My First HTPC build. Any and all help please.

Hi All,

Thanks for taking a moment to help me.

I am going to build my first home theater PC. I have some ideas about what I need it to do. I have picked out some hardware that might work. If you see a problem or have a better idea, please let me know. Sorry if post is long.. I don't want to leave anything out. :)

HTPC Goal:

Run absolutely quiet. No fans.
HDMI out 1080p
Stream Netflix
Stream HULU
Stream Blu-Ray in 1080p
Stream all this wireless to my 47"LCD

My HTPC will be set up next to my TV.
I will install Linux onto the small drive. (maybe SSD for quiet)
On top of Linux, install XBMC

Here is the layout..and how I envision this to work.

1. I will backup my Blu-Ray, DVD, MP3's to a NAS that is attached(cat5) to my wireless g router located upstairs.
2. The NAS will have a wireless n dongle on it, broadcasting to the HTPC
3. The Home Theater PC will be wireless n (usb n)
4. The HT will be running Linux (my first time) and XBMC with the Aeon skin.
5. The HT will connect to my A/V receiver through HDMI.

I think that sums up what I want it to do.
Here is a list of the components I put together.

Home Theater Case ( LIAN LI Black Aluminum HTPC Case )
Power Supply with no fan (FSP Group ZEN 400 400W ATX 2.2V)
Intel Celeron CPU (Intel Celeron 430 Conroe-L 1.8GHz)
Gigabyte motherboard (GIGABYTE GA-G41M-ES2H LGA 775 Intel)
Passive cooled CPU Heatsink (Swiftech MCX775-V CPU Cooling Heatsink)
Western Digital HDD (Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache)
Oh, and this for MB memory(OCZ Gold GX XTC 1GB (2 x 512MB)

Can I use the on board graphics and use the MB HDMI or should I get graphic card that is passive cooled with HDMI out?

Would it be easier to just use an external HDD instead of a NAS?

So I believe this is about it. Take a look and let me know.

Thank You
7 answers Last reply
More about htpc build please

  1. Blu Ray ODD if needed?
  2. batuchka said:

    Are you saying put a Blu-Ray into my desktop PC? If I put the BR into the desktop ( much more power there ) I can crunch the BR much quicker.
    If I put it into the HTPC would it take up room and be duplicating my main PC?

    Sorry, I forgot to mention, I just bought a LG 390 Blu Ray player.
  3. I think everything is fine, but it'll be better to use iSCSI SAN instead of NAS. As for me it's easier and more useful. You can use this tool to test it
  4. I would never attempt to stream bluray content over wifi, and I dont think that cpu will be strong enough for HD decode.

    my 2 cents
  5. I wouldn't get caught up in trying to make it silent. You'll drive yourself nuts and have to compromise on parts that may fail.

    I would recommend using very quiet parts instead of totally silent ones. Once you are playing any media at all, the sound of the pc will not be heard. If you pick good solid performers you won't have to replace them before their time.

    Also, bear in mind that you probably are not sitting right next to the thing. If you're 5 feet away you should be fine.

    Seriously. I spent a lot of money and time trying to make my HTPC totally silent. It is only possible if you're prepared to deal with replacing parts regularly. And in the end you won't even hear the difference.

    My HTPC uses:

    - Corsair HX520 PSU - one fan but really quiet (I used to have Antec Phantom 500 - failed after 6months)
    - E5300 CPU with Zalman cooler (fan set to min speed)
    - ATI HD2600XT with Zalman cooler (fan set to Auto)
    - 2x scythe S-flex 120mm case fans
    - 1TB WD 7200 RPM
    - 2X tv tuners
    - ASUS Xonar D2X sound card
    - LG Blu-ray drive

    I use wired network conection, but wireless is just the same. Never tried streaming blu-ray, I just put a blu-ray drive in the HTPC. Blu-ray content is too large to backup to HDD right now. I only own a few of the discs anyway. I did backup my 100+ regular DVDs though.

    As for cases, they can be a big compromise. Right now I have the nMediaPC wooden antique radio style case and its great, but have used Silverstone LC-16M (size is an issue for full size GFX cards) as well as Antec P180B tower and for a while an Antec 900. The Antec cases are great but are too industrial for a sitting room environment. Found the Silverstone to be noisy (poor HDD mounting system) and overpriced.

    Just my thoughts. enjoy and good luck.
  6. Sorry I could not reply. I have been pretty busy.

    So here is where I am now. I will not be streaming the Blu Ray. I want fluid movies so I will keep the HDD inside the HTPC.

    I will go with a full sized HT case. I think this one should be ok SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum

    I still want quiet but realize it won't be silent :cry:

    Does anyone have an idea on ATX motherboard and CPU that can run 1080p, stream hulu and netflix? Quieter the better.

    I still need a video card that can do the above as well ad put out in HDMI.

    Also, i am looking for expandability. I will be putting in a 1 Tb drive but when it gets full, I want to just plop another TB sata drive in the case.

    If I did not mention it, this will be my first Linux install and I will be running XBMC on top of that.
  7. Can't speak to the Linux thing. I have dabbled with Ubuntu but don't have the time to really learn the OS.

    As far as a CPU & MOBO for 1080p, I think the requirements are very minimal. The 1080p / blu-ray should all be handled by the GPU, whether on-board or in a discrete graphics card.

    In the past I just used an ATI HD2600XT 512MB card and it decodes blu-ray just fine. It didn't have HDMI but it came with an adaptor for DVI-HDMI.

    I think you could stream the blu-ray from another pc, but not over wireless g. 1080p requires about 50MBps I think, when you include the audio channels too. This is pretty close to the limit of 802.11g. With wireless "n" you may be ok though. I have no experience of this. However if you are wired to your network you should be fine.

    As for streaming from Hulu etc.... this is down to network infrastructure. Most motherboards have Gigabit ethernet nowadays, but this is irrelevent (to your purpose) anyway as most people don't have gigabit internet access. The quality of your streaming video will be less than blu-ray and will be limited by your internet bandwidth. Wireless "g" at 54MBps is usually much higher speed than the internet most people have. In a nutshell - this requirement should be no problem to meet with virtually any motherboard.

    My motherboards are all long-in-the-tooth now but I will post them for your info. They all do what you say you need but they are older systems by today's standards:

    - ASUS P5-B Deluxe Wi-Fi (Intel LGA775, Intel 965) (Old HTPC, now backup machine)
    - Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 (Intel LGA775, Intel P45) (Current HTPC)
    - Zotac 9300 (Intel LGA775, Nvidia 630i) (Home server)

    CPUs I have used:

    Intel E6600 (LGA 775)
    Intel Q6600 (LGA 775)
    Intel E5300 (LGA 775)

    All three are more than adequate for all the HTPC tasks I have ever thrown at them.
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