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First HTPC build specification

Last response: in Home Theatre
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January 3, 2010 11:12:31 PM

This will be my first time building a HTPC. The only thing i'll be using it for is to watch live TV and record TV, basically a DVR. So I want to know if this spec are okay and if it would pass Windows 7 media center digital cable advisor.
I would only be watching SD provided thru my cable company(Cablevision)
Specification:


* CPU:Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5400 Wolfdale 2.7GHz 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
* Motherboard: Intel BOXDP43TF LGA 775 Intel P43 ATX Intel Motherboard
* Graphics Card (NVIDIA):EVGA GeForce 9500 GT 512MB
* windows 7 Home Premium
* PSU:Thermaltake TR2 RX 450W (W0146)



The PC would be connected to a regular TV with RCA inputs(yellow, white and red) cables via s-video from the Geforce 9500 GT tv-out. The tuner expected to be used is the Ceton CableCard tuner: .
January 4, 2010 12:53:16 AM

I am not a cable expert at all. I'm just letting you know what I've read.

This may be a very unusual build, for several reasons. First, it looks like you are planning on renting CableCard and having it installed in your tuner. Second, when going the CableCard route, it's usually cheaper and easier to go Tivo.

If you plan on getting CableCard installed by your cable company, be aware that there are a number of hurdles. Your cable company has been mandated by law to make CableCard available to their customers, but that doesn't mean they are going to make it easy or inexpensive. I hear that cable companies will try to brush you off and delay the installation until you give up trying, unless you have Tivo, and even then they may try pretending that it can't be done. Your chances of success in getting CableCard installed go way up if you go the Tivo route [as opposed to a home-built system].

If you are able to talk your cable company into installing CableCard into the slot on your tuner, the BIOS on your motherboard has to support the security standard that CableCard relies upon. I don't know whether your board does; it wouldn't take too long to check, but you have bigger issues to ask yourself. In my opinion, this is an expensive long-shot, unless you're getting all this computer hardware for free. What's wrong with Tivo? Also, keep in mind that Tivo is going to attend CES. I think this exposition starts in 4 days. If Tivo is going to introduce their next generation Tivo, it is likely to be within the next week. You may want to delay making any decisions until then.
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January 7, 2010 11:07:35 PM

techblu,
vanekl brings up some interesting issues that I was not aware of that may very well all be good points. I have no idea what cable companies, in my case Verizon Fios, would charge to rent a cable card and what he says about them being somewhat reluctant to even do it makes alot of sense.
I already have an HTPC built with a Windows Home Server box filled with 3.3TB of movies, TV series (DVD sets), music, etc. and have not thrown in a tuner yet because I am also waiting for the Ceton tuner to come out. But I have no idea what the price is going to be if it even get's released for consumers this 1st quarter of 2010. If it is too expensive I won't do it.

Here is something that makes me scratch my head about your choice of the Ceton tuner. The #1 big deal about it is that it will be licensed by CAbleLabs to tune HD channels, not just clear QAM. And the most likely unit released, or at least the sweet spot in the market for Ceton, will be a 4 tuner card. If your wish for tuner is to be able to have 4 tuners for SD content then I gotta wonder if the price would be worth it because I expect this card is not going to be cheap as one of the few that will tune HD along with being blessed by Microsoft,W7 and Windows Media Center. But you never know, it could be below $200. I could also win the lottery.

You may be better served by posting in the HARDWARE/HOMEBUILT SYSTEMS forum. There are going to be many more issues to deal with than just the tuner card.
You will have many choices to make that all lead you down the quiet and cool path because you do not want an obtrusively loud and hot box in your living room, but then you did not say if you were going to hook it up to TV or sit in a hard chair and watch tv on your desktop monitor :(  . Regardless of what you are going to watch it on there are many helpful folks in that forum that have dealt with HTPC issues extensively.

I can tell you right off the bat just choosing a case can be maddening. Especially if you want this HTPC anywhere near your entertainment system.
Good luck




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January 8, 2010 12:33:03 PM

Don't quote me on this, but I thought I heard the Ceton cards would run between $200 and $300. I recently got a notice from my cable company (Comcast) about a rate hike and along with the notice was a price sheet for services. Glancing at it, I noted that renting a Cablecard cost the same as renting a set top box.

-Wolf sends
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January 9, 2010 12:19:32 PM

First of all, I would highly recommend getting a GPU capable of displaying a good HDMI signal. A simple DVI>HDMI cable works fine with a seperate SPDIF digital out to the TV or receiver for sound.

Second, to follow what others here are posting, cable cards are a nice feature, but by comparison to a tuner box, extremely gimp. I used to work for a service provider and while the cards worked fine for the most part with the network, they lacked the capability of: a)a storage disk without seperate medium attached (or software in this case with a PC), b) the card won't support the company's interactive channel guide (you'd be surprised how useful that is), c) you're adding a few other support avenues in the case something goes wrong with your hardware or settings.

I'm certainly not advocating to get a tuner box instead of a card, but I am saying there are tremendous downfalls in comparison. I personally only use direct co-axial connection (no card) in my HDTV and stream from my computer. I've found anything you can get on a cable channel you can get through streaming from a PC (except huge sports events, and I'm not really concerned about that much since paying $5-80 per event is a waste of money IMHO).

Aside from personal experiences, to answer your original question if the computer should be sufficient for the intended purpose I'd have to say it should be fine.
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May 11, 2010 1:42:31 AM

I know this is kind of an old thread, but techblu, did you ever get your build resolved? My research shows you have an excellent configuration. The Ceton has not yet been released yet, but is due out end of May (hopefully). The CableCARD is free from the cable company. It is the same card that is used in the TIVO units being sold.

I had a question, though, why the S-video connection in your GeForce gpu, instead of buying a model that had HDMI? Is your TV an older style?
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May 18, 2010 4:14:46 PM

eloric said:
I know this is kind of an old thread, but techblu, did you ever get your build resolved? My research shows you have an excellent configuration. The Ceton has not yet been released yet, but is due out end of May (hopefully). The CableCARD is free from the cable company. It is the same card that is used in the TIVO units being sold.

I had a question, though, why the S-video connection in your GeForce gpu, instead of buying a model that had HDMI? Is your TV an older style?



I changed my HTPC build. I'm now going with an Intel i3 system, since the Ceton cablecard was pushed to the end of May, I was able to do more research and configure a better computer. With the Ceton card and Windows 7 media center an Xbox360 can become an extender and be hookup to any tv:HDTV via hdmi, or a tube tv via composite cables. also my cable provider charges $2 per month to rent a M-card, it's not free.

Intel BOXDH55TC LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i3-530 Clarkdale 2.93GHz 4MB L3 Cache LGA 1156
A-DATA 4GB (2 x 2GB)DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)
WD Caviar Blue WD640AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache
windows 7 Home Premium
APEVIA Black X-Master HTPC case

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