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post #1 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm looking to build my first HTPC but I've never built my own computer before so I would like some feedback on the parts list i've put together. I need help making sure the parts are all compatible and that they will capable of doing what I need. so here's a list of capabilities I would like:

1. output lossless audio via HDMI
2. properly output 1080p24
3. play my blu-ray .iso files without any stuttering (will be running via XBMC on windows 8)
3a. run xbmc smoothly


So here is what I've put together so far:

Case: Cooler Master CMP-350 and included power supply
Motherboard: Asus P8B75-M/CSM
Processor: Intel i3-3220
Ram: Kingston 4 GB DDR3 KHX1333C9D3B1/4G
OS Harddrive: Existing 250GB
Media Harddrive: Existing 1.5TB
Windows 8


Also, since this is my first computer build, what else will I need in terms of small accessories like connecting cables and the like? Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 03:10 PM
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SSD for OS = yes.

Otherwise I wouldn't be happy. I can't use a non SSD HTPC and be satisfied.

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post #3 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 04:09 PM
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Do you also have a storage server or NAS? Depending on the size of your collection (and upcoming addiction to the convenience of a HTPC) that HDD is going to fill up relatively fast.

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post #4 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 04:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

SSD for OS = yes.

Otherwise I wouldn't be happy. I can't use a non SSD HTPC and be satisfied.

what will the SSD for the OS drive do for me in a practical sense? I realize it has much faster read and write times, but if all i use it for is running XBMC and all of the media is stored on other drives, will I really get much out of it?
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post #5 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

Do you also have a storage server or NAS? Depending on the size of your collection (and upcoming addiction to the convenience of a HTPC) that HDD is going to fill up relatively fast.

not yet. I have a few drives laying around that are unused, including the 1.5 TB drive. The idea was to just start with this so I can get used to everything and gauge how much storage I will really need to buy.

In a related question, do any of you guys use raid storage to ensure your media is protected from drive failure?
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post #6 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 04:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simp1yamazn View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

SSD for OS = yes.

Otherwise I wouldn't be happy. I can't use a non SSD HTPC and be satisfied.

what will the SSD for the OS drive do for me in a practical sense? I realize it has much faster read and write times, but if all i use it for is running XBMC and all of the media is stored on other drives, will I really get much out of it?

Those faster read/write times translate into a more "snappy" interface which provides a much nicer user experience.

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post #7 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 04:57 PM
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After looking at your list, use Win7 over Win8. M$ hs all but admited Win8 is a failure and has indicated that it will be fixed with a Code Blue update.

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post #8 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

After looking at your list, use Win7 over Win8. M$ hs all but admited Win8 is a failure and has indicated that it will be fixed with a Code Blue update.

Is 7 still available? for some reason I thought only 8 was in stores now.


Also, does anyone see any compatibility issues with the parts i listed?
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post #9 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 05:19 PM
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Win7 is available every single day of the week. I think assassin has a limited number of discounted keys for sale and you simply d/l the OS to ISO on a USB drive and install it.

I suggest using Pro for its RDP capabilities.

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post #10 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

Win7 is available every single day of the week. I think assassin has a limited number of discounted keys for sale and you simply d/l the OS to ISO on a USB drive and install it.

I suggest using Pro for its RDP capabilities.

Alright, windows 7 it is. Do you guys think the hardware is up to the tasks I put in the original post?
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post #11 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 06:58 PM
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post #12 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simp1yamazn View Post

Alright, windows 7 it is. Do you guys think the hardware is up to the tasks I put in the original post?

The tasks are a little confusing
Quote:
Originally Posted by simp1yamazn View Post

1. output lossless audio via HDMI
Assuming you refer to blu ray audio at this point? - plenty of ways to accomplish and what you chose will suffice
Quote:
Originally Posted by simp1yamazn View Post

2. properly output 1080p24
What does the *proper* term reference? How will you compare? I'd avoid getting overly caught up in the 23.976 chase at first until you view some content first-hand
Quote:
Originally Posted by simp1yamazn View Post

3. play my blu-ray .iso files without any stuttering (will be running via XBMC on windows 8)
This is your first build and you've not got a server/nas, so when you say "play my blu-ray .iso files" are your referring to the "future" files you will be creating from your blu rays after building your HTPC? Or do you have several already stored on some external hdds? How and what you use to rip dvds/blurays is an important part of your HTPC storage requirements, playback requirements (inside and outside your LAN), and overall cost (not all are free). I've tried to playback a few isos in XBMC, and it typically works for the main title. There is a speedmenu, and sometimes an option to "View Blu-Ray Menus" however none of my attempts at viewing "Blu-Ray Menus" in XBMC have yielded anything.
Quote:
Originally Posted by simp1yamazn View Post

3a. run xbmc smoothly
Nearly every current amd/intel *desktop* processor will accomplish this in addition to most mobile versions and quite a few ARM SoCs. i3 is a good middle ground, especially to be repurposed as your server later (assuming you might want your server to have a little extra grunt for transcoding)

OpenELEC is a good way to run XBMC w/o Windows. My server is just a W8 pro machine that runs XBMC 24/7 as well. Windows gives a lot of additional flexibility if you want to add games, emulators, DVR, or some "PC-by-day-HTPC-by-night" type setup, but for the 2nd room where I just wanted an HTPC I use OpenELEC.
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post #13 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by PobjoySpecial View Post


Playing back Blu Ray .iso files is going to be an endless headache with XBMC. Ripping them to a .mkv file is much more elegant.

Funny, all I have to do is click on it in the library, it plays just fine. No need for virtual drive, no need for external player. If you need menu support, it's also very easy to set xbmc to launch an external player.

Ahh, now I see. Yep, with the specs you listed, it's probably going to be an endless headache getting anything but an mp3 to play. biggrin.gif

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post #14 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 07:12 PM
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post #15 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 07:28 PM
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Ahh, now I see. Yep, with the specs you listed, it's probably going to be an endless headache getting anything but an mp3 to play. biggrin.gif

OP, in case it isn't clear Nethawk was taking a jab at the specs Pobjoy listed not yours
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post #16 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
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It should cost only about $350, maybe less...

I already have some blu ray isos that I made using anytoiso. I have an external LG blu ray drive that Ill put to work with this htpc.
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post #17 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

OP, in case it isn't clear Nethawk was taking a jab at the specs Pobjoy listed not yours

Got it biggrin.gif
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post #18 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 08:01 PM
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post #19 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 08:22 PM
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I'm not sure what you are talking about. My Windows HTPC is an appliance. For the OP's purpose I think that XBMC with a celeron may be the cheapest way to go but what about when the OP decides to playback CableTV he may find it isn't going to do it in all cases and he needs WMC. If the OP wants to have hardware accelerated decoding the hardware isn't up to snuff.

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post #20 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 08:24 PM
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I think the i3-3225 for about $15 more is a better graphics option.
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post #21 of 91 Old 05-09-2013, 09:12 PM
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post #22 of 91 Old 05-10-2013, 05:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PobjoySpecial View Post

EDIT: To be fair, most instances of XBMC do handle Blu Ray .iso files as you've described. That doesn't change the fact that .iso is less portable and much larger than necessary. Try playing an .iso on a Raspberry Pi or Android device, then try playing a .mkv file. Launching an external player isn't elegant. Since it requires Windows and specialized software, it also isn't cheap.

A gutless ARM 11 processor could handle the OP's requirements. The Celeron 847 is more than enough.

You want a hobby and that's great. I'm interested in an affordable solution.

I like to have the .iso files for 2 reasons: 1. If my disc gets damaged or gets lost I still have all the content that I paid for and 2. I like having access to various special features, deleted scenes, etc. that would make using a tool like makemkv too tedious, in my opinion. It would also, i'm guessing, make the xbmc movie database crawler much less useful if I were to have tons of mkv files for deleted scenes, interviews, behind the scenes all with different file names

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Originally Posted by olyteddy View Post

I think the i3-3225 for about $15 more is a better graphics option.

Like I mentioned, this is my first foray into pc building so help me out with this. Would spending a little more for the i3-3225 give me better/worse performance than staying with the i3-3220 and adding a cheap video card like this one here In a related question, is there any reason to NOT at some point add a video card to an HTPC that has integrated video?

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The OP would be wise to determine his goals and buy accordingly.

Pretty much what I was going for with this thread.... just need a little help for a first time builder.
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post #23 of 91 Old 05-10-2013, 06:57 AM
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Call it a hobby if you must but my solution saves me $28 each and every month on Cable STB fees and DVR "taxes", requires no maintanence and is quite stable. Many others here do the same. Your way may not neccesarily be the best way in all situations and neither is mine.

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post #24 of 91 Old 05-10-2013, 07:54 AM
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If you are considering a cheap dedicated gpu, your money would be better spent on an AMD APU.

A SSD will mainly have an affect when you are browsing your media. Thumbnails/fanart can load slowly with a HDD, with a SSD it's instant. What SSD you get doesn't make any difference.
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post #25 of 91 Old 05-10-2013, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by PobjoySpecial View Post

Good advice.
The only thing I'd say is that trying to make a computer do everything turns it into a "jack of all trades, master of none."

If you want an appliance, install OpenELEC. If you want a hobby, install Windows.

A Windows HTPC can be built to be very appliance like. People have been doing this for longer than there have been easy Linux solutions for a htpc. You can also do more with a Windows HTPC than a Linux one.

Openelec is very good for what it can do.

Celeron 847, when an atom is too fast and uses too little energy, buy me.
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post #26 of 91 Old 05-10-2013, 08:19 AM
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One advantage of the Intel graphics is Quick Sync which is their encoding and decoding 'engine'. Handy if you need to transcode video on the fly (feeding an X-Box an MKV file for instance). They've made it fairly open sourced which means a lot of programmers have used it. The 3225 has more of these Quick Sync processing units than the 3220. The top image is Intel HD-2000 graphics, the second HD-4000 (nearly twice as fast). This link compares the speed difference: http://club.myce.com/f184/3770k-vs-3770s-327174/#post2633974



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post #27 of 91 Old 05-10-2013, 08:54 AM
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Which application supports Quick Sync encoder to transcode videos "on the fly"?
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post #28 of 91 Old 05-10-2013, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olyteddy View Post

One advantage of the Intel graphics is Quick Sync which is their encoding and decoding 'engine'. Handy if you need to transcode video on the fly (feeding an X-Box an MKV file for instance). They've made it fairly open sourced which means a lot of programmers have used it. The 3225 has more of these Quick Sync processing units than the 3220. The top image is Intel HD-2000 graphics, the second HD-4000 (nearly twice as fast). This link compares the speed difference: http://club.myce.com/f184/3770k-vs-3770s-327174/#post2633974




Not that I doubt how much faster it can transcode video, but if I'm live streaming from my HTPC to a PS3, does it really matter if it can transcode a 2 hour movie in 6 vs 12 minutes as long as it can keep a healthy speed above real time? Or would this mostly come in handy if I'm sending different video streams to different displays? And would this somehow be advantageous over using a low cost video card?
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post #29 of 91 Old 05-10-2013, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

Which application supports Quick Sync encoder to transcode videos "on the fly"?
Apparently none, so far. But not because it isn't doable or available: http://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/integrating-intel-media-sdk-with-ffmpeg-for-muxdemuxing-and-audio-encodedecode-usages
There are numerous 'static' transcoders though, especially from Mirillis: http://mirillis.com/en/products/splashexport.html

EDIT: And apparently HandBrake will have it soon: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6864/handbrake-to-get-quicksync-support
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post #30 of 91 Old 05-10-2013, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Anyone have thoughts on a little bit better processor vs add a sub $50 video card?
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