HTPC with DVR, Media Center (NAS), BluRay playback and basic video editing capabilities - AVS Forum
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
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I decided to build my own HTPC, I have been looking around for a while now, I learned a lot and I think I have a better picture but I still have a lot of questions...
This would be my first build PC ever.
I hope someone can spend some time reading all this (sorry for the lenght...) and helping me out finalizing the parts’ list.
I will proceed with the buying as soon as the list is complete.

I will post this request also on TomsHardware forum: I am following the schema they suggest there to describe my plans.

Approximate Purchase Date: latest end of May 2013

Budget Range: preferably within 1200.- CHF (ca. 1000.- US$) but I am ready to spend more in order to be able to do all that follows for the next 5-7 years

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
1. DVB-C HD/SD video recording and basic video editing (i.e. remove advertising, editing of home videos)

2. DVD ripping
a. This will be initially a very intensive task having to rip ca. 500 DVDs, then it will be an “occasional” task when new DVD / BluRay discs arrive home

3. Video playback to connected HD-TV from various sources
a. Video recorded in point 1.
b. DVD, BluRay disk ripped in point 2.
c. Physical DVD
d. Physical BluRay disks

4. It will happen very often that points 1. and 3. will be done simultaneusly

5. Video streaming to other DNLA connected devices such as other TVs in other rooms, tablets, etc. Given the limited support of video format of some devices, the HTPC has to be powerful enough to run software (e.g. Tversity, Twonky, Serviio, Mezzmo, or whatever) that will transcode on-the-fly to whatever format is supported to the target device
a. Not since day 1
b. Not highest priority but system shall be “ready” for this as well; potentially point 1., 3. and 5. done in parallel
c. Steaming will be done via WiFi (if suffices)

6. Central NAS and first level backup unit of entire home network (the disks of the HTPC will be backed-up on external disks stored in a separate place)
a. Not interested in any RAID configuration
b. I need enough room for disks because I expect to need more and more disk space due to video recording (i.e. need enough SATA connectors on motherboard and enough space in the case to add disks in the future)

7. Play and / or stream mp3 and physical CD

8. Central HTTP and FTP server for the home network
a. FTP: might want, later on, to also access the unit from outside via dynamic DNS or similar (personal cloud)
b. HTTP: only 2-3 web-site to few clients

9. Router for TV. My HDMI connected TV is also a basic internet TV but can only be connected via wired-LAN so I plan to use the HTPC Ethernet port to connect the TV to the network bridging the LAN and WiFi ports of the HTPC; the HTPC will connect to the home network and the Internet via WiFi router
a. TV will simply be disconnected from the Internet as soon as I will need the Ethernet port of the HTPC for other usage (e.g. to implement point 5. properly)
Not interested in gaming (might be done in the future, but not main focus), not interested in watching internet TV (not really available in my area).

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade: New build, all parts to be bought

Do you need to buy OS: Yes; planning to use Windows 7 Professional

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: none, I will have to check on my own for availability in my region and / or possibility and costs of shipping from abroad

Location: Bern, Switzerland / Europe

Parts Preferences:
1. CPU: Intel i5 3570T (2.3 GHz 45W) OR Intel i7 3770T (2.5GHz 45W)
2. Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H (rev. 1.1) OR GA-Z77X-UP5 TH (rev. 1.0)
3. Case: Silverstone Grandia GD04 OR Lian Li PC-C60B (OR eventually Streacom FC10 for fan-less approach)
4. PSU: CoolerMaster Silent Pro M600 OR (for fanless approach) Mini-Box 192w AC-DC Power Adapter (Model: STD-12160) + picoPSU-160-XT
5. RAM: Any of the following shall do: Cucial Ballistix Sport BLS8G3D1609DS1S00, 1600MHz, CL9-9-9-24; CorsAir Vengeance CML8GX3M1A1600C9, 1600MHz, CL9-9-9-24; Kingsron HyperX KHX16C9/8, 1600MHz, CL9-9-9-24; G.SKILL RipJawsX F3-14900CL10S-8GBXL, 1866MHz, CL10-11-10-30-2N
6. Disks:
a. OS: Kingston SSDNow mS100 64GB
b. Data: WD Red 3 TB (WD30EFRX) OR Hitachi Travelstar 5K1000 EA (HTE541010A9E680), 1.0TB
c. ODD: to be decided
7. Tuner card: Hauppauge WINTV HVR-5500 HD
8. WiFi / Bluetooth: to be defined
9. Remote / Keyboard+Mouse: to be defined

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: Full HD 1080p (Sony Bravia KDL46EX-700)

Additional Comments: PC will be running 24/7 (will try to benefit from sleep mode, WOL and alike to save power as possible based on real usage) and sitting in the living room therefore must haves are:
1. Low power consumption
2. Low noise
3. No PC look and feel
a. Easy of use is not a topic at this stage because can/shall be achieved software-wise

So here all my questions and doubts:
1. CPU:
a. Shall I really go for the i7 or would the i5 be powerful enough for the described use case?
b. Will the “T” line be powerful enough for the described use case, or shall I consider the “S” line instead?

2. Motherboard:
a. Is it worth spending the extra bucks for Thunderbold support?

3.Case:
a. Given that I do not really need 2 5.25 slots, is the Lian Li PC-C60B worth the extra bucks (ca. 80$ more)?
b. Shall I attempt fan-less or will I manage to obtain decent results in terms of noise with Silverstone Grandia GD04? (I am a little bit scared of fan-less approach; my fear is that it might burn for poor ventilation; consider that it will sit on a sort of book-shelf that most probably will even have a glass window so pretty closed even if with some space around the case; Unfortunately I do not have the final furniture yet to be more specific)
c. If going with the Grandia, shall I consider exchanging the fans with, for example, Silverstone 140mm Air Penetrator? Is it worth the extra bucks?

4. PSU: No clue here, please, advice. I have the impression that the 600W PSU is over dimensioned and that the picoPSU will not let me add more disks in the future when I’ll need more storage.

5. RAM:
a. Is the 1866MHz worth the extra bucks?
b. Any comment or suggestion appreciated

6. Disks: I am still fed up with WD for a NAS failure I had some years ago, that is why I am considering the Hitachi, but I need a disk that fulfils my power and noise needs and, if I go with the smaller one I will very soon need a more disks; hints and alternatives to WD are very welcome
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:28 AM
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Separate the "DVR" from ripping and converting machine.

DVR is just that for TV service purposes. You can add storage for the ripped movies, but do the actual ripping on another machine, so that it does not affect primary function of the DVR.

You can go further and separate storage from the DVR, too, and have a different machine perform the storage duties.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

Separate the "DVR" from ripping and converting machine.

DVR is just that for TV service purposes. You can add storage for the ripped movies, but do the actual ripping on another machine, so that it does not affect primary function of the DVR.

You can go further and separate storage from the DVR, too, and have a different machine perform the storage duties.

Thanks for the advice but the riping will be a "one off" (even if it will take time...) and I will always do it while not doing any other activity like DVR.
The idea is indeed to have 1 machine to serve the mentioned purposes, not several dedicated ones.
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Old 04-30-2013, 12:51 PM
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Wow that's a lot of info
Quote:
Originally Posted by rodedo View Post

1. CPU:
a. Shall I really go for the i7 or would the i5 be powerful enough for the described use case?
b. Will the “T” line be powerful enough for the described use case, or shall I consider the “S” line instead?
Skip the SFF and the T/S processors altogether. Just get the cheapest i5 you can find in a slightly larger mATX case that will fully accommodate the stock heatsink. If you set the bios fan target speed to level 4/5 then I doubt you'll hear it
Quote:
Originally Posted by rodedo View Post

2. Motherboard:
a. Is it worth spending the extra bucks for Thunderbold support?
I've all but quit moving anything to/from any external drives, so I'm more biased but I think it's a waste. I leave an unused network cable conveniently stashed so that I can just access the shared files on the network and I typically only copy things C:/ to C:/ (or some variant) with no external drives in between
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Originally Posted by rodedo View Post

3.Case:
a. Given that I do not really need 2 5.25 slots, is the Lian Li PC-C60B worth the extra bucks (ca. 80$ more)?
b. Shall I attempt fan-less or will I manage to obtain decent results in terms of noise with Silverstone Grandia GD04? (I am a little bit scared of fan-less approach; my fear is that it might burn for poor ventilation; consider that it will sit on a sort of book-shelf that most probably will even have a glass window so pretty closed even if with some space around the case; Unfortunately I do not have the final furniture yet to be more specific)
c. If going with the Grandia, shall I consider exchanging the fans with, for example, Silverstone 140mm Air Penetrator? Is it worth the extra bucks?
I would recommend one of the better ventilated slightly larger cases like the 5000 or 6000 from here for use with an i5 and standard heatsink
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Originally Posted by rodedo View Post

4. PSU: No clue here, please, advice. I have the impression that the 600W PSU is over dimensioned and that the picoPSU will not let me add more disks in the future when I’ll need more storage.
Again, I think it's best to skip the small case requirement and get one that's a little larger/easier to build. Also gets rid of the which PSU problems. Consider the NUC or Habey / minibox / streacom / dvd-player-sized cases for your secondary HTPCs. (In the end you'll probably want these instead of pulling your hair out with DLNA streaming to SmartTVs - it's usually best just to ignore their DLNA capabilities altogether unless your interested in low-bit-rate video, photos, and music only)

Also, while not fanless this PSU is very quiet link. You could put it in your living room / bedroom and not hear it outside the case. Same goes for the stock heatsink with the appropriate target fan speed. 400W is plenty and a standard ATX psu is much more flexible when adding more drives later on
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Originally Posted by rodedo View Post

5. RAM:
a. Is the 1866MHz worth the extra bucks?
b. Any comment or suggestion appreciated
I've not seen that great of deals on RAM recently, but just go for the best priced 8GB DDR3 1600. Should be cheap, and it's all the 7 series boards will support without overclock. Also, it's extremely snappy as is for an HTPC, so without going the AMD route where higher speed ram can take you a little further with their integrated graphics then I'd say no the 1866 or higher isn't worth the extra bucks
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6. Disks: I am still fed up with WD for a NAS failure I had some years ago, that is why I am considering the Hitachi, but I need a disk that fulfils my power and noise needs and, if I go with the smaller one I will very soon need a more disks; hints and alternatives to WD are very welcome
Seagate WD HGST (Hitachi/IBM). I've owned all without fuss, but if you don't like a brand don't let anyone rationalize you back into liking it. I personally buy the cheapest, and in my "server-storage-scavenge" I've bought the main 3 from ebay, newegg, directron, craigslist, staples.

If you don't heed the "Avoid-SFF-case" wisdom, then I'd say go with the RED. They'll be best suited for a small case with little/no airflow
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Old 04-30-2013, 06:38 PM
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Who wants to rip discs in the living room with a mini keyboard? What if someone wants to watch while you are ripping? The advice to have separate machines is sound. I use my i5 for ripping and storage and my i3 for playback of both ripped content and PVR'd CableTV. I do, however, have 5Tb in my HTPC, 4 for local storage and 1 as the PVR drive.
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:05 AM
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Well ripping isn't intensive. Virtually any PC sold within the past 7 years can handle it. The i5 was more for transcoding. Check the cpu usage stats when ripping. I'd agree that it would be perfectly acceptable to perform from another machine across the Lan with a real keyboard. I never ever use mini keyboards regardless.
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Wow that's a lot of info
First: thanks for taking the time to read all my wording and providing so much feedback: appreciated.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Skip the SFF and the T/S processors altogether. Just get the cheapest i5 you can find in a slightly larger mATX case that will fully accommodate the stock heatsink. If you set the bios fan target speed to level 4/5 then I doubt you'll hear it
I am not attempting a SFF. Indeed, I am considering the Silverstone Grandia GD04 OR Lian Li PC-C60B (OR eventually Streacom FC10 for fan-less approach) cases, which host a regular ATX (if I am not completely mistaken...)
The T processor is to save power, but I wonder if that will be enough or if I shall consider the S line instead. Am I on the wrong path altogether?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

I would recommend one of the better ventilated slightly larger cases like the 5000 or 6000 from here for use with an i5 and standard heatsink
I checked the mMEDIAPC cases; the two non-fanless models that I mentioned have a more "minimalistic" approach that I like more, but I am not able to compare the ventilation capabilities of all these cases; any hint on how to compare them from this point of view?
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Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Also, while not fanless this PSU is very quiet link. You could put it in your living room / bedroom and not hear it outside the case. Same goes for the stock heatsink with the appropriate target fan speed. 400W is plenty and a standard ATX psu is much more flexible when adding more drives later on
How can you say that it is quiet? Is there something in the specs that I can check to compare with other models? (Just to be clear: I do believe you... I am just trying to understand how to "judge" my-self before buing, if possible...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

I've not seen that great of deals on RAM recently, but just go for the best priced 8GB DDR3 1600. Should be cheap, and it's all the 7 series boards will support without overclock. Also, it's extremely snappy as is for an HTPC, so without going the AMD route where higher speed ram can take you a little further with their integrated graphics then I'd say no the 1866 or higher isn't worth the extra bucks
Noted will do so, thanks.
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

Who wants to rip discs in the living room with a mini keyboard? What if someone wants to watch while you are ripping? The advice to have separate machines is sound. I use my i5 for ripping and storage and my i3 for playback of both ripped content and PVR'd CableTV. I do, however, have 5Tb in my HTPC, 4 for local storage and 1 as the PVR drive.
It is a sound advice, I am not questioning this, but it does not fit my needs / desires: I do not have "other machines" able to do this at the moment and I am going to build 1 not more than 1 machine right now.
Plus, no one prevents me to use a regular keyboard when I have to do the ripping.
Thanks for sharing anyway.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodedo View Post

I am not attempting a SFF. Indeed, I am considering the Silverstone Grandia GD04 OR Lian Li PC-C60B (OR eventually Streacom FC10 for fan-less approach) cases, which host a regular ATX (if I am not completely mistaken...)
Too little reading on my part and a misuse of the term SFF on my part (I suppose). I quickly assumed you were running clearance issues with one of the MILO cases. I'd recommend against fanless unless you truly have a silent environment to begin with. None of my computers are fanless, but at the same time none are as loud as the refrigerator when idle. In terms of heat transfer, natural convection is extremely poor compared to forced convection. Even the slowest breeze of continuous air can run circles around heatpipe or fin-only heatsinks
Quote:
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The T processor is to save power, but I wonder if that will be enough or if I shall consider the S line instead. Am I on the wrong path altogether?
Essentially the T/S processors are only useful if you truly need their associated slim cooler. Otherwise, their non-T/non-S variants perform the same tasks for the same power. You just have extra "unused" capacity if you don't stick with the T/S, and in most cases you can stand to use it for limited bursts anyway. You could even limit the processor state in Windows advanced power settings if you were truly worried about temps. The stock HSF is ample for you're described usage unless you are truly intending to transcode multiple streams for 8+ hrs/day. Down the line, if you add a new android or roku device into the mix it doesn't necessarily mean that you will need to transcode. For example, a fanless Artic Cooling MC001n running openelec (attached to another TV) wouldn't need transcoding. Your i5 would simply be "serving" files to it which would hit somewhere between 0% and 5% utilization

Quote:
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How can you say that it is quiet? Is there something in the specs that I can check to compare with other models? (Just to be clear: I do believe you... I am just trying to understand how to "judge" my-self before buing, if possible...)
I only say it because I own and operate it in my bedroom htpc. I actually switched the slightly noisier Corsair CX430 out of that box since I could hear it faintly. That machine runs openelec on an asrock h61m, i3 2105, 2GB DDR3, 8GB usb 3 flash (boot), and that PSU in a harvested compaq case. I've set the target fan speed for the i3 to 4 in the bios, and after switching out the CX430 for the Silencer MKIII I can no longer hear the machine idle. I would literally have to walk over to the back of the TV (where the case is - out of sight) and put my ear to the case in order to hear the slight "hum" of it operating. However, your hearing sensitivity may be much greater than mine for that frequency range

For full disclosure on noise . . . I've never found why but all boards I've used operate the CPU fan at 100% for about 2-4 seconds during boot, so if performing a cold boot I still have that few seconds of noise.
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

Who wants to rip discs in the living room with a mini keyboard? What if someone wants to watch while you are ripping? The advice to have separate machines is sound. I use my i5 for ripping and storage and my i3 for playback of both ripped content and PVR'd CableTV. I do, however, have 5Tb in my HTPC, 4 for local storage and 1 as the PVR drive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Well ripping isn't intensive. Virtually any PC sold within the past 7 years can handle it. The i5 was more for transcoding. Check the cpu usage stats when ripping. I'd agree that it would be perfectly acceptable to perform from another machine across the Lan with a real keyboard. I never ever use mini keyboards regardless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rodedo View Post

Thanks for the advice but the riping will be a "one off" (even if it will take time...) and I will always do it while not doing any other activity like DVR.
The idea is indeed to have 1 machine to serve the mentioned purposes, not several dedicated ones.

"To one machine, or not to one machine" will most likely depend on OP's marital status and presence of children.

The only time I can do anything to the "whole house DVR" is when either everyone is out of the house, or sleeping, AND it is not recording something. At any other times, it is simply off limits for my access. :-)

A single guy without kids will probably have more flexibility to when he can minimize, or close the "TV screen" and do whatever he needs to do on the machine. And if it needs a reboot half way through, there is no harm.

6 TV's in the house on FiOS and we only pay $4.99/month to connect them all!!! Power to the CableCard and WMC7!!!
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Old 05-02-2013, 12:26 PM
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Hunched over the coffee table with a keyboard and mouse is not how I would prefer to rip discs whether anybody else is involved or not. It is much easier to do this at a desk.

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Old 05-02-2013, 01:44 PM
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I took the whole home DVR approach. Before, when it was one htpc for everything, if something went wrong there was nothing I could do since there were usually recordings going on in the background (WMC). So I couldn't reboot the machine. I had to wait for the recordings to finish (which in prime time is around 11pm). It wasn't very practical anyways since the main wmc machine had to be on anyways to share recordings to my bedroom htpc.

Now that I have a whole home DVR (MediaPortal 1 server + 2 clients) if anything is wrong with one of the clients I can just reboot it since all recordings are taking place on the server. I also use the machine to rip DVDs and Blurays. No more moving files after ripping since server also hosts these. If anything is wrong on the server I can also trouble shoot it since it isn't tied to any of the tvs. And the htpc clients can still be used for online viewing while I fix any issues.
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:56 PM
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That all works well in a non-DRM world.

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Old 05-03-2013, 05:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I think it is a pity that the discussion is moving on whether the DVR and ripping functionality shall be in a single machine or not: this is definitely a matter of the specific use case and "environment" and therefore 100 people might have 100 different experiences and needs; I doubt we can get to any agreement on this point.
Giving for granted that I considered my personal needs and scenario and that I will do the ripping with this machine (until reality forces me to do it differently...), some of my questions are still open (others found an answer thanks to Dark_Slayer):
2. Motherboard:
a. Is it worth spending the extra bucks for Thunderbold support?

3.Case:
a. Given that I do not really need 2 5.25 slots, is the Lian Li PC-C60B worth the extra bucks (ca. 80$ more)?
c. If going with the Grandia, shall I consider exchanging the fans with, for example, Silverstone 140mm Air Penetrator? Is it worth the extra bucks?

4. PSU: No clue here, please, advice. I have the impression that the 600W PSU is over dimensioned and that the picoPSU will not let me add more disks in the future when I’ll need more storage.
Here I already got useful hints from Dark_Slayer but I would appreciate more opinions, suggestions and comments.
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