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179 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 86605 9-Jul-2011 15:34
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Hi,

I'm looking to build a very cheap HTPC ($200-250) for an elderly person.
Requirements:
- Receive Freeview HD.
- Record it.
- Watch videos (AVI, divx etc) from a NAS unit.

From what I've read around the internet I can use a relatively old PC and use a new graphics card to take the load of the HD streams?

I'm looking along the lines of this system:
Old P4 3GHz system from Trademe with 2GB ram.
AMD 5450 PCI-e graphics card or similar.
Cheap Wireless N stick.
2x Cheap USB DVB-T tuner sticks (So I can record and watch a separate channel at the same time).
A MCE remote.

Would this handle my requirements?

Also what software is recommended?

Any help would be appreciated.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 491435 9-Jul-2011 15:48
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Hmm you're not going to get much for $250, you probably need to double that budget imo.

For software you will have to use free open source software like GB-PVR or MediaPortal.




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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 491442 9-Jul-2011 16:11
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Old P4 3GHz system from Trademe with 2GB ram.
AMD 5450 PCI-e graphics card or similar.
Cheap Wireless N stick.
2x Cheap USB DVB-T tuner sticks (So I can record and watch a separate channel at the same time).
A MCE remote.


Have something similar, mine was a 2GHz Xeon (old server machine). Was around $350 all up.

DVB-T sticks, picked up two at $30 each, the MCE remote scored a nice Philips remote for $40.

Still using a 4350, picked that up 7 months or so ago for $50. 500gb for $55 rounded it off.

Works great for freeview hd... although the whole system has been retired to being just a movie box and use the magictv box for freeview.


368 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 491575 10-Jul-2011 08:33
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I too have been looking around for something to use as an extender in another room to run MediaPortal's client.

I have to say the conclusion I came to was $500 would be about the right amount all told. You probably could do somehting in the $250 - $350 mark, however you still need to be happy with the look of it too. An old clunky P4 would also more than likely make a lot of noise.

I'm looking at something like this maye:

http://www.trademe.co.nz/a.asp?id=389040001&cc=61&pid=166957365&hbc=12&ct=link





My HTPC - Case Antec Fusion Remote, MOBO Intel DH67BLB3, CPU Intel Core i5-2400S 2.5 GHz, RAM 8GB  DDR3 1333, HDD 120Gig Corsair Force Series 3 SSD system | WD Caviar Black 2TB data, Tuners Black Gold BGT3595 dual DVB-S/S2, dual DVB-T, Video nVIDIA GeForce GT 520, 1024MB, Sound Intel® High Definition Audio (onboard), OS Windows 7 x64

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 491580 10-Jul-2011 08:56
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If you just want a media extender - I got an HP DC7700 off TM for $150, and a low profil pcie in it for ~$100 and lowprofile sound card for $25 (for spdif out) it's small quiet and fantastic hp quality. I suppose from there could just put in a tuner - hvr2200. Perfect!




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  Reply # 491583 10-Jul-2011 09:01
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Just be aware many old P4 machines don't have PCI-e slots.

612 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 491585 10-Jul-2011 09:24
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The key would be to get something with a PCIe slot, PBTech often have a number of ex-lease systems for sale around the $200 mark.

But I agree with the others I think you may need a little more budget.

368 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 491615 10-Jul-2011 12:14
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Well, this thread inspired me to get off my butt and get the TV working in the bedroom.

I dug out my old Shuttle PC which was a P4 3.0Ghz HT with 1Gb of RAM. I installed a spare 50Gb drive I had and installed Windows 7 Home Premium x64.

The Shuttle has a PCIe slot in it so I put a Sapphire Radeon HD 6450 that I had bought for my main rig, but decided my origional NvIDIA was still better.

While the OS is a little sluggish due to the lack or RAM, the PC actually runs surprisingly well. I've installed MediaPortal client and am currently connecting to the main TV Server wirelessly (54GBps).

The SD definition channels play perfectly, but the HD channels are choppy so my next project is to run a Cat6 cable and wire the PC directly into my router.

All-in-all I am really pleased!




My HTPC - Case Antec Fusion Remote, MOBO Intel DH67BLB3, CPU Intel Core i5-2400S 2.5 GHz, RAM 8GB  DDR3 1333, HDD 120Gig Corsair Force Series 3 SSD system | WD Caviar Black 2TB data, Tuners Black Gold BGT3595 dual DVB-S/S2, dual DVB-T, Video nVIDIA GeForce GT 520, 1024MB, Sound Intel® High Definition Audio (onboard), OS Windows 7 x64



179 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 491620 10-Jul-2011 12:26
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blur: Well, this thread inspired me to get off my butt and get the TV working in the bedroom.

I dug out my old Shuttle PC which was a P4 3.0Ghz HT with 1Gb of RAM. I installed a spare 50Gb drive I had and installed Windows 7 Home Premium x64.

The Shuttle has a PCIe slot in it so I put a Sapphire Radeon HD 6450 that I had bought for my main rig, but decided my origional NvIDIA was still better.

While the OS is a little sluggish due to the lack or RAM, the PC actually runs surprisingly well. I've installed MediaPortal client and am currently connecting to the main TV Server wirelessly (54GBps).

The SD definition channels play perfectly, but the HD channels are choppy so my next project is to run a Cat6 cable and wire the PC directly into my router.

All-in-all I am really pleased!


Very interested on how the HD channels perform, your system is very similar to my planned one, are you using a network TV tuner?

423 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 491633 10-Jul-2011 13:04
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I'd look at getting something much newer actually.

You can get a cheap Intel H61 motherboard for under $100, and a Pentium G620 CPU for about $100 as well. DDR3 RAM is also pretty cheap. The Sandy Bridge integrated graphics (even on the bottom of the barrel G620) are more than sufficient for 1080p H.264 and the CPU performance will blow the P4 out of the water. It'll also use one quarter the power.

368 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 491655 10-Jul-2011 14:40
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Trunks2: Very interested on how the HD channels perform, your system is very similar to my planned one, are you using a network TV tuner?



Yes, I am using the network tuner. It works really well and is a breeze to setup and configure. I love how you have access to all the recorded TV etc. - it really is seemless.

Things like this confirms why I moved to MediaPortal over Windows 7 Media Center    




My HTPC - Case Antec Fusion Remote, MOBO Intel DH67BLB3, CPU Intel Core i5-2400S 2.5 GHz, RAM 8GB  DDR3 1333, HDD 120Gig Corsair Force Series 3 SSD system | WD Caviar Black 2TB data, Tuners Black Gold BGT3595 dual DVB-S/S2, dual DVB-T, Video nVIDIA GeForce GT 520, 1024MB, Sound Intel® High Definition Audio (onboard), OS Windows 7 x64

481 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 492143 11-Jul-2011 18:06
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Trunks2: I'm looking to build a very cheap HTPC ($200-250) for an elderly person.

My prime concern would be about the elderly person's technical understanding and abilities. No matter how much we want them to be HTPCs are not a set up and forget type of solution.

368 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 492165 11-Jul-2011 19:13
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Deev8: My prime concern would be about the elderly person's technical understanding and abilities. No matter how much we want them to be HTPCs are not a set up and forget type of solution.


Goodness me, I'm sure we can let Trunks2 be the judge here!




My HTPC - Case Antec Fusion Remote, MOBO Intel DH67BLB3, CPU Intel Core i5-2400S 2.5 GHz, RAM 8GB  DDR3 1333, HDD 120Gig Corsair Force Series 3 SSD system | WD Caviar Black 2TB data, Tuners Black Gold BGT3595 dual DVB-S/S2, dual DVB-T, Video nVIDIA GeForce GT 520, 1024MB, Sound Intel® High Definition Audio (onboard), OS Windows 7 x64



179 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 492632 12-Jul-2011 20:06
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Ive found an old laptop with a Core duo and ATI X2300, runs 720P great, haven't tried 1080P yet.

It has both VGA and DVI output, I would like to use a DVI>HDMI adaptor but can DVI output sound?

423 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 492636 12-Jul-2011 20:16
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Trunks2: Ive found an old laptop with a Core duo and ATI X2300, runs 720P great, haven't tried 1080P yet.

It has both VGA and DVI output, I would like to use a DVI>HDMI adaptor but can DVI output sound?


That's a tricky question.

The official DVI standard doesn't allow for sound, but both nVidia and ATI have found ways of including it.

In order for it to work, your graphics card needs to support it and your DVI-HDMI adaptor need to be compatible.

To make it more complicated, nVidia and ATI adaptors are wired differently.

You probably have to try it. 



179 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 492642 12-Jul-2011 20:30
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Hmmm, I don't have any adaptors around, would one like this work? http://www.trademe.co.nz/Computers/Components/Other/auction-389852098.htm

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