4 Years Rusty - Little Help!

Hi there! I used to be quite savvy with PC hardware but after I got a new job I was just focusing on software and troubleshooting, etc... Go figure everything changes when you turn your back for a moment :wink:

I'm grasping at straws for hardware recommendations and hope you can help! In a nutshell I'm trying to design a very basic HTPC that lets me:

- Rip my DVD collection to the HDD then Play them on the living-room TV
- Do the same for my CDs and MP3's
- Display misc pictures and videos (taken from digital cam, downloaded, etc..)
- All this needs to be done via a remote for ease-of-use and to clear up clutter in the living room (kb/m only when absolutely needed). I was thinking IMon since it apears to be the most popular.
- No need to play/record tv. I have a PVR/tuner box through the cable company that I have zero complaints with
- Sound Level is an issue but I'm savvy enough to replace high-noise fans with low-noise fans and do any tweaks necessary after-the-fact if needed.

Motherboard: Looking at Full-ATX, not a single clue what direction to go with this. This is a major dilema for me

Video Card: Component Video or S-Video is needed. I'll be upgrading to high-def in about a year but for now I have a CRT with component/s-video/composite connections with a max res of 480p. If I have to upgrade in a year sobeit but if there are options for component as well as high-def I am more than all-ears. Idealy it will be used for video scaling, upconverting, and pushing the DVD's to the tv without stuttering. Gaming not an issue but if I can get gaming in a card for only a bit more $$ then I will.

CPU: Intel, AMD, don't overly care. Again, gaming not a priority but if I can get good gaming performance without doubling the cost, I will.

Case: Thinking Silverstone 16/20m or Thermaltake Bach/Mozart. Ahanix D4 and MCE601 look particularly nice as well.

RAM/Hard Drive/DVD: I can figure it out no problem but if you have good suggestions for suggested gear, I am all ears.

I really hope you guys can help - I've tried other forums with more than lack-luster results. I feel real stupid calling myself a geek all these years and now that I'm trying to get back into the swing of things I'm finding it almost impossibly hard to re-learn the new terms, formats, companies, tech, etc :oops:

- Jason
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  1. Build around this gaming HTPC:


    Replace the 8800gts with X1650PRO or 7600GT max. with HDTV dongle/adapter, dump down the PSU to a 450w Hiper or Fortron, ditch the case for your choice.

    Get a 3.5" internet multi memory card reader that installs in the floppy drive bay.

    You'll need Windows Media Center edition & a MCE remote. DVD Shrink can rip DVD movies to hard disks & is free.
  2. Agree with the ^^^previous poster re: the 1950Pro card. I suggest this one:

    It runs very cool, is very quiet, has great performance for the buck, and displays video better than comparable nVidia cards. It is also HDCP ready, in case you get BluRay or HD-DVD in the future. It comes with all the connectors you needed, and it will also help with your air flow because it exhausts externally.

    Be careful in your choice of cases, because some won't take a full sized ATX board, and many have clearance problems with the full-length/height video cards, either with the top of the case, the HD cages, or the optical drives.

    Go with Western Digital HD's that have WhisperQuiet technology. They are incredibly quiet. Get the most space your budget will allow. Either start with a small drive for your OS, and one 500g, or two 500's. Video is a space hog and you'll suck it up fast, especially ripping DVD's. Using DVDshrink, as suggested by the ^^poster, you will use about 4.5g for every ripped DVD.

    The iMon remote will be adequate, but after time, you will probably find it a bit limiting and frustrating, mainly because of the mouse function. I would suggest getting a good wireless keyboard. State-of-the-Art is the Logitech diNovo Edge. It is perfect for HTPC, but very expensive:

    Next down on the list would be the Adesso 4000:

    Both have built-in mouse functions, which I guarantee you will come to appreciate as you spend time in front of the TV ripping your files.

    I used a Zalman 460w psu, again for silent operation. I also found that cable management was tidier than PSU's with modular cables because of where they exit the PSU box.

    Good luck. If you have any other ??'s, I'll be glad to answer.
  3. Thanks for the help!

    I'll be looking into those suggestions. I noticed one of you mentioned the x1650 while the other mentioned x1950 - if gaming isn't a priority, would saving the $$ and going with the 1650 be a good idea or is there an advantage for using the x1950 in a non-gaming environment? I would like to use the HTPC as a scaler adventually if that factors into things.

    Also, at first glance, Windows: MCE seems like XP with some GUI optomizations for media-related functions, is there any major advantage in getting MCE if I already have a copy of XP lying around? I have no problem using third-party software if needed - just wondering why everyone suggests MCE as I can't find any reason why it's terribly better than XP.

    Thanks again!
  4. No, the link and recommendation I provided ^^^ was for a 1950Pro card. It is HDCP ready, if you play HD-DVD or BluRay, it's very quiet and high perf. I also like the fact that it vents to the outside of the case, reducing the internal temp.

    You are correct; MCE is basically an enhanced XP. People use it because it interfaces seemlessly with other soft and hardware, such as the PVR function, as opposed to 3rd party software, which can cause conflicts. Most of these other media programs still cost $$ anyway, and the only one that is free, MythTV I think, has to run through a Linux interface. It is apparently a nightmare to setup. MCE has a lot of the drivers for remotes and TV Tuners built in, and a lot of those tuners are optimized to run under MCE. It is cheaper than XP, and many vendors give you an upgrade coupon for Vista (I have one, but will wait until the release of SP-1 before I'd even consider installing it), so it's worth avoiding the hassle for a fairly minor expense -- about $110.
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