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16 posts

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#27655 3-Nov-2008 09:32
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Hi all, Im just looking for a critique of my proposed HTPC. It will be mainly for watching and recording Freeview, as well as dvd's and downloaded (legally) videos. I am tying to keep it on the cheap, so I am scrounging parts from old pc's, hence the $0 price for some parts. The system will always be on as it will also act as a media and general file server . I will be aiming to use media portal on it so that I can connect to the tv-server from elsewhere in the home but software reccomendations are welcome provided they allow this feature also. As a base it will be running win xp pro 32bit.

I will initially be running it into a tv with only a d-sub or component, but will be getting a HDMI HD tv soon so it needs to be able to push out a great quality picture at full HD with the possibility of a Blueray drive upgrade later.

I will not be worrying too much about noise at this stage as im just looking to get something cheap and quick. I am using the Hauppauge4000 as I already use it im my gaming PC so i know it works and the remote is easy to program.

Proposed Hardware:

Motherboard    GA-MA78GM-S2H            $144
CPU                AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200    $85
Ram                2x1gb DDR2 400            $0
Hdd              (2xs egate 320gb)              $0
TV Tuner         Hauppauge WinTV HVR 4000    $0
DVD reader        generic                        $30
Foxconn TLM-454 Case with 300w PSU    $75


any advice is greatly appreciated, I have been reading that nvidia is better for h.264 acceleration. The above motherboard is an ati 780g with onboard HD3200, and HDMI. If anyone can make a reccomendation for a nvidia equlivant and provide a guide to h.264 hardware acceleration it would be great.

Thanks for any advice,
Dominic

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16 posts

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  #175447 3-Nov-2008 14:05
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Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

as an additional point of interest, if a htpc is running a  media portal TV server and another computer on the network is watching it on a client (no one watching in thpc) how is the workload shared around decoding?

Dominic


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  #175471 3-Nov-2008 15:51
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That is the same setup i have. If you get 780G board make sure you get the latest revision (i think it is up to 2.0 now)
Get either a faster CPU or a phenom. (My justification is that if you can't get hardware acceleration working, or if some 720P/1080P movies you like arn't encoded correctly you need a bit more juice to do software encoding)0
At the very minimun get a 4800+ which is only $10 more.
Other option is to look at a nvidia based board.




HTPC / Home automation (home assistant) enthusiast.


 
 
 
 




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  #175474 3-Nov-2008 15:55
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kiwijunglist: That is the same setup i have.
Get either a faster CPU or a phenom.
At the very minimun get a 4800+ which is only $10 more.


So the onboard gpu is enough for freeview? I have been reading all over this site that i need at least a 8400gs?

Thanks
Dom

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  #175475 3-Nov-2008 15:57
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The onboard GPU is fast enough for freeview if you get hardware accleration working properly.
My experience with HD3200 onboard is the hardware acceleration doesn't work well with interlaced H264 HDTV Freeview in XP, it works fine in vista.




HTPC / Home automation (home assistant) enthusiast.




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  #175477 3-Nov-2008 16:06
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Thanks, for the info. I guess im thinking I might drop the motherboard down a few notches to a Asustek M2N and get a 8500gt as i know it'll work. I like your thinking on the bigger cpu though, i might get a 5000+ so it has grunt when needed, but can throttle back to run cool and quiet when offloaded to the 8500gt.

Dom

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  #175504 3-Nov-2008 18:01
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ddr2 400 is a bit meh, but i suppose if its spare...
Agreed on processor. 4800 or above.

I would suggest a dedicated graphics card just to try and steer clear of issues. The HD3200 is a mixed bag even with the latest drivers for some. Depends on the OS, codecs and PVR software.

i went with a Asus m3n nvidia 8200 motherboard + 8500gt, because when i upgrade to vista (if i do) i can hybrid SLI them for a bit of a boost in power perhaps.

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  #175566 3-Nov-2008 22:00
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You can see I'm running very similar to Kiwijunglist with the big difference being on VISTA. I've had significant problems with the HDMI / on board audio.  Further problems tonight, lost audio again (HDMI disabled by itself since last night) and tracked down to windows auto updates.  Had to role back to previous drivers to get audio back.  I wish I'd gone for a more basic MB and used dedicated cards, that way I could have isolated problems easier.  I'm still trying to resolve audio problems......


 
 
 
 




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  #175590 3-Nov-2008 22:31
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thanks all, given me lots to think about. One other thing that has not crossed my mind is PSU, any one know of any cheap quiet psu's with a couple of sata power connectors?
thanks
Dominic

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  #175608 3-Nov-2008 23:53
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dominicmck: thanks all, given me lots to think about. One other thing that has not crossed my mind is PSU, any one know of any cheap quiet psu's with a couple of sata power connectors?
thanks
Dominic


This power supply is both cheap and reasonably quiet.  I have used a few in corporate pc builds, but not HTPCs.  It has two sata power connectors but you can buy a splitter to split old style power into two sata power adaptors for around $5.
http://www.xpcomputers.co.nz/views.asp?hw_id=3125




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  #175618 4-Nov-2008 02:09
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questforknowledge:

You can see I'm running very similar to Kiwijunglist with the big difference being on VISTA. I've had significant problems with the HDMI / on board audio.  Further problems tonight, lost audio again (HDMI disabled by itself since last night) and tracked down to windows auto updates.  Had to role back to previous drivers to get audio back.  I wish I'd gone for a more basic MB and used dedicated cards, that way I could have isolated problems easier.  I'm still trying to resolve audio problems......



Did you have the lan break with some update? I have just changed back from using a wsus server internally for a while (because its out of disk space and I cant afford more right now) and it pulled a nic driver update from windows update which broke it.




Richard rich.ms

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  #175630 4-Nov-2008 08:17
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That happened once to me, had to roll back to previous lan driver.  Doesn't seem to happen anymore with windows update though.




HTPC / Home automation (home assistant) enthusiast.




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  #175689 4-Nov-2008 13:21
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Regs:
dominicmck: thanks all, given me lots to think about. One other thing that has not crossed my mind is PSU, any one know of any cheap quiet psu's with a couple of sata power connectors?
thanks
Dominic


This power supply is both cheap and reasonably quiet.  I have used a few in corporate pc builds, but not HTPCs.  It has two sata power connectors but you can buy a splitter to split old style power into two sata power adaptors for around $5.
http://www.xpcomputers.co.nz/views.asp?hw_id=3125



Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

thanks, I might go visit these guys tonight and see what they have, the seem to have a wide range of stock in their showroom which makes things quick and easy.

Dominic


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