HTPC Re-Build help - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 08-20-2014, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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HTPC Re-Build help

Hi there, forum folks.

I was hoping someone could give me some assistance with a HTPC build as I am woefully unqualified to figure this stuff out myself.

I will try to keep this succinct, but some background info is probably relevant. 2 years ago I decided to build a HTPC. I ordered parts, built the system, and pretty much stopped there. My HTPC had now become a desktop PC, which sits in the basement office.

The reason for my never getting around to hooking it up as a HTPC? I already had 3 PS3s (2 wired, 1 WIFI), one WDTV and a portable hard drive that I would move around from device to device as necessary, but the hassle of moving media from the newly built PC (which pretty much is only used for downloading media now) to the hard drive was getting to be a pain in my wife's rear. I did have some success in changing over to media servers such as Plex, PS3 media Server, Serviio, etc. and because of this, I never got around to setting up the HTPC as an HTPC.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago, my house gets struck by lightning, and fries my motherboard. Since I now have to rebuild it anyway, why not do it up right now as a true HTPC, not relegated to my basement, but proudly displayed in my TV stand, and hooked up to my TV, and sending my media to the far reaches of my other TV's.

Here's what I have (I have confirmed that everything but MB is still operational):
AMD A6-3670K Quad Core 2.7GHz processor
Biostar A75MH Motherboard (dead)
8GB DDR3 1600 Ram
Seagate Barracuda ST2000DL003 2TB HD
Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card
Need a new case - HTPC case preferred

How would I turn these existing parts into a (hopefully) virtually silent HTPC capable of playing my existing media and Netflix, as well as allowing me to stream to my other TVs (still have the PS3s and WDTV). Must be wife/kid friendly, so remote control/keyboard recommendations are welcome. Budget is a concern, but I don't mind spending $300 - $400 if I HAVE to.

Thanks for reading!
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-20-2014, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salomon72 View Post
Hi there, forum folks.

I was hoping someone could give me some assistance with a HTPC build as I am woefully unqualified to figure this stuff out myself.

I will try to keep this succinct, but some background info is probably relevant. 2 years ago I decided to build a HTPC. I ordered parts, built the system, and pretty much stopped there. My HTPC had now become a desktop PC, which sits in the basement office.

The reason for my never getting around to hooking it up as a HTPC? I already had 3 PS3s (2 wired, 1 WIFI), one WDTV and a portable hard drive that I would move around from device to device as necessary, but the hassle of moving media from the newly built PC (which pretty much is only used for downloading media now) to the hard drive was getting to be a pain in my wife's rear. I did have some success in changing over to media servers such as Plex, PS3 media Server, Serviio, etc. and because of this, I never got around to setting up the HTPC as an HTPC.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago, my house gets struck by lightning, and fries my motherboard. Since I now have to rebuild it anyway, why not do it up right now as a true HTPC, not relegated to my basement, but proudly displayed in my TV stand, and hooked up to my TV, and sending my media to the far reaches of my other TV's.

Here's what I have (I have confirmed that everything but MB is still operational):
AMD A6-3670K Quad Core 2.7GHz processor
Biostar A75MH Motherboard (dead)
8GB DDR3 1600 Ram
Seagate Barracuda ST2000DL003 2TB HD
Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card
Need a new case - HTPC case preferred

How would I turn these existing parts into a (hopefully) virtually silent HTPC capable of playing my existing media and Netflix, as well as allowing me to stream to my other TVs (still have the PS3s and WDTV). Must be wife/kid friendly, so remote control/keyboard recommendations are welcome. Budget is a concern, but I don't mind spending $300 - $400 if I HAVE to.

Thanks for reading!
This sounds less like a HTPC and more like a home media server. One can certainly be used for the other, but what you will want to focus on is going to be slightly different for each. If you already have streaming boxes hooked up to all the distant televisions and will be using Media Browser 3 or PLEX, then you are going to want to make sure the processor has the power to handle multiple streams and that you can support enough hard drive space for your media.

If you are going to be using the PC primarily to watch media on the television next to it and little else, then you are almost there already. A new MB, install Media Browser 3 or XBMC and you are good to go. Appropriate cases can be found all over and are a matter of preference. Quiet is mostly about the fans you pick, try some of the "silent" 120 mm varieties and you'll be set.
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post #3 of 5 Old 08-20-2014, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. I guess what I'm looking for is both your options above. I want this machine to be hooked to the main TV but also be able to stream to the other TV's. What, in your opinion, would be best to accomplish both tasks? Would my existing parts suffice? What would you change, buy, etc? I have money to spend if necessary. Thanks
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-21-2014, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salomon72 View Post
Thanks for the reply. I guess what I'm looking for is both your options above. I want this machine to be hooked to the main TV but also be able to stream to the other TV's. What, in your opinion, would be best to accomplish both tasks? Would my existing parts suffice? What would you change, buy, etc? I have money to spend if necessary. Thanks
It's been my experience that, whenever possible, running a server and client separately is always preferable. That said, I know more than a few people that use their server PC as their main HTPC as well, and they have few problems if any.

In your situation, you only list one HDD, a 2 TB one. If that is all the media you have, then it sounds like you aren't actually serving much media to other places. However, if you have a substantial collection of media, like on an external drive, then that does change things. Then, there are a few questions to ask yourself.
  1. How often do people watch on other devices while you are watching from your HTPC?
  2. How many other devices are likely to be running at the same time (whether you are using the HTPC or not)?
  3. What resolution will the various devices need streaming at?


Transcoding is a very CPU intensive process. If you are going to have multiple streams going at the same time, your processor may not be up to the challenge, almost certainly not if you are watching anything on the machine at the time. Devices that can access via direct play will help to make a difference there. If you are in a situation where the likelihood of multiple streams is quite low (or even zero), then your machine will do just fine.

For a stand-alone HTPC, your current computer is fine, and it will handle most anything you throw at it unless you start getting all sorts of crazy using MadVR or something. For a server, especially one that could be servicing multiple streams at 1080p all at once, it's not really beefy enough.
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-23-2014, 01:24 PM
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Watching 1080p is a next to nothing task . . . given your build I'm not sure why you ever had the additional video card? However, given that it is included, you would have no problem offloading your decoding and rendering to that leaving your CPU nearly untouched. Henceforth, if your build was already sufficient as a Plex Server then it should remain so given that your gpu will do the majority of your lifting when you run it as a server/htpc

I ran a server/htpc as my daily driver for a couple years and have only dedicated it to server only in the past few months. It was an i5, but I never had issue with 3 Plex transcodes while still playing back a blu ray in xbmc simultaneously. I think your setup may suffer to do 2 while playing back simultaneously, but I can't say as that depends on the targets and your file formats. If you honestly only really need 1 transcode at a time while playing back then I'd guess you will be fine as long as you are setup for h/w accelerated decoding and rendering during playback. Your processor is a little on the weak side for a plex server, but you must have been getting along with it based on your media formats or usage needs
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