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First build "ultimate HTPC" (gaming/surfing/movies/dvr)

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May 23, 2012 11:32:27 AM

I'm a complete newb so bare w/ me please. I've been a council gamer all my life and it shows lol. I'm looking at building a htpc for gaming/surfing/streaming/movies/music/DVR. I'm not into bluray/3D. I play mostly FPS/drivers like COD/BF3/MGS4/Dirt/NFS/GTA. Wireless connectivity is a must and wireless startup w/ keyboard or remote would be great as well as both internal BT/RF capabilities. The tv will be a Panasonic TC-L37U3 and a Sony STR-DH820 receiver.

The case I picked out is the Silverstone GD04B cuz it seems to have sufficient cooling and quiet w/ 120mm fans. Will probably require a modular PSU.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The rest I'm not sure about (MB/PCU/CPU/RAM/PSU) and would greatly appreciate some ideas. Heat/efficiency is a concern as well as future proofing/upgrading, my budget is 1k USD but cheaper would be better.

Thanks
May 23, 2012 11:50:18 AM

I should probably mention I intend to run W7 64. Also not sure if I will be OCing or needing PSI/CFX capabilities. Would appreciate your opinion there as well.
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May 23, 2012 12:20:24 PM

Well, you're not going to get an "ultimate" HTPC for only $1000.

What is your video source for DVR (Cable/Satellite/Free Over-The-Air)?

If cable, who is your provider and does your subscription require a set top box from the cable company?

-Wolf sends
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May 23, 2012 1:14:50 PM

Wolfshadw said:
Well, you're not going to get an "ultimate" HTPC for only $1000.

What is your video source for DVR (Cable/Satellite/Free Over-The-Air)?

If cable, who is your provider and does your subscription require a set top box from the cable company?

-Wolf sends


Dvr isnt that important, I'd just like the ability in the future. My caco is CableOne and they have topbox's but I'd prefer an internal tuner card which I believe they offer/allow. Idk what MB requirements Id need to have this feature, I believe just a PCIe slot, which to my understanding is just an "add on slot". As for budget I was hoping for 1000 but could swing 1500 if I really need to.

For starters, is that a good case or is there something better thats similar? What disadvantages does a mATX have (if any) to an ATX size MB?
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May 23, 2012 4:23:53 PM

Your cable subscription (whether or not you need a set top box from the cable company) is going to determine which TV Tuner card is best for you. If you currently require a set top box from the cable company, then you're going to want to look into cablecard ready TV Tuner cards (assuming your cable company provides cablecards). For an internal card, the only solution would be the Ceton InfiniTV4 card.

If your current cable subscription does not require you to have a set top box, then you could go with something like the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-2250.

Of HTPC cases, I really prefer those from SilverStone, Lian-LI and NMediaPC. I currently use an old NMediaPC 200BA HTPC case. While the SliverStone case you linked would probably work extremely well for you, it can only house a MicroATX motherboard. This is going to limit any future upgrades (as I'm finding out). Getting an HTPC case that can house a full ATX motherboard will give you extra space for components and allow for more air flow through the case; keeping it cooler and quieter.

Using that case though, I'd probably recommend something like this:

Case: SilverStone Black GRANDIA GD04B - $83
Power Supply: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650M 650W - $110
Motherboard: MSI Z77MA-G45 LGA 1155 Intel Z77 - $120
CPU: Intel Core I5-3550 Ivy Bridge - $210
RAM: Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (2x2GB) - $24
Hard Disk Drive: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM - $100
Optical Drive: ASUS 24X DVD Burner - $18
Graphics Card: Sapphire Radeon HD6870 - $170
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - $100

Total Cost: $935
S&H: $23
Shipped Cost: $958

Mail in rebates: $20 (2x$10)
Final Cost: $938

A couple notes on this build:
1) I went with that power supply because it's modular. In a cramped case, the less loose cables there are, the better.
2) I went with that motherboard for the expansion slots. The graphics card will cover the first PCI-Ex1 slot and if you do get around to adding a TV Tuner card, you will need an available PCI-Ex1 slot.

Just something to get you started.

-Wolf sends
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May 24, 2012 1:07:09 AM

I've looked at the Ceton InfiniTV4 b4 and I really like that it rec 4ch at a time, but a lot of people are having issues w/ it. I'll have to do more research and talk w/ my CC b4 I commit, for now I'm just looking to have it as an option for a later date.

As for MB/case size, will I really need more than 5e slots? What other "upgrades" might I need? My biggest concern w/ other cases is cooling and noise, and optical drive location being as most limit the use of an aftermarket CPU cooler, or will the stock cooler be fine? Not sure if I'll need to overclock since I've never experimented w/ OCing b4, but once I see its benefits I might like to. Another ability I need the case to have is a 2.5 drive slot since I also plan to run a SSD. If you have other case recommendations I'm open to suggestions.
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May 24, 2012 1:25:45 AM

My Ceton card has been running smooth and without issue since I installed it last July. My HTPC has been online 24/7 since then (downtime for Windows Updates and dusting).

As far as Motherboard/Case size, it's really up to you. If at some point down the line you come across a game that would really benefit from SLI/Crossfire, it's not going to be possible.

Additionally, I forgot about your wireless connectivity requirement. If you go wireless now, you'll only have the second PCI-Ex16 slot for a TV Tuner card. Again, things start getting bunched up. This restricts airflow; causing more heat to build within the system. It's just something to keep in mind.

As far as installing a 2.5" SSD, it's probably easier to just get a drive bay adapter.

-Wolf sends
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May 24, 2012 1:46:22 AM

I didn't see your reply, my bad... I was reading the reviews on Newegg, it seems to be really glitchy and Ceton doesn't offer any support. Idk maybe its a quality piece (I'm just reading reviews).

So basically I'll need one (possibly 2) slot for grafix card, another for wireless, another for TV, and you said that a mATX doesn't have the room for SLI/CFX expansion. I realise I'm asking for a lot in such a small case. Thats why I'm making cooling the main concern.

For wireless, I guess I could connect w/ usb antenna right? Id prefer internal, but it might cause issues w/ the signal (wont be more than 40ft from the router). As for BT/RF, Idk if theres a MB that has thoes capabilities or if I'd have to use a USB dongle. My main concern is being able to start the computer or make changes in BIOS if need be via wireless KB. Is there anything in particular I should look for in a KB to offer that ability?
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May 24, 2012 2:07:19 AM

I also intend to game w/ a PS3 controller (RF) and navigate movies/tv w/ universal remote. Idk if I'll be able to have wireless usb/ KB usb/ PS3 usb/ UR usb? What do you suggests

I do appreciate the help Wolf

Thanks
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May 24, 2012 2:22:22 AM

If you're looking for high-end gaming, then you're looking at a dual-slot card.
For wireless/bluetooth, I did come across this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4...

RF/IR may be included in the HTPC case (connecting to a USB port on the motherboard) or you could get a small IR Reciever that plugs into a USB port. I don't think you're going to be able to power up a system from a remote/wireless keyboard. About the best you could do is wake it from sleep. From my experience, that's an iffy process.

From what I've seen, Ceton support is excellent (we have a couple Ceton guys in another forum who are fairly active and responsive).

-Wolf sends
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May 24, 2012 3:46:55 AM

By dual card you mean CFX right? Does the extra card need a PCI slot? To be honest Idk what my GPU requirements are. Like I said, I've been a council gamer all my life and it probably won't take much to equal/surpass a PS3. I'd just like it to be efficient/quite and future proofed for 5-7yrs. Does TV type/res/size matter?

How sensitive is IR KBs to line of sight or obstruction? I intend to use it w/ my knees up. Whats the difference between RF/WiFi? Can wireles MBs connect RF remotes/kb/controllers w/o dongles, since WLAN is RF based? If so will interference be an issue?

I also did some searching/reading... It seems some MB's have the ability to wake the PC through a BIOS setting known as WoWLAN (Wake on wireless LAN). Does the one you list support this? I also read that some TV cards can wake the PC via remote if the cards power is looped through the MB. Does the Ceton InfiniTV4 offer this?

Thanks Wolf
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May 24, 2012 8:59:47 AM

I dont think a dedicated BT card is necessary for me since the only BT device I plan to use is a headset via USB. However some of the KB's I like are BT, is there any pros/cons between RF and BT I should consider? Also, if I decide on a BT KB can I connect via the headset dongle or vise versa? I'm just trying to make this as clean and simple as possible w/o interference being as I'll have 5 wireless connections (router/kb/rem/cntlr/headset).
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May 24, 2012 12:32:01 PM

Quote:
By dual card you mean CFX right?


No, I mean a single double-wide card. The PCB takes up one expansion slot, while the heatsink and cooling fans cover a second expansion slot.

Quote:
TV type/res/size matter?


Only the resolution matters when it comes to performance (frames per second - FPS). The higher the resolution, the more work a graphics card will need to do in order to maintain playable frame rates (generally considered above 30FPS). In order to get better frame rates (depending on the game), you're going to need a more power graphics card. The more powerful graphic cards require better cooling solutions.

Quote:
How sensitive is IR KBs to line of sight or obstruction?


Fairly sensitive, but I keep my keyboard on my knees and it works. As long as there's is direct line-of-sight, (i.e. my feet aren't in the way) there's no issue.

Quote:
Whats the difference between RF/WiFi? Can wireles MBs connect RF remotes/kb/controllers w/o dongles, since WLAN is RF based? If so will interference be an issue?


I can't get into details because I simply don't know. I do know that my old Adesso RF Wireless Keyboard did not interfere with my wireless network (separate rooms). The RF keyboard does not get an IP Address from the wireless router. Since it wasn't part of my wireless network, it could not connect any other devices.

Quote:
It seems some MB's have the ability to wake the PC through a BIOS setting known as WoWLAN (Wake on wireless LAN). Does the one you list support this?


No, it does not. That functionality would only come from a motherboard that natively support Wireless LAN connectivity or from an add-on wireless card (I would assume).

Quote:
I also read that some TV cards can wake the PC via remote if the cards power is looped through the MB. Does the Ceton InfiniTV4 offer this?


Never heard of this. I do know that with the Ceton InfiniTV4 card installed, you have have Windows Media Center wake the system prior to a program that is scheduled to be recorded.

Since I leave my system on 24/7, I really haven't worked on waking a system. I did try it once and found it to be flaky at best. That was a number of years ago and things may have improved since then. I'd have to do some research into my MCE Remote Control to see if the power button on it actually puts the system to sleep of if it actually shuts the system down.

As for the blue tooth information, I really don't know that much about it. Sorry. I'm primarily a hardware guy. When you start talking about networking/wireless/blue tooth, I can only answer based on my limited experience; which is to say, I got a wireless network working so I leave it alone.

-Wolf sends
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