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201 posts

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Topic # 89592 5-Sep-2011 22:39 Send private message

I am not sure if it's a question or a rant really. So, a popular "deal a day" website was offering the Asus A33 HTPC for $510NZ. I looked at that and thought I could do better. That thing had the following specs:
- Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit pre-installed w/CoA
- AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ 2.3 GHz dual-core processor
- AMD 690G + SB600 chipset
- 4 GB DDR2 SDRAM (3GB available)
- 500 GB Serial ATA hard drive
- DVD±RW DL drive
- Integrated ATI Radeon X1250 graphics processor
- Integrated 5.1-channel HD audio
- Integrated 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN
- Built-in IEEE 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN
- Built-in Bluetooth wireless technology
- Integrated IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
- Built-in media card reader
- Intelligent EPG (Electronic Program Guide)
- Full HDMI 1080i output
- Dual PCI Express TV tuners for dual channel recording (Hybrid PAL/SECAM & DVB-T)
- 5.1-channel spring-clip audio output
- Media Center remote control included
- Wireless mouse pointer included
- 2.4-inch colour TFT front panel display
- 300-watt power supply

But the more I looked at it the more I realised I couldn't. Assuming locally-purchased components (yes, I know I can buy from Newegg and have it delivered here with priceusa etc, but I'd rather buy local), let's start like this:
Antec Fusion with PSU: $400
Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2200: $145
Asus E35M1-M Pro: $260 (I know I am comparing to the ancient Athlon 64 4400+, but if I was building today that's what I'd go for).

I can stop right here already. I am already at $755 and I still need RAM, DVD-RW (keeping apples to apples here, and I am not a fan of BD), HDD, card reader, fans, and Windows licence. So the total would likely be over $1000. And all I can say is REALLY?! How the heck can it be so expensive?! Is something wrong with the way I am looking at it?




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  Reply # 517205 5-Sep-2011 22:59 Send private message

Because that machine is old and is on runout I would expect - hell, it has VISTA on it, that gives away when it was made.

Compare it with something new and you will come out looking a lot better really.




Richard rich.ms

Ham

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  Reply # 517211 5-Sep-2011 23:03 Send private message

I've done a quick Google and couldn't find anything new that is similar to the Acer machine... Do you have any links to examples?



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 517244 6-Sep-2011 01:19 Send private message

richms: Because that machine is old and is on runout I would expect - hell, it has VISTA on it, that gives away when it was made.

Compare it with something new and you will come out looking a lot better really.


Thank you, your post helped me understand what I was so pissed off about.
"Newer" doesn't actually improve things that much. A machine is just a sum of its parts, and if you look at the A33 and a new system, the difference isn't that big. Antec Fusion is from 2008, Hauppauge HVR2200 is from 2007 I think, RAM is now DDR3 but it doesn't make much difference, the truth is that the key difference is in the motherboard/cpu and the OS only. And how is Athlon 64 different to, say an E350 based chipset? Performance wise, not much different. The difference is in power consumption, and at this level it's not something I care about. And is Vista MC really different to Windows 7 MC? I don't think so. So if the technology is at least 3 years old and mature, why aren't the prices for components going down significantly? Shouldn't have ALL components gone down, making the price of a build of new HTPC comparable to the runout price of the old model?

The funny part is that it would be probably cheaper for me to buy the A33, replace the mobo with AMD Fusion and install Windows 7, than it would be to build a Fusion-based system from scratch. This just can't be right. Don't the laws of economics apply to HTPCs?




Hello, Ground!

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  Reply # 517253 6-Sep-2011 07:06 Send private message

Windows 7 MC is different because it comes with all the codecs built-in - Freeview|HD "just works". Windows Vista is almost out of support cycle (if not already).

That machine in the first post comes with "4 GB DDR2 SDRAM (3GB available)" which basically means it is not a discreet video card, leading to an appalling video performance when it comes to HD video (Freeview|HD or other HD source).









201 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 517289 6-Sep-2011 09:00 Send private message

freitasm: Windows 7 MC is different because it comes with all the codecs built-in - Freeview|HD "just works". Windows Vista is almost out of support cycle (if not already).

That machine in the first post comes with "4 GB DDR2 SDRAM (3GB available)" which basically means it is not a discreet video card, leading to an appalling video performance when it comes to HD video (Freeview|HD or other HD source).


I agree, although I am not sure how bad the x1250 really will be.
My main point was though that if I was to replace the motherboard/igp/cpu/os with a modern combo and windows 7 on this same machine, it would still work out cheaper than building it from scratch, because the cost of all other components outweighs the actual core of the machine. This isn't logical.




Hello, Ground!



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 517290 6-Sep-2011 09:01 Send private message

Ham: I've done a quick Google and couldn't find anything new that is similar to the Acer machine... Do you have any links to examples?


That's because it's an Asus, not an Acer.




Hello, Ground!

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  Reply # 517298 6-Sep-2011 09:16 Send private message

It is just an old desktop system (at least 3 years) in a htpc type case. It is probably a collection of bits from someone clearing out a warehouse of stock, making it cheap. It isnt comparable in almost any way to a good htpc. The graphics do support hardware decode, but H264 was only a dream in a coders head when this was made, so they will likely only help with mpeg 2 from dvd or satellite if you can find codec and graphics driver support, which is difficult as ati dont support this chipset any more. 



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  Reply # 517301 6-Sep-2011 09:20 Send private message

That machine would be a waste of time for Freeview|HD anyway, it's not capable of H.264 even if you add a tuner.

I guess it's more proof that not everything on a daily deal site is infact a deal.

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  Reply # 517304 6-Sep-2011 09:23 Send private message

Just reading those last comments makes me laugh because I'm going through the same thing myself.

Took an older computer, put Windows 7 on it. Drivers for onboard graphics stopped at XP but seem to work on Windows 7 semi ok. Will play DVD's in Media Player, but the screen goes grey in Media Centre. Audio is fine, and I'll check today if it only happens in full screen Media Centre mode etc.  It's good for DVB-S only and even then it won't be working until I sort the graphics problem, can now only hear freeview TV channels!

Point being, whilst yes it costs more, we're now at the point with Windows 7 and new hardware that finally this stuff can 'just work'. And that probably needs and justifies having a price tag associated with it.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 517305 6-Sep-2011 09:26 Send private message

Ok, I think I need to clarify again. I am aware of the limitations of the chipset this machine has. That's not the point. The point is that if I was to buy one and rip out the core and replace it with a modern chipset and OS, it would still cost me way less than buying all the components and building an identical machine from scratch. That's what's baffling me.




Hello, Ground!

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  Reply # 517308 6-Sep-2011 09:27 Send private message

Kookoo:
freitasm: Windows 7 MC is different because it comes with all the codecs built-in - Freeview|HD "just works". Windows Vista is almost out of support cycle (if not already).

That machine in the first post comes with "4 GB DDR2 SDRAM (3GB available)" which basically means it is not a discreet video card, leading to an appalling video performance when it comes to HD video (Freeview|HD or other HD source).


I agree, although I am not sure how bad the x1250 really will be.
My main point was though that if I was to replace the motherboard/igp/cpu/os with a modern combo and windows 7 on this same machine, it would still work out cheaper than building it from scratch, because the cost of all other components outweighs the actual core of the machine. This isn't logical.


Correct me if I misunderstand, but you can easily get a good case for less than $500. If you were buying it and replacing the internals, you would have paid $500 for a case.

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Computers/Components/Motherboards/AMD/auction-404196932.htm 
http://www.trademe.co.nz/Computers/Components/Cases-power-supplies/Cases/auction-404369875.htm
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=TVNHGR1511965&name=Hauppauge-HVR-2210-dual-tuner-TV-PCIe-card-CI-Expr
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=MEMKVR3005&name=Kingston-ValueRam-4GB(2-x-2GB-Kit)-1333MHz-DDR3---
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=HDDWD6251

$716 with a linux OS and media center like mythTV. Or add $140 for a copy of windows. You could probably find cheaper components if you looked around too.



201 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 517337 6-Sep-2011 10:00 Send private message

paulmilbank:

Correct me if I misunderstand, but you can easily get a good case for less than $500. If you were buying it and replacing the internals, you would have paid $500 for a case.

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Computers/Components/Motherboards/AMD/auction-404196932.htm 
http://www.trademe.co.nz/Computers/Components/Cases-power-supplies/Cases/auction-404369875.htm
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=TVNHGR1511965&name=Hauppauge-HVR-2210-dual-tuner-TV-PCIe-card-CI-Expr
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=MEMKVR3005&name=Kingston-ValueRam-4GB(2-x-2GB-Kit)-1333MHz-DDR3---
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=HDDWD6251

$716 with a linux OS and media center like mythTV. Or add $140 for a copy of windows. You could probably find cheaper components if you looked around too.


Yes, of course I could find cheaper components, but the point is about using ones similar to the ones in that machine, except for those that actually have technologically substantially changed since then.




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  Reply # 517351 6-Sep-2011 10:23 Send private message

buy a second hand mac mini off trademe :).

they are really good HTPCs (i have 3 of them, well ones a server), quiet, small, built in IR (if you keep OSX and use remotebuddy and a harmony one (or similar) remote you can have lots of button and no need for external IR receiver, with windows on it you will probably need a external receiver).

my setup
1x mac mini server with windows 7 and for the record pvr server, this is the main file server aswell
2x mac mini clients running windows 7 and xbmc pvr branch as the front end using external usb remotes

i will likely be changing these back to OSX lion once xbmc pvr becomes a little more stable and there are more OSX builds of it. then ill switch to mythtv as the backend as it can run on OSX.

im also using a nova t usb stick and the new hdhomerun for tv.

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  Reply # 517363 6-Sep-2011 10:39 Send private message

Or a Dell Zino HD - almost same size as the Mac Mini, and comes with Windows 7 home Premium installed. Great HTPC in the lounge (using HDHomeRun as DVB-T receiver).




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  Reply # 517400 6-Sep-2011 11:28 Send private message

I bought an Acer Revo 100 via a 1 day site and paid about $700 from memory. Sits next to the TV in the lounge. http://www.acer.co.nz/ac/en/NZ/content/series/revo100

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