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Media streamer/server hybrid. Need advice

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December 24, 2011 1:07:22 PM

Alright so I am thinking about how to integrate an HTPC into my living room. The more I think about it I don’t think I am looking so much for an HTPC as a media streaming home server hybrid.

Things I am not interested in
Gaming-I have an xbox 360 already and I barely use it for gaming anymore. If anything am intrigued with it’s media extender capabilities although I have become frustrated with it’s slow interface/menu system.
For now I am not really interested in watching TV or DVR/PVR capabilities via my HTPC. I have Verizon fios (although I rarely watch it). The main hangup here is that if I get rid of cable I will still pay around $70 or so a month just for a decent ISP service through Comcast/Verizon. I just figure why not pay a few more bucks for the cable and not have to give up my love for sports (which seems for many to be the biggest drawback to ditching cable)
Watch blu ray/DVD’s. I use bit torrent for tv shows/movies not available through Netflix/hulu/amazon instant. I don’t think I have watched an actual dvd in years
Breaking the bank for this thing. I don’t have a specific budget in mind. I am not trying to go overboard however. I want to buy the parts that will get me want I want and nothing more really. Just to throw a number out lets say “around” $500.


Things I want to be able to do.
Watch just about any video file format on my HDTV without having to transcode on the fly.
Be able to watch internet streams (Justin.tv and ustream, etc)
Store bittorrent client
Networked drives.

The following link is kinda where I am heading with this, http://lifehacker.com/5745937/roll-a-powerful-media-htp... Something in that vain

I have a 60 inch Panasonic ST30 HDTV. Sony HT-CT150 soundbar/sub. I am single and as far as computing needs go I have a laptop that sits on my coffee table as the only TV in my apartment. The desire for this all came from being tired of having an external HDD housing my torrents tethered to my laptop. Just trying to get a seamless integrated streaming solution that will allow me to sit back, watch media streaming to my HDTV and browse my laptop on my lap nice and comfy on the couch all at one time.
First thing I tried was a Buffalo linkstation 1 TB NAS. I was unimpressed with the DLNA interface on the panny. I am just used to being able to browse my folders on my windows machine easily without any lag/accessing times/etc. Just too clunky. Tried some media servers on my laptop (serviio/mezzmo/etc) and the on the fly transcoding aspect just is once again not appealing to me.

I’ve thought about a device like roku/boxee box but all these devices have specific limitations and I am intruiged with the freedom I can achieve in building my own pc that I can choose to run whatever I want on it in terms of software. Plus the panny already as apps like hulu/amazon/Netflix built in so a roku seems a bit redundant.

So any suggestions would be much appreciated. I kind of have no idea what requirements hardware wise this type of PC is going to need in terms of motherboard (other then knowing I will need HDMI out), processer type, graphics/sound cards. At the moment I really only need about 1TB in HDD space plus a 1TB backup HDD. My lack of building a pc experience makes it hard for me to really start pricing things out. Generally for computer type stuff I tend to use amazon and newegg as retailers.
December 24, 2011 9:03:19 PM

OK so here is some hardware I have been checking out

does it make sense to buy a motherboard with integrated graphics AND get a seperate graphics card as well?

For CPU I am thinking something in the vain of

Intel Core i3-2125 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I32125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Intel Core i3-2105 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I32105
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Core i3-540 Clarkdale 3.06GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics BX80616I3540
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Still have a bunch of research to do and not really sure what my processing requirements are gonna be so I don't know if any of those are over/under powered for what I am looking for.

As for GPU's I really am new to this and so I have almost no idea how to gauge what is over/under powered for my needs. All I really know is that I need it to ahve HDMI

MSI N450GTS-MD1GD3 GeForce GTS 450 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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December 24, 2011 10:28:52 PM

HTPC systems are little different then a media extender system general your main concern with extenders is going to be software and hdd space more than power and speed. You have a decent card for it and if you want to go with cable you may want to add a cable card. Otherwise it wouldn't make much difference any one the choice will work. I would recommend the I3-2125 though.

If you want it so if you choose to, you could run your cable through it and your xbox and use it for blueray/dvd/cd and do it all wireless it would be true HTPC and I would go with this:
intel I3-2120 119.99
ASRock Mob 99.99
PNY 8gb Ram 33.99
VisionTek GPU 136.99
Cable Tuner 219.99
Barracuda 3tb Hdd 239.99
Corsair PSU 59.99
Wireless b/g/n 19.99
Blue/DVD/CD 89.99
nMediaPC Case 69.99
nMediaPC Media LCD 29.99
OS 99.99

Total: $1,220.88
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December 24, 2011 10:31:18 PM

on the intergrated vs dedicated question
I always like to have both on extenders/htpc so you can always switch to onboard video for trouble shooting problems but it's not need.
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December 26, 2011 4:07:07 AM

Here is a sample build I am considering

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i3-2105 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($134.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock H61M/U3S3 Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($33.22 @ Amazon)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda Green 1.5TB 3.5" 5900RPM Internal Hard Drive ($93.61 @ Compuvest)
Case: Apex TX-381-C MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($27.53 @ Amazon)
Total: $364.34
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2011-12-26 01:02 EST-0500)
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December 27, 2011 3:05:04 AM

OK well here it is. Unless anyone has any objections/suggestions here is what I am going with

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i3-2105 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($121.50 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: MSI H67MA-E35 (B3) Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($85.53 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($17.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda Green 1.5TB 3.5" 5900RPM Internal Hard Drive ($93.61 @ Compuvest)
Case: Apex TX-381-C MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($27.53 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 380W ATX12V Power Supply ($63.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $410.15
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2011-12-27 00:03 EST-0500)
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December 27, 2011 3:56:17 AM

for use as an extender looks good to me
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