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Thread: Media Centre Spec advice please

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    Media Centre Spec advice please

    I'm looking to put together a media centre system with the following spec and would appreciate your thoughts.
    I'll be connecting my Sky box to it and obviously want to has standard functionality (pause\rewind live tv, record one channel whilst watching another etc). They system will also be used for gaming though not heavily as I've got an xbox 360 aswell.
    My main concern is the graphics cards (think of running SLI mode) and their suitability for TV\DVD's. If anyone has any other suggestions in this respect I'd appreciate them.

    Case: SilverStone "LASCALA" LC17S (Silver)
    Motherboard: Asus P5N32SLI SE Deluxe
    PSU: 460W Zalman ZM460B-APS Noiseless Sli
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 S775, 2.13Ghz
    CPU Fan: Asetek 06-L-0017 VapoChill Micro Ultra Low Noise Socket775
    Ram: 1Gb (2X512Mb) Corsair TwinX XMS2, DDR2 PC6400 (800),(Matched Pair)
    Hard Drive: 250 Gb Samsung Spinpoint P SP2504C
    Graphics: 2* MSI GeForce 7600GS 256MB PCIE Dual DVI Passive HS -SLI Mode
    DVD1: NEC ND-5170A-0B Black x18 DVD±RW Dual Layer DVD-Writer
    DVD2: Sony Black 16x DVD-ROM
    Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Music Sound Card
    TV Card: Hauppauge WinTV PVR500 MCE PCI Kit c/w Remote and nVidia *Gold* DVD Decoder
    Keyboard: Microsoft MCE Black Infrared Remote Keyboard (Backlit)
    Additional Case Fans (if req): 2*80mm Sharkoon 2000 "Golf Ball" Quiet 17.8 dB
    OS: Windows Media Centre 2005
    LCD TV: Toshiba 32WLT66

    Many thanks

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    radix lecti dave87's Avatar
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    Can I just ask why SLi 7600s? its just going to create excess heat in a case that I'm guessing you want to be reasonably quiet?

    Personally I'd get a single 7600gt and then change it when HDMI equipped cards filter through. Otherwise - get a bigger hard disk(s) as when HD comes along that will swallow the 250gb hard disk whole. I would also go for 2Gb RAM, will really help with encoding of tv Recordings.

    Dave

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    You can get a passive 7600GT, or even better is a Zalman cooler - it really is virtually inaudible but will cool the card so much better (assuming you have just an extra bit of space by the side of the card). SLi (or crossfire) in anything less than the top end is a marketting gimmick, pure and simple.
    If graphics power is what you want, a 7900GS can be bought for the same price (and would suck less Watts) than 2 x 7600GS's.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave87 View Post
    Can I just ask why SLi 7600s? its just going to create excess heat in a case that I'm guessing you want to be reasonably quiet?

    Personally I'd get a single 7600gt and then change it when HDMI equipped cards filter through. Otherwise - get a bigger hard disk(s) as when HD comes along that will swallow the 250gb hard disk whole. I would also go for 2Gb RAM, will really help with encoding of tv Recordings.

    Dave
    I was looking to SLI 7600s for gaming performance and use the 2 Sharkoon 2000 fans for case ventilation if required.

    Any Idea when HDMI equipped cards are due?

    I was going to add drive to the system as required but initially archive off to external unit the stuff I wanted to keep a while.

    Will definately up the RAM though that makes sense. Ta.

    Quote Originally Posted by MSIC View Post
    You can get a passive 7600GT, or even better is a Zalman cooler - it really is virtually inaudible but will cool the card so much better (assuming you have just an extra bit of space by the side of the card). SLi (or crossfire) in anything less than the top end is a marketting gimmick, pure and simple.
    If graphics power is what you want, a 7900GS can be bought for the same price (and would suck less Watts) than 2 x 7600GS's.
    See my signature.
    Well with 2 recommending a switch of graphic cards what can i say. I can't fly in the face of experience. I've noticed a number of cards have HDTV connectivity - is it worth going for one of them or not?

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    Im looking forward to building a HTPC at some point, i just want to wait for HD stuff to become more available. Iv heard some horror stories about Windows media centre being very picky with hardware.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robj20 View Post
    ... Iv heard some horror stories about Windows media centre being very picky with hardware.
    You've heard right! It is incredibly picky with stuff you wouldn't expect. I'm trying to use it without a TV tuner or remote control. And it doesn't seem to like things like Logitech's Setpoint software?? Also I've had major issues with installing drivers for a slightly older HP printer. Still I understand these incompatibilities. They really did talore this package to making a media center.

    Just make sure you when you install the OS that when it asks you to put in the "Windows XP SP2" disk you put Disk 1 back in... Then after the install completes make sure your chipset and network drivers are installed and then use the 3rd CD to install "Rollup 2". After that you can install sound and video, and it will work fine.

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    Sorry I can't agree with the comment about being MCE being picky (but then I do build loads of MCE systems!).

    You do have to be a little careful in selecting components but and new graphics card will work. If you plan on watching TV you need to make sure the card is MCE compatible (but loads are).

    As for older items like printers I guess if it doesn't work in XP there's no point trying it in MCE!

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    Im seriously considering making one, with a few TB of storage and a couple of dual tuner cards. Mainly for movies and music.

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    Does he need a reason? Funkstar's Avatar
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    If you have three or more tuners (tuners as opposed to cards) in MCE you need to do weird registry hacks to get them all recognised. 2 is the normal limit. This applies to digital and analogue tuners.

    MCE will also only let you use the digital portion of cards, to the composite, SVideo inputs are redundant, same with any FM tuner on board.

    MediaPortal is about to move away from using Microsofts TV engine which has all these limits to their own that will allow a client/server system, all function of cards, and as many tuners you can squeeze in there. They are also speaking about enabling all channels in a multiplex to be watched/recorded at the same time with only one card. So in theory, with 6 tuners you could record everything broadcast on the UKs DTV system.

    Encripted services are also supported. In MCE they are not.

    Oh yeah, it's free and Open Source so worth giving it a try

    http://www.team-mediaportal.com/

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    MediaPortal sounds good, i want at least four tuners so i think i will consider that. Is it worth waiting for Vista and DX10 or is there no point?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funkstar View Post
    If you have three or more tuners (tuners as opposed to cards) in MCE you need to do weird registry hacks to get them all recognised. 2 is the normal limit. This applies to digital and analogue tuners.

    MCE will also only let you use the digital portion of cards, to the composite, SVideo inputs are redundant, same with any FM tuner on board.

    MediaPortal is about to move away from using Microsofts TV engine which has all these limits to their own that will allow a client/server system, all function of cards, and as many tuners you can squeeze in there. They are also speaking about enabling all channels in a multiplex to be watched/recorded at the same time with only one card. So in theory, with 6 tuners you could record everything broadcast on the UKs DTV system.

    Encripted services are also supported. In MCE they are not.

    Oh yeah, it's free and Open Source so worth giving it a try

    http://www.team-mediaportal.com/
    wonder how much code they nab from mythtv, considering how much of the above has been in that for years

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    That was my thoughts when TVEngine 3 was announced a few months back

    Fair play to them to be honest. They are both GPL projects and as long as there is credit given i can't see there is a problem.

    There has been a lot of discussion about a Windows port of MythFrontEnd. uPnP is also heavily discussed for both projects. I wonder if we will get to the stage when you could have a MythTV backend and MediaPortal frontends or vice versa?

    Personally i think the two projects should help each other, they can only benefit in the long run.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Funkstar View Post
    I wonder if we will get to the stage when you could have a MythTV backend and MediaPortal frontends or vice versa?

    Personally i think the two projects should help each other, they can only benefit in the long run.
    the myth protocol is well documented, albeit constantly changing. it should be technically feasible. however, i've read some of the opinions of the main mediaportal developer on their forums, and he'd be hard pushed to have a lower opinion of linux (and myth)

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    Really? thats surprising. If anything i would have thought it would be the other way around. MP is heavily dependant on Microsoft technologies, including MS-DVR, MediaPlayer, and the recording engine.

    MythTV is far more mature than MP anyday. Granted DVB on linux has been a problem, but the kernel drivers are pretty stable i think and as for as i know most card work out of the box on FC5 and recent kernels. Myth also has support for intereactive services, something that is quickly dismissed by MP.

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    seems myth 0.20 has working upnp support - http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/index.php...PnP-clients.29 lists known working apps

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