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Thread: HTPC system - comments please

  1. #1
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    HTPC system - comments please

    I should be getting a nice overtime payment at the end of this week, so I've decided to finally take the plunge and build myself the HTPC I've been promising myself for the last year.

    I've been reading around for a while now, but I've never actually built a system myself, so would appreciate any comments on the proposed spec below (budget around the £500 quid mark).

    Main purpose is solely as a media centre type thing.
    Ability to play some games would be nice, but I don't expect a fantastic gaming rig.

    Case: Silverstone SST-LC11
    Looks quite good, it's smallish, without being too teeny tiny inside, and seems relatively quiet.

    Motherboard: MSI K8MM-V (s754)
    The case is quite limiting, as it need a micro ATX board, with the graphics card and PCI sockets to be in exactly the right place. Hopefully this should do the job?

    CPU: AMD Sempron 2800+ S754 64bit
    Hopefully should give a good power to cash ratio. Should be more than adequate for most of the things likely to be thrown at it.

    AGP: Sapphire Radeon 9600 AGP x8 128MB
    Again mainly chosen on weighing up performance against cash outlay. Also no space for a double height card, and this has passive cooling to mimise noise.

    Memory: Corsair Value Select 2x512MB PC3200

    Hard Drive: 200Gb Western Digital WD2000JD Caviar SE (7200rpm,8MB) - SATA
    Anyone know what the noise output is like on these?

    TV card: 2x Compro VideoMate DVB-T200
    No-one seems to do a card with twin DVB-T tuners on it. In the intrests of keeping costs down, this is the cheapest I could find which supports Microsoft BDA drivers (so software compatability shouldn't be an issue), plus each also comes with a remote control, so I'll have a spare.

    DVD: LiteOn SHW-1635S-05C DVD±RW 16x16x Black + S/W

    Software: MediaPortal / GB-PVR
    Not sure which of these I prefer, probably give them both a spin and see which works best.

    Wireless: MSI US54G USB2 54Mbps Wireless Adaptor
    Those TV cards gobbled up all the PCI slots

    Keyboard / Mouse: Logitech Cordless Desktop EX 110/EN 110key USB PS2

    Throw in a copy of XP SP2 home and by my reckoning you're looking at about £525.

    Now can anyone tell me if I've made any stupid mistakes?
    Is any of this kit going to incompatible?

    Also I've kind of reached the ceiling of my budget here, so I'd rather you didn't suggest more expensive kit without a damn good reason (although I'm sure none of you would do that).
    More cash = more overtime + more nagging from the girlfriend

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Have you thought about Windows Media Centre Edition (MCE) 2005? Seen some good reviews of it around.

    For hard drives, I've no direct exeprience with the WD Caviar range, but the Seagate Barracuda line is known for being one of the quietest around.

    Also, you don't mention a sound card at all. Are you relying on on-board sound? Might want something with better quality if it's a media centre machine.

    Ars Technica had a good HTPC system guide a while back -- it's a bit American-centric, but still useful: http://arstechnica.com/guides/buyer/htpc-guide.ars

  3. #3
    Anthropomorphic Personification shaithis's Avatar
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    • shaithis's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus P8Z77 WS
      • CPU:
      • i7 3770k @ 4.5GHz
      • Memory:
      • 32GB HyperX 1866
      • Storage:
      • Lots!
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Sapphire Fury X
      • PSU:
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    Book yourself some more overtime

    Personally I would go with a Gigabyte passively-cooled GF6600. Plays High Def A/V without a hitch (some lower cards have problems) and will play the games better.

    If you can stretch to it, get the Gyration wireless keyboard and mouse. Leaves every other wireless kb/mouse that I have used in the dust. Responce times, number of similtaneous key presses, range, etc.

    DVD Drive......you might want to listen to a few first. A lot of the newer DVD drives are incredibly noisy when spinning up and reading. Not sure what the LiteOn is like but both the NECs and the Sonys I listened to recently were like tornados and not good for a HTPC (had to use Neros drive speed limiting to quieten the drives down).
    Main PC: Asus Rampage IV Extreme / 3960X@4.5GHz / Antec H1200 Pro / 32GB DDR3-1866 Quad Channel / Sapphire Fury X / Areca 1680 / 850W EVGA SuperNOVA Gold 2 / Corsair 600T / 2x Dell 3007 / 4 x 250GB SSD + 2 x 80GB SSD / 4 x 1TB HDD (RAID 10) / Windows 10 Pro, Yosemite & Ubuntu
    HTPC: AsRock Z77 Pro 4 / 3770K@4.2GHz / 24GB / GTX 1080 / SST-LC20 / Antec TP-550 / Hisense 65k5510 4K TV / HTC Vive / 2 x 240GB SSD + 12TB HDD Space / Race Seat / Logitech G29 / Win 10 Pro
    HTPC2: Asus AM1I-A / 5150 / 4GB / Corsair Force 3 240GB / Silverstone SST-ML05B + ST30SF / Samsung UE60H6200 TV / Windows 10 Pro
    Spare/Loaner: Gigabyte EX58-UD5 / i950 / 12GB / HD7870 / Corsair 300R / Silverpower 700W modular
    NAS 1: HP N40L / 12GB ECC RAM / 2 x 3TB Arrays || NAS 2: Dell PowerEdge T110 II / 24GB ECC RAM / 2 x 3TB Hybrid arrays || Network:Buffalo WZR-1166DHP w/DD-WRT + HP ProCurve 1800-24G
    Laptop: Lenovo Flex 2 / 12GB RAM / 240GB Corsair Force 3 Printer: HP CP1515n || Phone: HTC One U11 || Other: Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Pro 10.1 CM12.1 / Playstation 4 + G29 + 2TB Hybrid drive

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I don't think MCE is going to do the job. I've got a lot of music in Ogg Vorbis, and I'm not sure MCE will support them (WMP certainly doesn't)

    On board sound will have to do for the time being, as the case will only allow 2 PCI cards both of which are swallowed by tuner cards (unless I go for a different case of course, or someone knows of a card with multiple tuners?). In any event, it's not going to be hooked up to a particulary fantastic amp, and I'll only be using normal stereo, not surround, so hopefully it should be up to the job.

    That Gyration does look nice, but I'm not sure I can justify spending that much on a keyboard and mouse.

    I'll have to spend a bit more time trawling the net for noise info about the western digital, but the seagate is only a tad more expensive, so maybe I could stretch a little bit.

    The GF6600 is again a bit of a price hike. If you set aside games for a moment, would I notice much difference watching TV / DVDs on this over the Radeon 9600?

    Thanks for the heads up on the DVD drives though, I didn't realise they had the potential to be that bad, maybe I need to look into that a bit more before I make a firm decision.

  5. #5
    radix lecti dave87's Avatar
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    • dave87's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus
      • CPU:
      • i5 3470k under Corsair H80 WC
      • Memory:
      • 8gb DDR3
      • Storage:
      • 240gb SSD + 120gb SSD
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus HD7950
      • PSU:
      • XFX 600w Modular
      • Case:
      • Lian Li PC-A05FNB + Acoustipack
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    MCE is pretty much an updated version of windows with a media centre launcher. Its usable as a desktop PC otherwise, pretty much identical to XP SP 2. Otherwise i echo what shaithis said, the only thing stopping me using my media centre to watch DVDs is the DVD drive, its a noisy bugger. Ah well...such is life.

    Dave

  6. #6
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    I've got an Asus Pundit-R running 2.6 Celeron with MCE2K5 and 2 VisionPlus DVB-T tuners. This is used exclusively as a Media Center and is attached to my Sony 32" via a RGB to scart custom cable.

    I've tried SageTV, BeyondTV, Meedio, MediaPortal and they all have their adv and disadv. Finally settling on MCE because it's interafce is SLICK and simple.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave87
    ....
    the only thing stopping me using my media centre to watch DVDs is the DVD drive, its a noisy bugger. Ah well...such is life.

    Dave
    I've just installed MCE 2005 and found a solution to this is to rip your DVD's to your hard drive using DVDShrink (or similar) and then use 'My Movies' ( http://mymovies.name/ ) to have instant access to my entire colelction. I dont usually just jump in and plug a product but thought I'd spread the word in this case.

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