Dumping DirecTV / Building HTPC / Sanity Check - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey all,

Now that my DirecTV bill has hit over $80 a month, I figure it's time to dump it for good and invest that monthly payment into a HTPC. So, I have thrown together a cheap build as listed below. My main interests/uses in a HTPC:

1 - Use XBMC to stream my raw .MKV Blu-Ray rips via HDMI (Full 1080p/Lossless HD audio)

2 - Use it to record/watch free OTA HDTV (?)

3 - Rig it to play Netflix (XBMC plugin?)

4 - Misc photos/music via XBMC

5 - Possibility to play Blu-Ray rips with menus


Would the below build work great? Is there a better device/way to do what I need? Perhaps the new Western Digital Play? My Sony S590 Blu-Ray player actually works great for everything except I can't do the full lossless .MKV files or Blu-Ray rip menus -- ARGH! Any advice is very appreciated.


TV: Panasonic Plasma 60" TC-P60ST30
Receiver: Pioneer SC-1222-K
Blu-Ray: Sony BDP-S590
Speakers: MK Sound M-7 / M4-T
Sub: MK Sound SB-12
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post #2 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 08:02 AM
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What tuner card will you use to record OTA ?



Superbiz has better CPU cheaper.
http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=G645BOX

Might be better choice.^



Check out 6450 Radeon for cheaper.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121439 $29




H61 Asrock is a nice board but H61 is a bit older. Can you do a PRO3 75 or 77 ? ($69)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157314

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post #3 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 08:10 AM - Thread Starter
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I haven't looked at tuner cards in years. Any small form factor ones for cheap? Thanks for CPU option. On the Radeon 6450, the reason I was opted for the GT610 is it's cheap and it does full HDMI and HD bitstreaming.

Thanks for mobo selection.

Also, any input on if HTPC is the way to go for my needs or can I buy a more compact device to accomplish what I need?

TV: Panasonic Plasma 60" TC-P60ST30
Receiver: Pioneer SC-1222-K
Blu-Ray: Sony BDP-S590
Speakers: MK Sound M-7 / M4-T
Sub: MK Sound SB-12
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post #4 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Hmmm.. looks like this is EXACTLY what I need..


http://www.xtreamer.net/xtreamer-prodigy-black.aspx

TV: Panasonic Plasma 60" TC-P60ST30
Receiver: Pioneer SC-1222-K
Blu-Ray: Sony BDP-S590
Speakers: MK Sound M-7 / M4-T
Sub: MK Sound SB-12
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post #5 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dborgill View Post

Hmmm.. looks like this is EXACTLY what I need..


http://www.xtreamer.net/xtreamer-prodigy-black.aspx

That has a DVB-T tuner. You profile location says you are in Utah, which means you need an ATSC tuner for OTA broadcasts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVB-T#Countries_and_territories_using_DVB-T

If you want an external tuner then this one may be to your liking.

http://www.silicondust.com/products/hdhomerun/atsc/
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post #6 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 09:43 AM
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The Radeon will bitstream HD audio too.

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post #7 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 10:31 AM
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Isn't a radeon better for graphical purposes?
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post #8 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 10:45 AM
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I'm not sure Radeon vs Nvidia is a worthwhile debate these days. Technically they both do a fine job. Your splitting hairs.
Since we are talking about low end cards for $30 I am not sure the accuracy matters much.

Technically speaking- Yes Radeon is more accurate for video playback.

But personally my HTPC has integrated Intel graphics so who am I to say tongue.gif

OP- You can probably skip the video card if your motherboard has HDMI out.
That CPU is a newer CPU with a pretty good video GPU considering it's low price.

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post #9 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 11:04 AM
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The IGP in the Intel Pentium G630 will bitstream HD audio as well. You just need a motherboard with HDMI. The ASRock H61m-DGS does not have HDMI. The ASRock B75 PRO3 that Mfusick posted does. But it's also $32 more expensive (when you include shipping) and ATX. So it wouldn't fit in the OP's enclosure.

This ASRock H77M micro-ATX board has HDMI;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157303
And it's $20 more then the H61m-DGS (when you include shipping).

With ASRock H77M you wouldn't need a discrete graphics card unless you also want MadVR or 3D BluRay.

One thing that the OP didn't mention is if he was planning on using Windows or Linux for XBMC. If Linux, I would use the NVidia card. Of course Linux doesn't support Netflix that I know of.

Edit: Edited because I noticed that the ASRock B75 PRO3 was an ATX form factor.
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post #10 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 11:05 AM
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I believe he can bitstream HD audio via HDMI just using the G630T CPU, IIRC. He doesn't need the standalone graphics card. He could also get a newer Pentium for about the same price. If there's a MicroCenter nearby they have some great bundled deals on CPUs and motherboards. For example, he could get a CORE i3 3225 CPU for $119 and an ASRock H61 M-HVS 11155 microATX board for free with the bundled savings. He'd get the HD4000 GPU for better graphics and a more powerful CPU for less than the cost of the Pentium CPU and ASRock motherboard he listed. For about the same price or slightly more than his original bundle with the graphics card he could get an even better motherboard like an ASRock Z77 Pro3.
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post #11 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 11:38 AM
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If you haven't ordered your part, don't leave AMD out of the picture. The new AMD Trinity's are a blast. They are base on Radium 7000 graphics. The AMD A8-5500 will handle anything including playblack of Blur.ay 3D

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post #12 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 12:15 PM
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I second the AMD APU route having built 6 systems using them (both Llano and Trinity) over the past 18 months. Our main HTPC has an A10-5700/Asus F2A85-M/CSM core, our master bedroom HTPC has a A4-5300/Biostar/TA75MH2, spare bedroom has a A6-3500/Biostar TA75M, wife's office PC has A8-3850/Biostar A75-MH and two systems for the grandkids based on A4-3400/Biostar A75-MH (but I put HD6770 cards in those cause they game a bit more).

The main HTPC with the A10 outputs to our plasma TV. The two bedroom setups run into 32" Toshiba LCDs. We have OTA TV (2 antennas up in the attic, put in 2 years ago, we save over $100/mo now w/o cable TV), all our music, TV shows and movies are on a Synology NAS w/two 2Tb WD Red drives. Wife's and my PC have TV tuner cards in them too. We run Win 7. Win 7's MediaCenter handles live TV fine and it will do DVR as well.

But I can also second the "if you're near a MicroCenter" option. I got a great deal on my i5-3570k/ASRock Z77 Pro 4 last summer and a great deal on a i3-3225/ASRock Pro4-M (mATX) core I used for a system I built for my brother for Xmas.

Great site. Just heard about it on The Tech Guy podcast as Scott Wilkinson mentioned he's an editor here now.

Sam
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post #13 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks all for your detailed responses. I haven't ordered anything yet so no worries there. The more I look at all the options out there, the more I get confused. I'd like to spend the least amount possible as the main feature I want is to rip my DVDs and Blu-Rays in full, uncompressed quality.

Here are a few follow ups:

1 - I was planning on just using Windows XP and XBMC if I build from scratch. I have an old piece of junk HP with XP on it that I was testing XBMC Frodo with that streams Blu-Ray rips just fine but it has no HDMI out and it's a bit unsightly for a slim HTPC.

2 - So which Intel/AMD CPUs can bitstream HD audio if the mobo has HDMI out?

3 - I have used both AMD and NVIDIA over the years but I like NVIDIA's drivers/stability in my main gaming PC (GTX 680 OC) so I looked at NVIDIA GT610 first.

4 - It really has come down to me building my own HTPC or buying an existing device. The Assassins HTPC's look awesome but that is $$$

TV: Panasonic Plasma 60" TC-P60ST30
Receiver: Pioneer SC-1222-K
Blu-Ray: Sony BDP-S590
Speakers: MK Sound M-7 / M4-T
Sub: MK Sound SB-12
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post #14 of 18 Old 02-23-2013, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dborgill View Post

So which Intel/AMD CPUs can bitstream HD audio if the mobo has HDMI out?
Intel - Clarkdale, SandyBridge, & IvyBridge
AMD - Liano and Trinity

There may be others so chime in if my list is in error.
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post #15 of 18 Old 02-24-2013, 01:38 PM
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I have an A6-3500 FM1 in my bedroom... for you I found the egg has a $44 mobo...

 

 

Add in $30 for 2 x 2GB = 4GB RAM and you're ahead of the game cheaper than your pic and including a Rosewill MCE remote control!  Sure, a nicer mobo (Biostar TA75M) may be in order, you haven't addressed OTA tuning (consider a HDHomeRun, or a AVerMedia Duet), or any sizable HDD - they have a 1.5GB for $70 right now. 

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post #16 of 18 Old 02-25-2013, 08:18 PM
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You really need to decide exactly what it will be used for and what your budget to build it is. Strictly TV/PVR/playback of rips ? Are you going to also use it for converting/transcoding/networking/general use ? I echo some in this thread, I built 2 back to back. One AMD with discrete and one sandybridge using IGP, if your not a videophile the intel/amd internal offerings do a great job on the video end, at least on par with a 30$ graphics card, looks great on my 50' plasma via HDMI. The sandybridge/ivybridge will have a bit more processing power. They will also be a bit easier to re-purpose should you update to something newer later on and you can find them fairly cheap. You could get a better mobo/cpu and use the internal graphics for the same as adding the discrete card. I have not tried a AMD APU yet, so I cant comment on its pro's/con's vs SB/IB processors. Either way I think you would be happy, but discrete IMO is useless on a new HTPC build with the IGP offering's and HDMI out of modern mobo's.

I dumped cable probably 2 years ago and haven't looked back. The HTPC payed for itself in 3-4 months. Consider that in your budget.
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post #17 of 18 Old 03-14-2013, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks all for your input -- Just dumped DirecTV.

A few remaining questions:

1 - Can I use XBMC for OTA HD DVR or do I need WMC?

2 - Any good barebones/all in ones on The 'Egg that meets my needs?

3 - I have a Windows XP license-- Any reason why I can't just use that for my XBMC box?

TV: Panasonic Plasma 60" TC-P60ST30
Receiver: Pioneer SC-1222-K
Blu-Ray: Sony BDP-S590
Speakers: MK Sound M-7 / M4-T
Sub: MK Sound SB-12
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post #18 of 18 Old 03-14-2013, 02:14 PM
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I don't "do" XBMC but MediaPortal is a free download and WMC comes with Win 7 Home Premium.  There's a thread where you can get a legit Win 7 for cheap!  Should you ever add cable and a CableCard you may have to use WMC because of DRM issues so having it for cheap may be a real bonus.

 

Personally I like the system I posted although the Foxconn "barebone" systems they run for $50~60 seem like another great option (if you like Intel).

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