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post #1 of 8 Old 01-29-2013, 12:42 PM - Thread Starter
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After being endlessly frustrated with the cable boxes available from Time Warner and other providers in my area (not to mention the obscene rental costs and "DVR Fees"), I'm inclined to dip my toe in the HTPC waters. I've had "HTPCs" in the past, but they were clunky and really not usable for more than cuing up digital movie files. But it seems the tech has now evolved to what I actually want/can use.


What I'm envisioning is essentially a home media server. I have 2 TVs (both HD) and I want to be able to have all of my content available on both. I want HD-DVR capability, the ability to play DVD and BluRay movies (both disc and files) and possibly access other downloadable content.
What I'm thinking is a mid-range PC in my "media" room upstairs (where my nicer TV and sound setup is), and a media center extender on my downstairs TV (basic plasma HDTV + soundbar). I plan to control my upstairs TV with a Harmony 900, and potentially the downstairs the same (if I buy another 900). I'm looking at the Ceton Infinitv4 as the tuner, and potentially Ceton's echo as an extender (though open to suggestion). Probably Windows 7 Media Center and a 2+ TB HD for storage.


What I'm looking for here are build suggestions for cases, processors, etc. I don't really want to spend a ton of money, but I don't really know what kind of budget is necessary to get something that will do what I want. I understand that the tuner + extender will cost about $350 between the two, but I don't know quite what to budget for the rest. Also, curious as to whether gigabit ethernet is necessary, or whether 10/100 will suffice.


So, any help, suggestions, criticisms would be great. I do intend to keep Time Warner and just switch to a CableCARD from the stupid whole-house DVR setup I have now.
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post #2 of 8 Old 01-29-2013, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradg33 View Post

What I'm looking for here are build suggestions for cases, processors, etc. I don't really want to spend a ton of money, but I don't really know what kind of budget is necessary to get something that will do what I want.

Most any mid-range (and quite a few low-end) modern CPU and GPUs will do what you want. I would err on the side of caution and buy a little bit stronger than the bare minimum though, because there are so many neat things you can do with a HTPC... and most of those advanced functions work better on mid-range to high-end rather than low-end hardware.

Cases are really a personal choice, and they really need to fit your personal asthetics and hardware choices.

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I understand that the tuner + extender will cost about $350 between the two, but I don't know quite what to budget for the rest. Also, curious as to whether gigabit ethernet is necessary, or whether 10/100 will suffice.

While 100Mb/s ethernet is "good enough" to barely adequate depending on who you ask, its tough to find a motherboard that doesn't come with gigabit ethernet these days, so go with that and you don't have to worry about much.

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So, any help, suggestions, criticisms would be great. I do intend to keep Time Warner and just switch to a CableCARD from the stupid whole-house DVR setup I have now.

Well, do you have any ideas on hardware already? There are way too many choices out there, so if you already have something in mind we can critique it before you buy.

Do you have any biases? Are you anti-AMD or Intel, or Nvidia, etc?
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post #3 of 8 Old 01-29-2013, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's what I've spec'd out so far on NewEgg:

Case: hec Black 0.7mm Thickness SECC Steel 7K09BBA30FNRX Micro ATX Media Center 300W Power Supply / HTPC Case - $59
MoBo: ASUS M5A78L-M/USB3 AM3+ AMD 760G HDMI USB 3.0 uATX AMD Motherboard - $75
CPU: AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor FD4100WMGUSBX - $104
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1 - $49
HardDrive: Western Digital Red WD20EFRX 2TB - $125
Tuner: Ceton internal/Extender: Ceton Echo - $328 combo

Total: $741

I'm not married to any of this stuff, or particular brands.
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-29-2013, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Puwaha View Post


While 100Mb/s ethernet is "good enough" to barely adequate depending on who you ask, its tough to find a motherboard that doesn't come with gigabit ethernet these days, so go with that and you don't have to worry about much.

My current router is only 10/100.
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post #5 of 8 Old 01-29-2013, 07:51 PM
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Here's a similar MAtx case for nearly $15 less. I got one and it's a pretty nice case. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147098 It is a little bigger though.
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-29-2013, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Cool, good suggestion.
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-29-2013, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradg33 View Post

Here's what I've spec'd out so far on NewEgg:

MoBo: ASUS M5A78L-M/USB3 AM3+ AMD 760G HDMI USB 3.0 uATX AMD Motherboard - $75
CPU: AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor FD4100WMGUSBX - $104

It's hard to ignore the Trinity lineup from AMD... good performance (for HTPC, and light gaming), good prices, and mobo features, and a pretty good GPU to boot. But there's nothing wrong with your selection.

Quote:
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1 - $49

Any particular reason you need more than 4GB?

Quote:
HardDrive: Western Digital Red WD20EFRX 2TB - $125

The Seagate 7200RPM 2TB drives are almost $20 cheaper.

Quote:
Tuner: Ceton internal/Extender: Ceton Echo - $328 combo

I can't comment on these, I don't have either. I have a couple of Silicon Dust HDHomerun Primes, and an old Logitech extender, and an Xbox 360 running as an extender. Both extenders work great from my virtual machine with only 2GB of memory.
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-30-2013, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
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What speed should I be looking at in the Trinity lineup?
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