Originally Posted by JFWall
I also have a Yamaha RX-V596 which is a little old but still in excellent condition with a 5.1 speaker system. Excellent quality speakers.
So youre going to want a motherboard with both HDMI and a digital audio output - either the orange spdif connection or an optical toslink. that way you can get HDMI video to your projector, digital audio to your receiver, and should you upgrade to a more modern receiver your HDMI will be useful there.
Originally Posted by JFWall
First off I want to store all of my movies on HDD and box up all of the shiny round things and put them in a box in the attic. I need to be able to access my movies easily as I have so many. Second I need my new projector as well as several other devices (mostly TV's) in the house to be able to access the movies or my wife will get very mad at me. And lastly I want to be able to watch and/or record TV shows in my HT Room and store them for later viewing. Backing up all of these movies automatically is a must as once I have spent countless hours loading them on to HDD's I don't want to ever do it again if one or more HDD's goes boom.
A couple of things in here:
-sounds like you want your new pc to be a DVR too. that more or less limits you to using Windows Media Center as your software interface. there are ways to use other programs like XBMC and Media Portal as a DVR as well, but there is a bit of complexity and your cable company will really dictate the experience.
-I like using mkv files to back up my movies - the video track, the high def english audio track, and the forced subtitles. This save a little bit of space on trailers, commentary tracks, spanish subtitles, etc.
-Because of forced subtitles, there is really not automatic ripping solution. DVDs are a bit easier in this regard, because I doubt you have many (if any) that use forced subs. They are subtitles used in parts of a movie that are in another language. They could be hard coded, meaning they are part of the video stream (like Lord of the Rings) or they could be a subset of the main english language subtitle (like Avatar). Something in the file tells it when to display the subtitle and when not to. The best software for turning your movies into mkv files is by far makemkv.
-If you want double redundancy you are going to need a raid array of some kind. Thats beyond my ability to help you.
-regarding visual quality: to make your DVDs look at good as possible on that large screen you are going to want some special upscaling software on the computer. the most popular one right now is called madvr. HOWEVER, it will require a beefier video card AND cannot be used with the default Windows Media Center player. You can still use Windows Media Center and launch a compatible player when you want to watch a DVD based movie, but that adds a layer of complexity that *might* cause problems for a less computer knowledgable person.
Let me build your computer in my mind:
-an intel i5 or amd a10 processor. the intel will be better for running Plex, the AMD better for dabbling with upscaling software
-8gb of memory
-a motherboard with the digital audio out jack. anything in the $80 range should be ok. you will also want at least 6 sata ports
-a bluray drive. if you want to rip on the pc that already has a bluray drive and skip this part for cost sake thats ok. you could rip on that workstation and then move them via the network to your new media pc. i like having the optical disc drive for when i rent something or pick a brand new release up and dont want to screw around with ripping it before I watch it
-a 128gb ssd to put windows 7 (or 8) on.
-several hard drives. my ballpark numbers say your dvds will take up 3 terabytes and your blurays around 6. plus you will want several for your DVR function.
-a tv tuner. given that you have several other pcs the silicondust prime tuner could most easily be accessed by all of them. ceton's is really good too.
-since this is a theater room, I would build the PC into a tower case. I would build one PC for simplicity sake. it can be stashed out of the way and you will have one less piece to "break down" and cause a problem for your lady.
-a 350-450 watt power supply. the final number of hard drives youd run will be the determining factor. newegg has a pretty good calculator for figuring out what you need. i have three hard drives in my case and use an antec earthwatts 380watt psu
there are a few reasons my pc in the closet idea might not work for you. if you really want it in the same room you can get an receiver style case that holds about 6 or 8 drives. silverstone and lian li make some popular ones.
-lenovo multimedia keypad. look this guy up - i love mine. there are often coupon codes that you can find for it.
-a remote and remote receiver. unfortunately very few htpc cases have ir receivers. you can buy a receiver that fits into a 3.5 inch floppy bay, or buy a usb connected on. this will make your pc feel more like an appliance and also cutdown the need for the keypad.
-as i said, given that you want to record tv I think you should just stick to using WMC for both recording and playback. for me personally the risk/reward to making it more complicated for playback just isnt worth it
-media browser. a fancy movie library viewer. it kind of looks intimidating to set up and i didnt use it for years, but im glad i moved to it. i replaced my default movie library icon with it and it looks great
-arcsoft total media theater. id only get this if you might ever want to play a bluray back right off the disc. otherwise an unneeded expense.
-makemkv. to rip your discs.
-shark007 codec pack. i think this is the best easiest way to make all your media files play correctly.
-plex. you can run this in the background for other things like your phone or smart tvs that can play mp4s.
now, what to do about your other tvs? that depends on what your really want to watch on them and who your cable company is. there is no really good go to solution for this.
-if you dont care about watching your dvr recordings there are dozens of inexpensive media boxes like the wdtv and patriot box office that will play your movie rips
-if you want your dvr recordings, ceton echols or xbox 360s will be needed. neither is a fully functioning movie player though.
-if you want movies and tv recordings, your best bet is to put small pcs at each tv. the only major drawback iwth this is that depending on who your cable company is, you might only be able to watch live tv, not recordings.
so in summary, if i were you, i would:
-rip the movies on your current workstation and move them to your new pc
-build a new pc full of hard drives (with room for more) that will be the main playback machine. you can also (in the future) buy a 4 or 8 bay external hard drive enclosure if you run out of room.
i just sort of think a server is beyond what you need but thats really because im not familiar with them. look for other peoples opinions of why you might want a dedicated server.