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Future proof HTPC

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November 11, 2009 1:37:12 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: from now until mid december

BUDGET RANGE: around 1500 CANADIAN, but not a huge issue

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: The main idea for the use of this system would be as a htpc (tv tunner (maybe dual and/or video capture ability), decent video card possibly with hdmi, storage space, and my understanding the onboard video of the lastest boards are sufficient).
On top of this system being used as a HTPC, I will also be using it as my main workstation. Which would include document processing, web browsing, file downloading, audio/video streaming, and using VMWare running multiple VMs for educational purposes. I do not plan on using this system for much gaming.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, monitor, and speakers are not necessary. I would be interested in advice on a wireless keyboard that has the capabilities of a mouse.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Preferably Canadian sites, but I'm sure most people on here wouldn't have many Canadian sites in mind for me so of course I'll deal with that.

PARTS PREFERENCES: The parts I have selected (but not purchased or set on) so far are:

Intel Core i7 920 due to recent price drops.

Might just stick with the stock CPU cooler for now unless if you think otherwise..?

ASUS P6T SE because it's on the cheaper side and it appears to still have decent performance. Is this a wise choice?
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=10530BD4302

Patriot Extreme Viper PVT36G1600LLK 6GB I have found good reviews on this memory kit. Any opinions? There's too many kits out there for me to make a decision.
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=13410BD4701

Possibly the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR2250 tv tuner card as it has dual tuners and video capture capabilities. Any other suggestions?
http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item...

Two Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB drives in a RAID 0.

I'm interested in a modular power supply, but I really don't know what wattage I would require.

Eventually I plan on upgrading to a full ATX HTPC case, but for now I'm just looking for a temporary cheaper case with sufficient cooling.

Probably just picking up an average DVD drive with DL burning.

I am unsure of what video card to get. As gaming is not a priority I don't see the need in putting a lot of cash into a card. Of course, with it being mainly for watching movies and TV, picture quality is a must. It would make sense to have HDMI capabilities (whether an actual port or with an adapter from DVI, assuming there isn't any loss in quality). Dual monitors is also a must. Originally I don't plan on any Crossfire or SLI setup and I don't think I would really benefit from it without having gaming in mind, right?


OVERCLOCKING: Maybe at some point, but not something I know a lot about


Any opinions, suggestions, or comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Brian

More about : future proof htpc

November 11, 2009 2:16:32 AM

Hi Brian,

Personally I think i7 920 is overkill.

Here's my suggestion:

Antec P183 case - it's almost slient and looks very good plus it offers 4 x 5.25in, 6 x 3.5in and even 1 hotswap 3.5in, also comes with front eSata and the door closes to conceal power & reset button which is good for always on systems

P55 + Core i5 750, enough CPU, USB, SATA & eSATA ports to satisfy most people

CPU cooler, might want to go for an aftermarket one with low noise

4GB G Skill Ripjaws will be enough

For GPU, I'd go for a Nvidia 9600GT green version silent 59W max power and enough power for some light gaming.

DVD drive or maybe a Bluray drive

Raid 0 might be a bit dangerous, if you can go for a Raid 5, ie you need at least 3 HDD. WD Caviar Green should be a good choice.

You don't need a massive PSU a good brand in the region of 400W is way enough.

Then add 1 or more TV tuners and you are set


cheers
November 11, 2009 2:31:38 AM

Great, I really appreciate your opinion. That case looks great. Something I'll be considering, but I think I'll still be looking around for something a bit cheaper.

My reasoning for going with the 1366 socket as oppose to the 1156 socket is because my main concern is this system to be future proof when it comes to future upgrades. From what I've seen through some research is that when the i9 eventually comes out, it will use the 1366 socket and not the 1156. For all I know this could be wrong..

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November 11, 2009 2:43:26 AM

I would even drop your HTPC down to a dual core unless you plan on encoding video using x.264 codec.

The HD 4650 is a good video card for video output, it's cheap, pretty low power consumption and some are passively cooled.

A 450w good quality PSU should be fine (Seasonic, Corsair, PC Power & Cooling) and that provides a good margin for upgrades like lots of hard drives.

If you value data integrity then avoid RAID 0. RAID 1 is a simple solution, RAID 5 is another more complex option. Not sure off the top of my head if WD Green drives are rated for RAID configuration; I think initially there were issues, but I don't know about now.

There has been talk about cable companies eliminating QAM broadcasts; that basic means eliminating non encoded channels (aka clear channels). That means current generation capture cards can be put out the pasture in the near future. Something for you to research.

As for Blu-Ray drives, you don't seem to be in a rush so if you can wait. That 'cause it seems Blu-Ray are still in the "teething" stage. It's not uncommon that a standalone BR player needs it's firmware to be upgraded to keep up with copy protection / disc format specs.







November 11, 2009 2:25:55 PM

Good advice above.

For a PSU, I'll add a recommendation for the modular Enermax Liberty line. They are modular, have good amps, and are very quiet. The 400W model is a good one for HTPC use (30A on 12V too).

Do some research on the Ceton CableCards that are due out in 1Q 2010. ATSC tuners out right now are good for OTA digital TV. Your location and local cable company will determine what clear-QAM channels you can get through cable at this time but as pointed out above, cable providers are considering encrypting all channels.

If you do go blu-ray, don't forget to keep room in your budget for playback software (TMT 3, PowerDVD, etc.)
November 11, 2009 10:14:35 PM

If you are going to watch movies with a computer then you will want a quality silent case, nothing will annoy you more during quiet bits of movies and all you hear is your CPU humming.

Agree with Jaguar, even a dual core is enough for your purposes. EG. on my Pentium Dual Core E6300, watching 1 HD TV, downloading torrents and stream 2 movies to my housemates only takes up 25% CPU. i9 would just be a big waste of resources. That said, I'd still prefer i5 because P55 boards are just slightly more than P45 boards and quad core i5 would be uses when you want to compress your overly large TV files into smaller formats.
November 11, 2009 10:18:55 PM

Also in terms of RAID, RAID 1 mirror will probably offer better read performance than RAID 0.
November 11, 2009 11:27:18 PM

if u wanted future-proof u have the right idea bro... but look into sound and video as that is what is most important here.
November 13, 2009 4:06:51 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions.
I know I'm sure I could go with a P45 board and it was suffice for what I'm looking to do right now, but the idea here is to build an up-to-date system that I can upgrade as I wish down the road. From my research, it appears as though Intel will be putting more of their focus on the x58 boards as oppose to the P55.

I've been doing some research on the tuner card issue you raised jaguarskx. I see your point. Something I might just wait out for. It also appears that PC tuner cards are far less worth it in Canada (my location) compared to the US. I guess cable companies do things a bit differently here.
November 17, 2009 3:17:56 AM

rwpritchett said:
Good advice above.

For a PSU, I'll add a recommendation for the modular Enermax Liberty line. They are modular, have good amps, and are very quiet. The 400W model is a good one for HTPC use (30A on 12V too).

Do some research on the Ceton CableCards that are due out in 1Q 2010. ATSC tuners out right now are good for OTA digital TV. Your location and local cable company will determine what clear-QAM channels you can get through cable at this time but as pointed out above, cable providers are considering encrypting all channels.

If you do go blu-ray, don't forget to keep room in your budget for playback software (TMT 3, PowerDVD, etc.)



Checked out the Liberty line, but not sure what PSU is compatible with my motherboard. I've decided to stick with the original plan (i7 920) for the most part.

Is this one http://www.canadacomputers.com/?do=ShowProduct&cmd=pd&p... ?
!