Design me a HTPC below $300 to do what I need. - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 60 Old 09-09-2013, 10:50 PM
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Personally I prefer 8 to 7 a lot. However, you have to buy:

- WMC pack for $10 (from MS store) if you want to use it
- StartIsBack for $3 or Start8 for $5 if you want to bypass Modern UI and want to use Start button as with XP/Vista/7.
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post #32 of 60 Old 09-10-2013, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

Personally I prefer 8 to 7 a lot. However, you have to buy:

- WMC pack for $10 (from MS store) if you want to use it
- StartIsBack for $3 or Start8 for $5 if you want to bypass Modern UI and want to use Start button as with XP/Vista/7.

I agree. I upgraded my Dell laptop from Vista to Win8, and am running the free Classic Shell to bypass the "Metro" UI. It feels like a better Win7. However, since this HTPC is for the bedroom and will not be heavily used like a living room one, I'm willing to go with Win7 if I can get Win7 for $49.

If not, I will definitely get the Win8 Pro upgrade.
Thanks,
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post #33 of 60 Old 09-10-2013, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Skylark View Post

Thanks for that info. I'm going to order a K400 unless subsequent posts advise against it before I pull the trigger on my HTPC build in a week or so.
Sky

Be careful with the purchase. Logitech released a revision of the K400 (technically K400r) but it's still sold under K400 almost everywhere, including Amazon. From the Amazon comments, it looks like they're actually shipping the K400r but I bought it at a B&M store just to be sure. The K400r adds support for Windows 8 edge swipes, additional two-finger gestures, and might be necessary for the two-finger tap right-click.

It's overall a nice keyboard/touchpad combo. I thought the thing that would annoy me the most is the location of the right shift key (to the right of the up arrow) but actually the touchpad is what has annoyed me the most. It's not as good as a Synaptics touchpad as you might expect on a laptop. Two-finger tap to right-click doesn't work half of the time; if it doesn't work, the best way I've found to get it working is actually to move the cursor slightly with one finger and try again. At some point I run out of patience and just use the right-click button.

Tap and hold to drag doesn't work quite as well as on a Synaptics either. The drag starts not where your cursor is, but from where your cursor is after you start the drag motion. In other words, if you want to drag something to the right, start with your mouse cursor a little bit left of where you want to start the drag. It's pretty annoying actually. What I usually end up doing is making a perpendicular movement first, i.e. to drag something to the right I first start moving up or down then right so I don't need to start a bit to the left.

These drawbacks aren't necessarily major for use as an HTPC keyboard, and to be honest I haven't found anything better out there, so I would still recommend the K400r.
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post #34 of 60 Old 09-10-2013, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlantNGo View Post

Be careful with the purchase. Logitech released a revision of the K400 (technically K400r) but it's still sold under K400 almost everywhere, including Amazon. From the Amazon comments, it looks like they're actually shipping the K400r but I bought it at a B&M store just to be sure. The K400r adds support for Windows 8 edge swipes, additional two-finger gestures, and might be necessary for the two-finger tap right-click. ..... snip .....

I just read the amazon comments and saw a 9/7/13 one that said he/she received a K400r. So it does look like amazon is shipping the K400r now.

Thanks for the heads up,
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post #35 of 60 Old 09-10-2013, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Progress Report:

I was going to gut the Dell Optiplex GX260 case and then discovered that the motherboard is a weird Dell proprietary one. It has flat metal prongs sticking up for the motherboard mounting instead of the screw type standoffs. The mobo has slotted holes that are a press fit on the metal prongs with just a couple of screws holding the mobo down.

At least one of the metal prongs appears to be where a standard mini-ITX mounting hole would go. That will prevent drilling a hole there for a standoff. Bah humbug! So I'm scrapping the idea of reusing the GX260 case. Just posting this in case someone else ever thought of reusing a GX260 case.

I'm going to buy the Inwin BP mini-ITX case for my build.

Oh, I'm ordering an 8GB USB2 flash drive to install Windows with since there will not be an optical drive in my build. Others building a HTPC without an optical drive might want to include one in their order also.

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post #36 of 60 Old 09-16-2013, 01:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Here's my final parts list that I'm going to order.

1. Motherboard: ASRock B85M-ITX LGA 1150 Intel B85 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ..... $79.99
.… Mini ITX Intel Motherboard

2. CPU: Intel Pentium G3220 Haswell 3.0GHz LGA 1150 54W Dual-Core ..... $69.99
.... Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics BX80646G3220

3. RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 ..... $38.99
.... (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBRM

4. Hard drive: Have used 500 GB Sata drive

5. OS: Win8 Microsoft Windows 8 Pro - Upgrade from Windows XP, Windows Vista or ..... $79.99
.... Windows 7, English Professional Edition

6. Kbd & Mouse: Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with Built-In Multi-Touch Touchpad ..... $24.99

Total cost: $293.94

Before I place my order for the Motherboard, CPU and RAM above, what's the best quality video that I should expect using the integrated graphics HDMI output? Will it be able to play 1080p 2D? I live in the USA.

Thanks,
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post #37 of 60 Old 09-16-2013, 05:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylark View Post

what's the best quality video that I should expect using the integrated graphics HDMI output? Will it be able to play 1080p 2D?

Yes, that will work fine.
Unless you try to go to the high-end of video processing, it should work just fine. Any normal playback will work without issues.
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post #38 of 60 Old 09-16-2013, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylark View Post

Before I place my order for the Motherboard, CPU and RAM above, what's the best quality video that I should expect using the integrated graphics HDMI output? Will it be able to play 1080p 2D? I live in the USA.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevcairiel View Post

Yes, that will work fine.
Unless you try to go to the high-end of video processing, it should work just fine. Any normal playback will work without issues.

Thanks for your confirmation. Will be placing my order in a few days.
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post #39 of 60 Old 09-17-2013, 11:40 AM
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very interested in your build, since I have some parts already, like case and spare hard drives I was wondering if this build will work with mpc-hc and madvr. all 1080p 24fps 2D from bluray. (not interested in higher fps or 3d). It will be connected top my optoma HD20 and sound system trough optical or coaxial cable. Thank you
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post #40 of 60 Old 09-17-2013, 01:10 PM
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Here is the economy HTPC I put together about a year ago…
AMD A6-3500 2.1GHz Socket FM1 65W Triple-Core APU with Radeon HD 6530 $70
ASRock A75M-ITX FM1 AMD Mini ITX AMD Motherboard $90
G.SKILL Value Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 $40
SAMSUNG DVD Burner $15
IN WIN BP655.200BL Mini-ITX Desktop Computer Case w/ 200W Power Supply $45
Western Digital Black 1.5 TB Hard Drive (previously purchased) ~$100
Windows 8 Pro(Christmas gift) ~$100
Logitech K400 RF wireless keyboard w/ mouse $40
SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual ATSC network attached tuner $75
Winegard VHF/UHF outdoor antenna (previously purchased) ~$100

After being frustrated with the poor performance of Intel’s integrated graphics in their low end chips, I decided to give an AMD APU a try. I’m glad I did! While the CPU portion is nothing to write home about, it’s more than capable of running Windows 8 WMC. It’s the integrated Radeon graphics that exceeded my expectations for a $70 chip! What sold me on the ASRock motherboard was the HDMI and S/PDIF outputs. The box has been running 24/7 for almost a year. If I could do one thing over, it would be a larger hard drive.
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post #41 of 60 Old 09-17-2013, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by materoxxx View Post

very interested in your build, since I have some parts already, like case and spare hard drives I was wondering if this build will work with mpc-hc and madvr. all 1080p 24fps 2D from bluray. (not interested in higher fps or 3d). It will be connected top my optoma HD20 and sound system trough optical or coaxial cable. Thank you

Just ordered the mobo, cpu & ram today from newegg. Will post results when my build is complete.
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post #42 of 60 Old 09-17-2013, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Parts ordered and are in transit. After I get my build running, what user interface would you recommend that's easy for my wife to use?

Here's what she will be doing (at first):

Watching Korean dramas from an external hard drive that's attached to my i5 tower PC in the living room. Connection will be via Cat5e cable to a router to the i5 tower PC. Korean dramas usually consist of about 21 episodes, about 45 minutes per episode. The ones we currently have are in (.avi files with SRT subtitles, 720p max quality), or (standard DVD rips with 3 episodes per DVD so 7 DVDs. Use the normal DVD subtitles.)

My initial plan is to use VLC but I will have to set it up with a playlist each time she watches some avi episodes. Then she can use the Sanoxy remote to play, pause, FF, rewind and skip to the next episode (I hope). For DVD rip playback, I plan to start playback for her using VLC and clicking on the VIDEO_TS.IFO file. Then the DVD's main menu should display and she can turn subtitles on and play the 3 episodes per the DVD rip using the Sanoxy remote (I hope).

QUESTION:
Is it possible to do all of the above "EASILY" just using the Sanoxy remote control if I install a user interface like WMC or XBMC or something else? If so, then she could watch her Korean dramas anytime without needing me to start playback. I've never used or even seen WMC or XBMC in use so I don't have the slightest idea of how they work.

In your opinion, what's the best way to do what I described? What software would you use and how would you set it up?

Thanks,
Skylark
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post #43 of 60 Old 09-17-2013, 09:43 PM
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Try windows media center - free with Windows 7.
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post #44 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 02:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lespurgeon View Post

Try windows media center - free with Windows 7.

I bought a copy of Windows 8 Pro Upgrade which is in transit. So I'll have to buy WMC for it if I go with WMC.

A youtube video showed how to make a playlist for songs (not videos). The video said to sort the playlist by moving songs up or down. If I make a playlist for 21 avi videos, it will be tedious to manually move each video up or down to get the correct sort order. Can WMC sort the entire playlist with one click?

Thanks,
Skylark
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post #45 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 06:27 AM
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You would organize your shows into a series using Season XX and Episode XX "Drama_Name_S01E01_Drama_Title.avi". The frontend software Media Browser, My Movies, XBMC,... would then present you with the Drama_Name for you to click, inside would be a list of seasons and then a list of episodes. It should mark them as watched. Depending on the frontend will determine if it automatically goes to the next episode or if you simply scroll down to the next one and hit Play.

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post #46 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 02:56 PM
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EDIT I see OP already ordered parts

Maybe add in an HD6450 PCie low profile fanless video card (nice upgrade AMD catalyst software gives you a lot of control ) they can be had for ~$25.00 it works well! ( actually better ) or stay with the Intel HD graphics already in there they will support HDMI and 1080p as is just not as well . HD 6450 is superior to the intel graphics (just about anything else out there is also ).not to mention HD 6450 has 1GB dedicated video memory frees up syst ram, makes a difference. It's the de facto HTPC card ,not a game card but excellent HTPC and general use it is 3D capable. No need to worry about molex , card runs entirely off of PCI I power only about 19- 25 watts. stock PSU will run it fine .

If your build works as is (I don't see any reason why it won't looks decent btw) but if you find you want a little more video or better software control and ,hardware acceleration for h264/265 ,3D ,and flash or even Silverlight or dedicated video memory (That alone makes it worth it) at least for general use and especially transcoding probably not an issue with *only HDTV playback * . but if you want some extra video grunt you can always add one of these.


Best regards

Hires Music formats ..............."Why does it sound like a CD ?" ............. can we make it louder "?
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post #47 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

You would organize your shows into a series using Season XX and Episode XX "Drama_Name_S01E01_Drama_Title.avi". The frontend software Media Browser, My Movies, XBMC,... would then present you with the Drama_Name for you to click, inside would be a list of seasons and then a list of episodes. It should mark them as watched. Depending on the frontend will determine if it automatically goes to the next episode or if you simply scroll down to the next one and hit Play.

Hi bryansj,

Thanks for the tips.

The drama episodes are titled as "Drama E01.avi", "Drama E02.avi", etc. Using VLC (on my laptop), when I load them into a playlist they can end up unsorted. I just click the "Title" header for the list and all of the titles are sorted.

I start playback on the first episode in the list, "Drama E01.avi". When my wife reaches the end of that episode, there are previews for the next episode which she doesn't want to watch. So she would press the "Next" button on the Sanoxy remote to jump to the "Drama E02.avi" episode.

You mention "Depending on the frontend will determine if it automatically goes to the next episode...". Would you happen to know which front-end software will automatically go to the next episode, or jump to the next episode if my wife pressrd the "Next" button on the Sanoxy remote? Reason I ask is I don't want to buy WMC if it can't do this, or if the free XBMC can do it.

Since VLC should do what I want (I haven't tested the Sanoxy remote that I just received with it yet), the question would be "Why don't I just use it?". I'm wondering if a front-end software will allow my wife to do everything herself, (play the avi files that are in a folder) just using the Sanoxy remote and the front-end software.

Thanks,
Skylark
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post #48 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 03:56 PM
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VLC works decent but I find kind of kludgy overall and prefer WMC ( better GUI and more features VLC is pretty bare bones) as for your questions about TV episodes and Saxony remote compatibility I can not say hopefully someone will come along that knows . I don't see why WMC Playlist won't work ? Another advantage you can still have Netflix WMC app at least in win 7 Don't know about 8 that way wifey doesn't have to go from WMC to browser,Roku,DVD player ,smart TV or whatever if she watches N/Flix.. WMC *should* play files within a folder much in the same way it plays
movie chapters. again hopefully someone will come along that knows

Hires Music formats ..............."Why does it sound like a CD ?" ............. can we make it louder "?
"The wireless music box has no commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
- David Sarnoff's associates at RCA the 1920's -
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post #49 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubetwister View Post

EDIT I see OP already ordered parts

Maybe add in an HD6450 PCie low profile fanless video card (nice upgrade AMD catalyst software gives you a lot of control ) they can be had for ~$25.00 it works well! ( actually better ) or stay with the Intel HD graphics already in there they will support HDMI and 1080p as is just not as well . HD 6450 is superior to the intel graphics (just about anything else out there is also ).not to mention HD 6450 has 1GB dedicated video memory frees up syst ram, makes a difference. It's the de facto HTPC card ,not a game card but excellent HTPC and general use it is 3D capable. No need to worry about molex , card runs entirely off of PCI I power only about 19- 25 watts. stock PSU will run it fine .

If your build works as is (I don't see any reason why it won't looks decent btw) but if you find you want a little more video or better software control and ,hardware acceleration for h264/265 ,3D ,and flash or even Silverlight or dedicated video memory (That alone makes it worth it) at least for general use and especially transcoding probably not an issue with *only HDTV playback * . but if you want some extra video grunt you can always add one of these.


Best regards

Hi Tubetwister,

Thanks for the HD6450 info. That will be really helpful if I find I need to install a video card in my build.

Skylark
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post #50 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubetwister View Post

VLC works decent but I find kind of kludgy overall and prefer WMC ( better GUI and more features VLC is pretty bare bones) as for your questions about TV episodes and Saxony remote compatibility I can not say hopefully someone will come along that knows . I don't see why WMC Playlist won't work ? Another advantage you can still have Netflix WMC app at least in win 7 Don't know about 8 that way wifey doesn't have to go from WMC to browser,Roku,DVD player ,smart TV or whatever if she watches N/Flix.. WMC *should* play files within a folder much in the same way it plays
movie chapters. again hopefully someone will come along that knows

Thanks for the vote for WMC. Have you tried XBMC?
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post #51 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylark View Post

I bought a copy of Windows 8 Pro Upgrade which is in transit. So I'll have to buy WMC for it if I go with WMC.

A youtube video showed how to make a playlist for songs (not videos). The video said to sort the playlist by moving songs up or down. If I make a playlist for 21 avi videos, it will be tedious to manually move each video up or down to get the correct sort order. Can WMC sort the entire playlist with one click?

Thanks,
Skylark

Oh, sorry about that, too bad already have Vista 2013 then...
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post #52 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 10:17 PM
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Thanks for the vote for WMC. Have you tried XBMC?

No I have win 7x64 hp so WMC was included . I've read at Audio Kharma that some folks like XMBC. I don't know specifically that they did or did not prefer that over WMC however could have been nix (Linux) builds for all I know but they do have it for win 7 and 8 .

Maybe an "XMBC vs WMC " forum search here at AVS or a Google search might get some results . It's probably fair to assume it's been discussed many times I have VLC also ........good for the occasional file that WMC or WMP will not read .

I don't have TV episodes stored I use Netflix or Hulu on the rare occasion I watch those on other than Dish .although I watch some documentaries on Netflix and PBS, even You Tube , Hulu has a lot of TV starting in the early 1950's B/W up to present. Amazon Instant has a lot of TV also.

Hires Music formats ..............."Why does it sound like a CD ?" ............. can we make it louder "?
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post #53 of 60 Old 09-18-2013, 10:49 PM - Thread Starter
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No I have win 7x64 hp so WMC was included . I've read at Audio Kharma that some folks like XMBC. I don't know specifically that they did or did not prefer that over WMC however could have been nix (Linux) builds for all I know but they do have it for win 7 and 8 .

Maybe an "XMBC vs WMC " forum search here at AVS or a Google search might get some results . It's probably fair to assume it's been discussed many times I have VLC also ........good for the occasional file that WMC or WMP will not read .

I don't have TV episodes stored I use Netflix or Hulu on the rare occasion I watch those on other than Dish .although I watch some documentaries on Netflix and PBS, even You Tube , Hulu has a lot of TV starting in the early 1950's B/W up to present. Amazon Instant has a lot of TV also.

I got WMC running on my Win8 laptop. It can't do what I need. I'll start a new thread about which front-end can do what I need.

Thanks,
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post #54 of 60 Old 09-19-2013, 01:23 AM
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That will be interesting and most likely helpful to some I will look for it later. WMC is fine for me I have only Movies on it so no prob for me.
I put music in WMP and organise it there . WMC can hunt for that and link the libraries . Good luck maybe XMBC is your ticket lot folks like it!

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post #55 of 60 Old 09-24-2013, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
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PROGRESS REPORT 2:

Completed my HTPC build and installed Windows 8 Pro. I installed VLC and it plays video, audio and subtitles perfectly to a DVI computer screen and also via HDMI to our 46" Samsung HDTV set. Played avi files and a ripped DVD in the VIDEO_TS format.

In this process, I discovered a few things which might help other beginner HTPC builders:
  1. If your build does not have an optical drive, order an 8GB USB flash memory stick to be able to boot the installer and load Windows. I loaded Windows 8 Pro on my 8GB stick. Although Win8 takes up about 3.7GB of space, I'm suggesting getting an 8GB stick to be able to copy the CD that comes with the motherboard. Then the motherboard drivers can be installed from the same USB stick. There is a gottcha regarding buying a USB flash memory stick for loading Windows which I'll discuss below.
  2. Also order a 1GB (or larger) USB memory stick. This stick will be used to hold the backup rescue disc to allow restoring the hard drive in event of a future failure. I didn't think of this so I need to buy one now.
  3. Set the SATA hard drives in the BIOS to AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) if the OS will be Vista, Win7 or Win8, BEFORE installing Windows.

Regarding item-1, I bought a SanDisk Cruzer 8GB USB flash drive. When I ran Microsoft's "Windows7-USB-DVD-tool" to transfer the Win8 iso file to the USB stick and make it bootable, the "Windows7-USB-DVD-tool" could not find the USB stick!!! Darn it! Spun my wheels for about an hour and then I discovered that the SanDisk Cruzer stick I bought makes the USB stick look like a hard drive. So the stick appears in disk management as an internal hard drive and not a removeable USB drive. Doing research on this, it appears that this will be the SanDisk policy for all of their USB flash drives from now on. If I'm wrong on this, please chime in.

I had an old 8GB Patriot USB2 memory stick so I copied its contents to the new SanDisk stick. Then the "Windows7-USB-DVD-tool" was able to see the Patriot stick and completed the transfer successfully.

I need to make a back up of the system hard drive before I load anything else and screw the system up. Will be back later.
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post #56 of 60 Old 09-24-2013, 09:00 PM
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I have step by step guides for just about everything you just mentioned btw.
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post #57 of 60 Old 09-24-2013, 09:29 PM
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Quote:
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I have step by step guides for just about everything you just mentioned btw.

Excellent guides I said to myself as I reading one "man this guy is good " ........... then I saw Your website then it made more sense. I will point to your guides as the need arises ,.

best regards they should make those guides stickies !

@ Skylark good stuff I have a similar strategy (learned the hard way) I've got a little tray with flash drives and memory sticks with that stuff including win 7x64 + drivers and startup repair + hdd diag ,Sea Tools and WD lifeguard and PC Doctor for when I get lazy it's come in handy a couple of times saved I keep our 3 boxes running with that
my butt. saved me from having to do a bare metal format /re install recently

regards

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post #58 of 60 Old 09-26-2013, 05:54 AM - Thread Starter
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I have step by step guides for just about everything you just mentioned btw.

Hi Assassin,

Thank you very much for making your guides free. I'll check them out.

Best regards,
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post #59 of 60 Old 09-26-2013, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tubetwister View Post

@ Skylark good stuff I have a similar strategy (learned the hard way) I've got a little tray with flash drives and memory sticks with that stuff including win 7x64 + drivers and startup repair + hdd diag ,Sea Tools and WD lifeguard and PC Doctor for when I get lazy it's come in handy a couple of times saved I keep our 3 boxes running with that
my butt. saved me from having to do a bare metal format /re install recently
regards

Hi tubetwister,

Thanks for sharing your USB flash drive strategy. Very interesting.

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post #60 of 60 Old 09-26-2013, 06:10 AM - Thread Starter
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After much debating, I think I'll bite the bullet and buy an external USB optical drive for my HTPC build, rather than face the "load using USB flash drives" problem forever. Plus an external USB optical drive might come in handy in case the optical drive in my i5 tower PC or in my Dell laptop dies in the future.

What do you guys think of this Buffalo USB optical drive sold on amazon for $32.99 + free shipping? It seems to have the best user reviews out of the similarly priced external optical drives, using the formula: (1star+2star reviews) divided by (4star+5star reviews) = 11.5% low end reviews. The led that glows red to let the user know that the second USB cable needs to be connected seems like a valuable feature.

http://www.amazon.com/BUFFALO-USB-Portable-Writer-DVSM-PC58U2VB/dp/B004ZMVQRA/ref=sr_1_10?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1380194972&sr=1-10&keywords=external+dvd+drive

Any other suggestions in the $35 or less including shipping price range?

Thanks,
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