Converting my PC to a HTPC. Need some advice please - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 08:22 AM - Thread Starter
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So I have caught the home theater bug. I just purchased a projector and an A/V Receiver to get my home theater setup going. I want this to be my all-in-one system. I want to be able to connect my PC to this setup and use the projector as my monitor at times to play UV movies or just browse the internet, as well as my home theater speakers to play my .mp3's straight from my computer.

I am new to this world so I am wondering what I need to convert my current PC into this type of device. More specifically, what connections will I need to make between the PC and A/V Receiver? Do I need a video card that has HDMI out? Or, since I am looking to get a new motherboard and RAM anyways to fix the problems my PC is having, look for a motherboard specifically with onboard HDMI built in and will that take care of everything I need? Can it really be that simple?

Obviously I will need some decent storage for my music, movies, and games but other than this are there any other requirement you experts might know that I need that I may not?

Thank you for your help in advance!

Here's my setup at the moment:

BenQ w1070 DLP projector

Yamaha RX-V473 A/V Receiver (4 HDMI inputs)

My PC:
AMD Phenom II x4 945 (3.0 Ghz)
Geforce 8800GTS 640Mb
Getting a new motherboard
And getting new RAM
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post #2 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 08:28 AM
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Start here:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1302559/assassins-simple-beginner-htpc-buying-guide


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post #3 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the link! It looks like I should just invest in a motherboard that has onboard HDMI. Audio and video will run out to my Receiver then correct?
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post #4 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 09:33 AM
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Yup. And the CPU will handle HD audio and video (given the right MB/CPU combo). No problem.


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post #5 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
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OK so I have another question then. If I get a mobo with decent onboard graphics that can handle a 1080p movie via HDMI, how can I set it up to where I can play games on my PC using the projector as a screen? Most games are not available in 1920x1080 res. nor could my computer handle a game running at that resolution anyway. I would still need my graphics card to be handling the load so would I need to hook a cable directly from that graphics card to the receiver also? Then how would I get the audio from that game? Is this a possibility?
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post #6 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FifteenElbows View Post

Thanks for the link! It looks like I should just invest in a motherboard that has onboard HDMI. Audio and video will run out to my Receiver then correct?
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Originally Posted by LastButNotLeast View Post

Yup. And the CPU will handle HD audio and video (given the right MB/CPU combo). No problem.
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Originally Posted by FifteenElbows View Post

OK so I have another question then. If I get a mobo with decent onboard graphics that can handle a 1080p movie via HDMI, how can I set it up to where I can play games on my PC using the projector as a screen? Most games are not available in 1920x1080 res. nor could my computer handle a game running at that resolution anyway. I would still need my graphics card to be handling the load so would I need to hook a cable directly from that graphics card to the receiver also? Then how would I get the audio from that game? Is this a possibility?

Problems might arise depending upon the software you choose to use for playback if you take the on-board GPU route. For example, I recently upgraded one of my HTPCs with an AMD 7750 graphics card because the Intel i3-2100 (w/HD2000 graphics) did not play 1:1 Blu-ray rips well with XBMC. It's a known issue with Intel's implementation of DXVA (and XBMC's use of it). Now that PC has flawless playback of all media types and it can play games really well at full 1080p.

It's worth setting aside some money and getting a quality graphics card from the start. If you want to game, I'd recommend at least a 7750 from AMD or a GTX 650 from NVIDIA. cool.gif

EDIT: If you get a dedicated graphics card, you will connect HDMI from the graphics card to the receiver. All video and audio for media and games will come out through that.
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post #7 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 10:07 AM
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HTPC.

Game machine.

Two DIFFERENT goals.

Now you've got problems!

Work your way through Assassin's stuff. The paid guides are great, but still don't cover gaming, which is NOT the roll of an HTPC.


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post #8 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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I understand. I guess Im trying to have a sort of all-in-one machine which might not be the best idea...
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It's worth setting aside some money and getting a quality graphics card from the start. If you want to game, I'd recommend at least a 7750 from AMD or a GTX 650 from NVIDIA. cool.gif

EDIT: If you get a dedicated graphics card, you will connect HDMI from the graphics card to the receiver. All video and audio for media and games will come out through that.

The thing is, I already have a dedicated graphics card that still can handle pretty intense games and such, but it's old enough that it doesn't have an HDMI output. I wasn't planning on replacing this since I spent ~$350 on it when I bought it (4 years ago?)
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post #9 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 10:26 AM
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I would get a modern GPU with hdmi output.

I don't believe there are any integrated graphics that will allow hd audio in your case. If you were looking at buying a new cpu then your options would open up but you are probably better off getting a new gpu instead.
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post #10 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by LastButNotLeast View Post

HTPC.
Game machine.
Two DIFFERENT goals.
Now you've got problems!
Work your way through Assassin's stuff. The paid guides are great, but still don't cover gaming, which is NOT the roll of an HTPC.

There is a portion of these forums dedicated to htpc gaming. No, they are not 2 different goals.

http://www.avsforum.com/f/145/htpc-gaming

Please re-post in here FifteenElbows. The answer is that you need a new gpu. Luckily you can get one more powerful than what you currently have for a little over $100.
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post #11 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 10:39 AM
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The difference between a gaming machine and an HTPC doesn't necessarily amount to much more than the video card. Get a Radeon 7770 and you'll be in good shape for both and better off than with the 8800 for either. If you're determined to still use the 8800 you probably can, either using VGA or DVI and analog audio, but it will be hot and power hungry on top of the sub-optimal connection. There's nothing stopping you from trying it out before committing to a newer card but if you want to game anything integrated on the cpu/mobo isn't going to cut it.
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post #12 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 10:42 AM
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High-end Trinity setups are close with gaming at 1080p. The next generation might do it.
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post #13 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 12:02 PM
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FifteenElbows, is there a problem with your current computer (broken/hot/loud)? The Phenom II X4 is still a very capable processor for gaming if you pair it will a more powerful graphics card. Depending upon the game, a 7750 ($90), 7770 ($120), GTX 650 ($100), or GTX 650 Ti ($130) will be twice as fast as your 8800 GTS, allow for full HD video and audio output over HDMI and run cooler and use less power. Then later if you decide to upgrade the CPU, motherboard, and RAM, you can carry the graphics card forward. Just a thought - to get you closer to your goal without spending as much.
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post #14 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
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FifteenElbows, is there a problem with your current computer (broken/hot/loud)? The Phenom II X4 is still a very capable processor for gaming if you pair it will a more powerful graphics card. Depending upon the game, a 7750 ($90), 7770 ($120), GTX 650 ($100), or GTX 650 Ti ($130) will be twice as fast as your 8800 GTS, allow for full HD video and audio output over HDMI and run cooler and use less power. Then later if you decide to upgrade the CPU, motherboard, and RAM, you can carry the graphics card forward. Just a thought - to get you closer to your goal without spending as much.

Hey thanks! The problem is that my motherboard is in need of being replaced, therefore my RAM as well. I guess I could upgrade the graphics card too while Im at it but was hoping to avoid that.

The other thing is that I have an old computer that still runs great but Im talking like an AMD Athlon 3200+ So I think I would have to start from scratch with that PC to get it up to a HTPC level. Do you think its worth having two separate PCs if I could just have one?
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post #15 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 01:09 PM
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Hey thanks! The problem is that my motherboard is in need of being replaced, therefore my RAM as well. I guess I could upgrade the graphics card too while Im at it but was hoping to avoid that.

The other thing is that I have an old computer that still runs great but Im talking like an AMD Athlon 3200+ So I think I would have to start from scratch with that PC to get it up to a HTPC level.

Get a dvi to hdmi adapter and buy a motherboard with spdif output. This will cover all audio except for blu-ray which you will have to use DTS instead. This isn't as bad as it sounds. Later on when you have some money buy a new video card.
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post #16 of 25 Old 02-11-2013, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
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So I guess putting it all in one PC is not out of the question. And for $150-$200 why not get it all right?
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post #17 of 25 Old 02-12-2013, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Does Mini HDMI affect performance at all or is it identical to HDMI except that I need a different cable?
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post #18 of 25 Old 02-12-2013, 03:05 PM
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Does Mini HDMI affect performance at all or is it identical to HDMI except that I need a different cable?

Same spec, just a smaller connector.
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post #19 of 25 Old 02-13-2013, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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So this is the video card I was thinking about getting to run my HTPC/Gaming rig... It has a $20 rebate so I would get it for $145. Anybody have any suggestions or does this card seem like a good bet?

http://www.amazon.com/ASUSHigh-Performance-Graphics-Cards-GTX650TI-DC2O-1GD5/dp/B009KXWYH0/ref=lh_di_t_dup?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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post #20 of 25 Old 02-13-2013, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
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I would get a modern GPU with hdmi output.

I don't believe there are any integrated graphics that will allow hd audio in your case. If you were looking at buying a new cpu then your options would open up but you are probably better off getting a new gpu instead.

Yup, I always replace cpu, mobo, ram at the same time. It doesn't make sense for you to get a new mobo, just get the graphics card.
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post #21 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 03:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FifteenElbows View Post

So this is the video card I was thinking about getting to run my HTPC/Gaming rig... It has a $20 rebate so I would get it for $145. Anybody have any suggestions or does this card seem like a good bet?

http://www.amazon.com/ASUSHigh-Performance-Graphics-Cards-GTX650TI-DC2O-1GD5/dp/B009KXWYH0/ref=lh_di_t_dup?ie=UTF8&psc=1

You can the 650 Ti much cheaper elsewhere. This one is $120 after rebate and comes with a $75 coupon for some games.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814162127
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post #22 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Yup, I always replace cpu, mobo, ram at the same time. It doesn't make sense for you to get a new mobo, just get the graphics card.

The only thing is, in this case I need to replace my mobo since it's broken so I dont really have the choice. :/
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You can the 650 Ti much cheaper elsewhere. This one is $120 after rebate and comes with a $75 coupon for some games.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814162127

Yea I know but I was kinda leaning towards the card that included the Direct CU II fan from Asus cause I heard it's really quiet and cools really well... Maybe I don't need that idk.
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post #23 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 10:56 AM - Thread Starter
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As far as motherboards, is there a certain chipset to target or avoid that would benefit me in my HTPC/gaming adventure? I have to stick with an AM3/3+ board.
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post #24 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 11:48 AM
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As far as motherboards, is there a certain chipset to target or avoid that would benefit me in my HTPC/gaming adventure? I have to stick with an AM3/3+ board.

If overclocking isn't a concern then I would pay more attention to memory slots and expansion slots. Make sure it supports a 125w cpu if your 945 is 125w. I believe the originals were 125w and the later ones were 95w.
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post #25 of 25 Old 02-14-2013, 12:42 PM
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The only thing is, in this case I need to replace my mobo since it's broken so I dont really have the choice. :/

To be honest in your situation I would probably just buy a new cpu, mobo, and ram. After a certain age I just wont put money into a old hardware anymore. Buying a new $40 graphics card is one thing but buying a new mobo and a new graphics card, I don't think its worth it.
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