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post #1 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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HTPC Build with XBMC and CasaTunes
This is my first dedicated HTPC build. For anyone that has assembled a PC a few times these parts should present no particular challenge for assembly.

The specific parts list:
MB ASRock Z68M/USB3
PSU PC Power and Cooling PPCMK3s400
CPU Intel Core I3 2105 Retail Box with CPU cooler
SSD Samsung MZ-7PC064D/AM
RAM G.Skill F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL











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post #2 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:18 PM
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Love it!!!
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post #3 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I was rather impressed with the Silencer PSU. It looks great and there is nothing better than a modular PSU. I ended up using only one of the power cords to power my SSD.

Installation is a little tight but you can angle the PSU in and just miss the fan on the right side of the case. If you need the fan can be removed easily (4 screws) then reinstalled after the PSU is attached.

There are 4 silicone 'legs' that are attached to the bottom of the PSU so that its weight is suppored by the bottom of the case and not its screws. It attaches with the standard 4 screws from the outside of the case.

The PSU connects to the MB via the 2 4-pin connectors on the left side of the photos and the big... many prong connector on the back side on the MB behind the memory slots.

Some PSU pr0n shots for you PSU lovers...


















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post #4 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Standard looking MB here. Please note on this model that there are only 2 slots of RAM. Keep this in mind when purchasing. I wanted 8 GB (for no reason other than I just wanted 8GB) so I got 4GB x2. You wont be able to add sticks in the future... you will have to replace.








The case comes with several MB standoffs in place. I added one additional standoff in the back right so that I could fill all of the support holes in the MB.
The silver MB shield easily clicked into the back of the case and the MB was a snug but easy fit into the box.










This following photo shows the MB populated with RAM and CPU. The RAM easily clicked into place. Nothing to worry about there. The CPU also was an easy install. Make sure you click all 4 fan posts in well so that you get a good seating on the CPU itself. Some people like to install the CPU and fan before bolting the MB into the case. You can do this in whichever order you prefer. Make note of where the CPU fan header is so that you can route the power cable appropriately.



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post #5 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
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This image shows the support bracket on the right put into place. You can see 4 screw tops in the bracket. They are holding the SSD to the bottom of the plate. A 3.5 inch drive would also attach to the bottom of this plate. 2 drives install easily but the cabling is very tight.




In this image you can see that all the case buttons and USB headers are connected to the MB. The design of the case makes it pretty easy to keep cables out of the way of airflow.

The optical drive would install on the left bracket. (not pictured) The bracket has enough internal space to clear the top of the large RAM heatsinks and CPU cooler without touching. So no problem there.

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post #6 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Following hardware assembly is BIOS configuration and OS installation.

For the most part BIOS is good out of the box. Some things to think about though:

1) I wanted to have some control over my fans without opening the box. I attached two of the fans to the system board headers which allowed me to manage the fan speed in BIOS. I set 2 of my fans to level 6 (out of 9). I might step this down further as I watch the CPU heat under load.
2) You may want to change your HD from IDE to another mode depending on your particular needs.

I installed Windows 7 Ultimate x64. There are many ways to get this installed but I chose to use an old external USB DVD ROM player. Installation was straight forward. I formatted the 64GB SSD as a single partition.

After the OS was installed I performed the following tasks:
1) Installed drivers from the CD provided my ASROCK
2) Installed all patches and updates from MS update
3) Installed MS Security Essentials from MS.com
4) Joined the computer to my Homegroup to facilitate file sharing

A step that I took a little later after some pain with XBMC was to update the drivers again from the ASRock web site. This resolved some playback problems I was having with certain MKV files.

***** Update
I now have the PC autologging in at boot. I should probably set XBMC to autorun as well so that it will boot right where it needs to be.
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post #7 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
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XBMC Discussion

XBMC is a huge PITA... but its pretty cool once its working. I don't know if its any better than straight Media Center... but I can see it being more difficult to install.

I followed the instructions in the sticky section here. It was a bit daunting... but I made it through most everything. Enough so that I can watch things anyway.

Some observations:

1) The current version of XBMC hates the Intel i3 with Intel 3000 graphics. If you activate hardware acceleration in XBMC it will wreck the picture. Some much that its unwatchable. There are many threads about this on the web. If you playback is useless check to see if you have hardware acceleration enabled in XBMS settings.

> This issue is still alive and well in v11RC2 code.

2) XBMC seems to find some of the media I put in my watched folders and not all. I haven't dug into this enough to figure out why though. It might be how I configured XBMC but it doesn't show a complete list of all the media files in my watched folders... just the ones it likes. So if it doesn't like something i can't force it to play.



***** Updates
1) I dropped v11 RC2 on top of my existing install and it looks like it got everything upgraded ok. I need to get my hands on a MKV with some HD audio to see if it is outputting that correctly.

>I am able to output HD audio now but RC2 has introduuced a buffering bug. Its all over the XBCM forums.

2) I renamed the video files to simplier names and it looks like its picking everything up pretty well now.
For TV I created season subfolders and named the episodes showname.s01e01 (etc) and they are now being picked up as TV shows ok.

CasaTunes Install



This install went rather quickly. I had this running on a different box so I had already gone through the learning process.
  • I downloaded the newest version of the code and ran the installer on my new HTPC.
  • While the software was installing I RDP'd over to my old server, ran the conguration wizard for CasaTunes and advanced to the licensing page. I copied the serial then clicked on the 'deactivate' button.
  • Back on the new PC I completed the install and moved through the config setting up the rooms and sources as I had them before.
  • On the license screen I pasted in the serial and activated.
  • Back connections are simple phono jack to RCA adapers plugged in to the 'sound card' ports on the system board.
  • Simul playing of MP3s through CasaTunes and movie sound via XBMC (HDMI connection) tested and confirmed. Sound comes out everywhere it is supposed to !

iTunes Set Up

Straight forward set up here.
Downloaded the software and ran the installer. Once installed I pointed the library to the music share on my server. Then I imported all the songs in the share.
CasaTunes saw the music right away and I was able to play without any problem.
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post #8 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Other items I discovered during implementation:

1) My Samsung 58" Plasma loves overscan. When set to 16X9 it would overscan a half inch of the screen. To resolve this issue I changed the picture setting to 'fit to screen' rather than '16x9'. Please look to your TV before you try to fix this problem with resolution changes in your video settings.

2) having a remote to control your HTPC is a must. I have an IR dongle on the way. I will post up my experience when it arrives. I plan to connect everything to my Harmony One. (Which is an AWESOME remote... especially for the price.)

3) I am hosting all of my media files on a WHS2011 box. I am expirimenting with tools such as Media Center Master to figure out the best way to use them. So far I have had little success. I might install this directly on the WHS rather than the HTPC and see how that works.
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post #9 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:29 PM
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Love the case. I used the Silverstone GD04 for both of my HTPC builds. Only difference between my GD04 and your GD05 is the height of the optical drive slot.
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post #10 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketlaw View Post

Love the case. I used the Silverstone GD04 for both of my HTPC builds. Only difference between my GD04 and your GD05 is the height of the optical drive slot.

Well, technically there is more than that.
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post #11 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketlaw View Post

Love the case. I used the Silverstone GD04 for both of my HTPC builds. Only difference between my GD04 and your GD05 is the height of the optical drive slot.

The GD05 has a plastic front too.
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post #12 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:44 PM
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I didn't know that. Any reason for that particular change? Anyway, I am digging the build.
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post #13 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketlaw View Post

I didn't know that. Any reason for that particular change? Anyway, I am digging the build.

I've not seen the 04 in person so I don't know. I just got the newer model hoping that newer = better :-)
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post #14 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 05:11 PM
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Make sure to do the 5v fan mod to quiet down those Silverstone fans. I have the GD04 and after the 5v fan mod, it's nearly silent. Otherwise, get yourself a fan controller.
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post #15 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tooler40 View Post

Make sure to do the 5v fan mod to quiet down those Silverstone fans. I have the GD04 and after the 5v fan mod, it's nearly silent. Otherwise, get yourself a fan controller.

Yeah, we've beaten that to death in my sticky thread lately.
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post #16 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 05:28 PM
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Going to have to check out the fan mod. I have been just using stock settings for almost two years now. I notice the sound, but it is not that bad. I assume you just get a resistor to back down the voltage to 5v. Hopefully this still keeps the positive air pressure within the case because I did a tear down not too long ago and the inside was just about as clean as when I first built it.
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post #17 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 06:00 PM
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that sir.. is a pretty darn solid HTPC.

Nice job. and Congrats.

(I really like your hardware choices)

-

"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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post #18 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

that sir.. is a pretty darn solid HTPC.

Nice job. and Congrats.

(I really like your hardware choices)

Me too.

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post #19 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 06:42 PM
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Great!
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post #20 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Me too.



Me "three"

@ the op :

Way to go man ! NICE work on using the guides along with some good building practices.

Get that os loaded with all the current manufacture drivers (no Windows updates yet , PLEASE ) and rock your happy *ss over to the paid guides (I know you bought them , right ?) and slather up some of those saved thread spots with some LUV !!
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post #21 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 07:05 PM
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Ok, how many dads in here noticed the baby blanket first thing?

 

 

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post #22 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

Ok, how many dads in here noticed the baby blanket first thing?

:-) My 3 year old poked his hands in one of the pictures too :-)
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post #23 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flocko View Post

Me "three"

@ the op :

Way to go man ! NICE work on using the guides along with some good building practices.

Get that os loaded with all the current manufacture drivers (no Windows updates yet , PLEASE ) and rock your happy *ss over to the paid guides (I know you bought them , right ?) and slather up some of those saved thread spots with some LUV !!

"Slather"

Made me laugh.

I like that.
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post #24 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nexus99 View Post

:-) My 3 year old poked his hands in one of the pictures too :-)

3 year olds are what got me into HTPC. I was tired of fingerprints all over the CDs and DVDs keeping them from working. By the time my older one was 5 she was using the W7MC remote to pick her own music and movies and teaching the babysitter how to use it. Now, at almost 8, she wants to know when she's getting her own for her room so she can watch movies, listen to music and "look stuff up when I think of something".


 

 

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post #25 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 09:19 PM
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Nice build.

I might copy this actually. There's no problem adding a tv tuner in there, right? Room wise?
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post #26 of 44 Old 02-24-2012, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superman2 View Post

Nice build.

I might copy this actually. There's no problem adding a tv tuner in there, right? Room wise?

No problem at all. Lots of space!
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post #27 of 44 Old 02-25-2012, 09:02 AM
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If i added a blu ray drive, will this play DTSMA 7.1 ok, or a separate sound-card needed?

Yes, im a newb
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post #28 of 44 Old 02-25-2012, 09:12 AM
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+1 on the MB/CPU choice. I have that EXACT setup in my latest build, also using a Silverstone case although it is my "old" CW02 in black with the (CRAPPY) iMon LCD. I gutted the previous build (Phenom 9500/ ASUS MA3) when I started having issues with the display as well as the pwr/hdd led's. Of course, STILL have the issues with the new setup as well. Have to completly remove power from it once a week when the display locks up, very dim when it does work. Other then that, it is an awesome setup that plays everything I throw at it. FYI, using an AMD HD6570 with HDMI for audio/video going to Sony 46" LCD
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post #29 of 44 Old 03-01-2012, 10:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I wonder if the dimness could be a cable or TV issue?
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post #30 of 44 Old 03-02-2012, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nexus99 View Post

I've not seen the 04 in person so I don't know. I just got the newer model hoping that newer = better :-)

I suspect that's why more people seem to buy the 05 than the 04 because it has the "newer" model number, but other than the face plate, they are internally identical.

Personally, I prefer the 04 because I prefer the looks of the "stealth" optical drive. But both are good cases.

I think the "newer=better" is incorrect in this case, though. Neither is "better" than the other; they are simply different. Metal vs plastic front, and different optical drive front mounting visuals (and some front buttons are moved). Just a matter of personal preference.

Nice build, BTW. I have that PSU sitting sealed in its box at home waiting to use in an upcoming build. Glad to hear you like it. I used an FSP Aurum Gold 400 in my GD04 build.
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