I am building a PC for my living room... Thats right, this computer will be hooked up to my reciever for both its video and audio. The PC is going to have to fit into a slot in the entertainment center about the size of a large VCR. I am going to purchase a wireless keyboard and mouse so that I can web surf from the couch(Picture in picture durning comercials...). The computer will also host a large number of the latest games, so it will need a great video card. (there will also be plenty of mp3's as well). I want to build it as compact and cheap as I can. I also want it to run as quite as possible.
I am wondering how some of you would build this system if you got the chance. Thanks for you input in advance!
Which motherboards can I choose from to fit in a desktop case? Does this limit my choices, or should I get a tower case and turn it on its side. I am leaning towards AMD chips 1.0ghz+ and a 4xAGP slot.
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Locke on 12/21/01 05:09 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
ha....the size of a small vcr you say...heres a shot in the dark....get you a good mobo with an antistatic bag, place it in the hole and hook up all your stuff and duct tape a power supply to the wall and turn her on...=]....everyonce in a while you can shine it up wiht a little furniture polish =]...
You will most likely need a slim desktop case or a server rack case. You will need a card with TV out. Other than that you can basically build it with whatever specs you want.
You will also need airflow for the case and for the entertainment center. Most likely panaflow fans or brushless to keep the dbs down.
How much do you want to spend?
What are your other requirements? Or is it strictly an internet and TV-out machine?
What will you use to surf? Dial-up, DSL, Cable, Network, etc?
What color is your <font color=red>EC</font color=red>. (<font color=red>E</font color=red>ntertainment <font color=red>C</font color=red>enter) We will do our best to make it esthetically pleasing to the eye.
Give us you dream list and we will go to town for you.
(Please for those that post... no flame wars here please!!! Wait until the New Year.)
<b>"The events of my life are quite inconsequential.." - Dr. Evil</b>
Hehe. That was funny. But seriously. This is probobly the future of PCs. I have my PC set up right next to my entertainment center. It's not an ideal situation though because my living room is kinda cluttered with all this stuff and I have to reach behind my PC to change sound card output fron PC speakers to home stereo speakers and to change from my TVout to my DVD out and so on. You could probobly set this up with one of those desktop PC casses that sits like under a monitor. That would fit but you would be extremly limited on room for extra drives and so on. Then accessing the back or your PC to do stuff would be hard. Personally I would find room for a tower. You could set it on its side. As far as video, I would have nothing less than a Geforce 3. That way I'm set for a year or two. One thing though is... are you going to be using a monitor?
TV outs are cool but the only useable resolution is 640x480.
Anything abouve that and you cant read the text. Even at that resolution its hard to see all the details in some games that were meant for higher resolutions. You will be missing out on some of the eye candy. Now if you are getting HDTV that might be cool.
Yes, I agree its not easy to place a computer in your entertainment center.
Let me address some of these issues:
"It's not an ideal situation though because my living room is kinda cluttered with all this stuff and I have to reach behind my PC to change sound card output fron PC speakers to home stereo speakers and to change from my TVout to my DVD out and so on."
My PC Video goes to 1 of 8 the composite video inputs on my reciver. The recievers video out then goes to my TV. This way I just use my reciver to switch between watching the VCR, CABLE, DVD, COMPUTER, or XBOX. The sound works the same way along side the video inputs. So when I swich modes, I get the sound inputs for that channel as well. (Also, I have a 5.1 dobly digital setup, so my video card/dvd drive should support this) This means I just hook up all my wires for all my devices once, then use my recivers remote from the sofa to switch what I am doing.
I agree about the loss of quality in the video. However I ahve tried my current computer on my TV @ 800x600 and the text is readable(TV is a 36inch Sony Wega). Everything loses some of its crispness, but overall its better than expected. I will only be using the TV, no monitor for this PC(except maye for trouble shooting).
I want to try and fit this thing into a desktop chase, similar to the HP Vectra VE series. I am concered that the video card will be to tall to fit however.
The other option is a midsize tower chase, except lay it on its side. Then I need to make sure my CD/DVD drive in the computer can handle playing sideways. As well as wear and tear on the hardisk from the strange angle.
I think that a server rack mount would be the most like a component in a home entertainment center...wouldnt it?
and if you use a low heat producing processor, like the via C3..that thing can run with no heatsink forever...apparently it wont crash.
and they are relatively cheap...
sure they arent real performers, but they are cheap, and wont overheat....so it has two plusses...
and will run in socket370, so if you get a server rackmount case, put a p3 server board in it, and put a dvd drive, a hard drive, a network card (if it doesnt have it), and a video card(i dont know if there is a way to get one in a rackmount case, maybe the higher profile ones...
but yeah, i would say to get a tv that will accept higher resolutions...but those are pretty expensive...
i have never played a dvd movie on my computer, while it is hooked up to a tv....so i cant say it looks good or not...
now there are these boxes that you can use to make the output from your monitor work on standard tvs, but i have only seen one at fry's, and cant remember how much they cost.
or what they are called for that matter...but they have an input for from the video card, and the output is s-video, composute, and vga. so it is a pass through when you have it selected on your monitor, and when you have it on tv, it converts the image to work well on the tv...at least that is what the box said.
building a computer to use as a component in your home entertainment system is a good idea.
oh, and as for sound, if you are using a good amp and a nice set of speakers, and especially if your amp has optical input, then you would want a sound card with optical output. that would give you no signal loss...and best sound quality.
anything else is up to you, basically, the whole thing is up to you...
i hope that it all works out for you...
remember try to make the thing as consolidated as possible, meaning that it is pretty much a standalone system...so that it is more like a component...and will blend in better.
OH, and as for video card, you can remove the mounting plate, or make it shorter, and build your own case for it.
that would allow you to put a pretty decent video card in there..and not really have to worry about size...
i like the nforce idea...
and if i can remember what that converter box was called, then he wouldnt have to worry about there being no tv-out!
.and the sound on the nforce is apparently the best they have out there!
and there is no real need for any expansion slots is there?
assuming that there is onboard lan...the highest profile thing would be the heatsink on the athlon....
I'm sure you'll see the nFoce available soon in Flex ATX form factor, as used in larger booksized PC's. But you may want to have expansion slots for other things...say you inadvertantly use Macrovision protection on your home video DVD, and loose the backup copy (cough). So now, being the true owner of the DVD (cough) of a home video (choke), and having lost your licence (gasp), you cannot use the TV-Out to record to a VHS tape. Now you have a dilemma...which can be solved by using certain DVD decoder cards with certain pieces of software available for download on certain sites, to make an professional quality VHS tape of your DVD, in any aspect ratio.
Other reasons to have expansion slots include changing standards for networking, modems, etc.
But the easiest thing would be a Flex ATX case/mobo with no slots.
It would be easy to make a very small case for an mATX board with no room for cards, should you choose to go that route. I suggest wood, because it's easy to work with, and a front panel filled with low RPM 80mm cooling fans, and a DVD-Rom.
To tell you the truth, the best case solution I can think of is the old Gateway convertable tower/desktop ATX case. I painted one black and used that in my entertainement system for a long time. This case is rather large though. If your good at working with metal, you could shorten it to around 5 inches (in desktop configuration) and get rid of one drive bay (because of the shorter height). Then if you wanted it narrower, you could make it mATX. You would have to make a cusotm face panel.
I'll sell you one without the face panel for $10, for you to start modifications.
ok, i've read the posts, I've read the hardware guides...
The nForce - Sounds good, with integrated TV-OUT and sound on the board... BUT the video card doesn't cut it. SO i'd have to still purchase another video card, thus makeing the nForce less valueble than say a EPOX or the Dragon PLUS!
I am thinking of going with a DRAGON PLUS! w/Athlon XP 1800+, 256meg of Muskin RAM, ATI Radeon 8500, SoundBlaster Live! PCI, 40 gig IBM Dekstar, some DVD player(don't know which yet). Dragon PLUS has 10/100 ethernet built in(or so pcnut.com says).
So the lowest profile PC case I can get is the hight of the Radeon 8500 card most likely(+the height of the board from the case). Will a desktop case take a radeon, or do i need a midsized tower and then just turn it on its side...
The whole system so far is runing me $879 without the case.
Speaking of the case, how powerful should my powersuply be? why would I want a 350watt case over a 200watt case?