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Thread: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

  1. #1
    Senior Member Pob255's Avatar
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    Question Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    Flat mate is moving out and taking his DVR with him so I've been thinking about the possibility of using a pc as a replacement.

    I've recently been looking about for cheap 2nd pc's and I should be able to pick up one of the old Dell Optiplex GX280 or simular P4 systems for about £20-30
    Just wondering what it would take to turn it into a combo, music playe, dvd player, digital tv receiver & recorder?
    Now befor people start talking about bluray and 1080p, atm all we've got is a 19" non-widescreen lcd tv.
    it only has RCA, Scart and S-Video inputs (not even a d-sub)

    ATM we have the combo of a freeview box and a PS2 (for music & watching dvd's, don't play any games on it)

    So I've started thinking about a HTPC type thing to replace them and also be able to record stuff (we're going to miss that )

    However I've never actually put something like that together and don't have much money atm so wondering if it could be done on a faril small budget with something like an old Dell Optiplex as a base?


  2. #2
    Senior Member Pob255's Avatar
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    Re: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    Come on, I know there's some people on here who've built HTPC's.

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    Oh Crumbs.... Biscuit's Avatar
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    Re: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    well i have got one, i built it from the cheapest parts i could and just souped it up over the years with a combination of new bits and old bits taken from my main PC. However i dont record stuff... there is no PCI tuner card or anything like that.

    I personally wouldn't have thought a dell optiplex as an ideal starting point as it leaves no room for the future at all, not even sure they have a PCI-E/AGP slot for a GPU in those daft mobos/cases?

    I would get a cheap case and keep an eye out in the sales forum, pick up some bargains and built it up bit by bit. If the case really starts to bug you maybe we will see another project?

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    Senior Member Pob255's Avatar
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    Re: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    What specs is yours then? and what do you use it for?

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    DDY
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    Re: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    I built my first ever HTPC 4 years ago with this paltry spec:

    1.6GHz Athlon 64 s754 CPU
    512MB DDR PC-2700 RAM
    160GB HDD
    Hauppauge Nova-T DVB-T PCI card
    Windows XP Media Center Edition
    MCE Remote



    Its main function as a Freeview PVR worked perfectly, record and rewind etc, also plays/records DVDs, music, the lot. I have no doubt a similarly spec'ed Dell machine from way back should perform just as well or better.

    Not many motherboards have a TV output, for those that don't most PCI-E/AGP cards have at least composite out (Yellow RCA).

    EDIT:

    For the software sides of things, you can go for a Linux PVR distro such as 'Mythbuntu', I've only ever used Windows Media Center, I find WMC extremely easy to use and setup. FYI XP MCE was succeeded by Vista Home Premium, which is in turn succeeded by Windows 7 Home Premium, all include Media Center.
    Last edited by DDY; 17-07-2010 at 04:59 PM.

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    Oh Crumbs.... Biscuit's Avatar
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    Re: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    Mine was a celeron E1200 (£30), s775 XFX Nvidia motherboard (£30), Akasa 964 cooler which i ran without the fan (£10), Coolermaster elite (£15 today only) Geforce 6200TC, 1GB old value select RAM, an old beige DVDRW, a load of old hard drives and the finishing touch... a 350W PSU i took out of a mates PC when he upgraded to a Seasonic. Changed a lot now as i have 2TB HDD, a 750GB HDD, 320GB HDD, A HD5450, my old IP35-E and its all wrapped up in a Silverstone GD01 with under-volted 80mm Golfballs in the front to keep all those hard drives cool.
    I also changed the fan in the PSU to make it a bit quieter

    I think i still have the motherboard and the 6200TC which i could sell to you if your interested. The pair of them for £15 delivered? f you just want the mobo then a tenner is fine.

    I already have films, videos and music stored from ripping my DVDs etc. I use XBMC which has a lot of nifty plug ins and scripts if you check out the forums.
    Last edited by Biscuit; 17-07-2010 at 06:36 PM.

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    Not a good person scaryjim's Avatar
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    Re: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    I don't record anything on mine, but my HTPC is a Sempron 140 on a 785G mobo with a single 2GB stick of DDR3 which cost me a grand total of ~ £110 all told. Works beautifully for playing back DVDs and watching iplayer / 4oD etc., and I imagine it'd be good for recording from a TV Tuner (but I don't watch TV or have a TV license, so that's not something I'm inclined to try ).

    Before that, I ran a socket A Sempron 2300+ on an NForce 2 mobo with an FX5500, and I've also used a socket A Duron 1200 on a PCChips M810 mobo for watching DVDs too. So you can get away with pretty much any old hardware for most purposes

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    Re: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    You can see my current spec in my sig below, but initially it was just a little project for me and I used a load of my left over bits in the rig. 1.8Ghz Celeron single core chip, 1Gb RAM, 400GB HDD, old 775 mobo and bought a dual freeview tuner and my current case. The thing at that time was perfectly fine for playing DVDs and avi's and watching/recording TV, but the celly was in no way up to HD playback, for that you really could do with a dual core system.

    I use media centre for playback with a few addons like arcsoft TMT3 for blu-ray/HDDVD, media browser for my film library and tunerfree MCE for Iplayer 4oD etc. Means I just use my remote to run the whole lot, it gets a lot of use.

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  13. #9
    Senior Member Pob255's Avatar
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    Re: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    Thanks everyone, esp DDY that's pretty much what I'm going for, although the dell's I was looking at are higher spec.

    Are you running that 24/7 ? can you set up timed recording?
    Any advice on what to look for in a tv card?

  14. #10
    DDY
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    Re: Help with the possibility of a media pc/dvr

    Go for a TV card that's compatible if Windows Media Centre if you're going for a Win MC based set up. Other than that, I don't know what to recommend, except a card with dual tuners is nice - record one channel while watching another, this also works with two or more single tuner cards.

    With WMC you don't need timed TV recording, you've got the guide. TV programmes are listed by channel and time, simply select a programme in the future, press the record button once to record that one programme, or twice to record the entire series.

    I leave my HTPC on constantly, it's also a file server, it does automatic backups and it streams media including recorded TV to computers around the house and beyond.

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