Advice Wanted: Building htpc to record HD

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris White, Dec 6, 2001.

  1. Chris White

    Chris White Second Unit

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    I’d like your comments/advice on an htpc that will be used strictly for watching and recording hdtv – no ntsc pvr, no dvd, no cd jukebox – just hdtv. After researching for the past month, here are the components I’m considering.
    Case: DC Quiet Case w/ fan and power supply $119
    Sound level is a relatively important consideration.
    Motherboard & CPU: ASUS-CUSL2-C $109 and Intel P3-733 $85
    This combination is more than I need, but it should have enough horsepower if I decide to add dscaler and a video capture card later (for scaling laserdisc).
    Memory: 256 Mb – PC133 $17
    Floppy: $14
    Hard Drive: Western Digital 120 Gb, 7200RPM $200 (CompUSA)
    HDTV-PC Card: Either AccessDTV or Hipix $400 (plus VGA breakout cable)
    I change my mind on which card I want about twice a week. [​IMG]
    ADTV: I like the pvr functionality and adjustable forward/reverse skip times. I don’t care about archiving issues. It’s more expensive because of the component-video converter.
    Hipix: Reports suggest it has better picture quality and is more stable.
    Ir Control: IRMan $35
    Some questions:
    1. Have I left out anything from this list?
    2. My goal is to be able to operate entirely by remote once setup is completed. Thus, I’m not including an IR keyboard. Is this reasonable?
    3. I haven’t included any sound card because I can’t see why I would need one. Do I need a sound card?
    4. I have an old 4MB svga video card. I can't see why I would need more than this since it will only be used for setup. Will it suffice for my intended purpose?
    Advice? Comments? Thanks for the help!
     
  2. JohanK

    JohanK Second Unit

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    Hi Chris. FYI, the CUSL2-C mobo is an older model now replaced with the TUSL2-C which I use in my HTPC w/ a 800EB. I'm not a time-shifter (my HTPC is DVD only) but everything looks fine on your list. Dunno, but maybe the new WD HDDs with the 8MB buffer would be worth looking into unless you were able to cash in on the CompUSA deal thingy. Can't help w/ HDTV cards as I have no experience with them.
     
  3. Chris White

    Chris White Second Unit

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    Thanks Johan. Two follow-up questions.

    Do you know what memory I should get to go with the ASUS MB? There are a jillion types and I'm getting a little confused.

    I've been told the 7200 rpm hds are noisier and generate more heat than the 5400 rpm hds. What speed are the new hds you mentioned?
     
  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Chris,

    I don't do HTPC HDTV (or at least not yet)- so I'm not overly familiar with the cards- however, I was under the impression these operated as TURNER cards- so the card would not just take an external HDTV source from your DTV box- but would act as the tuner.

    If that were the case, wouldn't you need a soundcard of some sort? I assume if the recording, tuning and decompression are coming from the PC- where is the audio coming from? I would imagine the PC would be wired to your diaply device via the HDTV card- but I think you would need audio- unless the card supplies some sort of SPDIF digital output, which I assume it must(?).

    Again- not my bag, really, but being a bit ignorant to the cards made me wonder where you're getting audio from?

    -Vince

    PS: I would, once again, defer to AVSforum.com for this type of thing- tons and tons of info on Hipix and recording hdtv!
     
  5. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    The way I heard it, DTV boxes (re?)modulate the signal so that the HDTV looks like an OTA HDTV signal that a tuner can decipher.

    HDTV cards have optical outs for the Dolby Digital extracted from the transport stream.

    I second Vince's suggestion to visit AVSForum.

    //Ken
     
  6. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    For memory, some of the most highly regarded is Crucial, by Micron. For the TUSL2-C, you need 168pin DIMM, PC133, such as:
    http://www.crucial.com/store/PartSpe...e=CT32M64S4D75
    Free 2 day shipping.
    Memory prices are starting to creep back up, so don't wait too long.
    You know, even though the HDTV card provides a VGA output jack, does it act as a pass through, overlaying the HDTV on the normal video card's output. If so, you'll need a decent card, one that can do custom timings and resolutions. I just picked up a Radeon 7000 (no fan- quiet) for $59 after $20MIR from Office Depot.
    I'd also recommend the AVS forum, but I sometimes get overwhelmed there. Too much info!
    Todd
     
  7. Jeff_smart

    Jeff_smart Auditioning

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    Response to Hard drive noise:

    The best hd's are IBM 7200 or QUANTUM AS FIreball 7200.

    Both are ultra fast and very very quiet. Don't go for 5400rpm anymore, they're not in sync with today's PIII's or P4's

    Jeff
     
  8. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    I have a seagate berricuda drive, and it is noticibly quieter than the IBM deskstar. The IBM stuff is highly recommended, stable, fast and pretty quiet... but I think the Seagate is overlooked. It is cheaper, seems just as fast, is certainly quiet-- the only issue is stability or reliability- as I have only had mine a few weeks, I can't comment.

    But, so far- so good.

    The the western digital drives are loud. I don't know about that specific model- but I have WD and MAxtor drives in my desktop- and they are very loud!

    -Vince
     
  9. JohanK

    JohanK Second Unit

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    I guess I don't find hard drives that loud (unless it's a SCSI HDD). I have WD, IBM, Quantum and Maxtor IDE drives and all are quiet enough for me. The IBM 7200 drive I have is the quietest (all my other drives are 5400).

    Memory prices are on the rise again as Todd mentioned. I like Corsair but Crucial is excellent as well. However, I've used Samsung, Siemens, Infineon, Kingston and Spectek memory and they all work fine. As Todd said, unbuffered 168 pin DIMM SDRAM PC133 (non-ECC is what I use) is what you need; whether you want CAS2 or CAS3 is up to you (CAS2 is faster). Remember, the TUSL2-C can only handle 512MB of RAM since it uses the Intel 815 chipset.
     

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