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Working on an HTPC

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May 9, 2010 2:56:35 AM

So, I've been thinking about building an HTPC for a while now. I would like to be able to use my htpc as a HD-DVR and watch blu-rays and dvds. I don't really have a parts preference, aside from the fact that i3/i5 offers quite a compelling htpc solution right now. I'm thinking about using one of my other computers as a storage server to stream media off of. Is that do-able? I also might do some light gaming on this build. As long as relatively recent games run at very low quality on my 1080 tv, that's all I need. So, I'm thinking the i5-661. If you think i need a bit more graphics horsepower for that, I'll probably just slot in a 5750 or something and pick up a lower i3. Edit: switched CPU and GPU up so they would be more appropriate for handling some basic gaming. I don't really have a budget, but I'd like to stay under $1000.

Case: Silverstone http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163158

MoBo: BioStar MicroATX - Never had a biostar board, but this one was rated decently well - whatever that's worth. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138186

TV Tuner: Hauppage WinTV-HVR-2250 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116036

PSU: Corsair 450 VX http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139003

CPU: Intel i3-530 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115222

RAM: GSkill 1333 2x2GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231275

HDD: Samsung 5400 RPM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152173

ODD: LG Bluray http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136189

GPU: ATI 5750 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131354

While I'm quite familiar with hardware from a gaming/general computing point of view, I'm new to the HTPC thing. So, aside from a hardware check, what sort of software do I need to be able to watch blurays and record SD and HD TV? All comments and suggestions are welcome

Thanks,

X

More about : working htpc

May 9, 2010 3:18:47 AM

For an HTPC I personally am going with a 2 TB HDD. 500 GB will fill up fast, especially if you are burning blurays(50 GB per disc if I remember right)

For an HTPC imo you really dont NEED a 7200 RPM drive. There is a nice Samsung 2 TB 5400 RPM drive for like 139.00 using the promo code on newegg.com

Thats my 2c
May 9, 2010 3:29:06 AM

If you are referring low quality 1080p even the latest HD 4290 on the 890GX chipset won't cut it and it's top dog for gaming with IGP currently! Try low quality 1024 x 768 @@ Why dun u get a cheap 785G/AthlonII X3 and a discrete? Modular 80+ PSU for neater cable management/better airflow and how about a shoe box case?
Related resources
May 9, 2010 3:31:06 AM

Maybe Ive been reading wrong, since when does ATI 4200+ not handle 1080p?
May 9, 2010 3:37:07 AM

Not wrong but no IGP will be a viable gaming solution even on the lowest settings @ 1080p ^^
May 9, 2010 3:52:44 AM

Thanks for the input, everyone. I switched the CPU to the cheaper i3-530 and added an ATI 5750 so it would be a bit more capable in the gaming department. I also switched the HDD to a 5400 RPM drive so it will be quieter. Also, just to clarify, I intend to store everything on a network drive, so the physical storage on this computer is of no consequence.

While I appreciate the comments so far, I am honestly much more concerned about the DVR capabilities of the system. Could someone please comment on that aspect of the build?

Of course, if you see anything else that needs to be adjusted, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Thank you,

X
May 9, 2010 4:19:02 AM

Watch out... Moderators can ban you for discussing how to rip since it goes against the forum guidelines. I suggest you head over to AVSforum or PM someone for advice.
May 9, 2010 7:52:36 AM

I was under the impression that for something like streaming a bluray or a full HD file, you could experience a bottleneck over a home network? Or was that just wifi?
May 9, 2010 1:39:05 PM

I wasn't aware that ripping was taboo. I've removed it from my posts. Thanks for the heads up.

Thanks cmcghee, I probably will be using wifi, so if anyone could comment further on whether or not it would be a bottleneck for playing HD content over a network, I'd appreciate it. Otherwise, I guess I'll just use storage physically attached to the machine to be on the safe side.

Again, still looking for advice on the software/DVR side of things.

Thanks,

X
May 9, 2010 6:06:32 PM

exentrick said:
Again, still looking for advice on the software/DVR side of things.


You will need blu-ray capable software. PowerDVD is one option, but I don't know of any others.

The TV tuner that you selected comes with WinTV, which serves as a DVR program.
May 9, 2010 8:48:53 PM

TotalMedia Theatre 3 Platinum is what I use. I like it better than PowerDVD.
May 10, 2010 3:14:13 AM

I have been having the same issue trying to find out about DVR. Here is what I have found, and maybe someone can correct or extend my findings.

The Hauppage tuner card you are considering will not capture the encrypted signal from your cable provider. That means you will get the local stations and some of the shopping channels. I just bought a Radeon ATI TV Wonder HD 750 as a throw away item to test with. Out of 444 channels on my Comcast account, I could translate 78 of them, with only the local TV stations worth watching. there are two options if you want your cable provider to translate: Hauppage has a product called HD PVR, which connects to your cable box and blasts infrared signals to change the cable channel: http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hdpvr.html. this solution is about $80 more than the TV tuner you have in your build, and frankly I am suspicious of the ability to keep up with the IR blaster. Take that with a grain of salt, because I also have no direct experience, either. Can anyone offer some experience?

The second option that looks promising from at least one vendor proposing to ship at the end of this month. Ceton is offering a cableCARD solution that will record 4 programs simultaneously, able to record any channel (that you have paid for) regardless of encryption: http://www.cetoncorp.com/products.php. They offer this by taking advantage of a 2007 law that requires the cable companies to issue you a card with your subscription that will unencrypt your service. It seems like Tivo is about the only vendor that has really taken advantage of this right. Apparantly there is a certification process that is expensive and cumbersome to navigate through - all appliances that read cableCards must be certified by CableLabs -owned by guess who? The cable companies!

So, to add to all this frustration, the FCC has announced they will be changing the rules, because the cable companies have not played nicely with us poor consumers (I tend to agree with the gov'ment on this issue for a change). http://hd.engadget.com/2010/04/05/new-cablecard-rules-g...

Now for the software. You did not mention the operating system you were considering. Hauppage and Ceton have drivers for Linux, and there is an avid group MythTV users out there just waiting for more of us Window guys to join them at http://www.mythtv.org/ It's all free and has some pretty amazing features - like cutting out the commercials from your shows. I have the Mythubuntu distro downloaded, but that is about as far as I have gotten (my ATI Wonder does not have the Linux drivers yet).

Hope this helps, and I am definitely interested in hearing the experiences of others out there.






May 10, 2010 3:23:19 AM

batuchka said:
If you are referring low quality 1080p even the latest HD 4290 on the 890GX chipset won't cut it and it's top dog for gaming with IGP currently! Try low quality 1024 x 768 @@ Why dun u get a cheap 785G/AthlonII X3 and a discrete? Modular 80+ PSU for neater cable management/better airflow and how about a shoe box case?
http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q205/batuchka/Untitled-59.jpg


Hey batuchka, this looks like a more cost effective solution for an HTPC. Thanks for your suggestions! How many hard drives can you shoe horn (ahem) into that box?
May 10, 2010 3:23:41 AM

SiliconDust is also releasing a cablecard tuner, though it is only a dual tuner. It's supposed to be cheaper than the Ceton too. The Ceton is $400 :-(
May 10, 2010 8:02:59 AM

eloric said:
Hey batuchka, this looks like a more cost effective solution for an HTPC. Thanks for your suggestions! How many hard drives can you shoe horn (ahem) into that box?


2 x 3.5" internally and 1 more if u convert the 5.25" bay " What i do for clients is hit big like a single 1TB or even bigger if they really need big storage :lol: 
May 12, 2010 3:15:16 AM

rwpritchett said:
For those of you researching tuners, this site is the most complete and well organized resource I found:

http://www.hdtvtunerinfo.com/



Yeee Hawwww! I am going to be reading on this one for awhile. Thanks!
May 12, 2010 3:16:01 AM

batuchka said:
2 x 3.5" internally and 1 more if u convert the 5.25" bay " What i do for clients is hit big like a single 1TB or even bigger if they really need big storage :lol: 


Thanks, man.
May 12, 2010 8:39:26 AM

You are welcomed ^^
!