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Good HTPC part guides? Minimum SSD drive size?

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Last response: in Home Theatre
March 27, 2011 2:10:40 PM

Could anyone point me in the direction of a good HTPC guide or two?

I've decided on most things since I just want to recycle an old PC rather than letting it go to waste, I just need help making sure i've got all bases covered...

Asus A8V-VM (using integrated sound)
3700+ AMD Athlon
2GB PC3200
GT 220 1GB
580w Hiper Type M PSU
Wireless card

What RF/media centre remote to use
What wireless keyboard and mouse
What OS to run
Which CPU cooler

Also I want to use a small SSD drive for the OS and a 1TB drive for the rest, I was wondering what you thought is the smallest I can get away with and which model(s) to go for?

I just want to use the HTPC for blu-ray, 1080, TV and internet.

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March 27, 2011 4:47:47 PM

What RF/media centre remote to use
What wireless keyboard and mouse

First off, here is what I use:

Windows Media Center Keyboard - Primarily, I just use this for logging onto my HTPC and and toggling Windows Media Center between my HDTV and Projector.
Windows Media Center Remote Control - I absolutely love this remote control. It's perfect for controlling my media library.

I would note that both the Keyboard and Remote control do require a USB attached IR receiver. Also the little mouse nub on the keyboard does take some getting use to.

Another option that I used for my bedroom HTPC is a combination of this PCTV Remote Control and this Adesso Wireless Keyboard. The remote control worked just fine, but the keyboard had a habit of reverting to an incorrect default key mapping. Check out this Tom's Hardware Thread for my headaches with it.

One final option that I just came across and have not tried is a program called Remote Potato. Apparently, this program combined with an Android App for your smartphone or iOS app for your IPhone/IPad will let you control your HTPC from anywhere.

What OS to run

I run Windows 7 Home Premium. Probably the easiest to use and find remote controls/keyboards for.

As far as the rest:

CPU Cooler - I've only used stock coolers (they run quiet enough for me), so I can't help there.
SSD - I, personally, do not see where the cost of an SSD is justified by it's performance in an HTPC. I will note that I have a standard 200GB HDD and only 64GB used (a lot of extra garbage files that I never cleaned off). So while you could probably get by with a 32GB SSD, I'd probably recommend going with a 64GB SSD. As far as which model to go for, I couldn't say.

One final thought - I'm not sure you'll be happy with the system's performance over a wireless network. If there is any way you can possibly hard wire the system to the network, do so. Initially, the bedroom HTPC used a wireless connection to stream media from the living room HTPC. It was kind of hit and (mostly) miss.

-Wolf sends
March 27, 2011 9:09:23 PM

Thanks for all the info :) 

Is there any good software I should think about getting for what i'm after?
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March 27, 2011 10:41:12 PM

Aside from blu-ray playing software and Windows 7 Home Premium, I can't think of anything else you would need. For watching and recording TV from cable or satellite, I'd look into the Ceton Corp InfiniTV 4 TV Tuner. Beyond that, Windows Media Center should cover everything you need for all your media content.

-Wolf sends
April 25, 2011 2:00:02 AM

Thanks for this.

Would this community be interested in me posting here from time to time?

I would love to help.

(BTW --- This is "assassin" from over at AVS --- author of the recommended thread above)
April 25, 2011 3:00:41 AM

Hey assassin, good to see you over here at Toms.

There's not a dedicated HTPC section, but there's a common group of posters (like wolfshadow) that like to chime in on HTPC discussions in the homebuilt section.

Go ahead and join us. There's a few things you should know about the Toms community though. First, discussion of ripping dvd's and blu-rays is prohibited and can get you banned by the mods. Second, this forum is chock full of knucklehead gamers that think an HD5770 and >500W PSU are bare minimums... even for HTPC and will argue with you to no end. Onboard video is frequently said to be unable to handle HD video, and they will again argue.

That being said, there are some great guys on here with advanced hardware knowledge that can be a joy to discuss HTPC projects with.

April 25, 2011 4:51:22 AM

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May 24, 2011 2:12:57 PM

Just wanted those interested to know that I have added a illustrated step-by-step detailed tutorial full of guides on how to install, setup and configure all the software that you will need to use your HTPC.

Its located over at my blog:

Its now at about 10,000 words and well over 200 pictures. There are some review there as well from people that have used it.