Going to build my first HTPC. Trying to keep costs to a minimum and use it mainly as a DVR but also a Blu-ray/DVD player. Started looking through reviews and this is what I've come up with so far.
CPU: AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350 Brisbane 2.1GHz 37.99 Not sure if this is enough power, liked it for the price and the 45W.
Cooler:Zalman 8000 39.99 Wanted something low prfile for small case
MB: Asus M3A78-EM 780G 78.99 Looking to IGP for stutter free playback at 1080p eventually, but only need 720p atm (couldn't pass up a 50" WS DLP for $600.00 even tho it is only 720p). If it comes to needing a new video card I will prolly thro my 8800GT in this and upgrade my machine.
Memory: G.Skill 2x2G 42.99
HD: Seagate 1.5TB 129.99. Read a review about large drives failing, but couldn't find it again and can't remember which ones were on the list.
PSU:SeaSonic M12II SS-430 119.99 (94.99 after rebate) quiet and modular for the lack of space in small cases.
Blu-ray: Lite-on 99.99
Case: ATM Antec Fusion 159.95 Tho not deffinite on the case, but have never had a bad antec case.
Tuner: Hauppauge 2250 149.99
Some form of wireless keyboard and mouse, have a wi-fi card already but will most likely hard wire it to network. Will probably run Vista premium 64. As of right now with OS and keyboard/mouse I'm sitting at $1k. A little more than I was shooting for but not a whole lotta places to downgrade expet case and PSU
1. The CPU is fine. The integrated graphics chip does the Blue Ray decoding. Make sure the chipset supports hardware blue ray decoding.
2.) Both recommended power supplies are huge, heat generating monsters which probably wont even fit in your case. Micro ATX cases need Micro ATX power supplies and you are going to want 300w or less unit. I say 300W because sadly, its hard to find high quality PSU under 300W. Heat is your biggest enemy not performance. Big power supplies are little space heaters. You have a 45W PSU, integrated graphics and 2 drives. You could run this thing on 100W PSU.
3.) The 8800gtx is a hot card. It's too hot unless you get a bigger case it will never fit in this thing. It would add 120 watts to your power needs. Many HTPC cases use low profile cards. The 8800gt is not a low profile card and its 10.5 inches long. A case this will fit in would be pretty big sitting under your TV.
4.) If you want to do light gaming on your HTPC buy a low power card in the 60 range. That might save you 40 or 50 watts. The less heat generated by video the better. How much graphics power do you really need for a 720P screen? I would recommend against trying to mix gaming and TIVO. You don't your system to sound like a leaf blower while you're watching a movie. For that you could always go out and buy an XBOX 360.
5.) Buy a USB TV Tuner. They don't use a slot and they don't use much power. Internal cards give off a lot of EMI and can cause stability issues. They might have fixed this on new cards. I quit using internals along time ago. USB tuners are portable.
6.) Don't forget about heat. Heat will cause lock ups, Stuttering movies, Blue screens, and the dreaded leaf blower cooling fan effect. The best way to avoid this is to not use any add in internal components -- just integrated video, 2 sticks of ram and a very small PSU.
I don't overclock anything and have actually experimented with under clocking a single core Celeron so I could passively cool it. That was for a remote wireless application not an HTPC.
For everything I recommend you will get 1000 arguments saying I'm wrong or exaggerating the issue. It certainly possible to do things completely differently. Plenty of folks have overclocked quad cores running sli g260's in their micro ITX cases I'm sure. For a quiet stable Blue ray player/ tivo that will reliably run for years this will work.
One more point to consider... VMC will not play back BluRay content. If you are looking at PowerDVD then you're fine. If, however, you're looking at ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre (what most people are using in VMC for BluRay) it only works with Vista x86 and NOT on Vista x64.
You may also have an issue with other codecs and a lack of x64 support. I had gone down the same route you're on with media center and eventually rebuilt with Vista Ultimate x86 instead.
So far I switched the PSU for a 330W (call me a fanboy if you want, but if i find a great brand I stick with it), and probly sticking with the antec case. (matches my reciever pretty well)
Something I have never tried, can I run a PCI-express 1X in a 16x (4x bandwith) slot? I may use my current PC as a test platform for the DVR and Blu-ray compatability aspect but my MB has only one 1X slot and my GPU cooler is covering it but my second 16x slot is free.
1) huge expensive PSU. you can buy a 300W (seasonic) at around 40$ plus S&H.
2) Forget about the zallman, buy the X2 BE 2300 with fan included at 38$ free shipping an HTCP doesn't need overclocking.
3) Buy a cheaper MOBO and a Radeon HD 4350 (which has LPCM audio over HDMI).
I just bought a HTCP from New egg for 200$ (no optical drive, mouse, keyboard and Hard drive, since I already had those), haven't received all the parts, so can't tell you about the performance, but reviews will tell you tht's more than enough fot 1080P playback.
Looking around on Egg and found a case, about the same as the fussion w/o the remote or LCD with a PSU for $120. I wasn't planning on using the remote and I can add an LCD if I desire, just hope the PSU is silent.
Audio over HDMI not a big deal, plan on using fiber. My reciver was bought before HDMI went mainstream, but still does everything else I need. So unless there is some gooffy anti-pirate thing where Blu-ray has to go over HDMI I'm fine with what I have.
It's the Seagates that were bricked by a firmware update. That has since been fixed. I'd go with some WD Caviar Greens, but thats just my HTPC desire talking. I have a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1800 and it works flawlessly. I hooked up an antenna and cable and I get free over-the-air HD along with basic expanded cable.
Heat is your enemy, but there are quiet fans available for cheap should you decide to look for them. The OKGEAR D12SL-12 120mm Case Fan is practically silent and does a good job.
I can say that the VFD is not very useful and after some time is gets messed up (showing gibberish...) and the only way to reset it is to unplug the power cable from the case, the version without the VFD is good enough IMO.
The CPU stock cooler seems to be sufficient, I don't hear it at all, I would not spend money on that.
I would spend some more on the CPU, most of the time it sits idle so maximum power is not a major concern. I would go with batuchka's suggestion - 4850e or better.