Can I use this for a starter HTPC? - AVS Forum
Home Theater Computers > Can I use this for a starter HTPC?
smac1221's Avatar smac1221 08:58 PM 02-01-2013
I would like to build a HTPC for my Home Office, to record Sports events on and listen to Music. No games, no Blue Ray, no Ripping. It would be nice to output to a older Sony Stereo Receiver I have laying around too. With HDTV recordings on my Comcast DVR I only get about 16 hours before it gets full, I think it is 120 GB HD. I also have an external 1.5T HD I use for back ups that I could use for storage with this HTPC.

I am interested in installing a TV Tuner Card and utilizing the HD. I would like to connect to TV using HDMI and have an older Compacq Presario SR1720NX that is currently acting as a paper weight! Can that be upgraded and be utilized in any fashion or would I be better off starting from scratch?

Yes I have a budget. I would like to keep it under $200 since that would be close to half way to building a low end starter HTPC from scratch...correct?

This project is two fold. One is to get media into the Office, I do have networking in the office via Ethernet and two to learn from so that I can build a Higher End HTPC to be networked to Family Room, Living Room and Bed Rooms at a later date.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Puwaha's Avatar Puwaha 02:31 AM 02-02-2013
Hmmm... Well, you can certainly try. HTPCs have been around for a long time... even before the circa 2005 machine you are wanting to use. The only difference is the performance expectations are higher now.

Are you connecting this computer to a TV? If your TV doesn't have VGA as an input, you'll need a cheapo video card. I don't know... $30?

I'm assuming you are wanting to record cable TV, right? That will require a cable card tuner. You have basically two options... either the USB version of the Ceton InfiniTV4 tuner, or the Silicon Dust HDHomerun Prime. You would not be able to use the Internal/PCIe version of the InfiniTV4... you only have one PCIe slot and that will be taken up by a video card. The cable Card tuners themselves will take up around 3/4 of your budget. If you get a USB tuner, you will need to find a PCI card that will give you USB 2.0 ports. I don't believe your system has USB 2.0. That's probably another $10-20.

Now, to record cable card you will need Windows 7, or a special version of Windows Vista. That's a few bucks more... Upgrade version from XP (I'm assuming your Compaq has XP on it now) might be $50?

In order to install Windows 7, you'll need a minimum of 1GB of RAM installed. Once it's installed, it will run on just 512MB. How much does your Compaq have?

I commend you for wanting to tinker and learn, but some of the money required to get this thing going is a waste. You can use the $200 and get a cheapo Sempron/Llano/Trinity/Celeron/Pentium based system for that. You can reuse the case (maybe... Compaqs used to be weird and proprietary) and hard drive from the Compaq, but you could easily get a CPU/Mobo/RAM for $200.

Check out some of the threads here. People ask about cheap builds every single day.
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