im looking to start building my HTPC, im going to prolly hand build my case, so ive gotta kinda know what to expect and how big it will be, first off i wanna hook up surround sound to my HTPC, should i get a sound card?
i believe ive got my tv tuner picked up, its a dual tuner. also wanted to know what do i need to be able to record my tv shows/movies onto my pc and be able to watch them later?
still havent decided to get a mATX or ITX mobo, going with the amd A8 cpu, like 4-8gb of ram and corsair 450w psu.
was going to try to watercool it but might just invest in a couple quiet fans.
Sounds like fun - I just finished building my first HTPC and about the only thing I'd change is the sound/noise coming off the fans. I'm looking to buy a quieter fan. It's not the PC fan that is loud, on my machine it's the case fan. I run cool at about 24 degrees C according to my mobo monitor, ~29 degrees when watching HD video (I have an APU), so I could probably safely justify letting it run a little warmer and saving on some fan noise.
I get 5.1 audio out off the mobo on the HDMI wire. My decent receiver however is actually not HDMI compliant though, so I'll probably end up buying a cheap sound card with optical out one day because I quite like my receiver.
I use an HDHomerun dual tuner I bought used and it works like a dream. I originally bought it because I believed I might one day want to use an htpc in a location where I have ethernet but no coax running in my place. It's actually what I have right now as I've married the system with powerline ethernet and so can plug in anywhere int he house, so it's worked out well. I only watch OTA TV, so I won't comment on using this tuner (or other tuners) to watch from a cable feed.
Re. recording TV and such from your tuner based on the schedule. I do it all the time! I originally used MythTV, and it worked well, but I was *never* able to get my el cheapo remote working fully, even after spending a couple of nights working on it. So I decided to put some money value on my time and dropped a hundred bucks on Windows 7 to use the Win7 Media Center. Honestly, this thing works extremely well. One problem is the commercial auto-detect that I had in Myth (and worked well out of the box btw) doesn't really exist as seamlessly in WMC (there are options but they are clunky). But the WAF (wife acceptance factor) is way way higher with a functioning remote so I decided it was worth it. Also worth noting if you want to supplement your feed with netflix, a windows box is the way to go - linux + netflix is a no-go still although I have read that is changing sometime in the next year (http://benjaminkerensa.com/2011/07/30/netflix-instant-i...). All told, unless you want all the cool plugins, WMC7 is probably the easiest, but it is not the cheapest. If you like to hack stuff and don't want netflix, go for MythTV.
I used an mATX board and case and while it fits in the living room real nice, it was a little tight for space and I only have space for one more hard drive unless I start hacking the case a bit.
In the money I have saved by not having cable, I have already paid for my system (I spent about $450 total, including Windows), so it was all well worth it!
Ok. In that case, I definitely like the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual that Gil99 mentions. It's network based so while you're watching TV on the HTPC, someone else could be watching a different channel on another PC. If that's not a concern, then look to Hauppauge's WinTV-HVR-1850 or 2250 internal TV Tuner Cards.
If this is strictly a media system (no games), you don't need an A8 APU. You could drop down to an A6. The little dual-core processor in my HTPC (see specs in my signature) does just fine.
Probably no need for 8 GB of RAM in this system. 4GB is more than enough.
Using the A8 (A6) APU means you won't need a graphics card. You could probably drop down to a lower power supply like an Antec 380 (which is still probably more than enough).