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First build ever (3d, bluray htpc)

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July 6, 2012 6:25:10 PM

Hi everyone,

So I just want to start out by saying that I am a total noobster here, and this is my first time ever posting on any forum of any kind, so please bare with me, and please try to answer in laymans terms as best as you can.

Approximate Purchase Date: by the end of this month (July, 2010)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: 3d bluray/bluray 80% of time, bluray ripping, streaming, cable viewing/recording 20% of the time.


Budget Range: $800-1000

parts not required: Monitor, (im using this in a dedicated HT room so I will be using a projector and a 120" screen)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, amazon, or wherever has the best prices

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: excellent quality, "future proof"

Overclocking: possibly in the future, but dont know if it is needed for a dedicated htpc, advice on this would be appreciaed

SLI or Crossfire: this is like another language to me as I have no clue what it means.

Monitor Resolution: 1080p (this is a must and i couldnt live with anything less)

Additional Comments: I am looking to build a purely dedicated htpc, so no gaming will be done through it (I have a ps3 for this) I have a very large collection of bluray (150 and counting, with my 3d collection growing very rapidly as the kids love it) so this is my main purpose for building an htpc so i can rip my entire colletion on to a hard drive(s) and play them back using xmbc, intially I wontb doing any television viewing but the near future (6 monthish) i will so future proofing is a big deal for me. So after many and I mean many weeks of researching I have come up with this build: So could anyone give me adviceon these issues/questions i have

1: Do I need a GPU to handle 3d flawlessly or will the iGPU suffice without loosing any video quality?

2: Is this a good setup to rip blurays very quickly? (as i have a ton of them to do I want a very fast and efficient system)

3: I am using a Epson Powerlite home cinema 1080p 3d projector and a onkyo reciever for a 7.1 suround system, so is this htpc going to be compatible with both of those

4: Do I need a sound card to get lossless audio from the htpc to the onkyo reciever, or do i just plug the reciever into the htpc via hdmi and the reciever will do the encoding to produce lossless audio

5: Is it highly reccomemded that i have an ssd, if not how much slower will the pc be?

6: And lastly are all the components in the htpc compatible? (they should be with as much research as I have been doing, haha)

So thanks in advance for any help! And here is my system to be....

CPU: Intel Core i5 3570K Processor 3.4 Ghz 4 cores BX80637I53570K $230

MOTHERBOARD: ASUS Intel Z77 ATX DDR3 2400 LGA 1155 Motherboard P8Z77-V $180

POWER SUPPLY: Corsair Enthusiast TX V2 Series 650-Watt 80 Plus Bronze Certified High Performance Modular Power Supply CP-9020002-NA $90

CASE: Antec Three Hundred ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case $50

SSD: Crucial 64 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive SATA 6Gb/s CT064M4SSD2 $70

MEMORY: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) Ripjaws Series DDR3 1333MHz (PC3 10666) 240-Pin Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL7D-4GBRH $36

HDD: Western Digital Caviar Green 2 TB Desktop Hard Drive WD20EARS $100

OPTICAL DRIVE: LG Electronics WH12LS39K M-Disc 12X Internal SATA Blu-Ray Rewriter - OEM Bulk Burner Drive $80

TOTAL= $836

Oh ps- the size, looks, and sound wont be a problem with it cause it will be put in a dedicated closet for all my av components and i will have an ac vent in there so it will stay really cool in there.



More about : build bluray htpc

a b B Homebuilt system
July 6, 2012 7:11:03 PM

1) Going with 3D Blu-Ray display, I'd probably recommend going with a discrete graphics card. It doesn't need to be any great shakes, it will ensure smooth playback. I'd probably look at the Radeon HD 6570

2) Looks to be a decent system for ripping, way overkill for the rest of the HTPC duties.

3) Should be. I'm using an Onkyo HT-S3300 HTIB and Optoma HD20 projector without issues.

4) No, you shouldn't need a dedicated sound card. Between the optical out on your motherboard or the HDMI from your graphics card, your sound set up should be just fine.

5) I recommend an SSD ONLY if it's well within your budget. It's going to help with boot times and loading of programs, but not much else.

6) Not seeing any glaring errors from your system build.

Now as I mentioned before, this system is way overkill for just HTPC duties. My HTPC (see my signature below) serves me extremely well (does cable recordings and blu-ray playback, but no ripping or 3D). I would ask what your current system is, however. If you could list the specs of your current system, it may be more than enough for your HTPC viewing duties while the main components of your new build become your new primary system (which you would use for ripping/encoding).

-Wolf sends

P.S. Welcome Aboard! :bounce: 
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July 6, 2012 7:30:52 PM

Thanks wolfshadw for the promp reply! And as far as any sort of a current system haha and dont laugh too loud, I just have a laptop that I use for web browsing that I bought back in 2007 i think and it is a hp pavilion dv6700, but it doesnt even have a bluray player, so as far as for my home theater needs i have just been using my ps3, an onkyo reciever and a polk audio speaker system for my 7.1. so anything would really be an uprage for me.

And I did know coming into this that the mentioned build would be quite the overkill, but i do have a budget of 800-1000 and it was still on the lower end so i figured heck why not, just in case i ever want to get into something more cpu demanding in the future.

but with that said the main reason I went for the intel i5 3570 ivy bridge, was cause it had the hd4000 video card built in, so my main concern with that would be can it handle 3d bluray fine, or would there be that much of a difference that I should go with the i3 2105 sandy bridge and get that graphic card you suggested?
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Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
July 6, 2012 7:44:52 PM

Since you are new to the HTPC hobby, I suggest you head over to Assassin's HTPC blog and do some reading:

http://assassinhtpcblog.com/

There are some free guides available, but the paid guides are really worth the money ($25). It will teach you everything you would ever need to know about part selection, building, software set up, maintenance, and everything else HTPC related.

Keep us updated on your project. We love to see the results.
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July 6, 2012 7:54:38 PM

I love that site, that is actually where I have gotten almost all my info so far, I havent gotten the paid version yet because i didnt know exactly what it entailed, and if it would be able to answer my specific problem. But I am continuing to read lots on that site as well as this one and avs forums as well. But I still have been led in circles about my setup, because some people will say that it is way overkill for just an htpc, some will say that it is about right since im doing a ton of ripping and encoding of blurays.

Some have even said the igpu of the i5 3570 would be fine for 3d bluray and some say go with a discrete gpu. So i figured i might as well start a thread on it here and just go with the general overall consensus on this build.

And I will definately keep you guys posted as you are all awesome and have helped me so much!
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 6, 2012 8:06:46 PM

Are you really going to be encoding? You seem to be a fan of blu-ray, so I would assume that you would just pull out the untouched video and audio without messing with the codecs. If that's the case, even the lowest of low CPU's will work for you. You only need a hefty CPU if you plan to transcode the movies (shrink and/or convert to a different codec).
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 6, 2012 8:10:12 PM

On AVS HTPC subforums - the pros actually did a battery of tests and for integrated graphics and 3D Blu Ray with MadVR's highest settings a Llano A6-3500 is good to go and that is massively cheaper than what u picked out @@

Lots of peeps overestimate hardware needs for HTPC and IMO a SSD for HTPC is meh :p  You can simply (like lots of peeps) keep your HTPC in S3 sleep, wake up for recordings, back to S3 sleep yada yada
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July 6, 2012 8:22:18 PM

This is where my lack of experience comes into play, because I have read alot about the makemkv program and from what I understand you can shrink a bluray down to 5-10GB without loosing hardly any audio or video quality, but then again I have never watched a compressed bluray so I dont know how much of an exaggeration that is comparing it to watching the good ole original disc on a ps3. But I definately want to rip all my blurays since I have 5 kids now all under the age of 10 and have lost several of the original discs due to them ending up in the toilet, in the garbage, used as frisbees, and well you get the picture.

So I would like a copy of my whole collection on my htpc, and since I will be putting so many of them on an hdd I wont be able to just make a 1:1 copy as blurays are anywhere from 25 to 50GB a piece (ouch!) So In your guys opinion so you really loose much quality by compressing using that program, or can you guys reccomend another alternative for my situation?

Once again thanks so much for your help, I am learning so much as we speak! My wife is hating me right now because I am trying to do research inbetween posting, ha, so please in honor of saving our marriage help me find these answers in laymans tems! You guys are great!
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Best solution

July 6, 2012 9:30:24 PM

I've thrown HTPCs together with whatever I've had laying around before actually plopping down the cash on a dedicated system. Plus I also do some of the processing for ripping on another slightly stronger system and here's what I've concluded.

Haven't had an intel system in over ten years but from what I've read the QuickSync capability in modern intel CPUs is often faster than most graphics card assisted ripping, and produces results near stock CPU encoding quality. The trade-off is the near useless graphics component. If you want to stick with integrated graphics then batuchka's advice is completely sound, especially about the S3 and SSD. I would, however, up the processor to a A8-3850 or A8-3870 if you can swing it... still be cheaper than the i5. Do up the ram to 1866MHZ if can be done cheap, your GPU will thank you. It's not so much about the encoding or just playback. I think with the stronger video component you'll have a more enjoyable experience overall.

Another side note, if you plan on ripping without any conversion than it doesn't matter what hardware you have available for encoding but just to cover the bases here; Straight CPU encoding (x86 codepath) always produces the best results but can take a painful long time. AMD GPU assisted encoding creates very comparable results to x86 code path and is a considerable time saver. nVidia is faster than AMD but does not compare to x86 quality in my opinion. As rwpritchett asked, if you're leaving everything untouched then, yes, go with an AMD A6 rather than A8 and take the money you'll save and... well I'll get back to that.

AMD Playback... You'll want to go into your catalyst control panel after installing drivers and disable about every color correction that has anything to do with brightness and contrast correction, dynamic or otherwise. You'll see a rather annoying brightness shift during playback if you don't.

So, yes, the i5 could be overkill and the AMD A6 or A8 may be a far better fit, and an SSD may be overkill but if your software set remains small any economical 60 or 64GB SSD will do (Samsung seem most reliable these days) at only $15 to $20 over the price point of a good drive for booting. Keep your boot drive (or Windows drive, if you will) small and segregated from your ripping collection. If you don't you may learn in the worst possible way why not to. Personally I like notebook hard drives for boot drive in HTPCs as you can shoehorn them in the case about anywhere. Antec 300... had one. Good closet choice but be sure to load it up with fans as I assume you'll want to load it with hard drives? Hard Drives... Assuming you'll need lots of them. A good hard drive only runs around 15 Watts max so your Power supply may be overkill. Western Digital's green series drives start out ok but after two years of Up Time you gotta start watching them for bad sectors monthly. I haven't found a great utility under windows for analyzing the hard drive's self diagnostic (S.M.A.R.T.) data. I use any Linux Live disc with a Disc Utility to see that info. Someone you know personally may be able to help you on that one. Blue Ray rips of your own can get big. You may want to redirect some of your budget to your hard drives. Remember to pick a motherboard that keeps as many SATA ports internal as possible. I ran out an have to use an add-on card for more.

Here's what I run for an HTPC for a reference point. I've been running this for nearly a year now.

AMD A8-3850... I do a little 720p gaming with it.
Gygabyte ATX FM1 board... can't remember what exactly.
2 x 4GB G.skill 1866MHZ DDR3 (it was on sale, 4GB is plenty)
Seasonic 430 Watt PSU (Really... barely gets warm)
five assorted 2TB Hard Drives (Did I mention this is my fileserver, too?)
Boot drive is a Western Digital 7200RPM 320GB notebook drive. Soon to be swapped for a 64GB Samsung 830 SSD.
Some LG Blu-Ray burner.
All wrapped in a nMediaPC case with room for one more 3.5" hard drive
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 6, 2012 9:38:43 PM

I originally built my first HTPC 6 years ago because my son was destroying discs, and it progressed from there.

We'll need to be a bit careful in discussing software. Tom's rigidly prohibits discussions that involves decryption or any other way of circumventing copy protection.

Blu-rays generally are about 40-50GB with all the extras, audio tracks, etc. From my own experience, if you pull out just the movie video and the HD audio the average movie is around 15-20GB. I've played around with re-encoding from 1080p to 720p and it does get in the 10GB or less range. You could save more space if you only pull out the DD/DTS core non-HD audio. I don't do 3D blu-ray, but I believe it fully doubles the video file size because you essentially have two full HD images that need to be displayed.

Personally, I think with the amount of time it would take to compress ~130 blu-rays isn't worth it. You'd be better off setting up a NAS for 1:1 storage and streaming to your HTPC. Of course, since you plan to have this in a closet somewhere it could be a combo HTPC/NAS setup but you'd need to up the budget for a bunch of big HDDs. Maybe you could just backup the kids' movies to HDD for safekeeping and watch the other movies from disc?
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 6, 2012 11:37:00 PM

To be perfectly honest, I really do like rwprichett's idea of just backing up the kid's movies. Maybe you could store your DVDs/Blu-Rays in the same closet as the HTPC for easy access. Trust me, you REALLY do not want 100+ movies backed up to a hard drive with no redundancy. I spent the better part of three weeks re-ripping my DVD collection when I had a hard drive failure and now, I don't even bother. I have the DVDs/Blu-Rays. It's almost as easy for me to drop them into the HTPC. I understand the kid problem as I've heard it before, but you really shouldn't go that route unless you have a reliable backup.

Since your current system is an older laptop, then I'd say go ahead and go over-kill on the HTPC. Maybe down the line you can get something that takes up a little less power and is available all the time.

-Wolf sends
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July 7, 2012 4:59:13 PM

Thank you guys for all your promp replies!


And sorry for the delay in responding, but I have been up at our cabin for the 4th of July celebrations, and I only get internet service when I come down into the city.

And thank you Shloader for you long and very informative reply, and I did look up your system you have and it does seem to be very nice. And yu now have me looking into AMD more seriously because they are definately cheaper and seem to provide more bang for the buck.

And as for what rwpritchett said, you have brought up some very valid points and have me thinking (and the wife vey much likes the idea too) of completely just scratching the idea of an htpc and just sticking with my ps3 or a bluray player of some sort and just stacking my colection in the closet with the rest of the av equipment.

Wolfshadw would you agree with that as well? Just not go with one at all for my situation? Or what do most people do? It seemed like everybody these days are either building or buying an htpc system, and I know it cant be just for gaming purposes, so what do most other people do with their htpc's? I thought I might of had the perfect reason to build one, but that was probably due to my lack of knowledge or experience with them :( 
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July 8, 2012 8:26:27 PM

rwpritchett said:
I originally built my first HTPC 6 years ago because my son was destroying discs, and it progressed from there.

We'll need to be a bit careful in discussing software. Tom's rigidly prohibits discussions that involves decryption or any other way of circumventing copy protection.

Blu-rays generally are about 40-50GB with all the extras, audio tracks, etc. From my own experience, if you pull out just the movie video and the HD audio the average movie is around 15-20GB. I've played around with re-encoding from 1080p to 720p and it does get in the 10GB or less range. You could save more space if you only pull out the DD/DTS core non-HD audio. I don't do 3D blu-ray, but I believe it fully doubles the video file size because you essentially have two full HD images that need to be displayed.

Personally, I think with the amount of time it would take to compress ~130 blu-rays isn't worth it. You'd be better off setting up a NAS for 1:1 storage and streaming to your HTPC. Of course, since you plan to have this in a closet somewhere it could be a combo HTPC/NAS setup but you'd need to up the budget for a bunch of big HDDs. Maybe you could just backup the kids' movies to HDD for safekeeping and watch the other movies from disc?



So after doing much more research on the topic of a dedicated htpc (that does 3d bluray) I have come to the conclusion that I only need to spend at max $500 on it, with $300-400 being the perfect range. And from what I have been reading on this forum that YOU rwpritchett are the man to go to when it comes to htpc builds, so what i have decided I want to do is just have an htpc in the $300-500 range that would basically just be able to rip blu-rays (as fast as possible in that price range) and playback 3d blu-rays without hardly any audio/video being lost. So I am just going to take your advice and just rip the kids' blurays for now (which are the ones that are mostly 3d) then later on in the future setup NAS for 1:1 storage, but that would be more like 1 year down the road or more.

So my question to you would be, if you were in my situation what components would you put together to build that htpc? (down to every last component you would use, even how many fans etc. etc.) :) 

And once again I thank you so much for your expertise, and will be waiting in great anticipation for your response!
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 9, 2012 7:54:17 PM

Well, for an HTPC I like to go in reverse from a typical build. Generally, I start with case selection and go from there since that will determine the hardware. Since you will have this stored in a closet the case is less important. Just to give you some ideas, a decent build might include:


Hardware
  • Motherbard: (AMD) Gigabyte GA-A75M-D2H / (Intel) Gigabyte GA-H77M-D3H $80-$95
  • CPU: (AMD) A6-3500 Llano / (Intel) Core i3-2100 $80-$120
  • RAM: Any cheap 1600/1866 1.5V memory, 4GB is plenty ~$30 (Llano's like the faster RAM)
  • PSU: Antec Earthwatts 380W $43
  • BD ROM: Cheapest OEM drive (just get the software separately) ~$55
  • HDD: 2TB green drive like the Samsung F4, get more TB if you want $120
  • SSD: cheap 60-64GB, the Crucial M4 or Samsung 830 are good choices: $70-$100 (I like SSD's in HTPCs for these reasons)
  • Case: Totally up to you. If hidden then the Antec 302 or Fractal Design 1000 are a good inexpensive choices, if in view then nMediaPC or Silverstone ML03B are good choices $50-$80
  • Cooling: This will depend on the exact case and components you get and what fans are included with the case. Quiet is better, but since you'll be hiding in a closet it is less important. If you change your mind and want the HTPC in view, then Noctua, Enermax, and Noiseblocker make some excellent quiet fans.

    Input Devices
  • Wireless Keyboard/Trackball: Lenovo N5902 $55 (small and backlit)
  • Remote and IR: Any cheap WMC remote with bundled USB IR receiver like this ~$25

    Software
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium OEM $100
  • BD Playback: Arcsoft TotalMedia Theatre 5 $80 using this code
  • Other free WMC software
  • Backing up the kids' movies: Sorry, you'll have to Google it :non: 

    With the above prices, depending on the actual hardware selected you should be in the $800 budget range for everything. If you go the AMD Llano route, you would be at about $500 for just the hardware.
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    July 13, 2012 11:24:54 PM

    Best answer selected by thenoobster.
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    !