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Ultimate HTPC - Components suggestions

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January 19, 2010 11:53:40 AM

Hi,

I am planning to build the Ultimate HTPC/Storage workstation which will be running almost 24/7 and placed in the living room. Objective of the machine:

Case, Motherboard, Processor, and Liquid cooling system:
I do appreciate helping me out picking the right case, motherboard and proper liquid cooling component to for the processor, video card, N bridge… etc.

Case: Must be specious enough to fit power supply, cooling component and motherboard including all the cards and easily access all mentioned in case of maintenance required

MOBO: must have enough slots and space for cooling equipment and the rest of the cards that’s installed on it.

Processor and RAMs: we’ll decide on that once we pick a Mobo

Power Supply: Athena Power AP-RRP4ATX65 658W + 658W mini redundant Dual AC Hot-Swappable mini redundant Power Supply - OEM

Network:
- Bluetooth Network
- Support of Infrared
PCI Card vs. USB? Suggestions appreciated?

TV Tuner:
Current Setup: Satellite dish with 3LNBs (1 LNB per satellite) signal from all LNBs then funnel into one cable which is connected to Humax IcordHD receiver
TV Tuner requirements:
- Play HD TV
- Being able to records other channels from different stateliest while watching a channel.
WinTV-NOVA-HD-S2?
WinTV-HVR-1600?
WinTV-HVR-2250?
ATI All-in-Wonder™ HD?

Video card:
- HDMI Support
- Memory suitable for a moderate gamer
If not included as part of the Motherboard, is the Geforce 9400GT sufficient to run 24/7?

Sound:
- Current system is 5.1 channels
If not included as part of the Motherboard, PCI Express® Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ Xtreme Audio is good enough?

Hard Drive:
- 1TB (Count 2): Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000340AS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB

CD Drive:
- DVDRW/Blue Ray: Pioneer Black Blu-ray Disc/DVD/CD Writer SATA Model BDR-205BKS - OEM


Universal Card Reader
SABRENT CRW-UINB 68-in-1 USB 2.0 Internal Card Reader w/ USB 2.0 Port supports SDHC/VISTA

Remote Control:
Universal Remote Control (will I be able to wakeup window vista/windows 7 via the remote?)
Logitech?

Wireless Keyboard and mouse
Bluetooth: diNovo Edge

Thanks
January 19, 2010 4:45:39 PM

tarek_habal said:
Hi,

I am planning to build the Ultimate HTPC/Storage workstation which will be running almost 24/7 and placed in the living room.


Hi tarek_habel, That's quite a list you have there.

I can already tell you that some of your ideas/parts are overly expensive and not needed. The water cooling is not needed.
Most HTPC's, especially ones planned for the living room environment, are usually small, quiet and as cool as possible.
AMD/ATI is the current ruling champ for cost and performance and hands down the best integrated graphics with the 785G chipset vs. most Intel has to offer.

Alot of mobo's do have HDMI out. But at this time if Blu Ray is something you want this HTPC to play, I am not aware of integrated sound passing bitstream or PCM so you won't get HD DTS or HD Master. Mid to higher end discrete video cards like the ATI RAdeon 5770 will pass that audio and combine audio and video to an HDMI output. So there really is no need for a soundcard.

Some cases come with IR receiver and remote. I use my Logitech Harmony programmed as a WMC remote and it works great and will wake the computer.

As far as tuners, you should wait just a bit longer. Alot of people have been anticipating release of the Ceton CableCard Multi tuner. It will be released for sale sometime end of March start of April. It will cost $399 and will be able to tune 4 HD channels and W7 does endorse it.

The DiNovo Edge is a sweet keyboard and I love it. However..... that little disk touchpad really is no fun. It takes quite a few swipes to cover the real estate involved with an HDTV. I have a 50" and when, for some reason or other, my bluetooth mouse acts up and I have to use the touchpad it really slows me down. So think about getting a mouse also. Just my 2 cents there but...there ya go.

So that is kind of the tip of the iceberg. What i would suggest is that you would be better off posting in the: Tom's Hardware > Forum > Homebuilt Systems > New System Build forum. There are many helpful people in that area with much more knowledge than I that will be able to help you figure out your build. Please use this template when posting: Build Advice.

I built one back in September, and with little tweaks here and there, I am very happy with it.
Good luck.




January 20, 2010 4:37:00 AM

Supe_ said:
Hi tarek_habel, That's quite a list you have there.

I can already tell you that some of your ideas/parts are overly expensive and not needed. The water cooling is not needed.


Thanks Supe_ for your feedback I appreciate it. The reason behind the water cooling is that i am planing to place the machine in a cabinet with a glass door (to allow the Infrared signal to pass through); blue tooth network capability is important to me because i am trying to eliminate the use of cables and wires as possible (i would like to have a wireless connection to printer, mobile/cell phone, bluetooth head set.... etc.) IR capability is needed for the logitech remote and i rarely came across a tower case with IR receiver. As for the case i am still having a hard time deciding what should i get as i am still not sure what Motherboard i should get which will satisfy my requirements.

Motherboard: In theory is much easier to get a motherboard with sound and video built in (with enough slots to install TV tuner, blue tooth network card and IR receiver in case its not built in the case)

The more i research the more confused i get :cry: 
Related resources
January 22, 2010 3:36:32 AM

I buuilt a HTPC about a year ago and I love it. As said before, don't even mess with water cooling! It'll cost you $200+ for a good set-up and it's not needed. TV tunner card; I run a HVR 2250 and I love it! I have comcast cable (a step up from the basic...basic) and with the HVR 2250 I get all my normal channels and also all the digital channels I'm not even paying for-it's awesome! Pluse you can watch and record two different shows at the same time. Motherboards, I've had really good luck with Gigabyte and recently ASUS, they both make nice mini-ATX boards just for HTPCs with HDMI/DVI/7.1 suround...etc. CPU-I used an Intel E5200. It's a fairly cool chip, dual core and at $70-$80 it won't kill the budget. PS. It's a peppy little chip! It can handle most anything I through at it, not counting heavy gamming. RAM- don't need anything shinny. 2gb of Kingston DDR2 667MHz or DDR2 800MHz is all you'll really need (about $50), but 4GB, 3.5 usable in a 32-bit system, would be prime. Get the two 1GB stick set, it's cheaper and you can add to it latter if you have the open RAM slots and the need. Keyboards- I have the DiNovo and like it, but I also have the Microsoft entertainment 7000 bluetooth keyboard and mouse combo and wouldn't trade it for the world! Hard drive- you might as well get a 2TB for movie/TV show recording. I have a 1TB and have about 60hrs of show on it and it's only half full. Case- find something you really like, but keep in mind the size of board you want and everything going into it. I used the APEVIA X-QPACK2-NW-BK/500 Black Aluminum Body/ Front Mask MicroATX Desktop Computer Case 500W Power Supply for mine and works good for me but isn't silent. I could change out fans to make it silent but I work on them all day, I don't want to mess with my own when I get home. I spent about 3 months reading reviews and product info before I built mine and feel I came out with an excelent set-up (not to brag). And of couse I found eveything I needed and ggggggggggggggggggreat prices at newegg. PS. if you're going to do it you might as well get a Blue-Ray player, unless you're tight on cash. Hope all this helps.
January 22, 2010 3:59:27 AM

Almost for got. Antec makes three different IR recievers from very basic like this one (Antec Mult-Station EZ External IR receiver and remote) to 5 1/2 drive bay LCD display units. As far as the unit being in a cabnet, make sure the back is open compleatly and the case I mentiond should work fine. You shouldn't really hear the fans in the cabnet plus it comes with a LCD dual temp read-out to keep track of your cpu and HDD temps. Using one 2TB drive will help keep things a bit cooler and use less power vs. two 1TB hard drives. Also with that case you have room for a full GPU if you want to add to the boards GPU. I run a BFG 9600GT OC and a 22in LCD and it looks great but it only has DVI outs. PSU- your really only going to need a 350-500watt power supply, and that's still A LOT of juice. Just get a good batt. back up and you'll be fine. Good luck.
January 22, 2010 5:15:06 AM

scooter69 said:
Almost for got. Antec makes three different IR recievers from very basic like this one (Antec Mult-Station EZ External IR receiver and remote) to 5 1/2 drive bay LCD display units.

Thanks Scooter69

Hi again, as i am still in the process of research here is what i have in mind so far:


SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: watching TV, watching movies, Downloading movies, office work (AutoCAD, Photoshop, MS Office), surfing the internet, and moderate gaming

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 46” Samsung - 6 Series 1080 Full HD

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I live in a studio apartment so I don’t have the luxury to build a separate server and place it elsewhere; that’s why I was thinking about liquid cooling to reduce noise while watching TV or sleeping. this machine will act as HTPC/storage server/workstation and will be on 24/7. I would like to build a high end system that will last me few years; As for the case I don't really care if it looks like HTPC case, tower case is fine with me.

MotherBoard: (please help me pick one from below)
ASUS P5N7A-VM
ASUS M4A78-HTPC/RC
Asus P6t SE

Gigabyte:
GA-MA790GPT-UD3H(rev. 1.0)
GA-H55-UD3H (rev. 1.0)

VGA (Please help pick one from below)
GeForce GTX 295
GeForce 9800 GX2
Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Video Card

Bluetooth network: please help finding the best solution

Power Supply:
CORSAIR CMPSU-750HX 750W PSU

Memory
G.SKILL Ripjaws 4GB DDR3 1600

Hard Drive:
Western Digital RE3 WD1002FBYS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive (count: 1)
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3EG HD203WI 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive (count: 2)

Wireless Keyboard and mouse
Bluetooth: diNovo Edge

Once i deiced on the Mobo, VGA, and blue tooth. I'll pick a TV tuner based on available slots on MOBO. the following step to that is agree on the cooling method and then i'll be able to pick a case.


your feed back is appreciated.
January 22, 2010 9:10:38 PM

tarek_habal said:

Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Video Card

Hard Drive:
Western Digital RE3 WD1002FBYS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive (count: 1)
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3EG HD203WI 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive (count: 2)

your feed back is appreciated.

@tarek, I really encourage you to create a new post in Tom's Hardware > Forum > Homebuilt Systems > New System Build. You are building a computer from scratch and that is the appropriate place for your questions. You will get much more help there than in this home theater forum. It looks like you are prepared to spend alot of money and I am just concerned you are going to spend too much needlessly. In just the possible hard drives and video card alone you would be spending $929 which is roughly $300 more than what I spent for my entire HTPC.
In that forum, there are many helpful people with much experience in different areas. It is a much more populated forum and I promise you will get many other members giving suggestions and helping really to choose actual components that will work together to get a system that will fit your needs.
Good luck.
January 23, 2010 3:20:55 AM

Thanks Youngster, I've already created a post int he New System Build section. Sorry for the duplication and appreciate the advice.
!