PCWorld's Article: "Build the ultimate Windows 8 home-theater PC for under $500" - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
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http://www.pcworld.com/article/2048863/build-the-ultimate-windows-8-home-theater-pc-for-under-500.html

 

It's funny...if I where to have read this PCWorld post a couple of years ago, long before I delved into the HTPC world, I would be amazed that you could do everything mentioned in the article with a PC connected to your TV.

 

Nowadays, with the wisdom and awesomeness of Assasin, Renethx, Mfusick, greeneyez,and a ton of others here on AVS, the article is kinda passé (not knocking the author or anything...).

 

When I was reading the post, I was thinking to myself "cool, he covered the basics, but what about LAV & MadVR, what about streaming to extenders, what about SVP, can you bitstream with that setup, what about this and that..."

 

Then I remembered how far most hardcore HTPC hobbyists have come, and this kind of article is not really geared to us, which I guess is a good thing!


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post #2 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 07:08 AM
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I added my comments to the article smile.gif

 

 

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post #3 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 08:03 AM
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I added my comments to the article smile.gif

Maybe they should replace the article with your comment.

I saw where he said that you could add a Blu-ray drive if you wanted to watch Blu-ray discs for $50. Where's the article on how to play those discs without forking over more money for a proper player or ripper?

Once you get proper Blu-ray playback and a Cablecard tuner you are closer to $750. I also fail to see the cost of Win8 PRO, only the cost of adding WMC to PRO.

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post #4 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 08:58 AM
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I'm a bit disappointed in Alex Castle, him being a former Maximum PC staffer.
But the article is for PC World, which is more of a 'general knowledge' based periodical.
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post #5 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 09:10 AM
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I think its a bit funny that the one piece of hardware that is a consensus must have - SSD - was not on the list.

That might be the only piece of hardware every HTPC builder on here and other places around the net agree on. Intel vs AMD, discrete vs integrated, larger case vs smaller case, leaving the front end vs never leaving the front end, more ram vs less ram, low power CPU vs monster CPU - everyone likes a solid state drive though.

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post #6 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 09:52 AM
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Given the tone set already, I think the comments section of the article will become more interesting than the article itself. Not that happening is unusual smile.gif
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post #7 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 10:24 AM
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I had to chime in and correct that one guy who said you couldn't watch digital+analogue/use multi-signal tuners before Windows 8 -_-
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post #8 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 10:38 AM
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I added my comments to the article smile.gif

Now I gotta go read eek.gif

Thanks for making me waste another hour of my workday on nothingness. lol tongue.gif

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post #9 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 10:46 AM
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Where's the article on how to play those discs without forking over more money for a proper player or ripper?
MakeMKV and XBMC are both freeware and work great for Blu-Ray playback, so it's pretty much a non-factor in the overall cost. Of course, the author left any info on this out of the article.

I basically skimmed the article once I realized it was probably written by some apprentice writer trying to make some brownie points with the boss. Unfortunately, he completely missed the mark, as has just about every similar article written in a mainstream PC magazine. The article should have been titled "How to make a barebones HTPC for under $500." Of course, he left out the cost of the OS and just about everything else important needed for a complete HTPC. The actual cost of his PC would have easily exceeded $500 if he took all of the necessary hardware and software into account.
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post #10 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 10:53 AM
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ECO PC comments = LULZ. You took them to school dude.

I really thought the article was decent. I don't expect much from an article gears towards the masses and not the HTPC enthusiast. The reality is only we would know any different or any better. People do not seem to care that Intel is more power efficient, I see so much AMD recommendations. What's the reason for this ?

I know the XBMC nut heads always liked it better because XBMC sucks with Intel and DVXA - but aside from that I never saw the reason to automatically go AMD. And that is more a problem with XBMC being broken, not anything wrong with Intel. Just the XBMC die hards never want to admit that so they would rather cover that up and just go AMD.

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post #11 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 12:06 PM
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I went with an AMD this year because from what I read it seemed that it would do better with Handbrake, MadVR, and the small number of games that I play.

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post #12 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
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ECO PC comments = LULZ. You took them to school dude.

I really thought the article was decent. I don't expect much from an article gears towards the masses and not the HTPC enthusiast. The reality is only we would know any different or any better. People do not seem to care that Intel is more power efficient, I see so much AMD recommendations. What's the reason for this ?
 

 

+1 for ECO's comments.

 

Agreed that the article was decent.

 

Personally, myself, I automatically go AMD for my HTPC and Media Server builds, but I'm an unabashed AMD fan and root for the underdog, even when it seems illogical.

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post #13 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 12:15 PM
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I went with an AMD this year because from what I read it seemed that it would do better with Handbrake, MadVR, and the small number of games that I play.

Oh.. I am not saying AMD isn't a good chip or that it does not have it's place in HTPC. Clearly it belongs. There is good and bad about everything but mostly good with both AMD and INTEL. Both work pretty well.

I just see a lot of people and articles automatically recommending AMD- it seems because the XBMC brain-damaged cult has beaten it into people. It's been a while since I was last in the XBMC territory but last time I was there- there was a pretty big AMD bias prevailing, and existing throughout the 1155 chips. Stardog made a couple good comments about why the new socket 1150 is changing things though...

If it's not 50/50 it's 49/51 or something to that extent. AMD vs Intel will never be a 90/10 split IMO. Natural capitalism keeps them somewhat even.

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post #14 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Bizzy G.L.X. View Post
 

 

+1 for ECO's comments.

 

Agreed that the article was decent.

 

Personally, myself, I automatically go AMD for my HTPC and Media Server builds, but I'm an unabashed AMD fan and root for the underdog, even when it seems illogical.

 

Also, I'm guessing that Alex Castle's reasoning was just price-per-performance-ratio that you'd get with a $70 AMD APU solution versus a comparable Intel & possible dedicated video card solution...


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post #15 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 12:54 PM
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It didn't take long for the $100 Android streamer guy to show up smile.gif

Honestly, it's not a bad article. It's kind of like a first post here with "hey, this is what I am thinking of building" and then hopefully you get a dialog going after that.

 

 

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post #16 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 12:55 PM
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No mention of extenders either, or how most of them won't work with Windows 8. And no mention of the vast sums of cash you save by ditching cable DVR fees, recouping all your build costs in the first year or two.

However, there is enough good, basic info in there to hopefully pique the interest of a novice.
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post #17 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 01:07 PM
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You guys are HTPC Nutzy (ala soup nutzy from Seinfeld). It says right there in the article that you don't need a lot of horsepower to run an HTPC, and we all know that too.

I can easily build an HTPC and undercut the article by $100 if not more.

Haswell, nVidia, super duper graphics, SSD, ect are not a necessity. They are nice to have, but not neccessary for funactionality.


The article did not say anything about multi-rooom viewing, gaming or bit streaming in Linux. It is the stand alone DVR that will beat the pants off any other stand alone DVR.

Had it said "ultimate whole house DVR" yeah, you may had a point, but it did not.

Besides, the processor of their choice will easily run at least 1 extender concurrently with the main TV.

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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post #18 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 01:16 PM
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Haswell, nVidia, super duper graphics, SSD, ect are not a necessity. They are nice to have, but not neccessary for funactionality.

+1
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post #19 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 01:18 PM
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I just went and looked at the article and I don't know why he chose a non HDMI board for this. Nor has anyone else caught this little tidbit of info. Am i missing something? So if he goes DVI to TV whats he doing for audio?
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post #20 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 01:29 PM
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I just went and looked at the article and I don't know why he chose a non HDMI board for this. Nor has anyone else caught this little tidbit of info. Am i missing something? So if he goes DVI to TV whats he doing for audio?

Yeah I would say that was an oversight on his part. There are ways to still make it work if you were stuck in that position though.
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post #21 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 02:12 PM
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My HTPC is an Athlon II X 4 with an inexpensive HD6450 fanless discrete low wattage video card ,Win 7x64 hp with WMC frt end and ofc addt'l external storage.
It does handbrake,DVD decrypter ,DVD shrink,dvd9 fab etc. just fine. No tuner or recording here . I have Dish TV DVR that I use for that.

Case fan rarely ever come on or at least where you can hear it you can only hear fan only occasionally if transcoding,etc they will spin up and then only briefly .
ofc AMD 4 core APU is close to i3 price wise so maybe i3 would be the choice now between those two at least for sure with a nix build?

AMD (at least the 2 core and lower end 4 core Apu Maybe not as fast as i3 (AMD APU has better integrated video though )ofc i3 /i5 is a great solution also *if you are doing much transcoding/recording and especially while doing simultaneous playback etc and not just *playback only.

OTOH ofc with just playback and occasional DVD copy 2 core AMD APU or Pentium will work not sure about 3DTV though? but maybe 6450HD would handle that, it also provides optical PCM audio pass through with budget 2 core CPU ecosmartpc seems to a good handle on that .

Then ofc there are the low power cpu nix , and android builds and the expensive (but small efficient) Intel NUC builds also.

Alternatively if someone wants a * mostly * ready made basic windows solution an inexpensive Dell or Gateway SB/IB/HW Pentium slimline desktop will work fine for playback and light transcoding . (not sure about 3DTV though? just add extra storage and you are good to go for a basic set up .
They also include ODD . Those slim lines can be had for right at $300.00 usually. Not an ultimate solution to be sure but it will work!
you probably can not build much for windows better for same money. even with the HD 6450 and a $99.00 2 TB external HDD
you are still way in the ball park with the build in the article considering win 7 or 8 is included.

For another ~25-$30.00 you can put the low profile fan less HD 6450 1GB low profile card in there to free up system ram ,provide HDWE accel ,and take some load off of the CPU. HD 6450 runs entirely from PCIe power no molex conn. needed they only use maybe 19-25 watts so stock PSU will run them just fine as long as you don't have too many external USB devices ,
IR/Bluetooth receiver for remote ,USB WI FI ,and USB HDD should be fine though . HD 6450 also has multi channel audio bitstream pass through (optical ) and multi monitor support,in case you want an additional smaller touch screen
OR if you want to rock 2 Big screens biggrin.gif Personally I would recommend an HD 6450 for *almost any HTPC other than a gaming rig .

The Soviet people feared the KGB was watching them through their TV's ........or listening to them through their radios, so they kept them turned off often when they wanted privacy .

Now the NSA/ DHS are in fact watching us with our computers cell phones surveillance cameras drones,satellites etc !
...
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post #22 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by DraZtiK View Post

I just went and looked at the article and I don't know why he chose a non HDMI board for this. Nor has anyone else caught this little tidbit of info. Am i missing something? So if he goes DVI to TV whats he doing for audio?

Good call on both points !
No HDMI and no Audio pass through mmmm Not good simple fix would be an HD6450 that would fix both issues .Still for the money I'm sure a different FM2 board at least with HDMI should be around as the AMD supports HD . But then there is of course the Audio thing . I guess nobody at PC mag checks anyones work ? ASUS A85XM-A FM2 AMD A85X has HDMI $79.99 at N.E. still no audio pass through though so without a sound or video card added in maybe HD 6450 ,You would have to take surround audio from TV if it has an optical out.
You would have to take surround audio from TV if has an optical out.

The Soviet people feared the KGB was watching them through their TV's ........or listening to them through their radios, so they kept them turned off often when they wanted privacy .

Now the NSA/ DHS are in fact watching us with our computers cell phones surveillance cameras drones,satellites etc !
...
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post #23 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by DraZtiK View Post

I just went and looked at the article and I don't know why he chose a non HDMI board for this. Nor has anyone else caught this little tidbit of info. Am i missing something? So if he goes DVI to TV whats he doing for audio?

Just goes to show that more than likely he did not even a)build or b)test this "ultimate" htpc.
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post #24 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 04:08 PM
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Oh.. I am not saying AMD isn't a good chip or that it does not have it's place in HTPC. Clearly it belongs. There is good and bad about everything but mostly good with both AMD and INTEL. Both work pretty well.

I just see a lot of people and articles automatically recommending AMD- it seems because the XBMC brain-damaged cult has beaten it into people. It's been a while since I was last in the XBMC territory but last time I was there- there was a pretty big AMD bias prevailing, and existing throughout the 1155 chips. Stardog made a couple good comments about why the new socket 1150 is changing things though...

If it's not 50/50 it's 49/51 or something to that extent. AMD vs Intel will never be a 90/10 split IMO. Natural capitalism keeps them somewhat even.

It's much closer to 90/10 than you think. Last time I checked it was about 85/15 in the desktop market. Htpc may be a little more skewed but not by much.

We sell both amd and intel and sell at least 10 intel for every 1 amd fwiw.
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post #25 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 05:46 PM
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Assasin, Renethx, Mfusick, greeneyez
Interesting combination. Alex hasn't posted in 7 months, and XBMC guide is left unfinished tongue.gif Several users AWOL these days
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post #26 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 05:47 PM
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XBMC brain-damaged cult
Really?
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post #27 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 07:00 PM
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Did you know if you don't believe an android streamer is an HTPC you're a troll? biggrin.gif

 

 

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post #28 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 07:44 PM
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Really?

No offense it just seems the hard core XBMC fanatics passionately prefer AMD (or at least they used to)

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post #29 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 07:50 PM
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Did you know if you don't believe an android streamer is an HTPC you're a troll? biggrin.gif

Of course you are, even more so if you've successfully refuted my other statements. I mean, I don't have to 'read' an article to know what I am talking about..
Android streamer is still obviously the best option because it's cheaper. cool.gif
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post #30 of 83 Old 09-19-2013, 07:55 PM
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Of course you are, even more so if you've successfully refuted my other statements. I mean, I don't have to 'read' an article to know what I am talking about..
Android streamer is still obviously the best option because it's cheaper. cool.gif

Foxconn Celeron 847 $150 biggrin.gif

 

 

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