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Thread: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

  1. #17
    glaciation appreciation frazered's Avatar
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    integrated sound is fine for htpc's imo, you can even get away with integrated gfx as well. however a separate gfx card is not expensive to do especially the 8600gt series.

    psu - i agree it is probably best to get a new psu, they can be had a reasonable prices, especially for htpc where you don't need a massive psu e.g. this corsair one Corsair VX450WUK 450W PSU - Ebuyer

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    Senior Member Dreaming's Avatar
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Well, considering the fact I changed my motherboard because it wasn't 100% reliable, I may go with a uatx solution. I just thought it would be good to recycle! I guess I coul put the motherboard on ebay as sold as seen (it does work, I just used to get blue screens every now and again and couldn't explain it :s I think it was the memory actually, but nvm).

    So assuming I need a board + processor now, what's a good bet? This Abit AN-M2NHD comes with HDMI as standard so arguably I wouldn't need a graphics card, having said that I expect if it is running vista MCE it would be very slow without an external graphics accelerator anyway.

    So this opens up my case options too!
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    If you're going AM2, go with a 780G board, like this one. The onboard graphics are much, much better, and all recent AMD graphics chips (onboard or otherwise) are better than all of NV's for media acceleration. It's the perfect HTPC board - I just wish there was an Intel or AMD equivalent for their mobile chips.

    Hexus reviewed the chipset and board here. It also has DVI, VGA and HDMI.

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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Quote Originally Posted by this_is_gav View Post
    If you're going AM2, go with a 780G board, like this one. The onboard graphics are much, much better, and all recent AMD graphics chips (onboard or otherwise) are better than all of NV's for media acceleration. It's the perfect HTPC board - I just wish there was an Intel or AMD equivalent for their mobile chips.

    Hexus reviewed the chipset and board here. It also has DVI, VGA and HDMI.
    Thanks that's brilliant. I think I could get away without a discrete card, and if I do need to upgrade apparently it can turn on a hybrid xfire mode so with compatible discrete graphics cards it will also use the integrated solution (less waste!).

    I think I'm just about there,

    500 GB Western Digital WD5000AAKS Caviar SE16 £53.92
    160 GB Western Digital WD1600AAJS Caviar SE £31.71
    SilverStone LC17S (Silver) £75.07
    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium OEM £59.80
    2 x 1GB Micron Major, DDR2 PC2-6400 (800) £21.13
    Asus M3A78-EMH HDMI, AMD 780G £53.35
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 4850e £56.39
    Gyration GYR3101CKUK Media Center Vista Remote - Compact Suite £79.98

    Comes to £441. Still changeable on the case, and need to get a PSU, but under my estimate of £500 for the lot. I don't know whether to get another TV tuner, I've got a perfectly good one at home but it only does one channel at any time I *think*.
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Those gyrating controllers are crap in my opinion. We've got one of their mice at work and it's a pain to operate for any length of time. You'd be better off with a proper mouse (wireless if it's to be used frequently) and normal MCE remote (this official Vista one is nice to use, or there's this if you really want to splash the cash (not at all good value, but looks cool!) in my opinion.

    This case is very decent and comes with a solid PSU included, and still less than the Silverstone one. I'm a big fan of Silverstone, but I've not seen on of their HTPC cases. It seems a bit OTT to have a full-ATX case when it's not needed.

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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Have you not thought of using the Xbox360 as a media extender and having a PC do all the hard work somewhere else ? If you can have the 360 under the TV and networked to the PC, then you can stream video to the console from the computer.

    I'm not sure how well the 360 ties in to MCE, but I would hope it would let you schedule stuff from the frontend on the console to the backend on the PC.

  8. #23
    Senior Member Dreaming's Avatar
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Hmm could do amdavies, just the 360 isn't a firm fixture, it's just my brothers but I doubt he'll be pleased if it suddenly no longer works! The best way I can see:



    So that's why I was looking at a clever I/O device. I don't think it will be used extensively as a PC, (it may be to some extent, I can see my little cousins wanting to play micro machines!) so a proper mouse I don't think is actually necessary. It's going to be replacing a Sky+ box mainly, but with the added advantage of being able to check email for my mum (she struggles with anything remotely computer-wise , so having it on the TV will be useful ), store as many films and music as you like and so on.

    What I/O would you recommend? The chassis comes with a remote control anyway, so maybe it would be more prudent to see how it gets on with that at first anyway. I picked that combo because it seems to get glowing praise on avforums, as much as corsair PSUs do on hexus

    The case I want something with plenty of room for HDD expansion, because I intend to use it as a network attached storage device as well, with one smallish HDD for the operating system and applications (with a partition for a drive image), then at first a single 500gb drive for media, and as things get full I can just plug in more. Unfortunately most of the smaller cases only have one or two bays for hard disks, which means a compulsory purchase of a 1gb disk at great cost which may still get full especially with HD content on there.
    Dreaming

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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    360 is very unreliable, you don't really want that on all the time when watching TV, it'll blow up.

  10. #25
    Senior Member Dreaming's Avatar
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy3536 View Post
    360 is very unreliable, you don't really want that on all the time when watching TV, it'll blow up.
    One of my friend uses it to stream TV from his HTPC to his xbox in another room (as he doesn't have a freeview cable) but in our situation it's just an add on. Could be replaced with a Wii or whatever, just currently 99% of the time in that room is spent with my brother on the 360 .
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreaming View Post
    One of my friend uses it to stream TV from his HTPC to his xbox in another room (as he doesn't have a freeview cable) but in our situation it's just an add on. Could be replaced with a Wii or whatever, just currently 99% of the time in that room is spent with my brother on the 360 .
    It's like a time bomb waiting for the ring of death

  12. #27
    Senior Member Dreaming's Avatar
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Right, my internet is playing up, so three questions.

    What TV tuner is recommended?

    What I/O devices are recommended?

    It seems the HDMI from a graphics card does not transmit the sound, what should I consider when taking this fact into account? (I assume you can plug your sound card's green 3.5mm audio out jack to the TV though...)
    Dreaming

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  13. #28
    SiM
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    You can do sound over HDMI with ATI graphics card range... my 2600 pro used to do it (although I never used this feature)

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  15. #29
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Thanks SiM! Just reading about on the internet people are saying it can't be done :s. But if it can, brilliant!
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    What TV tuner is recommended?
    I have the Hauppage Nova-T dual tuner, just bought a Pinnacle 3010IX dual pci-e from play.com for £17.99 (yet to try it but it seems to have good feedback)

    I am changing because the Hauppage appears as a usb item and sometimes does not appear so mce thinks there is no tuner. it is not so frequent since i moved to vista home premium and vista sp1

    What I/O devices are recommended?

    I have the std windows mce remote and ir - again about £17 last time I looked. I have an old keyboard and mouse tucked under incase I need to tweak anything. Apart from that I just use the remote and vista mce. I haven't found the need to use a wireless keyboard for email or surfing. That is what the laptops are for!

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  18. #31
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    Can't wait to get this all done, changed my mind from the silverstone to the antec case as you get a PSU with it, and it's not so big! (and theres a few reviews on the net saying the silverstone build quality isn't amazing..) Main downside is only two hard disk bays... but I could always come up with an inventive solution :-)
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  19. #32
    glaciation appreciation frazered's Avatar
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    Re: Building a HTPC - where do I start?

    the sonata has space for 4 hdds - i have one in front of me here

    i would disagree on build quality, my lc17s is just as good as the sonata. but the value of the sonata is hard to ignore if you don't have a psu.

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