Guide to Building a HTPC, Workstation and Server - Page 12 - AVS Forum
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post #331 of 19132 Old 11-18-2007, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I am sorry for lots of reserved posts. They are for future expansion of the guide although perhaps I don't need that much posts.
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post #332 of 19132 Old 11-18-2007, 08:44 AM
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Why did this post fall of the stickies?
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post #333 of 19132 Old 11-18-2007, 09:19 AM
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It never was a sticky, its brand new. Although it should definitely become a sticky
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post #334 of 19132 Old 11-18-2007, 11:52 AM
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renethx great work and amazing amount of info!

Need some help choosing the best motherboard for a WHS (Windows Home Server) build will also run VMware server (later) for some other stuff.

Decided on a 4U rackmount case with approx 10 internal SATAIIdrives so I guess an mATX or ATX board will do fine.

Which mobo would fit these min requirements.

-Core2 quad/Core2 duo cpu
-Serial Comm port (used for lighting control PLM)
-onboard graphics (nothing fancy,just a server)
-Sata internal (as many as possible otherwise need PMs)
-eSata external port (2 would be better)
-PCI slots (as many as possible for future needs)
-onboard 56k fax/modem (if possible, if not will add PCI ver)

I'm partial to Asus to mobos, but I don't mind another brand/model if it's solid.

Thanks very much for your help.
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post #335 of 19132 Old 11-18-2007, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
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MiBz

This type of question is best answered by looking at Core2_MB_(2007-11-18).xls. A few motherboards close to your requirement are

Intel DG965WH
ASUS P5K-V
GIGABYTE GA-G33M-DS2R
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post #336 of 19132 Old 11-19-2007, 06:09 AM
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Excellent work! I like the addition of the pictures for the equipment listings. Very beneficial.

My only suggestion is to maybe place dates next to your pricing as this quickly changes but it is still nice for providing a reference point.
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post #337 of 19132 Old 11-19-2007, 11:49 AM
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I'm planning on getting a new soundcard and videocard as soon as possible for my current pc (845PE chipset). For the videocard I've picked XFX 7600GT AGP 8x (motherboard has AGP 4x connector). Yesterday I found out XFX also has a 7950GT AGP 8x card. I'm not a gamer, I need a card for regular pc stuff as well as HDTV (I have the MDP-130). Later, I'm getting a 24" or 27" LCD monitor 1920x1200 to view the MDP130 on. I don't know which one to buy. I remember something at the time these cards were realeased about something that was "broken" on the 7900 series and was fixed on the 7600 series.
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post #338 of 19132 Old 11-19-2007, 01:17 PM
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renethx,

Have you experienced the Scythe Ninja Mini? As heatsinks for a small-form-factor system go, it's pretty nice, and I didn't see it on the list, though it's elder brother the Ninja (no "Mini") made the cut.

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post #339 of 19132 Old 11-19-2007, 01:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Morpheus_Rising

7600GT AGP is just fine for your purpose. You can also buy the latest Radeon HD 2600 XT AGP in the same price range ($120?).
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post #340 of 19132 Old 11-19-2007, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Scythe Ninja Mini is not in the CPU/CPU Cooler chapter yet, but will be added soon. I have used it and it is pretty good for Pentium Dual Core and Core 2 Duo E4xxx in a SFF system.
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post #341 of 19132 Old 11-19-2007, 10:39 PM
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Hi renethx,

Big thanks to you for such an excellent thread. I have built an HTPC myself and would have been glad to have seen your guide had it been written at that time.

Just off the top of my head, I agree with Seasonic PSU choice as highly recommended at Silent PC Review, I personally have the 650 Watt version and would certainly recommend it. I coupled it with an Antec P180 case, ThermalRight Ultra 120 (Passive) (thanks to the 2 case fans in stock P180) and have never been more impressed by any other combination ESPECIALLY quiet for the HTPC environment. I would also recommend a RheoStat for adjusting fan speed control to optimize heat levels when Process intensive applications are run.

I also have a 8800GTX installed for gaming, and for noise minimization I would recommend it over the 8800 GT due to it's quieter dual slot Heat Sink Fan compared to 8800GT's single slot Heat Sink Fan which will have a faster spinning fan.
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post #342 of 19132 Old 11-19-2007, 10:44 PM
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BTW, is there any possibility of compiling this into a PDF or some other portable format in the future?
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post #343 of 19132 Old 11-19-2007, 10:56 PM
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Input Devices

Since the Input Devices in under construction, may I take the liberty of recommending the Microsoft Media Center IR Remote and Keyboard combo.

I have used other Radio Wireless Keyboard and Mouse combos in the $60-$80 range, (including the Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop and low end Logitech Keyboard and Mouse Wireless Combo) and have been largely disappointed at the reception performance.

For $60 Canadian, I was able to find the MCE IR KEyboard and IR remote. I coupled it with a Logitech G7 mouse. The results were remarkable. IR transmission from the MCE combo always successful even without LINE of SIGHT!!!! It will work as it's not covered by a blanket and as long as your in the same room. The IR must be VERY bright!! Most of the time the wireless radio combo didn't work in the same room!!!! As for the Logitech G7 Wireless mouse, it works at the 2.4 Ghz band, there has never been a problem with reception either even with WiFi, but your paying $100 Canadian for it.

As for controlling the rest of the home theater system beyond just the HTPC, I would HIGHLY recommend an activity based universal remote. I was able to grab a Logitech Harmony 659 off Ebay for around $60. First Activity Based remote I've used let me tell you, I don't know how I could have lived so long with the dumb universal learning remote that came with my Onkyo Amp where you had to tell it what device you want to control before actually being able to control it.

Perhaps the best remote for that price range.

I've seen some remotes at $500 range, but besides more buttons and a bigger LCD, the fundamental functionality remains the same in all Activity Based Remotes, so just buy what you need.
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post #344 of 19132 Old 11-20-2007, 09:04 AM
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Renethx-

I'm planning to upgrade our demo system by swapping out the existing motherboard/cpu with components from your list of recommendations. Before doing this, I just wanted to check with you about the feasibility of mixing and matching components from different lists.

For example, will there be a problem with using a MicroATX mobo (mid-level system) with a CPU from a higher performance list?

I'd like to go with this combo:

Motherboard: ASUS P5K-VM LGA 775 Intel G33 MicroATX
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 Conroe 2.66 Ghz LGA 775
CPU Cooler: ZEROtherm BTF90
RAM: Crucial Ballistix 2 GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2-800

This will be going into an existing Lian-Li PC-V800B case with stock PSU and includes an MSI NX8600GT T2D256EZ graphics card, etc.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and thank you for this wonderful thread. Hopefully you'll be able to integrate your efforts with the work currently performed by greeniguana00 and binary64 in the future.

Thanks again,

Gregg Plummer
Amplizone - a blog about the development of Amplio Audio's soundcard/amps
The Short History of Audio/Video Technology
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post #345 of 19132 Old 11-20-2007, 09:49 AM
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Interesting Configuration greggplummer! I've always been interested in seeing how a HTPC in MircoATX formfactor can perform.

In fact, before I bought the Antec P180, I was looking into the Thermaltake Mozart among others like it. My priority of goals were 1) Noise 2) Style 3) Small Size

So, after noticing the allowable fan size was always below 120mm, and usually 80mm, I began to reconsider. Common knowledge has it that a larger sized fan spinning at a lower RPM can have an equal or higher CFM to that of smaller sized fan spinning at a higher RPM, hence lowering noise. That is why I chose Antec P180 with all 4 fan slots being 120mm and dual aluminum-plastic-aluminum layered chassis.

As I have missed an opportunity for testing a MicroATX, I would be very interested in the actual noise and heat performance once your system is built, as the CPU is similar.

I took a look at your configuration. As I'm no expert on the clearance of all heat sink fans in each MicroATX case, I can not comment on whether the ZEROtherm BTF90 will fit. But you may want to consider that as the fan is custom design, it doesn't look to be user replaceable.
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post #346 of 19132 Old 11-20-2007, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yucky View Post

Interesting Configuration greggplummer! I've always been interested in seeing how a HTPC in MircoATX formfactor can perform.

In fact, before I bought the Antec P180, I was looking into the Thermaltake Mozart among others like it. My priority of goals were 1) Noise 2) Style 3) Small Size

So, after noticing the allowable fan size was always below 120mm, and usually 80mm, I began to reconsider. Common knowledge has it that a larger sized fan spinning at a lower RPM can have an equal or higher CFM to that of smaller sized fan spinning at a higher RPM, hence lowering noise. That is why I chose Antec P180 with all 4 fan slots being 120mm and dual aluminum-plastic-aluminum layered chassis.

As I have missed an opportunity for testing a MicroATX, I would be very interested in the actual noise and heat performance once your system is built, as the CPU is similar.

I took a look at your configuration. As I'm no expert on the clearance of all heat sink fans in each MicroATX case, I can not comment on whether the ZEROtherm BTF90 will fit. But you may want to consider that as the fan is custom design, it doesn't look to be user replaceable.

Actually, the Lian-Li PC-V800 case is an ATX case. I went with a MicroATX mobo because of the cost and the possibility that it will be moved to a smaller case in the future. The ASUS P5K-VM seems to include all the features I need for this system. We don't need a lot of extra slots because we use a lot of external devices - our FireWire audio device, a media server and an HDHomeRun. I would have gone with a smaller case, but couldn't find one as simple, cheap and well built at the time (1-1/2 years ago). The case height is about 6.3" (160mm), so hopefully there will be enough room for the ZEROtherm BTF90.

BTW, I have an Antec midtower for my office machine and it is pretty nice and quiet. It looks very similar to the Antec Sonata III (maybe it is a slightly older version). I wanted to go with desktop HTPC form factor case for this and consider something like the Antec NSK2480, if I were to start from scratch. But I don't know if that case would have the necessary clearance.

Gregg Plummer
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post #347 of 19132 Old 11-20-2007, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yucky View Post

BTW, is there any possibility of compiling this into a PDF or some other portable format in the future?

Threre is no plan to do so. The best way is converting HTML to PDF by using Acrobat. The contents are updated very frequently (almost everyday).
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post #348 of 19132 Old 11-20-2007, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greggplummer View Post

Renethx-

I'm planning to upgrade our demo system by swapping out the existing motherboard/cpu with components from your list of recommendations. Before doing this, I just wanted to check with you about the feasibility of mixing and matching components from different lists.

For example, will there be a problem with using a MicroATX mobo (mid-level system) with a CPU from a higher performance list?

I'd like to go with this combo:

Motherboard: ASUS P5K-VM LGA 775 Intel G33 MicroATX
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 Conroe 2.66 Ghz LGA 775
CPU Cooler: ZEROtherm BTF90
RAM: Crucial Ballistix 2 GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2-800

This will be going into an existing Lian-Li PC-V800B case with stock PSU and includes an MSI NX8600GT T2D256EZ graphics card, etc.

In general there is no problem with mixing components in different categories, you still need to take care of mechanical compatibility and PSU though.

Edited

BTF90 should fit P5K-VM and PC-V800B. Assuming MSI NX8600GT-T2D256EZ has the same heatsink as MSI RX2600XT-T2D512EZ, it should fit P5K-VM.

http://www.extremetech.com/article2/...2186982,00.asp
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post #349 of 19132 Old 11-20-2007, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

Morpheus_Rising

7600GT AGP is just fine for your purpose. You can also buy the latest Radeon HD 2600 XT AGP in the same price range ($120?).

Thanks Renethx, I ordered the 7600GT. I think I'm going to get the Asus Xonar for my new soundcard.
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post #350 of 19132 Old 11-20-2007, 05:49 PM
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Most AGP versions of the Radeon HD 2600 XT (or Pro) do not appear to be HDCP compliant.

@renethx:
One thing your guide doesn't make quite clear enough (IMHO) is that graphics cards do not assist (much) in hardware acceleration of stored x.264 codec video files, only with HD-DVD or Blueray discs. That's a really important point for most of us thinking of the media server solution.
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post #351 of 19132 Old 11-20-2007, 06:37 PM
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renethx - Great job and everyone appreciates the many hours you devote to this.

A couple of minor things needed:

- The first post needs a link to the end of the reserved posts, so that people don't just jump to the end of the thread, and ask the same question that was asked in the previous page.

- More specifically, in your recommended MicroATX AMD system, you need to mention that the Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-2SH motherboard and the Antec NSK-2480 case are both excellent choices, but they have a glitch when you put them together, which is that the SATA connectors point right into an internal wall of the case. Some people have spent some time to cut a hole in the quite solid metal case (presumably using a Dremel tool, which not all of us own), but I found a much easier solution, which I describe in:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...0#post12199010

The other problem that people encounter with that motherboard is that it requires RAM memory that works at 1.8 volts, i.e. either "1.8v" in the specifications of the memory, or else a range that includes it, such as "1.8v-2.1v". A twist is that some memory that are not listed as "1.8v" will run fine at that voltage, such as the memory you recommend for the board - that memory and others are listed by Gigabyte as compatible in their memory list:

http://www.gigabyte.us/FileList/Memo...ma69gm-s2h.pdf
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post #352 of 19132 Old 11-20-2007, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
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David O and A_Dude

Thanks for the comments. I will address them shortly.

About GA-MA69GM-S2H and NSK-2480, I guess using 90-angle (left-angle or up) to straight SATA cables is a more reasonable solution than the case mod (not everyone likes this type of job or has tools), like:

- StarTech SATA18LA1 18 inch Left Angle Serial ATA Cable (can be purchased at as low as $2.60)
- Tripp Lite P941-19I 19" SATA Cable, Straight/Up (can be purchased at as low as $2.31)

Or just use non-latching SATA cables as kapone assured in this post.
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post #353 of 19132 Old 11-21-2007, 05:48 AM
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First off, this thread rocks! Thanks renethx for spending many hours putting this together.

I had everything all set up on Newegg to build the "old" 2TB server on the "Core 2 Motherboard" thread and then (luckily) came across your new thread.

I'm going to build the 16 HDD System I Home Media Server. I have a couple (probably newbie) questions that I'm hoping someone can answer:

1) With this setup, how do I get 16 SATA plugs off of the PSU that is mentioned. Can I daisy-chain off the plugs that are on the PSU? What is the best way to add a ton of extra SATA plugs for all the HDDs?

2) Can anyone recommend a mATX board with dual giga-lan? I'm thinking that if I do this up front, I have a better chance of the server being able to push 1080p data to two sources at once. Am I dreaming?

3) I couldn't find the LIAN Li EX-23NB Internal HDD kits at Newegg but did find these. I'm guessing these would also work?
http://www.newegg.com/product/produc...82E16811999141

4) If I add 8 500gb drives now and set up a raid5, can I add 2-3 drives later without having to set up the raid all over again (using the the Highpoint Rocketraid 2340 card recommended)?

Also, here's a link to the components I've set up so far. Any recommendations or comments are welcome!
http://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/...Number=6414511

-Brian

Half-knowledgeable but fully dangerous.
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post #354 of 19132 Old 11-21-2007, 06:09 AM
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Just a heads up for those planning a budget mATX setup, the recommended NSK2480 case with PSU is available for $50 after rebate, free ship, today and tomorrow only.
http://shop2.outpost.com/product/5356188
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post #355 of 19132 Old 11-21-2007, 06:14 AM - Thread Starter
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spillz564

1) Use power cables like this one.

2) There is no mATX mb with dual Gb LAN. You don't need dual Gb LAN. A router/switch is enough to stream data to two.

3) No. It must be a 3-in-2. EX-23NB is here. You can also use EX-23B. Difference is only external appearance.

4) Yes, it's called Online Capacity Expansion (OCE).
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post #356 of 19132 Old 11-21-2007, 06:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

spillz564

1) Use power cables like this one.

2) There is no mATX mb with dual Gb LAN. You don't need dual Gb LAN. A router/switch is enough to stream data to two.

3) No. It must be a 3-in-2. EX-23NB is here. You can also use EX-23B. Difference is only external appearance.

4) Yes, it's called Online Capacity Expansion (OCE).

Thanks renethx, much appreciated! I'm glad I asked about the internal drive bays.

Looks like this will be a fun Christmas project!

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post #357 of 19132 Old 11-21-2007, 09:21 AM
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Great thread, as was the previous one.

Would the Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H cut it for 1080p with the AMD BE-2400? Is there any other drawbacks to not going with a separate GPU? Any other drawbacks to this solution? Im right in thinking the picture qulaity on th 690 chipset is comparable to a GPU solution and very good?
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post #358 of 19132 Old 11-21-2007, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
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dmce

1080p is no problem, but smooth playback depends on various factors (playing from a file or disc, codec, bitrate etc). For Blu-ray/HD DVD, you will need 2.4GHz or higher, say 3.0GHz (so need to overclock BE-2400). Please read Unofficial thread for details. If you go with a discrete graphics, BE-2400 will be just fine for everything.
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post #359 of 19132 Old 11-21-2007, 07:52 PM
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Great guide thus far! I too may be looking at building a HD capable HTPC soon and having come along this thread is an absolute godsend.

Just one quick remark. I notice you suggested the Asus P5K-VM for a mATX mb in a HTPC build, but would you recommend that over the P5E-VM HDMI which has the newer G35 chipset if cost was not a concern? I ask this question simply because i'm after a mATX mb that offers 2 PCI-Ex1 slots so i can have 2 tv-tuners instead of 1. If anyone can point me to another mb that has this feature i would be very grateful.

Keep up the great work!
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post #360 of 19132 Old 11-21-2007, 08:27 PM - Thread Starter
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eeexeee

Apart from onboard video and extra SATA ports, perhaps there will not be much difference between the two. If you use it in a SFF system, 6 SATA ports are a kind of useless. The main improvement of G35 onboard video over G33 is 3D performance, meaning a so-so video playback performance of G35. So the motherboard in Recommended MicroATX System - Midrange will not change unless P5E-VM HDMI is cheaper than P5K-VM.
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