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post #1 of 15 Old 02-14-2013, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

This may be a unique desire. I want to build a gaming PC to replace my xbox and ps3 but I would like the computer to also replace my DVR (currently a scientific atlanta bestowed upon me by TWC).

My plan, so far, is this:

ASrock Mobo
Core i5 3470
Evga 660ti
Ceton cable card tuner
1tb internal HDD
128 gb SSD
Windows 8

Here are my questions:

1. Are the components I selected good?
2. What DVR software should i use? The ceton media softare? MS media center? XBMC? I want live and recorded tv with a guide, obviously.
3. Will this set up draw less power when I'm not gaming and then ramp up when needed?
4. Is it possilbe for the computer to be in a "sleep" or low power mode (hibernate?) when not in use and then still come on when it needs to record a show?

Thank you! I haven't built an HTPC since the windows XP days and I could never ever get it working dependably. Sleep/standy/hibernate was always a mess and unless I kept the computer fully up and running 24/7 it missed shows. It also seemed to draw full power the whole time.

Thank you VERY VERY much for your help guys.

I know I haven't been around in a long time, so I haven't contributed much to the community, but I go back on AVS a long time. smile.gif
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post #2 of 15 Old 02-14-2013, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess I should say that the most important questions are 2 and 4...

What DVR software should I be using and will the lower power modes work?

Thanks again.
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post #3 of 15 Old 02-14-2013, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrantMeThePower View Post

1. Are the components I selected good
I think they are good. One note economically the i5 isn't cheap, but if you can get one from microcenter (in store pickup) you can get a z77 mobo / i5-3570k for about $200 total which is a great deal. The HTPC gaming forum here is a great place to get a real world feel for how much benefit you'll see with an i5 and that particular graphics card. I'm not really up on such things
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2. What DVR software should i use? The ceton media softare? MS media center? XBMC? I want live and recorded tv with a guide, obviously
TWC means copy-once. You'll need to use WMC, because nothing else will even play your content. It's an extra $10 with Windows 8, it's free with Windows 7 (functionality is the same in both). Also, I like the HD Homerun Prime since it's a network tuner and usually can be found for $130. Ceton has great CS and a lot of users here as well, but if you're looking to power down the system often it won't be able to share tuners at that time (unless you plan to host it from WHS instead)

Some older dx10 games have been seen in bug reports over in the technet forums. According to the MS upgrade assistant, they are compatible. Lot's of users say they don't work. I haven't had time to test any of them out, but I fall into this category with some of my unfinished games (Crysis 1/2, mirror's edge)
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3. Will this set up draw less power when I'm not gaming and then ramp up when needed?
The cheapest z77 (if you're going with the really great microcenter deal) is usually Asrock Pro4. This board supports Lucid Virtu, which does exactly what you described at a very low fps consequence. You'd set it up to work in integrated mode and performance is typically only 2-3% less than running a game from a standard graphics card setup. Outside of your games, it idles the gpu and uses integrated (HD2500 or HD4000) which are both plenty capable of standard and HD video playback in WMC

Idle power usage for dedicated graphics cards is not insignificant, but it's a small price to pay for the flexibility it offers. (An extra 20W during wake, negligible during sleep)
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4. Is it possilbe for the computer to be in a "sleep" or low power mode (hibernate?) when not in use and then still come on when it needs to record a show?
Sleep (Hibernate is disabled when you install Windows to a SSD)
Yes, WMCs recording service will wake for scheduled recordings and resume sleep afterwards
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post #4 of 15 Old 02-14-2013, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you SO much for your reply...it was really great. I appreciate it so much.

I understood everything you said except for the following:
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You'll need to use WMC, because nothing else will even play your content.

Also, I like the HD Homerun Prime since it's a network tuner and usually can be found for $130. Ceton has great CS and a lot of users here as well, but if you're looking to power down the system often it won't be able to share tuners at that time (unless you plan to host it from WHS instead)

1. Only WMC will play the content? I don't know what the copy once thing means...at least it makes my decision easy!

2. I do not understand the advantages to the HD Homerun Prime aside from the price. Specifically, I do not understand "network tuner" and sharing tuners. I"m sorry for my ignorance. I'll try to look up the info, but if you could explain that choice to me I'd really appreciate it.

This will be the only PC in the house (the other computer is a iMac and an iPad).
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post #5 of 15 Old 02-15-2013, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrantMeThePower View Post

I understood everything you said except for the following:
1. Only WMC will play the content? I don't know what the copy once thing means...at least it makes my decision easy!

2. I do not understand the advantages to the HD Homerun Prime aside from the price. Specifically, I do not understand "network tuner" and sharing tuners. I"m sorry for my ignorance. I'll try to look up the info, but if you could explain that choice to me I'd really appreciate it.

This will be the only PC in the house (the other computer is a iMac and an iPad).

No problem, searching doesn't help without the right terminology
  • A lot of the "copy" information isn't extremely current, but cable providers don't change too often
  • Copy-Freely, Copy-Once, and Copy-Never (0x00, 0x02, and 0x03) are CCI bits which is a Digital Cable recording protection scheme called Copy Control Information
  • This Master List from Missingremote is a pretty good reference for how your cable provider typically flags your content
  • I use Comcast, and since everything I subscribe to is 0x00 I can watch my subscription in MythTV, NPVR, 4theRecord, Mediaportal, WMC
  • Accordingly, TWC appears to mark everything copy-once. This currently requires an approved DRM mechanism to be present for playback and recording to work. There is only one such mechanism currently available which requires WMC. By the summer time, Silicondust may have provided a way to stream these to DLNA devices that support DTCP-IP, but there is no word as to how much control you will have over guide listings and recording scheduling or anything at all. Really, in this world, most products that are announced, and scheduled to arrive in a specific quarter actaully arrive 2Q afterwards anyway
  • Based on your plans to watch tv on a single computer in the house, and the fact that your limited to Time Warner the InfiniTV makes more sense anyway. You'll get 4 tuners per Cablecard instead of the 3 you'd get with the Prime. I have a lot more flexibility with tuners and can tune live tv on my 2 HTPCs, wife's laptop, and my Nexus 7
  • What I described for me would be a little more complicated without the prime, but for your usage the infinitv makes more sense. Plus Ceton has great support
  • With Ceton's infinitv you'll get 4 tuners attached to your HTPC. Just FYI, they allow you to statically "bridge" them to other computers, so in essence you can still share those tuners with other computers but they are not dynamically assigned from a pool (easier for me). This is only for reference, because you plan on using only 1 HTPC and have not intention of sharing tuners.
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post #6 of 15 Old 02-15-2013, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Wow...you are the man. I'd love to buy you a beer! haha. Thank you so much for your help.

I'll take a closer look a the hd homerun prime before buying the tuner. 3 vs 4 tuners doesn't make much of a difference to me (I can't think of a time I've ever wanted to watch/record 4 shows at once) but the greater flexibility for the future sounds good from what you've described in case I do ever want to do something like a SFF in the bedroom or something like that.

EDIT-I just checked out the link you gave for the master list and I see the "SDV" referenced. How does that work with the HTPC? Does it affect which tuner I would buy?
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post #7 of 15 Old 02-15-2013, 10:52 AM
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Wow...you are the man. I'd love to buy you a beer! haha

Nah no worries, but if feeling generous I think $4 will get you a hardware buying guide from a well respected user here. I don't know if his new one is out yet http://www.avsforum.com/t/940972/guide-to-building-a-htpc-workstation-and-server/18800_50#post_22764385
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I just checked out the link you gave for the master list and I see the "SDV" referenced. How does that work with the HTPC? Does it affect which tuner I would buy?

SDV is switched digital video, and I believe that it does affect you on TWC. It may not be all markets. For example, there were reports that Comcast had tested SDV in Atlanta, but a user here living in Atlanta said they no longer use it. Point being it's easiest explained when you pickup a cablecard from your local office. (Or get mailed one if they allow self-install) When ordering your new subscription, you'll need to explain that you own your own cablecard equipment and simply need to lease a card from them. Then ask if a Tuning Adapter is required. If they require tuning adapters, then you are in a SDV market. If not required, the cable from the outlet in your house screws right on to either tuner.

Both the prime and the infinitv tuners support tuning adapters if required


Also, networked tuners aren't required for the future if you choose to go with extenders. An XBOX or Ceton Echo can extend WMCs functionality to another location, including Copy-once recordings and live tv. In fact, this is the only way to easily share those recordings with other TVs. There only pitfall has been support for full blu ray rips and HD audio. For a whole home DVR, they work fine and support 720p with dolby digital (which I believe is the highest quality video and audio you'll see from TWC, but I cannot confirm this)
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post #8 of 15 Old 02-16-2013, 03:33 AM
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An i5 is recommended for a gaming PC, I wouldn't drop down to an i3. The i5-3450 is sufficient and slightly cheaper than the 3550. You wouldn't notice much of a difference going up to a 3550. A 3550k will allow you to overclock the CPU so if you don't intend to do that then there is no need to get a k cover the standard version.

The 660Ti is a solid card for gaming at 1080P. Have a look at the Asus DirectCU II or Gigabyte WF2. They have quieter coolers than the reference cards like the evga, and keep the GPU temps lower. Lower temps also mean lower power consumption.

IMHO I wouldn't bother with Lucidlogix Virtu MVP. It's been very buggy with it working for some people and not for others. Reviews I've seen show no real power saving benefits. Version 2 has just been released but you now have to pay for it. Biggest benefit of Virtu MVP is vsync, but the 660Ti has adaptive vsync which works very well.

If you're not going to overclock or use Virtu MVP you could get away with a H77 rather than Z77 chipset. Something like the Gigabyte GA-H77M-D3H or ASUS P8H77-M PRO would suffice.

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post #9 of 15 Old 02-16-2013, 08:37 AM
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Your speaking from a new egg directron pricing experience

In a micro center store you can take your pick of asrock, MSI, or gigabyte z77 boards for $45 if you purchase them with the $190 3570k

Not about overclocking, just a great deal for those of us who have a microcenter nearby

It used to be twenty cheaper for the i5 up until a month ago making it unbeatable. You might find a h77 3450 combo for less than $235 total, but probably the same price or higher. For the same price wouldn't you go with the z/k combo?
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post #10 of 15 Old 02-16-2013, 10:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Unfortunately I don't have a micro center near me.

I found a Z77 board on new egg that had a free 8 gb of RAM for free promo. This board seemed to have everything except thunderbolt ports (which I don't really need) and was pretty highly rated.

That is a bit of a bummer, though, that the adaptive graphics system (the Virtu system) doesn't work well. That sounded pretty ideal.

Dark_Slayer-the more I've been thinking about it the more i like the idea of the HD Homerun Prime. I like that it doesn't need to go into the PC case and that it can be accessed from other computers (I never know what I will want to play with later) and I like that it is about 50 bucks cheaper.

Kesawi- Is the 660ti worth the premium over the regular 660? I've seen such highly rated reviews for the evga versions of the cards, but I will certainly look at the ones you mentioned. It would be really nice to have a quieter solution for sure.

Thanks again, guys!
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post #11 of 15 Old 02-16-2013, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Doing a bit of reading it sounds like people think that the 7950 is a better card and a better buy than the 660ti.

What do you guys think?
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post #12 of 15 Old 02-16-2013, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Your speaking from a new egg directron pricing experience

In a micro center store you can take your pick of asrock, MSI, or gigabyte z77 boards for $45 if you purchase them with the $190 3570k

Not about overclocking, just a great deal for those of us who have a microcenter nearby

It used to be twenty cheaper for the i5 up until a month ago making it unbeatable. You might find a h77 3450 combo for less than $235 total, but probably the same price or higher. For the same price wouldn't you go with the z/k combo?
Definitely agree with you, if the OP can find a good i5-3570k/z77 combo that's cheaper then go for it.
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Kesawi- Is the 660ti worth the premium over the regular 660? I've seen such highly rated reviews for the evga versions of the cards, but I will certainly look at the ones you mentioned. It would be really nice to have a quieter solution for sure.
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Doing a bit of reading it sounds like people think that the 7950 is a better card and a better buy than the 660ti.

The GTX660 is approximately 80-100% the speed of the GTX660Ti depending which particular game you are playing. To be honest, if you turn down some of the eye candy that doesn't really matter when running the GTX660 you would probably not notice the difference. The HD7950 is either faster or slower than the 660Ti, again depending on the particular title. Either will be good enough and the general consensus amongst the various forums and reviews the 7950 just seems to nudge out the 660Ti in terms of performance. It's hard to get a clear answer sometimes as there is a lot of bias depending on whether the particular person sits in the red or green camp. Either card will more than meet your requirements for gaming (sorry if that seems a little too non committal biggrin.gif). As you will also be using the computer as a HTPC the primary consideration between 7950 vs 660Ti should be around which performs better in that role, and for that I think it is best left to one of the resident experts who has experience with both of them in that role.

There are some good comparisons and reviews at the following sites which are worth reading and include GTX660, GTX660Ti and HD7950:
A good round-up of a number of 660Ti cards is at:
One EVGA card I did miss was the EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti FTW Signature 2. Unlike the other EVGA cards it has a non-reference cooler and better noise and thermal performance and there are a few good reviews of it.
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post #13 of 15 Old 03-29-2013, 11:48 AM
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I recently built a computer very similar to the one you described.

i7 3770, big after market cooler
MSI z77 mobo
evga 660ti 3gig (not the FTW model)
nzxt tower, you will need room to cool graphics and ceton card, and they have good cable management and decent stock fans
windows 8 (i got standard, you will probably want Pro, see below)
16 gigs of low latency ddr 1600 ram
one samsung 840 ssd 128 gig hdd (this or OCZ best ssd's)
one WD Black 1TB hdd
wireless nic
rosewill remote
corsair silent pro 850W power full modular

1 - This build cost me about $1100, I would go with an MSI over ASRock. The ASRock I installed recently had a strangely placed mount hole on the corner, leaving the top part of the board floating until I stop being lazy and drill a hole. Also the ASRock website is a mess, especially the drivers page. Still not sure if I should have pushed the budget and put in a 670 or 680, but the 660ti runs Skyrim at max flawlessly.

2 If you are going to use WMC, buy Windows 8 Pro for $149. Then you will be able to add WMC for $9. If you buy Windows 8 standard, you cant use WMC, and it costs $99 to upgrade via the Windows 'store'. I did it this idiotic way because I was too impatient to go to order another copy.
2a The Ceton software is not supported in Win8, and the drivers are Beta. I have HD and SDV working, but having some trouble keeping it paired with the Smart Card. Have a tuning adapter connected via USB which unlocks HBO and a bunch of other channels that BrightHouse elected to put on SDV for no good reason.
2b MythTV is considered one of the best playback/record softwares out there, and there is a Windows build, but not for the faint of heart. You have to compile the build yourself, but it does work. Also it is free.

3 With a good power supply, it will manage power well. A good motherboard with enough fan controllers will adjust fans properly.

Other Thoughts:
-Wish I had gone with windows 7, because the Home Premium version (and higher versions) include WMC. Also the Ceton software is supported in 7, the drivers arent beta, and network bridging is supported. But the wife loves 8 now, and there is no going back....

-The ceton card runs hot. Get lots of fans, quiet ones if you are picky about fan noise.

-Good luck with the cable company, you will need the smart card for unlocking most of the channels, and probably a tuning adapter (a powered device that connects via usb and pairs with the ceton card). They won't know what you are talking about when you call. You put your coax on a splitter, one coax goes directly to your Ceton, the other coax goes to the tuning adapter, which then connects to your pc via usb. If you are lucky they will let you pick up the hardware, install it yourself and just call their NOC to have it paired.
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post #14 of 15 Old 03-29-2013, 02:09 PM
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http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161417

You might consider going with the highest card you can get and still be passively cooled. A lot of video cards can get really loud, not ideal for watching tv and movies.
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post #15 of 15 Old 03-29-2013, 02:13 PM
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2 If you are going to use WMC, buy Windows 8 Pro for $149. Then you will be able to add WMC for $9. If you buy Windows 8 standard, you cant use WMC, and it costs $99 to upgrade via the Windows 'store'. I did it this idiotic way because I was too impatient to go to order another copy.

Ouch $160, just another reason to stick with win 7.
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