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Thread: HTPC / PVR Help

  1. #1
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    HTPC / PVR Help

    I'm looking for some guidance on which components to buy for a HTPC. I've got/ordered the following so far:

    Ordered:

    Antec Aria Micro ATX Cube Case - 300W PSU
    Asus A7S8X-MX SiS 741GX Micro ATX (Socket A) Motherboard

    Already got:

    AMD Athlon XP 1900+
    512mb DDR266
    250gb SATA HDD
    256mb Sapphire Radeon 9200

    The bit I need guidance on is with the Operating System and TV Tuner card and keyboard/mouse. This is what I want the PC to be able to do:

    * record, pause, rewind live TV from both my normal tv and freeview box
    * burn recorded TV programs to a DVD (preferably encoded to DivX or similar) for playback in a normal DVD player
    * be able to stream files to this PC from my fileserver over a wireless network (b/g)
    * play DVDs on my TV
    * web browsing with a wireless keyboard and mouse (laptop style combo?)

    I've been looking at MythTV for the operating system, but I'm not sure if Windows MCE would be better. If so, I could buy it. My video card has TV out, but I've lost the connector. Is there a TV Tuner card that will have TV out on as well as TV in?

    Thanks for any advice anyone can give me

  2. #2
    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    • DanceswithUnix's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus X470-PRO
      • CPU:
      • 3700X
      • Memory:
      • 16GB 3200MHz
      • Storage:
      • 1TB Linux, 1TB Games (Win 10)
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus Strix RX Vega 56
      • PSU:
      • 650W Corsair TX
      • Case:
      • Antec 300
      • Operating System:
      • Fedora 30 + Win 10 Pro 64 (yuk)
      • Monitor(s):
      • Benq XL2730Z 1440p + Samsung 2343BW 2048x1152
      • Internet:
      • Zen 80Mb/20Mb VDSL
    Ooh, quite a lot of stuff there. I should start off by saying I don't run MCE and have only played with Myth on top of Fedora. I actually use a TiVo for my PVR use. Anyway...

    1/ Seems a real shame to spend money on socket-A. As you have to buy the motherboard, can you not spare the extra 50 quid for a cheap socket 754 Sempron? I only make the point as the Sempron has vastly superior power saving, so the end PC will make less heat and so less noise which does matter for a PVR.

    2/ Media center seems to have quite a lot of "Digital Rights" shinanigans built in. If you record something, there is no guarantee it will let you burn it to DVD.

    3/ You could buy a TV card like a Hauppauge PVR350 which has TV-out, but frankly I think they are damned expensive and you would be better off buying a 20 quid FX5200 card with TV-out (the Linux Nvidia drivers are pretty good) and buying a cheaper TV card, preferably one that can do freeview.

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    I have built the following setup and it is running quietly and reliably:

    AMD Sempron 2800+ 1.6GHz Socket 754
    EPoX EP-8HMMi-A
    1gb Crucial value PC3200 DDR (2x 512)
    2x Hauppauge Nova-t pci cards (freeview)
    Windows XP
    GBPVR software to manage recording, scheduling and watching television.

    There is an interesting review/story (mentioned in another thread on Hexus) here:

    http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/2006/0...ap_with_gb_uk/ (Link now working)

    and you can get the software and support from the forums here:

    http://www.gbpvr.com/

    This setup fits my purposes well. It allows me to record one channel and watch another or to record 2 different channels at the same time. The software works well and there is a healthy level of peer support of the forums should you hit any problems.
    Last edited by toomanycooks; 08-05-2006 at 02:40 PM.

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    Not specific to your hardware or OS, but I would really avoid encoding to dvix then back to dvd - it's pretty pointless really and will lose you quality. You shuld convert & encode your captured streams straight to dvd. Your PVR card will probably record mpeg2 anyway, so it's time, effort and quality wasted to convert from mpeg2 to mpeg4 then back to mpeg2.

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    Senior Member chrestomanci's Avatar
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    • chrestomanci's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus AMD AM4 Ryzen PRIME B350M
      • CPU:
      • AMD Ryzen 1600 @ stock clocks
      • Memory:
      • 16Gb DDR4 2666MHz
      • Storage:
      • 250Gb Samsung 960 Evo M.2 + 3Tb Western Digital Red
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Basic AMD GPU (OSS linux drivers)
      • PSU:
      • Novatech 500W
      • Case:
      • Silverstone Sugo SG02
      • Operating System:
      • Linux - Latest Xubuntu
      • Monitor(s):
      • BenQ 24" LCD (Thanks: DDY)
      • Internet:
      • Zen FTTC
    I have an Antec Aria case and it has been quite a bit of trouble.

    It is unbelievably cramped inside, and the design leaves a bit to be desired. For example it is not possible to get the drive cage out without slightly bending at least one PCI card to let it out. The PSU leads are very short so you can’t plug the drives into power until they are in place. (then it is very cramped to get your fingers in to plug in the drives). The space above the CPU is very small making the choice of coolers limited.

    Compare this to a shuttle where all the power and data cable are made to the correct length and pre-installed to route to the correct places, and there is an integrated cooler that works.

    The PSU has failed on me twice, and had to go back to Antec. Even the second time, they where not very helpful about it, and as the PSU is non standard I could not buy a standard ATX one instead. The fan on the PSU is not very powerfull, so I had to add a second 120mm fan outside the box to help it, and to get my system temperature down to a sensible level.

    The exernal card reader on min has stoped working.

    At one stage I was recommending the Aria to anyone who would listen, but now definitely not. I am not in any hurry to replace the case, as I don’t open it up very often, but if I did, I would consider a SilverStone SG01S (http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=244419)

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    A lot of people attempt to go the HTPC route and end up being dissappointed for a great many reasons. A lot of problems stem from the choice of motherboard, quality of RAM & PSU. I mention these components because of the very nature of 24/7 nature of HTPC, stability is incredibly important (it doesn't help that PC TV tuners make unreasonable demands on a system). If you are choosing the Antec case on the basis that you want a discrete solution near your TV, you might end up getting dissappointed, the airflow in this case is not that great. If a case has poor airflow, than the components get hotter and the fans in the system will need to spin faster, and that leads to an increase in noise. HTPC needs differ from one person to the next (I have 4 freeview tuners in my system with MCE) so it's difficult to recommend what hardware to get. But I'm confused by:

    Quote Originally Posted by Sabriel
    * record, pause, rewind live TV from both my normal tv and freeview box
    Surely you just want a TV tuner card that has a freeview tuner built in? In which case a couple of Hauppauge Nova-t cards should suffice. These have the advantage of being MCE compatible (as well as supported in pretty much all the other apps out there) and pretty dirt cheap at the moment (£40 from PCWorld). Hauppauge will be bringing out a dual freeview PCI card in the next month or so. I would say a minimum of 2 tuners because most people end up wishing they could record one channel whilst watching/recording live TV on another channel.

    If you want to go down the MCE route (microsoft have a keyboard specifically for this which has a built in mouse pointer) then you should be aware of a few things. You should read the first half of http://www.hauppauge.co.uk/board/showthread.php?t=5002. This will just scratch the surface of what you'll need to know, so don't rush into things, do as much research as you can.
    Last edited by kojak71; 06-05-2006 at 01:28 AM.

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