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Brand new HTPC!

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May 29, 2010 12:14:30 AM

Hi! I am new to this forum and hope I'll find some valuable answers! Tomshardware seems to be a good community after all!

I am looking to build a brand new HTPC that would perform the following tasks without a glitch:

Play from Removable media:
1.Playback of DVD media (through DVD player);
2.Playback of high definition DVD (HD DVD) media (through DVD player);
3. Playback of Blu-Ray DVD's;
4.Playback of music CD's;

Play from Streamed sources:
1.Playback of streamed sources from analog & digital cable;
2.Playback of OTA sources from analog & digital antenna;
3.Playback of streamed sources from high definition digital cable;
4.Playback of OTA sources from high definition digital antenna;
5.Playback of OTA sources from AM/FM radio antenna;
6.Playback of streamed sources from networked storage server;
7.Display photo show of picture library stored on networked server;
8.Playback of online streamed video content (youtube-like videos, flash videos, webstream);
9.Playback of online streamed audio content (internet radio, podcasts, audio speeches);

Entertainment features:
1.Internet navigation;

Hardware requirements:
1.Support for wireless mouse & keyboard;
2.Support for standard remote controllers with out-of-sight capability (unless IR is much better);
3.Have a case that allow efficient cooling;
4.Be as silent as possible;
5.Have HDMI output;
6.Have Suspend-to-RAM support for faster resumes/boots;
7.Support Wake-on-LAN (WOL);
8.Have minimum heat generation;
9.Support full 1080p and lower formats;
10.Have native display resolution at 1920x1080 (my LED TV is Samsung UN55C6300 with native at 1920x1080)
11.No hardware tweaks such as overclocking;
12.Have a decent looking case (will be operating in living room);
13.BIOS to have “Cool-n-Quiet” capability to automatically control fans;

Here are the requirements of the software I will use:
-32bit Unix based operating system (example Linux);

Here are my project requirements:
1.Total maximum budget spending of approx. $550.00 CAD (incl. Taxes, shipping, etc) after rebates, etc;
2.Have easy to obtain parts (no parts that will take months to get and that are only available online...);

At this moment, I am looking to more or less get recommendations for hardware that would comply with the requirements above. If impossible or very difficult to meet the guidelines, could you indicate why (briefly) and recommend anything else? Even if you have no recommendation, and you think I forgot something, please let me know!

I appreciate everybody's effort! Thanks in advance for any input !

More about : brand htpc

May 29, 2010 12:41:45 AM

lpallard said:
2.Have easy to obtain parts (no parts that will take months to get and that are only available online...);
What sources of supply do you have available in your local area?
It's not likely a lot of what you require will in be stock in your local mom&pop computer store or generic big box electronics store.
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May 29, 2010 10:52:40 PM

WR2 said:
What sources of supply do you have available in your local area?
It's not likely a lot of what you require will in be stock in your local mom&pop computer store or generic big box electronics store.


WR2 thanks for replying! I should have specified that I dont mind ordering online as long as it is available in canada. I live in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. If I need to order online, I would prefer ordering through a website that ships from canada to avoid being screwed on the duty fees.... Ordering a $90 hard drive and having to pay $70 of duty fees is not a nice feeling!

there is a few nice computer stores around here that could probably sell what I will need, if not maybe they can order for me? first I am looking at determining which parts I need. Do you have any idea?

Thanks again!!
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May 30, 2010 4:57:44 PM

I don't see any problem with the hardware requirements except a possible challenge to the budget.

I do have a couple more questions.
a. Why would you want to playback through the HTPC the HD DVD player output? Why not output directly to the TV? (media 1&2)
b. Do you want the PC to act as the receiver for OTA sources or do you already have a component receiver doing that? (sources 2,4,5)
c. (sources 1 & 3) Since you would normally stream directly to your TV are you talking about the HTPC working like a DVR to timeshift TV programs? Are the streamed sources from 1 & 3 anything other than TV, HDTV?

Some core components for you to look over:
AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz dual core CPU $59
BIOSTAR A785G3 AM3 785G Micro ATX Motherboard $75
Kingston ValueRAM 2GB RAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) $63
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 500GB HDD $58
LG Blu-Ray-ROM / DVD-RW+ Combo $115
nMEDIAPC 1000B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case $90
SeaSonic S12II 330W PSU $51

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May 30, 2010 8:23:22 PM

WR2 said:
I don't see any problem with the hardware requirements except a possible challenge to the budget.

I do have a couple more questions.
a. Why would you want to playback through the HTPC the HD DVD player output? Why not output directly to the TV? (media 1&2)
b. Do you want the PC to act as the receiver for OTA sources or do you already have a component receiver doing that? (sources 2,4,5)
c. (sources 1 & 3) Since you would normally stream directly to your TV are you talking about the HTPC working like a DVR to timeshift TV programs? Are the streamed sources from 1 & 3 anything other than TV, HDTV?

Some core components for you to look over:
AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz dual core CPU $59
BIOSTAR A785G3 AM3 785G Micro ATX Motherboard $75
Kingston ValueRAM 2GB RAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) $63
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 500GB HDD $58
LG Blu-Ray-ROM / DVD-RW+ Combo $115
nMEDIAPC 1000B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case $90
SeaSonic S12II 330W PSU $51



Again Thanks for your feedback! Unless the dVD player that I will install in the HTPC cant read the BLu-ray/HD DVD's, I will have to buy a separate dvd player and in this case, I wont need to playback through the htpc like you said in your previous post. If the dvd player does it, then why I would have the htpc sits beside a dvd player? Please do not hesitate too correct me if I am wrong.

As for the OTA sources, both radio and video, I would like the htpc to do so. The only thing I already have is a Wineguard MS-2000 hd antenna currently attached to my tv. SO basically, again correct me if I am wrong, but the antenna would be tied to the htpc and the htpc would stream to the tv just like a receiver would do?

For your question C, yes, points 1 to 4 are all you can get from the normal cable and an antenna. Both analog and digital signals.

I hope this helps. In the meantime, I will look at the parts you suggested. Thanks Again! Waiting for your reply! :) 
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May 30, 2010 10:06:04 PM

Ok, so you don't already have a component DVD player? And Media requirements 1 & 2 referred to playback through the DVD drive on the HTPC?
A DVD player would generally be a separate component as opposed to an internal optical DVD drive in a PC. Examples of DVD players
The LG Blu-Ray-ROM / DVD-RW+ Combo drive I listed above meets media requirements 1, 3 &4. Do you actually own any HD DVD media? I don't think you can buy that stuff any more. HD DVD defination

You can configure the HTPC to act as a component receiver for OTA video and radio. It's just not very efficient to fire up a high power PC to do low power radio receiver type duties. What are you currently using for a radio receiver in your home theater setup?

The only reason to run your TV antenna or Cable connection is to be able to record Clear/QAM video signals for later playback - DVR function.

I will need to know all the input specs and connectors that are coming from the source and the antennas. Will also need to know what your speaker output setup is like.
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June 1, 2010 2:31:40 PM

WR2, No I dont have a component DVD player... In fact I'm just starting out my home theater system and would like the HTPC to be able to do enough so I dont need to upgrade/replace it in 1 or 2 years because I cheaped out to save $$ and now it does not fullfil my needs...

Anyways, yes media 1 & 2 refers to medias played via the htpc's dvd drive. As for the HD DVD, no I dont own any of them, in fact I do not lie and I will be honest with you, I did not even know that HD DVD was defunct... Maybe I should forget about that then...

As for the OTA video/radio, maybe I should just have the antenna plugged to the tv directly? But let me ask you what is the difference in term of efficiency between OTA sources and cable sources? Might as well plug the cable directly to the TV?

I currently do not own a radio receiver. I will be in the process, within the next few weeks to buy a speaker system, but it is a totally different subject, I dont even know which brand to go for. The only thing I know is that I want a 5.1 capable setup... (at least). My living room is not big enough to justify a 7.1...

As you can see, I am totally a noob in this field, and I have nothing right now, so I believe its time to decide accurately what I need and what to do. After all, better buy what I need instead of buying and tossing away because it does suit my needs...

thanks again!
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Best solution

June 1, 2010 9:12:14 PM

It's probably a good idea to get the core theater components nailed down - TV and speakers. Have you picked your TV make and model out yet?
Choice of speakers might require a receiver/amplifier like SONY 5.1-Channel Home Theater A/V Receiver
One reason why something like that would be a very good idea - connectivity:



Also you want to decide what TV service you'll be using and it's requirements (and cost).
Most HD packages will require a cable or satellite box.
You want to find out what Clear/QAM channels your cable or satellite providers give you.

Also check to see what you can get OTA in your area.

Depending on what you find out checking the Clear/QAM and OTA availability you'll be able to decided if you want to add TV tuner card to the HTPC and foot the cost of an OTA antenna.
Since they've started to encrypt so many TV channels using a HTPC as a DVR (digital video recorder) has rapidly lost it's luster.
If you can't record your favorite channels there isn't much point in a TV tuner card in the HTPC.

HTPCs are ideal for anything internet or network related. Hulu or Fancast content for example. Netflix and internet radio streaming.
It will also handle all your removable media; NetFlix DVDs, Blu-Ray, USB thumb drives, MicroSD drives from cameras and video recorders.
And also for creating and managing your media; movies, music and photos.

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June 1, 2010 11:56:56 PM

Hi WR2! Thanks for your support again! I already have a TV, its a samsung UN55C6300... I dont have speakers yet, but looking to get a set soon. The speakers would definitely require an amplifier/receiver box... I already have HD cable from Rogers (canada) and the HD box. As for the OTA channels, like I said I have a Wineguard MS2000 and according to tvfool.com, I receive something like 13 channels (green zone), 6 channels in the yellow zone and ... Right now, I have an attic mounted antenna and I get all the greens and yellows...

So basically, you would recommend getting the proper hardware for network and internet connectivity more than streaming over cable/OTA?

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June 2, 2010 1:51:42 PM

That would be my suggestion. How much does Rogers charge for DVR service?

You could add a TV receiver/tuner card to the HTPC but you couldn't receive and record the encrypted channels (which is most of what I'd like to time shift on a DVR - sports in particular).
When you compare the cost of a TV tuner card for the HTPC - that can be almost 1 1/2 years of DVR rental down here which can time shift all the channels.
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June 21, 2010 12:07:03 AM

I just realized that I never replied to you.. I'm sorry about that!


No I dont currently have a IR remote that I'm happy with. I will definitely look at the suggestions and decide from there!
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June 28, 2010 1:00:11 AM

Best answer selected by lpallard.
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