Building PC to use as Home Entertainment w/ HDTV - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-30-2014, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm going to buy an HDTV to use as a PC monitor / for home entertainment in my living room and want to build a custom box; I don't know anything about computer hardware so am here for suggestions.

 

I'd like to use XBMC or some equivalent as a media manager and have all (or most) of my media on mirrored hard drives (via RAID or some other method).

 

Thanks in advance for any advice and sorry if this has already been posted/answered.

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post #2 of 9 Old 03-30-2014, 07:53 PM
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Most of the new laptops and PCs come with an HDMI port, you can look for it when you buy. Hooked to the TV via HDMI it can become a second display. Some units will allow their internal audio to also be fed into the HDMI, otherwise the audio is confined to the PCs speakers. Many audio systems will allow for and aux output for audio and some advanced have a second audio port that can be configured to provide rear channels or as an analog audio input for recording by the PC/laptop. Pay close attention to the native display on any PC/LT and its resolution. You need at least 720 (HD) or 900 (WS) widescreen. That makes it easiest for the TV to adjust to the media depending on the TVs options (normal, wide, stretch, or zoom). With the new toys like Chromecast, Roku and others, cable and satelite are loosing customers fast.
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-31-2014, 05:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, any recs on a graphics card to get the best image? (i.e. if I wanted to push native 120HZ)

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post #4 of 9 Old 03-31-2014, 06:07 AM
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My most recent purdhase of a Lenovo laptop and desktop that are identical. They have the Intel on board video with up to 2 GB memory available and the HDMI connectors. They are two year old with WIN7 and were $400. each. If a plug in option is needed, I prefer to use Nvidia cards with Intel processors and ATI cards with AMD processors.
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-31-2014, 10:48 PM
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Everybody used to have strong preferences about hardware but everything is so powerful now hardly anyone cares. I used to be an AMD fan, NVidiot, Intel hater but you can't go wrong whatever you choose now. Your display will give you more agony than anything else as far as input lag, HDMI handshake issues and frequency restrictions etc. (just a hassle to get used to so don't get excited smile.gif) Displays and receivers are kinda in a transition period with the new HDMI 2.0 that will make everything current obsolete.
Are you planning 3D? If you won't be gaming with it then the cost and compatability is much better. I keep thinking gaming when I think HTPC. Laptops now have all the power you need for HTPC if your not gaming but my 2 year old W7 $500 laptop tears thru older games (more fun for casual gaming) even L4D2 is a pushover and plays BDs with an external usb BD player in 3D. I found a Sceptre 32" 3D 1080P monitor/HDTV for $300 2 years ago that I can game or watch Youtube 3D videos on to save the bulb on the 3D projector for serious stuff. Those Sceptre HDTV/Monitors save you money by not having all those "Apps' and stuff that will run faster off your HTPC anyway. They make up to 50".
There is a thread about input Lag but you don't need to concern yourself if not gaming but my Samsung gets annoying when the screen keeps moving after the mouse stops or curser doesn't respond instantly, grrrr.
Well, you've got some reading to do now!. Oh ya,120Hz and Graphics. Computer chips nowdays have the Graphics chip built into them! My Laptop has no problem with 720P/ 120Hz Frame Sequential 3D (max for HDMI currently) driving the projector.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-01-2014, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi, thanks for your thoughtful reply.

 

I have no use for 3D, I just want the best picture on my display for movies, HULU, etc. SmartTV features seem less useful with Chromecast available. A wi-fi ready TV would be nice. 

 

It sounds like I should be focusing more on the TV side of things and looking into HDMI 2.0 compatibility.

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post #7 of 9 Old 04-01-2014, 02:54 PM
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You're welcome.
I was curious about your desire for 120Hz that made me think 3D because HDTVs aren't really 120HZ. That's just internal processing (always bad for gaming, LAG!) to smoothe the picture. You can't input 120Hz to 99.99% of HDTVs and the ones that do are 4K monitors that are tricked to do 1080P @ 120Hz. (no personal experience)
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-01-2014, 03:14 PM
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A lot of users and bulders were bothered with picture lag but the video/audio sync is negated when the audio is taken from the TV rather that via an AV unit doing the switching. Let the TV decide the source to be veiwed. Some HDMI handshaking protocols have been proposed but no mfgr to mgr agreements have been signed so the ARC systems and the like are onlt usable between devices from the same mfgr for HDTV, AVR, Blueray player, ETC.
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-01-2014, 11:22 PM
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That's not the kind of lag I was talking about if audio sync is your concern. Lag I mean is Input Lag of the HDTV screen lagging behind mouse movement. Most TVs are horrible. If you can actually SEE it then it is Really, really, really really, really bad! I'm only talking milliseconds but if you play FPS or fast pace timing dependent games on a PC you will spend a lot of time respawning from getting killed so frequently you think everyone else is cheating! What happens is the other person sees you before you see him because your screen is lagging behind the game.
The TV's video processing only makes it worse. If you play on a genuine Hardcore server that only allows respawn on the next match then you spend a long time spectating other players while you wait for the match to end. Not too bad though because you then learn from the better players while waiting for the next match. smile.gif

Edit: As long as I'm up, HTPC has changed from 10yrs ago when broadcast TV (OTA) actually was worth recording. I'd build a new Gaming computer every year and then make an HTPC out of the old one by sticking TV tuners in them. They already had sound cards and beefy Graphics cards, no hangups from HDMI or crap. There was a killer HD Tuner call MyHD (MDP-130) that had a better video chip than most graphics cards and had it's own processor so it put almost no drain on the CPU, remote control and it's own digital out audio. I could record and watch a program on 1 monitor (34" CRT) and game on another monitor at the same time all with the same computer. All that freedom went away with W7, HDMI and HDCP. Then came audio dropouts, delays and "handshake" issues. Handshake... more like a bitch slap! haha.smile.gif
Stand alone settop box BD players are inexpensive and computer BD players need software to work. The "free" software that might come with it is only a trial or limited (stereo) version so then you have to buy an upgrade. The Powerdvd software needs to connect to the internet for "patches" or a new movie may not work. Then after 2 years they don't patch anymore so you have to buy another BD software, it sucks bigtime.
Now if I want 3D I go outside and look around. Need more popout? Play baseball and see something real coming at me, haha. Those tropical fish look much better in person than on tv smile.gif
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