Originally Posted by JVoth
I've done a ton of research about HTPC's over the past month or so since I haven't been real deep in the computer world in about 10 years and a lot of the hardware has changed. I have, however, been heavily involved in the home theater world (speakers, pre amps, projectors, dedicated rooms, you name it, I've been all about it). I've found that both of these worlds have enthusiasts that have ridiculously strong opinions about their respective hobbies, as if each person the enthusiast advises is spending someone else's money besides their own. It seems the HTPC guys get way more passionate about their setups and their beliefs than the home theater guys do. In the home theater world, it's all about the biggest power amps and the most subwoofers that you can stick in 20 x 12 room. All of it is WAY overkill. People are willing to pay several hundred or thousand dollars for a little more performance. Same thing for computers. Yes, 9 subs if tuned correctly are better than 2 subs. However, no one, that I have seen in the theater threads, will say to someone with 9 subs in their room that they are stupid and only really need 4 subs. Yes, a newer chipset on a motherboard will be better than an older one, but you obviously aren't concerned with chipsets, AMD or Intel, GForce or Radeon. Sounds like you just want it to work. No one gets pissed off when a guy wanting a nice theater room calls Dennis Erskine or BigmouthinDC to build it for them. That seems to happen here quite a bit. I'm not sure I understand why.
To answer your question, if you don't care about getting a chipset on a motherboard that is slightly newer than the "current" chipset (in quotes because no computer is current, EVER), or a video card that can handle frame rates that you'll never watch, and you want to save some cash, and you don't want to DIY the whole thing, then just buy a Dell or HP or whatever. Now, you will have to download and install a media player like Windows Media Center or whatever. But Assassin has guides to help you with all that. You obviously don't mind doing research or you wouldn't be on this thread asking questions. Now, if you don't feel like doing any set up or any of that, then by all means buy the Assassin. The other thing, if you are trying to set up some elaborate multi-room media server, then you'll need something besides a Dell from Best Buy. But, I have a hard time believing that the Dell from BB can't play blu-rays and music in a single room.
Well said. Nice grounded viewpoint.
I'm guilty of the passion thing myself. Since this is somewhat of a hobby for me I probably care about a lot of the little stuff a normal person wouldn't.
Just about any PC can play back video files at 1080p, even older ones with a $50 GPU card to add HDMI can do it.
It's not about just that though, it's about the total solution. How well does it fit? Is it quiet? Does it look good? Is it reliable? Is the performance optimal for the desired user experience (SSD!), does it have all the features you need, does it have expand ability for features you might want or need in future, can you easily set up a remote, how well is the software configured, does the total package work as expected or is there bugs?
For someone that's pc literate or has the passion a full DIY option usually better, and for someone like the OP a full turn key custom solution is usually best. Different folks. Different priorities.
I still feel like the DIY guys enjoy a superior user experience because obtaining such is founded on understanding and good set up and there's an inherent knowledge building and learning curve that's developed more advanced for the DIY and this pays dividends later on.
There's occasionally posts here where someone wealthy who wants HTPC buys a high end Asassin for big money and then has a plethora of posts looking for help using it, or some complaints about it. In the end it always seems like nothing is wrong with the unit or Assassin work, it's often the user. There is still the same learning curve to learn to use it if you buy or you build it. The different is that DIY helps you understand how it works.