HTPC: Build or Buy?!? HELP - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 12-01-2011, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Folks,

I know, I know, this is an old thread that has been beat to death, but most of the other threads are 2 to 3 years old. So, here we go again...

I am an avid DIY PC builder and love building new PC's. But in our current economic situation, money is a bit scarce. And I am seeing a plethora of set-top devices that seem to do most of what I want an HTPC to deliver. So, I am trying to determine whether I should try to build my own HTPC or buy one of these new set-top boxes.

My current home theatre is a dark room with five electronic reclining chairs, a JVC DLA projector, a rack of equipment in a closet and a 110 inch screen. I have CAT6 cable throughout my house. I have a Blu Ray disc player and a Vudu device that lets me play Vudu movies I have purchased.

First, here's what I want in a HTPC/device:
  • Play all of the 1080p Blu Ray movies I have ripped to my Home Server PC
  • Play any other personal videos I have taken that are stored on my Home Server PC
  • Access the internet to round out my ability to see movies and TV online (I have DirecTV and Vudu, but I know there are other options open to me like Hulu and YouTube)
  • Future-proof to some degree, as much as is possible

So should I consider building a new HTPC with a shiny new Sandy Bridge processor that will let me play my Blu Ray movies with a discrete video card? Or buy a Sony SMP-N100 device or something similar?

Thank you in advance!
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post #2 of 7 Old 12-01-2011, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by GamingDaemon View Post

So should I consider building a new HTPC with a shiny new Sandy Bridge processor that will let me play my Blu Ray movies with a discrete video card? Or buy a Sony SMP-N100 device or something similar?

I can't answer your question for you. Whether any box does all you want is up to you.

But I can tell you not to get a Sony N100. It's way too limited, it's slow (goes through Sony servers as I understand it) and just isn't competitive with a good Roku as far as I'm concerned. Mine isn't even hooked up these days.

To me, the ONLY way you can get full unfettered access to everything that is and may be available is to have an HTPC and use a browser. I have DirecTV as well, but also use ESPN3, Amazon Prime Video, GoFightLive, CBS Sports (for NCAA basketball tournament), various college websites for streaming sports, HBOGo, TV.com, HULU, Crackle, and several streaming music sites like Pandora, Slacker, TuneIn and Spotify. If you use a "box" - any box - or confine yourself to XMBC, WMC or some other front end, then you are giving someone else control over what content you are permitted to access. Particularly if you want sports, they are all way too limited in my view.

Rokus plainly have the widest assortment of content. If you're choosing a "box", I'd get the best Roku available. But it's still not everything. For me, the choice was to use an HTPC. Others obviously prefer ease of use and a pretty interface and accept the limts. The choice is really yours to make.
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-01-2011, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

I can't answer your question for you. Whether any box does all you want is up to you.

But I can tell you not to get a Sony N100. It's way too limited, it's slow (goes through Sony servers as I understand it) and just isn't competitive with a good Roku as far as I'm concerned. Mine isn't even hooked up these days.

To me, the ONLY way you can get full unfettered access to everything that is and may be available is to have an HTPC and use a browser. I have DirecTV as well, but also use ESPN3, Amazon Prime Video, GoFightLive, CBS Sports (for NCAA basketball tournament), various college websites for streaming sports, HBOGo, TV.com, HULU, Crackle, and several streaming music sites like Pandora, Slacker, TuneIn and Spotify. If you use a "box" - any box - or confine yourself to XMBC, WMC or some other front end, then you are giving someone else control over what content you are permitted to access. Particularly if you want sports, they are all way too limited in my view.

Rokus plainly have the widest assortment of content. If you're choosing a "box", I'd get the best Roku available. But it's still not everything. For me, the choice was to use an HTPC. Others obviously prefer ease of use and a pretty interface and accept the limts. The choice is really yours to make.


Thank you for the quick response. And in my original message, I meant to say a Sandy Bridge proc WITHOUT a discrete video card

I will price out the cheapest HTPC I can build and see how much that sets me back. Maybe I can do it for under $400.

Again, thank you.
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post #4 of 7 Old 12-01-2011, 12:21 PM
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Thank you for the quick response. And in my original message, I meant to say a Sandy Bridge proc WITHOUT a discrete video card

I will price out the cheapest HTPC I can build and see how much that sets me back. Maybe I can do it for under $400.

Again, thank you.

Just to add one comment then, I use an i3-2100 without a discrete card. I'm very happy with it, but maybe I'm not be as demanding as some. Read some of Renethx's posts and threads about what various GPUs can and can't do. The use of MadVR seems to be a major distinguishing characteristic. But if you want to use that you may be able to address any shortcoming in the 2100 by, as I understand it, using an i3-2125 and faster memory. At the other end, if you aren't using MadVR and don't care about 3D, you can, as I understand it, use a Celeron G540. Or, some people choose to use a discrete card. You can always add a discrete card later if you're not happy with the built in graphics. I'd at least try it first.
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post #5 of 7 Old 12-01-2011, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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What about the 23.976Hz issue with the Sandy Bridge procs? Have you run into that?
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-01-2011, 01:37 PM
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What about the 23.976Hz issue with the Sandy Bridge procs? Have you run into that?

It hasn't been an issue for me. Some people seem to notice it, some don't. I can't predict how it will be for you, but the reality is that NONE of the GPUs - integrated or discrete - are perfect. All you can do is get as close as possible.

Or use Reclock.

You should read through the thread "Let's set this straight - No one can do 24p consistently well". Also note that even during the life of that thread, things have improved.
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-01-2011, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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It hasn't been an issue for me. Some people seem to notice it, some don't. I can't predict how it will be for you, but the reality is that NONE of the GPUs - integrated or discrete - are perfect. All you can do is get as close as possible.

Or use Reclock.

You should read through the thread "Let's set this straight - No one can do 24p consistently well". Also note that even during the life of that thread, things have improved.

Interesting. I've only just started reading the thread, but already I may be trackign back to Intel procs. I have had such a better experience with them over the years. But the cost difference ebtwen AMD and Intel is not to be ignored either.
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