Sign-in / Sign-up
Your question

Home Theater PC....HELP?!!?!?!

Tags:
  • New Build
  • Home Theatre
  • Media Center
  • Systems
  • Product
Last response: in Systems
February 23, 2008 12:48:05 AM

Hello - So I want a home theater PC - might combo as my main PC as well, dunno yet.

My idea is to use Media Center as a the platform for managing all my media, pics, music & Movies.

Questions:

Can I Rip my DVD collection onto a couple TB's of storage and plan them through MEDIA Center, running optical into my A/V receiver for 5.1 Dolby/Dts, CAN I RIP THE DVD's FOR THIS??

How is the quality of the DVD's video & Audio?

I know that XBOX360 works as a Media Center extender - HOw well does this work, using the XBOX as the transport for the Audio & Video into the A/V receiver?

How much does the GRAPHICS CARD effect playback of FILM?

would the Graphics card have any effect if using the 360 as the transport?

WOuld the CPU make any performance gains for this use, could i go with an Alendale or dual core, or even less?

How would the Quality & Amount of RAM come into play for this?

Please help answer these questions and provide feedback of other ideas or ways of doing this.

Thanks for the help

More about : home theater

February 23, 2008 1:18:48 AM

Yes you can have your DVD collection on your hard drive and watch them through media center.

The easiest way is to download and install the My Movies 2 plugin for media center. You'll have to rip/decrypt the DVD's to the hard drive. I highly recommend DVD Fab HD Decrypter or DVD Decrypter, both are free. With DVD's ripped in this manner, the quality will be equal to what you get from playing directly from the DVD discs.

The above method will eat up your hard drive space. You may want to look into x264, h.264, Xvid, or DivX encoding. You can get DVD movies down to ~800-1000MB each that way. Plus, you can use My Movies 2 to load the compressed files within media center.

Hope this helps.
February 23, 2008 1:22:20 AM

I rip my movies for media center.
Related resources
February 23, 2008 1:30:21 AM

roadrunner,

What format do you have your DVD's? If you use a container file, which one and what encoding?

Also, is that a picture of the 'My DVD's' menu that you can enable through the gallery registry hack?
February 23, 2008 1:31:58 AM

video_ts format.

Ya its the registry hack.
February 23, 2008 1:39:41 AM

I've never tried the 'My DVDs' method. Do you have to manually set up the DVD covers to display like that or does Vista look up the images for you?

I've been spending that last couple weeks compressing my dvd's to .mkv container format with x264 encoding for video and AAC for audio. Its very time consuming, but worth it to get the file sizes down.
February 23, 2008 1:44:27 AM

I use the my DvDs method. IT finds the info for you. Some is not avail but most is. You can manually enter info through my dvds but I havent done it yet. I need to. MY DVD inteface isnt as clean as the way it looks with registry hack so I use it instead. You got to tell media center where to look for your movies.

I use a 500G HDD 69 movies on it so far with 100g left. If you get the images to work nice compressed will you send me a PM and let me know what i could do. I got to beable to have the front cover art no matter what.
February 23, 2008 2:26:21 AM

My quirk is that I'm a home theater guy. I own a business where we design and install entry level Home Theaters and multipurpose 5.1+ audio systems-
My typical installs run with
A/V receiver $850 - 1500
Speakers L/C/R/SL/SR - $1500-3000
Subwoofer - $800 - 1500

Combined with a lot of flat screens. This all being said, I really critique audio quality the most and video quality 2nd. But i'm really trying to avoid losing any quality. I'll spend the money on a couple TB's of storage if thats what it takes, But I do want to get rid of as much garbage as I can when ripping. edit out the other languages, previews, warnings all that crap.

Just have good Video and full digital audio.

Is this possible?

And again, how much of a role do the PC components play for audio & Video playback?

February 23, 2008 2:54:10 AM

You could use any Intel e21xx line for CPU, and get a graphic card that is HDCP compliant and you will be good to go.
February 23, 2008 3:06:48 AM

So are PC games really that demanding that they are FAR SUPERIOR in video perfomance to our films and HD programming, that people spend all this money on high end video cards & CPU's, but if I were to use it to watch a movie, the difference from $100 8600GTS to a $500 8800GTX superclocked- wouldn't even be noticed for TV & Movies?

Thats incredible to me, how about the sound - if the MOBO has a digital out, that should carry all DOLBY DIGITAL & DTS info into the A/V receiver for decoding, right?

February 23, 2008 4:33:05 AM

Here's my thoughts, let me know what I could improve, or if something is a waste of money. I may change OS to Vista just for the smoother interface... dunno?

Case & PSU - Antec LifeStyle SONATA II Piano Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 450W SmartPower 2.0 Power Supply - Retail $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811129155

MOBO - GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard - Retail $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813128059

CPU - Intel Pentium E2180 Allendale 2.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E2180 - Retail $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6819116052

RAM - Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model $40 aftr MIB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820146565

Graphics - EVGA 512-P2-N757-TR GeForce 8600GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail $100 aftr MIB

OS HDD - Western Digital Caviar RE WD1600YS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA-300 Hard Drive - OEM $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822136062

MEDIA HDD - Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000340AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA-300 Hard Drive - OEM $260
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822148274

DVD-rw - SAMSUNG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S203N - OEM $34
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6827151154

***** (note here, I dont know the dif from IDE and SATA, i think SATA is faster right??)

OS - Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 w/SP2B - OEM $115
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6832116049

THings that I would probably add later:

BLU-RAY DRIVE, more HDD space - I could imagine this being used for Internet browsing and light gaming as well

What are you thoughts? Is this good, hows the price, is this more than what I need for a HTPC, even if I go Blu Ray??????

Please advise.
February 23, 2008 4:33:41 AM

Sorry i pasted the links wrong, so they don't work
Anonymous
February 23, 2008 4:57:07 AM

can't you edit your posts to make the links work?

as for the video card, you might as well just get a 8500gt or 8400gs passively cooled. There are some reviews on toms somewhere that compare video playback and i think the ATI offerings were actually better, like the 2400xt.


February 23, 2008 2:50:33 PM

Looks good except go with Vista.
February 23, 2008 3:43:09 PM

coryburgess said:
From what I undertand the Graphics Card isn't going to make much dif with video playback, is that correct?

Please go to this thread to view the Build Idea list:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/249087-31-home-theate...


Most of the hardcore HTPCers use ATi cards. They say there is a noticeable difference in video quality between ATi and nVidia, at least this was the case. I also thought that you had to pay extra for nVidia's video decoder (Pure Video), however, ATi's decoder (AVIVO) is free and generally better.

Please correct me if things have changed, its been a year since I looked into this.
February 23, 2008 4:02:34 PM

If you're going home theater why not get a case such as this...
Moneual LAB Black MonCaso 832B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail
Aluminum
Remote Control Module
Front Display
$299.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Much nicer and slips right in with your av receiver..

I am using a silver CoolerMaster cav-t04 case to match my Pioneer vsx-816.
My htpc is ecs g51 mobo with an amd 3800+, 1gb ddr400 ram, 80gb hdd, nvidia 8600gt 512mb video and onboard hd audio.
Didn't need the huge drive as I stream from my 1 tb server...I even have some "party" games installed on the 80 gb drive for gatherings....lots of fun.
February 23, 2008 4:30:50 PM

johnnyq1233 said:
If you're going home theater why not get a case such as this...
Moneual LAB Black MonCaso 832B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - Retail
Aluminum
Remote Control Module
Front Display
$299.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Much nicer and slips right in with your av receiver..

That's the case I'm using (silver version). The Moneual 832 is $279 at www.quietpcusa.com. Very nice case. The iMon software is a bit buggy though.
February 23, 2008 10:34:10 PM

The "LOOKS" of the case is irrelevant to me, I keep all my A/V equipment in a Rack in my hall closet. I have a RF control system set-up, I can use the Media Center IR usb input, Program my RTI Control with the Media Center Codes, the remote talks to a processor in the closet which will send th IR data out an emitter attached to the Media Center IR rcvr, AND "Wa-La" i have control and I don't have to look at anything.

I send the Video through a Denon 3808 Receiver - HDMI out to my 50" NEC in the Family room.

But What I may do anyways, is keep the HTPC in my office, where I have plenty of space for it. and use my XBOX360 as the Media Center extender. I already have the 360 in the equipment rack, with HDMI to the Denon A/V rcvr and Component Video (with a usb) ran to my office, so that I can play the Xbox in my office or on the Home Theater, the usb is for my headset in the office.

Throw the XBOX on the Network, link up to the PC as a media center extender and you get the full MC experience, using the 360 controller.

So really, as for the case, I'm just looking for a good buy.

And need to find more information about the Video portion of these video cards.
February 23, 2008 10:54:05 PM

coryburgess said:
Hello - So I want a home theater PC - might combo as my main PC as well, dunno yet.

My idea is to use Media Center as a the platform for managing all my media, pics, music & Movies.

Questions:

Can I Rip my DVD collection onto a couple TB's of storage and plan them through MEDIA Center, running optical into my A/V receiver for 5.1 Dolby/Dts, CAN I RIP THE DVD's FOR THIS??


I can help you with this one.

I'm in the process of ripping all the Deep Space Nine shows from DVD to hard drive, the disc images (i.e. a mirror copy of a DVD) are just over 8 Gb's each (dual layer) and one season takes up about 50Gb's of space so if you plan to do a DVD collection without compression you will need all that space.

Anyway, to play the image DVD's you need a couple of pieces of software. Demon tools (virtual DVD drives used for reading DVD images) and Media Portal (works like Media Centre). Once Demon tools have been installed along with Media portal you can add the Demon virtual drive to Media Portal.

Now all I have do is turn on my external hard drive, find the DVD disc I want to play and media portal will automatically tell demon tools to mount the image file, and after that it plays like a normal DVD. So far I'm happy with the results however I wanted to upscale the videos to 1080P (i.e. playing them in HD) using FDDshow however this has caused problems with the DVD navigation, which is a shame because the DVD looks a lot better for it.
February 24, 2008 12:09:01 AM

From my experience in home theater, I would think that you could just use and external scaler, Feed the video signal out of the PC into a video scaler then out to the Display, Most scalers work best with a 480i signal.
I'm not sure what FDDshow does, I know many are just "converters" which doesn't do anything near as close as a scaler.

So what resolution is the playback in?

That was one thing I though about Media Center through an Xbox 360 is that I could play in 720p, not positive.
February 24, 2008 2:20:25 AM

roadrunner197069 said:
I use a 500G HDD 69 movies on it so far with 100g left. If you get the images to work nice compressed will you send me a PM and let me know what i could do. I got to beable to have the front cover art no matter what.
The 'My Movies' plugin let's you add ripped vob's (video_ts), avi's, mkv's, etc. The plugin integrates into the Vista Media Center interface like this:



When you go into 'My Movies', you are presented with the library you set up (this is a mix of mkv's, vob's, and the Tom & Jerry thumbnail is from a DVD in the optical drive). The thumbnails aren't as large as the 'My DVDs' interface but...



...when you click on any title, it brings up a plethora of information as well as both front and back DVD covers:



Here's an example of what it brings up for 'Cast &More', complete with portraits of the actors, which are linked to their biographies:



For file sizes, I have encoded 52 mkv movies with x264 so far and its taking up just short of 47.5GB on my 1TB drive. I'm still a newb at the ecoding, but so far I'm happy with the results. I hope this gives some people a few ideas for their HTPC setups.

February 24, 2008 1:06:48 PM

well, it's good to know that the case isn't an issue anymore.
I think that the "closet" install is a very safe and secure solution.
Myself, while I like the seemless technology I still like to look at my thousands of dollars sitting pretty up on the rack..lol

As for xbox as a media extender, I haven't any experiance with that.
But, for home theater make sure you get an HDMI capable vid card as your receiver is of good quality.
February 24, 2008 4:54:12 PM

Quote:
...when you click on any title, it brings up a plethora of information as well as both front and back DVD covers:



is this information automatically found off the internet or do I have to direct the software to a place to retrieve all this meta data?


As for being able to see the equipment, I agree. I love the look of beautiful tube amps & pre amps running up to my Kef Tower's. But it takes up to much space in my small house, especially when guests are over. Having everything safe in the closet helps protect it from pets & people.

Plus, god-for-bid it ever happen, if my house were ever broke into, its no longer "conveinent" for a thief to snag up my receiver or other hardware. Not only is it hard to find, but with everything screwed into a Mid Atlantic Rack - it really takes time to remove. Easy access, but hard to remove.

I have 4 fans pulling heat from my closet into the attic, so the small room stays pretty cool.

I'm really excited about this Media Center stuff, I really don't care much about recording TV, the Dish DVR is fine for now, once in awhile I'd like to have a hard copy, but for now this is fine.

My main goal is to have a good interface to manage and enjoy my movices, music & pics.

Are you using any software for playing the DVD's through MCE? like Theatertek or PowerDVD?
February 24, 2008 6:17:29 PM

There are a couple of changes I would make to your purchase. If I don't comment on it, I didn't see anything wrong with it.

Case/PSU. My issue isn't with the case, but with the PSU. I have the SP 450W, and while I don't have any issues with it, its not supposed to be very good. The SP line is supposed to be plagued with a capacitor problem, causing them to fail. I would look for a different PSU just to be on the safe side.

Video card. I don't know if there is anything special about that video card, as there is no working link on it. I do agree that you should be using an AMD card instead. If you really need no gaming abilities, get this one.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It has no fan, so it's completely silent. It comes with every adaptor you might ever need. Svideo, Composite, Component, HDMI, etc. At $75 counting shipping, its even cheaper then the card you wanted to get.

If you wanted something with roughly the same amount of gaming power, get this card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Has the same advantages as the other card, but with more gaming power. Will set you back ~$103, but no need to wait for the MIB.

HDDs. I don't think I would get a 1TB drive, at least not for $260. What you need is space, not speed. There are a large number of 500GB drives that will cost you ~$100, two would set you back ~$215 counting shipping. Even better, if a drive should die on you, you don't lose all your DVDs, just whats on that 500GB drive. Here is a nice one that's only $105.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I admit this is a personal choice, and isn't a deal breaker. Just something to think about.
February 24, 2008 7:44:10 PM

Thanks for the input "4745454b"

I think I agree with you on the HDD's, I could even start with 1 500GB, I know I will fill it up quickly with all my movies, but it will still take time, and they could be cheaper in a month or so when I'm ready to get a 2nd and then a 3rd.

I really just don't know much about the ATI cards, i've always had and used Nvidia - that was really my entire decision basis.

As for the case, i Hear the Earthwatt Supplies are very good so I changed to this one, it only comes with 1 fan, but I can add a 2nd 120mm no problem.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Same price too, except I'm adding another fan.
February 25, 2008 2:14:03 AM

coryburgess said:
Quote:
...when you click on any title, it brings up a plethora of information as well as both front and back DVD covers:



is this information automatically found off the internet or do I have to direct the software to a place to retrieve all this meta data?
You have to set up your movie library through a collection management program outside of media center which pulls the information from the internet. In that program, you search for the movie by disc ID, barcode, IMDB, or the My Movies community and adds it to media center.
coryburgess said:
Are you using any software for playing the DVD's through MCE? like Theatertek or PowerDVD?
Right now I'm using the PowerDVD video decoder for DVD's, but Vista Media Center does the rest in regards to playback. I've installed the Vista Codec Pack which allows Vista Media Center to play my compressed mkv files using ffdshow, ac3filter, and Haali splitter.
February 25, 2008 5:28:27 PM

The hdd idea is just that, an idea. If you use a bunch of smaller drives, you'll use more power from your PSU, make more noise, and create more heat in the case. On the other hand, as I showed, buying a couple of smaller drives will have the same amount of space, and be cheaper at the same time.

I do strongly suggest one of the AMD cards I linked to. Heatsink only, so no fan noise. I doubt your Nvidia card has the same. Has the ability to connect to any type of tv. I'm 99% sure your nvidia doesn't support HDMI. (Nvidia has them, but they tend to be expensive.) Frankly, either of those cards is probably the better option for HTPC use then the one you mentioned.

And yes, the EW series are good PSUs. You shouldn't have any problems using one.
February 25, 2008 6:26:03 PM

As one who has already built a similar system for identical needs, I must warn you. Once your library is ripped, back it up!

Several television show seasons and almost 100 movies; several hundred hours of DVD ripping and encoding all lost to a HDD failure.

Have a reliable back up available!

-Wolf sends
February 25, 2008 8:35:41 PM

You could go to a data recovery specialist.
But, 9 out of 10 times it's the electronics that fails(the board). In which case just get an identical drive and swap out the board.

What software would you use for such a huge back up?
February 25, 2008 9:05:56 PM

If you have all your movies partioned right you need a real bad diaster to loose it all. Different motherboards have nothing to do with it if you have your movies on a partition by themselves with no os.

And you can always use your disk on a new system as a slave.

The onlt way your screwed is if the head crashes or something to that effect.
February 26, 2008 5:30:09 PM

Quote:
The onlt way your screwed is if the head crashes or something to that effect.


Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
We have a WINNER!!!!!

It was a secondary slave drive. Started getting S.M.A.R.T. errors while fighting with a Catalyst driver install. It died before I got the driver install stable enough to google S.M.A.R.T. :cry: 

-Wolf sends