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Thread: HTPC Build advice

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    HTPC Build advice

    Hi Hexusers!

    I'm in the very rare situation of my wife allowing me to spend some cash on a new media pc , so I need to get the specs sorted and the hardware bought before she changes her mind!

    What i'm looking to do is get rid of all the junk currently under the tv and replace it with on single box that can do (almost) everything. What it needs to be able to do is: watch dvd's/blu-rays; watch and record hdtv (freeview); stream tv/films over the internet; download & play music; browse internet/emails and all the other stuff that htpc's do. I'm also going to use it eventually as the primary media 'server' so we can stream downloaded films and shows to other smart tv's and appliances in the house over the wireless network.

    I'm planning on using Windows 8 as the OS and use XBMC as the media centre.

    This is the build that I've put together so far:

    Case: Silverstone ML03B
    Mobo: MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 M-ATX
    CPU/GPU: AMD A10 5700
    RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8GB
    System SSD: Scandisk 64GB
    Storage: 2TB Seagate Barracuda
    PSU: 530W be quiet! modular
    blu-ray: Pioneer 12x writer
    Wireless adapter: Edimax EW-7612

    I have a tbs6280 DVB-T2/T hd tuner card already

    Plus various cables, dongles and fans as required.

    Does this build look ok for what I want it to do? Any glaring errors in there or any suggestions for improvement? Budget is not too much of a problem - obviously I want to spend as little as possible but there is room if a particular component is far superior for a little more.

    Is the choice of Windows 8 and XBMC ok? I would prefer a Linux setup, but I don't think i have the patience to get it all working. I've also heard about PLEX, would that be better than XBMC?

    Many thanks, Alex

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Looks pretty good to me and should be powerful enough to do what you're asking it to do. The best OS for xmbc is of course xbmcbuntu, but you have a decent enough amount of horsepower to run it through windows, although I would personally consider windows & if you can't do Linux. Windows 8 won't add anything but complexities.

    I would also consider using 200mbps+ homeplugs rather than a wireless adapter - much better connection for HD video streaming.

    I've built a fair few mini itx systems for HTPC use over the years, but more recently I bought an Acer Revo L80 for £150 from eBuyer - great little machine. Does everything I need it to with zero fuss, no noise and little power draw.

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Thanks, I've made a few minor changes to the build - different mobo, ram with a low profile cooler and a different PSU (the one I listed wouldn't fit in the case!), but it's good to know that the spec i've listed should be up to the task.

    The choice of windows for an OS comes mostly from the blu-ray drive. Even though it's not automatically supported in windows, the software bundled with the player should enable me to watch blu-rays in windows easily enough, whereas in Linux it looks to be a bit of a pain to get working. The fact that I don't actually own any blu-rays is a debate for another day! The choice of Windows 8 is purely because of the cost. I should be able to boot straight into xbmc, and the faster boot-up times of 8 should also be a bonus. I'll concentrate on getting it running first and refining later.

    Thanks for the tip about homeplug - i'd never heard about it before! The Acer Revo you recommended also looks great! The fact you can get one with a blu-ray player also seems to put a spanner in the works - its significantly cheaper than my build! I think i'll just hide the internet from my wife for a while....

  5. #4
    Bows out! CAT-THE-FIFTH's Avatar
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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    I would get a smaller,more efficient PSU!

    This is not modular but is Gold rated:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/360w-...gold-quiet-fan


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Thanks CAT,

    Reading a bit more about that case, Silverstone recommend that a modular PSU is not used in the ML03 if fitting an optical drive because of connectors sticking out and limited space. I think your recommendation is a good one!

    Alex

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Quote Originally Posted by s_kinton View Post
    Looks pretty good to me and should be powerful enough to do what you're asking it to do. The best OS for xmbc is of course xbmcbuntu, but you have a decent enough amount of horsepower to run it through windows, although I would personally consider windows & if you can't do Linux. Windows 8 won't add anything but complexities.

    I would also consider using 200mbps+ homeplugs rather than a wireless adapter - much better connection for HD video streaming.

    I've built a fair few mini itx systems for HTPC use over the years, but more recently I bought an Acer Revo L80 for £150 from eBuyer - great little machine. Does everything I need it to with zero fuss, no noise and little power draw.
    I can second the Revo. I had one for just under a year. It's terrible in the CPU department but everything get's offloaded to the GPU when watching 1080P etc. I can't guarantee their longevity however. If I wasn't competent at building and needed a hassle free HTPC, I'd buy a revo. If you do want to build, then definitely go that route.

    Also, not considered a WDTV Live. Does everything a HTPC can do, plays all formats, low power draw, tiny, half the price. The Pros mount up.

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Quote Originally Posted by buchanan0204 View Post
    I can second the Revo. I had one for just under a year. It's terrible in the CPU department but everything get's offloaded to the GPU when watching 1080P etc. I can't guarantee their longevity however. If I wasn't competent at building and needed a hassle free HTPC, I'd buy a revo. If you do want to build, then definitely go that route.

    Also, not considered a WDTV Live. Does everything a HTPC can do, plays all formats, low power draw, tiny, half the price. The Pros mount up.
    Thanks, I think i'm set on building it myself, it's like a big, grown up lego kit hence why i'm willing to pay a little extra!

    I also think that after looking at the pre-built systems, they don't offer everything i'm looking for. For example, i don't think either the Revo or WDTV come with a a tv card as standard, which is vital . I think i'm about ready to push the button on this build!

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Wh@l3fish View Post
    I have a tbs6280 DVB-T2/T hd tuner card already
    Does XBMC play nicely with TV cards? I know there are loads of plugins for it, but I've not had all that much luck getting them working in the past, especially for UK specific things like the EPG. I've got a Hauppauge Freeview card and use it with Windows Media Centre, simply because the support for TV cards is so straight forward.

    This might be of interest to you, if they start selling them over here of course (includes TV tuner):

    http://www.pcper.com/news/Systems/Ar...unning-XBMC-12

    Edit
    ----

    The 'bare bones' version is available from Amazon Germany:

    http://www.amazon.de/ARCTIC-MC001-N-...dp/B005AR1RT6/
    Last edited by MrJim; 12-02-2013 at 11:02 AM.

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbobgod1969 View Post
    Does XBMC play nicely with TV cards? I know there are loads of plugins for it, but I've not had all that much luck getting them working in the past, especially for UK specific things like the EPG. I've got a Hauppauge Freeview card and use it with Windows Media Centre, simply because the support for TV cards is so straight forward.
    I have no idea how well xbmc works with tv cards as i've never had one before! It's all a learning process for me and i put this in the 'surmountable problem' category. MythTV should be able to handle this and i'll start from there. I'm sure i'll be able to get something working and i'll let you know what works best for me!

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Wh@l3fish View Post
    I have no idea how well xbmc works with tv cards as i've never had one before! It's all a learning process for me and i put this in the 'surmountable problem' category. MythTV should be able to handle this and i'll start from there. I'm sure i'll be able to get something working and i'll let you know what works best for me!
    Sorry, when you said in your first post that you had a TV card, I assumed you had used it I've not used MythTV before myself, but you'd assume it's designed to work with TV cards given its name! I'll be interested to hear how you get on!

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbobgod1969 View Post
    Sorry, when you said in your first post that you had a TV card, I assumed you had used it
    Hey no problem! It wasn't clear from my initial post. I was given the card from a friend who changed to a quad channel card. He used it in WMC and that seemed to work ok. no experience with xbmc though. I've pushed the button on the build, i'll let you know how I get on!

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Wh@l3fish View Post
    Thanks for the tip about homeplug - i'd never heard about it before! The Acer Revo you recommended also looks great! The fact you can get one with a blu-ray player also seems to put a spanner in the works - its significantly cheaper than my build! I think i'll just hide the internet from my wife for a while....
    home plugs (or Power lines as they are normaly known as) are a fantastic bit of kit highly recommend them

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    Re: HTPC Build advice

    Sorry for the late reply to this thread, (and for that matter not been on this forum all the much of late, due to life, work, kids blah blah....)

    Anywho, a couple of things to throw in if its not too late.
    Firstly, HomePlug / Powerline / Ethernet over power - very useful indeed, much better than WiFi streaming for media.
    For myself however, i've just upgraded my home 200 Mbps set for a 500 Mbps set as i was getting occasional stuttering in high bit-rate 1080p files.
    I bought these (so as not to lose a vital socket)
    http://www.ebuyer.com/413652-zyxel-p...la4211-gb0201f
    As well as this
    http://www.ebuyer.com/337122-zyxel-p...la4225-gb0101f
    With a built in switch to be near my HTPC, as i plan on having other devices there soon.

    In a quick and dirty home test, and my own home setup (everyones will be different), I was getting about 2.5 MB (MegaBytes) per second over the 200 Mbps (Megabit) set, which then increased to just over 4 MB per second using a single large file being transferred from my NAS. I can now play large files (ie a 13 Gigabyte 1080p DTS 2 hour movie) smoothly.

    On a quick side note, i bought myself a Raspberry Pi, and have been playing with Raspbmc.
    I have spent £53 in total on the kit (Pi, Case, HDMI lead, PSU, SD card, Remote control) and used a spare 3.5 ext hard drive.
    It is brilliant - playback is 100% so far (mostly avi's and MKV's). The menu system response is notably slower than my full HTPC (which runs XBMC) but is 'good enough' for most purposes.
    Just a thought...

    Overall for me, i'm sticking with my 'full' HTPC for myself, but giving the Rasp Pi to my sister-in-law and her kids.
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