Gidday everyone. I have finally convinced the wife to let me build up a HTPC. I have spent a bit of time reading a million product reviews, DIYs, etc, and now I think I am ready to start purchasing and building. Below is the general plan, but I would love some input on whether this seems like a reasonable way of doing things. Please be aware that my budget is VERY limited, so I can’t just go and buy the flashest of the flash in gear, but I still want a solid and reliable system.
Case: Silverstone SST-LC16M: I have ordered this already. It has many positive reviews, and comes with the iMon remote and Multi-Median software – again with glowing reviews.
MB: Intel D915PCY: Won it in a comp, so why not eh? Socket 775, DDR2, PCIe, onboard (shudder) audio etc.
PSU: I need something quiet (VERY quiet in order to get a high WAF score). I won’t be driving a lot of gear at first, so please, if you have any recommendations??
RAM: 1GB DDR2 or some brand or another
HDD: Initially I will be going for a 200GB SATA drive. The case takes 6, so in the future I will be looking at a redundant RAID setup of some description. Any HDDs out there that are particularly silent?
TV Tuner: Will be getting an TUL (Powercolour) ATI 550 Pro if all goes well. Choice based on reviews.
Video: Will try and pair the ATI TV tuner with a Radeon X600 that is also HDTV compatible (for future display purchases – nice to be future proof). Don’t need anything too powerful as it won’t be used for anything other than Movies and TV.
Audio: The MB has onboard Intel HD 6 channel audio, but if this is too horrid I have a Creative 5.1 card floating about. Can’t quite afford the flash new ones yet.
Optical: Thinking a cheaper DVD RW at first. A limitation of the Silverstone case is that it can’t use optical drives with the drawer the same width as the drive…
FDD: Ahahahahahaaa… heh. Um, no.
Cooling: Help! Needs to be super secret squirrel trouser assassin stealthy quiet. Can’t afford to go liquid cooling so any suggestions welcome. Silence is a must or the wife will banish it from our rack of AV goodness.
I am intending to get the TV signal from the RF out on my TCL Digital box (hoping this works) for the FTA channels. I will also run the (awful) composite inputs from the cable box into the video capture dongle on the ATI 550 TV card so I can recode from the other not FTA channels. Anyone doing this? Does it work ok?
Output from the HTPC to the TV is where I am coming unstuck. I would love to go from VGA to the SCART RGB but not entirely sure how to do this. I have a horrid little TV-View Pocket PC to TV converter from DSE which comes with a VGA to SCART RGB converter, but I am not sure weather I can just plug this directly into my video card, or weather is *has* to go through the converter first??? I can always go S-video if all else fails. Oh, TV is a Grundig Xentia 32” high res thingy.
Choosing how to run everything is a bit confusing. There are many different HTPC controller packages out there and I am somewhat confused on what to use. AS mentioned above, the Silverstone Case comes with the Multi-Median package from iMon which seems to be a very good and fully featured package, so I will start with this. Failing that I am open to suggestions. The biggie is that I must be able to configure it to work with the EPG from mr.geek.nz. Other packages I have been looking at are Meedio, SageTV, gbpvr, and MediaPortal. I am avoiding MCE mainly due to the DRM issues (not that it would be a great problem mind you). Yes, I know what my Sig says, but I don't consider myself competent enough to go the route or MythTV.
So, in summary I need comments on:
1. Hardware – does this seem like a reasonable setup? Have I done anything stupid?
2. WAF – in order to get a high Wife Acceptance score it *has* to be a silent runner. Any help in this area greatly appreciated.
3. Connections – will my signal input work ok from the TCL Digital box? How best to connect to my TV?
4. Software – a big topic I am sure, but personal comments on fave controller software welcomed. Especially those who have used iMon Mutli-Median.
5. What have I forgotten? There is bound to be something….