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11 posts

Geek


Topic # 25050 10-Aug-2008 19:55
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Hi there geekzone helpers,

I am a total amateur HTPC user and a absolute amateur geek.

As late as it sounds I have just discovered Home Theatre PC Systems and now have a real interest for them.
I was currently working on building my own but I have no great knowledge of the requirements needed for a good quality HTPC.

I thought you could use a normal pc desktop but just add the requirements needed but i was wrong as the pc will struggle in most areas.

I have VISTA HOME PREMIUM, THE MCE Keyboard and the Hauppage IR Receiver and Remote and am going to run the pc off my SAMSUNG LCD.

Could someone help me with building a good quality HTPC getting all the great benefits out of it i.e (recording, hdtv,music,bluray installation,dvd's etc) in the cheapest expense listing all the requirements and costs.

If buying an already made 1 is better & cheaper please note.

YOUR HELP IS GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!!
THANKS.

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138 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 155710 10-Aug-2008 21:14
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First up I would say, be prepared to put a lot of work into this! There are lots of options for hardware and software and I will give you I think for what it counts. But I suggest you do some research, and this site is pretty good, on GB-PVR, Mediaportal and Vista Media Center and Freeview (which I am sure you will want).

Also note there is a lot of on-going work in terms of support for Freeview HD; Vista Media Center and MythTV have ongoing work on supporting the H.264 codec, and onboard graphics like the 8200 and 780G still don't seem to properly support hardware acceleration even though they technically should. As I said this is very much on-going work, what I just said may not be valid now! Have a look through these forumns.

So what to get? Look at gettong a suitable motherboard (in terms of connections and outputs), 65W AMD dual core like the 5200, 2GB RAM, nice big hard drive (at least 500GB), an 8500GT for hardware acceleration, a case you like and then tuners. If you want Freeview HD the HVR2200 is great choice, to which you could add an analogue card like the PVR150. Or for more flexibility, an HVR3000. Personally I recommend Mediaportal as the PVR software.

I'm sure others will have ideas, I'm sure the boards can do something for you :)



11 posts

Geek


  Reply # 155722 10-Aug-2008 22:10
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hi there,

Thanks alot for your immediate reply you have some great suggestions.

I have read the forums of this site and others repeatedly and your right it is an on-going work progress as there is no ideal solution or "The perfect 1".

The research i've done has confused me completely as something new and better comes up everytime.

So how much roughly do you think all of what you suggested would come to?

Also I've found a "Dell intel dual core desktop" that can also be used as a HTPC.
It has:
foxconn G31/33 motherboard
X3100 graphic
4 USB at back, 2 USB at front
4 SATA ports
4 memory slots
1 PCI-E 16x
1 PCI-E 1x
2 PCI
8 channel HD audio
250W power supply with 3 SATA and 1 floppy

It just needs:
CPU
RAM
HDD
DVD WRITERetc.

Do you think rebuilding this would be better and less time consuming?
And what else would i need to make it a better HTPC?

1528 posts

Uber Geek

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  Reply # 155727 10-Aug-2008 22:38
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shyst12: I thought you could use a normal pc desktop but just add the requirements needed but i was wrong as the pc will struggle in most areas.

I would say you are not wrong, just confused...the more information and configurations you find, the harder it can be to make a decision as to which path to take, more confusing it is...

You can take a normal PC, and make it into a HTPC...you do not have to build it completely.

Just you have to ask yourself, what do you want this HTPC to be able to do?
Once you know the answer to that question, you can then look for PC's that already have most of your desired functionality built in.

Questions your going to have to ask yourself:
- The size of the case?
If you go for a pre-built PC that is tiny, you may be limiting the ability to upgrade/add other required components
- Video?
If you want to watch HD video/TV broadcasts, you willl want a decent graphics card with H.264 to lesson the load on the CPU.
Another way to go is to select a PC with a motherboard that has high end graphics built in with H.264 HD processing (they are available)
- TV tuner?
Any HTPC will require this, so you will likely need to make sure you not only have an availble PCI slot on the motherboard, but that the case is big enough to allow this addition...

So you can do it either way...
Build it completely yourself, or add-to a pre-built system




HTPC: Silverstone LC16M | abit IP35 Pro | Intel Quad Q9400 2.5GHz | Corsair 520HX | Samsung SH-S203D DVD Writer | NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 512MB RAM | 2 x 750GB Western Digital Caviar GP HDD | 4GB DDR800 RAM | D-Link DWA-547 Rangebooster N 650 Desktop | Blackgold BGT3540 | Microsoft Remote Control & Remote Keyboard for Windows Media Center | Windows 7 64bit

Mobile: Nokia N97, Nokia N900, Samsung Galaxy S, HTC EVO 3D, iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S III (current)

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  Reply # 155731 10-Aug-2008 22:44
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I would seriously suggest against getting a prebuilt one. They are very expensive or not fit for the task, for example that dell one isn't very good.
If you are uncomfortable with peicing together a PC from parts most computer shops will do it for a fee of the configuration you choose.
$1200 would buy you a nice one with a blu-ray drive, which would be the most expensive component at $320 but theres a cheaper brand drive that can be had elsewhere eg computerlounge, which is a great store with free shipping. Ask them to price match for the build and they will be happy to negotiate.
Heres an example build from C1, if you wanted Freeview HD and blu ray playback on a fairly fast system. Case is full ATX with a card reader. Obviously this is just an example and might not suit your needs.
Motherboard: [GIGABYTE] GA-P35-DS3L   $142.45
CPU:
[INTEL] CORE 2 DUO E7200 2.53GHZ - $190.55
RAM: [CORSAIR] TWIN2X2048-6400  - $79.35
GFX: [ASUS] EN8600GT SILENT/HTDP/512M $133.85
Case: [SILVERSTONE] GRANDIA GD01B-R BLACK - $164.05
PSU: [SILVERSTONE] ST400   - $66.95
Tuner Card: [HAUPPAUGE] HVR-2200  - $134.75
Optical Drive: [ASUS] BC-1205PT BLACK  - $321.75

Total: $1233.70 (1278.70 with assembly)



11 posts

Geek


Reply # 155747 10-Aug-2008 23:16
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THANKS ALOT GUYS FOR YOUR HELP.

As my decision is still ranging from 1-100 meaning i'm indecissive would it be better if i chose a case and stated my uses (what i want my htpc to do) for it then you's could help me build it from there?

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  Reply # 155758 11-Aug-2008 00:17
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I should have made that point too as eXDee does...
While it certainly can be done (build a HTPC from a normal PC) I am not recommending it, merely stating it can be done (and still be done cheaply).

Personally, I would recommend building it yourself as opposed to modifying/adding to a pre-built system, but it all depends I guess on your level of knowledge and how comfortable you are building a PC.




HTPC: Silverstone LC16M | abit IP35 Pro | Intel Quad Q9400 2.5GHz | Corsair 520HX | Samsung SH-S203D DVD Writer | NVIDIA GeForce GT 240 512MB RAM | 2 x 750GB Western Digital Caviar GP HDD | 4GB DDR800 RAM | D-Link DWA-547 Rangebooster N 650 Desktop | Blackgold BGT3540 | Microsoft Remote Control & Remote Keyboard for Windows Media Center | Windows 7 64bit

Mobile: Nokia N97, Nokia N900, Samsung Galaxy S, HTC EVO 3D, iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S III (current)



11 posts

Geek


  Reply # 156733 13-Aug-2008 22:04
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Hey there exDEE...

I checked out the custom built HTPC you did for me and I quite like the selections you put together alot.
I just have a few queries.....

What are the down falls of this project? i.e do i have any major disadvantages compatred to any other HTPC?
What size is the hard drive?
I have a external receiver that come with my hauppage remote/mce keyboard, can it be installed internally to save room space or is there a way to use my remote wihout the receiver?
Is the cooling situation good?
Does this come with usb hubs?
And finally can the blu-ray driver record non blu-ray format?

Sorry for the list and thankyou plenty for your time.

 

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  Reply # 156746 13-Aug-2008 22:55
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Lists are good, makes it easy to answer. Mine are in bold.
shyst12: Hey there exDEE...

I checked out the custom built HTPC you did for me and I quite like the selections you put together alot.
I just have a few queries.....

What are the down falls of this project? i.e do i have any major disadvantages compatred to any other HTPC? You might find the case big perhaps, and the tuner card i selected is freeview HD and analogue, so no satellite.
What size is the hard drive? Whoops, i missed the hard drive out completely from that list. For hard drive personally i'd choose the Western Digital 640gb since its very quiet and very fast. Price is $120-150 i think.
I have a external receiver that come with my hauppage remote/mce keyboard, can it be installed internally to save room space or is there a way to use my remote wihout the receiver? The LC20 case has a black strip i think that you could probably put the IR receiver behind. Cases with IR receivers built in have a pretty big markup
Is the cooling situation good? Depends on case. The one i mentioned comes with 2 rear exhaust fans, and has 3 more places where more can be added. Overall it seems to be a pretty good cooling setup
Does this come with usb hubs? You mean front USB ports on the case? Yes there are two as with most cases.
And finally can the blu-ray driver record non blu-ray format? Ah, the blu-ray drive i selected is not a blu-ray recorder, only reader. This one however is, but costs $100 more. And yes both drives will write DVD's and CD's too.

Sorry for the list and thankyou plenty for your time.

 



11 posts

Geek


Reply # 156760 14-Aug-2008 00:56
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Ok thanks for your great useful information.

If it's possible could you be able to help me with this.....?

An HTPC to my suitable requirements if possible:

*A slightly slimmer case i.e (Thermaltake mozart) or something to it's kind for aesthetic & space reasons.
*Uses:
-H.D Freeview (which 1 is better sattelite or analogue?)
-Blu-ray reader/recorder
-Play games i.e (crysis etc)
-Listen/download music
-Record simultaneously whilst;
#Surfing the net
#listening to music
#Instant messaging
#Watching movies.


Could you please build me 1 from these requirements preferably with all your already given selections as I admire them, but only altering the case, hopefully a cheaper blu-ray recorder/reader, and listing the total outcome.

Your help is moving me towards a masterpiece.

Greatly acknowledged you are!!!!



11 posts

Geek


  Reply # 156761 14-Aug-2008 01:03
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OH AND A CASE WITH BACK USB HUBS FOR MY IR-RECEIVER
THANXXX



11 posts

Geek


  Reply # 156764 14-Aug-2008 01:11
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OH1 MORE THING.....

IS A CARD READER IN THE CASE ESSENTIAL?
AND PVR150 ANALOGUE CARD WITH MEDIA PORTAL SOFTWARE IF YOU CAN'T FIND ME A CHEAP SATTELITE TUNER CARD IF THATS RECOMMENDED???

BDFL - Memuneh
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Reply # 156770 14-Aug-2008 07:47
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I think you can do the price yourself by looking at places like Pricespy or Ascent. People have already listed the parts, so it's time for you to do some of the walk too...

In short - don't ask too much, people would soon stop helping to move to something more interesting.




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Master Geek


  Reply # 156771 14-Aug-2008 07:54
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Please don't shout, many consider it rude/annoying (I do).

Firstly you need to narrow down your requirements, you started out by saying you wanted an HTPC and now you say you want to normal PC things, i.e. surfing the net, IM etc. I would highly suggest doing that sort of stuff on a normal computer and leave the HTPC as an HTPC. But it should be able to handle that stuff, just flicking between a program like MediaPortal and the desktop isn't the quickest,  all decent PCR software is designed to run as a full screen app controlled by a remote.

Now about TV options, there are 3 types of free TV in NZ. Terrestial digital , satellite and analogue. Do some research, but you will want a combo of FreeviewHD and analogue if you have reception for both.

Finally not sure what you mean by 'black USB hub' and a card reader is on;y 'essential' if you decide it is. it is your computer!

freitasm is right, it is time for you to look some stuff up for yourself! Feel free to come back if there is anything else that is unclear though.

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  Reply # 156856 14-Aug-2008 12:03
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Why whenever people are talking about HTPC do they go nuts on hardware and start listing parts right off the bat??

I think TheBartender mentioned it in this thread - figure out what you want to do first.

An HTPC can be as simple and chucking a tuner card into an old machine and getting the feel for it.  Figure out how to deal with the tuner, shares, EPG, Music, Videos, web clients, clients, live tv, video codecs, video formats etc on a small scale, if possible with existing hardware then slowly add bits.  Even for experiencd people rebuilding an htpc machine from scratch with new hardward, os, media software if not hte easiest.  So trying to do it as an amateur would be diabolical.

I've spent over 2k for my HTPC - but that's over 2 and a half years, adding hardware each time.  My first one was a $50 tuner card on an old Pentium 2 before I figured out this was quite fun, and started buying some dedicated bit..

Just my 2c, but I've been seeing a lot of similar threads lately, and lots and lots of questions, that are all pretty related..

Not a rant BTW, hopefully just imparting some of my experiences.




Previously known as psycik

NextPVR/OpenHAB: 
Gigabyte AMD A8 Brix --> Samsung LA46A650D via HDMI, NextPVR,OpenHAB with Aeotech ZWave Controller
Media:Chromecast v2, ATV4, Roku3, Raspberry PI temperature Sensors and Bluetooth LE Sensors,HDHomeRun Dual
Windows 2012 
Host (Plex Server/Crashplan): 2x2TB, 2x3TB, 1x4TB using DriveBender, Samsung 850 evo 512 GB SSD, Hyper-V Server with 1xW10, 1xW2k8, 2xUbuntu 16.04 LTS, Crashplan, NextPVR channel for Plex,NextPVR Metadata Agent and Scanner for Plex


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Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 157004 14-Aug-2008 18:09
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Welcome to the HTPC addiction, shyst12. Remember what some wise sage once said, "It's not the journey that counts, but the adventure along the way". That's what you are letting yourself in for. But as a totally self-taught (over about 12 years) (HT)PC  enthusiast, I can guarantee it is worth the effort -though there have been times (even recently) where I might disagree with that sentiment Foot in mouth.

As a debutant, I would seriously look at build methods as well as researching your components. As mentioned, determine what exactly you want to achieve with your HTPC. I would narrow your paramteres to the bare minimum: use it exclusively for multimedia. Don't game & do minimal browsing with it.

Use the price comaprison sites. They are your friend, just be careful about where you purchase. The cheapest companies are usually so for reasons ie. poor support, no RMA backup, etc. I usually look at sites near, but not at the price bottom. PM me if you want the sites I shop at.

About how to build HTPCs, here's a page to a document that was developed by a novice as he built his first HTPC. It is an excellent source. The hardware is obviously outdated, but the methods aren't.

http://www.xpmediacentre.com.au/community/media-center-articles-guides/8912-build-your-own-media-center.html

One final thing, you mentioned what tuner card: go with the HVR-2200. Why? the card is dual tuner -both DVB-T and/or analogue, it is a good price & has hardware decoding for anlogue sources, which is required for some frontends, like Mediaportal. You need DVB-T for FreeviewHD. DVB-S can't accept high-def record/playback.




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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