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6 posts

Wannabe Geek


# 21622 2-May-2008 14:17
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Im looking at building an HTPC such that i can watch Divx etc encoded material on my TV.

Im wondering what kind of cost a decent (yet cheap) build would cost me.
The problem is i don't know where i should cut corners and where i shouldnt.

Ideally i want the machine to store the content rather than stream it.
I dont really care about the size of the box, but the smaller the better.
Would most likely use windows media center with some form of remote.

This is what i have so far.

Some generic looking case (anything thats not beige)
DVD-RW IDE (generic)
Sata 500gb hdd 7200rpm
8500gt silent video card (One less fan will make things quieter)

What i dont have any clue about is:
Motherboard
Cpu (Preferably intel) - How fast does it need to be?
PSU. 400w? 500w?

In the future id like to add

A decent sound card such that i can connect to a home theatre (5.1) setup
A tv tuner that can record the HD stuff (freeview using a standard aerial) to the Hard Disk.
A blu ray drive

So my questions are what other components should i consider?
Is there any other places i can cut cost?

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Wannabe Geek


  # 127944 2-May-2008 15:40
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tonyhughes:


To be fair, that thread doesnt really answer any of my questions.
That person is tossing up between MySky and a HTPC, i have decided i want one.

It says nothing about what are cheap decent parts or where i could cut costs in building an HTPC

But thanks for the link it was an interesting read.

 
 
 
 


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Master Geek


  # 128002 2-May-2008 18:51
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I just finished a build using a Shuttle pc, small, quiet... works great.
As you already have some parts, look at an Asus P5k-SE intel motherboard, or just about any P35 board your budget will stretch to. CPU, intel dual-core E2180 or above, but again, the fastest your budget will go to.
The 8500GT should be fine, but some users recomment an 8600 card as there are reports of overheating in the 8500's with HD.
If you need ram then ddr2 800 2gigs will do it, whatever generic stuff you like will do the job. A 400 Watt psu will be plenty, Silverstone are good.

My shuttle HTPC has these specs for DVB-S viewing, mp3 and watching movies off Hard-drive:

Shuttle SD30G2 (comes with intel motherboard installed and PSU) $333
2 gigs transcend generic ram                                                 $70
500gig sata                                                                        $150 ish
Onboard video (shock horror). Fine for DVB-S (no stutters/tearing) and movies. You'll need a card for HD (probably)
Hauppauge Nova-S plus dvb-s card                                          $120 ish
E2180 Cpu                                                                          $120
Asus DVDRW                                                                       $45

The shuttle has Realtek ALC888 7.1 Channel High Definition audio support Digital S/PDIF In/Out. No need for separate card for home theatre.

So cost me about $850 all up. Really happy.




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Wannabe Geek


  # 128014 2-May-2008 19:52
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Thanks for the reply.

Sounds like you have a nice looking cheap system there.

Now when i have those parts, i dont actually mean i have bought them, more that the reserarch indicates those would be the parts to buy. I didn't word it to well though.

Gives me something to think about.

Now whats the deal with resolution from a say an 8600 video card?
If i simply go HDMI straight into my 42 lcd is it likely to be able to push out a decent resolution straight up? iirc it supports up to 1080i

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Master Geek


  # 128018 2-May-2008 20:06
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Should do, my lowly onboard video pushes out the max supported resolution of my 32" LCD, no problem at all. I connect to it via VGA port 'tho.
If your LCD isn't true HD (1080p) there wont be much point trying to watch blu-ray or HD content.
I'm one of the many that purchased an LCD last year, that has 'HDTV ready' stamped on the front. Its only 1080i. :(

I like the shuttle because they are an easy build, you can use full height cards, are quieter than most 'quiet' cases I've ever used and the black case fits nicely with the other components in the lounge.

Just as an addon to my post above, the new 780G AMD boards are the shizzle for htpc. Lots of bang for buck and you won't need a video card.


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Ultimate Geek


  # 128046 2-May-2008 21:26
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gatecrasher: Im looking at building an HTPC such that i can watch Divx (XVid=free) etc encoded material on my TV. If you're just looking to watch compressed DVDs then a very low-spec PC would suffice. But it depends on how soon you're looking to implement the specs below. You may be better off spending the money now, if it is going to be in the short to intermediate term.

Im wondering what kind of cost a decent (yet cheap) build would cost me.
The problem is i don't know where i should cut corners and where i shouldnt.

Ideally i want the machine to store the content rather than stream it. Are you looking to transcode on this unit? This means converting from DVD>XVid etc. if so, a low spec unit (eg. Sempron, Celeron) will take considerable time to transcode even one movie.
I dont really care about the size of the box, but the smaller the better.
Would most likely use windows media center with some form of remote. MCE remote $70-odd.

This is what i have so far.

Some generic looking case (anything thats not beige)  If you're going small, you'll need a mATX board which could compromise slots & design if you're decision-making is off. I notice you're talking about plugging into a hi-fi receiver. Maybe you should consider an HTPC case: but of course, they cost. For mATX: I use an Asus M2NPV-VM mobo which has integrated Nvidia 6150 graphics: more than adequate for normal XVid viewing but won't handle DVB-T HD. One word: you need an optional SPDIF add-on card.
DVD-RW IDE (generic)
Sata 500gb hdd 7200rpm Seagate get good raps: I have two with no issues.
8500gt silent video card (One less fan will make things quieter) What display are you connecting to? If standard CRT TV then you won't have ANY POST/boot screen until Windows loads. Only connections that work would be DVI & VGA.

What i dont have any clue about is:
Motherboard
Cpu (Preferably intel) - How fast does it need to be?  Don't know what minimum is: I have E4600 $184
 
PSU. 400w? 500w?  I use NoisetakerII 420w & Silverstone ST400 PSUs in my machines. So that size will be adequate.

In the future id like to add

A decent sound card such that i can connect to a home theatre (5.1) setup Not necessary: just use the mobo's onboard sound to SPDIF to you're receiver. I have an Intel mobo with Realtek's ALC889A audio processor. Mobo Gigabyt GAEP35-DS3 cost $191  A tv tuner that can record the HD stuff (freeview using a standard aerial) to the Hard Disk. Hauppuge HVR-2200. Dual DVB-T/analogue tuners on one PCI-E x1 card.
A blu ray drive If you're looking at this then would get a PowerDVD H.264 codec capable of decoding all you're requirements. You will need an H.264 version for decoding Freeview DVB-T. For the Blu-Ray codec to purchase you need Cyberlink's PowerDVD Ultra US$100.

So my questions are what other components should i consider?  Some people are championing AMD's recent 780 motherboards with ATI HD onboard graphics. They state you can run Freeview HD DVB-T with a low spec CPU. Can't comment here. You will require some type of input keyboard.
Is there any other places i can cut cost?
  Basically, it comes down to how much can spend. Pricespy you're component list.
To summarise: ifg you ONLY want to view & not do any transcoding etc. then a 780 AMD mobo may be best, but if you want to do even minimal CPU-intensive operation, spend the money now, otherwise you will be spending more for upgrades as you're needs change. And trust me, they WILL change.
Check out the specs in the HTPC thread & Pricespy the components.   http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?ForumId=84&TopicId=19606

Good sites for research are:

http://www.htpcnews.com/forums/index.php?s=e777936e4e302e2cf1b1ca7ce618883f&showforum=30
http://www.xpmediacentre.com.au/community/




Silverstone LC14 HTPC Case/Intel E4600 CPU/GA-EP35-DS3 MOBO/Asus EN9500GT graphics/2GB RAM/total 2TB HDD space/HVR-2200 & 2X 150MCE tuner cards/LG GGC-H20L BD Drive/MCE2005/Mediaportal/TVServer 1.1.0Final/LG 55"3D LED-TV/Denon AVR-1803 receiver/X1 projector

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  # 128073 2-May-2008 23:26
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Vorbis: I'm one of the many that purchased an LCD last year, that has 'HDTV ready' stamped on the front. Its only 1080i. :(


If your TV can display a 1080i image at 1080i then it can display a 1080p image at 1080p. Either it has >1080 lines or it doesnt.

My Bravia will happily accept a 1080p signal but that doesnt change the fact that it only has 768 vertical pixels which the 1080 content would be scaled down to.

 
 
 
 


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  # 128076 2-May-2008 23:40
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adamj:
Vorbis: I'm one of the many that purchased an LCD last year, that has 'HDTV ready' stamped on the front. Its only 1080i. :(


If your TV can display a 1080i image at 1080i then it can display a 1080p image at 1080p. Either it has >1080 lines or it doesnt.

My Bravia will happily accept a 1080p signal but that doesnt change the fact that it only has 768 vertical pixels which the 1080 content would be scaled down to.


Not totally true. Some earlier sets with a 1080 native panel only support 1080i inputs. Acer has a number of models with this issue.




Generally known online as OpenMedia, now working for Red Hat APAC a Technology Evangelist and Product Manager. Still playing with MythTV and digital media on the side.


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  # 128083 3-May-2008 00:03
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A lot that say 1080i only will do progressive via the VGA input however, its just component and the dvi/hdmi that are limited to 1080i.




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  # 128152 3-May-2008 12:34
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openmedia:
adamj:
Vorbis: I'm one of the many that purchased an LCD last year, that has 'HDTV ready' stamped on the front. Its only 1080i. :(


If your TV can display a 1080i image at 1080i then it can display a 1080p image at 1080p. Either it has >1080 lines or it doesnt.

My Bravia will happily accept a 1080p signal but that doesnt change the fact that it only has 768 vertical pixels which the 1080 content would be scaled down to.


Not totally true. Some earlier sets with a 1080 native panel only support 1080i inputs. Acer has a number of models with this issue.


Very true, my point was mainly that there are many people out there that have panels with 1366x768 or similar resolutions that have been advertised as 1080i capable. There is a lot of people out there (IME) that don't understand that with a vertical resolution of only 768 pixels on their panel, displaying 1080 vertical pixels is simply not possible.

In theory, any panel with greater than 1080 veritcal pixels *could* display a 1080p image, however if the smarts aren't there to process the signal (Like some of the Acers as you mentioned) then it wouldn't.

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  # 129620 9-May-2008 11:19
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All

Currently I download via Bittorrent some video media [usually .avi etc] on my desktop 2.4Ghz Pentium 4 [19" CRT] and then playback on my 29" CRT TV via a 750Mhz P3 Laptop using RCA cable. This works fine

Our VHS has died Laughing so I am considering recording TV using a similar system
 
1. If I get a Hybrid USB DVB-T card to connect to my current 2.4Ghz P4 will I be able to record Analog or Digital TV on the current PC ? [I see that the specs for the Hauppauge HVR900 state a minimum of 2.0 Ghz P4 but 2.8Ghz for Analogue

2. Would I need a special graphic adapter if I am not requiring to view [at this stage] HD  ?

3. What format would the recordings be in eg MPEG2 ?

I assume I don't need a powerful PC to playback the media as the P3 does this presently

When I get a HD TV ie when they start broadcasting in HD I'll get a more powerful PC

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  # 129801 10-May-2008 02:20
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You can record DVB on pretty much any old junker, its the playback that needs to have the decoding done.

Even not playing to a HD display, you still have to decode a hd size image and then scale it down to sd for the tv out. This needs a grunty video card etc.

However, if you get a dvb-s card and record the sd satellite channels, these are just mpeg 2, like a dvd so should play ok on old computers. If you can play dvd on your current system, you should be good to go.

The other option is to transcode the hd down to sd before moving it to play. That will take ages on something as slow as a 2.4Ghz, less then realtime so again, not viable.

If your wanting to record analog on a slowish machine you will need a card with a hardware mpeg2 encoder on it - PVR 150s are dirt cheap now so theres little sense in going for one of the lesser known ones IMO.




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  # 129821 10-May-2008 10:12
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richms: Even not playing to a HD display, you still have to decode a hd size image and then scale it down to sd for the tv out. This needs a grunty video card etc.


I intend to record dvb-t and or analogue as SD to MPEG2 and therefore I will not need to decode HD, HD does not come until the Olympics right hopefully by then I will have a more powerful PC and a HD TV

 

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  # 129839 10-May-2008 11:57
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xlinknz:

I intend to record dvb-t and or analogue as SD to MPEG2 and therefore I will not need to decode HD, HD does not come until the Olympics right hopefully by then I will have a more powerful PC and a HD TV



The signal is sent as a HD mpeg4 stream, thats what you record. At the moment they are upscaling so you still have to decompress a HD size picture, even if it doesnt have all the detail of a real HD source it still needs about the same resorces to decode.




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  # 129896 10-May-2008 17:40
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richms: The signal is sent as a HD mpeg4 stream, thats what you record. At the moment they are upscaling so you still have to decompress a HD size picture, even if it doesnt have all the detail of a real HD source it still needs about the same resorces to decode.


Oh I did not know that, thank you that that critical piece of information

I knew they were broadcasting in MPEG4 but why would they broadcast in HD [H.264?] if we cannot view it as HD ?

I wonder if my venerable 2.4Ghz P4 will cope in the interim with recording Analogue TV as MPEG2 ?

I suspect that will come down to the software I use ? - Hauppauge state a P4 2.8Ghz for Analogue others as little as a P4 2.0Ghz...





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