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Newbe need help on system build vs. pre-built

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January 19, 2010 10:48:51 PM

Hi Everyone,

I signed up for Att U-verse a few weeks ago and shut it down after a week. Liked a lot of the features but the HD picture was pretty bad compared to my Comcast HD.

But even just a week of whole house DVR and linked TV's was enough to make me need to do something different. I have decided to build a HTPC, install SageTV and SageTV extenders around the house.

Today I found this refurbished HP for $580 and, for the price, thought it might make better sense than building a box from scratch.

see: http://www.frys.com/product/6032608

Refurbished - HP e9120y Refurbished Desktop
Operating System - Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium with Windows Media Center 64bit w/ SP1 (free upgrade to Windows 7)
Processor - AMD® Phenom II 910 X4 Processor
Processor Speed - 2.6 GHz
Bus Speed - 4000 MHz HyperTransport 3.0
Memory - 8GB DDR3
Video Graphics - ATI Radeon HD4350 512MB DDR2 Memory
Hard Drive - 1TB Hard Drive (SATA)
Optical Drive - SuperMulti DVD Burner with LightScribe Technology & Blu Ray Player
Card Reader - 15-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader (SD, MMC, RS-MMC, MS, MS Pro/Duo, Pro Duo, SM, xD, mini SD, CF I/II, MD, MMC Mobile, MMC+
Audio - ALC888S chipset, High Definition Surround Sound Capable, 7.1 channels
Network - 10/100/1000 Ethernet (RJ-45)
Wireless Network - 802.11 a/b/g/n
Keyboard - HP multimedia keyboard
Mouse - HP PS/2 optical mouse
Warranty - 90 days limited warranty

I figure if I add a CETON Multi-Tuner CableCard ($399, due out by the end of 1st quarter 2010), I should have one heck of a system. http://www.cetoncorp.com/products.php

But, I am new to this and probably missing something. Would love someone's opinion who knows more about this stuff than I do. Also, is there anything else this box would need? Would be good to know too as additional hardware might make it cost prohibitive.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts/opinions.

AC
January 20, 2010 12:11:25 PM

The pc is a bit expensive, especially if it's a refurb. The only thing going for a prebuilt pc is the OS which commands for $100+ OEM.

you can build a $600 HTPC with BETTER quality parts from newegg.
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January 20, 2010 12:20:43 PM

Case: Antec P180
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: Asus 785G
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Power Supply: Corsair 400
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Processor: Phenom II X4 955 Black
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBRL - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Blu-Ray: LG Blu-Ray reader
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Burner: LG DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint 500 GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total $666.92


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January 20, 2010 1:13:03 PM

Thanks p55,

Good to know. Since the cable card I want is not out yet, I've got time to do figure out what to do and pick the right parts. I've already got a copy of XP pro as OS, which will be fine since I'm using a 3rd party "media center" software.

Thanks for your reply.

AC
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January 20, 2010 1:18:26 PM

Thanks too evongugg, especially for taking the time to put together a build list. Looks like a pretty good build except may have to beef up the graphics a bit :-)

AC
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January 20, 2010 1:25:54 PM

Why would you need to beef up the graphics? Are you also planning on gaming on your HTPC? If not, the integrated HD 4200 GPU on the 785G board is plenty for HD content. It's nearly as powerful as the 4350 in the HP. 785G boards are very commonly used in HTPC's because they offer a low-cost choice for full HD.
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January 20, 2010 3:39:49 PM

Thanks shortstuff_mt, good to know.

Actually, it was an assumption on my part since this is going to be a whole house system and very likely serving up 2 or 3 HD feeds at a time. But then again, all the remote sets will be on a 10/100/1000 network, not coming off the graphics port/card.

This is a new project for me and have not researched all the "parts" yet so your input is much appreciated. I did read somewhere that the CPU and RAM were most important for a network type set up - 1 core and 1 GB per tuner. Hmmm, will have to learn as much about this as I can before moving forward.

Thanks again for your help!

AC
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January 20, 2010 4:17:29 PM

You don't necessarily have to have a core and 1GB per tuner. My HTPC has four tuners and works great with a 3.2GHz dual core and 4GB of RAM. I'm able to record four shows at once. I'm using an Xbox 360 as a Media Center Extender. I'm able to simultaneously watch HD content on both the HTPC and Xbox at the same time with my lowly dual core system and ancient HD2600XT GPU.
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