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HTPC build from spare pc parts


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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   RyanCC

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Posted January 20 2010 - 06:27 AM

as the title says...

looking to build a htpc from some spare pc parts i have laying around... cable prices are pissing me off (with their poor service to boot).

what services provide the best viewing experience for the price by the way?  i was reading an article in a pc magazine, and i had actually never thought of going this route.  I currently have cable internet, and most of the time the bandwidth isn't being used up to it's potential.

i have:

AMD 3500+
512 x 2 cas 2 memory
6800 GT video card
msi motherboard
250 gb hdd for now
windows xp professional

some cheap psu that i will probably upgrade before i build it

i need:

psu
case
any decoding equipment
software


the reason i decided to use the amd cpu was due to the integrated memory controller, which i suspect will decrease waiting time.  paired with cas 2 ram, it should be fairly quick (i hope)

i have never built a HTPC before, so any thoughts/comments/suggestions are very much welcome.


#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted January 20 2010 - 06:57 AM

If you're going to dump cable TV, then you don't need a TV tuner card. Then the only real requirement is connecting the video card to your big screen TV. Connecting older cards to TVs meant composite or S-video -- those only did standard def (480i). Nowadays, if you were buying new on both ends, you'd want HDMI; failing that, component (analog RGB) or DVI (D for digital). Component is more likely to be found on a TV, as opposed to DVI for a computer monitor. There are DVI to HDMI converters. Some TVs also have VGA connectors, but they may have odd limits.

To start out, you can use the analog stereo output from the motherboard's built-in audio. But you'll want either optical or coax digital to get better quality and play multi-channel audio.

You might consider how loud the system is, which is mostly determined by the fans: PSU, CPU, and system.

Your CPU may be fast enough to decode video. Your video card may have hardware-assist for certain codecs. So put what you have together and see how it works.



#3 of 4 OFFLINE   RyanCC

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Posted January 20 2010 - 08:11 AM

thanks ken.

the 6800 was a fairly fast video card for the time and i am sure it will do fine with the 37" samsung hdtv i will be using it for.  i forgot to mention i have a cheapo SB card that may have digital out.  i am not planning on backing up my dvd collection on the hdd. 

my main concerns would be...

what operating system should i use?
what service should i look into for content? 

i would like to get hd content and be able to receive some sports channels and possibly some of the other standard cable channels like discovery and discovery hd.

** forgot to mention that keeping the system quiet shouldn't be a problem.  probably look for a horizontal case with 1-2 120 mm fan ports.



#4 of 4 OFFLINE   RyanCC

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Posted January 23 2010 - 02:46 PM

still trying to figure out what operating system to use and what interface to use for the content. 

i did some poking, and i know hulu provides some online content, but are there other online services that provide tv channels via web?