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Thread: HTPC Spec please

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    HTPC Spec please

    Hi,

    Can any of you kind people spec me a HTPC.

    It must be able to:

    Run Win 7 x64 with Media Centre
    Play/Rec HD TV (Dual tuner DVB-S or DVB-S2?)
    Play 720/1080p HD videos (HDCP graphics card)
    Play Blu-ray discs
    Large HDD (1Gb+)

    I would like to use a case along the lines of the Antec Fusion or equivelent.

    It will not be used for games.

    Finally, must be as quiet as possible.

    Thanks
    adsmithy

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    All you need is an amd 785g mobo this one @ £66 should do
    bung in a low power dual core like athlon II 235e (£45?), add 4gb ddr3(£60), blu drive (£45), 1.5tb sata drive (£70)(SSD are still very pricey), wintv nova s2 for dvb-s2 (£90) put it in the fusion (£100) and you're set (plus OS). Can get a new HSF if you want, but the stock cooler will be rather quiet.
    They were rough prices, shopping for the best deal could knock between 5 and 20 quid of each item before postage.
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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    Frankly, if you want to pare down that build even more a Sempron 140 will do the job more than well enough (although there's nothing wrong with using an Athlon II X2 if you want to). The stock cooler with the Sempron is very low profile and *very* quiet, to the extent that the loudest thing in my HTPC (built in an earlier revision of this case) is the DVD drive! I imagine that the 45W Athlons will come with the same cooler...

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    If you have a HDMI receiver/amplifier, then you will need a HD4350/4550 to get LPCM audio over HDMI.....the 785g motherboards fail at it and the other integrated chipsets that support it have either other audio issues or video decoding issues.

    It also allows you to get any motherboard/cpu combo within reason.
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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    What form factor are you thinking? microATX? As above, I would go with any 785g or 8200/8300 based board with HDMI - no need to seperate graphics unless you're gaming.

    Also, probably gonna want more than 1Gb of HDD space

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    Contrary to what others have said above me I would actually recommend getting a separate graphics card for Blu-Ray. The 785 is a decent chipset, but AMD/Ati reserve alot of their higher quality video enhancing features for discrete cards.

    Quote from: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...o,2408-15.html

    On a final note, I would be remiss to avoid pointing out that any motherboard with a PCIe slot can be transformed into an HTPC powerhouse with the addition of an inexpensive discrete graphics card like the Radeon HD 4650. If you're looking for more than just HD video playback (the occasional game at 720p, perhaps) then the discrete route is well worth the extra money spent.
    (The whole article has some interesting finds with regards to Blu-Ray playback on integrated GPU's in general, worth a read before you make a decision)

    General Spec:

    (New rev.) 45W Athlon II processor
    AMD M-AtX Chipset motherboard (770, 780, 785) - Most will have integrated graphics anyway, check for Pci-E slot
    1TB Samsung F3
    2GB DDR2/DDR3 (depending on whether you bought AM2+ / AM3 motherboard)
    AMD/Ati HD 4650/4670
    Blu-ray/DVD Combo Drive
    DVB Dual Tuner (Dont know much about tuners, but you'll want a dual one to enable Sky+ like 'watch n record' facilities, and you'll want to get a good brand like Hauppage)

    Case: There are some nice Silverstones, and the fusion has been mentioned. The fusions cheaper sibling is

    the http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Antec...80plus-Eff-PSU

    I actually have one of these (bought when they were around £50 on ebuyer inc PSU) - the PSU should be fine for your needs and its fairly good looking and compact.

    I was going to make a proper spec with specific prices and items, but scan not having the new 45W Athlons yet ruined that slightly

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    For LPCM via hdmi, I have the nvidia based asus m3n78-vm which uses the 8200 chipset, and while I had some issues with drivers to begin, all problems have been sorted with driver and os updates (also spdif out which is what I wanted). I don't use lpcm myself but avforums are great for that.
    For discrete gpu, you can always add one down the road if you decide you want what they offer.
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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    I was about to ask the exact same question as adsmithy, so thanks for all the responses: that's saved me starting a new thread

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    I was considering the Fusion too, until I came across this thread which suggests there are common problems with the LCD: http://forums.hexus.net/antec-care-h...emote-max.html

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    Hi again,

    Thanks for the replys.

    I will be using an optical digital connection for sound via my Marantz AV amp.

    I've knocked up a spec:

    Antec NSK2480-UK V2 Desktop Media Centre Case for uATX with 380W Earthwatts 80%+ Eff PSU £73.95 £85.04
    LN27699

    2GB Corsair DDR3 PC3-10600 (1333) 240 Pin, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 9-9-9-24 £30.10 £34.62
    LN28199

    Asus M4A785TD-M EVO, AMD 785G, AM3, PCI-E (x16), DDR3 1333/1600/1800, SATA 3Gb/s RAID, uATX, VGA £57.98 £66.68
    LN28226

    AMD Athlon II X2 240, Regor Core, Socket AM3, 2.8GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 65W, Retail £38.38 £44.14
    LN28746

    1TB Samsung HD103SJ Spinpoint F3, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200rpm, 32MB Cache, 8.9 ms, NCQ, OEM £50.49 £58.06


    Total £299.38

    Just need to decide on a TV card now.

    I wanted a S2 card, but I can't find any Dual Tuner cards..

    I think I'm going to leave the Blu-ray drive for now and get one later..

    What do you make of that spec? I couldn't find the 45w Athlons on Scan

    Cheers,
    Adrian

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    The low power Athlon II -e series don't seem to have made it to UK retail yet The only 45W option is the single core Sempron 140. I have one of those and the Asus M4A785TD-M EVO, and mine happily unlocks to a dual-core, but as always YMMV. I personally think a single core is ample for HTPC usage, and of course if you can unlock it to a dual core that's a bonus: it would save you ~ £20 too. EDIT: after trumpeting the cause of single core processors for months on these forums, I'm afraid to say that after spending some time with an unlocked Sempron this evening, I no longer can. Windows 7 was noticably smoother when it was running as a dual core - particularly the time it took from logging on to the desktop being usable. I hate to say this, but I think single core days really are over unless you have no money at all

    Another option with the EVO mobo is undervolting the 65W X2 to reduce the power usage and temperatures. The EVO board allows a significant undervolt (down to 1.0V), and you can undervolt *and* run cool'n'quiet at the same time. My Sempron's currently running on something like 1.15V** (down from 1.32V stock) and it's completely stable, and arthurleung is currently running an X4 640 at 1.1V down from 1.4V stock. This kind of undervolting will *significantly* reduce the power draw of your CPU as well as lowering the operating temperature.

    ** more edit: This evening I've played around a bit more (inspired by arthur), and I have now stability tested my Sempron unlocked to a dual core and running at 1.05V vcore. It would appear that Athlon IIs have massively overrated stock vcores, and I'd strongly recommend getting one and undervolting it as far as possible with your EVO motherboard
    Last edited by scaryjim; 30-10-2009 at 10:34 PM.

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    Just built one of these myself. Have to say I disagree with your choices!!

    Motherboard: Asus P5G41-M @ £46
    CPU: Intel Celeron E3200 @ £35
    RAM: 2GB Corsair Value Select PC2-6400 @ £35
    HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 @ £58 - can't fault you there... F3 FTW!

    £30 cheaper, much lower power consumption, and just generally better IMO.

    The motherboard has built in HDMI with HDCP, nuff said. Also has optical out. Or if you prefer, get a cheap G31 motherboard and buy a 9400GT. Only disadvantage is no RAID but AMD (nvidia) RAID is crap anyway and I guess you wouldn't bother in a HTPC.

    Don't be put off by the Celeron name... it's a normal 45nm just with a smaller cache. From experience, the cache doesn't seem to make much difference anyway. You can EASILY overclock the E3200 which runs at 2.4GHz to say 3.2GHz and it'll still run very cool even in a HTPC case. Also look at the power consumption of this under load compared to the AMDs. I've got a E3200 right here overclocked to 4GHz and it's faster than my E8500 was at stock - and E8500 sells for £140. You wouldn't want to try 4GHz in a HTPC case tho, mine is around 65C at 4Ghz but with good case circulation.

    As for tuners... I don't think it's DVB-S2 (just DVB-S), but you could get 2x Compro Videomate S350 @ £24/e. I'm running one of them right now on Windows 7, and I'm pretty sure two of the same card would work.

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    With my HTPC build, I was planning on ripping all my DVDs to save some shelf space (probably as full disc images). Only thing is, the idea of then having the hard drive fail in a few years' time and having to re-rip them all made me think something like two 1.5TB drives in RAID 1 for safety would be a good idea. ta2, you say the RAID on AMD-based mobos is crap - would it be good enough for this? Or should I consider a separate RAID card? In theory I'd like the freedom to add another couple of drives later if I fill the first two. All thoughts appreciated. Ta!

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    ta2
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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    Quote Originally Posted by Yorkieshaman View Post
    With my HTPC build, I was planning on ripping all my DVDs to save some shelf space (probably as full disc images). Only thing is, the idea of then having the hard drive fail in a few years' time and having to re-rip them all made me think something like two 1.5TB drives in RAID 1 for safety would be a good idea. ta2, you say the RAID on AMD-based mobos is crap - would it be good enough for this? Or should I consider a separate RAID card? In theory I'd like the freedom to add another couple of drives later if I fill the first two. All thoughts appreciated. Ta!
    By crap I mean in comparison to Intel's ICH*R range. RAID 1 is the most simple form of RAID and requires no processing at all really, so even the crappest controller will give good enough performance. Don't buy a separate RAID card. ICH10R is better than all of them until you get into the £200+ range. As for adding a couple of drives later... if you want them on the same array:

    a) I wouldn't suggest adding drives to an array which has data on it.
    b) RAID 10, RAID 0+1 and RAID 5 are the ones that AMD/Nvidia RAID is gonna struggle at

    RAID 1 or RAID 0 should be fine definately... but I wouldn't advise forking out £20-30 extra for a mobo that supports RAID if you're just gonna use it for that. You could do it in software RAID on linux or get a program that syncs your movies to the second hard drive in windows. The latter option is also the only one that protects you from accidental deletion of your files.

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    The low power Athlon II ... snip ... It would appear that Athlon IIs have massively overrated stock vcores, and I'd strongly recommend getting one and undervolting it as far as possible with your EVO motherboard
    ScaryJim - I don't suppose you have overall power draw figures when undervolted like that do you? I'm currently trying to put together a HTPC which will actually spend most of its time as a NAS, and hence I'm trying to get it as low power as possible.

    I had just started this thread (http://forums.hexus.net/hexus-hardwa...ml#post1806641) right before I read this one. I don't want to thread-hijack, so feel free to reply here or in that post

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    Re: HTPC Spec please

    Quote Originally Posted by ta2 View Post
    ... look at the power consumption of this under load compared to the AMDs.
    That'd be a valid comparison if the AMD tested was a 45nm Athlon II on a 785G chipset: but it's not. It's a Brisbane core 65nm K8 on a 790GX chipset. Your link, while interesting, is really irrelevant to the question under discussion. The setup were are suggesting will have completely different power characteristics. By all means suggest alternatives, but please don't link to misleading irrelevancies, it only muddies the waters...

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