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Looking to build my first HTPC - need some help

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September 15, 2010 9:42:00 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Within one month

Budget Range: Between $800 to $1200

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Watching both regular and 3D Blu-rays, DVD movies, watching and recording TV through a tuner, occasionally watch media files and listen to music from an external HD via USB

Parts Not Required: Keyboard and Mouse

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, amazon.com, zipzoomfly.com

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel based architecture

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1080p through HDMI on my Toshiba 42" LCD


Additional Comments:

I'm looking to build my first HTPC that will allow me to watch both regular and 3D Blu-ray movies (looking to purchase a 3D TV beginning of next year) as well as regular DVD movies. My HTPC MUST be able to bitstream HD audio (Dolby TruHD and DTS Master) to my A/V receiver. I would also like to watch and record live TV (just like Tivo) through my setup, both digital and HD; I currently have a Comcast HD Receiver and would like to stop renting their box. I read about the Ceton InfiniTV 4 and do not prefer to go this route (I've had problems with CableCARDs before). I would also like to know which OS I should go with for my HTPC.

Any help is much appreciated. Thank you!

More about : build htpc

September 15, 2010 10:50:11 PM

Comcast now encrypts everything that isn't the local stations, at least in my area, and they are planning to encrypt everything "because DirectTV and the like already do". Without the CableCard tuner you're not going to be tuning much. Not that I am recommending the CableCard stuff -- just saying plugging your cable outlet into a tuner no longer works and if it does happen to in your area it won't be much longer.
September 15, 2010 11:00:27 PM

Here's a build without the cable card. I'm in a similar situation (wanting an HTPC), but not ready to junk my Tivo just yet, so I haven't investigated TV tuners myself.

No combos, no shipping, etc.

CPU - i3-540 - $125 (may still be in combo with SSD)
Mobo - Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 - $110 (may still be in combo with Win 7)
RAM - G.Skill ECO Series 1600 MHz CAS 7 4 GB kit - $97
SSD - OCZ Vertex 2 60 GB - $144 (Mushkin Callisto is same tech, $10 less right now)
HDD - WD Caviar Green 2 TB - $130
ODD - LiteON SATA Blu-ray player/DVD Burner - $90 (retail, includes Blu-ray software)
PSU - Seasonic X400 Fanless - $140 - pricey but silent
Case - Antec Fusion Remote Black - $140
OS - Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit - $100

Total: $1076 without combos/shipping/tax/etc.

If you want a non-cablecard tuner until the whole scrambling thing gets figured out, I know somone that has the Hauppage 2250, and it seems to be working well...$125.

I'll admit, it's a little bit overkill...my last HTPC build has been super noisy and annoying...so I went with as many silent or nearly silent parts as possible. The i3-540 could be downgraded to a 530, I got the 540 for the same price as a 530. You could easily lose the SSD and get a normal PSU for less in order to cut costs. A cheaper case would also be an option.

I just bought all of the above except the Blu-ray combo drive (got a DVD RW drive with the Caviar Green in a shellshocker deal), as I already have a Blu-ray player. Haven't assembled it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. It may need an aftermarket cooler, I can't say yet.
September 16, 2010 2:43:28 PM

Well now that just plain sucks! The whole point of building this HTPC is to have my own DVR and be able to backup my recordings on to my other computer (at least the ones I want to keep). This whole mess with scrambling of channels is getting out of hand!

Well, I guess my HTPC will make due without a tuner for now (so I will not get rid of my Comcast HD box just yet).
!