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How long would it take a mid-ranged HTPC build to become outdated?

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  • NAS / RAID
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April 11, 2008 6:17:00 PM

I have two reasons for wanting to build a HTPC.

1. I am a media junky.

2. I recently picked up the OCing bug and I don't really have extra parts to swap out for testing and such if something goes wrong.

I know that the hard drives will be the most expensive thing and I might have to purchase a 500GB drive every six months for the next few years just to keep up. I'll worry about raid configuration later.

A) I assume a board with a decent raid controller will be required. Any suggestions?
B) Will cache size have any hindrance to a HTPC build? What chip?
C) Please offer some GPU suggestions as well.

I know how to use google and I will research all suggestions. I like having the meeting of the minds in one fun location. THW FTW.

More about : long mid ranged htpc build outdated

April 11, 2008 7:16:42 PM

im just about to build a htpc and here is some parts i picked out for a low cost system

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2H AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

the 780g chipset is the only mobo with a on board graphics card that can handle hd movies without a sweat tomshardware did a review on the board a couple weeks ago and its highly recommended for a htpc

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

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM harddrive $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AuzenTech XPlosion 7.1 7.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Card $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Ultra Black MicroFly Aluminum Micro ATX Tower Case with 400 watt ps 70$
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

logitech wireless keyboard and mouse $50
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

media center remote $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

total cost is $545

after all my research this seemed like the best bang for your buck
hopefully this helps you start your build
April 11, 2008 9:16:33 PM

Thanks for the effort. I really like that case.

I need some Intel options.
Related resources
April 11, 2008 10:23:34 PM

yeah im a intel, nvidia fan but for a htpc you dont need to much performance unless you plan to game. amd best bang for your buck in a low cost system. if you plan on dumping $1000+ in a system i would go with intel

good luck
April 11, 2008 11:28:11 PM

My HTPC rig currently has the following:

Case - NMediaPC 200BA
Motherboard - Gigabyte G965-S2
RAM - 2x512 Meg DDR2-533 Corsair Value Select (was 4x512 Meg)
CPU - Intel Core2Duo E6600
Graphics card - Sapphire HD2600Pro
TV Tuner - AverMedia AverTV PCI-E
Sound Card - BGears 7.1
Some Antec Power Supply.
Some 80 Gig Hard Disk Drive

All components were purchased some time ago and put together just this past November. I also have Microsoft's Media Center Remote and Media Center Keyboard.

It's currently hooked up to my new 32" 720p LCD TV, a BenQ projector and sound system. I'm still tweaking it and still need a new hard drive for media (old one crashed and burned), but I'm loving it.

The processor is a bit overkill for just viewing media, but will comes in handy when encoding movies. Other than that, everything else is pretty much mid-range.

-Wolf sends
April 12, 2008 12:25:47 AM

as reply to your question.in the PC would anything could be outdated in a day to few months depend when you bought them!as new gen are in development when a new product just released or even before it release.

but it all depend on your needs to judge when you need a upgrade because your old computer is now "OUTDATED!!!":S
April 12, 2008 12:32:12 AM

It will last as long as your tv. Any decent midrange HTPC will be able to play 1080p movies currently. That is the max resolution on the market. Your PC will be fine until you upgrade you tv and it can't keep up with the resolution.
April 12, 2008 1:20:40 AM

iluvgillgill said:
as reply to your question.in the PC would anything could be outdated in a day to few months depend when you bought them!as new gen are in development when a new product just released or even before it release.

but it all depend on your needs to judge when you need a upgrade because your old computer is now "OUTDATED!!!":S


Thanks for nothing there bud. That was a waste of your time. There were other questions inside the box. And for a mid ranged system, my system isn't outdated just CPU challenged.
April 12, 2008 1:30:06 AM

I am currently in the middle of buying parts for my next HTPC. I am replacing my current HTPC build around the Athlon XP-M CPU (about 5 years old now).

Regarding your questions:

A) Personally I would look to buy a separate RAID controller card so that you can move your RAID to a new platform if necessary or desired. Platform means you are switching between AMD and Intel and/or between chipsets. If the initialization protocols (different from manufacturer to manufacturer) are not recognized then the RAID will have to be rebuilt. I am currently looking for a $200 or less controller card myself.

B) Cache can be become a hinderance depending one what you are doing. For mere play back the cache will not make much difference. However, if you intend on converting video then cache can boost performance a bit. A reasonably powerful CPU is recommended if you plan on watching Blu-Ray movies. I recommend at least the C2D E4500 CPU. I plan on transplanting my Intel C2D E6600 to my new HTPC.

C) You will want a good mainstream video card especially if you want to watch Blu-Ray movies. The card will help off-load a good chunk of video processing from the CPU. However, avoid those economy entry level cards as they lack some video decoding processing power compared to mainstream cards. You will also want a HDCP to watch Blu-Ray movies as well. I believe the ATI HD3650 series or nVidia 8600GT series should be good enough.

My proposed HTPC build is as follows:

CPU - Intel C2D E6600 (transplanted from current primary PC)
Motherboard - MSI 975X Platinum v2 (transplanted from current primary PC)
RAM - 2GB Corsair XMS DDR2 675 (transplanted from current primary PC)
Video Card - Radeon X1900XT 512MB (transplanted from current primary PC)
Heatsink - Scythe SCNJ-1100P 120mm (transplanted from current primary PC)
PSU - SeaSonic S12 II SS-500GB ATX12V / EPS12V 500W (transplanted from current primary PC, I actually have the first generation simply called Seasonic S12 500)


Case - SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum Crown Series CW02B-MXR
Case Fan (used to cool hard drives) x2 - Scythe DFS922512M-PWM 90mm Case Fan
Hard Drive (for OS) - Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM
Hard Drive (for RAID 1) x2 - Western Digital Caviar RE2 GP WD1000FYPS 1TB
Hard Drive (for vid capping and DVD ripping only) - Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJB 160GB IDE (re-using from current HTPC)
DVD Burner - LG GSA-H55NK
Video Capture Card (under consideration) - Hauppauge WinTV PVR 350 Video Recorder
Raid Controller (under consideration) - HighPoint RocketRAID 3120 PCI-Express x1


Add another pair of Western Digital Caviar RE2 GP WD1000FYPS 1TB drives in RAID 1 when more capacity is required.
April 12, 2008 1:35:31 AM

Thanks for that post jaguarskx

Couldn't you partition the Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM and use it for OS and vid capping and DVD ripping?
April 12, 2008 1:38:01 AM

No because the drive used for capping and ripping will go thru a lot of wear and tear and I expect it to be the first drive to fail. I consider it my "thrash" drive cause of all the drives it will be stressed the most.
April 12, 2008 1:44:00 AM

Right on.

Slayer rules! \m/

How do you like High on Fire or the new Cavalera Conspiracy
April 12, 2008 1:50:21 AM

I haven't really listened to Cavalera Conspiracy, or at least I don't think I've heard any of their songs. If I'm correct, they are pretty new.

I'm more of a Black/Death/Power/Thrash metal kinda guy. High on Fire is more like Doom Metal style of music from what I remember and I'm not really a big Doom Metal fan, or at least I haven't heard anything to my liking yet.
April 12, 2008 1:56:23 AM

Well, for my HTPC I'm going with the 780G (good enough integrated for 1080p) and an AMD 5400+ (2.8GHz, 65W). For the price that is a really good chip. I've heard it OCs decently (3.2-3.4) if you're interested. I'll probably leave it at stock so it runs cool. Also, if you don't mind waiting the NVidia 8200/8300 IGP should be out soon which may even top the 780G. You can always add a discrete GPU later if you need more power (for gaming, these should be plenty for TV). Just wanted to give you some more things to consider.
April 12, 2008 2:49:07 AM

At the moment Blu-Ray is the best newest HD video format, and will be around as the premiere format for al LEAST 5 years.

As sum1 who will be building an HTPC shortly this would be my new setup

Intel 2xxx CPU. For some reason the 2000 series chips are AWESOME and HD playback, rivaling the 4 and even 6 series chips!
GFX card: TBA, u will need to look a little into this.

Add a br reader (cheap as), pretty much woteva else for the rest and your system will last until the next new superHD format comes out... which could be viable to purchase 10 years from now.
April 12, 2008 2:56:21 AM

Ja, fortunately video formats transition slower than computers, so if your PC can play BLU-Ray now it will still be able to in 5 years.
April 12, 2008 3:23:05 AM

The idea for your new HTPC was outdated before you thought of it.
Onboard RAID sucks, you will want a dedicated RAID controller. SATA or SAS. ATI video cards are better than Nvidia for HTPC...IMO, HD3850 or better. Any dual core CPU will be fine AMD or Intel, It is what you plan to do with the system other than a media center that should dictate the processor.
April 12, 2008 5:00:24 AM

What you want for an HTPC system is quiet.
Other than that, most people just watch movies on one.
As others have said it all depends what you wish to do with the system.
Do you need raid, no.
Might you wish it in the future, maybe.
A good video stream (s-video) and sound output (dolby) to a 5 and 1 speaker system would be the thing to shoot for.
Streaming multimedia and HD will require more cpu and hard drive power and space.
Think about this, the stand alone DVD player hooked up to a TV is basically a HTPC.
Until you want to get into blue ray and have the need for the DRM chain from disk to monitor, you can setup an HTPC for under $400.
It will be just fine until something breaks in it.
April 12, 2008 6:13:15 AM

mrmez said:
At the moment Blu-Ray is the best newest HD video format, and will be around as the premiere format for al LEAST 5 years.

As sum1 who will be building an HTPC shortly this would be my new setup

Intel 2xxx CPU. For some reason the 2000 series chips are AWESOME and HD playback, rivaling the 4 and even 6 series chips!
GFX card: TBA, u will need to look a little into this.

Add a br reader (cheap as), pretty much woteva else for the rest and your system will last until the next new superHD format comes out... which could be viable to purchase 10 years from now.


That's pretty much what I have done,

intel 2180
ATI 3470
2 HHD not in raid, I don't like raid

I don't know if I am missing something but I don't see the need for high performance hardware in a HTPC. I don't think that high end hardware will prolongate the life of your system for such an application. Like previously mentioned, it will be more of a question of video/music formats than hardware before your rig become obsolete for such an application.

April 12, 2008 6:16:38 AM

I'm just going to address your title question and say this: Unlike standard PC's, home theater PC's never become outdated for the task they were designed to do.

For example, if you built an HTPC to view and record analog TV, DVD, and DivX files five years ago, it would still work perfectly for doing those things today. Yes, you'd want more storage by now, but that's only because you'd be continously adding more content, not because the original drive was undersized by modern standards.
April 12, 2008 11:14:12 AM

All good replies. Thanks a bunch.

On the subject of streaming and storage space. I do want to be able to rip my dvd and blue ray collection to my HTPC, and we're talking around 200 DVDs and 30 Blu-Ray. I'd like to maintain 100% Blu-Ray quality and at least 85-90% for the DVD. I'll work out the space and raid logistics on my own if need be, but any advice will help.

So I guess a video/music server is more of what I'm looking to build. And like I said, the #1 reason for starting this build is to have some extra Intel parts. I won't be able to afford the 2+ TB disk space for a year or more but I can start with a 500GB drive.

If I can use my E2160 CPU and my Gigabyte DS3L I will.

Add a....

1. ATI 3470 or equivalant
2. Add a capture card
3. Add a raid controller

Aside from the HD space, that's all I should need right?

@jaguarskx

Cavalera Conspiracy is the very decent reunion of Max and Igor from Sepultura, and you should defiantly check out High on Fire's Blessed Black Wings. If you listen to stuff like Skinless and Cannibal Corpse then you will have more in common with my wife. We both love Slayer though. Last year's Unholy Alliance was money well spent.

April 12, 2008 11:50:06 AM

I was going to give a little personal experience.
I pretty much agree with what ghostdragon said.

Buy a slow dual core. You usually won't need it for much probably.You'll want dual core for responsiveness but really shouldn't need it for a ton of speed. If you're like me, you'll do most of your encoding and storage on your main and transfer or stream to your htpc.

And as far as video card..... I just took a NV 7600 out of mine and put in a 3650 and the difference in video processing is phenomenal. The 3650 is so much better at displaying video than the nvidia card, it makes me crazy that i was living with a crappy picture for so long when a $70 card makes so much difference.

For HTPC, ATI has always ruled nvidia. ATI has been making components for video systems for over 20 years., I don't know that nvidia has that kind of history.

T
April 12, 2008 12:37:26 PM

That's a good point teldar. I will be using my main for encoding and such. Will I lose any picture quality from streaming it to the HTPC? I'd like the video to go from the HTPC to the TV and the sound to be processed through my Onkyo HT receiver.
April 12, 2008 2:29:23 PM

Dunkel said:
On the subject of streaming and storage space. I do want to be able to rip my dvd and blue ray collection to my HTPC, and we're talking around 200 DVDs and 30 Blu-Ray. I'd like to maintain 100% Blu-Ray quality and at least 85-90% for the DVD. I'll work out the space and raid logistics on my own if need be, but any advice will help.
For DVD's, do some research on x264 encoding using a mkv container. I just recently converted my entire DVD collection to x264 encoded video with AAC encoded surround sound and its very difficult to see a difference from the original DVD (if at all). File sizes vary, but I averaged about 900MB per movie using the quality settings that I chose. I used my overclocked Conroe desktop to encode the video and transferred the files to my HTPC, which has a slower CPU.

I'll put in another vote for an AMD/ATI card. My HTPC went from a 7600GT to a HD3450 and the picture is better.
April 13, 2008 2:51:25 PM

Is this a newer way of encoding?

What type would you use for putting Blu-ray on a HD?
April 13, 2008 3:35:07 PM

mkv or matroska is awsome.
i dont encode, but i do DL rips of TV shows and nowadays the highest quality ones are the .mkv
i use CCCP to play them with wmp11.
http://www.cccp-project.net/
April 13, 2008 4:25:19 PM

How long would it take a mid-ranged HTPC build to become outdated?

As soon as the motherboard fails the computer is outdated. If you used RAID, as soon as the controller fails your data will be lost.

In 6 months your mid-range system will be a low end system.

April 13, 2008 7:33:51 PM

GeorgeH said:
If you used RAID, as soon as the controller fails your data will be lost.



If the RAID controller fails does not necessarily mean all data is lost. Simply replace it with the same or similar mode from the same manufacturer. The data in a RAID 1 array should be fine. RAID 0 well I don't know 'cause I'm not foolish enough to use RAID 0.
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