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New Gaming Media Center PC build Help

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October 23, 2008 2:53:25 AM

Hello,
Any Help or suggestions?

I am thinking about building a Gaming/Media Center PC. I want to build something that I could use as a DVR, watch streaming video online, browse the internet, gaming, email, adding perhaps a PS3 and/or xbox 360 (later). I want a small learning curve re: OS. I am used to Win Xp so I would probably choose Win MC as my OS.
I have not used that OS and am not sure of all the features I could add easily.
I have a Sony BRAVIA KDL-52W4100 52" LCD TV I currently use an old Dell laptop to view Netflix movies on the tv.
I would like to have a small case (although, I want good cooling and quiet [not sure how to accomplish that]) with a small footprint (like a DVD player). Since I want the game capability I would probably need a good graphics card.
I don't know if I could watch the last few minutes of TV with a PC Dvr? It would be nice to be able to browse the internet in one picture while viewing tv on the other side of the screen. I don't know if I can accomplish that with the constraints of the Sony tv's PIP feature (it seems to want the same input for the PIP) - However that would be a very important thing to me.
Of course all of this with a low price and ability to expand.
What features do others find important in a media center pc? There are probably alot of other things I would like to do using the media center pc. Any suggestions or websites that illustrate hardware used to build a media center pc this year would be greatly appreciated.
Thoughts for case, MOBO, graphics cards, tv tuner?, dvr, cooling, 2 recordable blu ray DVDs, floppy, other components?
Are Blu-Ray DVDs recorders/players affordable to buy as components for a pc yet?
I was searching Amazon recently for a good wireless backlit keyboard and seperate mouse but did not see an affordable one. Why is it difficult to find a wireless backlit keyboard at an affordable price?
I also have seperate audio equipment (speakers, amp, etc).
a b 4 Gaming
October 23, 2008 5:03:08 AM

Sometimes you just can't have everything ;) 

While it may be possible to squeeze in a slower, cooler gaming card into a micro HTPC case, it's not really worth it.

You either go with the small case and just enough room for a comp that will do everything except game well, OR you get a nicer, larger case that will keep the parts cool and let you game well.
October 23, 2008 7:17:24 AM

Oh well, then I guess I will just have to figure out where to put the massive computer case. Even with gaming consoles I would always feel disappointed everytime I could not play a pc game using that PC.
Related resources
a b 4 Gaming
October 23, 2008 7:20:09 AM

Proximon said:
Sometimes you just can't have everything ;) 

While it may be possible to squeeze in a slower, cooler gaming card into a micro HTPC case, it's not really worth it.

You either go with the small case and just enough room for a comp that will do everything except game well, OR you get a nicer, larger case that will keep the parts cool and let you game well.

Exactly what I was going to say too!! Did you have a budget for this build?? Cause if you tell me it's $400-500 than you can forget getting a BR DVD burner into that build. They are about $225 on up!!
Here is how I see the differences in HTPC and a gaming one:
HTPC
CPU - 2.2ghz Duo Core CPU (Intel or AMD).
Mobo - Micro/mini ATX mobo's (small is the theme here).
GPU - Onboard GPU is usually KING here, due to heat and noise reasons.
Memory - Definately want stock voltage DDR2 (1.8v) to keep temps down.
Case - Small form factor or specific HTPC cases. This costs more for these type of cases.
PSU - Some PSU's for this setup are specially designed to fit the cases, so they will usually be low power and not the same size or shape as a regular PSU.
DVD - Not usually burners, but should be. BR DVD ROM at least for this category.
TV Tuner - Needed for this type of build.

Gaming rig
CPU - 2.6 ghz Duo core CPU's or greater, OC'able if your going to extend the life or want more performance for less $. Heat not as much as a concern here, due to the fact that you can fit in good aftermarket CPU HSF's and the standard cases have more room and noise isn't priority here.
Mobo - Standard size ATX mobo's are the norm here. You have more expansion slots and usually you have more options too, due to having more space on the mobo.
GPU - Obviously the whole reason your building this rig! Get the fastest GPU that you can afford!! Heat and noise are usually secondary thoughts.
Memory - Stock voltage DRR2 isn't always a concern, but having 2.0-2.2v high performance sticks are common for this type of build.
Case - The case is usually pretty spacious and will have good airflow to help cool the higher performing parts.
PSU - PSU usually is a bit bigger than needs to be to alloy more upgrades later. These are almost always the standard size, so you can change out with others easily.
DVD - Same issues on these types of builds, except most people will have 2 DVD/CD drives, HTPC's usually will have 1, unless you need 2.

That is the basic differences for the 2 types of build.
a b 4 Gaming
October 23, 2008 7:21:18 AM

ddc22 said:
Oh well, then I guess I will just have to figure out where to put the massive computer case. Even with gaming consoles I would always feel disappointed everytime I could not play a pc game using that PC.

It doesn't have to be massive, just if you can figure out where you want to put it.
October 23, 2008 8:01:09 AM

Hmm, here are the components I used in my desktop computer last year.
OS: Win XP sp2 (32 bit)
Monitor: ViewSonic VP171b
DVD Burner (2): Lite On (SATA)
Case: Silverstone SSTemjinTJ06
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor
CPU Cooler: ZALMAN 9700 LED 110mm 2 Ball
Fax modem: Encore ENF656-ESW-MOPR
Motherboard: ASUS P5B Deluxe LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX Intel
Floppy Drive: NEC Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive Model FD1231H-302
Power Supply: OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI ATX12V 700W Power Supply 100 - 240 V
RAM: 2Gx2|CORSAIR TWIN2X4096-6400C5DHX R 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM 800 (PC2 6400)
Video Card: eGeForce 8800GTX 768MB
Hard Drives (3): Seagate HD 320G|ST 7K 16M SATA2 ST3320620AS
(I have a RAID 5 configuration hence the 3 hard drives)
I overbought RAM on this. I can't utilize 4G.

I am not too happy with the MOBO because it has already had a problem with contacts between the battery and the pc board. I am dreading having to replace that MOBO.

Anyway, I was thinking around $1500 - $1800? I would want at least 2 DVD drives. I guess 1 could be a BRDVD and the other just a plain DVD drive. However, it is so much easier to have them be the same. I also know they are becoming obsolete but would like a floppy drive.

So any ideas about digital video recording parts? TV tuner card? I have never had a computer that utilized tv stuff so I don't know what cards I would need and what they would accomplish.
In addition, any good Motherboard suggestions besides ASUS. Does intel make good MOBOs to go with their CPUs?

My computer before last kept had 2 or 3 replacement MOBOs. Thus, I am interested in a very good MOBO. I probably would not be overclocking.

I think my desktop case is crowded (see parts above) because of the huge GPU and fans to keep it cool. Therefore, I don't know how I could even fit more cards in that case for graphics, tv, etc.

Case suggestions welcome too? Surprisingly, that seemed to be the thing on my last build that was the most difficult to decide upon.

I might have to revise my cost because before I was attending a University and had student prices for some software. I guess now I would have to pay full price (OUCH). I know linux is a good operating system but I am just not that software savy. I guess there are shells so that it would look like a PC OS but after I got past the shell I would be at a loss. Thus, I would probably go with Win XP media center.
I am not sure Vista is stable yet so I am afraid of using that OS. Anyway, OS suggestions would be welcome. Maybe I am wrong about Vista?


a b 4 Gaming
October 23, 2008 8:14:07 AM

You do want a good many things, so perhaps you should look at something more serious like a Cooler Master Cosmos. They tend to be on the quiet side but with lots of room and good cooling.

ASUS is making good quality, but if you got stung there is no reason to stay with them. Gigabyte is a good choice as well.

Unless you have many older programs you need to run, we almost always recommend Vista Premium 64bit.

I have some good suggestions and info over here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/257075-31-what-parts-...


October 23, 2008 8:18:46 AM

you can fit a decent rig into a micro atx mid tower i think maybe anyway

Case: COOLER MASTER Elite 340 RC
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119149

Motherboard: GIGABYTE g43 microatx
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128354

GPU: HIS Hightech H485F512P Radeon HD 4850 512MB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161235

CPU: Intel e8400
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115037

Ram: G.skill 4gb ddr2 800
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231122

PSU: SeaSonic M12II SS-500GM -- modular
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151056

HDD: WD 640gb aaks
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136218

DVD: LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray DVD-ROM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106225

TV tuner: Hauppauge WINTVHVR1600 DUAL Tuner 1183
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116010

all in all it comes to about $900
October 23, 2008 8:25:08 AM

Thanks for the links Proximon and gators1223. Lots of good input.
What can I do with the tv tuner?
Also what about recording video?
It would be nice to give the cable company their dual HD dvr back. So how do I replace those components in the pc?
October 23, 2008 8:41:45 AM

Do Blu ray DVD drives also read and write CDs?
a b 4 Gaming
October 23, 2008 8:48:04 AM

ddc22 said:
Do Blu ray DVD drives also read and write CDs?

YES they do!!
Here is specs of a Liteon BluRay DVD burner:

Write Speed
BD-R 4X
BD-RE 2X
DVD+R 12X
DVD+RW 8X
DVD-R 12X
DVD-RW 6X
CD-R 40X
CD-RW 24X
DVD+R DL 8X
DVD-R DL 8X

Read Speed
Blu-ray DVD-ROM 4X
DVD-ROM 12X
CD-ROM 40X
October 25, 2008 1:14:06 AM

the tv tuner lets you view tv, like cable etc. im pretty sure that it allows you to record it as well, if you are doing a lot of recording you might want to bet a bigger hard drive like 1tb or something
October 25, 2008 1:44:08 AM

I know from personal experience that a proper TV tuner is key to a media center build, also if u have something like vista media center or ultimate it comes with media center and in there you can record pause rewind tv...set it up to record a ceritan show...it even goes online to show your program listings so you can see up to 14 days in advance to record a show movie ect..ect... Plus vista looks soo appealing in your front room...

P.S. recording TV takes LOTS of room i would suggest getting 2 1.5tb drives...
a b 4 Gaming
October 25, 2008 6:31:19 AM

There's no need to be scared of Vista. I use the computer in my sig as a HTPC. I haven't had a single problem with 64-bit Vista and it works great as a HTPC OS. The Vista Media Center user interface is very nice looking and works great. The non-MCE edition remote that came with my tuner card even works flawlessly with Vista even though it isn't technically supposed to work. :)  Vista even has built-in basic video editing software. I record Saturday morning cartoons for my daughter, cut out the commercials, then save them back to the HD all using built in Vista tools. Nothing fancy, but I was impressed. I can also burn recorded shows to a DVD using another built-in Vista tool.

Hauppauge makes great TV tuner cards. My HVR-1600 works great. It has one digital tuner that I have plugged into a roof-top antenna for HD programming and an analog tuner that is plugged into my basic cable. One thing to keep in mind is that TV tuner cards can only tune into unencrypted channels which means no premium movie channels. Hauppauge has a new model out, the WinTV-HVR-2250, which looks awesome. It has two tuners that can be used as either digital or analog. A HTPC does really fill up hard drives in a hurry. I currently have 3 hard drives in my rig and I'm looking to add more ASAP. HD recordings takes up about 8GB/hour.
!