New HTPC - Overwhelmed!

I want to builf myself a new HTPC but I am completely overwhelmed with everything out there these days. Does anyone have a recommendation on a system for me? Here is what I'm looking for:

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* Best possible audio, on par with high end CD player - passthrough audio card?

* I will be digitizing all my CDs into loseless format and playing from the hard drive.

* I will not be using the HTPC for TV viewing or recording. Mainly it's an audio server with photos and web access.

* I will not be playing movie DVDs so the best possible video playback isn't my priority

* Gotta have a nice-looking case or the wife won't be happy.

* HDMI video output to my TV would be extremely welcome. I don't have DVI, only Component or HDMI.

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I guess what I'm looking for is an audio server with web browsing, photo slideshows, etc. I'm REALLY picky about sound quality and have saved up for years to buy my home theater.

I'm looking at the new-ish touch screen HTPC cases. Are these as cool as they look? Or should I save my money and get something basic? I like the D-Vine cases a lot.

Any help would be greatly appreciated here, I'm lost!
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  1. For the case, I'd go with one of the silverstone cases. The look just like an audio receiver and they have ample room.

    If it were me, I'd use the Opteron 165. It has low heat output and good performance.

    Use a Zaleman 9500 cooler. Quiet and great performer.

    For the MB, you really don't need anything special. There are several ASUS and DFI MB's for less than $100 that will work for what you want. I'd look for somthing that has the slots you want and that have passive cooling for the chips.

    For memory, You don't need anything high performance either.
    Aeneon 1GB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 is a great budget memory.

    I'd also get the Seagate Barracuda 320GB perpendicular storage HD. Its priced nice and the performance is fantastic.

    Your Choice in HDMI video cards is limited at the moment.
    You need to read this article about the problems that are involved in HDMI for pc's.
    http://www.the-inquirer.net/?article=31705


    There are several sound cards out there that are non sound blaster cards that work quite well. I'd look at some reviews and form your own opinion.

    Best of luck!
  2. The only thing that I don't really like about component style cases is that they force you to use 60mm fan which can be quite noisy. 80mm fans are okay since 120mm fans are a bit too big for most of those types of cases. The smaller the fan the faster it needs to spin to exhaust or intake air compared to larger fans. I too use my HTPC (Antec Aria case) to listen to music, and I find that fan noise can be very distracting.

    If fan noise is a concern and you do get a case with 60mm fans, then I would consider replacing them with lower noise fans. An example would be the Papst 612FL Quiet Case Fan which is rated at 16dBA. Papst are known to be quiet fans, but they are kinda pricey. This one is $16 before shipping. You will also mostly have an 80mm fan which will be loud as well. A solution would be the 80mm Papst 8412NGLLE SUPER Quiet Case Fan which is rated at 9dBA. But it cost $20 before shipping.

    For a sound card check out products made by m-Audio and Terratec. They are both known for making sound cards that are more geared towrds music.

    For hard drives get the one of the Samsung Spinpoint series. They are among the quietest drives you can get.

    As for the CPU, I don't think you need anything too powerful since you will not be using a high compression rate. I think the Athlon 64 3200+ or 3500+ would be enough. You'll need to replace the stock heatsink fan though to lower noise. A Zalman 7000CU should be good enough, but there are other quiet solutions.

    Regarding the video card, I'm not sure which ones have HDMI.

    This should suffice for the moment until I post some more ideas.
  3. Thats why I recommended the parts I did. You don't have the huge need for cooling equipment.

    Well for that matter, if he's looking for small quiet and powerful.

    Check this out.

    Mini-itx pc that's setup for all kinds of things. It also has an RCA out to your TV AND it looks Fantastic!

    http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/49/products_id/248
  4. Thanks for the ideas! I will look into the HDMI cards since I've had bad experiences using S-Video and I don't have a DVI input on the TV. Wish I did because it would have made things much easier!

    For audio cards, I keep hearing that a pass-through card is best so that no processing is done until the signal reaches the receiver in the home theater. Any thoughts?

    The two cases I'm looking at are the Ahanix MCE-601
    http://www.ahanix.com/ahanix_product.asp?pid=25

    ...and the Silverstone LC-18
    http://www.silverstonetek.com/products-lc18.htm

    The silverstone is expensive, but it would be really cool to be able to control the HTPC without turning on the TV. And the cost would be offset by the fact that I don't need any video capturing hardware.
  5. I've never heard about the first case but it looks nice.

    The Silverstone is the one used in a couple of the reviews here.

    An the sound card, I've always had difficulties figuring out how all of that would work best.

    The trick with HDMI is that you have to have some way of bringing audio into that video card or into the cable. ATI is working on this right now but its a way off.

    I've never had good luck with Svideo either.

    Well, best of luck and let me know what you decide and post how things went ,stats & pics :D
  6. Audio into the Video card? Any reason why? Seems better to send the audio out on its own.

    You don't happen to have links to the reviews that used the Silverstone case do you?
  7. Quote:
    * HDMI video output to my TV would be extremely welcome. I don't have DVI, only Component or HDMI.


    Use THIS to convert DVI to HDMI.
  8. You're going to build a PC just to play audio? Just pop an extra harddrive in your current PC and stream it to one of those wireless audio players that hook into your sound system.
  9. Quote:
    Use THIS to convert DVI to HDMI.


    Wow, thanks! I didn't know these existed. Is there any quality loss involved?

    Quote:
    You're going to build a PC just to play audio?

    Not just audio, but web access and photos as well, and possibly a few games. The machine will run Windows MCE so I will need it in the same room as the TV for the graphical interface.
  10. Quote:
    Audio into the Video card? Any reason why? Seems better to send the audio out on its own.


    Because HDMI is both video and audio. You have to link the audio portion into the cable some way and that can lead to a whole mess of different cables and adapters etc. If you create sound on the HDMI card, or at least make some sort of pass through for it on the HDMI card, problem solved.

    ou don't happen to have links to the reviews that used the Silverstone case do you?

    This is a 3 part article so I recommend you go through it and look for ideas.
    http://www.denguru.com/2006/03/27/confessions_of_a_serial_htpc_builder_part_1/
  11. Thanks for the link, that's good stuff! I read through about six articles. :)

    I will definitely not be running audio through the HDMI cable for various reasons. Mainly because the cideo cable is going directly to the TV and I need the audio routed to the AVR. I think I'll use a DVI video card with the adapter cable and seek a high-end audio solution that will allow a direct pass through to the receiver.
  12. Check out htpcnews.com for their reviews on cards. I'd recommend if you have it to use the s/pdif or optical connection.

    http://www.htpcnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=124&Itemid=26

    BTW, you have to let me know how things come out when you get it all put together.


    Best of luck!
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