Building a HTPC

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Steve Weeks, Apr 16, 2003.

  1. Steve Weeks

    Steve Weeks Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2002
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would like to build a HTPC, but have never built a computer before. I am not sure how to choose a motherboard, or other components. I want to use the machine as a PVR, for playing MP3s, and some gaming, as well as watching DVDs. I also am not sure which video card would work best.
     
  2. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2000
    Messages:
    4,457
    Likes Received:
    1
    What's your budget?
     
  3. Steve Weeks

    Steve Weeks Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2002
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    0
    The budget is flexible, I would like to keep it under $1000.
    But I don't keep to budgets very well, and if there is a budget buster piece that I want, I'll buy it.
     
  4. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    0
    for a motherboard I would suggest an nVidia nForce2 solution. the onboard sound, dubbed soundstorm, is equal to a creative audigy so you tend to save some money there. some good ones are the asus a7n8x and the abit nf7 2.0. the nice part is that they output in dd5.1 over the coax and can even encode in 5.1.

    for a video card, I would leans towards one of ati's all in wonder solutions. The TV-out on them is beautiful, they even come with composite dongles so that you can use HDTV without the RGB connector. The 8500DV is good for a bit more budget mindedness, but if you want raw video gaming power the all in wonder 9700pro is the way to go. ATI did just announce the AIW9800pro so if your still a few months out from buying,that card would be sweet.

    everything else is pretty straight foward, for a harddrive any of the western digital 8mb drives(WD**00JB) is a good buy. some corsair PC3200 ram, buy 1gig if you plan to do a lot of lengthy video recording, 512 if not. I'm not expierienced enough on DVD drives to really reccomend a good one, so I'll leave that up to the rest.
     
  5. Dalila

    Dalila Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nforce 2 mobo is a great mobo, and a wonderful idea... However if you just want info on the cards look into these:

    Video Cards:
    128mb or 256mb for some really nice grafx (esp if you game.) DDR ATI Radeon™ 9700 Pro/TX Graphics Card with TV-Out and DVI or wait for the 9800 Pro... or... the next Nvidia.

    Sound Card
    Sound Blaster* Audigy 2™ sound card with DVD Audio or M audio Revolution.

    DVD.. depends, do you want just a player, or a burner too?
     
  6. Joe Hsu

    Joe Hsu Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2001
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    0
    OMG, a thousand dollars? That's not a "budget", that's a "spending limit" [​IMG]

    Since I'm a computer nut, I'm constantly thinking about how much a system would cost, and for a thousand, you have the very fun choice of building a Shuttle SN41G2 [​IMG] That's $320, which includes the case, HSF, PSU and mobo with very good onboard audio, as already stated. (But if you're really picky, you might want to look into one of the new cards using the Envy24 chipset). Then, a decent HD should cost you $100 max, and then $100 for 512 megs of DDR to take advantage of the dual memory channels...and then come the killers: a video card (9700 AIW if you want to use it as an HTPC = 400) and CPU (2600 XP for 160).

    And with that, you can find lots of deals and shave off a lot of money, but I'm just giving you a general idea of how much fun one thousand dollars can be towards building a computer. Mind you, if you don't go the Shuttle path, you'll have ~150 extra to work with.

    Enjoy, you lucky bastard. [​IMG]
     
  7. Dalila

    Dalila Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    0
    9700 is 350, and the XP 1500 (Barton) is 132 shipped right now.. and in a weird turn of events.. the Retail box one is cheaper then the OEM...

    **Edit** oops, meant 1500 Barton.
     
  8. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2000
    Messages:
    4,457
    Likes Received:
    1
    Dalila- you sure about that price for a 1600? You can get an XP 2500 Barton retail for $138 from Newegg.

    The Shuttle looks cute but unfortunately won't fit well in a rack system. [​IMG] I prefer a D-Vine for a dedicated HTPC.
     
  9. Dalila

    Dalila Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm sorry... yes the Barton 2500... its 132 shipped Retail not the OEM which of course means they come with a retail fan with the chip, and a fancy package. Go to >> gameve.com

    The 2500 Bartons are also unlocked. [​IMG]
     
  10. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    0
    piece of advice, stay away from the 9700pro TX, the TX models are oem's (dell gets them etc.) that are underclocked. they should overclock back to normal specs but no garuntees on getting more out of them. it's just better to spend the money on the real thing.

    my pick though if you have the money to burn is what I previously stated the newly announced AIW9800 pro. integrated TVtuner caputre features, gorgeus TV out, and the wicked power of the 9800pro.

    I love the shuttle computers, if you have the cash, they are definately fun to play with. they are small and yet powerful. basically buy the shuttle, a nice vid card, hardrive, cpu and ram. there ya have it, one tiny powerful box.

    a barton processor would do you good, they are nice processors. The improvements on them over the previous XP line are excellent. they even overclock well if your into that stuff.
     
  11. Steve Weeks

    Steve Weeks Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2002
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I have been looking at the AIW cards, and they seem to be much pricier than a regular video card with a TV tuner card. Would they be equivalent, the tuner + video card, to the AIW? Or is the AIW still the way to go. Also how fast of a processor would I need, the 1700 and 1800 CPUs are in the $50 range, which my wallet really likes. Or the Barton CPUs, which are more than double that. What I am wondering is what is the point where price starts outpacing performance? Thanks again for all the input!
     
  12. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    0
    the AIW cards are typically only 50$ more to the non-AIW equivillent, so I would wager that the combinations that you are looking at are a bit lack-luster in comparison.

    the barton 2500+ would be my pick for a cpu, the 1700+ I tend to reccomend for the budget computers, but the barton 2500+ is the way to go for a performance computer.
     
  13. Steve Weeks

    Steve Weeks Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2002
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have finally ordered the pieces for my HTPC! I went with the asus a7n8x motherboard, with an Athlon 2100 xp. And a 9700 pro AIW. My next question is this, I have been looking at cordless keyboards, but I am having trouble finding any with a range of more than 1.5 to 2 meters. I would like to have a range of closer to 4 or 5 meters. Does anyone know where I could find one?
     
  14. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Messages:
    783
    Likes Received:
    0
    hmm, might consider looking into getting ps/2 extension and just placing the reciever closer to your desired position. a usb extension would work as well if the keyboard was usb.

    might be the best suggestion since I don't think many designers consider people like us. although I find that most range ratings are rather conservative as my logitech elite, while very fussy, will send a signal about 4m through a floor.
     
  15. RobD

    RobD Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    0
    I dont know about availability in the USA but these products are damn good for long range:
    http://www.gyration.com/
     
  16. KenE

    KenE Extra

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2002
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    I built one a couple months ago using a Shuttle SB51G as the base. I've historically bought AMD, but went with Intel to make cooling in a small space a non-issue. You could also underclock/undervolt to help with this as well. Still working on an AIW and decent audio card to record from the TiVo. For now the onboard AC'97 audio and i845G video work fine.

    Something I've been stumbling across lately are the mini-itx systems. Even smaller than Shuttle! http://www.mini-itx.com

    EDIT: Doh! nm about the boards, you've chosen a great one. [​IMG]

    Have fun!
     

Share This Page