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Building a new budget HTPC

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January 26, 2010 3:09:58 PM

Hello all,

I am building a HTPC for the first time and could use some suggestions about the build if you would be so kind. I do not have a set budget but want to go as inexpensive as possible without sacrificing functionality.

The primary uses for this machine will be playing movies and HD movies (1080p mostly) from my storage computer wirelessly, or via the internal hard drive. I will also be playing dvd's and if it won't affect playback I will download torrents on this machine. Oh, and streaming Hulu, youtube, fancast etc.

I am also unsure what interface to use, should I have Windows 7 and use the media center or is there something better that will still work well with a remote?

Any suggestions as to the configuration would be appreciated.

More about : building budget htpc

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 3:12:36 PM

Might want to look at the guidelines from the link in my signature. We need a budget at least...

I would recommend starting with an i3 CPU. It's the perfect HTPC CPU. After that, we're really going to need a budget and whether or not you require the case to be an HTPC case, or if it has to be a micro ATX case or not.
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January 26, 2010 3:26:26 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: 1 month from now

Budget Range: $600 or less is preferred, I will go higher if necessary. I avoid rebates like the plague

System Usage From Most To Least Important: Streaming HD Movies, Watching HD Movies, Playing DVD's, Background Torrent Downloading.

Parts Not Required: Monitor (I will be using my 32" HD TV), Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers

Preferred Website(s) For Parts: No preference, I am in the US.

Parts Preferences: I like Intel and I would like to use an HTPC case

Overclocking: No SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Quiet, Low Heat, Understated (As in; not noticably a pc, could be random home theatre equipment)
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Best solution

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 3:36:16 PM
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January 26, 2010 3:43:33 PM




Wonderful! You have been more helpful in 30 minutes than was my 3 days of researching this, you have my thanks :D 

I am unclear on how I will be able to work the use of a remote control into this setup, and what interface I should use to access my media, any input to offer there?
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 3:46:10 PM

I have no idea. I've got an HTPC, and I just use a wireless mouse and keyboard.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 3:54:55 PM

One comment... If you plan on wanting to watch HD/Blu-ray movies through the DVD player, you might want to add the LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader to give you that ability.

If you are wanting to use a remote, I would look to add a TV tuner and run your cable/satellite through the HTPC. You can get a good one for about $80 from Newegg.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 4:04:58 PM

AMD HTPC build:
dual core athlon ii: 50-60
785 chipset motherboard with better graphics than the other one: ~$80
Same RAM: $110
didn't know you needed that much storage, but same hard drive: $90 (my HTPC just has an old 160 gig drive, since the file server and the internet does the rest)
Same case/PSU : $130
We got the cheapest blu-ray player which at the time was : $50
Total: $510

I also just use a wireless keyboard/mouse. Though I got that with the first incarnation which was running linux and I'm betting remotes dont work too well in linux.
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January 26, 2010 4:27:24 PM

tecmo34 said:
One comment... If you plan on wanting to watch HD/Blu-ray movies through the DVD player, you might want to add the LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader to give you that ability.

If you are wanting to use a remote, I would look to add a TV tuner and run your cable/satellite through the HTPC. You can get a good one for about $80 from Newegg.


Thanks, I will look into the Blu-Ray Disc Reader. Is it possible to route the DirecTV through a tuner on the HTPC including the HD content?
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 4:29:58 PM

You might be out of luck then. Typically, the box in front of the TV tends to mess up plans to record programs from the signal.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 5:11:01 PM

Just throwing in some HTPC tips.

I would reconsider streaming 1080p over wireless. Even with 802.11n you will probably have stutter. Go for wired gigabit if you can.

For the media, check our Media Browser. It's a free app for organizing (and showing off) your media that is very customizable and integrates seamlessly with Windows Media Center. I'll also recommend meta<browser> to get your meta data, and Stark Covers to give your movie folders that "Wow!" factor. Also, try out Xzener's icons for your folders.

Good luck with your project.

Media Browser with Xzener's Icons:


Media Browser with Starks Covers:

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a b B Homebuilt system
January 26, 2010 5:11:19 PM

You can do that. But it's much easier to just set universal remotes to switch inputs. We were looking at doing that to go from their plain DVR to just the HD receiver, but it was more expensive and had less features (especially the loss of the second tuner). On top of the fact that the HD monthly charge would be there either way, we just went with the HD DVR.
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January 26, 2010 7:24:01 PM

rwpritchett said:
Just throwing in some HTPC tips.

I would reconsider streaming 1080p over wireless. Even with 802.11n you will probably have stutter. Go for wired gigabit if you can.

For the media, check our Media Browser. It's a free app for organizing (and showing off) your media that is very customizable and integrates seamlessly with Windows Media Center. I'll also recommend meta<browser> to get your meta data, and Stark Covers to give your movie folders that "Wow!" factor. Also, try out Xzener's icons for your folders.

Good luck with your project.

Media Browser with Xzener's Icons:
http://wickedklown.host56.com/OCF/media%20browser.jpg

Media Browser with Starks Covers:
http://wickedklown.host56.com/OCF/stark%20covers.jpg


Thanks, I think those links will help a lot, I do need to organize the movie and TV show files I have. I was thinking of using XBMC instead of Media Center, I played with it a little and it seems to work well. Any thoughts?
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February 10, 2010 4:05:43 AM

Just reading through here and trying to absorb all of the information.

I watch mostly Comcast TV series like Bones, CSI, etc..
Some of these shows are available with Comcast on Demand for free.
Well, included in the monthly charge anyway.
Other than that we subscribe to Netflix and just rent movies there.
I like the idea of watching the shows we like on our schedule rather than trying to fit the broadcast schedule. Esp for show that are not available on Comcast On Demand.

So, I have been trying to figure out the best way to rig up a inexpensive method to save the streaming video of shows that we don't get with Comcast on Demand. Like the "Bones" series that are available on the Internet. I have set up my old wireless laptop and wired it into our TV and Sound system and it works OK but kind of laggy sometimes. Characters on the TV screen freeze at times. Acts pretty much the same when I attach the CAT5 cable to it. Thought if there was some way to cache the video, buy a htpc setup or build one to do this? Or would that be overkill for what I am trying to do? I don't really need BR or the ability to copy anything to DVDs etc..

My laptop is about 5 years old, single processor, 1.5 GB speed, about a Gig of memory, had a nice (though dated now) gaming video card and a decent size hard drive. But not sure how long it will keep running or how well it can do this job. I also have a few spare PCs but they are older still and probably not up to speed for doing something like this.

Looked at the Dell Zino. Stripped one starts at just over $200. But by the time I add a TV tuner and all the other upgrades the price climbs close to $1K (U.S.). Seems a bit over the top for what I want to do. I might be supercharging the options way more than I need to though. Dual processor, Terrabyte hard drive, 4 GB memory, etc..

How basic can I go if I build my own HTPC and get the most bang for the buck for what I am trying to accomplish? Any suggestions appreciated.

Thanks, Galtha48
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a b B Homebuilt system
February 11, 2010 12:12:05 AM

Well that sounds like your internet is probably too slow to me.
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February 18, 2010 1:55:08 AM

Best answer selected by r_manic.
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!