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63 posts

Master Geek


Topic # 62977 18-Jun-2010 12:13
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Hi all

I've haven't seen a recommended build thread for a bit, and I now need help.

My HTPC needs overhauling. I don't play games. It is a simple torrent and HTPC machine. My needs are:
- a MB with adequate video power for HD (Asus M4A785-M ?)
- sufficient RAM (2gb or 4?)
- suitable CPU (AM2 or 3?)
- case (Antec NSK2480 MATX seems to be ideal)
- Bluray and DVD reader drive (any preference here?

I'll buy one of those dual DVB-S cards to run from the PCI-E slot, and also run another PCI card. One day I'll live in a DVB-T receiving area and swap out the DVB-S.

Have there been any changes to avaliable technology that improve on the above choices, but in that same vague price bracket?

Thanks for any help.

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600 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 343018 18-Jun-2010 14:10
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For simple plug in and forget, I'd be tempted by the new mac mini.  Bit expensive and no bluray, but you wouldn't have to pick parts.

For DVB-T, I'd look at a network based device, like an HD HomeRun.  I like the idea of being able to watch TV anywhere in the house instead of just on the one machine.
 




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Ultimate Geek

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  Reply # 343024 18-Jun-2010 14:27
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I am looking at doing a new HTPC build and would like some similar advice

want to be able to support viewing and recording of Freeview|HD in full 1080p as well as watch a bit of TVNZ on demand.

I had an old build and it had issues with decoding 1080p i know there are some cards that support hardware accelleration but is that for MythTV, WinMCE, Powercinema?





Any posts are personal comments and not that of my employer

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 343029 18-Jun-2010 14:39
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Accelerated decode depends on the OS and playback software.

On linux, NVidia provides support through the VPDAU API. Boxee and XBMC support this API (with some bugs). However, you will want to make sure to get a card that provides the most extensive offload support. For example, only _some_ of the NVidia 8400GS cards provide decode support. I think you want to look for a card with at least VP3 support.

All that being said, I didn't notice problems decoding 1080i in software (using VLC) on OSX with a Core2Duo 2.5ghz. YMMV. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VDPAU
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PureVideo_HD#PureVideo_HD




310 posts

Ultimate Geek

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  Reply # 343032 18-Jun-2010 14:43
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jpollock: Accelerated decode depends on the OS and playback software.

On linux, NVidia provides support through the VPDAU API. Boxee and XBMC support this API (with some bugs). However, you will want to make sure to get a card that provides the most extensive offload support. For example, only _some_ of the NVidia 8400GS cards provide decode support. I think you want to look for a card with at least VP3 support.

All that being said, I didn't notice problems decoding 1080i in software (using VLC) on OSX with a Core2Duo 2.5ghz. YMMV. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VDPAU
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PureVideo_HD#PureVideo_HD


Thanks

So far i am seeing that my system should be

Intel Core2 or higher (not hard these days)
Video card should support VP3

The system will probably need to be Win7 with Media Center setup so the rest of the family can use it. i will probably also use it for storing all my movies and music as well.

So any other tips?




Any posts are personal comments and not that of my employer



63 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 343075 18-Jun-2010 17:17
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Just wondering if there was any etiquette to be observed about thread hijacking.

Thanks for the sugegstions about pre-built systems, but I'd rather build something more flexible and with better value for money.


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 343099 18-Jun-2010 18:35
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With out quoting specific models, I'd buy something along these lines

Intel Core i3 530
ASUS or Gigabyte H55 motherboard
2gb DDR3 (2x1gb)
500gb Western Digital Green
nvidia GT210 or ATI 5430*

If you plan to use Windows and don't need bitstreaming audio you could skip on the discrete video card, the intergrated GPU on the i3 does HD decoding.

If you plan to use Linux get an nvidia card they have much better driver support, but the ATI card support bit-streaming audio over HDMI.

Personally I'd also ditch the traditional magnetic harddrive in favour of a cheap SSD, 32gb SSD's can be had for around $150 now days. A basic OS + XBMC install will use way less than 32gb and I just use my server for storing media and recordings.

If the budget is a bit tighter replace the CPU with an AMD Phenom II X2, and an ATI 880G based motherboard, and foregoe the discrete graphics card.

If require i'd be happy to specify some specific parts when I've got more free time.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 343146 18-Jun-2010 22:26
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I'd also recommend an immense heat sink. I've got a Scythe Ninja Mini in my HTPC, and I can cool the whole thing with just 1 12mm case fan. Of course, the case fan is right next to the CPU, so that helps. :) Still, it's quieter than the fans on the TV!

If you're using Linux + XBMC, there are a couple of things to watch out for. PulseAudio (the audio mixer) is complete crap, and doesn't play with with digital audio output and XBMC (or the forks like Boxee). The other bit to watch out for is remote control support. Just because it says it's a Windows Media remote control doesn't mean it works with Lirc and its Windows Media remote control support!

I'd also recommend a silent video card (if you can find one), I always find that the fans on the video cards tend to be really noisy. It might be hard to find one that does HDMI though. Quick search through Ascent seems to indicate that you can get a silent Nvidia 210 that does HDMI. I went with an 8400GS, cheap, silent and has VP3 support.

Good luck!




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  Reply # 343184 19-Jun-2010 02:26
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PANiCnz: With out quoting specific models, I'd buy something along these lines

Intel Core i3 530
ASUS or Gigabyte H55 motherboard
2gb DDR3 (2x1gb)
500gb Western Digital Green
nvidia GT210 or ATI 5430*



Just make sure there are enough PCI-E or PCI slots for video card + tv tuner.

There are mini ITX H55 boards which would be great for a small HTPC case but only have 1x PCI-E slot and 0 PCI

Example

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  Reply # 343206 19-Jun-2010 09:10
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If you have space I would seriously consider getting an ATX case.  I bought a shiny mATX case to set my HTPC up but have regretted it because it has limited my options for motherboards, cooling and harddrives.




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