Video codec
choose AC3 as audio codec (not sure about the mpeg stream - narrative mebbe?)
Name the channel eg ITV HD
choose update or add
change channel then change back

Once done, I will be integrating dvbviewer into 7MC via DVBlink for DVBViewer. I willl update if successful.
 

kmark40

Active Member
the 5850 was a flight of fancy tbh :devil:, i dont think it will fit, next to my S2 card anyway. the s2 card is already obstructing part of the gpu fan

141213d1254567258-total-hd-htpc-build-mark-ii-dscf8495.jpg
 
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kmark40

Active Member

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mjn

Distinguished Member
Could have tidyed the cables up :D
 

kmark40

Active Member
Could have tidyed the cables up :D

Other than those under the motherboard, that was the best i could do. I'll have another go when I put the new board in.
 

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