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Advice on new HTPC build

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February 16, 2010 9:08:33 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP BUDGET RANGE: $750-$1000
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Waching/Streaming HD 1080p mkv files, Music,Pictures
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: TV Tuner
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.ca, Tigerdirect.ca, Canadacomputers.com -- CANADA
PARTS PREFERENCES: No preference. Looking for a nice HTPC case capable of 5-6 internal hard drives.
OVERCLOCKING: No SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No
MONITOR RESOLUTION: Will be using LCD TV
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Current setup: I'm currently running my main workstation in my office. Dual Quadcore Xeon 5345s, 12GB RAM, Windows 7 ultimate 64Bit, OS drive (dual solid state RAID 1), Storage (4x 1.5TB JBOD). Currently all my media files reside on my 4 storage drives. The workstation is currently responsible for streaming media to a PS3 and 2x Xbox 360s in multiple rooms in the house using both PS3 Media Server and Tveristy. Entire network is wired via Ethernet over Power adapters. Current setup works great but having my monster workstation on all times turns my office into a fairly loud sauna. The goal is to seperate the "everyday PC use" and the "media use" so I don' thave to have my workstation on at all times.. I'm looking at setting up an HTPC in my main living room and moving my 4 Storage drives off my main workstation. I'd like to build an HTPC with enough horsepower to stream 1080p MKVs with DTS HD (home receiver will handle DTS encoding). Now I'm stuck on what I should do with my actualy storage. Do I buy a larger HTPC case capable of 6 drives (for growth) and point my PS3/Xbox 360s to those shared drives and leave the HTPC on at all times....or...do I build more of a slimline HTPC and purchase some type of Nas enclosure which resides on my network. The obstacle I face with the Nas enclosure is that it needs to be DLNA capable so the consoles can see it on the network as upposed to turning on a computer to mount the nas volumes. The nas device also needs to be able to house at least 4+ drives. Or 4 drives and the ability to daisy chain USB or esata enclusures off it.

Looking for recommendations around a nice HTPC case, Mobo with HDMI/Optical out, Do I need a video card if onboard HDMI will handle? Do I need a sound card if onboard Optical will handle? Thinking of the Dinovo bluetooth keyobard for control unless anyone has a better idea. Power supply? 500W?

Am I approaching this project incorretly all together? Any freshcreative ideas are welcome.

More about : advice htpc build

Best solution

February 16, 2010 9:27:26 PM

Silverstone makes HTPC cases with a lot of 3.5" internal slots. Here's a list of Silverstone HTPC cases that have 6 internal 3.5" slots:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=EN...

Here's a nice CPU + motherboard combo:

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Item... $249.98 (Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz + GIGABYTE GA-H57M-USB3 combo)

The motherboard in the above combo has HDMI output, 8 channel sound, and 7 SATA slots, so it will work great for your intended use.

Here's some CAS 8 DDR3 1333 RAM that would work just fine for this build.

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK - Retail $114.99

I would use a PSU that has at least an 80+ Bronze rating since this system is likely to be powered on all the time. You don't need a PSU with a high wattage rating to run a system with integrated graphics. The higher the rating, the less energy is wasted as heat output.

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $49.99

or

Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS 12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $79.99

You don't need a graphics card or sound card for this build. The onboard video and sound will work fine.
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February 16, 2010 11:12:48 PM

Thanks for the recommendations. I was actually leaning towards the i3 too. Now..in terms of fans in both the case and PSU. Will this be a relitively quiet setup or will it drown out the Movie ...
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February 17, 2010 3:01:39 AM

I think you would just be shifting the problem
from your office to your living room if you moved your HDDs there.
I would approach the problem completely differently by
putting the HDDs in a NAS in
the basement. Something like this:

$389.99 Acer Aspire Easystore H340 Intel Atom 1.6Ghz 2GB 1TB GBLAN 4 Bay Hotswap Windows Home Server - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This server cannot do on-the-fly transcoding.


A High-Def front-end cpu does not have to be powerful as long as the graphics chip is fast. Even an
energy-efficient (and quiet) Intel Atom chip is fast enough to handle High-Def if it is matched with
something like the Nvidia ION graphics chipset.

Front-end video player:
$200 Acer Aspire Revo AR1600-U910H Intel Atom 230(1.6GHz) 1GB DDR2 160GB NVIDIA ION LE graphics Windows XP Home
http://www.buy.com/prod/212195496.html
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It comes with 7.1 channel audio if you use the hdmi port, or stereo if you use the 3.5mm audio jack.

If you're more interested in wireless, there's a more expensive version:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ION Review: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-ion-htpc,232...

I'm not sure why you mentioned "optical out" because toslink does not have enough bandwidth to handle DTS-HD.

Video can be played with Windows Media Center, Media Player Classic Home Cinema or PowerDVD 9. If you want to watch Flash videos, install
the Adobe 10.1 Flash Player.

Auxiliary software for the front-end:

$10 CoreAVC
http://corecodec.com/products/coreavc

PowerDVD 9
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd/overview_en_...

ffdshow tryouts
http://ffdshow-tryout.sourceforge.net/
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February 17, 2010 3:27:52 AM

unfortunately the Aspire won't work. I need on the fly transoding for the xbox 360's
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February 17, 2010 3:38:43 AM

in regards to your comment around toslink, will the mobo onboard HDMI handle both 1080p and DTS HD? will be directly connected to my receiver which supports DTS HD.
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February 17, 2010 3:47:33 AM

Modern onboard HDMI has enough bandwidth for DTS HD. The video would have to be decoded by something like PowerDVD 9 to get DTS HD and then sent to your a/v receiver over hdmi. If you don't decode the audio stream first, it will probably be down-converted to 5.1 channel audio.

It's explained better here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-ion-htpc,232...
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February 17, 2010 8:51:03 PM

Looks good ...I think it's time to start shopping.

Thanks everyone.
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February 18, 2010 4:49:36 AM

Best answer selected by groides.
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March 7, 2010 5:34:50 PM

A little update - I went and purchased a Silverstone case. before purchasing a new mobo, chip, memory etc I installed an older board and a couple drives to test sound...vanekl was right. All I did was move the problem to my living room. I returned the case and went and purchased the Acer Easystore H340 appliance, runs nice and quiet and I've moved my 1.5TB drives along with my data over to this box. Took damn long over Gbe but the job is now done. I'm now considering the next step of purchasing the Acer Revo fron end. Question is....I see various models with the R1600 being the bottom of the barrel....although this still runs the nVidia ion chip will it handle 1080p and DTS? or do I need to go go the higher end version?
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March 7, 2010 6:16:36 PM

The R1600 is powerful enough to handle 1080p as long as you also get the optimized codecs (listed in an earlier post above). The graphics chipset does most of the work (Nvidia ION).
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March 8, 2010 2:16:02 PM

Although it'll handle 1080p content what will the Window's/XBMC experience be like? I'm running almost 6TB of Media through the library. Will the interface be sugglish when navigating through the content?
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March 8, 2010 4:43:29 PM

It wont be anything like your dual quadcore xeon, so, yes, it will feel sluggish.

The only thing that will slow xbmc down are all the thumbnail images. If you need xbmc to be super-fast, the acer revo is a poor choice. It has enough RAM and disk to work as a front-end, but it's not the same as a typical desktop system. Most people would consider it fast enough if used only as a media center front-end, though.

I would probably crack the clamshell open and add memory so that the thumbnails are cached in RAM.
I you find an empty memory slot then something like this would work,
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If both slots are filled then the existing RAM would have to be discarded and replaced with something like this,
http://www.crucial.com/upgrade/compatible-memory-for/Ac...
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March 9, 2010 12:09:24 AM

So..used one of my contacts at Besbuy and picked up the 3610 Revo for 229.00

DualCore Atom, 4GB of Ram and a 500GB HDD. Setting it up now...not too bad actually.
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March 12, 2010 12:40:23 AM

Update again. Revo is setup on the front end. When loading the video within XBMC anything 720p and up is rather choppy. When I open the same 720p file in windows media Player everything is perfect. It appears that when I open the file in WMP it aso loads Haalli media splitter and FFDshow in the task bar. How do I get XBMC to load these 2 items when playing a video through this interface? help!!
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