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HTPC build - will this work?

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March 30, 2008 7:44:29 AM

Hey guys, I'm wanting to build a HTPC out of an old computer I have sitting at the house. It will most likely be pushing a 1080p tv. What do you guys think about this? You think it will work?
The system (a HP/Compaq) currently has:

RAM: 1.5GB of ddr (I don't know what speed, I don't have the system around)
CPU: AMD 3500
MOBO: ASUS mobo (again, i don't know exactly the model, but the only PCIE slot is only x1 (the long/old kind))
PSU: 350 w psu that came with the system
CASE: standard HP/Compaq case (nice case, media reader in front, I'll probably add a fan or 2)

and I'm going to add this to it:

GFX: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
HDD: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
TUNER: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
OPTICAL: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
INPUT: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...

I'll probably install Vista Ultimate x32 on it if I can't get Linux and MythTV to work. Hauppauge says that the linux driver is incomplete and only in beta.

You guys think this will work ok?

More about : htpc build work

March 30, 2008 11:04:59 AM

1. You don't need exactly a powerful VGA cards, if you gonna use it only to watch movies. I suggest either a ATI HD 3650/ nVidia 8600GT or a HD3850 / 8600GTS for a cheap but powerful choice. But if you are goin' to keep your old PSU, then ATI HD 3650 or nVidia 8600GT is your best solution.

2. Go for 500GB HDD so that you can store and keep your favorite movies or tv-shows on it, get two of 'em if you like.

3. Don't forget a blue-ray drive if you wanna watch HD quality films.

4. Win VISTA ultimate for a HTPC? that is a total waste man? you don't need it if you only tend to watch movies, why not just stick to your old xp or whatever that you have right now.
March 30, 2008 4:11:58 PM

guanyu210379 said:
1. You don't need exactly a powerful VGA cards, if you gonna use it only to watch movies. I suggest either a ATI HD 3650/ nVidia 8600GT or a HD3850 / 8600GTS for a cheap but powerful choice. But if you are goin' to keep your old PSU, then ATI HD 3650 or nVidia 8600GT is your best solution.

2. Go for 500GB HDD so that you can store and keep your favorite movies or tv-shows on it, get two of 'em if you like.

3. Don't forget a blue-ray drive if you wanna watch HD quality films.

4. Win VISTA ultimate for a HTPC? that is a total waste man? you don't need it if you only tend to watch movies, why not just stick to your old xp or whatever that you have right now.


I'm just a bit confused about this post.

1. The VGA card I chose IS a 8600 GTS..
2. The HDD is a 1 TB drive (equal to 2 500's right? :lol:  )
3. The optical drive I chose IS a blu-ray drive.

4. and I do agree a bit that Vista ultimate is a bit overkill, but I have that on hand. I'd rather use XP media center, but the only copy of that I have came OEM with my laptop. I like the idea of Mythbuntu, I'd kinda forgotten about that, but like I said Hauppauge said that the drivers arent up to par yet. I really want the media center functionality. This being a HTPC, it will be in the living room, and needs to be as easy as possible to use for the "less technically gifted" members of my family. "All you have to do is push this green button."

You guys think the 3500 will be good enough to do the HD decoding? That also is another reason I picked the 8600 GTS, so hopefully it can do the majority of the work.

Thanks for the replies, and sorry if I'm missing some blindingly obvious point here :sleep: 
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March 30, 2008 10:31:50 PM

To be honest with you I think your going to need to change that PSU cause you will be boarder line on with all the new components , also I would allow opt for the 2 500 gig hds instead of the 1 TB this way you wont have one HD bogged down doing all the work , encoding TV on the fly can tax your HD and cause the system to hang , I would also opt for a 3850 or 9600gt if your going to spend money on the 8600 series , there not that great and I'm not sure how much they are in the states but in Canada there is like a 30$ difference , everything else looks like its fine
March 31, 2008 1:23:21 AM

Yeah, I was a little worried about the PSU also. If I scaled the video card back to the 3450 like amdfangirl suggested, it would need considerably less power, but will it still perform ok? I really don't want to build this machine only to not have smooth HD playback.

I really didn't think about the hard drive in that way, but your probably right. That's a really good idea. In that case, I might get a 750 for storage and a 200 or so to install the OS and programs to.
March 31, 2008 1:45:05 AM

A 3450 will give smooth blu-ray playback. Maybe take a look at WD's new 640gb drives. I'll second the mythbuntu suggestion.
March 31, 2008 2:24:55 AM

You say you have a PCI e slot that is long @ 1x? Are you confusing it with AGP? I thought PCI E was small. You better double check. I doubt that a old HP came with PCI E x16 equiped. Mostly on board with a agp slot if you are lucky. How are you gonna run a x16 card on a x1 slot? It dont even make sense. A single core processor with Vista and 1.5g ram will suck.

One other thing you will be lucky if you can get Vista drivers for your motherboard. You could buy get a cheaper graphic card and get a new motherboard and cpu for what you could save on a lesser graphic card.
March 31, 2008 3:06:14 AM

My vote would be to scrap the current CPU/Motherboard and opt for an AMD 780G HDMI borad and Brisbane 4000+. Total cost would be about $125 and you would get a media machine that will do a full 1080p no sweat.
March 31, 2008 3:46:02 AM

No this build wont work.

The only REAL reason to have a 1080 TV is to watch 1080 movies, ie blu-ray.

If u look at the THG benches u will find a 4000+ only JUST capable of blu-ray playback.

Funny enough the new Intel 2xxx chips are FANSTASTIC at multimedia, giving even the new 6xxx chips a run for their money.

I was going to build an HTPC out of an e4300 (which would probably NOT run blu-ray), but i can easily OC that to ~3Ghz.
a b α HP
March 31, 2008 4:27:45 AM

ati has full acceleration on its latest cards. hell toms ran blue ray with a sempron on ATI's new integrated video card. The 3450 should work.

Never underestimate what a video card can do. For now ati has better video acceleration since it can decode more video types.
http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/03/04/amd_780g_chipset...
March 31, 2008 6:40:40 AM

roadrunner197069 said:
You say you have a PCI e slot that is long @ 1x? Are you confusing it with AGP? I thought PCI E was small. You better double check. I doubt that a old HP came with PCI E x16 equiped. Mostly on board with a agp slot if you are lucky. How are you gonna run a x16 card on a x1 slot? It dont even make sense. A single core processor with Vista and 1.5g ram will suck.

One other thing you will be lucky if you can get Vista drivers for your motherboard. You could buy get a cheaper graphic card and get a new motherboard and cpu for what you could save on a lesser graphic card.


No, I'm 100% sure that it's a PCIe X1 slot, but its the same length/size/everything as the x16. There's a 8800GTS 640 working in that slot right now. Not at full bandwidth of course, but it is still working well.
Point is that it will all fit.

If I went with a 780G, would I need another card or would that be enough?
March 31, 2008 11:28:34 AM

Ok, just went through this kind of thing building a cheap low power, quiet reliable back up PC still capable of running vista for my father. He's a programmer, and thus knows little about hardware which for reasons that are beyond me is apparently the norm. Also, he is a man that is brutal on hardware. I don't recall the series, but their was a compaq laptop out about 5 years ago, that the entire internal frame and case was made of titanium. His brother bought him one thinking that it was just the kind of rugged hardware my dad needed and to demonstrate how much abuse the thing could take he actually drove over it in his massive lexus SUV, and it survived without a scratch.

Yet it was still no match for my father as he managed to somehow rip two USB ports off of the motherboard, along with the power connector.

I had given him my old DFI NF4 Dr expert board when i upgraded and since it wasn't overclocked it was extremely reliable and easy for me to work on, or remedy any problems he may encounter since that kind of thing always falls on me. After the destruction of the titanium laptop, it shouldn't be that suprising that he managed to overlook the fact the the little zero friction magnetic NB fan had gotten so clogged with dust that it would no longer spin, resulting in the spiffy little hologram sticker melting half off and being charred brown, the metal of the heatsink being heated to the point of getting blackened, the NB core itself actually becoming distorted and a couple of the bridges on the back of the board melting off.

Apparently the NB got a little toasty....finally destroying his OS Raid set set up with on board raid chip after hitting 110c. Though, to DFI's credit, the board still booted after i replaced the NB HS, and re soldered the damaged bridges.

I realize all that is completly irrelivent to the topic, but i wanted to put into perspective just how much faith i put in the forthcoming hardware i reccomend given what it has to stand up against.

At the time this happen money was tight, and while at one point i had access to a dozen and a half socket A board that would have suited an interm solution, they had been fried or were used by someone else. Also, since any half way decent 939 boards are almost impossible to find, and even if you can they are horribly overpriced, i used this as an exscuse to try out the new and shiny 780g chipset. Despite having to buy a new cpu as well as DDR2 ram, the trio of hardware pieces cost $145.....plus like $40 shipping to get rush delivery.

ECS A780GM-A AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard $79 (paid $69
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Patriot 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) $39
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Brisbane 2.2GHz Socket AM2 65W $45 (paid $37 Obox special)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I chose that motherboard mainly because it was the only ATX model available, and also the cheapest. Still a nice reliable board, suits my dad quite well for watching HD movies and working in Visual FoxPro. But despite my apprehension at buying an ECS board, still was enough to impressive me into building two more 780g boxes, one for my mother, and one for it's intended purpose as a HTPC box.

GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2H AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G HDMI Micro ATX $99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $99x2

AMD Opteron 1210 HE (WOF) Santa Ana 1.8GHz Socket AM2 65W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $69

CFI B5253ERBB 5-Bay eSATA Port-Multiplier Storage Appliance $299
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec 0.8mm cold rolled steel/ Aluminum plate front bezel Veris Fusion 430 Micro ATX HTPC $199
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $159x5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...(0A35154)

Western Digital Raptor WD740ADFDRTL 74GB 10,000 RPM SATA 1.5Gb/s Hard Drive $139x2
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100237L Radeon HD 3650 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire $103
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Total cost $2040

Ok, i admit i went a little overboard with the HTPC system, but hey....my DVD-R collection has grown to over 2000 discs which is like 9 terabytes taking something around 200 hours worth of time to burn. Plus i already had the Enclousure and 2 750g drives =P.

The video card isn't really required, with the dual-core opty in there can play blu-ray discs fine CPU stays under 35% load with the NB/GPU overclocked. Runs 64bit Vista ultimate without a hitch. I love the gigabyte board though, i highly reccomend that as the basis of your HTPC, with an add-in gpu, can do some half way decent gaming as well.

The reason i went for the eSata raid enclousure on the HTPC is that well, the cases are small and not a whole lot of room for drives. Plus, if i want to be comfortable not backing up data like a speed freak with OCD, i want the drives in Raid 5, which means you lose a disk in gaining redundancy.
________
0 1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4 0
2 3 4 0 1
3 4 0 1 2
4 0 1 2 3

Basically what raid 5 striping looks like, 0 representing the redundant data blockIf one drive fails then it can be rebuilt from the other 4 drives. So 750x5= 3000 in raid5. Though $140 is well worth keeping your data in tact.

If you want to be cheap about it, then Stick to The board, 2gigs of ram, Dual core and a pair of 750gig drives to get you started, $440 to do it that way and still fully capable of running vista ultimate and playing 1080p video.
March 31, 2008 5:39:48 PM

Wow thanks for all the replies guys, I think I might just scrub the old system and build an AM2/780G system. Whatever I end up doing, I'll be sure to post on it when I get it built.
a b α HP
March 31, 2008 11:52:22 PM

AM2/780G is AMAZING for HTPC
March 3, 2010 2:26:02 PM

lcaley said:
Wow thanks for all the replies guys, I think I might just scrub the old system and build an AM2/780G system. Whatever I end up doing, I'll be sure to post on it when I get it built.


I am guessing you were able to get your AMD/780G system running. Do you have audio over the HDMI port? I have the AMD A780GM-A motherboard (which came with an onboard HDMI port), but while I can video working with it, I am not getting audio. I am using Mythbuntu 9.0.4.

Any inputs/experiences you can share would be highly appreciated.
!