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1 post

Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 165241 18-Sep-2008 01:04
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This is my first post, but I've been through 3 cases, 3 motherboards, 2 cpus and 3 different optical drives and I'm not at my final configuration for a decent media PC, so thought I'd share my own experiences. (All my own fault - I made some hasty decisions and didn't research the products well enough)

Have you thought about power consumption and noise?

Getting a gigabyte mobo with built in graphics, HDMI and an energy efficient CPU is a good option to reduce power consumption and heat in the box. This is what I bought... (in the end - first solution was intel with 2 different mobos - the first didn't support vista properly so had to bin that and start again)

1 x Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H 780G Socket AM2+ onboard VGA 8 channel audio mATX Motherboard 142347  £46.44
1 x AMD Athlon 64 X2 4850e 2.5GHz Socket AM2 Energy Efficient 1MB L2 Cache Retail Boxed Processor 144638  £47.04

That's from www.ebuyer.com (obviously UK, but if you can find the same in NZ then it's a fantastically cheap combination). The CPU is only meant to draw 45 W in total and the mobo onboard graphics is rated to decode HD (h.264) as well (although read the below post about this...)

http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?ForumId=84&TopicId=24816

I had an antec fusion at first and I have to say they are very well designed cases. The fans are huge and very very quiet AND efficient due to their sheer size so you can get away without putting a fan on the CPU cooler (which by the way - if you buy a retail version of the athlon, the stock cooler is fine!).

Not having an extra graphics card on the mobo means less heat as well and more room for airflow in the case (it's quite cramped in the antec).

There's nothing wrong with the fusion, but in the end I changed it for a zalman hd135 for several reasons, mainly because it was full hifi width and sat on beneath my AMP better. It also has a built in IR port, whereas with fusion you have to run an ir receiver from the back or somewhere. However, it's much noisier than the antec - really noisy. The insides are no where near as well thought out and the all aluminium construction amplifies all the vibrations in the case. So, I don't think there's anything wrong with the fusion.

With regards to DVD player - make sure the speed can be controlled by speed management software - otherwise you may end up with a very noisy dvd player. I've just got LG GCC-H20L combined blu-ray and hd-dvd player (only 60 quid in the UK) but it's rubbish - it makes a terrible racket when you play back DVDs and it doesn't respond to speed management software. So I'll have to transfer that to my normal PC and buy a LiteOn DH-4O1S-10C instead which is meant to be much better (but more expensive).
Consider getting a blu-ray drive though - if you want to future proof your HTPC for a couple of years :-)

I'm sure I read somewhere that 1x 2GB might mean less heat than 2 x 1GB but don't think it'll make that much difference. You're also meant to be able to get marginally better performance from 2 x 1GB, but since the bottle neck on most systems is the HDD, I doubt it'll make that much difference.

I've also got vista 32 home premium on my HTPC - turn off all the pointless extras such as Windows Defender, Sidebar, Indexing, Firewall and it'll speed up the boot time and reduce disk chugging.

Hope this helps.

Reg


362 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 3


  Reply # 165462 18-Sep-2008 20:16
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groovy:

Also except Media Patrol and Windows Vista ultimate software. What else do i need??


Plan what codecs you want to use, as Media Portal does not come with HD codecs. The tv tuner migh come with an application like PowerCinema, which will install video codecs for HD. PowerDVD8 seems to be a popular choice as well. Other codecs appear to be free on the net, but be careful, as some are software codecs, unable to utilise hardware decoding (Arcsoft, I think...)





mobo Intel DH55PJ, RAM: 4GB RAM, Nova-T 500 HD + Avermedia Trinity tuner card, Geforce 520 video, 120GB SSD Sandisk + 640 WD + 1000SG, Win7 Home Prem 64-bit, Media Portal 1.15.0; BTC 9019URF Cordless Keyboard, Panasonic 55" (HDMI cable), HTPC Case Silverstone Grandia GD05B.


 
 
 
 




25 posts

Geek


  Reply # 165576 19-Sep-2008 09:40
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aucklander:
groovy:

Also except Media Patrol and Windows Vista ultimate software. What else do i need??


Plan what codecs you want to use, as Media Portal does not come with HD codecs. The tv tuner migh come with an application like PowerCinema, which will install video codecs for HD. PowerDVD8 seems to be a popular choice as well. Other codecs appear to be free on the net, but be careful, as some are software codecs, unable to utilise hardware decoding (Arcsoft, I think...)


Thanks. Just wondering as i was reading through some posts and quite a few people are having problems with Antec Fusion IR receiver with the Harmony 525 remote.
I really really like to use the Universal Harmony 525 remote (as its cheap) and convenient and compatible with all the devices i have at home. 

Has anyone succesfully built together a HTPC similar to my one and got it completely working without issues?

Because if its a lot of hassle with Antec fusion V2 and Harmony remote, I dont mind getting another case with built in IR. Any case which is small enough so it can fit in the cabinet easily and in BLACK!

Please advise what should i do?
Also is there any guide anywhere regarding all the softwares required and configurations once the HTPC is build?
Assuming once the vista and all the drivers for the computer are installed. I have found the mediaportal configuration posts already. 
Also are there any limitations of the files that can be played through the HTPC programs? Does it depend on all the codecs installed so that the programs can recognise the files?For example VLC can pretty much play most of the files out there, not all but almost.

Thanks.

362 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 3


  Reply # 165611 19-Sep-2008 12:14
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I believe you can play any files you want, it all comes down to software and hardware available (like dvd or BD optical unit installed).

If you like VLC, MediaPortal has a plugin to use VLC as external player. Everytime you want to watch a movie in a certain format (associated with VLC), MediaPortal will use VLC for that. I use it that way as I have subtitle files with the avi movies, which I could not make to work in MP, but VLC displays subtitles with no problems.




mobo Intel DH55PJ, RAM: 4GB RAM, Nova-T 500 HD + Avermedia Trinity tuner card, Geforce 520 video, 120GB SSD Sandisk + 640 WD + 1000SG, Win7 Home Prem 64-bit, Media Portal 1.15.0; BTC 9019URF Cordless Keyboard, Panasonic 55" (HDMI cable), HTPC Case Silverstone Grandia GD05B.




25 posts

Geek


  Reply # 165796 20-Sep-2008 10:45
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aucklander: I believe you can play any files you want, it all comes down to software and hardware available (like dvd or BD optical unit installed).

If you like VLC, MediaPortal has a plugin to use VLC as external player. Everytime you want to watch a movie in a certain format (associated with VLC), MediaPortal will use VLC for that. I use it that way as I have subtitle files with the avi movies, which I could not make to work in MP, but VLC displays subtitles with no problems.

Thanks. Ya i like VLC its great, also the media player classic program which also plays most of the files.
Has anyone succesfully built together a HTPC similar to my one and got it completely working without issues?

Because if its a lot of hassle with Antec fusion V2 and Harmony 525 remote, I dont mind getting another case with built in IR. Any case which is small enough so it can fit in the cabinet easily and in BLACK!

Please advise if the Antec Fusion V2 (with its IR) and Harmony 525 will work together properly? or is it best to get another case? Or what other options available (if i want to use Harmony 525 remote)?
Thanks.


1323 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 283


  Reply # 165840 20-Sep-2008 17:26
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You can setup up mediaportal to use VLC as the player/decoder. It saves alot of mucking around with codecs.
The quality may not be as good , but unless you want to spend days tweeking.....

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