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Help with HTPC (mainly music) build

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  • Build
  • Music
  • Systems
  • Product
Last response: in Systems
April 14, 2008 4:49:57 AM

Hi all,
I recently got a squeezebox to connect all my online music (rhapsody, pandora, etc) to my main entertainment center setup. It is too flaky for me, so I am planning to return it and go with a media pc instead. I was looking to build a new pc to hold all my media and be the new family pc, so I figure we can kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Couple questions:

1. Will it work with component cable jacks? I have a denon 3805 reciever that does component switching to my 55" mitsubishi rptv. None of it is hdmi and i ran component through the wall studs, etc..so i am not looking to change anytime soon.

2. Is it easy to get a good pc resolution on an older rear-projection tv. I seem to remember wierdness with resolutions and screen sizes, etc back in the day (3-4yrs ago). It supports 1080i and 480p. It looks really nice with HD broadcasts, so i am not looking to upgrade the tv anytime soon.

3. Can someone steer me in the right direction for good up to date guides for picking good hardware for this build. I was going to go with: antec 500w case/psu, e6750, 2-4gb 800 ram, 500gb 7200.11 seagate hd, nvidia gt8800 320mb, etc when I was going standard desktop. Now that I am looking to stuff it into a smaller htpc case, should I change the build?

4. Is there a remote that actually works and will allow my wife and folks to use it? Or do i have to have a keyboard laying around?

I am looking to keep it all under $700 if possible. Not sure if I will run linux or windows yet.

Thanks for any advice.

-JD

More about : htpc music build

April 14, 2008 6:32:43 AM

Get this:

CPU: Intel E2160 .. .$70
GPU: Nvidia 9600GT .. $110 AR
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L.. $75
PSU: Corsair 450VX ... ~$65
RAM: 2GB DDR2 800 Crucial Ballastix : $29
HD: Seagate 500gb 7200.11... $110

Total $459.
April 14, 2008 2:51:05 PM

Thanks. Will that mobo fit on one of those "component style" cases? Any recommendations on that front?

thanks,
JD
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April 14, 2008 3:28:54 PM

Resolution is going to be pretty bad using component. I think the best you'll be able to do is 480i or maybe 480p. Even S-video would be better than component.
April 14, 2008 3:38:17 PM

Really, that is strange? I use component now and get 1080i HD and it looks amazing. Keep in mind, I am talking component (3 plug r,b,g) not the old 1 cable composite. Thoughts?

-JD
April 14, 2008 4:16:18 PM

MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($50)
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($57, AMD AM2 X2 4000+)
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($36, 2 Gb GEIL)
Vid: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($85, ATI still trumps nVidia for VIVO/TV out)
Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($59, break out the dremel, or drill and add more fans)
PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($32, I have one in my HTPC, it is fairly quiet)
HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($100, 500Gb Seagate)

Total: $419 + S&H no OS (not counting MIR's or special deals)
April 14, 2008 5:27:22 PM

If this HTPC is not for gaming or watching Blu-Ray, then you can easily get by with an all-in-one motherboard with onboard component out like this one:

GIGABYTE GA-MA69GM-S2H AM2 AMD 690G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $80

It also has DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI onboard if you get a new TV later. Before I get flamed, the newer 780G version of this board is arguably better, but lacks component out.

If you do go with different motherboard and a discreet video card, go for one without a fan, and again only get what you need. You don't need a lot of video horsepower to watch DVD's and faster cards put out more heat. Something like this inexpensive card would work just fine, and it comes with component out:

SAPPHIRE 100230L Radeon HD 3450 1GB (256MB on Board) 64-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail $50

That being said, my last word of advice is this: For watching movies, component out will probably work for you. However, you said that you would like to use this as a family PC as well and there I have to warn you. Component just does not look very good with things like text and such. My old TV used component hookups and my HTPC did not look very good on it. Also, with component there are all sorts of overscan/underscan issues that may need to be resolved even if you run 480p or 1080i rez. My new TV has DVI/HDMI and the difference is night and day with a perfectly clear picture. Before comitting to an HTPC build, maybe you should connect a PC to your TV with component cables and see if the quality is acceptable and meets your expectations.


April 14, 2008 5:46:47 PM

San Pedro, I agree with jd that you may be confusing component with composite. Composite (the single yellow connector from VHS days) supports less than 480i. Component can support 1080p.

jd, I agree with IH8U to get an ATi 2600 series. You may be able to find one that is half-height and passively-cooled. For an HTPC, cool is still the name of the game, so I wouldn't go to more powerful GPUs unless you want to game, and then you would need to improve CPU as well. For HDD, you might consider the 750 GB "GP" series from WD. They run a lot cooler, and at $139 on newegg, are cheaper per GB than the 500GB seagate. Performance will be sufficient for your stated purpose in spite of the slower spin rate.

Some cases come with a display and remote that work well with Vista / MCE. However, if you also want to control the TV, receiver, etc., you may want to get a universal learning. I use a logitech harmony 880 (~$160 on newegg) and it works pretty well for this, or there are many other options out there that cost less but sacrifice appearance or usability.
April 14, 2008 6:03:08 PM

surprised no one has mentioned anything about a good sound card if this is going to be mainly used for music. i'm sure some onboard sound is good, but mine really stinks. i got this auzentech xplosion which i really like. it makes a huge difference in sound quality. my onboard gave me snap, crackle and pops.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
April 14, 2008 6:09:47 PM

"cool is still the name of the game"

and quiet. The components you listed are way to noisy and power consuming. Stick with a 780G chipset amd 3800 x2 (4200 maybe). Perhaps a 3450 (runs cool and passively cooled). 2GB of cheap DDR2-667/800 and a lot of hard drive space.

April 14, 2008 6:36:13 PM

Rosewill PSU. I understand price is important, but that power supply can destroy the whole investment.
Better this one:
PSU: Corsair 450VX ... ~$65