Guide to Building a HTPC, Workstation and Server - Page 13 - AVS Forum
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Home Theater Computers > Guide to Building a HTPC, Workstation and Server
archibael's Avatar archibael 09:59 PM 11-21-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

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.

And better deinterlacing. And HW acceleration of VC-1. And better detail/denoise and 4x4 scaling.

Quote:


So the motherboard in Recommended MicroATX System - Midrange will not change unless P5E-VM HDMI is cheaper than P5K-VM.

The G35 is not hugely advanced over the G965 video-wise (only real video difference is VC-1 acceleration). The biggest thing G35 brings to the table is that it comes out at a time when motherboard vendors are savvy to the fact that people are looking for an HTPC motherboard and are therefore building in HDMI ports. In the "olden" G965 days (a year ago) it was pretty much VGA only because no one figured the prices of HD disk drives would come down so quickly and therefore who needed HDMI? (Doh!)

seeth's Avatar seeth 01:06 AM 11-22-2007
renethx,

I benefitted from your postings and am currently building a low end mATX version base on your recommended list.

However, in my area the AM2 5000+ black edition is very scarce, though there are plenty of AM2 5000+ non-black edition. Because of this the price difference is about USD 35.

I wonder, if the black edition cost so much more, would you still have recommend the black edition. Else what's the better option? And what will I be missing from the black edition, if I choose to deviate?

Thanks!
renethx's Avatar renethx 01:45 AM 11-22-2007
seeth

Black Edition is not the only option. Any Athlon 64 processor of 2.4GHz or above, Windsor core 65W or Brisbane core, is fine.

The only difference between Athlon 64 X2 5000+ 2.6GHz Brisbane and Black Edition is that the multiplier of the latter is unlocked. That means you can overclock Black Edition by raising the CPU multiplier which is supposed to be easier than overclocking by raising the clock generator frequency. The fact is that either method works well.
BlackFlag79's Avatar BlackFlag79 12:05 AM 11-23-2007
Hi renethx. I've been checking out these threads for a long time and I just recently decided to build your 16 HDD II setup. This is what I pieced together, with some great deals today. Can you let me know if anything won't work? I'm not exactly experienced at building computers. I'll have 5 1TB SATA Hitachi drives in addition to the 320GB SATA drive. I dropped a few things off the list, for now, because I figured I wouldn't need them until I add more hard drives. If I was wrong about that, I'd really like to hear it

CPU: Pentium Dual-Core E2140 1.6GHz Socket 775
Motherboard: ASUS P5B-VM DO Intel Q965 chipset microATX (7 x SATA ports, 1 x eSATA port)
OS: Microsoft Windows Home Server 32 Bit 1 Pack - OEM
Case: Thermaltake Armor Series VA8003BWS Black Full Tower Case w/ 25CM Fan - Retail
PSU: SilverStone SST-ST75ZF 750W
Memory: CORSAIR TWIN2X2048-6400 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit
HDD: Maxtor 320GB 7200RPM 16MB SATA Internal Hard Drive

Total = $748.27
Total after rebates = $608.27
renethx's Avatar renethx 01:03 AM 11-23-2007
BlackFlag79

Looks good!
iannecj's Avatar iannecj 03:19 PM 11-23-2007
Renethx...My colleagues here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and I religiously look to your guides for advice on our HTPC building efforts. Thanks for this update!!

One question...I notice your videocard recommendations have fans.

What do you think about fan noise from these units?

If its signficiant, can you recommend the best fanless card for a pure HTPC with ample space for any card...Thanks, Chris
renethx's Avatar renethx 06:57 PM 11-23-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by iannecj View Post

One question...I notice your videocard recommendations have fans.

What do you think about fan noise from these units?

If its signficiant, can you recommend the best fanless card for a pure HTPC with ample space for any card...Thanks, Chris

Even a very small amount of airflow is helpful to reduce the GPU temperature greatly. So I prefer fan models. Of course a fanless model is fine if your case airflow around the heatsink of the graphics card is excellent. In general the stock fan is not the quietest but you can control it with a proper software tool (e.g. RivaTuner). Or you can replace it with a Zalman or ZEROtherm VGA fan that is near silent and cooling GPU efficiently. (The drawback is it occupies two slots, but this also applies to many fanless solutions.)

Some good fanless models are:

ASUS EN8600GT SILENT/HTDP/256M (occupies two slots)
GIGABYTE GV-NX86T256H GeForce 8600 GT
GIGABYTE GV-RX26T256H Radeon HD 2600XT
MSI "EZ" models (occupies two slots if the PCIe x16 slot is in the second postion)
microfeet's Avatar microfeet 11:52 PM 11-23-2007
renethx: thanks a lot for your guide. It helps me a lot on building my first HTPC, and in fact, my first DIY PC.

Regarding GPUs, it seems that your recommendations are a little bit outdated. According to AnandTech (I cannot post URL since I just registered), the new mid-range 8800GT includes PureVideo HD as well, and excels 8600GTS a considerable margin in terms of performance.
HDTV quest's Avatar HDTV quest 12:20 AM 11-24-2007
renethx,

Any idea as to when you will post your TV Tuner chapter?
I am to my third HDTV ATSC tuner (PCI card), that I can remember, and am very disappointed with them.
They take forever to change channel and/or have low RF sensitivity and/or are a major pain to use and/or are too slow to show a high resolution image without jerking.
I would like the next one to be the one and hope you can give me a good advice.

Thanks!
anonymouschris's Avatar anonymouschris 12:23 AM 11-24-2007
I've been a lurker of your previous thread on building HTPC's. Finally pulled the trigger with some of the BF deals. Since I am building on a very tight budget I could not take all your recommendations, but would appreciate some advice on my GPU.

This is what I have purchased so far:

CPU: CPU AMD|A64 X2 4000+ 2.1G AM2 65N R - Retail
Memory: 2 x 1GB COR TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX
Mobo: Have not decided yet,
GPU: I purchased the x1950 Pro ($75) and also the HD2600 ($110)

I've been reading online and can't figure out which one to keep when factoring price/performance. I am not a gamer and do not intend to do any gaming. This HTPC will purely be used to play 1080P content. What is your suggestion?

I know my CPU is slightly below your recommendation, but I've read that it can easily OC to 3Ghz so processor power should not be too big of an issue. Any help regarding the GPU and possibly the CPU would be appreciated.

Thank You!
renethx's Avatar renethx 12:39 AM 11-24-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by microfeet View Post

Regarding GPUs, it seems that your recommendations are a little bit outdated. According to AnandTech (I cannot post URL since I just registered), the new mid-range 8800GT includes PureVideo HD as well, and excels 8600GTS a considerable margin in terms of performance.

The last update of the video card chapter was May, 2007, so it's seriously outdated. My current recommendations would be:

For pure video playback:
  • Radeon HD 2600 Pro/XT
  • GeForce 8500/8600 GT
For gaming and video playback:
  • Radion HD 3850, $179
  • GeForce 8800 GT 512MB, $279
I chose HD 3850 in High-End and 8800 GT 512MB in Premium System. 8800 GT 256MB ($179-$199) may not be good at higher resolutions. 8600 GTS is out of contention.
renethx's Avatar renethx 01:02 AM 11-24-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by HDTV quest View Post

renethx,

Any idea as to when you will post your TV Tuner chapter?
I am to my third HDTV ATSC tuner (PCI card), that I can remember, and am very disappointed with them.
They take forever to change channel and/or have low RF sensitivity and/or are a major pain to use and/or are too slow to show a high resolution image without jerking.
I would like the next one to be the one and hope you can give me a good advice.

Thanks!

I have not looked into TV tuners seriously yet. Some that came into my mind are
  • HDHomeRun
  • ATI TV Wonder 650 Combo PCI Express
  • AverMedia AVerTV Combo PCI-e
A good comparison site is

http://www.hdtvtunerinfo.com/comparetuners.html
renethx's Avatar renethx 01:10 AM 11-24-2007
anonymouschris

Overclocking depends on each CPU die and there is no assurance that your processor overclocks to 3.0GHz. You'd better go with a video card with UVD (i.e. HD 2600 Pro/XT).

Edited

I misunderstood your question. Which form factor, ATX or mATX, do you like? The chapter on mb recommendations should be helpful. The most important components for video playback are CPU and GPU. Mb is less important, but it offers various functionality (PCIe slots, USB, FireWire etc.). Mb choice mainly depends on what features you would like to have (apart from basic stablity and reliability).
<><'s Avatar <>< 08:19 AM 11-24-2007
renethx,
another GPU consideration is the asus 8500gt (link)
256mb ddr3 and 600mhz clock for $80

mATX mobos:
GIGABYTE GA-G31MX (link)
ASUS P5KPL-VM (link)

there's tons of selections, you have a good list, i'm currently building a low/mid range htpc for dvds/hd-dvds/tv using the following parts:

Case: NSK2480 ($50 after rebate at frys.com)
CPU: e6550 ($125 OEM processor) with fan i had left over from a previous build
Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-G31MX ($75)
RAM: g.skill 2gb kit ($50)
GPU: Asus EN8500GT ($80)
HDD: 500gb Maxtor ($80)
PSU: included in above case

Total: $460

it should handle my needs nicely
anonymouschris's Avatar anonymouschris 12:45 PM 11-24-2007
renethx,

thank you for your response. so your suggestion would be to keep ditch the x1950 and keep the 2600pro.

i will be purchasing a full ATX mobo. I've read your section on MB's for AMD and it seems like it will be a crapshoot. i need a mobo with good OCing capabilities, but that has passive cooling. that being said i am also hoping for passive cooling since the computer will be on 24/7.

Right now I'm leaning on a open box version of ASUS M2N-SLI Deluxe AM2 NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI MCP ATX AMD Motherboard - for $80.
smbehm's Avatar smbehm 04:33 AM 11-25-2007
Quote:


Premium

The final ATX system aims at not only HTPC but heavy gaming and workstation.

System
  • CPU: Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz Socket 775, $280.
  • CPU Cooler: Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme, $56.
  • CPU Fan: Scythe S-FLEX S-FDB 120mm Fan SFF21E, $15.
  • Motherboard: XFX nForce 680i SLI MB-N680-ISH9 ATX, $200.
  • Memory: Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA804 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $50 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
  • Graphics Card: XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB DDR3 PV-T88P-YDF4, $270; two of this card for SLI, $540.
  • HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $110.
  • PSU: Corsair HX620W, $140.
  • Case: Cooler Master COSMOS 1000, $180.
  • Total Cost: $1301 for non-SLI, $1571 for SLI

Does anyone know what the overclocking capabilities are with this setup?

From what I have been finding around the net just now, this Core 2 Quad Q6600 can be cranked higher and be more stable with the Asus P5K Deluxe mobo. Anyone have first hand experience with this?

Big thanks, I hope to have this "Premium" HTPC computer, or similar, up and running before the end of this upcoming week. Its been way to many years since I have built a computer from the bones up.

Big Thanks,

Sean B

Edit: I am also very overwhelmed with all the video card options out there now. What makes the 512MB XFX GeForce 8800 GT the top choice here for the <$300 range? With this computer I am mainly concerned with Low Noise and High Power for (Photoshop, Primer, 3D Studio Max, Pro Tools, Maya, and some gaming)...Also most importantly, full 1080p output with no issues under extreme loads.

Also, Is it true u need to be running 64bit vista to get full 1080p potential?

Much Appreciated
etcarroll's Avatar etcarroll 09:37 AM 11-25-2007
R -

Thanks for your work, and as a by-product, the excellant feedback you ellicit from the community.

I'm looking to convert my existing HTPC to a digital dictation PC, have already installed Dragon Dictate on it.

I have the week after Xmas off, my wife must work, so I have that week earmarked as rebuild date.

I'm looking to build a high end, no-gaming rig, and will use your suggested build as baseline;

CPU: Core 2 Duo E6750 2.66GHz Socket 775, $194.
CPU Cooler: ZEROtherm BTF90, $30 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS4 Intel P35 chipset ATX, $178. An alternative is abit IP35 Pro, $179.
Memory: Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA804 DDR2-800 2 x 1GB Kit, $50 (after rebate at Newegg.com).
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 (any brand), $179.
HDD: Samsung SpinPoint T166 500GB HD501LJ 500GB SATA, $110.
PSU: Corsair HX520W, $100.
Case: SilverStone Grandia SST-GD01B-MXR, $229.

My questions,

- does anyone know what sales may be coming up in next 4 weeks that may lessen cost
- I will reuse my wifi card, 320gig hd, (I have a 2TB WHS box for storage), and LC03 case, will the 400watt Silverstone psu be enough, or is an upgrade called for?
- looking at the the LG dual drive for HDDVD/BR, does that impact anything?
- will substituting the following be a problem?:
another GPU consideration is the asus 8500gt (link)
256mb ddr3 and 600mhz clock for $80

Thanks,

Gene
ryn05's Avatar ryn05 06:50 AM 11-26-2007
Will this card be a better htpc choice since it does not have a fan?
ASUS EN8500GT SILENT/HTP/256M GeForce 8500GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready Video Card

I read your earlier post about the advantages of having a fan, but I have a relatively small living room with a 42 lcd (1080p) on the wall. I need the htpc to be quiet as possible. Will I lose a lot if I purchase the card with the heat sink instead of the fan? I plan on using the htpc for recording OTA HD and analog cable tv.
renethx's Avatar renethx 07:42 AM 11-26-2007
anonymouschris

Please read Newegg "Open Box" motherboards... before ordering an open box item. I would rather choose a low-end mb such as GIGABYTE GA-M61P-S3 and GIGABYTE GA-MA69G-S3H.
xwilliam's Avatar xwilliam 07:42 AM 11-26-2007
I'd like to build a simple HTPC to replace my DVD player (someday add a HD-DVD and/or Blu-Ray) and to stream from sites like Netflix. While I'd like to do this on the cheap, I don't want to sell myself short on future uses. Additionally, my time is limited (pregnant wife and 20-month-old at home!) so i can't research this to the bone like I normall would. Any recommendations on a parts list. I like the GIGABYTE GA-MA69GM-S2H AM2 AMD 690G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard as it seems to include everything I'd need. Simple is good!

My biggest question, beyond advise on parts, is will the PQ be as good on such a system as it would be from "regular" DVD players?

Thanks for any advise!
renethx's Avatar renethx 08:21 AM 11-26-2007
smbehm

If you are not interested in SLI or RAID, a P35 chipset motherboard is perhaps the best choice for you. I still recommend abit or GIGABYTE over ASUS because of 20W to 40W higher power consumption of the ASUS board.

As for video card, I am not sure which is suited for your purpose. You need to do your own research.

64-bit Windows means the support for memory size over 3GB. Your choice of OS (32-bit or 64-bit) depends on whether your applications are 64-bit and/or utilize 4GB memory or more effectively.
renethx's Avatar renethx 08:41 AM 11-26-2007
etcarroll

Radeon HD 3850 can be replaced by GeForce 8500 GT if you are not interested in gaming. 8600 GT is supposed to be better than 8500 GT in post procressing because of more shader units. If you choose 8500GT/8600GT, 400W PSU is enough.

Radeon HD 3850: 95W TDP
GeForce 8600 GT: 43W TDP
renethx's Avatar renethx 08:46 AM 11-26-2007
ryn05

I chose XFX GeForce 8500 GT (passive cooling) in my low-end system recommendations. But ASUS or GIGABYTE 8500 GT (passive cooling) is equally well.
renethx's Avatar renethx 08:50 AM 11-26-2007
xwilliam

Radeon X1250 is as good as a DVD player in PQ.
etcarroll's Avatar etcarroll 09:58 AM 11-26-2007
That's great - thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

etcarroll

Radeon HD 3850 can be replaced by GeForce 8500 GT if you are not interested in gaming. 8600 GT is supposed to be better than 8500 GT in post procressing because of more shader units. If you choose 8500GT/8600GT, 400W PSU is enough.

Radeon HD 3850: 95W TDP
GeForce 8600 GT: 43W TDP


<><'s Avatar <>< 11:34 AM 11-26-2007
any tv tuner recommendations? main use will be svideo in from dish network STB and an OTA Antenna for HD.

thanks
leftheaded's Avatar leftheaded 09:39 AM 11-27-2007
How does the XFX nForce 680i SLI MB-N680-ISH9 overclock with the Q6600? Do you think you can get 3.2Ghz stable 24/7?

I've already got these parts:
* CPU: Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz Socket 775
* CPU Cooler: Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme
* CPU Fan: Scythe S-FLEX S-FDB 120mm Fan SFF21E
* Memory: Crucial Ballistix BL2KIT12864AA804 DDR2-800 4 x 1GB
* Graphics Card: Two XFX GeForce 8800 GT 512MB DDR3 PV-T88P-YDF4
* Case: P180B

I'm still not sure whether or not I want to go SLI. I may sell one of the 8800's or use it in a second system. If I don't go SLI it's because i want to Matrix RAID & get a modest overclock... in which case I'll get a P35/X38 board.
autoidiot's Avatar autoidiot 02:37 PM 11-27-2007
I'm looking to build a centrally located HTPC/Media server that would initially distribute audio to my "whole house audio" system (CQC interface, Delta M-Audio 410 card to individual amps), but later could be expanded to distribute video as well. I'm definitely a newbie to all of this, trying to learn as I go, so I'm probably missing some key details...

I've gotten the following suggestion from the cocoontech.com board, and would be interested in your feedback on the choices. Here's what was suggested (with prices from Newegg):
$130: Intel E4500
$100: Antec Sonata case plus power supply
$120 :Intel brand 965 chipset motherboard with 2 RAID arrays (1 for boot, 1 for CDs if you want). Intel BOXDG965WHMKR LGA 775 Intel G965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard (This also has onboard video so you don't need a graphics card.)
$50: 2 x 1GB = 2GB of memory;G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
$86: TWO 80GB SATA drives for boot for RAID1; Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
$65: One 250GB SATA drive for CDs.; Western Digital Caviar SE WD2500JS 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
$140: XP Pro.
Totalling $691
Thoughts on this setup for the price?? Any alternate suggestions in a similar price-range?

Thanks for the great topic, and appreciate any feedback you can offer...
Autoidiot
mrandtx's Avatar mrandtx 05:26 PM 11-27-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by autoidiot View Post

I'm looking to build a centrally located HTPC/Media server that would initially distribute audio to my "whole house audio" system (CQC interface, Delta M-Audio 410 card to individual amps), but later could be expanded to distribute video as well. I'm definitely a newbie to all of this, trying to learn as I go, so I'm probably missing some key details...

I've gotten the following suggestion from the cocoontech.com board, and would be interested in your feedback on the choices. Here's what was suggested (with prices from Newegg):
$130: Intel E4500
$100: Antec Sonata case plus power supply
$120 :Intel brand 965 chipset motherboard with 2 RAID arrays (1 for boot, 1 for CDs if you want). Intel BOXDG965WHMKR LGA 775 Intel G965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard (This also has onboard video so you don't need a graphics card.)
$50: 2 x 1GB = 2GB of memory;G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
$86: TWO 80GB SATA drives for boot for RAID1; Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
$65: One 250GB SATA drive for CDs.; Western Digital Caviar SE WD2500JS 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
$140: XP Pro.
Totalling $691
Thoughts on this setup for the price?? Any alternate suggestions in a similar price-range?

Thanks for the great topic, and appreciate any feedback you can offer...
Autoidiot

Just a few random thoughts as I'm going through pretty much the same exercise:
  • While that's a good price on the E4500, is it worth the extra dollars over the E2180? If you're wanting the 11x multiplier, the E2200 comes out next week.
  • Any reason you're going for the 965 motherboards? I'm strongly leaning towards G33 for its low power (since this thing will be on for 24 hours a day), and as a bonus, it has the ability with an ADD2/SDVO card to have digital t.v. output (abet not the highest quality, per archibael comments on G35 improvements)
  • Intel makes good motherboards, but if you even remotely think you want to over-clock, you might consider something else
  • Seems like you could spend just a few dollars more on hard drive and get lots more storage (so that you don't have to mess with it in 6 months or a year or whenever). 500 GB drives are regularly on sale for around $100 - that's the sweet spot right now.

Have fun!

Marc
renethx's Avatar renethx 06:04 PM 11-27-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by leftheaded View Post

How does the XFX nForce 680i SLI MB-N680-ISH9 overclock with the Q6600? Do you think you can get 3.2Ghz stable 24/7?

3.2Ghz is no problem (there is no guarantee though).
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