criticize my HTPC build - based on Assassin's Guide - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 12-29-2011, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I currently have a Ceton infinitiTV card in my desktop computer running WMC. I have a NAS server for movie storage and use a Popcorn hour A200 to play mkv's on my 3D 50" TV (a normal Fios DVR is also attached). I also have a second TV right next to it (mostly for football season) that I have a xbox360 attached that I use as an extender for the WMC.

I think that the Popcorn hour is getting too dated, and I'm interested both TV's having access to shows recorded on the WMC and possibly retiring the Fios DVR altogether, but this is a secondary concern.

After looking through Assassin's guide, I put together this proposed build:

Intel Core i3-2105 Sandy Bridge
GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB
SILVERSTONE GD05B
Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D
I have a bunch of 2TB HD's laying around, so I'll put one of those in there

Assassin seem to think the stock CPU cooler is fine, do you all agree? I plan to control it with my Harmony One remote, so I already bought the USB receiver that he suggested. Any other suggestions?
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post #2 of 28 Old 12-29-2011, 11:29 AM
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Well, I guess I will comment.

I think everything looks good in your build. The only thing I might add is a SSD which is optional but extremely nice to have. Once you have used one your won't go back.

Yes, the stock cooler is fine especially in that case which has excellent cooling.
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post #3 of 28 Old 12-29-2011, 11:50 AM
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You don't need 8GB memory. it won't all get used. 4GB is plenty. Maybe put the money you save on memory into buying Assassin's guide book.
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post #4 of 28 Old 12-29-2011, 11:56 AM
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Since you have a Z68 based board, I'd get a small-ish 60-64gb SSD and use it for Intel RST. You'll be amazed at the boot times with it installed, and it's a relatively cheap upgrade with enormous speed benefits.
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post #5 of 28 Old 12-29-2011, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I think you guys have talked me into an SSD. I think I'll get this:

Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Since I'm not going to have an Optical drive, is there a smaller case I can get away with?
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post #6 of 28 Old 12-29-2011, 01:11 PM
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If you are watching HD live TV and recording HD on that HTPC, you'll need a second drive for the live TV buffer and whatever you are recording until it can be swept to your NAS. The 64GB SSD is not enough and WMC will not let you choose a network drive for recorder storage. Both my HTPCs have a SSD and 2.5" laptop HDD in a 2 x 2.5" into 3.5" adapter. The drives are both 250GB (cheapest at the time) but even an 80GB-120GB HDD would do.

 

 

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post #7 of 28 Old 12-29-2011, 10:16 PM
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Nukenbar, Your setup is almost identical to mine except I have the Silverstone 04 case and an older Antec PS. So far, I have no complaints.

I'll second the SSD. I have a Samsung 60GB in mine. From the incredibly fast boot times to instant software loading and completely silent operation, it's a win-win all around. Plus, I have to think twice before installing software on the boot drive. For me, that makes for a leaner running machine over the long run.
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post #8 of 28 Old 12-30-2011, 04:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

If you are watching HD live TV and recording HD on that HTPC, you'll need a second drive for the live TV buffer and whatever you are recording until it can be swept to your NAS. The 64GB SSD is not enough and WMC will not let you choose a network drive for recorder storage.

TweakMC allows you to select the TV recording destination although I have not tried to select a NAS as yet. TweakMC is a great utility giving you access to a lot of settings including overscan and skip forward amount. Although it was originally intended for WMC XP someone has modified it to work on Win 7: http://experts.windows.com/frms/wind...12.aspx#540812 I was surprised not to see it mentioned in any of the guide's.
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post #9 of 28 Old 01-03-2012, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Ah, I didn't really think about the recorded TV aspect of it. I have already put in my order with these parts that should arrive tomorrow. I guess I just squeeze in one of those old 2TB HD's as recorded TV storage.

Will this defeat the purpose of having a SSD drive, or will having an SSD system drive still lead to a faster performance?
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post #10 of 28 Old 01-03-2012, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CountryBumkin View Post

You don't need 8GB memory. it won't all get used. 4GB is plenty. Maybe put the money you save on memory into buying Assassin's guide book.

Agreed, but its tempting with the cost of ram though. One thing to consider is that more ram will also cost you more money in electricity.
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post #11 of 28 Old 01-03-2012, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nukenbar View Post

Ah, I didn't really think about the recorded TV aspect of it. I have already put in my order with these parts that should arrive tomorrow. I guess I just squeeze in one of those old 2TB HD's as recorded TV storage.

Will this defeat the purpose of having a SSD drive, or will having an SSD system drive still lead to a faster performance?

NO / YES
The SSD will be for your OS and installed programs, the 2 TB HDD will be for stored data

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post #12 of 28 Old 01-12-2012, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
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I would like to report a successful build with the above specs. I would also like to thank the assassin guide for helping me (to which I bought the paid guides) with the hardware specs and the configuration of XBMC. A few notes to the hiccups that I had during the build.

- No problems with the hardware build. There is a rather odd way to mount the HDD's, but I may just not be familiar with the type of low-profile case.

- I think that this case would benefit from a modular PSU, but there is plenty of room to stuff the cables in the front left corner of the case. The cables might cause a tight fit if you included a discrete video card and TV turner card.

- Without a optical drive, I had a little difficulty getting the windows 7 install to boot from a flash drive, but this was just my own ignorance.

- From the default windows 7 install, very few devices were recognized from the motherboard, including the on-board video card, the on-board lan, and some other more low level stuff. The gigabyte website makes it very easy to download the latest drivers.

- My LG monitor was overscaning by about 5-10%. I found that by going into the TV setting and changing the name of the input from HDMI1 to PC corrected the overscan.

I had a few issues with setting up XBMC, but I will save those for another post. Thanks for all of the help.
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post #13 of 28 Old 01-12-2012, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nukenbar View Post

I would like to report a successful build with the above specs. I would also like to thank the assassin guide for helping me (to which I bought the paid guides) with the hardware specs and the configuration of XBMC. A few notes to the hiccups that I had during the build.

- No problems with the hardware build. There is a rather odd way to mount the HDD's, but I may just not be familiar with the type of low-profile case.

- I think that this case would benefit from a modular PSU, but there is plenty of room to stuff the cables in the front left corner of the case. The cables might cause a tight fit if you included a discrete video card and TV turner card.

- Without a optical drive, I had a little difficulty getting the windows 7 install to boot from a flash drive, but this was just my own ignorance.

- From the default windows 7 install, very few devices were recognized from the motherboard, including the on-board video card, the on-board lan, and some other more low level stuff. The gigabyte website makes it very easy to download the latest drivers.

- My LG monitor was overscaning by about 5-10%. I found that by going into the TV setting and changing the name of the input from HDMI1 to PC corrected the overscan.

I had a few issues with setting up XBMC, but I will save those for another post. Thanks for all of the help.

Great! Welcome to HTPC!
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post #14 of 28 Old 01-12-2012, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

If you are watching HD live TV and recording HD on that HTPC, you'll need a second drive for the live TV buffer and whatever you are recording until it can be swept to your NAS. The 64GB SSD is not enough and WMC will not let you choose a network drive for recorder storage. Both my HTPCs have a SSD and 2.5" laptop HDD in a 2 x 2.5" into 3.5" adapter. The drives are both 250GB (cheapest at the time) but even an 80GB-120GB HDD would do.

Can I create a ramdisk for the buffer? How big is needed??
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post #15 of 28 Old 01-12-2012, 09:33 AM
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Another question. How much disk space is required to store four hours of 1080i signal?
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post #16 of 28 Old 01-13-2012, 10:00 AM
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It could be something like 8.5GB an hour for full bitrate 1080i (@19Mb/s)... for one show. You'd need a pretty large ramdisk if you were recording more than one thing at a time.
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post #17 of 28 Old 01-13-2012, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nukenbar View Post

No problems with the hardware build. There is a rather odd way to mount the HDD's, but I may just not be familiar with the type of low-profile case.

- I think that this case would benefit from a modular PSU, but there is plenty of room to stuff the cables in the front left corner of the case.

Yeah the GD05 drive mounts are rather unorthodox. Your correct about the modular, It makes it heck of a lot easier removing the drives. 4 screws > flip the drive mount on the desk > pop out the sata's and the power cable from the psu leaving the power harness intact.

I'm thinking about removing the optical and mounting my SSD there with a USB 3.0 faceplate with the dual 2.5 cage.
I wished SilverStone would have upgraded the fronts to 3.0
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post #18 of 28 Old 01-18-2012, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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There might be a better forum to discuss the following issues, so if if have a suggestion, I will post the questions there. However, since these are follow-ups to this build, I will ask them there as two issues have popped up.

1) I am getting some video artifacts / video drops. Occasionally, I am seeing horizontal blueish artifacts pop on an off the screen in various places for less than a second. Often times, I will then get total video loss for about a second or two. This happens more often when I am playing a video in XMBC, but I get it occasionally at the desktop as well. Note: I now have the HTPC plunged into my Onkyo HT-RC260 receiver and then onto my Panasonic. I did not recall having this problem when I was setting up the box up connected directly to my LG screen, so this leads me to believe there is a problem with the HDMI cables, even though I have not had a problem with them in the past. Besides switching out the cables, do you have any other suggestions?

2) This leads to my second issue. I was having similar overscanning issues on my Panasonic as I was having on my LG screen above. I have discovered that my Panasonic overscans on HDMI1 but not on HDMI2. Naturally, I moved the input from my receiver to from HDMI1 to HDMI2. This solved the overscanning on the HTPC, but I didn't realize how needed the overscanning is for my set-top cable box. The lack over overscanning makes certain channels unwatchable with the static at the top and bottom of the screen. One solution would be to have the HTPC connected directly to HDMI2 and the receiver on HDMI1, but then I would no longer have HDMI sound to the receiver. Instead I would use the S/PDIF Out to the receiver I suppose. Is this a sacrifice that I will have to make if the overscanning bothers me, or is there another solution?

Thanks for the suggestions.
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post #19 of 28 Old 01-18-2012, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ymc View Post

Can I create a ramdisk for the buffer? How big is needed??

Yes Ramdisk or USB

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post #20 of 28 Old 01-18-2012, 05:52 PM
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Nukenbar -

I have a very similar set-up that I just finished building. My question for you is this: since the Silverstone GD05B has 3 case fans, but the motherboard only has one SYS FAN header, how did you connect all the fans or did you only connect one?

I just have one fan connected right now (plus the CPU fan) but I ordered a couple Fan 3-pin Y-adapters so I can connect all three to one SYS FAN header.
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post #21 of 28 Old 01-19-2012, 09:45 AM - Thread Starter
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There was a adapter, i'm not sure if it was in the case or the motherboard, for just that.
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post #22 of 28 Old 01-19-2012, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nukenbar View Post

There was a adapter, i'm not sure if it was in the case or the motherboard, for just that.

I saw that adapter and while it allowed connection of two case fan connectors, the other end could not be connected to the SYS FAN header on the motherboard. It had a weird connector (Molex?) on the other end for connecting to the power supply (I think).

I don't want to connect the case fans to the power supply because I don't want them to run all the time.
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post #23 of 28 Old 01-19-2012, 10:26 AM
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You will need at least 16Gb for the live TV buffer if you are going to use a RAM disk. You could either increase the memory or use a USB stick.
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post #24 of 28 Old 01-20-2012, 06:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrjinglesusa View Post

I saw that adapter and while it allowed connection of two case fan connectors, the other end could not be connected to the SYS FAN header on the motherboard. It had a weird connector (Molex?) on the other end for connecting to the power supply (I think).

I don't want to connect the case fans to the power supply because I don't want them to run all the time.

If you connect the Molex end to the power supply the fans will only run when the computer is on, which is when you want them on. When you shut down the computer the case fans will shut off.
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post #25 of 28 Old 01-20-2012, 06:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nukenbar View Post

2) This leads to my second issue. I was having similar overscanning issues on my Panasonic as I was having on my LG screen above. I have discovered that my Panasonic overscans on HDMI1 but not on HDMI2. Naturally, I moved the input from my receiver to from HDMI1 to HDMI2. This solved the overscanning on the HTPC, but I didn't realize how needed the overscanning is for my set-top cable box. The lack over overscanning makes certain channels unwatchable with the static at the top and bottom of the screen. One solution would be to have the HTPC connected directly to HDMI2 and the receiver on HDMI1, but then I would no longer have HDMI sound to the receiver. Instead I would use the S/PDIF Out to the receiver I suppose. Is this a sacrifice that I will have to make if the overscanning bothers me, or is there another solution?

Thanks for the suggestions.

does the video card on your htpc allow you to adjust for under/overscan? that is where i make my adjustments.
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post #26 of 28 Old 01-20-2012, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrjinglesusa View Post

Nukenbar -

I have a very similar set-up that I just finished building. My question for you is this: since the Silverstone GD05B has 3 case fans, but the motherboard only has one SYS FAN header, how did you connect all the fans or did you only connect one?

I just have one fan connected right now (plus the CPU fan) but I ordered a couple Fan 3-pin Y-adapters so I can connect all three to one SYS FAN header.

The fans that came with my Silverstone GD05B ran at full speed and produced a lot of noise so I added a XIGMATEK Mono-Cool Fan Controller.

The fan controller fits into the slot above the power supply and connects to all three case fans. Power to to the fan controller is supplied by a 4-pin Molex from the PSU.

I haven't had any problems turning the speed of the fans all the way down until I can barley hear them from about a foot away. And the fans shut off completely when the HTPC gos into sleep.
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post #27 of 28 Old 01-20-2012, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post

The fans that came with my Silverstone GD05B ran at full speed and produced a lot of noise so I added a XIGMATEK Mono-Cool Fan Controller.

The fan controller fits into the slot above the power supply and connects to all three case fans. Power to to the fan controller is supplied by a 4-pin Molex from the PSU.

I haven't had any problems turning the speed of the fans all the way down until I can barley hear them from about a foot away. And the fans shut off completely when the HTPC gos into sleep.

I like that approach of using a fan controller. An alternative (and what I did with my GD04 - same case internally as GD05) was to install a Scythe Kama Flex 120mm PWM Fan (SA1225FDB12H-P) in the right rear location connected to and controlled by the motherboard so that it could speed up and supply additional air over the CPU if needed (it never is), and in the other two locations I installed Noctua NF-S12B FLX fans set at a fixed 600 rpm and plugged into Molex connectors on the PSU. Not the cheapest solution, but really quiet and very cool running.
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post #28 of 28 Old 01-20-2012, 08:25 AM
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You can use the 3 way molex splitter that came with the case and use the trick I show in my FAQ to change the speed of the case fans using 5V.

Works very well for these cases and is free.
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