Hi guys I am new to this forum and I have some questions to ask about media portal. I got into HTPC’s about 2 years ago when I started looking for a PVR solution that would also allow access to online stuff like BBC Iplayer and also ripped movies I have. I am based in Northern Ireland in the UK. So I bought a pre made computer in a small case with blueray player, amd E350 cpu/gpu, 4Gb ram and 2 TB hard disc. I fitted a TBS6281 card which gives me 2 DVBS2 receivers and I also fitted a twin receiver DVBT USB stick and also a twin receiver DVBt2 usb box made by TBS. So that gives me 6 receivers in total. I tried XMBC but no live tv?? so I setup windows media centre and for me it works well. I had lots of glitches and it took a long time to get the satellite and terrestrial channel into some sorta working order. To further confuse things I live near a boarder with another country (Southern Ireland) and I can also pick up their terrestrial TV so I have some interesting channel groupings and orders going on. The reason I went for the E350 is it was low power and as the machine was on all the time it would keep costs and heat down. I made some tweeks to the computers cooling and fitted low speed large fans to the cpu and case. The computer is ALMOST silent, with the most noise coming from the western digital green disk drive. I use the optical out SPDIF connection to connect to my AV amp which decodes the DTS etc stuff and I use the HDMI connection to feed my TV. The HTPC is in my living room beside my av amp and TV. After driver optimisation this setup runs anything I give it. Full blue rays on power DVD from within media centre to rips and internet content. BUT the CPU is slow, and sometimes menu changes can take a little while, but nothing that is bugging me or more importantly the wife. The issues I still have with media centre is that the EPG is poor over here and due to my odd channel availability with having 2 countries terrestrial content and freesat satellite content it gets a bit confusing. Some channels have no epg etc. I have tried aftermarket programs to fix this, but I got lost and it didn’t seem to work, or at least was overwritten by Microsoft soon after. So back on topic, I want to add another system to my bedroom that could have access to my content. The obvious thing to do is to use a media centre extender, such as a ceton echo, but as these have problems with UK tv h264 encoding and other ripped media that rules that out. Also the xbox can struggle with some content I am told. So I am now considering building another pc and installing media portal on both my HTPCs and going that route. Questions are:
1The E350 system I have can play anything I need with media centre. Will it still be able to do this under media Portal. Will media portal run at a similar speed to media centre with this low power CPU. I’m not expecting instantaneous menu changes, but I wont wait all day.
2 If I install media portal on my system for testing, will it screw up my media centre. I want to keep media centre working so I can swap back if things get ugly with media portal.
3. Assuming I can test media portal and its ok for what I want I would start with two new installs of windows 7. If am building another machine, I will put my current e350 system in my bedroom and build a new, faster machine in my living room and I would remove the tv cards from the E350 and put them in a new machine. I have windows 7 64 bit ultimate which was quite expensive. Can I transfer this to a new machine and keep Microsoft happy? I could then install another bought copy of MS windows on my existing e350. Can you do that or does Microsoft think you are using multiple machines under the same license? What’s the best way to get another license or cheep copy of windows? Legally…
4 I also have a purchased copy of power dvd with blueray capabilities. I wouldn’t want to loose this during the transition. How can that be delt with?
5 For the new pc what spec should I aim for. I am thinking of an i3 intel or equivalent AMD that is still quite power efficient but has a lot more CPU than my E350. I have heard the i3 3225 with hd4000 gpu built in is good or amd a6 5400 with 7540d gpu or amd a10 5700 with 7660d. I would use an ssd boot drive in the new system too for speed, any recommendations? What ram and motherboard? I need hdmi and the optical out for my av amp. I could build this into a larger case, eg av amp size/ full pc size even, to give space and extra cooling with low noise. Any recommendations without breaking the bank?
I have read the media portal setup guide on the forum and it looks manageable. Any other suggestions of things to read? Cheers des.