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HTPC - Component Overkill for Processing Needs? Help Please

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December 6, 2011 2:46:21 PM

Hello All -

I have set out to build an all encompassing Home Theater PC that will meet my needs for the next couple of years and then allowing for the swapping of components so that I can upgrade a few pieces at a time down the road.

Most important to this (in no particular order):

1. Audio/Video Quality – as much 1080 content as possible and 7.1(or maybe even 9.1) Hi-Def sound.

2. Speed – I do not want to wait…or have to deal with blips, buffering, etc….I break this down into a few categories of tasks that will be performed.

a. Streaming content from Internet (i.e. Netflix, HuluPlus, etc)
b. Playing digital content stored on HDD.
c. Converting/Organizing Audio and Video files.
d. Burning digital copies of my music, dvd, blu-ray collection (for backup).

3. Storage – I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 terabytes of audio, video, photos at current. I want to be able to access them fast (see # 2) but also have a reliable drive to ensure the safety of the files. The plan would be to add an additional 2 TB drive as the first neared capacity.

4. PVR / Over-the-Air Digital Broadcast – I want to be able to record live TV which I would receive via a Digital Antenna or elsewhere. I will not have cable, satellite, uverse.

5. Photo Editing – This would be purely a secondary task, but I do want the power/processing to do this.

With all of that said, my own personal research and understanding has led me to the components listed below. What I would like to throw out to the group is this…

1. Is this setup overkill for the tasks listed above? I do not want to “just make due” for these task; on the other hand, I do not want to build an obscenely powerful computer that I will never utilize even ¼ of the power (ever). At current this system is spec’ing out right around $2000 for the components mentioned below – I am fine with that price if that is what it will cost to meet my requirements but, of course, I would love for it to be less.
2. The other one is the same question I see on every board, but I guess I’ll ask anyway…does anyone see any compatability issues with these components, OR, have an alternate list of current components they feel will work better for my need.

Thank you all for your help!

**Looking to order components by the end of this week…this will be my holiday project.

CPU
Intel Core i7-2600K Processor $319.99
Motherboard
GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD4 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $213.60
SSD (for Operating System)
Crucial 128 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive SATA 6Gb/s CT128M4SSD2 $269.00
HDD (for Digital Storage and Playback)
WD Caviar Black 2 TB SATA III 7200 RPM 64 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Internal Desktop HD - WD2002FAEX $239.00
Memory
Kingston Tech HyperX 16 GB Kit (4x4 GB Mod) 16 Quad Channel Kit 1600 (PC3 12800) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM $79.99
PSU
Corsair HX Professional Series 750-Watt 80 Plus Certified Power Supply $143.99
Case
SilverStone LC13B-E Aluminum/Steel ATX Media Center/HTPC Case $86.99
Cooling Components
Xigmatek AIO-S80DP All-in-one Liquid Cooling System $41.95
Cooler Master Computer Case Cooling R4-L2R-20AC-GP $5.99
Blu-Ray Burner
Panasonic UJ240 6x Blu-ray Burner BD-RE/8x DVD±RW DL SATA Drive (Black) $99.99
HD Tuner/PVR
Hauppauge Colossus PCI Express Internal HD-PVR $137.03
GSU
GIGABYTE ATI Radeon HD6850 1GB DDR5 2DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort PCI-Express Video Card GV-R685OC-1GD $177.29
Sound Card
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Sound Card (70SB073A00000) $127.00
a b B Homebuilt system
December 6, 2011 3:56:59 PM

This looks more like a workstation instead of a htpc hehe. This is a fairly large system and a few suggestions would be:

1. file server. I wouldn't stick that many HDDs in an htpc unless you don't mind the additional heat/noise of the spinning drives.

2. You won't need 750W. A 500W will provide more than enough power for your system and for future needs.

3. Your motherboard is fairly overkill. You can also save the hassle of using a sound card and just use the motherboard's onboard sound card which isn't bad. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... is only $170 and will provide 7.1, quick sync, ssd caching, all the PCIe ports you need and saves money

4. Depending on what programs you use for photo editing, I know several take advantage of Nvidia's CUDA so a good swap might be for a gtx 560 instead of the 6850 to utilize CUDA.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 6, 2011 4:14:28 PM

That Sound Blaster is a bloated piece of crap unnecessary, and your sound will be coming over the HDMI cable, anyway, unless you plan on connecting to the receiver analog. You can't get DTS Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD through optical or coax. I think you'll find that onboard sound is all you need.
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December 6, 2011 4:40:37 PM

If you really want to go all out on a system like this my recommendation is to build two systems... you will actually be able to do this cheaper more than likely.

System 1 - The front end - build a mini-itx based system something very small like dual core atom 850, or an AMD APU solution (A6-3650 or a8 3850). This system will be with the TV (living room I assume) and will run windows, with XBMC and a mythTV frontend. It will be the system utilized for watching the hulu, netflix, streaming etc... and will have a small ssd instead ofa hdd (think 16-32gb at most). you should be able to do the photo editing with ease on this system without any real slowdown or hiccups. possibly a bluray drive on this as well since it will be colocated with the TV.

System 2 - Back End - This is your loud storage box with more heavy duty processing. This still will be less powerful (and cheaper) than your single system solution. This box will have your video capture card/tv tuner, HDDs, This system will run your mythTV backend. All your media will be stored on this system, and it will be in another room preferably so as to keep the noise out of the video watching pleasure. this system can be a lower powered i3 or i5 I would grab one of the mobos compatible with ivy bridge upgrade depending on how often you upgrade... but a micro ATX will probably be good enough and the case you invest in should have lot's of space for HDDs. The second machine will not need a video card (other than capture/tuner) as it will not need a monitor, because it will be acting more like a server.

I am willing to throw together some suggestions for parts, but before I do any research I will wait to see your ideas about a dual system solution.
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December 6, 2011 9:34:41 PM

A big thanks to everyone so far whose has provided input.

SLHPSS -

That is actually the approach I had intended to take in the beginning and then I let a co-worker talk me out of the idea. I like that Client/Server configuration and would love to hear your suggestions around equipment.

If I went this direction I would definitely be using MythTV and XBMC and the server would run Ubuntu.

**I'm assuming that in order to have this setup in more than one room at a later date I would simply build another front end machine.

I look forward to hearing your (and everyone else's) suggestions.

Thanks
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December 7, 2011 2:15:34 AM

rgriffin2 said:
A big thanks to everyone so far whose has provided input.

SLHPSS -

That is actually the approach I had intended to take in the beginning and then I let a co-worker talk me out of the idea. I like that Client/Server configuration and would love to hear your suggestions around equipment.

If I went this direction I would definitely be using MythTV and XBMC and the server would run Ubuntu.

**I'm assuming that in order to have this setup in more than one room at a later date I would simply build another front end machine.

I look forward to hearing your (and everyone else's) suggestions.

Thanks


yeah actually anything that has a mythTV frontend client of some sort should be able to pull services from it.. I believe there are at least semi functional android and ipad/iphone apps for mythTV though I can't speak to there capabilities.

Also... anything that can run XBMC (windows, linux, mac, appletv, you will be able to access it using the xbmc mythtv plugin)
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December 7, 2011 3:29:37 AM

BACKEND:

CASE: Fractal Design Define R3 Silver Arrow Mid Tower - 99.99 (room for 8 drives)
PSU: Antec EarthWatts 750W (might be a bit overkill but gives you room to grow)
MOBO: Intel BOXDZ68DB LGA 1155 Intel Z68 - 134.99 (Z68 guarantees upgradability to ivy bridge if needed/desired)
CPU: Intel I5 2500 - 209.99 (was totally going lower than this but wanted a quad core and the price difference was 20 bucks)
RAM: G.SKILL Ribjaw 8GB DDR3 1333 (2x4) - 49.99
TUNER: Huappage Colossus PCI-E 1x - 141.99


Backend Total: $736.94

You will be using your current drives so no new ones will be needed at this time... but here is a suggested piece

SSD: Crucial M4 64GB SSD - 108.99

Install OS on SSD and use the other drives as data storage/SMB shares in MythBuntu

Backend Total W/SSD: 845.93

-----------------------------------------------

FRONTEND:

CASE: Silverstone Sugo SG05 w/300W PSU - 119.99
MOBO: ASRock A75M-ITX mini-itx mobo - 89.99
CPU: AMD A8-3850 OEM - 134.99
CPU HSF: Scythe Big Shuriken 2 - 49.99
RAM: G.SKILL Ribjaw 4GB DDR3 1333 (2x2) - 31.99
BluRay: LG Super Multi Combo drive 99.99[/url
Slimline Adapter:
StarTech Slimline->SATA adapter - 15.99Crucial M4 64GB SSD - 108.99

I went with an SSD again... nothing big needed on this system so may as well do everything to make it as responsive as possible.

Frontend Total: 636.92

Overall setup price: 1482.85 (one SSD); 1591.84 (both SSDs)

I'm sure it could be tweaked for even more awesomeness in either direction (price or performance). The A8-3850 will also be capable of some light gaming, but I would recommend going with 720p for any games attempted with it.

For the Back end the case comes with 2 120 mm fans with room for 5 more... you definitely don't need more but it wouldn't hurt to put one or two more in there... I recommend Noctuas

Noctua 120mm NF-P12-1300 -24.99

With 2k estimate you were talking about in the OP you could deck this thing out a good bit more and still be under the 2k... and the case can take a shorter video card if you want (if you use a HD6670 you can do a hybrid crossfire with the onboard and that would be another 80 bucks, but will add a little bit more sound to the machine as well unless you use like one of the two fanless ones...)

that took a while to put together... and now I want one :cry: 

forgot the tuner... I just put the one you had on it... one question though... that tuner doesn't look like it has a cable hookup you may wanna look at some of the other tuners available... and ensure they have coax connectivity because I'm pretty sure that's how most OTA antennas connect. that will bring the total up from 50-150 bucks... I think the HD advertised ones I saw were 50-90 though...

adjusted prices to reflect huappage colossus (like I said might wanna change that... would be like 80-50 bucks cheaper and more what you want I think)

for the frontend I recommend windows running xbmc, because it's the only version that supports Netflix streaming... unless you hackintosh the thing, but that would cause more issues I'm sure.

honestly... if you want to go super cheap all you need is the front end, throw the tuner in it and it would be awesome, but as it's a mini-itx system and box there isn't a lot of room for upgrading and adding tons of disk space.... and you would do fine to lower the specs on the back end... specifically the processor... an I3 for example should still work great." target="_blank">
SSD: Crucial M4 64GB SSD - 108.99

I went with an SSD again... nothing big needed on this system so may as well do everything to make it as responsive as possible.

Frontend Total: 636.92

Overall setup price: 1482.85 (one SSD); 1591.84 (both SSDs)

I'm sure it could be tweaked for even more awesomeness in either direction (price or performance). The A8-3850 will also be capable of some light gaming, but I would recommend going with 720p for any games attempted with it.

For the Back end the case comes with 2 120 mm fans with room for 5 more... you definitely don't need more but it wouldn't hurt to put one or two more in there... I recommend Noctuas

Noctua 120mm NF-P12-1300 -24.99

With 2k estimate you were talking about in the OP you could deck this thing out a good bit more and still be under the 2k... and the case can take a shorter video card if you want (if you use a HD6670 you can do a hybrid crossfire with the onboard and that would be another 80 bucks, but will add a little bit more sound to the machine as well unless you use like one of the two fanless ones...)

that took a while to put together... and now I want one :cry: 

forgot the tuner... I just put the one you had on it... one question though... that tuner doesn't look like it has a cable hookup you may wanna look at some of the other tuners available... and ensure they have coax connectivity because I'm pretty sure that's how most OTA antennas connect. that will bring the total up from 50-150 bucks... I think the HD advertised ones I saw were 50-90 though...

adjusted prices to reflect huappage colossus (like I said might wanna change that... would be like 80-50 bucks cheaper and more what you want I think)

for the frontend I recommend windows running xbmc, because it's the only version that supports Netflix streaming... unless you hackintosh the thing, but that would cause more issues I'm sure.

honestly... if you want to go super cheap all you need is the front end, throw the tuner in it and it would be awesome, but as it's a mini-itx system and box there isn't a lot of room for upgrading and adding tons of disk space.... and you would do fine to lower the specs on the back end... specifically the processor... an I3 for example should still work great.
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