Building my First HTPC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I am in the process of starting my first HTPC build. I have built numerous desktop systems in the past for myself and others but never ventured into the niche of the market per se. Here is the gist of what I am looking for:

Requirements:
  • Netflix / Hulu Streaming
  • OTA HD DVR
  • Playing DVD / Blu-Ray rips / discs

Not as important:
  • surround sound / 5.1 / 7.1 audio as I have no receiver at the moment
  • recording cable channels (this may change in the future - see below)

Parts being looked at:
  • CPU: Intel Core i3 530 or 550
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 mATX
  • RAM: G.Skill 4GB DDR3 (2x2GB)
  • PSU: Antec Earthwatts 380w
  • OS Drive: 250gb 2.5" 7200rpm laptop hdd
  • Data Drives: Samsung F4 2TB HDD (x2)
  • TV Tuner: SiliconDust HDHomerun Dual*
  • Optical: Samsung SH-B123L Blu-Ray / DVD combo drive

I have already got a Silverstone GD06 case on order from Amazon, so while I am waiting for them to receive those and ship I figured I could ask about the internals before I buy.

I noted 2 data drives for the build as I am under the understanding that it is best to keep your dvr drive as its own dedicated drive due to the needed IO.

Secondly I am currently looking at just the HDHomerun Dual but we may pick up cable again so I would want to record the HD cable channels as well but I am stuck waiting on Silicon Dust to release the HDHomeRun Prime and then will need to get a cable card as well from my provider, but that won't be a hassle in itself. The question is would I be able to run both of those boxes in conjunction on the same network, IE will WMC be able to then see all 5 tuners at once? Also with the Dual can I split the tuners to say record 1 show on the HTPC and the other tuner go to a secondary PC elsewhere in the house?

Also at the moment I currently don't have a receiver or additional speakers, but I assume if add those in the future I shouldn't need any additional hardware other than what I listed?

And finally one last bit, I will be ripping Blu-Ray's and DVD to mkv format on this box, would adding a discrete video card such as the nvidia 430 speed it up much over the built in Intel HD graphics that reside in the Core i3?

[EDIT]
As far as remotes / wireless keyboards, etc does anyone have any specific recommendations. This will not be inside of a cabinet or anything just sitting on a shelf under the tv so LoS issues won't be of a concern and the main seating is about 7-10 feet from the TV

thanks in advance for the help
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 04:30 PM
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I'm sure many here will advise you to wait a little for Sandy Bridge core i3's, which may not be a terrible idea.
I use a core i3 540 and I can tell you won't need a discrete graphics card unless you want 3D. I don't do any encoding, but I'm pretty sure any i3 will have enough power to get the job done.
Your output will be HDMI so you won't need any additional hardware in the future.
With tuner salad MC7 can handle as many tuners as you want to throw at it.
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 04:51 PM
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Great build.

I would seriously consider getting a ssd instead of the laptop drive. It will be money very well spent.
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post #4 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 05:05 PM - Thread Starter
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The reason for choosing the 250gb laptop drive is that with that case it would leave me with 2 open 3.5" drive bays and I this build as is will put me close to my budget as is.

I would love to go SSD but the cost difference per MB is to much for me to swallow at the moment.

Back to the last question, would anyone recommend adding a discrete card to help with the mkv converting or just leave as is?

I would switch to Sandybridge but don't want to wait till april for decent Motherboards to come out after this recall fiasco. And the just use the sata 3 ports won't fly as I will have more devices than sata3 ports. Plus i won't be moving to 3d stuff so that is kind of a mute point on that bonus.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 05:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BahamutZer0 View Post

The reason for choosing the 250gb laptop drive is that with that case it would leave me with 2 open 3.5" drive bays and I this build as is will put me close to my budget as is.

I would love to go SSD but the cost difference per MB is to much for me to swallow at the moment.

Back to the last question, would anyone recommend adding a discrete card to help with the mkv converting or just leave as is?

I would switch to Sandybridge but don't want to wait till april for decent Motherboards to come out after this recall fiasco. And the just use the sata 3 ports won't fly as I will have more devices than sata3 ports. Plus i won't be moving to 3d stuff so that is kind of a mute point on that bonus.

Why not get just 1 2tb drive for now and get the ssd? You can add the 2nd drive later.
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 06:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Why not get just 1 2tb drive for now and get the ssd? You can add the 2nd drive later.

well for 2 reasons as stated above:

1) The cost per MB as it translates into SSD is not worth it for me
2) I am splitting the data drives like this to have a dedicated dvr drive and the other will be my "movie on demand" drive so to speak. The size of the collection I have to start off with would be roughly fill more than half the drive. Eventually I will need to expand it but I want some additional leeway right away and not cripple the amount I can possible store for recorded live tv.

I have considered building a media server and then a lightweight net-top htpc but that would be to much for my budget to allow.

I would love the performance benefit of a SSD but to me the price / performance ratio is not worth it to me yet. it may in the future and if so hey my ps3 could always use a HDD upgrade. But I am not there yet.
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post #7 of 10 Old 02-16-2011, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BahamutZer0 View Post

Back to the last question, would anyone recommend adding a discrete card to help with the mkv converting or just leave as is?
s.

I don't think adding a discrete card would help at all with MKV converting. The dedicated video processor on the core i3 will handle most of video processing tasks while the two other cores would handle any MKV converting. My guess is a separate video card won't provide any benefit.
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-17-2011, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I am looking back at that motherboard options, going and looking at the various reviews for the gigabyte board seems to be alot of mixed reviews and alot of troubling ones regarding power / reboot issues.

What experience do you have with these boards. I have used gigabyte in the past fine, but I am still on the fence between that one or the ASRock or ASUS boards.
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-17-2011, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BahamutZer0 View Post

I am looking back at that motherboard options, going and looking at the various reviews for the gigabyte board seems to be alot of mixed reviews and alot of troubling ones regarding power / reboot issues.

What experience do you have with these boards. I have used gigabyte in the past fine, but I am still on the fence between that one or the ASRock or ASUS boards.

Take the reviews with a grain of salt.

That being said I have used both the ASUS and Gigabyte motherboards. They are both really really nice. I have had zero issues with both. ASRock is the same company as ASUS but sells motherboards at a lower price point which usually have inferior components and options compared to the ASUS boards.

The Gigabyte has a few mixed reviews however it offers more (USB3, Firewire, etc) than the ASUS.

With either board I would take the reviews (both good and bad) with a grain of salt. I use them mainly as a tie breaker.

Going with ASUS or Gigabyte is a great decision 99% of the time.
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-17-2011, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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a couple more questions, for Blu-Ray playback I know I can use makemkv to convert the blu-ray's I already own and then playback through WMC /w Media Browser

But for an actual disk what software do you recomend as most drives don't actually come with it?

I know there is Total Media Theater 5, but what other options exist

and lastly what remotes and wireless keyboards do you recommend for controlling these?
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