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Noob trying to build budget HTPC

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 27, 2009 7:17:26 PM

Hello, I'm a noob HTPC builder and wanted to know if these specs would work for an HTPC. I've built PC's in the past, but this HTPC stuff is going over my head. I will be re-using and old PC to complete this build. Your responses would be greatly appreciated!!!!

Purpose:

Want to be able to record Comcast HD Cable TV and On Demand content, play Blu-ray movies, and watch Hulu HD through browser. I don't plan on playing games on it.

Specs:

Case: ??? Very quiet? A remote with this would be awesome.... if possible.
CPU Fan: ??? Very quiet?
Graphics card: Radeon HD 5770/5750? I think this is overkill... but Tom's Hardware says it's good for TrueHD/DTS-HD Bitstreaming... whatever that means.

Optical Drive: Blu-Ray reader and DVD-R/RW.
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6750 2.66 GHz
RAM: 2 x 2 GB PC 6400
Hard Drive: 320 GB 7200 RPM SATA
Motherboard: Asus P5k
Power: 450 W

Peripherals:

TV: 50" 1080i HDTV
Sound card, speakers, and receiver system: ??? I know absolutely nothing about sound and receivers. What should I be looking for a budget home theater sound experience?
Wireless keyboard and mouse and remote: I'd like it if there was a ball track or touch pad integrated into the keyboard. Remote would be great too!

Software:

OS: Windows 7 x64 Ultimate, unless there is a media center edition I'm not aware of.
Programs: ??? Do I need any special software to make this build work? Like PowerDVD 9?

More about : noob build budget htpc

October 27, 2009 8:28:34 PM

We'll need a budget before anyone can suggest anything. HTPC cases can be anywhere from $50 to $700.

For your OS question, Windows 7 Home Premium is the version you want. Don't get Ultimate.

For blu-ray, yes you will need 3rd party software like PowerDVD 9. I personally prefer Arcsofts Total Media Theatre 3 Platinum which integrates wonderfully with windows media center.
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October 28, 2009 7:38:40 PM

Ah, OK. I'm thinking about spending around $1000 - $1500 ... I'm assuming that the current specs will be powerful enough to do HD recording and playback.

You're right, I should have been more specific. I just did a lot more research and the new parts that I'm thinking of purchasing are...

Case: ($150) LIAN LI Black Aluminum PC-C32B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics Card: ($133) Radeon HD 5750 1GB 128-bit GDDR5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Blu-Ray Reader: ($100)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS: ($110) Windows 7 Home Premium OEM 64-bit

Receiver: ($600) Onkyo-TX-SR706
http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-TX-SR706-Channel-Theater-Re...

Speakers: ($250) Polk Audio RM6750 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System (Set of Six, Black)
http://www.amazon.com/Polk-Audio-Channel-Theater-Speake...








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October 28, 2009 8:08:26 PM

Everything looks good. A few pointers:

Quiet CPU cooler: Check out frostytech for a top 10 list of quiet coolers or you can check out their archives for whatever cooler you want and how it is rated thermally and acoustically.

You still need a remote, add another ~$30 for a Microsoft MCE remote, or select a different case that has a bundled remote. Maybe one of the Silverstone cases? Your case price plus $30 ups your case budget up to ~$180.

Wireless keyboard: there are some good suggestions on this thread. I personally use the Moncaso MK700. It's only $30.

If you don't plan on playing games, maybe drop your video card down a bit, though it is nice that the HD5xxx cards bitstream HD audio through HDMI. Cheaper low-end HD5xxx cards will be out 1Q 2010 if you can get by with LPCM or DD/DTS for now.

Recording HD television eats up about 8GB per hour so you may need to look at getting a large media drive to supplement that 320GB HDD. For recording, you will need a tuner or you can wait until 2010 when Ceton releases their PC cable cards. The HD tuner cards available right now only pick up over-the-air channels and clear-QAM channels through cable (no on-demand).
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October 29, 2009 12:42:01 AM

Great, thanks for the input!

Quiet CPU Cooler: I'll definitely check those links out.

I actually found a TV Tuner that comes bundled with a MCE remote:

Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250 Dual TV Tuner / Encoder 1229
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

However, I have some further questions...

1) Can I record Comcast HD now that everything's been transitioned to digital?

So, my understanding is that clear-QAM signals are becoming less and less available through Comcast. Would that make this card obselete, and therefore unable to record any Comcast content?

2) OTA HD..?

From what I understand, OTA HD basically provides local HD content for the local town. So essentially, this will be about 20 or less channels, correct? I can at least record shows via OTA HD, right? This will be another fun project setting up the antenna.... would you know of any links or guides on how to do this?

3) Windows 7 MCE capabilities for recording?

I was (ideally) going to use my future Desktop with 5 640 GB RAID 5 hard drives, for recording. Can I use the HTPC as a "middle man" and just have a throughput straight to my Desktop?

4) How long have you had your Moncaso MK700? Has it been working fine for you? Did you order straight from that company that you linked to me? I'm actually looking at the diNovo Edge... but holy crap it's $135??

5) How are you so awesome at answering?!?!

Thanks!!!!
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