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251 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 5506 3-Nov-2005 10:13
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HTPC Project

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.


The Plan:

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.


Connections:

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.


Software:

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….




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Reply # 22537 3-Nov-2005 10:33
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wow... MCE sounds so much easier...


I'd choose Hauppauge tv tuner, WinTV-PVR350 is good, or WinTV-PVR250 is alright. and if you need twin tuner, WinTV-PVR-500MCE.

Video card, I'd choose ATI too but my HP MCE comes with Geforce6600 PCI-E so that's good for prebuilt.

And for display, use DVI-HDMI for HD ready, i'd use LCD, and most newer models now available comes with HDMI, might cost quite a bit but worthwhile for futureproof.

as for TelstraClear Digital, the FTA using RF out is fine, but make sure it picks up all the broadcast, some TV tuner is very sensitive, and also depends on the tuning software too... Like MCE does not pick up a lot of FTA from TelstraClear Digital STB's RF out. (shame)




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Reply # 22541 3-Nov-2005 10:40
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ooh!!

check this.. Mr.Geek.NZ is selling his HTPC. perhaps you can pick this up easily with out too much work to do on it!??

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Computers/Complete-systems/auction-39623764.htm

p/s: Mauricio, i hope posting this is ok? Trying to help mutly to find his HTPC.




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251 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Reply # 22549 3-Nov-2005 10:55
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chiefie: ooh!!

check this.. Mr.Geek.NZ is selling his HTPC. perhaps you can pick this up easily with out too much work to do on it!??


Gidday Chiefie - thanks for the comments above and the link to tradme :). The thing is I find building and configuring my systems to be huge amounts of fun, and particularly rewarding when you finally get it going (moreso with Linux systems :o). AS for TV tuner cards - this is where budget constrains rear thier ugly head again. I have to build this over time as I get the fundage, so I need to start with cheap-but-good stuff. I can always upgrade later - I just want to get something going NOW. Not that I am impatient. Nope.




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Reply # 22552 3-Nov-2005 11:03
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hehe That I can understand... we just shell out $11xxx for our 32" LCD philips tv and HP MCE (on hirepurchase of course)


and yet, few teething problems here and there... and still gonna replace our Sony's home theatre all in one unit with logitech's z5500 digital THX. that's $650




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Reply # 22565 3-Nov-2005 12:18
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chiefie: ooh!!

check this.. Mr.Geek.NZ is selling his HTPC. perhaps you can pick this up easily with out too much work to do on it!??

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Computers/Complete-systems/auction-39623764.htm

p/s: Mauricio, i hope posting this is ok? Trying to help mutly to find his HTPC.


This is fine... as long as there is no shameless self promotion of your own Trademe auctions in your signature.... ..... oh ..... wait ...... ignore that....




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Reply # 22569 3-Nov-2005 13:15
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I'm doing to do a MythTV box really soon. Converting my old Windows 2003 server box over to SuSE linux, Hauppauge WinTV-PVR350 (dual tuners ) and MythTV.

I already have a 160gb drive that I brought last year.

From what I see, it looks a relatively straight forward process of doing it. (I could shell out and get a windows version but... I don't really want to be restricted to Windows)




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