So based on the advice here I've decided to just pony up the extra bucks and go all out on a full on HTPC. The core of it will be a Core i7 CPU and a fanless HDPLEX case. I haven't nailed down just which case yet, but it'll either support a 125w TDP cpu allowing me to use the 3770 or 3770k CPU or it'll have a 75w TDP max which means I'll be using the 3770S chip. My main question is, can you glance over the list and let me know how it looks. Mainly I want to use MCE to record off the Ceton and then handbrake or some other "all in one" to transcode into high profile mp4s for archive and play back ability on iPads/AppleTV.
Secondary is to get the best image quality from MadVR. I understand I'll have to give up some image quality ability due to power/heat limits from the fanless case but I still want to get as much out of it as I can.
First, would this selection of kit work well for a quad tuner ceton based DVR and transcoding box (occasional bluray 3D iso playback)
Motherboard - ASRock H77M
CPU - Intel Core i7 3770S
(if I go with a case requiring 75w TDP or less) or Intel Core i7 3770
(possibly K version if it allows use of higher speed DDR3)
Memory - 8Gigs of either G.SKILL DDR3 2133
or 8Gigs of G.SKILL Super Low Volt DDR3 1600
Hard Drive - WD Red 3Tb
(Because of the 24/7 operation design and it's the lowest noise level I can find at 24 dB max, this would be the only moving component and thus only noise)
TV Tuner - Ceton InfiniTV
Internal card (external is an option but I would rather keep everything in one box)
I'm hoping I can get all that powered with a 180 watt fanless PSU and heat needs to be a focus as everything is passively cooled so I can't fit much more kit into the box.Second, and this is really the point that I need help with...
I understand MadVR really stresses memory bandwidth and graphics performance. Can I avoid running a graphics card with this setup and still get pretty good MadVR image quality? If not, I need a fanless graphics card suggestion AND the Ceton needs to move to external (blah). Also, If I got the 2133 DDR3 I would switch to a motherboard that supported that speed, would I also need to switch to the unlocked 3770K cpu so I can run the memory overclocked to 2133 but keep the CPU within like 5 or 10% of stock speeds? Again, heat is a huge issue so if the only way to run the 2133 DDR at that speed is to overclock the CPU I don't think that's an option.
Finally, would MadVR really have much of a change from 1600 DDR to 2133 DDR? A 10 or 20% performance increase would probably be worth it in my book since costs are roughly the same.
This is all coming in at about $1100 or so, but the case is a huge $350 to $400 worth of that so....
Also, THANK YOU for your feedback, I know I've got a lot of questions here and I really value your input on getting the best MadVR performance out of a fanless system here.