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Old 08-06-08, 11:59 AM   #1
six_storm
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Default Building Another HTPC

As some of you may know, I built a HTPC earlier this year and it just wasn't the best time to build one (expectations were too high and I was pretty darn broke then lol). But now, I have a great job and some extra money to burn. I've been trying to find a good storage solution to back up important docs, movies, music, game patches, etc AND that has the possibility to expand later on down the road. Sounds like a good opportunity to build a new HTPC!

This time around, here is what I want to accomplish:

GOALS
1. Be able to backup all DVDs.
- Haven't really decided on what method I wanted to use. I think I'm wanting to just backup the movie itself, 5.1 audio track, no subtitles, no languages, no menus or special features. It would be really cool to have the main movie with close to DVD quality (visually) in a plus/minus 700MB AVI, MPEG or DIVX file.

2. Watch all backed up DVDs.
- Whether I decide on using Vista Media Center or XBMC, I want to be able to watch my backed up AVI, MPEG or DIVX files with ease. A simple point and click will do.

3. Music backup storage for my fiancee and myself.
- I've been a little paranoid that something may happen to my or my fiancee's music collection (iTunes) so I really want some place to back it up and have it secure.

4. Easy to use jukebox for all of our music.
- We probably won't use this much, but it's always nice to have. Something simple.

5. Easy to use center for our pictures.
- Same with the jukebox.

6. XBOX 360 Extender Access
- My 360 is setup in my office so I'll have access to all my media from there.

7. Blu-Ray Playback.
- Not sure on this one yet but with everything else setup, I can always buy a BR-ROM drive and just go with it.

Screw TV recording and all that. We have DirecTV now and with digital boxes, there's no way of really recording anything. Why even bother? With all my media on a seperate box, my main gaming rig will have many, many GBs of space freed up.

So what components am I going with this time? Since I do have extra cash to spend on this project, I don't have a ton to throw at it. I'm actually going to buy parts over the next three months to build this just to keep on my financial toes. But I do need a few suggestions on some of the components:

EDIT - I will not be ordering from NewEgg since they will charge me sales tax.

- Case
Silverstone LC13B-E

I didn't want to just get a regular tower case this time, I want to get something that goes with my entertainment center decor and looks good . . . not to mention having plenty of room to work and great airflow. This case matches perfectly with my living room furniture and looks pretty awesome. 4 HDD bays, 2 bays for DVD drives and room for everything else I need.

- PSU
Cooler Master 500-Watt

Should be enough power for what I want. I haven't really found any other good brand PSUs that are around $50-$70.

- CPU
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2.6GHz Brisbane AM2

Like I said before, I want something good, but I don't want to spend a ton of money. The lowest priced Intel C2D was around $130 and I can't do that. Wouldn't this AMD CPU do just fine for HD playback?

- RAM
Corsair XMS 2GB Kit (PC2 6400/DDR2 800)

I've got 4 sticks of this in my main rig, works perfect. And with the rebate, it's pretty darn cheap. This may change due to the motherboard I'll be buying.

- Video Card
eVGA 8600GT

Should be good enough for what I need. Will keep my eye out on better deals too.

- Motherboard

Ok, so this is where I need help. With a HTPC case like I want, should I get mATX or ATX? I'd like to buy a Gigabyte board since they are pretty darn reliable. Any suggestions?

- Hard Drive
WD 500GB SATA

Can't go wrong with WD. If I need more space, I'll just add another 500GB drive as they are reasonably priced now.

- Remote Control
Microsoft Media Center Remote Control

Reading the reviews, it looks like this works perfectly with Vista. Now the question is, does it work with XBMC?

I'm currently experimenting with different DVD ripping methods to see which one is the best on hard drive space and video quality. I want to have great looking movies ready to go, but I don't want my hard drive to be filled with just 6 movies. Any suggestions here as well?

Thanks in advance for your help guys.
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Old 08-06-08, 12:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

There is a new all-in-wonder card from AMD with HDMI out and they have excellent hard-ware decoders for high-def output to your tele.

http://www.diamondmm.com/AIWHD3650PM.php
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Old 08-06-08, 01:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sazar View Post
There is a new all-in-wonder card from AMD with HDMI out and they have excellent hard-ware decoders for high-def output to your tele.

http://www.diamondmm.com/AIWHD3650PM.php
Those look pretty cool. I still have my AIW650HD from my last HTPC so it will probably go in with this project.

One thing I didn't mention is that I'm open to using ATI cards as well as NVIDIA cards . . . so don't hate if I get ATI lol. My main thing is that I want something that will play HD (Blu-ray and HD files) very easily and that is not being pushed to the limit to do so, not to mention a good price.
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Old 08-06-08, 01:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

Or you could get a motherboard with an integrated gpu and get everything a bit cheaper. The amd 780G is really something when it comes to decoding blu-ray movies, and coupled with an energy efficient(maybe even passively cooled) processor and powersupply you get a pretty awesome HTPC.

You also get sound over hdmi, so I'd say your best bet would be to spend a little less on your HTPC and invest in a good receiver and sound system.

Here's a review of it:
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...spx?i=3258&p=4

Here's a htpc I built pretty quickly(newegg.com):



And I know you could get it for less if you switched out some components like the hard drive and memory for something cheaper.
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Old 08-06-08, 01:39 PM   #5
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toss3 View Post
Or you could get a motherboard with an integrated gpu and get everything a bit cheaper. The amd 780G is really something when it comes to decoding blu-ray movies, and coupled with an energy efficient(maybe even passively cooled) processor and powersupply you get a pretty awesome HTPC.

You also get sound over hdmi, so I'd say your best bet would be to spend a little less on your HTPC and invest in a good receiver and sound system.

Here's a review of it:
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets...spx?i=3258&p=4

Here's a htpc I built pretty quickly(newegg.com):



And I know you could get it for less if you switched out some components like the hard drive and memory for something cheaper.
Thanks for the input! I totally forgot about the 780G coming out so I'll definitely look into that. My only problem now is that my Westy only has 1 HDMI input so I would have to figure something out with that. As far as the RAM and the HDD, I would probably keep those the same since the RAM is cheap and I would like 500GB of storage right off the bat.
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Old 08-06-08, 01:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

This is what I priced on Zipzoomfly:



Not too bad . . . I didn't realize that AMD has an "energy efficient" series of CPUs.
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Old 08-06-08, 01:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

Quote:
Originally Posted by six_storm View Post
Thanks for the input! I totally forgot about the 780G coming out so I'll definitely look into that. My only problem now is that my Westy only has 1 HDMI input so I would have to figure something out with that. As far as the RAM and the HDD, I would probably keep those the same since the RAM is cheap and I would like 500GB of storage right off the bat.
That's what the receiver would be for. I'd say put together the cheapest possible htpc that can playback a high definition movie and get yourself a decent receiver and a good 2.1 sound setup for now(I'd recommend the z5500s, but as your wife has a big music collection I can't as they are pretty much only good for movies and games(compared to a decent 2.1 setup)). You can always add speakers later for the full 7.1 enjoyment(although the 780G only supports stereo PCM so no bitstreamed hd audio ).
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Old 08-06-08, 01:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toss3 View Post
That's what the receiver would be for. I'd say put together the cheapest possible htpc that can playback a high definition movie and get yourself a decent receiver and a good 2.1 sound setup for now(I'd recommend the z5500s, but as your wife has a big music collection I can't as they are pretty much only good for movies and games(compared to a decent 2.1 setup)). You can always add speakers later for the full 7.1 enjoyment(although the 780G only supports stereo PCM so no bitstreamed hd audio ).
I've already got a decent Sony DreamTheater system setup in 2.1 mode right now. To watch movies, I have to connect my laptop to the Westy and then RCA to the Sony receiver for audio. The sound is actually really good in stereo so I'm not really worried about 5.1 right this minute.

I've thought about buying a new receiver and using the same speakers but I may have to wait on that a little bit.
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Old 08-06-08, 01:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

Quote:
Originally Posted by six_storm View Post
This is what I priced on Zipzoomfly:

[/IMG]

Not too bad . . . I didn't realize that AMD has an "energy efficient" series of CPUs.
Looks nice, but you forgot the most important part of any htpc; the case!

And the ram you chose is also a bit too much for a htpc, I'd recommend going for something cheaper(you won't see any benefit from going with faster memory). The psu is also more powerful than what you actually need.
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Old 08-06-08, 03:11 PM   #10
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

This is my opinion but:
An HTPCs function should be limited to presentation only. Typically HTPC users want a near-silent solution that does what they need (plays video/audio content). With that in mind most go with parts that require little to no active cooling. This means a single quiet drive (single-platter drives are often most wanted, see SE16 320GB WD drives). Relatively cool CPU/Mobo/Video card, and a near-silent PSU, etc.

Storage is almost always located elsewhere and is accessed via a network share. This gives you the ability to setup the storage however you wish to support your storage needs. It's also important to keep regular backups on any critical data (documents, etc.). It is also more efficient to have an automated backup system running on a file-server rather then on your presentation box. A file-storage system with a quality HBA/RAID card will better handle the backup operations and still allow access to files through the network. In addition high quality RAID cards support raid expansion so you can add more disks as your budget allows.

When it comes down to it, it all depends on what you wanna do.

7. Blu-Ray - There are solutions to create backup BR discs even with BD+ protection but there are no guarantees. I myself am building my File-Server for the express purpose of being the central source to play my BR Disc Backups over a network. To future-proof the HTPC I would recommend Vista 64-bit for straight BR Disc playability.
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Old 08-06-08, 04:37 PM   #11
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toss3 View Post
Looks nice, but you forgot the most important part of any htpc; the case!

And the ram you chose is also a bit too much for a htpc, I'd recommend going for something cheaper(you won't see any benefit from going with faster memory). The psu is also more powerful than what you actually need.
Look at my OP, I put a case in there!

Mono, I totally agree with what you're saying. I'd love to have a file server and a separate HTPC one day, but I'll have to combine the two for right now. What I thought about doing was taking my 74GB Raptor drive to use for the HTPC Vista installation, and then using the 500GB HDD just for music, movies, etc so when I do have a file server ready, I can just plug and play.
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Old 08-06-08, 04:42 PM   #12
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Default Re: Building Another HTPC

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sazar View Post
There is a new all-in-wonder card from AMD with HDMI out and they have excellent hard-ware decoders for high-def output to your tele.

http://www.diamondmm.com/AIWHD3650PM.php
wow, that is one interesting product

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