Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Building a HTPC

  1. #1
    Senior Member RECOiL™'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Hertfordshire
    Posts
    583
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked
    1 time in 1 post
    • RECOiL™'s system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus P5B Deluxe WiFi AP
      • CPU:
      • E6600
      • Memory:
      • 2GB Kingston HyperX
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 7800GTX nVidia
      • PSU:
      • 700watt Modular
      • Case:
      • Akasa Eclipse 62
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dual Dell 1901FP (19")
      • Internet:
      • 20mbit NTL

    Building a HTPC

    Hello guys,

    I've decided to build myself a HTPC to accompany my 50" plasma. Just got a couple of questions based around my setup.

    I currently have a Linux server hosting all my dvd/xvids which i then use my modded xbox to access (via samba) across the lan and output onto the crt in the living room.

    The only way i can see accessing my hd content, from the linux server is to have a htpc, as the xbox does not support hd? I hear rumours that it can upscale??

    As far as surround sound from the htpc is concerned, can i use my audigy 2zs in the htpc and then plug into the amp via optical or coaxial for surround?

    I'm a n00b in this area, so be gentle with me.

  2. #2
    Senior Member usxhe190's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,688
    Thanks
    149
    Thanked
    82 times in 63 posts

    Re: Building a HTPC

    For HTPC, most important thing is noise rather than power (although of course you need power and GPU to power the HD content but not massive). Best thing is to offload 100% decoding to your GPU HD2600 and 8600gts do that.

  3. #3
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    /dev/urandom
    Posts
    17,074
    Thanks
    228
    Thanked
    1,027 times in 678 posts
    • directhex's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI X99A Gaming 7
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core i7 5280k
      • Memory:
      • 32GiB ADATA DDR4
      • Storage:
      • Corsair Neutron XT 960GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Twin Frozr 5
      • PSU:
      • Corsair AX860i
      • Case:
      • NZXT H440
      • Operating System:
      • Ubuntu 17.10, Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2713HM
      • Internet:
      • FIOS

    Re: Building a HTPC

    mac mini.

  4. #4
    Lovely chap dangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    8,385
    Thanks
    407
    Thanked
    449 times in 331 posts
    • dangel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • See My Sig
      • CPU:
      • See My Sig
      • Memory:
      • See My Sig
      • Storage:
      • See My Sig
      • Graphics card(s):
      • See My Sig
      • PSU:
      • See My Sig
      • Case:
      • See My Sig
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • See My Sig
      • Internet:
      • 60mbit Sky LLU

    Re: Building a HTPC

    Mac mini - pah.. overpriced/hard to upgrade/underpowered/lots of issues.

    You don't need to spend lots - if you're looking to do optical out straight to an amp then any cheap motherboard with optical out will do the job (it's what I use btw). Noise isn't the issue it once was - thesedays most coolers (CPU and GPU) are very quiet. If you've got the space go for the biggest case you can manage (HTPC silverstone cases are great) with the biggest fans possible. Big fans = less noise. A bigger case means you can go for a normal sized motherboard which has it's advantages - i.e. cheaper, larger range and more slots for expansion. The latter can be handy if you want to add more functionality (e.g. multiple decoders for TV) later.

    There's plenty of passive graphic cards out there offering hardware decoding - ATI's 2400/2600 for example or nVidia's 8600 both do it. That said, a decent CPU can do most of it anyway (and without the noise). I use speedfan to ramp up/down my fans automatically but it's not really necessary with my setup.

    What OS are you planning to run for this out of interest? Is the plasma HD? Connectivity?

    I've got a 2400XT for testing as well as the 8600GTS - both have relative merits/failings.
    Last edited by dangel; 12-10-2007 at 12:18 PM.
    System 001: Maximus VII Formula, 4790k i7, RTX 2080ti FE (incoming), 16GIG Corsair Vengence DDR3 RAM CL9, Corsair HX1000, ROG SWIFT PG278Q , SSDs, Antec 1200 case, All watercooled. [main]
    System 002: A8 3850 APU, ASUS uATX FM1A75 MB, 4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3, Corsair psu, OCZ Agility 3, 1TB F3, Dell 2001FP 20" LCD, £7's worth of 5.1 speakers (they rock) Windows 7 x64[wife/server]
    System 003: AsRock MB, APU, 8 GIG Corsair, Silverstone HTPC case, stock cooler, GT220 1gbDDR3, WD Green 3TB, Kingston 40gb SSD, MCE Remote, Panasonic 50" LCD (87BDX) via HDMI Windows 8.1.1 (32) [media centre]
    System 004: Asus UL50AT Intel Core 2 Duo,4GB, Intel Gen 2 80GB SSD, Win 8.1.1 x64 [no justification]
    System 005: HP Proliant N40L Microserver, 4x2TB drives, fan mod, Pico PSU mod, Win7 x86 [file server]
    System 006: Dell Optiplex 9010, i7, 8gb, 128gb Samsung 830 x 2 (boot and VM drive), 1TB WD HDD, ATI something, Windows 8.1.1 x64 RTM [work]


  5. #5
    Senior Member RECOiL™'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Hertfordshire
    Posts
    583
    Thanks
    5
    Thanked
    1 time in 1 post
    • RECOiL™'s system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus P5B Deluxe WiFi AP
      • CPU:
      • E6600
      • Memory:
      • 2GB Kingston HyperX
      • Graphics card(s):
      • 7800GTX nVidia
      • PSU:
      • 700watt Modular
      • Case:
      • Akasa Eclipse 62
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dual Dell 1901FP (19")
      • Internet:
      • 20mbit NTL

    Re: Building a HTPC

    The plasma is HD and HDMI/Scart inputs

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Glasgow
    Posts
    1,469
    Thanks
    38
    Thanked
    61 times in 58 posts

    Re: Building a HTPC

    The Xbox cannot play HD content - you might get some low bitrate xvid encoded 720p files play acceptably, but I doubt it. I've tried and it was mostly a slideshow, so HTPC is the best way to go.

    If you go down the software decoding route, you need a dual core processor. An X2 3800 will do the job for h264 & mpeg2 content, but faster is better. VC-1, the codec used in 99% of HD-DVDs and some BDs doesn't play well in software on my X2 4400, 2gb ram.

    Hardware wise, I find my passive 8600GTS does the job well enough - it's by no means perfect, but it takes a lot of the strain off decoding HD video. You'll also need to get hold of a software player that supports dxva (and the right driver revision) so your options are WinDVD 8 (awful from what I've read) and Power DVD 7 Ultra (Flawed, but better than Win DVD). There is another option coming out soon, called Digital Theatre. Whilst there are many other optoins (Zoom Player, Media Player Classic, etc) they require an amount of setting up which is outwith a general query like this, and you might not get dxva.

    Any optical out will be fine for your sound, you can set Power DVD to use spdif.

  7. #7
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    /dev/urandom
    Posts
    17,074
    Thanks
    228
    Thanked
    1,027 times in 678 posts
    • directhex's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI X99A Gaming 7
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core i7 5280k
      • Memory:
      • 32GiB ADATA DDR4
      • Storage:
      • Corsair Neutron XT 960GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Twin Frozr 5
      • PSU:
      • Corsair AX860i
      • Case:
      • NZXT H440
      • Operating System:
      • Ubuntu 17.10, Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2713HM
      • Internet:
      • FIOS

    Re: Building a HTPC

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    Mac mini - pah.. overpriced/hard to upgrade/underpowered/lots of issues.
    £400 for a silent, networked, core2duo machine with digital audio & video.

    he already has a back-end server - why step back from that and build a big noisy machine in the living room when the server is perfectly capable of handling the back-end tasks? give http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=10005 a read.

  8. #8
    Lovely chap dangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    8,385
    Thanks
    407
    Thanked
    449 times in 331 posts
    • dangel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • See My Sig
      • CPU:
      • See My Sig
      • Memory:
      • See My Sig
      • Storage:
      • See My Sig
      • Graphics card(s):
      • See My Sig
      • PSU:
      • See My Sig
      • Case:
      • See My Sig
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • See My Sig
      • Internet:
      • 60mbit Sky LLU

    Re: Building a HTPC

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    £400 for a silent, networked, core2duo machine with digital audio & video.

    he already has a back-end server - why step back from that and build a big noisy machine in the living room when the server is perfectly capable of handling the back-end tasks? give http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=10005 a read.
    So doing it for less with better expansion possibilities/more configurability is a bad thing how exactly? I can't even hear my HTPC when watching TV - and as I said this is hardly difficult to do thesedays. I can have multiple TV cards and hardware decoding/encoding offloaded to a bog standard (passive) graphic card - less heat, less cpu requirement as a result. So you can buy some cheap stuff - my cpu cost me 30 quid (second hand) and the motherboard (new) was 25 quid (from evesham) for example. I'd imagine the mac mini would manage 1080P but it'd be cooking that CPU compared to a machine with proper hardware decoding..
    Last edited by dangel; 16-10-2007 at 09:07 AM.
    System 001: Maximus VII Formula, 4790k i7, RTX 2080ti FE (incoming), 16GIG Corsair Vengence DDR3 RAM CL9, Corsair HX1000, ROG SWIFT PG278Q , SSDs, Antec 1200 case, All watercooled. [main]
    System 002: A8 3850 APU, ASUS uATX FM1A75 MB, 4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3, Corsair psu, OCZ Agility 3, 1TB F3, Dell 2001FP 20" LCD, £7's worth of 5.1 speakers (they rock) Windows 7 x64[wife/server]
    System 003: AsRock MB, APU, 8 GIG Corsair, Silverstone HTPC case, stock cooler, GT220 1gbDDR3, WD Green 3TB, Kingston 40gb SSD, MCE Remote, Panasonic 50" LCD (87BDX) via HDMI Windows 8.1.1 (32) [media centre]
    System 004: Asus UL50AT Intel Core 2 Duo,4GB, Intel Gen 2 80GB SSD, Win 8.1.1 x64 [no justification]
    System 005: HP Proliant N40L Microserver, 4x2TB drives, fan mod, Pico PSU mod, Win7 x86 [file server]
    System 006: Dell Optiplex 9010, i7, 8gb, 128gb Samsung 830 x 2 (boot and VM drive), 1TB WD HDD, ATI something, Windows 8.1.1 x64 RTM [work]


  9. #9
    Lovely chap dangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    8,385
    Thanks
    407
    Thanked
    449 times in 331 posts
    • dangel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • See My Sig
      • CPU:
      • See My Sig
      • Memory:
      • See My Sig
      • Storage:
      • See My Sig
      • Graphics card(s):
      • See My Sig
      • PSU:
      • See My Sig
      • Case:
      • See My Sig
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • See My Sig
      • Internet:
      • 60mbit Sky LLU

    Re: Building a HTPC

    .
    Last edited by dangel; 16-10-2007 at 09:07 AM. Reason: double post sorry
    System 001: Maximus VII Formula, 4790k i7, RTX 2080ti FE (incoming), 16GIG Corsair Vengence DDR3 RAM CL9, Corsair HX1000, ROG SWIFT PG278Q , SSDs, Antec 1200 case, All watercooled. [main]
    System 002: A8 3850 APU, ASUS uATX FM1A75 MB, 4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3, Corsair psu, OCZ Agility 3, 1TB F3, Dell 2001FP 20" LCD, £7's worth of 5.1 speakers (they rock) Windows 7 x64[wife/server]
    System 003: AsRock MB, APU, 8 GIG Corsair, Silverstone HTPC case, stock cooler, GT220 1gbDDR3, WD Green 3TB, Kingston 40gb SSD, MCE Remote, Panasonic 50" LCD (87BDX) via HDMI Windows 8.1.1 (32) [media centre]
    System 004: Asus UL50AT Intel Core 2 Duo,4GB, Intel Gen 2 80GB SSD, Win 8.1.1 x64 [no justification]
    System 005: HP Proliant N40L Microserver, 4x2TB drives, fan mod, Pico PSU mod, Win7 x86 [file server]
    System 006: Dell Optiplex 9010, i7, 8gb, 128gb Samsung 830 x 2 (boot and VM drive), 1TB WD HDD, ATI something, Windows 8.1.1 x64 RTM [work]


  10. #10
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    /dev/urandom
    Posts
    17,074
    Thanks
    228
    Thanked
    1,027 times in 678 posts
    • directhex's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI X99A Gaming 7
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core i7 5280k
      • Memory:
      • 32GiB ADATA DDR4
      • Storage:
      • Corsair Neutron XT 960GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Twin Frozr 5
      • PSU:
      • Corsair AX860i
      • Case:
      • NZXT H440
      • Operating System:
      • Ubuntu 17.10, Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2713HM
      • Internet:
      • FIOS

    Re: Building a HTPC

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    So doing it for less with better expansion possibilities/more configurability is a bad thing how exactly? I can't even hear my HTPC when watching TV - and as I said this is hardly difficult to do thesedays. I can have multiple TV cards and hardware decoding/encoding offloaded to a bog standard (passive) graphic card - less heat, less cpu requirement as a result. So you can buy some cheap stuff - my cpu cost me 30 quid (second hand) and the motherboard (new) was 25 quid (from evesham) for example. I'd imagine the mac mini would manage 1080P but it'd be cooking that CPU compared to a machine with proper hardware decoding..
    noise *is* an issue for anyone who isn't just watching non-stop action movies.

    and for a dedicated front-end machine, where's the benefit in cooking a power-eating nvidia or ati card rather than a low-wattage laptop-spec cpu? other than saying "i do it in HARDWARE "

    y'know, because CPUs aren't hardware...

    i'm not saying having multiple tv tuners or what have you isn't good, i'm saying there's no good reason for a "htpc" to do a server's job - and he already has a server. as far as frontend choice goes, unless you've got a fetish for ATX in the living room, you blow your budget the instant you try to get something that isn't huge & repugnant to put it in. go on, give it a shot - let's see a spec sheet with prices that competes with a £400 mac mini, on noise & size as well as spec. and don't forget to include an OS of some kind!

    speaking as someone with a pentium-d, 8-disk system in a CM stacker in the living room: you have a server. next to the tv, go small, go silent.

    hell, consider the ps3, which is even cheaper, and will play various media from a UPnP server

  11. #11
    Lovely chap dangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    8,385
    Thanks
    407
    Thanked
    449 times in 331 posts
    • dangel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • See My Sig
      • CPU:
      • See My Sig
      • Memory:
      • See My Sig
      • Storage:
      • See My Sig
      • Graphics card(s):
      • See My Sig
      • PSU:
      • See My Sig
      • Case:
      • See My Sig
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • See My Sig
      • Internet:
      • 60mbit Sky LLU

    Re: Building a HTPC

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    noise *is* an issue for anyone who isn't just watching non-stop action movies.
    Jump to conclusions much do we? I watch the news at -65db and I can't hear the machine Got pretty sensitive hearing too - even at my advanced age It's certainly not any more noisy than a Sky+ box for me (which is probably a reasonable benchmark no?).

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    and for a dedicated front-end machine, where's the benefit in cooking a power-eating nvidia or ati card rather than a low-wattage laptop-spec cpu? other than saying "i do it in HARDWARE "

    y'know, because CPUs aren't hardware...
    Oh stop being facetious - you knew exactly what I meant. I'm sure that was fun to type but realistically, a mac mini will struggle with high fps 1080p (as in drop frames) and as for power you might want to check out the ratings for a 2xxx series card before crowing so loudly - they're pretty darn efficient (and cheap). Crap at 3d but video decoding.. The point, which you clearly missed (or just chose to) was you don't need high spec (or even that current) stuff as a result. Heck an old shuttle box will do the job well enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    i'm not saying having multiple tv tuners or what have you isn't good, i'm saying there's no good reason for a "htpc" to do a server's job - and he already has a server. as far as frontend choice goes, unless you've got a fetish for ATX in the living room, you blow your budget the instant you try to get something that isn't huge & repugnant to put it in. go on, give it a shot - let's see a spec sheet with prices that competes with a £400 mac mini, on noise & size as well as spec. and don't forget to include an OS of some kind!
    Ok well first off size - unless he's got that huge screen on a wall (which most of us don't) he's got an AV rack below it. For me 'size' wasn't an issue because i've got a whacking great big space on the bottom shelf next to my yamaha av amp. Above that i've got another shelf with a centre speaker on it, a DVD player and Sky+ box. The neat thing about silverstone boxes is that they're wholly anonymous - it looks pretty much like my yamaha. People don't go "OMFG you gotta a hulking great PC in your livingroom" - I have to tell them what it is (if they notice it at all - and usually that's a consequence of showing them what it can do). Of course, you could go uATX versus ATX or even shuttle-size - choice is good I just didn't need to have the smallest box possible or live with the compromises that it entaled. So price - well I gave you an indication of that earlier - and it's pretty obvious to me you don't need to go high-spec-brand-new for everything. In my case, I probably overdid it a bit but still it was all relatively cheap for what I got. Certainly getting it under the crucial 400quid line is pretty easy - even with more functionality (like TV tuners lol). OS cost? Oh... I thought you'd heard of linux? What's a home premium Vista OEM run to anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    speaking as someone with a pentium-d, 8-disk system in a CM stacker in the living room: you have a server. next to the tv, go small, go silent.
    Sounds like a bad choice on your part (shrugs) - i'd of never got wife acceptance factor on that one. Of course she's sold on the current system as it's near-silent and looks completely at home Oh, and the fact it kicks the pants out of Sky+ for functionality as a PVR I did originally chuck it all in a bog-standard PC case but this was rather violently rejected by she-who-can-not-be-argued-with.

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    hell, consider the ps3, which is even cheaper, and will play various media from a UPnP server
    Or just consider a wider range of options full stop - I just don't think the mac mini does the job well enough (and hence I didn't buy one) for the money. Don't take it quite so personally, everyone's different and that's a good thing I rather enjoyed the challenge of building a quite, cool HTPC
    Last edited by dangel; 16-10-2007 at 11:46 AM.
    System 001: Maximus VII Formula, 4790k i7, RTX 2080ti FE (incoming), 16GIG Corsair Vengence DDR3 RAM CL9, Corsair HX1000, ROG SWIFT PG278Q , SSDs, Antec 1200 case, All watercooled. [main]
    System 002: A8 3850 APU, ASUS uATX FM1A75 MB, 4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3, Corsair psu, OCZ Agility 3, 1TB F3, Dell 2001FP 20" LCD, £7's worth of 5.1 speakers (they rock) Windows 7 x64[wife/server]
    System 003: AsRock MB, APU, 8 GIG Corsair, Silverstone HTPC case, stock cooler, GT220 1gbDDR3, WD Green 3TB, Kingston 40gb SSD, MCE Remote, Panasonic 50" LCD (87BDX) via HDMI Windows 8.1.1 (32) [media centre]
    System 004: Asus UL50AT Intel Core 2 Duo,4GB, Intel Gen 2 80GB SSD, Win 8.1.1 x64 [no justification]
    System 005: HP Proliant N40L Microserver, 4x2TB drives, fan mod, Pico PSU mod, Win7 x86 [file server]
    System 006: Dell Optiplex 9010, i7, 8gb, 128gb Samsung 830 x 2 (boot and VM drive), 1TB WD HDD, ATI something, Windows 8.1.1 x64 RTM [work]


  12. #12
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    /dev/urandom
    Posts
    17,074
    Thanks
    228
    Thanked
    1,027 times in 678 posts
    • directhex's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI X99A Gaming 7
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core i7 5280k
      • Memory:
      • 32GiB ADATA DDR4
      • Storage:
      • Corsair Neutron XT 960GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Twin Frozr 5
      • PSU:
      • Corsair AX860i
      • Case:
      • NZXT H440
      • Operating System:
      • Ubuntu 17.10, Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2713HM
      • Internet:
      • FIOS

    Re: Building a HTPC

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    Jump to conclusions much do we? I watch the news at -65db and I can't hear the machine Got pretty sensitive hearing too - even at my advanced age It's certainly not any more noisy than a Sky+ box for me (which is probably a reasonable benchmark no?).
    so you tune it out. i've been this route before, and just because i can learn to ignore it, doesn't mean it's not there

    certainly too noisy to sleep in the same room, for example

    Oh stop being facetious - you knew exactly what I meant. I'm sure that was fun to type but realistically, a mac mini will struggle with high fps 1080p (as in drop frames) and as for power you might want to check out the ratings for a 2xxx series card before crowing so loudly - they're pretty darn efficient (and cheap). Crap at 3d but video decoding.. The point, which you clearly missed was you don't need high spec (or even that current) stuff as a result. Heck an old shuttle box will do the job well enough.
    under absolute maximum load, a c2d t5600 draws 34W.
    it'll idle at about half that.
    under h264 playback, a radeon hd 2400 xt draws about 30 watts.
    it'll idle at about half that.
    so. a pure c2d system will be pulling, absolute maximum, 34W on video decoding ops. same CPU with a radeon, you're looking at about 45W (idle CPU plus loaded GPU). an you can imagine how much that figure goes up by if you use a desktop CPU, or, heaven forbid, an old CPU like a barton or prescott.

    1080p playback would only conceivably stutter on a powerful CPU like a C2D if it's a very dodgy codec (e.g. older versions of the FFMPEG h264 decoder). you won't suffer when using any of the main codecs, e.g. coreavc, no matter how brutal a movie you throw at it

    Ok well first off size - unless he's got that huge screen on a wall (which most of us don't) he's got an AV rack below it. For me 'size' wasn't an issue because i've got a whacking great big space on the bottom shelf next to my yamaha av amp. Above that i've got another shelf with a centre speaker on it, a DVD player and Sky+ box. The neat thing about silverstone boxes is that they're wholly anonymous - it looks pretty much like my yamaha. People don't go "OMFG you gotta a hulking great PC in your livingroom" - I have to tell them what it is (if they notice it at all - and usually that's a consequence of showing them what it can do). Of course, you could go uATX versus ATX or even shuttle-size - choice is good I just didn't need to have the smallest box possible or live with the compromises that it entaled. So price - well I gave you an indication of that earlier - and it's pretty obvious to me you don't need to go high-spec-brand-new for everything. In my case, I probably overdid it a bit but still it was all relatively cheap for what I got. Certainly getting it under the crucial 400quid line is pretty easy - even with more functionality (like TV tuners lol). OS cost? Oh... I thought you'd heard of linux? What's a home premium Vista OEM run to anyway?
    vista home premium oem would be about £65, or about 15% of the hypothetical budget. and you're being equally facetious yourself with the linux remark - since there's no "hardware accelerated" playback of h264 or vc1 available, and mpeg2 acceleration only on things that aren't radeons

    Sounds like a bad choice on your part (shrugs) - i'd of never got wife acceptance factor on that one. Of course she's sold on the current system as it's near-silent and looks completely at home Oh, and the fact it kicks the pants out of Sky+ for functionality as a PVR
    we used to have a smaller, quieter system. it was still too noisy and bulky for our home. so i sold it, and planned a move to a client-server setup, with the noise and heat in one room, away from the actual media. the reality, unfortunately, is only one aerial socket in our house works, the one next to the TV.

    Or just consider a wider range of options full stop - I just don't think the mac mini does the job well enough (and hence I didn't buy one) for the money. Don't take it quite so personally, everyone's different and that's a good thing
    if you were only expressing your preferred setup, then why the "Mac mini - pah.. overpriced/hard to upgrade/underpowered/lots of issues." reply to my suggestion? you weren't seeking to present an option, you were seeking to dismiss mine, on the OP's behalf.

  13. #13
    Lovely chap dangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    8,385
    Thanks
    407
    Thanked
    449 times in 331 posts
    • dangel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • See My Sig
      • CPU:
      • See My Sig
      • Memory:
      • See My Sig
      • Storage:
      • See My Sig
      • Graphics card(s):
      • See My Sig
      • PSU:
      • See My Sig
      • Case:
      • See My Sig
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • See My Sig
      • Internet:
      • 60mbit Sky LLU

    Re: Building a HTPC

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    so you tune it out. i've been this route before, and just because i can learn to ignore it, doesn't mean it's not there

    certainly too noisy to sleep in the same room, for example
    Nope, not had any complaints from those who have slept in the same room (for example) on the sofa bed. Want to pop round and hear it for yourself? Patently you don't believe me so there's not much else I can offer The CPU has a 120mm fan on it going s-l-o-w-l-y and the GPU is passive. The PSU has heatpipes and i've got a 120mm case fan. It's quiet. As in very As in compared to a (again) Sky+ box To be absolutely honest the only noise issue I had was with the chipset fan - which i replaced with a passively cooled thermaltake heatpipe tower. Problem solved. It's possible, granted, if you've got plain 2 channel sound versus 5.1 you'll struggle more - the dedicated centre makes all the difference when watching the news, something that seems obvious now but didn't at the time when i first built a surround set for the big action films (I do watch those too). In my defence, I will tell you that i'm the kinda of guy who replaced the sky+ fan with a larger one because it was driving me batty from 10 feet away (my wife didn't notice it) so it's not as though i'm exactly hard of hearing or using the wrong kind of benchmark for what is 'too much' noise.

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    under absolute maximum load, a c2d t5600 draws 34W.
    it'll idle at about half that.
    under h264 playback, a radeon hd 2400 xt draws about 30 watts.
    it'll idle at about half that.
    so. a pure c2d system will be pulling, absolute maximum, 34W on video decoding ops. same CPU with a radeon, you're looking at about 45W (idle CPU plus loaded GPU). an you can imagine how much that figure goes up by if you use a desktop CPU, or, heaven forbid, an old CPU like a barton or prescott.

    1080p playback would only conceivably stutter on a powerful CPU like a C2D if it's a very dodgy codec (e.g. older versions of the FFMPEG h264 decoder). you won't suffer when using any of the main codecs, e.g. coreavc, no matter how brutal a movie you throw at it
    Reading round - there's people who've actually tried it with a Mac Mini and have had dropping frames. I like to have a bit of cpu free for doing other things in any case - although since you can't record telly on the mini i guess it's fairly one-task orientated. Point was, again, that you don't need a monster CPU if your GPU helps with the load. Not to mention you get some nifty decoding/playback options with a dedicated card (if you try different cards you see quite a variance in playback features/quality) - I quite like digital vibriance/purevideo HD for example and I can notice a difference between 2400XT and 8600GTS playback for even SD..

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    vista home premium oem would be about £65, or about 15% of the hypothetical budget. and you're being equally facetious yourself with the linux remark - since there's no "hardware accelerated" playback of h264 or vc1 available, and mpeg2 acceleration only on things that aren't radeons
    Meoooow 65 quid - no problem - plenty left over for picking up an ageing first gen X2 system then Hang on - that's what I did At the risk of posting something useful I will say I do prefer Vista MCE (it's far from perfect) over the XP one though (which was pain to even get playback working because of the lack of a decoder).

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    we used to have a smaller, quieter system. it was still too noisy and bulky for our home. so i sold it, and planned a move to a client-server setup, with the noise and heat in one room, away from the actual media. the reality, unfortunately, is only one aerial socket in our house works, the one next to the TV.
    Same here - so hence why I built a quiet (yes I know YOU can't believe it) system to sit on the AV rack under the telly. I suppose i could of had another cable run upstairs but really I like the HTPC being seperate from other system(s) for obvious reasons (reliability being one of them plus mixing it with the work system might not be sensibly from the other POV). I'll easily be able to stick in another tv card if I want quad-tuners (over dual), pop another drive in there for redundancy or upgrade to HD freeview (when and if..). I love the PVR side - it's the killer app for me and hence why I (used) to use Sky+ (until I got this setup). Hey, I could even try one of those new fangled HDDVD/bluray drives - or even both. Cool.

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    if you were only expressing your preferred setup, then why the "Mac mini - pah.. overpriced/hard to upgrade/underpowered/lots of issues." reply to my suggestion? you weren't seeking to present an option, you were seeking to dismiss mine, on the OP's behalf.
    And what are you seeking to do? Unlock another 'achievement' Honestly, don't be so touchy - i've qualified my view of the mini. We disagree, fair enough - but go easy on the hostility (and the smilies lol). At the the risk of prologing what's become an utterly pointless arguement - have you got a mini then? I've no real issue if the Mini is the way you want to go - i'm sure it fits for people who've got bugger all space and have no need for PVR functionality, expandability and have prenatural hearing. But there are, nonetheless, other options which might suit you better. It did in my case, and I see no real problem pointing (one of) them out. Your mileage may vary, and perhaps front row and a mini rock your World. Good for you - doesn't for me. End of line.
    Last edited by dangel; 16-10-2007 at 04:56 PM.
    System 001: Maximus VII Formula, 4790k i7, RTX 2080ti FE (incoming), 16GIG Corsair Vengence DDR3 RAM CL9, Corsair HX1000, ROG SWIFT PG278Q , SSDs, Antec 1200 case, All watercooled. [main]
    System 002: A8 3850 APU, ASUS uATX FM1A75 MB, 4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3, Corsair psu, OCZ Agility 3, 1TB F3, Dell 2001FP 20" LCD, £7's worth of 5.1 speakers (they rock) Windows 7 x64[wife/server]
    System 003: AsRock MB, APU, 8 GIG Corsair, Silverstone HTPC case, stock cooler, GT220 1gbDDR3, WD Green 3TB, Kingston 40gb SSD, MCE Remote, Panasonic 50" LCD (87BDX) via HDMI Windows 8.1.1 (32) [media centre]
    System 004: Asus UL50AT Intel Core 2 Duo,4GB, Intel Gen 2 80GB SSD, Win 8.1.1 x64 [no justification]
    System 005: HP Proliant N40L Microserver, 4x2TB drives, fan mod, Pico PSU mod, Win7 x86 [file server]
    System 006: Dell Optiplex 9010, i7, 8gb, 128gb Samsung 830 x 2 (boot and VM drive), 1TB WD HDD, ATI something, Windows 8.1.1 x64 RTM [work]


  14. #14
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    /dev/urandom
    Posts
    17,074
    Thanks
    228
    Thanked
    1,027 times in 678 posts
    • directhex's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI X99A Gaming 7
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core i7 5280k
      • Memory:
      • 32GiB ADATA DDR4
      • Storage:
      • Corsair Neutron XT 960GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Twin Frozr 5
      • PSU:
      • Corsair AX860i
      • Case:
      • NZXT H440
      • Operating System:
      • Ubuntu 17.10, Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2713HM
      • Internet:
      • FIOS

    Re: Building a HTPC

    Quote Originally Posted by dangel View Post
    have you got a mini then? I've no real issue if the Mini is the way you want to go - i'm sure it fits for people who've got bugger all space and have no need for PVR functionality, expandability and have prenatural hearing. But there are, nonetheless, other options which might suit you better. It did in my case, and I see no real problem pointing (one of) them out. Your mileage may vary, and perhaps front row and a mini rock your World. Good for you - doesn't for me. Cheers.
    right now, no, i don't have a mini - since due to aforementioned aerial problems there's already a machine next to the TV, there's little point in putting a second machine there. however, the longer term plan is for that machine to go into a wardrobe - at which point, yes, a mini or two (one for the bedroom, for example) is top of my shopping list.

    and not to use front row or similar hand-holding babyware. the server i have (and the OP pointed out he has), as well as storing static files, also houses TV cards. from my perspective, as a linux user, there is zero usability difference whether the TV cards are in one machine or another, one room or another. with the TV cards downstairs, i can watch it on my desktop PC, or laptop, with exactly the same UI, with an increased list of advantages over an off-the-shelf solution like sky+.

    all i need to do absolutely everything, when i have a media server (as the OP pointed out he has) is a CPU with video output and a network connection. in the future setup (when we have our own house & i can finally get reception issues fixed permanently), the server goes into a wardrobe, gets 3 or 4 inputs piped into it, and any room i place a CPU-with-video-output-and-a-network-connection i have live tv w/ the usual pausing & rewinding, access to all my music, videos, and assorted other features. one place for *all* my media, be it music, downloads, rips, recordings, whatever.

    i simply can't grasp, when there's already an on-all-the-time machine full of disks (i.e. a server, which the OP pointed out he has) why you'd want to duplicate that effort and have a second machine doing many of the same things.
    Last edited by directhex; 16-10-2007 at 05:00 PM.

  15. #15
    Lovely chap dangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    8,385
    Thanks
    407
    Thanked
    449 times in 331 posts
    • dangel's system
      • Motherboard:
      • See My Sig
      • CPU:
      • See My Sig
      • Memory:
      • See My Sig
      • Storage:
      • See My Sig
      • Graphics card(s):
      • See My Sig
      • PSU:
      • See My Sig
      • Case:
      • See My Sig
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • See My Sig
      • Internet:
      • 60mbit Sky LLU

    Re: Building a HTPC

    Quote Originally Posted by directhex View Post
    i simply can't grasp, when there's already an on-all-the-time machine full of disks (i.e. a server, which the OP pointed out he has) why you'd want to duplicate that effort and have a second machine doing many of the same things.
    Well, as I eluded to - because experience teaches me that seperation can be a good thing and that computers go wrong. Lots. Usually just before your wife's absolute favourite program starts. I'm not fond of cold dinners - are you?

    No, in my case my media is all in one place - sat on a 500gig drive in the media centre (which reminds me i need to raid 1 that soon..) so even if the server's down/busy/drowning because of work commitments it's not important. You soon learn (especially with Vista and nVidia's drivers) to keep things simple when using it as a PVR. It's finally rock solid but that's after some months of experimentation and much faffing about. Getting a 1080P desktop at 1:1 (for example) can be.. challenging. Too much in the mix - the tv you have, the connectivity on offer, the software/drivers and video hardware you use. In any case the only duplication would be in storage for me - playback/recording is all done on but one machine. Hard drive space is cheap so i didn't see the harm of bunging everything locally too. Taking your example I could place extenders in any other room (providing there are any for Vista MCE yet) to get that 'all over' access (same UI etc). TBH I don't really need that side of it since I can just playback the recorded tv on any of the pc's anyway and (realistically) I'm not going to watch TV anywhere other than the living room where there's a great big shiny screen and 5.1 Bedroom TV got banned a few years back (thank god) as I now sleep instead of watching blinking ANYTHING that happens to be on. Or read a good book.

    Any way - back to the OP and here's some tips:

    Acronis True Image. Make weekly images of your system drive - if things go south getting the box up and running in 4 mins can make the difference between life and death when 'er indoors is involved. You can also safely experiment with newer drivers (which may well make things worse) safely this way or even other graphic cards/hardware.

    Shutdown/resume - in an ideal World this works - the PC ought to sleep when it's not recording and resume when it should. You'll probably find drivers don't do this (and I can only speak for Windows) so two options - leave it on all the time or be sneaky.. We only record TV between say 6pm to 2am (i always record the news as I tend to work late) so I've got a small program which will shutdown the PC at 2am. To get it started again i've used the 'resume by rtc alarm' function in the BIOS - in essence you can set a date/time for the PC to switch itself on. If you don't set a date, but do set a time it'll come on every day at that time. This works really well for me. Just a thought.

    Remotes - for Windows MCE i really haven't found anything better than the MS official remote kit. It's well designed and later revisions seem much better on battery life (my friend has an early one which munches through batteries at an alarming rate). MS' remote also has WAF (wife acceptance factor) especially when you're weening one off Sky+

    Good luck and have fun with it.
    System 001: Maximus VII Formula, 4790k i7, RTX 2080ti FE (incoming), 16GIG Corsair Vengence DDR3 RAM CL9, Corsair HX1000, ROG SWIFT PG278Q , SSDs, Antec 1200 case, All watercooled. [main]
    System 002: A8 3850 APU, ASUS uATX FM1A75 MB, 4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3, Corsair psu, OCZ Agility 3, 1TB F3, Dell 2001FP 20" LCD, £7's worth of 5.1 speakers (they rock) Windows 7 x64[wife/server]
    System 003: AsRock MB, APU, 8 GIG Corsair, Silverstone HTPC case, stock cooler, GT220 1gbDDR3, WD Green 3TB, Kingston 40gb SSD, MCE Remote, Panasonic 50" LCD (87BDX) via HDMI Windows 8.1.1 (32) [media centre]
    System 004: Asus UL50AT Intel Core 2 Duo,4GB, Intel Gen 2 80GB SSD, Win 8.1.1 x64 [no justification]
    System 005: HP Proliant N40L Microserver, 4x2TB drives, fan mod, Pico PSU mod, Win7 x86 [file server]
    System 006: Dell Optiplex 9010, i7, 8gb, 128gb Samsung 830 x 2 (boot and VM drive), 1TB WD HDD, ATI something, Windows 8.1.1 x64 RTM [work]


Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Building an HTPC: A little help from Corsair
    By Steve in forum HEXUS News
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 21-03-2010, 05:18 AM
  2. Building a HTPC (SFF Build) Some advise please !!
    By x2dazee in forum PC Hardware and Components
    Replies: 33
    Last Post: 21-08-2007, 03:40 PM
  3. HTPC advice required
    By squishty.wibble in forum PC Hardware and Components
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 02-10-2006, 11:25 AM
  4. HTPC Help!
    By KBC in forum PC Hardware and Components
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 25-09-2006, 01:54 AM
  5. Ars System Guide: HTPC edition
    By Steve in forum HEXUS News
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-02-2005, 05:30 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •