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High end htpc

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November 11, 2011 5:51:40 PM

I am a newbie to htpc configuration and I would like some advice on choosing the right components. I am looking into getting an htpc for my home theater. The home theater room is currently dedicated to movies watching through a projector and I have a set of high end speakers (nautilus B&W) in a 7.1 configuration with Marantz/ Anthem - preamp / amp set up.

I would like to add a htpc to the room for the following use
-Movie watching (the system should be 3D ready and be able to store a movie collection and play back 1080p. I also need it to have 7.1 sound output with the latest dts, dolby..etc)
-cable watching / recording / archiving programs
-gaming (system should be able to handle the latest games, bf3...etc)
-Music listening, audiophile quality (store all the music in my house)

I realize that this is kind of a no compromise system and I am not sure if it is possible to even put together.
I am concerned about fan noise as I already have another old gaming pc that s quite loud.
I am not sure what components I need to get both outstanding sound quality and video quality.
Is it possible to use the preamp to do all the video and sound processing?
Budget is about $3000 - $4000

More about : high end htpc

November 11, 2011 6:32:09 PM

OK this might be the first build where I have to use multiple vendors to come up with something. :lol: 

In any event you'll want to use an HTPC case, ATX power supply, and micro ATX motherboard. I'll also recommend using 2.5" hard drives as opposed to 3.5" - with most HTPC cases the setup is quite a bit cramped, so to speak. The 2.5" hard drives are a smaller form factor and are meant for less power consumption, that sort of thing.

I'll also recommend picking up the Logitech DiNovo Mini - I have one and it is AMAZING in an HTPC configuration - for the keyboard it's pretty similar to typing on a cell phone keyboard and you use the thumbpad as the tracking device.

This is also one really rare exception where I would recommend a sound card as opposed to the built-in audio on the motherboard, but the problem is that with the Micro ATX motherboard you're likely to run out of PCI-e slots if you're using it for SLI purposes.

You'll want a modular PSU because of the case limitations and a top-down fan for cooling as opposed to the 120mm standard large heat sink fan combos.

But check this build out:

Case: Thermaltake DH-02 Home Theater PC Case ATX w/remote - $249.99
PSU: Corsair Professional Series AX850 Gold - $199.99
Motherboard: Asus Maximus VI Gene Extreme - $169.99
CPU: 3.30GHz Intel Core i5-2500K - $219.99
RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance (4 x 4GB) 1600MHz 1.5V - $39.99 each ($79.99 total)
SSD: 128GB Crucial M4 - $199.99
HD: 2 x Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 7200 RPM - $239.99 each
Optical: Plextor PX-B950SA - $147.99
Video Card: EVGA Geforce GTX 570 1.2GB - $339.99
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
Keyboard / Mouse: Logitech MK260 - $25.99
Other: Logitech Dinovo Mini - $119.99

Total: $2381
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November 11, 2011 9:36:31 PM

3000-4000 is a HUGE budget for a HTPC the average spend is one grand.
Traditionally HTPCs don't play games (at least not on any good settings) so if you want to play games on it I would forget the traditional HTPC (small case, m-ATX mobo) and look for a Quiet PC, you can get noise dampening cases, water cooling for your CPU and somthing like a Gainward GTX 570 for a budget like yours.
You should also consider how you will use a keyboard and mouse for games if its in a living room environment, or use a controller (you will get slaughtered in online)
I would look into sound cards as well if you want top notch sound.
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November 11, 2011 9:42:45 PM

g-unit1111 said:
OK this might be the first build where I have to use multiple vendors to come up with something. :lol: 

In any event you'll want to use an HTPC case, ATX power supply, and micro ATX motherboard. I'll also recommend using 2.5" hard drives as opposed to 3.5" - with most HTPC cases the setup is quite a bit cramped, so to speak. The 2.5" hard drives are a smaller form factor and are meant for less power consumption, that sort of thing.

I'll also recommend picking up the Logitech DiNovo Mini - I have one and it is AMAZING in an HTPC configuration - for the keyboard it's pretty similar to typing on a cell phone keyboard and you use the thumbpad as the tracking device.

This is also one really rare exception where I would recommend a sound card as opposed to the built-in audio on the motherboard, but the problem is that with the Micro ATX motherboard you're likely to run out of PCI-e slots if you're using it for SLI purposes.

You'll want a modular PSU because of the case limitations and a top-down fan for cooling as opposed to the 120mm standard large heat sink fan combos.

But check this build out:

Case: Thermaltake DH-02 Home Theater PC Case ATX w/remote - $249.99
PSU: Corsair Professional Series AX850 Gold - $199.99
Motherboard: Asus Maximus VI Gene Extreme - $169.99
CPU: 3.30GHz Intel Core i5-2500K - $219.99
RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance (4 x 4GB) 1600MHz 1.5V - $39.99 each ($79.99 total)
SSD: 128GB Crucial M4 - $199.99
HD: 2 x Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 7200 RPM - $239.99 each
Optical: Plextor PX-B950SA - $147.99
Video Card: EVGA Geforce GTX 570 1.2GB - $339.99
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
Keyboard / Mouse: Logitech MK260 - $25.99
Other: Logitech Dinovo Mini - $119.99

Total: $2381



Wow.. amazing . Thanks
I have a couple of questions.
I was considering this case Silverstone Crown CW02B-MXR Black ATX HTPC Case with Remote and Built-in Card Reader
Mainly for looks (it kind of matches other audio components but also because it looks like there is a lot of room in it. Would it work as well as your selection?
Any reason for Core i5 instead of Core i7?
Finally the graphics card.. would a evga GTX 580 be too noisy instead of the 570?

Thanks for the config though.. It s a great starting point for me


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November 11, 2011 9:58:10 PM

Quote:

Mainly for looks (it kind of matches other audio components but also because it looks like there is a lot of room in it. Would it work as well as your selection?


The main thing you want to take into account when considering an HTPC case is "will this fit"? Because you have to have a full ATX power supply (which I recommend modular), motherboard, video card, optical drives, HDs, all that stuff. And the other consideration is "will this look good" on my shelf? I like that case because it looks like it's a high end stereo component - if you're entertaining guests they won't notice that it's a full-fledged gaming and entertainment PC. The thing is - do not choose a case mainly for looks - you have to make sure that the case you purchase will house the equipment you've chosen.


Quote:
Any reason for Core i5 instead of Core i7?


You only need SB i7 if you're using intense multimedia applications that require hyper threading - and that's only high end video/audio editing applications and that sort of thing. On an HTPC you're mainly concerned about entertainment aspects - so most of the applications you'll be using won't require hyper threading.

Quote:
Finally the graphics card.. would a evga GTX 580 be too noisy instead of the 570?


It's not so much a question of noise - on video cards the fans included now are pretty quiet for the most part - the question is "will it fit". The thing is both the 570 and 580 are HUGE cards and the other thing is they generate a LOT of heat. The thing with most HTPC component cases is that they're so cramped that heat will be more of a factor than noise or anything else. I mean since that's your biggest concern what you want to look at with your primary graphics card is the power consumption and heat generation - that will determine what you get. If you really wanted to, with space being such an issue, I'd recommend going with a half size card like the 550 or Radeon 6790 - you can SLI or Crossfire both of those cards, it will take up far less space and generate far less heat.

Quote:
Thanks for the config though.. It s a great starting point for me


No problem - I definitely recommend going the Micro ATX route on HTPC builds due to the space restraints - it'll take up less room, use less power, and most importantly - generate less heat.
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November 11, 2011 10:32:32 PM

High end gaming is noisy . Theres a lot you can do , but you cant make it silent except by having it in another room ........

At this budget build a seperate HTPC using a moderate cpu like an AMD
A8 3850
FM1 mb checking the HDMI port is 1.4 or better for 3D support
2 x4 gig of RAM
a top end sound card
a 80 gig SSD to boot from
a larger "green " drive , prob WD , for data storage
a blu ray combo drive
400 watt psu
The silverstone GD05 is a nice case , and silent if you drop the fan voltages

That would cost $900 at most


Then spend 1200 - $1500 on a top end gaming machine based on an intel 2500k
and a pair of GTX 570 graphics cards
Either turn it on when you are gaming , or put it in a remote location where you cant hear it
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November 11, 2011 11:30:13 PM

Outlander_04 said:
High end gaming is noisy . Theres a lot you can do , but you cant make it silent except by having it in another room ........

At this budget build a seperate HTPC using a moderate cpu like an AMD
A8 3850
FM1 mb checking the HDMI port is 1.4 or better for 3D support
2 x4 gig of RAM
a top end sound card
a 80 gig SSD to boot from
a larger "green " drive , prob WD , for data storage
a blu ray combo drive
400 watt psu
The silverstone GD05 is a nice case , and silent if you drop the fan voltages

That would cost $900 at most


Then spend 1200 - $1500 on a top end gaming machine based on an intel 2500k
and a pair of GTX 570 graphics cards
Either turn it on when you are gaming , or put it in a remote location where you cant hear it



The idea behind this build - if I'm not mistaken - is to utilize the full 3-D feature for games on his LED TV. I don't think a Llano-based system will accomplish that.
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November 11, 2011 11:51:26 PM

g-unit1111 said:
The idea behind this build - if I'm not mistaken - is to utilize the full 3-D feature for games on his LED TV. I don't think a Llano-based system will accomplish that.



Thats why I suggested he builds TWO computers .

one as a HTPC for movies and music , and a second more powerful gamer unit that only gets turned on when you are gaming and the noise its going to produce is more acceptable
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November 12, 2011 12:32:33 AM

HTPC is a HOME THEATER PC. It doesn't need to be much, so just build two separate PCs. It will be cheaper and better in the end.

Get one of the low watt dual core i3s, h65 mobo, 4GB RAM, and a large hard drive. That's all you need. You could add a Radeon 5450 or something if you want more graphics power, but you probably don't need it. With a HTPC, you want it to be as quiet as possible and use as a little power as possible. That means entry level hardware, efficient & quiet PSU, and quiet fan(s). You can build one for $200-300 easy. It will be powerful enough to download large files, extract .rars, play 1080p content, be a file server, and (if you have a gpu) do things like run a minecraft and mumble server... all at the same time. Then build a separate gaming rig, that won't be bogged down by things other than playing games. Think of your computers as specialized tools instead of all in one tools. They can do many things, but often it's cheaper and better to make them separate and specialized instead of all-in-one machines.
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November 12, 2011 12:47:48 AM

While I agree with Outlander's idea of building two separate systems, the question remains whether or not your audio system can accepts two separate digital audio streams.

Assuming it can, I'd probably build the HTPC based on:

Your preferred case (lots of space for HDDs)
An AMD dual-core processor (I run my HTPC off of an AMD AthlonII X2 240)
An AMD HD5670 graphics card (able to handle HD3D to your projector)
2x2GB of RAM
Ceton InfiniTV4 internal PCI-E (Four TV Tuners for viewing/recording)
One smaller HDD for the OS
Multiple large HDDs for audio/video storage

You may also want to consider some sort of external storage with a back up. Trust me, the last thing you want to happen is have several seasons of a program recorded only to lose them when your hard drive fails.

I'm against SSDs for HTPCs as mine is on 24/7. No real need for fast boot/load times. It's always on!

-Wolf sends
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November 12, 2011 3:25:20 AM

Wolfshadw said:
While I agree with Outlander's idea of building two separate systems, the question remains whether or not your audio system can accepts two separate digital audio streams.

Assuming it can, I'd probably build the HTPC based on:

Your preferred case (lots of space for HDDs)
An AMD dual-core processor (I run my HTPC off of an AMD AthlonII X2 240)
An AMD HD5670 graphics card (able to handle HD3D to your projector)
2x2GB of RAM
Ceton InfiniTV4 internal PCI-E (Four TV Tuners for viewing/recording)
One smaller HDD for the OS
Multiple large HDDs for audio/video storage

You may also want to consider some sort of external storage with a back up. Trust me, the last thing you want to happen is have several seasons of a program recorded only to lose them when your hard drive fails.

I'm against SSDs for HTPCs as mine is on 24/7. No real need for fast boot/load times. It's always on!

-Wolf sends


I definitely second the idea of external storage. If he's going to be playing games and other things like that I'm not sure I'd go with a dual core - quad or hex minimum. My HTPC is based on a dual core but I don't play games on it.

As far as the idea of building different systems and the audio configuration - both support it, but routing cables would be a huge pain, especially across the living room.

And why would you be against SSDs for HTPC? there's plenty of other benefits besides faster boot / load times. Low power consumption, smaller profile, no moving parts, minimizes choppiness in videos, that sort of thing...
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November 12, 2011 3:43:35 AM

g-unit1111 said:
I definitely second the idea of external storage. If he's going to be playing games and other things like that I'm not sure I'd go with a dual core - quad or hex minimum. My HTPC is based on a dual core but I don't play games on it.

As far as the idea of building different systems and the audio configuration - both support it, but routing cables would be a huge pain, especially across the living room.

And why would you be against SSDs for HTPC? there's plenty of other benefits besides faster boot / load times. Low power consumption, smaller profile, no moving parts, minimizes choppiness in videos, that sort of thing...


Speaking from experience, routing cables is going to be a pain anyway. As for the benefits you mention for SSDs, in my opinion, none of them out-weigh their initial cost. Then again, given the increase in price of standard hard drives, due to the flooding in Thailand, a small SSD isn't that much more expensive. Given the OP's budget, it's certainly within his range.

-Wolf sends
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