Need support and suggestions for HTPC build - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Well I somehow woke up with this wild idea to build a home theater pc today and have been researching since 6 this morning. The wife is startin to get agitated so I decided to post my plans and questions and see what everyone thinks.
My main concern is blu-ray quality. I want to have the same picture quality as a standalone unit and be able to pass the hd 7.1 sound to my rx v1800. This is were im getting confused. After all the reading iv done im not sure what and will not (if anything) pass the lossless 7.1 sound and video through a single hdmi cable. So here is my parts list i have so far. Im thinking atx just for expandability reasons cause im not sure the mobo will do all i want as far as audio and video.

ASRock P55 PRO/USB3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i3 Processor i3-530 2.93GHz 4MB LGA1156 CPU BX80616I3530
nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Steel HTPC 2000B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

Thanks for any ideas and suggestions. much appreciated
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 05:52 PM
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Pair that cpu with a board that has the H55 chipset and you will get full HD audio over hdmi like you want.

If you use a P55 board you will lose the graphics on the cpu.

To get full hd audio over hdmi you can also use any ati 5xxx series card. And some nvidia cards in the 4xx and I think 5xx series. Not sure if all of them support it.

I don't think the 470 and 480 do.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteboy714 View Post
Pair that cpu with a board that has the H55 chipset and you will get full HD audio over hdmi like you want.

If you use a P55 board you will lose the graphics on the cpu.

To get full hd audio over hdmi you can also use any ati 5xxx series card. And some nvidia cards in the 4xx and I think 5xx series. Not sure if all of them support it.

I don't think the 470 and 480 do.
Great. Thanks for the quick reply can you suggest a board? Just out of curiosity what do you mean I will Lose the graphics on the board with the p55? do the integrated graphics on the cpu not work with the p55 board? So much to learn...
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 07:23 PM
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Skip the H55/1156 pin mobo's, moving instead to the H67/1155 pin boards from Asus or Gigabyte. Sure, right now there is the infamous Intel Sandy Bridge bug mucking things up, but things ought to be settle out by April this year. It's worth the wait because the Intel GMA graphics are much improved over the H55 generation boards. An added bonus for the HTPC nut is that some of the mentioned boards -- the Asus P8H67-M EVO comes to mind -- provide Display Port, DVI, VGA, and HDMI video output ports right on the board. As far as the mobo's physical size, stick with the smaller microATX boards as this will permit using a smaller box, something that will look better in the living room and to your wife. These boards give 7.1 audio, Sata2 & Sata3 ports, an eSATA port, USB2.0 & 3.0 ports, and Gigabit Ethernet, albeit it's via that lame Realtek NIC ( I'd disable the latter in BIOS and use a dual port PCI-E Intel server NIC instead ). The BIOS itself has now gone to a 32 bit GUI interface, moving to the newer UEFI specification from Intel. Sweet thing about this is you get future compatibility with those > 2.3 TB drives current BIOS's just can't handle.

Go with a Intel Core i7-2600 processor, ignoring the Core i7-2600K version as this version does not possess the internal virtualization features that make running virtual machines sweet. Install about 8 or 16GB DDR3-1300 ( maximum speed for this board class ) memory, preferrably made by G-Skill. Team it up with a fanless power supply made by Seasonic, say about 460 watts, as well as a 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 SSD when it goes retail 2nd quarter. Use this SSD drive only for loading Windows 7 Pro OEM or your choice of OS on; absolutely do not store your multimedia stuff here. For that, get a Sata 3 Western Digital Black or Green disk drive of your size choice and install that as the second hard disk in the system. Use this drive for ALL your data storage.

That oughta do it fo ya.

---dave k
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 07:31 PM
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The Intel GMA300 integrated graphics are only available when you team up an H55/67 chipset mobo with a Core i3/5/7 CPU that has the graphics instruction set built in. You have to have one of these CPUs and these chipsets to use the Intel GMA graphics. These mobos are targeted at enthusiasts and have a lower price tag.

The P55/67 chipset mobos do not have the integrated graphic functions built into the chipset. So, even with a graphics enabled CPU, you will not get the GMA graphics. You will have to add a seperate graphic card of your choice. These mobos are the choice of performance nuts and cost appropriately.

---dave k
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YodaCat View Post

Skip the H55/1156 pin mobo's, moving instead to the H67/1155 pin boards from Asus or Gigabyte. Sure, right now there is the infamous Intel Sandy Bridge bug mucking things up, but things ought to be settle out by April this year. It's worth the wait because the Intel GMA graphics are much improved over the H55 generation boards. An added bonus for the HTPC nut is that some of the mentioned boards -- the Asus P8H67-M EVO comes to mind -- provide Display Port, DVI, VGA, and HDMI video output ports right on the board. As far as the mobo's physical size, stick with the smaller mATX boards as this will permit using a smaller box, something that will look better in the living room and to your wife. These boards give 7.1 audio, Sata3 ports, an eSATA port, USB 3.0 ports, and Gigabit Ethernet, albeit it's via that lame Realteck NIC. I'd disable the latter in the BIOS and put in a dual port Intel server NIC. The BIOS itself has now gone GUI moving to the newer UEFI specification from Intel. Sweet thing about this is you get future compatibility with those > 2.3 TB drives current BIOS's just can't handle.

Go with a Intel Core i7-2600 processor, ignoring the Core i7-2600K version as this version does not possess the internal virtualization features that make running virtual machines sweet. Install about 8 or 16GB DDR3-1300 ( maximum speed for this board class ) memory, preferrably made by G-Skill. Team it up with a fanless power supply made by Seasonic, say about 460 watts, as well as a 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 SSD when it goes retail 2nd quarter. Use this SSD drive only for loading Windows 7 Pro OEM or your choice of OS on; absolutely do not store your multimedia stuff here. For that, get a Sata 3 Western Digital Black or Green disk drive of your size choice and install that as the second hard disk in the system. Use this drive for ALL your data storage.

That oughta do it fo ya.

---dave k

Good God man. I have never seen so much horrible advice packed into one post.

You don't need Sandy Bridge. If you want to build now then Clarkdale is the way to go.

You can always add multiple hard drives. You don't need Sandy Bridge to expand your storage. There is no need to have a 3TB drive or larger. You can add multiple 2TB drives and be perfectly fine.

You do not need an i7. Period.

You do not need 8-16GB RAM. Period.

You do not need a fanless PSU. Period.

You do not need a SSD and specifically you do not need a 120GB SSD.

You do not need a black drive for storage. PERIOD.
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 07:38 PM
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Intel Zealots....

"Yeah man go spend $500-$600 and oh yeah go get a video card too..."

AMD Zacate will run HDMI 1.3 (7.1 Audio) and UVD 3.0 will do 1080p Blu Ray without issue and near idle power consumption.

Cost? $110-$150 no CPU or GPU to buy all included. With 2GB of 1066hz memory its still cheaper than i3 motherboard/cpu combo.

Will an i3 run faster? With pure media, I seriously doubt it. If you run Excel on it, that might be a different story or start ripping your Blu Rays and encoding, then sure.

But if not, give Zacate a serious look.

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post #8 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ls1bob View Post

Well I somehow woke up with this wild idea to build a home theater pc today and have been researching since 6 this morning. The wife is startin to get agitated so I decided to post my plans and questions and see what everyone thinks.
My main concern is blu-ray quality. I want to have the same picture quality as a standalone unit and be able to pass the hd 7.1 sound to my rx v1800. This is were im getting confused. After all the reading iv done im not sure what and will not (if anything) pass the lossless 7.1 sound and video through a single hdmi cable. So here is my parts list i have so far. Im thinking atx just for expandability reasons cause im not sure the mobo will do all i want as far as audio and video.

ASRock P55 PRO/USB3 LGA 1156 Intel P55 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i3 Processor i3-530 2.93GHz 4MB LGA1156 CPU BX80616I3530
nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Steel HTPC 2000B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

Thanks for any ideas and suggestions. much appreciated

Take a look at my guide. You are on the right track.

Your two CPU options should be the 1) Intel i3 + motherboard or 2) AMD Zacate (which is a motherboard + CPU in one).

Your hard drive option should be either 1) Samsung F4 Green 2TB for OS and storage with about 50GB partitioned for the OS or 2) a 60-64GB SSD for the OS with a second larger drive like the Samsung F4 Green 2TB for storage.

RAM should be 4GB

I would look at the ITX form factor for the WAF (wife approval factor) as long as it meets your needs.

That's it. That system will play bluray quality video perfectly and will bit stream all known HD audio and regular audio formats to your receiver.
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post #9 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dj4monie View Post

Intel Zealots....

"Yeah man go spend $500-$600 and oh yeah go get a video card too..."

AMD Zacate will run HDMI 1.3 (7.1 Audio) and UVD 3.0 will do 1080p Blu Ray without issue and near idle power consumption.

Cost? $110-$150 no CPU or GPU to buy all included. With 2GB of 1066hz memory its still cheaper than i3 motherboard/cpu combo.

Will an i3 run faster? With pure media, I seriously doubt it. If you run Excel on it, that might be a different story or start ripping your Blu Rays and encoding, then sure.

But if not, give Zacate a serious look.

Agreed. I can't wait to build one for someone (any takers?).
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 08:21 PM
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The OP also has an AVR so it's likely that there's no need to shoot for a small form factor MB so you can get a smaller case, a full size HTPC will likely give better cooling for the same noise level and would look just fine IMHO since it would be the same size as the AVR unlike any of those smaller cases many use.

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post #11 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 08:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Tons of great info everyone! Really appreciate it. As somebody mentioned smaller form factor isnt a huge factor cause the wife actually appreciates some of my gadgets too and the atx size would be somewhat similar in size to my yamaha receiver anyways. If going bigger doesnt offer much as far as upgradability however smaller wouldnt be bad. I just wanted enought slots to ad wifi a tuner card and maybe sound and video cards in the future but it seems if i chose components carefully enough I may not need all that stuff.
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post #12 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 08:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dj4monie View Post

Intel Zealots....

"Yeah man go spend $500-$600 and oh yeah go get a video card too..."

AMD Zacate will run HDMI 1.3 (7.1 Audio) and UVD 3.0 will do 1080p Blu Ray without issue and near idle power consumption.

Cost? $110-$150 no CPU or GPU to buy all included. With 2GB of 1066hz memory its still cheaper than i3 motherboard/cpu combo.

Will an i3 run faster? With pure media, I seriously doubt it. If you run Excel on it, that might be a different story or start ripping your Blu Rays and encoding, then sure.

But if not, give Zacate a serious look.


Very interesting. Going to give the AMD Zacate a serious look.
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post #13 of 15 Old 02-18-2011, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
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This one looks like it would fit the bill. Any input?
ASUS E35M1-M PRO AMD Zacate 18W dual-core
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post #14 of 15 Old 02-24-2011, 10:50 AM
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Yup I would get that one. Except its sold out until 2/28. (Getting kinda jealous that you'll be building a HTPC with that one!)

I would also have the wife pick out the case.

Then troubleshoot the hell out of it so that the wife can't complain when something doesn't work!
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post #15 of 15 Old 02-24-2011, 11:11 AM
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All good advice, except for YodaCat. That thing could run a spaceship. For HTPC use, go with the core i3 with onboard graphics or the AMD Zacate. I don't know squat about the AMD chip/board combo, but it sounds nice. What will really determine the form factor is where you are going to store all of your movies. If locally, then probably go with micro atx size as you can get a bigger case which = more hard drives. If everything is going to be played over the network, go with the ITX form factor and get a small SSD like assassin mentioned. I'd go with a pico psu whichever route you go, they are smaller and keep noise down. Check out my build thread for starters. I was in the same spot as you were a couple of months ago and I'm happy w/ the way things turned out.

Here's the link to my build: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...989&highlight=
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