HTPC DVR for Comcast

I am looking to build a brand new computer for use with a cable-card and my subscription to Comcast.


The core of the system will revolve around the following product:
Ceton InfiniTV 4 Quad-tuner Card for Watching Digital Cable TV on the PC, PCI-Express x1 Interface

Money is tight and I want to keep this build as inexpensive as possible. I already have a copy of Windows 7 that I will use for Media Center.

This HTPC will be connected to my 720p Plasma TV via HDMI. (Samsung 2011 42").

I don't plan on gaming, but that ability certainly would not hurt. I do already have a SSD that I will use as the main boot drive.

I already have a small mATX case (not low profile) with an included 275w PSU.

My main question is: Do I go Intel or AMD?

For Intel, I was going to run to MicroCenter and get the following:
Core i3 3225 3.3GHz LGA 1155 Boxed Processor
$129.99 (Plus Tax).

I was going to pair that with the following board:
GA-Z77M-D3H-MVP LGA 1155 Z77 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
$99.99 (Plus Tax, and I think I can get it at a $50 discount if purchased with the processor).

I like this processor combo because of the HD4000 which I am told will help for video transcoding (vertu quicksync etc) and somewhat decent 3D rendering (certainly not as good as AMD offerings, but good enough for the HTPC).

I also love that this is going to be a VERY low power system in terms of TDP and actual electrical watts consumed at Idle.


The other option I have is to go with AMD online with:
AMD A8-Series AD5500OKHJBOX Quad-Core A8-5500 APU - 4MB L2 Cache, 3.2GHz, Socket FM2, Radeon HD 7560D (256 Cores), Dual Graphics Ready, DirectX 11, Fan, Retail

and the following board:
MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 Socket FM2 Motherboard - MicroATX, Socket FM2, AMD 75, DDR3 2133(O.C.) MHz, 8-CH Audio, Gigabit LAN, USB 3.0, PCIe 2.0, DirectX 11

I like this processor for its overall balance, true quad-core architecture, which should help for video streaming and to some extent, transcoding. The TDP is still only 65w, but overall power consumption is much higher.

Also, I can actually do some low end gaming (being that my plasma is only 720p anyways).


I was then just going to slap either 8 or 16 gigs of DDR3 (that was on sale and compatible with a given board).

These boards have both SATA III and USB 3.0 so my connection options are pretty wide.

I was either going to pair this with an external USB 3.0 3TB HDD from Seagate or with an internal drive that I can find on sale. The advantage to the external drive is that it is 1) External and 2) often less expensive than the internal drives. I have seen the Seagate models for $130, while the internal counterparts are in the $150 range.

For example, at MicroCenter:,200RPM_SATA_60Gbps_35_Internal_Hard_Drive_STBD3000100
3 TB Seagate Barracuda 7,200 RPM Internal
$139.99 (Plus Tax)

Seagate STBV3000100 Expansion Desktop 3TB External Hard Drive - USB 3.0

I am willing to take suggestions. The prices are pretty close for both options. I love the balance of the AMD system, but for HTPC non-gaming, power, streaming and transcoding duties, the Intel board may be a better option.
If there is a better cable-card solution, I would love to hear your suggestions as well.
Also, if you think going USB 3.0 and saving some cash isn't the best idea, rather than going SATA, please let me know.

As always, I appreciate all of your responses...
5 answers Last reply
More about htpc comcast
  1. Tough call. Personally, I'd take gaming completely out of the equation. If you want to game on the big screen, then build a gaming system to hook up to your HDTV. Aside from that, the only reason I can think of to go with more than a dual-core processor is if you intend to allocate one or two of the tuners of the Ceton card to other Windows 7 networked computers or extenders like the Ceton Echo (or XBox 360).

    At this point, I'd probably go with the Intel processor and HD4000 graphics. If it's not up to snuff (and at 720p, I can't see it not being), you can always add a low-end, discrete graphics card.

    -Wolf sends
  2. To clarify I plan to stream to 2 other Windows 7 computers and dedicate 1 tuner as a floating recorder.
  3. Then I'd definitely go with the AMD Quad-Core set up. The general rule of thumb is to have one CPU core and two GB of RAM for each tuner allocated to other systems.

    BTW - Ceton Card tuners do not "float". Once assigned to a system, they remain assigned to that system until you re-run the set-up. The SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime (three tuners) and I think the Hauppauge WinTV-DCR-2650 (two tuners) allow for dynamic tuner assignment, I believe.

    -Wolf sends
  4. Hmm, sounds like the SiliconDust is a better option for me then.

    What about my question about the storage options? Would USB 3.0 work? Should I just set up my Windows Home Server 2011 instead of a dedicated box?
  5. An external USB 3.0 drive will work just fine.

    -Wolf sends
Ask a new question

Read More

New Build Systems Product