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HTPC from spare parts - need video card?

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  • Homebuilt
  • Graphics Cards
  • Systems
  • Product
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 7, 2010 11:09:49 PM

I was going to build a new HTPC, but these parts fell into my lap. They are second hand, and I was curious how to proceed, as I don't have everything I need for the full PC yet.

Approximate Purchase Date: within the next two weeks.

Budget Range: $100-$300

System Usage from Most to Least Important: HTPC (Netflix, Hulu), light gaming (old, CS:S, CivIV, Starcraft I), websurfing.

Parts Not Required: OS, Keyboard, Mouse, PSU, CPU, MB, RAM, HDD (see below for the parts)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, but have Microcenter, Frys, and Directron stores available.

Country of Origin: USA (Houston)

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: Maybe (if needed)

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1080p

Additional Comments: Quiet would be nice, as this will be in my bedroom for a little while, but isn't main concern. I just want it to work. The previous owner said that the CPU was unstable due to heat - not sure if it was his setup or what, but I may invest in an aftermarket cooler, just in case.

CPU:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Windsor 3.0 GHz

MB:
Abit NF-M2 nView

RAM:
1 GB stick (not sure on the details)

PSU:
300W (not sure on the details - don't have it yet)

HDD:
1 or 2 TB drive that is being RMA'd right now (was scrap from a friend as well).

The MB, RAM, and CPU were previously used in an HTPC that a friend had, but he upgraded and unloaded the spares on me.

I don't have any other spare parts (I do have a wired mouse and keyboard, but that is no fun, but will be used for a while).

I guess I need a Vid card, but as I am planning to build a much more substantial gaming pc/htpc later, I wanted recommendations for now, that are cheap, but have an HDMI port, as the MB doesn't have one.

I would like to be able to watch HD streaming, but am unsure about a cheap vid card that would provide the right ports. I don't have a permanent TV right now (borrowing one from a friend, with no HDMI port), but I would like the vid card to have hdmi, if possible, for when I get my new TV in the next month or so.

Also, because the PSU may be crap, I don't want to spend much on a card, and have it fried, so the cheaper the better.

I would also be interested in plugging my comcast line into the computer and be able to record shows and such using, not really sure how to go about setting that up - TV tuner presumably.

Finally, I have XP and Win7, but was planning on using XP for this one, and saving my Win7 for my next one. Would anyone advise against this? I may be able to get a second copy of Win7, but it would take a little work.

If I missed anything, please let me know. If you want any additional info, just let me know.

Thank you!

More about : htpc spare parts video card

a b B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
October 7, 2010 11:23:36 PM

Interesting project...

Well, for a video card you could probably get away with just a fanless Radeon 5550 or 5570. Like this one.

For a cheap dual tuner, you could try the AverMedia A188.
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a b B Homebuilt system
a c 161 U Graphics card
October 8, 2010 12:44:25 AM

With respect to rwpritchett, I, personally, don't see any need to go with the latest generation of graphic card. You could do just as well with a fanless HD4550 like this one.

The next thing I'd do is upgrade the amount of RAM in that system. You could probably get away with 2GB in a strict player HTPC/Light Gaming system, but I'd opt for 4GB if you ever intend to do more. 2x1GB Crucial memory should do.

Concerning the heat issues your friend reported, I'd probably recommend just getting a tube of thermal paste, cleaning the HSF and CPU and re-applying, before actually purchasing a new HSF.

Thanks to Comcast encryption if their non-local channels, getting a TV Tuner card is a waste of money if you do not have an available Comcast set top box to go with it. There are alternatives, such as the Ceton Corp, InfiniTV 4 tuner card, but that's well outside your stated budget range. Of course, if all you're looking to do is watch/record channels that Comcast sends to you un-encrypted, then I'd probably go with rwprichett's recommendation.

Finally, this is an HTPC. it should have HTPC software to go with it. If your available version of XP is a Media Center Edition of XP, then I'd say go with that. If not, I would recommend getting another copy of Windows 7. Unfortunately, looking at your motherboard driver download page, there are no drivers for Windows 7. You may want to research drivers for that board or consider going with some Linux implementation, like MythTV. Just do your research on compatibility before going that route.

-Wolf sends
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 8, 2010 3:21:49 PM

Thank you both for your suggestions. This is great.

Wolf - interesting about the drivers and windows 7. He had 7 on there. Maybe the instability was from driver issues and not heat.

Also, I am only looking for the un-encrypted stuff from comcast, so I think that tuner will work.

Thanks guys! You are awesome! I hope to get this up and running as soon as my RMA'd HDD gets in. WOOT!!! I'm happy.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 8, 2010 7:23:11 PM

The windows XP version is Professional - not sure if that includes Media Center or not. Can't really find anything about XP online anymore.
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a b B Homebuilt system
a c 161 U Graphics card
October 8, 2010 7:52:02 PM

No it doesn't. The only version of XP that includes the Media Center software is Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE). Go ahead and get another copy of Windows 7 Home Premium.

-Wolf sends
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 8, 2010 7:56:21 PM

'Aight. Thanks. I will do so, and just hope the MB can handle it.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 8, 2010 7:57:06 PM

Best answer selected by jared51182.
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