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In need of an HTPC (solved except for tuner card)

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November 25, 2011 9:06:56 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Probably around Christmas

Budget Range: $400 or so, after rebates. I can go up to ~$500, but I would really prefer not to) $250, maybe up to $400 :??: 

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Web browsing, Youtube, movies from disk, TV

Parts Not Required: I'll probably use a Linux distro for OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon, and NCIX are all good

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: I think Llano would be good, but I'm not sure. Also, need a low form-factor case

Overclocking: Probably not

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: I need it quiet, and I want a TV Tuner card that can record and take the direct cable input (is that possible?

More about : htpc solved tuner card

November 25, 2011 9:54:56 PM

I was going to suggest a i3-2105 build, but getting a dual-core AMD Llano might be better for your budget. I'll look at some parts for you later tonight. Does the $250 need to include a HDD, because if so, that's going to be most of it?
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November 25, 2011 9:56:12 PM

Yes, I do need hard drive. Seagate (and to a lesser extent Hitachi) ones are still cheap at Office Depot's online store ($60), though.
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November 25, 2011 10:51:49 PM

Anybody?
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November 25, 2011 11:07:32 PM

No need to bump your post.

Do you need blu-ray too?
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November 25, 2011 11:10:27 PM

I will use Blu-Ray if I can fit it into my budget, but I don't care too much.

Just get a build without it, if you don't mind.
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Best solution

November 25, 2011 11:29:14 PM

CPU: Pentium G620 $72.99 - You could save a little money getting a dual core Celeron, but I think you'll want (maybe need) the better graphics on the Pentium chip.
Mobo: ASRock H61 $62.99 - This is the cheapest micro ATX socket 1155 motherboard I could find with an HDMI out.
RAM: Corsair 2x2GB DDR3 1333Mhz $19.99
TV card: Hauppauge HVR-1250 $59.99 - This should work with MythTV and includes a remote and low-profile bracket.
PSU: Antec EarthWatts Green 380w $29.99 - I have this same PSU in my media PC. It's good quality, quiet, and 80+ bronze. The price is a Black Friday deal, so I'd pick this up today.

Total: $245.95

This doesn't include a case, hard drive, or blu-ray/dvd. But the prices are really close for those parts. Case is going to be your preference, but any micro-atx case (including slim) should work. If you can get a $60 hard drive and spend ~$40 on a case, that puts you right around $345. Blu-ray drives are $60 and dvd are $20. If you watch blu-rays, it's probably worth spending the extra $40. That would put your total system cost at $405. I think $250 is going to be impossible using new parts, but if you can stretch to $400, you can get a good system that will last you for years.
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November 25, 2011 11:34:03 PM

Looks great. Do you think that a Llano will be better, though? It's basically the same price.
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November 25, 2011 11:40:13 PM

Also, can you give me more info about the TV Tuner? I'm so confused! Here are some questions:

1: Do I plug in the cable-tv cable right into the Tuner?
2: If yes, can the GPU output that signal?
3: Can it record?
EDIT: 4: Does it (the card plus the recording software) work with Linux, specifically the distros designed for HTPCs?

More questions later, depending on the answers.
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November 25, 2011 11:54:55 PM

ImThat1Guy said:
Also, can you give me more info about the TV Tuner? I'm so confused! Here are some questions:

1: Do I plug in the cable-tv cable right into the Tuner?
2: If yes, can the GPU output that signal?
3: Can it record?
EDIT: 4: Does it (the card plus the recording software) work with Linux, specifically the distros designed for HTPCs?

More questions later, depending on the answers.


I looked at it, and the Llano F1 motherboards are too much. You offset the cost you save on the CPU with the motherboard cost. Going Intel you'll get a better CPU with worse video. Going AMD you'll get better video with a worse CPU. HD 2000 video on the Intel chip should be enough for HD video (maybe read up on this, I don't have any personal experience with it), and with this being a media PC where you'll probably be encoding files, I think you're better off going that way.

To your other questions:

1. Yes. It's a digital tuner, so you'll be fine plugging your cable (without a set-top box) or over-the-air antennae in.
2. Yes. The computer handles the output.
3. Yes. Again this is handled by the computer.
4. It should. I had an analog Hauppauge card (before the switch) I used in Mythdora (Fedora build of MythTV distro) that worked well, and I doubt they went backwards in compatibility. I haven't been keeping up on this, though (no longer have cable), so to be sure you should check the distro's compatibility chart.
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November 25, 2011 11:59:05 PM

hapkido said:
I looked at it, and the Llano F1 motherboards are too much. You offset the cost you save on the CPU with the motherboard cost. Going Intel you'll get a better CPU with worse video. Going AMD you'll get better video with a worse CPU. HD 2000 video on the Intel chip should be enough for HD video (maybe read up on this, I don't have any personal experience with it), and with this being a media PC where you'll probably be encoding files, I think you're better off going that way.

To your other questions:

1. Yes. It's a digital tuner, so you'll be fine plugging your cable (without a set-top box) or over-the-air antennae in.
2. Yes. The computer handles the output.
3. Yes. Again this is handled by the computer.
4. It should. I had an analog Hauppauge card (before the switch) I used in Mythdora (Fedora build of MythTV distro) that worked well, and I doubt they went backwards in compatibility. I haven't been keeping up on this, though (no longer have cable), so to be sure you should check the distro's compatibility chart.

Great, thanks so much.

But I'm not sure about the Linux stuff... on Newegg it says is works with XP, Vista, and 7. No mention of Linux :??: 

I'll look for more info on Mythdora, Mythbuntu, and similar distros.

EDIT: Hmm, looks like it works with Mythbuntu.

EDIT2: Or maybe it's just the PVR-350 that works. So confused!

EDIT3: What do you make of this? Looks like some Hauppauges work, but not that one.
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November 26, 2011 12:26:34 AM

hapkido said:
HD 2000 video on the Intel chip should be enough for HD video (maybe read up on this, I don't have any personal experience with it), and with this being a media PC where you'll probably be encoding files, I think you're better off going that way.


HD 2000 doesn't support 23.976 fps. I was considering this exact build until I found that out. :( 
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November 26, 2011 12:38:25 AM

Carlitozway, I'm not sure about that...

Hapkido, thanks, but it says that the 1250 doesn't work as a cable card. What does that mean?
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November 26, 2011 12:39:28 AM

carlitozway said:
HD 2000 doesn't support 23.976 fps. I was considering this exact build until I found that out. :( 


What do you mean?

I just did a quick search and anandtech says it's a little superior to hd4250, which I do have experience with. With a dual-core, that will be fine for 1080p. I was running a Sempron single-core 2.7Ghz with hd4250 onboard, and it did fine with 1080p in Windows XP, but it did struggle in linux. I think it was an OS/codec issue, and not a hardware issue. But there shouldn't be any issues at all with a dual-core.
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November 26, 2011 12:41:37 AM

ImThat1Guy said:
Carlitozway, I'm not sure about that...

Hapkido, thanks, but it says that the 1250 doesn't work as a cable card. What does that mean?


I'm not sure. Where did you see it?

edit: I found it in the table. I'm not exactly sure what it's referring to, but I think it means cable card as in the cards cable providers put into their set-top boxes. You may not be able to get anything over channel 125 ("premium" channels) without that, but I'm not sure. Your cable company can probably tell you if tv tuners can get all channels on their network.

ATSC and QAM are the digital cable signals, which it does work with.
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November 26, 2011 12:43:48 AM

On the MythTV wiki page you gave me! "Cable Card- No"

It also says "IR- No"

What does that mean?
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November 26, 2011 12:47:19 AM

ImThat1Guy said:
On the MythTV wiki page you gave me! "Cable Card- No"

It also says "IR- No"

What does that mean?


IR is infrared. Probably referring to infrared remote.
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November 26, 2011 12:48:01 AM

hapkido said:
IR is infrared. Probably referring to infrared remote.

That's what I was thinking. But what about the "Cable- No"?
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November 26, 2011 1:53:13 AM

Any help? Does that mean I can't take cable input, or something else?
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November 26, 2011 2:18:26 AM

ImThat1Guy said:
Any help? Does that mean I can't take cable input, or something else?


I had edited my previous post before this. If that doesn't help, you may need to look up your questions. I think we've probably exceeded my knowledge in this subject.
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November 26, 2011 3:03:43 AM

hapkido said:
What do you mean?

I just did a quick search and anandtech says it's a little superior to hd4250, which I do have experience with. With a dual-core, that will be fine for 1080p. I was running a Sempron single-core 2.7Ghz with hd4250 onboard, and it did fine with 1080p in Windows XP, but it did struggle in linux. I think it was an OS/codec issue, and not a hardware issue. But there shouldn't be any issues at all with a dual-core.


http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a8-3500m-llano-apu,2959-21.html
Quote:
On top of this, Intel HD Graphics continues to suffer from Intel’s inability to support 23.976 FPS video playback, doubling a frame every 40 seconds.


http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridge-review-intel-core-i7-2600k-i5-2500k-core-i3-2100-tested/7
Quote:
Intel has committed to addressing the problem in the next major platform revision, which unfortunately seems to be Ivy Bridge in 2012. There is a short-term solution for HTPC users absolutely set on Sandy Bridge. Intel has a software workaround that enables 23.97Hz output. There’s still a frame rate mismatch at 23.97Hz, but it would be significantly reduced compared to the current 24.000Hz-only situation.


Llano is better at displaying video, Sandy Bridge is better at processing. I won't be doing any encoding on that machine (have an old core i7 for that), so I think I'll go the Llano route. I'm definitely using the PSU you suggest though, so thanks!
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November 26, 2011 12:14:53 PM

hapkido said:
I had edited my previous post before this. If that doesn't help, you may need to look up your questions. I think we've probably exceeded my knowledge in this subject.

Oh, okay. I'll email Comcast and check it out. Thanks for your help!
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November 26, 2011 12:15:15 PM

Best answer selected by ImThat1Guy.
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