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Please Rip My 1st HTPC Build

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July 20, 2011 7:34:42 AM

I think it helps to "know your audience" ... in this case, I will be YOUR audience as you offer advice. About me:
- 20-year career/hobbist in computers: 85% software / 15% hardware
- # of new builds completed: 1 ... but I'm no stranger to replacing parts in existing systems
- entertainment tech level (HTPC-relevant): novice ... just got my first non-tube TV a few months ago ... only TV in the house

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Approximate Purchase Date: prob next week [after I read more reviews and your comments, maybe sooner]

Budget Range: up to ~$700(US) Before Rebates ... based on prelim checks only
Priority 1 is it must work well, not $$; so feel free to add "for a little extra, this could use ___" comments ... but it should be something useful given below

System Usage from Most to Least Important: HTPC that will ...
- be my DVR, incl pause/playback live TV (and trade out the FiOS one for a STB)
- record shows off my nearly full FiOS DVR
- be my BluRay player
- support a future surround sound system (AVR + 5.1 speakers ... open to suggested there, too)
- upscale SD DVDs (how?)
- digitize old home movies from VHS
- play downloaded/digi-copied/digitize/ripped media w/o popping in discs/tapes/sticks [some on this HDD now; all over a NAS later]
- Netflix, YouTube and all that
- potentially take a Ceton tuner sometime in the future and still do all this
- I'm open to recommendations about transcoding and/or cutting commercials in this box vs. a media server/NAS
- operate via remote, fits in current TV stand, LCD panel showing time preferred, and other misc Wife Acceptance Factors (as they arise)
- might, just might, become the source box to DVR shows to watch them nearly live upstairs (but no TV there yet, so that's farther off)
- will likely run 24/7, at least to record
- no gaming, Wii is fine

Parts Not Required:
- TV: have a Panasonic VIERA TC-P50GT25 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma
- HDD: actually have two of these Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
- keyboard/mouse (I'll figure that out)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, amazon.com
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Parts Preferences: whatever works best all-around and is reliable
Overclocking: No
SLI or Crossfire: No
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080
Additional Comments: HTPC = cool & quiet (but I'm not over-sensitive on the silent part ... present FiOS DVR makes noise ... we live)
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My first cut ...

CASE: hec Black 0.7mm Thickness SECC Steel 7K09BBA30FNRX Micro ATX Media Center 300W Power Supply / HTPC Case $55
- I've got space for ~ 18"W x 14"D x 5"H.
- Might have to put it under a STB.

LCD Panel (for time, other data?): Any suggestions? Would it go out a 3.5" bay ... is that the idea? Never installed one.

PSU: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $40
- eXtreme Power Supply Calculator Lite told me 340W, but based on all possible cards in incl a GPU ... not probable ... will likely remove wireless LAN if going to Ceton.
- Don't trust included PSUs based on reading.

Mobo: ASRock H67M-GE (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard $90
- Who here snagged the $80 Open Box one they had last night? :^{D
- Was also looking at the GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard to future proof, but was trying to save somewhere.

CPU: Intel Core i3-2100T Sandy Bridge 2.5GHz 2 x 256KB L2 Cache 3MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 35W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I32100T $129 Amazon, $135 Newegg
Q1: Like the low power $avings ... but will it do the job?
Q2: Does it need to have/support these acronyms I don't understand: DTS-MA, DD-HD, LPCM?

GPU: onboard, of course
Q1: But is that enough GPU for this?
Q2: Is Intel HD Graphics 3000 necessary?

HDD: hoping to use 1 of my existing HDDs (see Parts Not Required)

RAM: G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNS $30
Q: Does PC3 10666 make a diff?
- Originally spec'd some $40 CORSAIR XMS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMX4GX3M2B1600C9 for the Z68.

BluRay: LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Reader Model iHOS104-06 - OEM $56
- originally spec'd a 3D one ($120 IHBS112-29) for the 3D Panny, but no glasses or 3D-BRs yet/soon
Q1: Can this rip/copy 3D disks and the HDD playback will support 3D?
Q2: Do I need a 12x BDR for playback?

PVR: AVerMedia AVerTV HD DVR MTVHDDVRR PCI-Express x1 Interface $96
- I guess I need this for all that DVR/home movies recording, at least
- internal Hauppauge 1414 got harder/fewer reviews

Wireless LAN: Rosewill RNX-N180PCe Wireless Adapter IEEE 802.11b/g/n PCI Express Revision 1.1
- until I figure how to drop wires for this
Q: Prob need a hub, or is it switch now, or something else? Router in the next room is full.

remote: best suggestions?
blaster: I may need to string a blaster above the TV (low stand, no doors, 18mo old, blocked by a folded table)

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM $100
Correct? I also run Linux but read it prob can't cut the mustard smoothly here.

other s/w: What else do I need to achieve my Usages?

For the prices I have above (excluding areas where I've got nothing to offer), that comes to ~$615-620 before S&H, etc.
With all the stuff I was considering (Z68 mobo, 1600 ram, etc.), it was $735-740.

Please, tear it up. What could go wrong that I'm not seeing? What else should I look for? I need this to work and would like it soon. Thanks!
Spiff :sol: 

More about : rip 1st htpc build

July 20, 2011 9:43:31 AM

Ok so lets start with the case/psu part. The antec PSU won't fit into the case. So the 300W PSU that comes with the case will have to do.
there are some silverstone PSU's with higher wattage in that form factor, but generally 300W should be sufficient for a HTPC.

If you want regular ATX PSU's to fit you will have to switch cases.
I would recommend you take a look at the Silverstone cases:
Silverstone Grandia GD05B $70.00
Silverstone Grandia GD04B $79.61
They do have $20 shipping costs though

Mobo: The H67 mobo is more than enough for your needs, the Z68 would be a waste. Even the HD3000 has some issues with HTPC stuff but generally the HD2000 is just fine for bluray playback for example, so you could get a video card to do that stuff, but generally I would look at this so that if you run into performance issues, then get the video card otherwise use the on CPU stuff.

Radeon 6570, 5570 and GT430 with low profile would be the onces to look at if one is needed.

Memory: 1333 mhz ram will do just fine for you, just make sure it is 1.5V and you are good.

LAN: yeah you will need a switch, plenty of those around generally cost between $25-$50


July 20, 2011 11:16:39 AM

I'd recommend the Antec Fusion over the case you have listed, but it is more expensive.

Also my Hauppage 1850 performs better than my AverMedia cards. Food for thought.

Other than that looks good. I do recommend a modular PSU as HTPC cases can be cramped.

Also downfall of the Antec Fusion case is only 2 3.5" HDD slots. But I network most of my HTPC storage to my Antec 1200 case that has plenty of drives to store things. Just keep a good 500 GB OS drive and a 1.5TB Data drive. Feel free to check out my member configuration to see how my HTPC is set up.
Related resources
July 20, 2011 7:18:18 PM

rvilkman said:
The antec PSU won't fit into the case.
Great catch! Thanks! Somehow I missed that.
rvilkman said:
So the 300W PSU that comes with the case will have to do. there are some silverstone PSU's with higher wattage in that form factor, but generally 300W should be sufficient for a HTPC.
Based on reviews, the included PSU will likely die soon and could even fry things. Is there a name for the form factor of PSU in this case (one reviewer said they got a replacement locally, no details)? Otherwise I may need another case (see below).

Double-checking: So 300W should still be good for a HTPC if it later needs a GPU like one you cited above, a Ceton 4ch tuner, and a PVR card? (i.e., fully loaded PCIe's)

rvilkman said:
If you want regular ATX PSU's to fit you will have to switch cases.
I would recommend you take a look at the Silverstone cases:
Silverstone Grandia GD05B $70.00
Silverstone Grandia GD04B $79.61
They do have $20 shipping costs though

The ship cost doesn't bother me as much as the height. I had looked at the Grandias, but I was focusing my search on cases around/under 5" high. Also can't go much more than 15" deep.

To anyone: Any other ideas for a shorter case that fits ATX PSUs?

rvilkman said:
Memory: 1333 mhz ram will do just fine for you, just make sure it is 1.5V and you are good.
Curious: Wouldn't an under-volted RAM save energy? Or just cause problems? I know Volts are important; just not exactly how that plays out.

Thanks for the mobo, GPU, and LAN switch info!
July 20, 2011 7:35:38 PM

cmcghee358 said:
I'd recommend the Antec Fusion over the case you have listed, but it is more expensive.
Yes, a lot more expensive, but also too big (high and deep) for my 18"W x 14"D x 5"H expected location. The case seems to be giving me the most trouble here.

cmcghee358 said:
Also my Hauppage 1850 performs better than my AverMedia cards. Food for thought.

Are you referring to this 1128?
Can you please specify in what way(s) it performs better, so I have a sense? The AverMedia got much better reviews than the Hauppauge 1414.
Will this one do the things I need it to do (see Usages above ... esp. record off DVR and VCR)?

This also creates a new question for me. I didn't think I needed a tuner for my xVR (i.e., DVR, PVR, HVR, whatever!). My spec and the Hauppauge 1414: do they only record what the STB is tuned to? So, in the end, do I need a xVR with a tuner anyway in order to record something I am not watching? And does the tuner co-operate with the FiOS STB? I'm not cutting the cord here. I just read it says a 125ch tuner, but aren't we way past 125 channels now? I guess I don't completely understand tuners and their application; remember, I'm an entertainment tech novice. I know I don't understand what I really need to know about ATSC, QAM, etc. ... I just want it to work.

Thanks for the modular PSU tip to consider.

cmcghee358 said:
Also downfall of the Antec Fusion case is only 2 3.5" HDD slots. But I network most of my HTPC storage to my Antec 1200 case that has plenty of drives to store things. Just keep a good 500 GB OS drive and a 1.5TB Data drive. Feel free to check out my member configuration to see how my HTPC is set up.

I took a look at your config. The 3 tuners confused me, and I don't know AMD well, but I can image the latter part.

If the Fusion wasn't too big and expensive, the drive cages wouldn't be a downfall for me. I'm only ever planning for 1HDD in there. Something to tide me over until I build/network storage in the office, like you. Then the HDD can just be OS and in-progress xVR content.

Concern: is my spec'd, already-owned HDD good enough for this?

Thanks again to all!
Spiff :sol: 
July 20, 2011 7:54:59 PM

Consider the LIAN LI PC-C37B case. I'm just beginning to build an HTPC myself and will be using said case. Allows for 2 internal drives, seems to fit a full ATX PSU and should fit your space requirement.

As far as the rest of your specs, there are plenty more knowledgeable people here to help.

Best of luck!
July 20, 2011 9:01:27 PM

..or you could take a look at the SILVERSTONE MILO Series ML03B. Be sure to do your careful research with this one as it appears to be extremely cramped inside. It allows for up to 3 drives; 1 - 2.5" with 2 - 3.5"s, however, while it should fit a full ATX PSU as well, people have reported issues with it coming in very close proximity to longer optical drives. Particularly, it seems, with Lite-Ons.

I've also read in numerous places that if you're doing mass amounts of writing (downloading / recording) on the same drive in which your OS resides, there can be some problems. It may be worth considering keeping your OS on a separate drive from the one you use to store data, download and record to. Streaming media, near-live tv as you mention, to another system in the house may also benefit? ..but that I can't say for sure.

Cheers!
July 20, 2011 9:05:50 PM

Thanks, LWP. Best of luck to you, too. And I appreciate the offer.

Now, before someone else offers me a $150 case, I just want to clarify:
I respect those who really want their systems to look good and/or have near-perfect build quality and are willing to spend for it like this. I really do. It's the computer equivalent of folks who wash their car(s) every weekend. That's perfectly fine ... it's what is important to them (or to you).

But I'm not one of those folks; I'm one of those other folks. I basically don't wash my 1997 car (rain works, right?), and I'd drive a golf cart to work if it were fast, comfortable and efficient enough. Likewise, I kinda have problem with the hunk of metal I'm putting this all into being the single most expensive component in my system. I'd sooner run it out of a cardboard box with air holes. Now if the design doesn't cool well enough, I'd want to know that. But you get the picture; it just has to work (the case, not "free" PSUs). And I'm not picking on anyone here.

That said, I started looking again and found this: SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum skin reinforced plastic front panel, 0.8mm SECC body MILO Series ML03B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
I had previously nixed this due to lack of a 3.5" external bay to support an LCD panel ... which I may have to give up now (my wife can get the time from the STB that will still be around, at least for a while).

Anything wrong with that case?

Could also use more advice/feedback on this setup that anyone can offer. There are many unanswered questions in the first post. Thanks!
Spiff :sol: 
July 20, 2011 9:13:03 PM

Clearly, LWP, I was writing during your 2nd post. We found the same thing but you have better warnings about it. I will look at those things more closely.

Again: there more y'all can help me with from the OP and about tuners/xVRs here.
Thanks!
Spiff :sol: 
July 20, 2011 10:12:26 PM

spacemanspiff2000 said:
Yes, a lot more expensive, but also too big (high and deep) for my 18"W x 14"D x 5"H expected location. The case seems to be giving me the most trouble here.


Are you referring to this 1128?
Can you please specify in what way(s) it performs better, so I have a sense? The AverMedia got much better reviews than the Hauppauge 1414.
Will this one do the things I need it to do (see Usages above ... esp. record off DVR and VCR)?

This also creates a new question for me. I didn't think I needed a tuner for my xVR (i.e., DVR, PVR, HVR, whatever!). My spec and the Hauppauge 1414: do they only record what the STB is tuned to? So, in the end, do I need a xVR with a tuner anyway in order to record something I am not watching? And does the tuner co-operate with the FiOS STB? I'm not cutting the cord here. I just read it says a 125ch tuner, but aren't we way past 125 channels now? I guess I don't completely understand tuners and their application; remember, I'm an entertainment tech novice. I know I don't understand what I really need to know about ATSC, QAM, etc. ... I just want it to work.

Thanks for the modular PSU tip to consider.


I took a look at your config. The 3 tuners confused me, and I don't know AMD well, but I can image the latter part.

If the Fusion wasn't too big and expensive, the drive cages wouldn't be a downfall for me. I'm only ever planning for 1HDD in there. Something to tide me over until I build/network storage in the office, like you. Then the HDD can just be OS and in-progress xVR content.

Concern: is my spec'd, already-owned HDD good enough for this?

Thanks again to all!
Spiff :sol: 


I'll answer what I can but I think I'm getting lost in the abreviations...

As for the AverMedia tuner vs. the Hauppage, I notice sometimes the HD signal(ATSC) is kinda scrambly or broken, and when I go into Media Center and set the Hauppage as the primary signal source, and drop the Avermedia tuner to a secondary, the signal fixes. It's not a common problem, but I do run into it. And nothing is more frustrating than sitting down to watch a highly anticipated recorded show only to find it didn't record correctly.

I have 3 tuners for 3 reasons(I hope this answers some of your questions)

I have a Dual Tuner (1 Analog, 1 Digital)
I have a Hybrid Tuner(a Hybrid tuner can watch/record Analog or Digital, not both)
I have a Dual HD Tuner(2 Digital Tuners)

Originally I only had the Dual Tuner(1 Analog, 1 Digital) but I found if I recorded something on standard cable(NTSC) I couldn't watch anything but the recorded channel OR a HD Channel(because the NTSC tuner was being used to record, it left ONLY the ATSC tuner available to watch independently)

So now, with my present tuners I can watch and record most anything.

Now on to the channels available

I have basic cable. I can watch NTSC up to about channel 75ish.

Although Cox Communication says it offers HD for free, most of those HD channels are encrypted. Meaning they are NOT ClearQAM(Digital HD cable - unencrypted)

So because I don't have a cable card(or a $400 TV Tuner that works with Cable Cards ie Centon) I can't ever watch those channels. I do watch some ATSC and ClearQAM HD channels though. Such as: ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, PBS, FOX, TBS, ION and maybe a few others.

So because of my HTPC, regardless of my subscription, I am limited to these channels only. If I were to Subscribe for Showtime to watch Weeds, since I don't have a Cable Card, or abiity to use one in my HTPC, it would never decrypt the Showtime signal.

A for your xVR/FIOS I don't think I understand completely to answer.
July 21, 2011 1:59:29 AM

I do and thanks, but it won't be for a bit. I'm faced with BD or Cable TV tuner. Thinkin Bulldozer :p 
July 21, 2011 4:03:40 AM

cmcghee358, thanks for your tuner explanations. I'm starting to get it now.
So if I understand correctly, you don't have a cable box (but get the cable signal you are subscribed to directly into your HTPC).

That's a place I might go to in the future, but losing encrypted channels is definintely not an option for now with the Univision wife, the Nick/Disney teen, the Cartoon Network/Disney preteen, and the NickJr toddler. I'm seeking to still get everything thru a non-DVR set top box, and just use the HTPC as a DVR, BluRay, homegrown VOD, etc. (see my many desired Usages above).

cmcghee358 said:
A for your xVR/FIOS I don't think I understand completely to answer.
So, we're doing it differently but maybe you or someone else knows this about tuners ...

I want to:
(1)record a show I'm not watching into the HTPC thru a Verizon non-DVR cable Set Top Box(STB), including ...
(2)pause/rewind live TV, but BEFORE getting rid of the present Verizon DVR, I want to ...
(3)play some of what's on that present Verizon DVR while recording them onto the HTPC (the only way I've read possible).
Just focusing on those 3 functions, I originally didn't think I needed any tuner due to always having a STB in all configs.

I was considering the apparently tunerless Hauppauge 1212 external box (they call it a PVR vs DVR), but I'm building a HTPC so prefer it internal. That took me to the internal version of the 1212, the also-tunerless Hauppauge 1414, but it had few Newegg reviews and some convincing horror stories.

That led me to my present choice, the once-again tunerless AVerMedia MTVHDDVRR, only based on better reviews and no other knowledge. Then you suggested the Hauppauge 1128 WinTV-HVR-1850, the "hybrid tuner." (Thus, my DVR/PVR/HVR and attempted-catch-all xVR terms.)

That's where I sort of lost you because I didn't think I needed any tuner with the STB. But then I realized that maybe I DO need a tuner in order to record something that my STB is NOT watching at that moment. The more I think about it, the more I'm wondering if this is possible at all.

Does anyone understand how to do all this (esp. functions 1 & 2 here) with the STB still in place and can explain it?
July 21, 2011 4:25:16 AM

Ok so I kinda get it.

Your STB(Set top Box) picks apart the broad Coax signal and displays what you want to see, the channel. If you output THAT to an HTPC you would record ONLY what the STB has selected.

A PVR acts as an intermediary I believe.

Also all the channels you listed I receive just fine, as non encripted NTSC 480p signals. Except Univision, which I get as ATSC Hi-Def 1080i.

Based on what we've talked about, I think the BEST option you is the Centon TV tuner that allows a cable card to be plugged in. Thus enabling all the encrypted stations on your subscription. But because of the high price, Hulu+, Netflix and a few others might be more realistic.

July 21, 2011 2:10:23 PM

Thx. I was coming to similar conclusions thru this. And good to know the channels you get, although Verizon might do different. I assume Univision being "ATSC Hi-Def 1080i" means you don't get it thru your setup. BTW, we've been using the HD versions of all those channels so they look good on the HDTV.

So now this question (to anyone): if I got a Ceton card (therefore, renting the cable card from Verizon), I assume that would record the live TV, but would it also record old VHS tapes? Or would I still need a separate DVR/PVR card (like those discussed above)?

I'm thinking I probably would also need the PVR card in order to get the present Verizon DVR content off (because the Ceton wouldn't work w/o the cable card)?

And would the above cheaper Homerun do the same thing as Ceton? (haven't had a chance to look at that yet)
July 21, 2011 7:03:49 PM

No I do get Univision, and Telemundo. Just those I get as High Def, rather than just normal 480p
July 26, 2011 6:46:29 PM

Thanks again for everyone's help, esp. cmcghee358 who spent a good bit of time on this.

If anyone else has similar open questions to most of the unanswered ones above, I found that help over at Missing Remote under this same ID.

I'll reconfigure, go get more questions answered, and may post a new config under new thread, so this one can close.

@cmcghee358: BTW, love the profile pic, LadiesMan217. Thought about using it as well, until I saw yours. Great minds, I guess ...
July 26, 2011 10:48:23 PM

I'll be ripping his picture with Obama from Transformers 3 soon. Also the nice thing about having a HTPC is pausing live TV, using the Windows snipping tool. It's pretty awesome.
!