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Building HTPC - Are my HW specs ok?


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#1 of 9 AllusiveFlea

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Posted July 10 2011 - 12:56 PM

Wanting to pull the plug on cable. Have never built an HTPC before. Have built a barebones laptop, but that was a little easier... Requirements for HTPC: 2 HD TV Signals (simultaneous recording or 1 record/1 live view) DVR Recording (with Windows Media Center, Win7) Store 100+hrs HD (over air) content Blu-Ray/DVD player Can play streaming (Hulu, Netflix, Boxee), DVD/BR disks, and recorded TV on 42inch Sony LCD(with picture quality not being limited by sub-par hardware) Cool and quiet/low power consumption Non-tech person can operate it once setup (for my wife) Under $700 I put together what I think I'll need to accomplish this in a Newegg public wishlist: http://secure.newegg...Number=16791405 Was hoping some people on these boards that do this all the time could review my requirements and proposed setup. Would like to know: 1) Is anything I'm buying not compatible with other items? 2) Am I missing anything from my setup I'll need? (fans, wires, etc?) 3) Are the components I've added (motherboard, CPU, etc) going to give me a good HTPC experience for streaming and DVR content over the HDMI output to my 42in TV? 4) Are any of the components overkill given my requirements? 5) My biggest area of uncertainty is the power supply. I want quiet/cool, but want to make sure I have enough watts. Will the 380 watt PSU cover this setup well? Any other thoughts you have would be much appreciated! Thanks! Brian

#2 of 9 mattCR

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Posted July 11 2011 - 02:54 PM

You're list is kind of fine, but I think you're using a much older technology then you need to.


You should at a minimum use an 880G chipset over a 785G.  Remember, neither of them will natively bitstream HD-Audio nor do multichannel LPCM.   So, keep that in mind.  That may not be an issue.   But switching from a 785 board to an 880G board has less then $5 cost difference.

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#3 of 9 AllusiveFlea

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Posted July 11 2011 - 04:13 PM

Thanks for the feedback! Based on that, I think I'll swap the motherboard/memory. New wishlist with this config link below (actually took $25 off the price). http://secure.newegg...Number=20764907 As far as the audio goes, I'm not looking for great audio right now, but thanks for the heads up (will play audio through speakers built into the TV). I live in a townhome, so neighbors have to be taken into consideration...darn it. With this setup I'm not using any PCI slots, so some room to beef up the audio if we ever move!

#4 of 9 mattCR

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Posted July 11 2011 - 04:20 PM

Looks good.  Make sure your cable provider provides ClearQAM, or you're going to use an antenna.  If you provider offers some channels in Analog only, you may need an analog tuner to capture them.   Otherwise, looks great, and the onboard audio is fine for analog outs, or 2 channel HDMI audio which is fine.


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#5 of 9 AllusiveFlea

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Posted August 02 2011 - 03:29 PM

In the end I went with the following setup: MB: BIOSTAR A880G+ CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 250 3.0Ghz Case: SilverStone ML03B MEM: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4GB DDR3 1333 HD: WD Caviar Black 1TB 7200RPM 3.0GB/S BD Drive: Samsung Black SH-B123L/RSBP PSU: Antec EA-380D TV Tuner: HDHomeRun Dual HDHR3-US Antenna: Mohu Leaf HDTV Fan: Enermax UC-8EB 80mm Router: Linksys E1200 Wireless-N Remote: Adesso ARC-1100 Infrared Keyboard: Rii Mini Wireless with Touchpad (RT-MWK01) OS: Windows 7 Professional Some general comments that I hope will help others: Motherboard: In the BIOS I changed some of the default settings. Enabled Keyboard and Mouse PowerOn; and enabled USB Wake from S3/S4. I thought this was all I needed to do to get the computer to wake from my remote control, but after it wouldn't work I found this on the manufacturer's website: "Also need to set JSUBV1 and JUSBV2 to pin 2-3 for motherboard to provide 5V stand-by power to USB devices for resume". There are a couple jumpers that needed to be moved on the MB, which was easy enough, and fixed my issue. Also enabled SmartFan "Quiet" (CPU still doesn't exceed 30C), changed Suspend Mode to S3 (so it would actually sleep), and enabled Power on by PCIE/Onboard LAN so I could wake the HTPC from other computers connected to my home network (more on that later). CPU: Runs fast, quiet, and cool (with stock fan). Can't ask for more. Case: Fairly basic, but a nice case for the price. Nobody will know it is a computer until they see Firefox on your LCD! BD Drive: Got the "retail" version, which came with Cyberlink. Not my favorite software, but if you want to play Blu-Ray, you will need some software. Worth it to pay the extra for this included software. TV Tuner: The HDHomeRun is great! Easy setup, easy install! It just works! I was having issues getting a good picture (not choppy) over my wireless n LAN, but I knew it wasn't the HDHomeRun because I got great picture over an Ethernet connection. After lots of research, I followed the instruction here: HDHomeRun Help After changing the Windows Network Throttling settings in the registry settings (as they described) I got much better signal over wireless LAN. Antenna: Wasn't sure about this when ordering, but the Amazon reviews were very good. Had to move it around a bit to find the best spot. For some reason I got the worst reception in the window facing my local TV towers. This was contrary to what Mohu will tell you, so if you get a bad signal with this one, try moving it around a bit. I also noticed the signal was disturbed if I put my wireless router within 3-4 feet of the Antenna. I ended up setting it up in our guestroom (best signal) and running it through our home coax system out to the living room (see pictures). Keyboard: This little keyboard gets the job done. Not the strongest signal, but it is nice and small (think texting) and doesn't clutter up the living room. I use my remote to get around most of the time, but you will occasionally need a keyboard, and if "occasionally" fits your needs too, I recommend this one. Remote: Works really well. Buttons are much smaller than the DishNetwork remote I was used to. But I'll get used to it as I get used to not paying for cable. ;) Other Comments: Building this thing couldn't have been easier (my first build). Had I known about the BIOS, MB jumpers, and Network Throttling in advance, I'd have had this thing up and running in a couple hours. I am using Windows Media Center to watch live TV, DVR programs, and watch Netflix. I am very impressed with this program after moving over from DishNetwork. I struggled to find a single "one stop shop" for online streaming. Hulu was missing some shows available on other sites, Boxee was also missing shows and didn't always play video right. I didn't want to tell my wife to go here for this, and there for that... I settled on a nice web based program called Clicker (www.clicker.com). There is an "App" add-on for Google Chrome (and maybe Firefox) that lets you browse your Queue with a normal HTPC remote. It really brings all of the webs video (Hulu, CBS, ABC, HGTV, etc) into a single place. When you click to view a video it does take you to the source (Hulu, etc) and you have to maximize the video, which is easy with my keyboard's touch-pad. Lastly, I set this up so I can also watch Over-the-Air TV on our laptop anywhere in the house. But, to wake the HTPC remotely so I can access recorded TV (I don't have a server) I am using a little program called Wake On LAN Magic Packet Sender (http://magicpacket.free.fr/). If your BIOS are configured to Wake On LAN on the HTPC, this saves you from making a trip to the living room to turn on the HTPC. For more on HTPC power settings see this: HTPC Power Settings Win7 That is all I can think of. Hope it helps somebody take the plunge on one of these things! I welcome any questions you might have. Here are some pics: My HTPC Build Pictures

#6 of 9 mattCR

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Posted August 02 2011 - 03:53 PM

Allusive:


Have you installed any CODEC kit yet?


I'd also strongly recommend grabbing MediaBrowser at your earliest. 

But nice entry build, you should be pretty happy with the video performance for the price.


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#7 of 9 AllusiveFlea

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Posted August 03 2011 - 12:25 PM

I have not installed any codecs. I think Cyberlink installed codecs for DVD's and Blu-Ray's. Everything is playing correctly. Is there a reason I should install additional codec packs? Any recommendations? I'll have to try MediaBrowser out. Did not know about it!

#8 of 9 mattCR

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Posted August 03 2011 - 02:28 PM


Well, if you don't have the full version of Cyberlink (just the version that came with your drive) you're missing quite a few features.   The reason to install and manage CODECs is in case you wish to integrate most web formats into your media center.

Originally Posted by AllusiveFlea 

I have not installed any codecs. I think Cyberlink installed codecs for DVD's and Blu-Ray's. Everything is playing correctly. Is there a reason I should install additional codec packs? Any recommendations?

I'll have to try MediaBrowser out. Did not know about it!





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#9 of 9 straybullet

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Posted January 04 2012 - 05:14 AM

Thanks for such an informative post. Did you have to buy an additional video card to handle HD content, or did you use one that came with the motherboard? Thanks!




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