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131 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 113581 21-Jan-2013 15:44
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Hi. I'm in need of advice for an HTPC. I'm currently using a Raspberry Pi with Raspbmc but I need something that is more stable. My media is currently stored on x2 2TB Seagate external USB3.0 hard drives, which I would like to continue to utilise. The TV is a 47" LG full HD LED Smart 3D tv. I do not have any surround sound at the moment and do not envisage ever getting it (my lounge is not well laid out for it). I can not get freeview terrestial at my location. I have standard sky via their silver decoder (45xx card).

Requirements from the HTPC:
Ability to play video files (tv shows/movies), including 1080p 3D movies.
Future ability to use a DVB-S card and card reader so the HTPC decodes Sky (& recording sky etc)
I do not play any computer games, but would like the HTPC to have reasonable capability to play games.
I do not play any physical DVDs or Blurays - the only media I play are files.
Provide access to the external hard drives to other desktop PCs in the house (just one at the moment).
I intend for the HTPC to be "always-on".

Current equipment:
FLIRC (usb ir receiver)
Wireless USB game controller
Logitech K400 wireless keyboard with touchpad.

Budget:
$500+gst or so, but can go higher.

One other odd thing - for security and noise I want to locate the HTPC under the house beneath where the TV is wall mounted. Under my house is reasonably safe from an environmental view point (dust and moisture), and would be off the ground obviously. I was thinking of having a single USB 2.0 cable and HDMI cable running from the HTPC to the TV - the HDMI to the tv, and USB cable to a powered USB hub for FLIRC, wireless game controller, Logitech keyboard etc.

Proposed hardware:
$135+gst AMD A8-5600K Quad Core 3.6ghz APU http://pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=CPUAMD5600&name=AMD-A8-5600K-Socket-FM2-Quad-Core-3.6Ghz--4-X-1MB-
$119+gst GIGABYTE-F2A75M-D3H
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=MBDGBM3215&name=GIGABYTE-F2A75M-D3H-AMD-A75-CHIPSET-MATX-Socket-FM
$35+gst 4GB DDR3 RAM http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=MEMHYN54095&name=STRONTIUM-4GB-1600MHz-DDR3-Single-Module-PC12800-w
$75+gst 500GB WD Blue SATA3 HDD http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=HDDWD4504&name=Western-Digital-500GB-3.5-Blue-Edition-SATA3-7200R
$65+gst Case
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?z=p&p=CHACLM0343N&name=COOLER-MASTER-Elite-343-NO-PSU-Micro-ATX-HD-AUDIO-
350 or 400watt PSU? $35-$39+gst

Proposed software:
Windows 7, XBMC.

Do you guys have any thoughts or recommendations? For the above hardware would a 350w PSU be adequate or should I get a 400w? I've never used or had anything to do with an HTPC (other than the Pi) so any suggestions would be appreciated.

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236 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 748802 22-Jan-2013 14:01
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Have a look at this regarding your Raspberry Pi http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=34&topicid=113410

 

Most HTPC build issues (noise, heat, looks) aren’t going to affect you, so you should be fine http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=84&topicid=113597&page_no=1#748523

 

I would put a Satellite card in the other PC and have a play with Nextpvr and XBMC. I have found channel changes slow and not very wife friendly (hence I have a set top box for live tv.)

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  Reply # 748818 22-Jan-2013 14:15
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Is your choice of APU driven by maybe wanting to game at some point on it? If your gaming needs will be minimal you could probably drop the APU down to one of the cheaper versions, especially given you're not even doing 3D from bluray disk.


Also have you looked at the Antec NSK2480 case? It comes with PSU so the price compared to the components you list aren't that big and the build quality is a lot better than that Coolermaster case if you ever want to move it out from under your house put it somewhere "visible" in the future (I actually have both - coolermaster case houses my "home server" and my HTPC is in the antec)


 
 
 
 


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131 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 748830 22-Jan-2013 14:36
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Re going with the A8 apu rather than an A6/something else cheaper - I haven't done any gaming in a long time, and even that was pretty basic stuff (GTA San Andreas and stuff). But I figured if there is a PC there it would be handy, and I've got young kids that could eventually use it (with upgrades/replacements as time goes by) rather than me paying for Xbox/Playstations etc. I do not intend to try and play any very intensive modern games. But I do want to make sure I don't have ANY hassles whatsoever playing 1080p 3D files, and for $40 price difference I think it'll be worth it to save myself from possible trouble. Several 1080p 3D movies I have the 512mb pi can't handle, so I have to unplug that external HDD and plug it directly into the TV to play. If you could recommend or suggest a step up from the A8 that might give be better performance I'd consider it - this thing can not have any trouble playing 1080 3d files, or the wife will kill me.

The Antec case looks good, but I honestly don't intend to have the HTPC above floor level, and it's an extra $40/$50 on top of the cooler master case and psu. I'd rather upgrade from the A6 to A8 apu than upgrade the cooler master case to the Antec.

On the Pi I have been running RaspBMC off a usb stick but I simply haven't found it stable enough. It just crashes too often, then is a hassle to boot back up as I need to have my external drives disconnected when it boots otherwise it stops booting with an error. Once booted I then need to SSH to it to mount the drives properly so their size appears correctly on the network. Just too many hassles. And whatever I do needs to be wife-friendly. I'd still use the Pi in the master bedroom though, once the HTPC is set up.

I had thought that running Sky through the HTPC may introduce a few non wife-friendly issues, but I do have a usb card reader on the way via ebay to have a play around with it.

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  Reply # 748851 22-Jan-2013 15:00
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I'd seriously consider a small SSD, for boot speed.




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  Reply # 748888 22-Jan-2013 15:18
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timmmay: I'd seriously consider a small SSD, for boot speed.


I'm still not convinced on this one (though I did go with a small SSD on my HTPC anyway)  - mainly because I never actually reboot my HTPC just put it to sleep, and I think SSD or not that is waking from RAM so pretty much instant.  (EDIT: Actually I went with no HDD in my HTPC, they're in my home server, so reduced heat and noise in the HTPC were additional drivers for going the SSD route.)



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 748895 22-Jan-2013 15:26
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I intend for my HTPC to be always on, so can't justify the added expense of an SSD.

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  Reply # 748922 22-Jan-2013 15:44
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Blanch: I would put a Satellite card in the other PC and have a play with Nextpvr and XBMC. I have found channel changes slow and not very wife friendly (hence I have a set top box for live tv.)


i also recommend this, its what im doing.

my setup

Server
- Running windows 8 (just upgraded from win 7, which worked fine)
- OSCAM + OMNIKEY card reader for decryption of sky channels
- NextPVR for recording/live tv (also used fortherecord, now called "Argus TV")
- TBS-6984 quad tuner DVB-S2 card

clients
- 3x raspberry pis
- 2x older HTPCs running openelec 
- 1x older htpc running windows 7 and xbmc

NAS
- 6 bay ReadyNAS, only using 4 drives ATM
- MySQL db installed which is used by the xbmc clients for shared database

by off loading a few of the jobs of an HTPC (live/recored tv, media storage) you can get a cheaper and smaller client and also have a more flexible setup.  and when it times to upgrade part of it (larger NAS, extra client, or faster client with bluray or something) its cheaper.

i agree, raspbmc is not ready for prime time (it was a joke thats its been called "Release Candidate" for months, it should of been labelled beta).

Android devices for xbmc are probably at least 6 months away from being stable and great playback.  

so for a reliable xbmc solution, a HTPC currently is the best option, however its also the most expensive.

since you do have a separate desktop i suggest
- use the desktop as tv server
- install mysql on desktop, this way if you need to reflash your client, you dont need to rescan for all your media (which im sure you probably had to do with your pi)
- buy a small client (like the ultra xtremer 2) for your htpc, not too expensive, but also powerful.  many small clients have premade images available for them at www.openelec.tv.  with xbmc v12/frodo going final in a few days/weeks there will be some very stable openelec releases available.

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 748951 22-Jan-2013 16:04
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+1 I'd seriously consider a small SSD, 

and not under spec'ing your HTPC, my kids (and I) use it as a gaming console.



131 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 748958 22-Jan-2013 16:14
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What cpu/motherboard do you use for yours Blanch?

Reven, how do you find channel changing for live tv?

I'd rather have my HTPC doing most duties as I'd intend for that to be left on 24/7, where as my desktop PC is only used when I want to use it. If the desktop was doing media storage/tv decoding then both machines would be running 24/7 effectively. My kids can get to the desktop PC too so sometimes I'll find it turned off, or very weird stuff on the screen - so it wouldn't suit my circumstances for the desktop PC to be doing any HTPC/media storing duties.

Spec wise what do you guys think of my system? Adequate for my needs?

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  Reply # 748986 22-Jan-2013 16:52
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 Reven, how do you find channel changing for live tv?

a few seconds, its by no means fast, but you get use to recordings shows and watching them later, i very rarely watch live tv, my parents just leave the same channel on for hours (trackside, living, food).

Spec wise what do you guys think of my system? Adequate for my needs?

any new PC should work pretty well for media playback, as the decoding for all the HD videos are done in hardware, so its not really a big concern anymore.  as long as the gfx card is good enough, and theyve been good enough for years, you'll be fine.

i was using a 2009/10 mac mini for my HTPC and could playback everything i threw at it (large, 25gb+, mkvs)



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 748995 22-Jan-2013 17:09
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Ah cool. I've got a mate with a couple of spare dvb-s cards. I'll borrow one when my omnikey card reader and test it out in my desktop pc. If it runs wife-compatible I'll probably get a dual dvb-s card. Are you happy with your TBS?

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  Reply # 749022 22-Jan-2013 18:04
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yeah happy with TBS now, use to get BSOD issues with earlier driver versions under windows and had to switch to Ubuntu, but for the last 6-9 months I haven't had any BSOD related to my TBS.

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 749030 22-Jan-2013 18:19
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Raven

Why the Server and NAS?


Archer77

Server PC I3 540 also emails and web surfing etc (was the Main HTPC)
Running windows 7 and NextPVR for recording/live tv
media storage
Wintv hvr 3300 (need to get the TBS-6984 quad tuner DVB-S2 card)

clients
-1x HTPC (Gaming) I5 3570K Asus P8Z77-M  running windows 7 and xbmc (New toy)
-1x raspberry pi (New)
-1x HTPC AMD E350 running Openelec windows 7 and xbmc (was the Server PC)


NAS (I was going to get rid of) 1 TB WD MyWorld (set top box recordings photo backup)

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  Reply # 749043 22-Jan-2013 18:49
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Blanch: Raven

Why the Server and NAS?


reven :)  
NAS
- always on, never ever goes off
- low powered
- hardware redundancy
- easy to expand and add more storage
- all looks like one share eg \\mynas\movies instead of \\server\cdrive\movies, \\server\ddrive\movies

server
- has tv capture cards
- records tv
- runs additional software (rip blurays on this server etc)
- on about 98% of the time, i do reboot it at times, i do upgrade the OS etc.  so live tv i dont mind being down every once in a while, as long as I can watch everything on my NAS.

i basically bought a NAS after a hard drive died and I lost a bunch of stuff, I like knowing if a HDD is about to die i will be warned (by email) and my data wont be lost (unless i lost two drives, but i could always turn on dual drive redundancy)

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 749273 23-Jan-2013 08:37
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Cheers Reven

I thought I could do the backup at the server rather than having another device always on.

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