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HTPC - reuse old computer

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March 12, 2011 2:23:15 AM

I just need a nudge in the right direction. I'm new to the whole HTPC deal but i have an computer that is going to be freed up soon and turned into a HTPC machine. The only problem is im not sure what type of card\sound i should get to make it work.

Its going to be mainly used for streaming netflix and hulu, bluerays\DVDs, as well as some .avi files etc etc..

Computer:
Antec 900 case
Corsair 650w Power supply
MOBO ASUS P5Q Pro LGA http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale 3.16GHz
8GB of Ram
2 500GB hard drives
Currently has an ASUS EAH4870 DK/HTDI/1GD5 Radeon HD 4870 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It will be plugging into a Pioneer Kuro 50 inch plasma (model PDP-5020FD) 1920 x 1080p.

Anyone have any guides to read on how to make this work? or other components i need to pick up. The end user hates tearing or video delay lag if that maters.

Thank you again for your help!

More about : htpc reuse computer

a b B Homebuilt system
March 12, 2011 12:58:16 PM

Firstly, welcome to the HTPC crowd here at Tom's.

Is there going to be a receiver in the mix or is the video and audio going straight to the TV?

It looks like you have all of the necessary parts, with the exception of a blu-ray drive. BTW, newegg is having a sale on all BD drives this weekend: 15% off with coupon code EMCYTZT345

You'll also need blu-ray playback software. XBMC will play blu-rays... no menu support or BD-live though, but it's free. PowerDVD and TotalMedia Theatre are the two most popular commercial players that have full BD support and both integrate nicely in Windows Media Center.

Do you have a media front end picked out yet? If you don't know, a front end is the software you use to organize/browse/launch your media on your HTPC. XBMC, Media Portal, Media Browser, My Movies, etc. are all front ends. Also, Windows 7 Home Premium and above have a built in front end (WMC).

If you want to watch/record TV, you may need a TV tuner. Is this something you need?

Also, a remote is a must for any HTPC. Who wants to drag out a keyboard every time to navigate your front end???

Here is a nice post I put together with some HTPC software tips and tricks. Give it a read for some ideas: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/240683-49-what-free-h...
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March 12, 2011 1:14:12 PM

rwpritchett said:
Firstly, welcome to the HTPC crowd here at Tom's.

Is there going to be a receiver in the mix or is the video and audio going straight to the TV?

It looks like you have all of the necessary parts, with the exception of a blu-ray drive. BTW, newegg is having a sale on all BD drives this weekend: 15% off with coupon code EMCYTZT345

You'll also need blu-ray playback software. XBMC will play blu-rays... no menu support or BD-live though, but it's free. PowerDVD and TotalMedia Theatre are the two most popular commercial players that have full BD support and both integrate nicely in Windows Media Center.

Do you have a media front end picked out yet? If you don't know, a front end is the software you use to organize/browse/launch your media on your HTPC. XBMC, Media Portal, Media Browser, My Movies, etc. are all front ends. Also, Windows 7 Home Premium and above have a built in front end (WMC).

If you want to watch/record TV, you may need a TV tuner. Is this something you need?

Also, a remote is a must for any HTPC. Who wants to drag out a keyboard every time to navigate your front end???

Here is a nice post I put together with some HTPC software tips and tricks. Give it a read for some ideas: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/240683-49-what-free-h...


Thanks for the welcome! Ill definitely check out that article.
The machine has Windows 7 Professional. Sorry i forgot to mention it. I just found out the user apparently has a ps3 they use for blue rays, so basically the machine will be used for hulu, streaming from cbs.com and other websites, and .avi files.
Also the sound is just going straight to the TV. There is no stereo or anything else in the mix. A remote will definitely need to be considered.

Thanks for the help rwpritchett!
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Related resources
March 12, 2011 5:57:29 PM

First up for me is the keyboard and mouse solution for you, it is a wireless keyboard with build in trackpad that doubles as a keypad with the press of a button between the two modes.
http://usb.brando.com/usb-2-4ghz-rf-entertainment-slim-keyboard-with-smart-touchpad_p00973c034d15.html

Next is the TV Tuner card I use. I don't get much broadcast TV where I live without a huge roof mounted antenna but I do use it for capturing from a VCR. All of the reviews I have read say Windows Media Center that is included in Windows 7 is better then the bundled software.
http://hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hvr2250.html
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March 12, 2011 7:02:08 PM

DJRWolf said:
First up for me is the keyboard and mouse solution for you, it is a wireless keyboard with build in trackpad that doubles as a keypad with the press of a button between the two modes.
http://usb.brando.com/usb-2-4ghz-rf-entertainment-slim-keyboard-with-smart-touchpad_p00973c034d15.html

Next is the TV Tuner card I use. I don't get much broadcast TV where I live without a huge roof mounted antenna but I do use it for capturing from a VCR. All of the reviews I have read say Windows Media Center that is included in Windows 7 is better then the bundled software.
http://hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hvr2250.html


Thanks for the information!

Any advice on a video card to make this all work?
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 12, 2011 8:22:20 PM

The current HD4870 will work. It may not be quiet enough for a theater setting though.

The yellow DVI port on the card can pass audio over HDMI if you have the DVI-to-HDMI adapter that comes with the card.
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March 12, 2011 8:51:29 PM

rwpritchett said:
The current HD4870 will work. It may not be quiet enough for a theater setting though.

The yellow DVI port on the card can pass audio over HDMI if you have the DVI-to-HDMI adapter that comes with the card.


Thanks for the information. I checked my Video card and i do have the yellow DVI to HMDI plug in the box. I guess i didn't realize this would work for sound.. as i didnt see how the video card would get sound from the motherboard?.. still not sure i do. but ill check it out!
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a b B Homebuilt system
March 12, 2011 9:03:38 PM

Video cards now have their own audio chip on them. No motherboard audio is needed if passing audio over HDMI. The vid card does it all!

Just make sure it's set up properly in the Sound properties in the OS and/or playback application.
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March 13, 2011 4:33:47 AM

The Home Theater setup my parents have with their stuff is one where we had to drill some large vent holes in the back but there is still very little noise. There are about 3-4" between the back of the cabinet and the wall. Except for those large vent holes we drilled it is totally enclosed but there is still almost no noise despite the large holes in the back.

But for a HTPC like you have; you may want it in it's own enclosure that has the front, sides, top, and bottem but no back what so ever to let it vent. Also any enclosure will need to be at least 3" of space on all sides of the computer including the front to let it get enough fresh air and to let the heat escape. But of course such a custom cabinet would cost a fair amount of money. If you can find something like a computer desk that someone is trowing away you may be able to cut off the computer enclosure and just paint it and cut off the back wall.
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March 14, 2011 2:52:47 AM

rwpritchett said:
Video cards now have their own audio chip on them. No motherboard audio is needed if passing audio over HDMI. The vid card does it all!

Just make sure it's set up properly in the Sound properties in the OS and/or playback application.


Tested out the yellow DVI plug today. Worked flawlessly. Who would have known?!

Thank you all for the information. Its coming along slowly but smoothly!
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