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Budget Build Advice on a HTPC

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April 6, 2011 1:59:18 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: No set date

Budget Range: $300 - $400 if possible

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
I have a 5000 +/- DVD collection I would like to encode down to about 1 Gig +/- per movie and store them on 2TB Western Digital Cav. Green drives. Storing/playing divx rips of movies would be the primary use for the PC. I will be playing BluRay on it and also online streaming sites.

Parts Not Required:

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: Completely open on this category ... I am really just looking for the best bang for the buck, while pinching a penny or two :)  I want to see what all the experts would build while focusing on a low price point and my purpose.

Overclocking: No preference

SLI or Crossfire: No preference

Monitor Resolution:
If possible I would like to run the audio/video straight into my Onkyo receiver via one HDMI cable at 1080P; the receiver is outputting to a Sony 60 LCD. I have been doing some reading and getting the audio over the HDMI is problematic, and would be even more challenging doing it at 7.1 surround sound, if at all possible. If this is not easy to do, or very costly, I could run it another way and am open to suggestion on this.

Additional Comments:

Again, I am open to all ideas/advice and this is why I didnt want to lead the build down a certain path by naming parts! I will need at least 5 or more SATA ports to host West Dig Cav Green 2TB drives. I figure I could probably fit my movie collection on about 3 of these, and still have Sata ports to grow; these drives I am not including in the price of the build. Thanks everyone in advance!
April 6, 2011 2:15:57 AM

Check out my build guide for 300
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April 6, 2011 2:35:06 AM

I actually gave it a read before posting, and I was looking at quite a few other HTPC build threads. I would rather have a case that can lay horizontally, but have at least 5 3.5 internal bays to house the multiple hard drives. Also, my TV (and SS) doesn't have a DVI or VGA port on it. I have older component hookups and HDMI available, so would that work? I also noticed that board had 6 channel audio, but I would prefer one with an optical audio out to run to the SS (7.1 would require 8 channels?) I have built a few PCs, but never one focused on home theater; even though I have done some reading, I am still a bit green on the best way to interface the two.
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April 6, 2011 3:23:28 AM

Well on my build guide. I do have the 5450 as an optional card. @ only 30-40 bucks it allows for the HDMI setup and bit-streaming audio vs. onboard.

I don't know of many cases that feature 5 3.5 bays. THAT'S ALOT. That's basically all the spots (minus 1) for 3.5 bays in my 902. Your looking @ a mid-tower with that many bays. The Silverstone Grandia GD05B (in my build) has 2, but I don't know of any offering more than 2. If you look at the cases on the egg, the max is 2.

As for audio, you could just use the HDMI to route the audio to the TV and hook up Optical audio to the back of the TV. I believe my 2 year old 46" Bravia has an optical port in the back. Check there maybe?

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April 6, 2011 3:49:50 PM

For the case, you may want to check out this SWEET deal:

ZALMAN Silver Aluminum HD160 ATX Media Center / HTPC Case $199 - $100 with code EMCKFKE84 = $99




It's a bit much for your budget, but hard to pass up. It has room for 4 3.5" drives, not the 5 you wanted but an awesome case at an awesome price with the code. You may need to be a newegg e-blast subscriber to get the deal however.

Also, about your DVD backup project: look into x264 encoding using an MKV container rather than the older DivX. I can give you some tips on how to get some good looking encodes. My DVD movies are typically around the 1GB mark using x264.
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April 6, 2011 10:48:43 PM

Hey RWP, that is a VERY attractive case, and one that is hard to pass up for $99 ... too bad that by the time I got home from work it was sold out. Azn, I was actually looking at those exact Silverstone cases because of the internal bays, but I was looking at the LC20 rather than the LC17 ... what are the differences between the two? As far as the CPU goes, it looks like the cheapest ones newegg sells are single core, and even though not much muscle is required, a dual core is what I should probably use. The Intel E3300 is the cheapest at $51 & free shipping.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

With that processor, what would be the best mother board solution for having a ton of SATA ports for dives? The I3 boards seem to be cheaper, and many good looking boards are right around $75, rather than $100ish, but than again the low ball I3 is $120. The initial budget range is what I would like to hit, but I would be willing to go a bit higher if needed, especially considering I will be scrapping my DVD collection and moving to a diskless solution.

RWP, I would love all the info you can give on encoding them down, best software, best settings (considering I would like to play them on my 60 inch Sony LCD and not realize I am watching a compressed video format :) ) Also, the best software to use on the PC to organize/view them etc. I've played with video editing, encoding, trans-coding, building dvd structures and all, but the goal was all to build a DVD (or back in the day VCD/SVCD) I have never focused on high quality PC files that can handle a large screen, or the general connections etc that most people all ready know by the time they are on the forums! Thanks again for all the help so far!
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April 6, 2011 10:59:09 PM

Haha I think the only difference is design and fans. The LC17 looks nicer to me though. Just personal opinion.

As for your best bet. I suggest going with the E350. That'd give you the CPU/MOBO/GPU all in one.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I chose the Sapphire ones because it's the only one that has 5 SATA III ports. Sorry but SATA III is the only thing E-350 supports.

If you want you could do Rana+880GM-E41
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Wait for stock of the Rana. That'll give you a pretty heft CPU power and a DECENT motherboard. The only thing about the onboard, I don't think it has HDMI ports which is a positive of the E350.
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April 6, 2011 11:31:09 PM

Azn, both those boards have an HDMI port on it, but the E350 has the advantage of an optical audio out! Will Sata 3GB hard drives work on a 6GB board? I looked at the Pic of the E350 and only see 3 Sata ports, even though the description claims 5 ... am I just not seeing them? Will I be able to send the HD picture and 7.1 sound through the HDMI port and in to an Onkyo SS without loosing any quality? With an Digital Audio out, I could run that right into the SS and then just send the video to the TV via the HDMI right? Sorry for the crazy amount of questions!
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April 6, 2011 11:51:06 PM

3 of the SATA ports are red and face up, 2 are black and face sideways.

The Asus fusion boards have 5x SATA too BTW.

SATA 6GB/s is backwards compatible so no worries there.

Edit- oh yeah, you can run everything through HDMI (audio and video) to your SS and then run a cable from your SS to your TV and still get your 7.1.
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April 7, 2011 12:14:05 AM

Here are a few things that look good together to me ... how does it look?

Power Supply - $42
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Ram - $41
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU/MoBo combo - $137
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Case - $130
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thats $350 + $24 (shipping) to make $374 ... The Blu-Ray drive was not included yet, but I can probably go with any one on that ... here is one for $59 to bring the total of this build to $432
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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April 7, 2011 12:27:22 AM

^ Looks good.

RW THATS WHAT I SAID FROM THE BEGINNING WITH HDMI!!!!
But yeah, uhhh that build looks solid.
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April 7, 2011 2:34:25 PM

Another thing I wanted to ask was about the OS installation. Since performance in this build isn't the intent, would it be ok to partition 20 GB +/- from one of the following hard drives to install the OS to?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That would mean one of the drives in the system will be used to run the PC & store backups. Because of the quantity of DVD's I have now, plus any I will be getting in the future, I really didnt want to use up a Sata port for a separate boot drive.
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April 7, 2011 3:04:19 PM

It is ok to have a separate partition for your OS, but I would make it larger than 20GB. I would say 50-60GB would be better. Windows 7 plus the usual apps takes up about 25-35GB.
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