Budget HTPC build

Hello everyone. I am looking to start a build of a htpc pretty soon. I have been doing some extensive browsing around the forums but am still a little confused so I thought I would seek your advice. I am looking to have a htpc be a dvr (for cable that we just plug straight into the wall, no cable box), media playback (I would like to rip my entire collection of blu-rays and dvds for playback if possible), probably want to have a bit of room in a case for adding more hdd's just in case my collection grows bigger. I have a copy of windows 7 64 bit ultimate (does that include a media center? or would I be better to go with a third part like xmbc?)

Approximate Purchase Date: asap

Budget Range: $400 (including $100 amazon gift card), can go higher if needed (just have to talk to the wife ;) )

System Usage from Most to Least Important: HD and SD playback to 1080p TV (also, tv accepts optical and analog audio for surround sound if pulling that off is possible), DVR with programming guide if possible, file backup for networked computers (not necessary)

Parts Not Required: OS, keyboard, mouse

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon (have $100 gift card), after gift card is used any site that has the best deals

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: n/a

Overclocking: never done it, probably not

SLI or Crossfire: doesn't matter

Monitor Resolution:1920x1080

Additional Comments: will probably sit next to the tv, so not an ugly case, but not too concerned about appearance.
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More about budget htpc build
  1. I thought of one other thing. Is it possible to have a remote control to control the media playback and such? If so what kind works with htpcs?
  2. A few questions:

    #1 Does your TV take HDMI?
    #2 If I understand correctly, you do not have an A/V receiver in your setup, correct?
    #3 What kind of broadcast are you getting that you wan the DVR functions for? Satellite, over-the-air, digital cable, etc?

    For your remote question, that's easy. Just get any one of the WMC remotes that comes bundled with a USB IR receiver.
  3. My TV is hdmi. I have a theater in a box A/V receiver. I only pass audio to it from the TV by optical audio. So essentially, I need video and audio over hdmi to the TV which will then spit out the audio which I already have routed to my A/V receiver. The DVR functinality will be for standard cable, it is not digital (student family housing cable at a university), but I would like the ability to use either over-the-air or digital cable in the future if possible. And thank you for the answer about the remote.
  4. How quite do you want your HTPC to be? Some people want it to be silent, others don't mind. Also will it be in a well ventilated area? or will it be in a closet/shelf? These things might change what case/cooling system you need.

    Case - Do you want a horizontal case that looks like a AV receiver and will match your home theater system? Or is a standard computer case fine?

    HDD - How many bluerays do you have? and do you want to keep them at full size (25 to 50gb) because storage might become an issue with your budget if so.
    If possible on your budget get a small SSD drive for your OS, but if your running on a tight budget its not necessary

    TV Tuner - If I remember correctly recording standard cable is fairly easy and most cable cards should be fine. Digital is a whole different ball game and I think it also depends on how your cable provider flags its cable signal. Basically it means a significant price difference because your TV tuner must now be able to decrypt the encrypted cable channels. Also is one TV tuner enough? or do you want a double/triple/quadruple tuner?

    Network File back Up - This will work fine, just make sure you set backups to run in the middle of the night to avoid overworking the HTPC when people are watching TV

    Chip - I have a Intel i3 (SB) chip in my HTPC and it seems to run just fine

    I'm curious if there are any integrated graphic solutions that will run 1080p with out any issue? or is it just more practical to get a basic graphics card?
  5. For basic HTPC/digital file playback a G530 is fine and for IGP once u move to 3B Blu Ray i'd hit an A6-3500 APU and tht's not expensive at all either ^^
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