starting my first htpc build, looking for advice

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Scott L, Jan 23, 2003.

  1. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Wow, I'm not seeing any words. As in my sig, "abuuuhhhhhh"
     
  2. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hopefully vince will chime in. i know he has one.

    also, check out avsforum.com - they have a whole section devoted to htpc - including a monster FAQ.

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forum...php?forumid=26

    finally, did you do a search here? i know the topic has been discussed in the past.

    good luck!
     
  3. RobertCO

    RobertCO Auditioning

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    hmm, for some reason it's not displaying my post, it still shows the preview if u just point your mouse arrow over the title but not after click on it.

    Anyway, here's my question.

    I am attempting my first PC build and am planning on hooking it to my HT.

    Basically I plan on connecting the video card tv-out to my WEGA's S-Video input and the sound card's optical out to my Denon receiver.

    The primary uses for this computer will be MP3, web surfing, and gaming along with some word processing.

    Over the last few weeks I have been researching different hardware components and have come up with this so far:

    Case: ANTEC SX635BII
    Processor: AMD ATHLON XP 2100+/266
    Mobo: Gigabyte GA-7VAXP ULTRA (VIA KT400/VIA 8235 chipset)
    RAM: Kingston 512 MB 400 MHz DDR PC3200
    Hard Drive: Western Digital 120 GB Special Edition
    Video Card: ATI Radeon 9500 PRO
    Sound Card: SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Platinum
    DVD-ROM Toshiba SD-M1612 16X
    CDRW: Plextor PX-W4012TA/SW 40X12X40
    Comm: 3Com EtherLink 10/100 3C905C-TX-M
    Keyboard and Mouse: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop
    OS: Windows XP Pro
    Floppy: Generic

    I'm pretty confident that this would be a great stand alone PC, however I'd like any feedback on how I can modify this setup to work nicely with my current home theater setup

    thanx, robert
     
  4. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    You could eliminate the expensive Soundblaster Audigy if you picked up an nForce1 (or nforce2) motherboard with the Soundstorm audio feature. DD5.1/DTS passthrough, DD5.1 real-time encoding (to enable true DD5.1 encoding for games and mp3s) so you can exclusively use the digital output into your HT receiver. Also, the better nforce motherboards already include a 10/100 Ethernet card. That will probably save you at least $150, yet retain the quality.

    The Abit NF7-s or the Asus A7N8X Deluxe motherboards will probably fit the bill nicely. BTW, the Kingston RAM you've chosen should work nicely on the nforce platform (they are slightly picky about RAM makes and models).
     
  5. RobertCO

    RobertCO Auditioning

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    OK I've been doing a lot of reading at places like tom's hardware, sharky extreme, and avsforum and here's what I've pieced together

    Case: ANTEC SX635BII
    Processor: AMD ATHLON XP 2100+/266
    Mobo: ASUS A7N8X nForce2
    RAM: Kingston 512 MB 400 MHz DDR PC3200
    Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda V 120GB 7200RPM
    Video Card: ATI Radeon 9500 PRO
    Sound Card: SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Platinum
    DVD-ROM: SONY DDU1621/B2 16X (48X CD-ROM speed)
    CDRW: Plextor PX-W4012TA/SW 40X12X40
    Comm: Intel Pro/100S
    Keyboard and Mouse: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop
    OS: Windows XP Pro
    Floppy: Generic

    I kept the Soundcard in there because I'm still not sure if the onboard sound processing with the nForce2 is up to par. What I'm basically worried about is the sound quality listening to cd's, mp3's and even playing games. Wouldn't there be a difference? Thanks for everyones help.

    robert
     
  6. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Robert:

    If you're going to be gaming a lot, I'd trade up the wireless optical desktop to a Logitech MX 700 plus a wireless keyboard. The MX 700 is supposedly much better for games than most other wireless mice... something about a higher sample rate. That can make all the difference when you're battling people online in CS/UT 2003.

    Just something to consider.... it might not be worth the sixty-odd dollars it costs to upgrade.

    As for the sound... with DirectSound providing most of the audio nowadays, I'm not sure if you'd be missing much by not having a Sound Blaster card in there. Then again, lots of games are using EAX (Creative's proprietary surround sound technology), so perhaps you DO need one for ideal sound.

    I heard you can skip the Audigy 2 for the Audigy 1.... all 2 really does is provide DVD-A capability, from what I hear. Up to you, obviously. [​IMG]
     
  7. JasenP

    JasenP Screenwriter

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    I wouldn't count on using your TV as a monitor for word proessing or extensive web surfing...it's fuzzy and will drive you nuts!
     
  8. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Robert, make sure you get the A7N8X Deluxe. It has the full nforce audio. The regular A7N8X is subpar for sound quality, as it uses a different sound chip! Remember, get the Deluxe version!

    The nforce is exactly on par with the soundblaster audigy for quality, and has neglible CPU usage. Also, since it is part of the chipset, there will be no PCI bus contention that you would get with the Audigy cards (ie. your PC will "feel" faster).

    The reviews I've read were not able to tell the difference in sound quality between the nforce and Audigy cards, when comparing games, mp3 playback, DVD playback, and CD playback.

    I am assuming you'll be hooking the HTPC up to a home theater receiver with coax digital input? The A7N8X Deluxe only supplies a coax digital out, unless you also get the optical S/PDIF breakout bracket separately.

    Ditch the Audigy and the Ethernet card. [​IMG]

    BTW, for technical assistant with nforce motherboards, be sure to visit www.nforcershq.net .
     
  9. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Quite honestly, an HTPC is not a good choice for hookup to an S-video input. You really only get the true benefit with an RGB or component input capable of high scan rates.
     
  10. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    ^^^^^ Very true. The main reason I have a PC in the theater is for gaming. I only have a 32" wega and use my Xbox to play DVDs.
     
  11. Brian Ruth

    Brian Ruth Supporting Actor

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    Rob:

    I heard that a HTPC is actually one of the better ways to watch DVD in a home theater, due in no small part to the computer's (supposedly) superior pixel pushing ability. I hear ATIs are especially good at this.

    And since the 9500 can (I believe) output Component Video with an add-on, wouldn't that make his setup better for watching movies and TiVoing TV shows than other products?
     
  12. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    okay, here we go:

    the KT400 chipset isn't nearly what the nForce2 chipset is. so get a motherboard that has the nForce2 chipset and the soundstorm audio on it (e.g. a7n8x-deluxe). the soundstorm audio is good enough to replace the audigy you are looking to buy. I love the onboard sound on my new motherboard. most of the nForce2 motherboards have onboard LAN so you can save yourself some money all around with the nForce2 motherboard.

    the soundstorm audio chip is awesome, it sends everything out in DD which is incredible compared to any other soundcard I have listened to. I have said this before and I will again, if you MUST buy a seperate soundcard ge the m-audio revolution 7.1, it is everything that creative wishes it was.

    the a7n8x-deluxe comes with dual onboard lan you have no need for the seperate lan card. make sure you only get the a7n8x-deluxe, the standard mobo is short on a few needed features like the soundstorm audio.

    Stay away from kingston memory, everywhere I go I see people having problems with it. My reccomendation is to get some crucial memory, it performs much better and has fewer problems.

    look into getting the AMD 2400+ cpu with the money you'll save on the soundcard you can get it. The 2400+ is the last cpu before hte 100$ pricejump up to the 2600+ so it is my current pick for the price/ performance margin.


    I now wish to appologize to those whose good input I just duplicated, I just skimmed the thread and am dumping my input out there. If I did duplicate your ideas, please take it as me seconding your very good opinion [​IMG]

    robert please ask any and all questions you may have, after all that's what forums are for.
     
  13. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Good summary Rob! Yeah, I forgot about Crucial (aka Micron) memory, they are superb with the nForce1/2 chipsets.

    m-audio revolution 7.1? Tell me more!
     
  14. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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  15. Chad Ellinger

    Chad Ellinger Second Unit

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    One caveat about the Revolution. Many of the early adopters over at AVS are complaining about driver and performance issues. This is a new soundcard with infant drivers, so the jury's still out if this is the be-all and end-all of HTPC soundcards. Here's a link to the feedback thread over at AVS.
     
  16. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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  17. RobertCO

    RobertCO Auditioning

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    Hi everyone I'm back. Thanks again for all the helpful advice and links. After more reading and learning this is what I've come up with.

    Case: ANTEC SX635BII MINI TOWER CASE BLACK - $85
    Processor: AMD ATHLON XP 2000+/266 1.67 GHz $93
    Mobo: ASUS A7N8X nForce2 Deluxe - $145
    RAM: 512 MB Corsair TwinX3200LLPT - $225
    Hard Drive: WD 120 GB Special Edition - $147
    Video Card: ATI RADEON 9500 PRO 128MB DDR DVI AGP - $197
    DVD-ROM: SONY DDU1621/B2 BLACK 16X (48X CD-ROM speed) - $51
    CDRW: Plextor PX-W4012TA/SW 40X12X40 - $85
    Comm: Intel Pro/100S - $35
    Keyboard: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop - $64
    Mouse: Logitech MX700 Cordless Optical Mouse - $62
    Floppy: PANASONIC BLACK - $11

    I am currently using the only coax input on my receiver for my dvd player so I'll probably end up buying a quality optical cable for it so I can free up the input for the PC.

    I know the fun part's gonna be getting 2d to look good on my TV. If I can't ever get it how I like it I may end up buying a 15" or 17" LCD monitor and only use the TV (via s-video) for gaming. More than likely I will still be using my sony dvd player to watch movies.
     
  18. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Rob,

    If you are still open to new components and want something that is VERY compact, this is a real winner:

    http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=NDE2

    It is the Shuttle SN41G2, the new SFF nforce2 solution. Very sexy and very compact, I am thinking of using this setup for my next computer (an HTPC).

    Cheers!
     
  19. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Joe, is that new shuttle shipping? I saw screenshots and announcements a few months ago, but nothing on Shuttle's uninformative website. Did they work out the stability and overheating problems on the SN41?

    Oh wait...I should read the article. :b
     
  20. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    I always thought this was the coolest/cutest/sexiest modded case I've seen:

    [​IMG]

    Click here to see more of its hardware setup (can you believe that's a P2.4 system with a Radeon 9700 Pro?!) and carbon fibre back.
     

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