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NEED ADVICE ON BUDGET HTPC PLEASE.....

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September 1, 2009 4:34:59 AM

I am new to the HTPC and mostly computer building world. I have to admit its been very confusing and overwhelming so far researching on my own....especially since non of my friends dabble in any technology at all! So I am turning to everyone for help because I can't even make enough headway to create an example build to reviewed yet!

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: By October 1

BUDGET RANGE: $550 or less

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT
:

1. Playback of 480p, 720p, 1080i (Ripped/Recorded/Downloaded: Moves, Tv shows and DVD stored on HDD).

2. Up converting content to 720p, 1080i

2. Recording HD and SD digital cable from cable top-box.

3. Running TED (Torrent Episode Downloader) for TV shows.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard/Mouse/DVD Drive

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS
: tigerdirect.com, newegg.com or (any that is trusting and provides reasonable prices).

PARTS PREFERENCES:

1. I would like to use which ever brands are best for playing and up converting content of 480p, 720p, 1080i (i.e. whether Intel, AMD, NVIDIA).

2. I also am trying to figure out what the advantages/disadvantages are of using either: Mini-ITX, Micro ATX, or ATX and which on would fit my needs the best.

3. Would like wither MB or Graphics card to have HDMI.

4. Like to connect computer to my receiver via Toshlink.

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe?? Not totally sure what these are and if it will benefit me???

MONITOR RESOLUTION: My monitor will be a Panasonic VIERA TH-42PX80U plasma TV its a 720p capable of up-converting to 1080i.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
:

1. I would like it to fairly quiet with a average power consumption.

2. Will on-board integrated graphics be enough for HD or will using a discrete graphics card display better?

3. I would like to connect to the TV via HDMI!

4. I want to thank everyone who is able to contribute, i could really use the help!

More about : advice budget htpc

Best solution

September 1, 2009 5:20:35 AM

For you requirements, an AMD rig would suit you best...

CPU - I chose this CPU because its a Tri-core and would be better than dual cores for converting videos and is a low TDP CPU - hence would utilize less power...
AMD Phenom II X3 705e
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo - Has the required HDMI and is a very good mobo...
ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM - A very good 4GB DDR3 kit...Go with 2Gb if you dont want 4GB for your usage...
OCZ Gold 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 CAS 7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE - It is a Mini tower case that can accommodate even an ATX mobo...And it can he placed horizontally or vertically...
COOLER MASTER Elite 360 RC-360
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU - Corsair 400CX - Has more than suffice power for that setup...It can also power even a HD 4850 just in case you wish to upgrade from the onboard graphics...It is about $30 after $20 Mail-In-Rebates
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD -
You would have to choose from these based on your requirements...
If you want speed and noise is not much of an issue, then get this HDD
WD Black 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

But if you are very much concerned about noise over speed, then any of these drives...
Samsung F3 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Seagate 1TB 7200.12
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you want OS, then get this combo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Total - ~$555 | $535 with rebates...
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September 1, 2009 6:25:16 AM

Both gkay and batchuka, you did a good job picking parts keeping power usage in mind.

The only part I might chime in on gkays build is the HDD. Get a LP or green flavor. This system will be on all the time and any spot you can chop power, the better.

If you do go with batuchkas build, it definately leaves room to get a blu-ray player for $70 or so and still come in under budget.
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September 1, 2009 6:36:10 AM

Well as for the HDD, that is the reason why I had suggested the 7200.12 and Samsung F3 drives...Those are little more efficient than the WD Black drives and have noise level comparable to the Green ones...
So you still get better performance comparable to the Blacks and noise levels and efficiency comparable to the Green series...So they are more of a balanced drives...

And the Green series and LP are more of backup/ Secondary drives rather than boot drives...
So I would still suggest F3/ 7200.12 over the Green/ LP ones for primary drives and when you want to increase the storage, you can get the Green/ LP ones...
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September 1, 2009 6:40:09 AM

This might be steering the topic a bit away but no one answered the part on how to record HD content from a cable top box. I'm also interested in doing that, is it possible?
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September 1, 2009 2:29:13 PM

I would not plan on recording too much unless you have good local OTA signal for HD. Cable TV providers are moving towards cablecards required to get HD channels and recording from a satellite provider in HD is not a good option. The long term prognosis for HTPC and TV recording only looks good for the free antenna channels.
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September 1, 2009 8:57:15 PM

This is awesome, thanks a bunch gkay09, batuchka, and skora! This definately the direction I needed. A question I have is what would be the difference in performance from the two systems, because I noticed the difference in price is about $200.

Thanks again
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September 1, 2009 9:01:11 PM

i agree with disco duck, it's not that cost effective to try to recreate with an HTPC what a settop box does for $5 a month.

I have an HTPC but I don't do any recording with it. I leave that to my DVR, which does a much better job of it.

My HTPC does a good job of letting me show my family and friends pics of the kids, watching downloaded episodes of shows I forget to record, DVD movies, eventually blueray movies when I get around to buying a bluray player/burner, and hulu.

May I suggest Antec's Verios which allows you to control your HTPC with a simple remote control. I can turn mine on (and off), launch the media player, and control the DVD controls from that simple little remote. I think for $20, every HTPC should have one. I have the basic version which takes up a 3.5 in bay. There's a $20 version that plugs into a USB port, and then there's more expensive versions with VFD or LCD displays.
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September 2, 2009 5:09:33 AM

@Benight27 the $200 difference between my build and batuchka's build is because of these...
1. OS - ~$100
2. 4GB RAM - ~ +$35
3. Tri-core instead of Dual core - ~ +$50
4. Combos not included
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September 23, 2009 7:28:07 PM

I've been doing some research the last couple of months on building a HTPC and I'm also new to this. Thanks Benight27 for asking the exact question that I had in mind and thanks to everybody for responding.

I do have an added question I'm hoping someone can answer. Is there a slightly cheaper solution, somewhere around a $200-$300 range. The only thing that I want to use my HTPC for is to stream 1080i or 1080p videos directly from the HTPC to my Samsung PN58B550. I have an ethernet cable coming directly from my router to my TV and what I'll be using to stream the vids and music is XBMC for windows.

Thoughts?

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September 24, 2009 12:12:45 PM

infamous09 said:
I do have an added question I'm hoping someone can answer. Is there a slightly cheaper solution, somewhere around a $200-$300 range. The only thing that I want to use my HTPC for is to stream 1080i or 1080p videos directly from the HTPC to my Samsung PN58B550. I have an ethernet cable coming directly from my router to my TV and what I'll be using to stream the vids and music is XBMC for windows.

Thoughts?


With a $200-300 budget, maybe you should consider a Popcorn Hour setup? As long as the media you want to stream is supported, that would be the least expensive way to go. Otherwise, you can consider a linux based low-end HTPC.
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September 24, 2009 12:56:29 PM

rwpritchett said:
With a $200-300 budget, maybe you should consider a Popcorn Hour setup? As long as the media you want to stream is supported, that would be the least expensive way to go. Otherwise, you can consider a linux based low-end HTPC.



Linux based low-end HTPC would be best, any suggestions?
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October 30, 2012 12:57:05 PM

I have bee n running MythTV for years now and would make a few critical recommendations: If you are going to stick with LINUX, do NOT get an ATI card. Nvidia is the only card where the drivers can offload the HD processing for perfect 1080p video our.

I've read a few commends on various sites that state the new Intel linux drivers are considerably better (for the newer HD4000) graphics than they use to be so that could be your next best option. (in fact, I've been trying to find someone that says that it really works). You will absolutely need the hardware decoding of the video out. Despite what you may also read, if you rely on the main CPU's do do the video decoding (i.e. in software) you will more than likely be disappointed as well. I had tried a quad core CPU and it wasn't even close to what my nvidio 430 could do. It stuttered constantly.

My third recommendation, if you can, go with LINUX. It is more complicated to get going but when you get their, it is more stable and needs less constant attention. I had tried media portal on win7 along side mythtv and after a month, gave it up. You may get it up and running sooner but in terms of the final 10%, forget it.

With Windows there are constant little things that are so friggen annoying (that you're family members can't really manage it)

And lastly, I have 3 HD tuners, two of them are from a networked HD Homerun (love it... simple and it gives a great picture). I also have an HD PVR connected to my DirecTV receiver via RGB cables (the HDPVR is connected to mythtv via a USB cable). Some would say the HD PVR isn't true HD because it is a 1080i recording but the quality is great (mostly because DirectV has the best picture). We just moved into an apartment as we are building a new house so we had to TimeWarer. The picture on some stations is just terrible. (not all) We're definitely going back to TimeWarner, (in fact I've kept my DirecTV reciever that was hooked to Mythtv because I know it allows me to change channels via a serial cable from mythtv.

Good luck and if you do try an Intel Graphics box, let me know how it goes.

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