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Need advice on an HTPC

Last response: in Systems
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January 4, 2013 5:52:53 AM

I currently have an HTPC but am looking to make some modifications.

Current build:
Athlon 64 X2 6000+
2 GB DDR2 RAM
NVidia GeForce 210 with HDMI
500 GB SATA HDD
640 GB SATA HDD
AM2 micro ATX board with onboard sound, 1 PCIe x16, 1 PCIe x1, 2 PCI
USB card reader
Generic slim server case (micro ATX board, one HDD bay, one floppy bay, and one optical bay; requires half-height expansion cards)
Slim 300-watt PSU (custom size and only fits in slim servers)
PCI Rosewill Wi-Fi card
PCIe x1 AVerMedia HD DVR (HD capture card, no tuner)
Windows 7 Professional
Mouse
Keyboard
WMC remote with IR receiver

Software in use:
Windows Media Center (movies, music)
VirtualDub (capturing)
Media Player Classic HC (playing stuff without WMC)
VLC (playing stuff that doesn't work)
Internet Explorer 9 (browsing)
pianobar (Pandora Radio client)
XMedia Recode (transcoding captures)
DVDFab Free (ripping DVDs)
Handbrake (transcoding DVDs)
x264 (transcoding pre-recorded content)
mp4box (muxing, used with x264)
PICVideo MJPEG codec (capturing)
Windows Media Player (ripping CDs to WMA Pro)

Available to use:
Intel Core 2 Duo (with micro ATX motherboard)
SATA DVD drive
IDE DVD drive
USB DVD drive
250 GB laptop SATA hard drive
1 TB desktop SATA hard drive (x2)
2 TB hard drive in another computer (moving captures after transcoding)
1 TB external USB hard drive (backups)

Amount I'm willing to spend:
Ideally under $100.

This system serves several purposes:
- I can watch ripped DVDs and TV shows and listen to ripped CDs. If I install a DVD drive, I can watch DVDs and listen to CDs. The operating system and these files reside on the first hard drive.
- I can capture content from other devices (video games, VHS tapes, or anything else with analog or HDMI outputs up to 1080i), typically captured M-JPEG/PCM then transcoded to H.264/AAC. This is the primary purpose of the second hard drive: a scratch disk for captured video, which can sometimes reach to 200 gigabytes from a single session.
- I can use it as a quick Internet station
- I can convert videos on it if it's not being used



Now, here's where the issues arise. As its original purpose was a server in a noisy server room, noise wasn't an issue in the design. This system is quite loud, and the PSU sounds like it's on its last legs, and it's a hard one to replace. I've got a few of them, and the oil trick doesn't work. I know the cheapest option is to simply replace the fan, but I figured I might as well see what else I can do. How should I setup the hard drives in it? I can't really fit one in the floppy bay, so there's a memory card reader in there. Should I install a DVD drive? Should I opt for a new case, or maybe some kind of mini ITX board? What about that laptop hard drive?

More about : advice htpc

a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2013 5:58:14 AM

i will use this:
Intel Core 2 Duo (with micro ATX motherboard)
2 GB DDR2 RAM
SATA DVD drive
1 TB desktop SATA hard drive (use only one)
NVidia GeForce 210 with HDMI
buy new corsair cx430 PSU (sometimes it is cheap 20usd)
January 4, 2013 6:04:43 AM

AMD Radeon said:
buy new corsair cx430 PSU (sometimes it is cheap 20usd)

The trouble with this is that I can't just put in any standard desktop PSU unless I buy a new case. I forgot to mention that I already have two standard desktop PSUs that works great, but they don't fit in the case. (Both are rated over 500 watts and have a huge mess of cables.)

As for the motherboard with the Core 2 Duo, there is one problem with that, and it's the lack of a PCIe x1 slot (instead having three PCI slots and one PCIe x16 slot), so I wouldn't be able to use the capture card.
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2013 6:12:47 AM

dude... you have so many stuff there and even have specific server room....
you must be creative enough to improve it with 100usd :) 
January 4, 2013 6:17:12 AM

I'm thinking about mini ITX cases, such as this:
http://www.amazon.com/8-2L-Mini-itx-Case-1YR-IP-S20/dp/...

But then I have to deal with finding a cheap but usable mini ITX board with a good onboard GPU to save the expansion slot for the capture card.

I could instead spring for a new micro ATX case, but I haven't found any cheap ones (under $50 or so) that would meet my needs.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2013 3:18:49 PM

I think you should stick with micro-ATX unless you want to do a complete rebuild. ITX only gives you one expansion slot and right now you need 3 (tuner, video card, WiFi).

If it's truly the power supply that's causing all the noise, I suggest you get a new micro-ATX case that can take a full size PSU.

Just to throw something out there for $100:

Silverstone ML03B $59.99
Seasonic 300W PSU $39.99
January 4, 2013 9:06:46 PM

Hm, that case is very similar to mine. The only real difference is that it takes a full size PSU. I'll have to consider that.
!