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Questions about HTPC

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January 11, 2007 2:50:49 AM

h'alright guys, well im building a htpc and the only pcs ive ever built are gaming rigs. ill just give the specs of the unit right now for reference.

LIAN LI PC-C35B (using the stock psu)
ABIT IL9 Pro
Asus EN7600GT HDMI 256mb
Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86ghz
Mushkin High-Performance 1gb (2x512mb)
500GB Seagate

I know for gaming that low clas is good, but for htpc's does it matter if i use low clas ram? i want to get something 4clas w/ heat spreader, but it would be cheaper to get 5clas w/o heatspreaders amirite? im not going to overclock this computer either.

Also im thinking 7600gt be overkill for a HTPC? Im sure a 7300le will cut watching videos, playing nes/snes emulations, maybe burning dvds. only reason im getting the 7600gt is for the hdmi output. im not quite sure why cause i dont know very much about hdmi. what i do know is that the quality of dvi and hdmi are pretty much the same besides hdmi channels sound, but does the 7600gt hdmi have the ability to channel sound?

also the board i picked has all the features i want, but i was wondering if anyone had any experience with this mobo or opions of other good htpc micro atx mobos?

More about : questions htpc

January 11, 2007 3:39:47 AM

The power supply seems a little lightweight for the components you've listed. Have you calculated the amps requirement? Is it a size that can be easily replaced? Also, some of those low profile cases have problems with video card clearances, and require the use of a low-profile bracket. Length might also be an issue, with the potential for hitting the back side of the front panel input devices. Finally, the motherboard standoffs are riveted into the bottom of the case. They can't be moved. Make sure your board will line up with the mounts. I built my HTPC using a Lian-Li C30I (with VFD and iMon remote). I had to do a few modifications to fit the motherboard ( I had to use a drill to remove one of the standoffs where there was no corresponding mounting hole in my motherboard), and the length of the video card, which in this case (pun intended) hit the HD power plug. Heat is also an issue, so consider that when you use a passively cooled video card, you are putting more ambient heat into the inside of your case, making the other cooling devices work harder.
January 11, 2007 4:24:27 AM

Low CAS RAM shouldn't matter much for an HTPC, especially if you will not be overclocking it.

The 7600GT is an overkill if you don't intend to play games. But having HDMI is a major consideration. I don't know too much about HDMI yet since I'm not ready to switch to a HDTV yet, but I believe one of it's functions is to display HD content that has copyrights protection. Therefore, HDMI is a must in my opinion. I too have considered the 7600GT for my next HTPC, but that won't be built until after October 2007.

Since you will not be overclocking, the stock 300w PSU will be fine. The 12v rail is the most important rail in a PSU since all the power hungry components draws power from it. Power draw from the 12v rail is as follows:

E6300................................................44w CPU Power Consumption
7600GT.............................................36w GPU Power Consumption
500GB Hard Drive..............................22w (most likely a little less than that)
DVD Burner......................................16w
2 40mm Fans......................................4w

Total power consumption 12v rail......122w
Total amps consumption 12v rail.......10.2a

The 300w PSU should have no problems delivering that amount of power.

I can't really comment on a m-ATX motherboard at this time because they all disappointment me. m-ATX mobos for the C2D CPU have either very little or no overclocking capabilities. Hopefully that will change by the time I am really to replace my current HTPC.

What I can tell you is that noise should be near the top of your priority list. Nothing like the whirl of fans to disrupt your TV or movie watching enjoyment. Most PSUs are fairly loud and the stock Lian Li PSU will be no exception. The 40mm fans will also be very loud because they will be spinning very fast to expel hot air.

For the moment the Thermaltake VF1000BNS case is one of the cases I am considering for my next HTPC. With two 60mm fans and one 90mm fan there should be some good airflow. But the 60mm fans will definitely be loud and the 90mm fan will probably be too loud for my taste. They will all need to be replaced by the following fans:

60mm Papst 612FL Quiet Case Fan 16dB - $17 each + the cost of shipping

92mm Nexus Real Silent Case Fan - $11 + the cost of shipping

I believe the 92mm fan will be compatible in place of the 90mm fan, but I'll have to confirm with technical support.

Since the Thermaltake case does not come with a PSU I would get the Seasonic S12 330w PSU which can provide 264w on the 12v rail (22 amps), or the Seasonic S12 380w PSU which can provide 300w on the 12v rail (25 amps). Since I have the Seasonic S12 500 PSU in my primary rig, I can definitely say these PSU are extremely quiet. My quiet Yate Lone 120mm fans are louder than the Seasonic's fan.
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January 12, 2007 5:39:19 PM

IMHO, an HDCP capable video card is more important than HDMI ports. HDMI carries both the video and audio signal (as opposed to composite or S-video, which only carries the video signal). The cables are incredibly expensive, and there may be a protocol change towards the end of this year ( from HDMI 1.1 to 1.2). Also, you can get an DVI to HDMI adapter, if that's the output you want. On the other hand, if you are going to want to run Blue-Ray, HD-DVD, or other protected content, you will need the HDCP capability in the video processor. If you get SLI or Crossfire capable cards, you can always add the second card with HDMI, when they get the protocols sorted out.
January 12, 2007 6:26:55 PM

I agree. I wouldn't worry too much about the HDMI output, but your should get a vid card with HDCP if you intend on playing either HD/DVD or Blu-Ray. Those DVI to HDMI converters work just fine.

My only other concern is the proc. might be a little underpowered for High Def material as well. I'm not sure where I read it, but I seem to remember anything under a E6600 would peak at 100% CPU utilization and the movie might stutter even with a good graphics card. (at least that was the case with VC-1 encoded media I believe). Cant find the article though :x
January 12, 2007 6:55:02 PM

Quote:
IMHO, an HDCP capable video card is more important than HDMI ports. HDMI carries both the video and audio signal (as opposed to composite or S-video, which only carries the video signal). The cables are incredibly expensive, and there may be a protocol change towards the end of this year ( from HDMI 1.1 to 1.2). Also, you can get an DVI to HDMI adapter, if that's the output you want. On the other hand, if you are going to want to run Blue-Ray, HD-DVD, or other protected content, you will need the HDCP capability in the video processor. If you get SLI or Crossfire capable cards, you can always add the second card with HDMI, when they get the protocols sorted out.


Thanks for the info. I'll do a little more research on HDCP/HDMI by summer. I'm not too concerned at the moment since I only have standard TV and I won't be building a new HTPC until after September.
January 26, 2007 5:19:02 PM

I wouldn't worry about HDCP right now. I've read that none of the cards on the market right now support it. So just get the connector you need, because when HDCP hits you in the face you are going to need a new card anyway.
January 26, 2007 6:04:18 PM

Quote:
I wouldn't worry about HDCP right now. I've read that none of the cards on the market right now support it. So just get the connector you need, because when HDCP hits you in the face you are going to need a new card anyway.


I disagree and believe you are either reading incorrectly or confusing HDMI ports with HDCP capabilities. I have an HIS card that has HDCP -- the ability to play high def protected content, through HDDVD or BlueRay, for example. If you don't think it's going to be significant, you should read this article.
January 26, 2007 7:52:44 PM

Quote:
I disagree and believe you are either reading incorrectly or confusing HDMI ports with HDCP capabilities. I have an HIS card that has HDCP -- the ability to play high def protected content, through HDDVD or BlueRay, for example. If you don't think it's going to be significant, you should read this article.


No, I'm not confused. I know the difference between an HDMI port and HDCP. And I do agree that HDCP is significant. Check out this thread, as well as the articled linked in the first post.
http://forumz.tomshardware.com/software/-ftopict233838....

What I read there was that some cards are called HDCP ready, but they actually cannot pass HDCP information to the viewing device because they do not have the keys in the hardware yet. And those keys cannot be placed retroactively. This means that the current crop of cards may be able to play HDCP-encoded content, but the OS or the hardware might not necessarily allow it because the GPU's are not passing the HDCP information.
January 26, 2007 8:16:36 PM

Quote:
I wouldn't worry about HDCP right now. I've read that none of the cards on the market right now support it. So just get the connector you need, because when HDCP hits you in the face you are going to need a new card anyway.


I disagree and believe you are either reading incorrectly or confusing HDMI ports with HDCP capabilities. I have an HIS card that has HDCP -- the ability to play high def protected content, through HDDVD or BlueRay, for example. If you don't think it's going to be significant, you should read this article.

He's right, no cards yet on the market meet Windows Vista requirements for HDCP. They say they do, but it's just marketing.
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