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Assassin's Simple/Beginner HTPC Buying Guide - Page 59

post #1741 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by badgerpilot View Post

This case by Habey is interesting as well. Has anyone used this one?

Nice find; thanks for the link. Found a discussion about that case here: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1593623. What do you think, assassin? Would that case work with your mini-ITX or Zacate build?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hanly2 View Post

You can get a dell touch 2305 refurb for $450. I think it would work for what you need.

Didn't think about refurb. That might be just the ticket. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rwpritchett View Post

Maybe consider a USB BD drive that you plug in when needed?

Another great idea.

Thanks to you guys for the help. And thanks to assassin for the thread. The time spent here just reading and learning are certainly worth the effort!
post #1742 of 15912
Hi assassin, this thread is absolutely amazing! Best info for a beginner like me!
Just a question, in your htpc buying guide you don't mention intel's D525 atom, while I've read several reviews comparing it to the zacate (some of them in favour of zacate and some of atom...) and I've seen also quite a lot of atom-based htpcs...
What is your opinion? Which one do you think is more suitable for a budget htpc used for hd media and websurfing?
Thank you!
post #1743 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by xocas View Post

Just a question, in your htpc buying guide you don't mention intel's D525 atom, while I've read several reviews comparing it to the zacate (some of them in favour of zacate and some of atom...) and I've seen also quite a lot of atom-based htpcs...
What is your opinion? Which one do you think is more suitable for a budget htpc used for hd media and websurfing?

Intel's chipsets don't support video decode hardware acceleration (well, I think they might for MPEG-2). If you want something more suitable for HTPC, you'd have to step up to the ION. Zacate costs almost the same as Intel Atom/Intel GMA 3150 while Intel Atom/NVIDIA ION costs more than Zacate. Given Zacate's features, performance and pricing, there's really no good reason to get the Atom anymore (unless you need VDPAU or something).

The Atom/ION was popular back in the days because people didn't have much of a choice. It was either go with ION or buy a $300~500 MoDT (mobile on desktop) motherboard. Nowadays, we have Mini-ITX motherboards for all but the most power hungry of processors (*cough* LGA-1366 *cough*) and there are more aesthetically pleasing Mini-ITX cases that can handle the extra power consumption and heat output of regular desktop parts. There's also the fact that there's been quite a bit of headway in lowering power consumption of desktop processors.
post #1744 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdbrown View Post

Nice find; thanks for the link. Found a discussion about that case here: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1593623. What do you think, assassin? Would that case work with your mini-ITX or Zacate build?

Thanks to you guys for the help. And thanks to assassin for the thread. The time spent here just reading and learning are certainly worth the effort!

You're welcome! Thanks for joining in!

It all depends on what you want in a case whether or not that would be an option.

First I guess is which case fits your space restraints or asthetics, if applicable.

With that being said I like the Rosewill case I recommend for a "basic" HTPC case because it fits five criteria...
1. Good, quiet PSU that comes with the case
2. Option to use a FULL sized optical drive (Slim optical drives - which the case you posted require - cost about $100 for just a DVD version). A full sized DVD drive is about $18 and bluray is about $55.
3. Option to install a 3.5" storage drive internally
4. Plenty of options internally for placement of a SSD if desired
5. Small size

I've never used that other case but depending on what you want to do it should work fine.
post #1745 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Intel's chipsets don't support video decode hardware acceleration (well, I think they might for MPEG-2). If you want something more suitable for HTPC, you'd have to step up to the ION. Zacate costs almost the same as Intel Atom/Intel GMA 3150 while Intel Atom/NVIDIA ION costs more than Zacate. Given Zacate's features, performance and pricing, there's really no good reason to get the Atom anymore (unless you need VDPAU or something).

The Atom/ION was popular back in the days because people didn't have much of a choice. It was either go with ION or buy a $300~500 MoDT (mobile on desktop) motherboard. Nowadays, we have Mini-ITX motherboards for all but the most power hungry of processors (*cough* LGA-1366 *cough*) and there are more aesthetically pleasing Mini-ITX cases that can handle the extra power consumption and heat output of regular desktop parts. There's also the fact that there's been quite a bit of headway in lowering power consumption of desktop processors.

I agree with this assessment.

To continue my car analogy if the zacate is a 6 cylinder (and just barely a 6 cylinder, at that) then the atom is a 4 cylinder with a few flat tires.

The atom is less powerful than the zacate but I think the area where the zacate really shines (and beats the atom significantly) is with the GPU.

With most HTPCs - and especially basic HTPC like the atom and zacate - the GPU is extremely important. The zacate uses a "cedar" platform which is equivalent to a ATI 5450.

For reference I use a ATI fanless 5450 card in my Core2Duo system. So basically the zacate and my HTPC are equally as powerful when it comes to their GPU.

Can't say anything even remotely close to that about the atom.

(Attention atom fans: This is not an atom vs zacate thread. For that discussion/argument please go elsewhere).
post #1746 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

To continue my car analogy if the zacate is a 6 cylinder (and just barely a 6 cylinder, at that) then the atom is a 4 cylinder with a few flat tires.

Nah. I wouldn't consider it a 6 cylinder. If we were making automotive analogies, I'd say:
Atom+GMA 3150 - scooter
Atom+ION/Zacate - 4 cylinder
Regor/Wolfdale 2.5GHz - 6 cylinder
post #1747 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Atom+ION/Zacate - 4 cylinder

If their graphics were equivalent I might agree with you.
post #1748 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

If their graphics were equivalent I might agree with you.

Zacate isn't really leaps and bounds better than ION. Hmm, to be more accurate, you can probably liken Atom+ION to an older, less efficient 1.5L V4 while Zacate is a more modern 2.5L V4.
post #1749 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Zacate isn't really leaps and bounds better than ION. Hmm, to be more accurate, you can probably liken Atom+ION to an older, less efficient 1.5L V4 while Zacate is a more modern 2.5L V4.

You meant to say an I4 or boxer.
post #1750 of 15912
excellent guide assassin. I am well on my way to building my first htpc. bout to post a my config for review.
post #1751 of 15912
I just wanted to say that this thread is great! it definitely helped me pick out my components for my first HTPC. while I do IT for a living, the whole idea of using a PC exclusively as a DVR and for movies, music and streaming videos is new to me. so thanks for that!

that being said, I started to build my system today while I wait for my ceton tv tuner to come in (should be any time now)!

one thing that annoyed me is when I had to install my psu so that the psu fan is facing up towards the HDD bay rather than down towards the vent in the bottom on the case (I'm using the silverstone GD05B case) so that the 4-pin cpu power connector would reach it's actual spot on the motherboard. the psu is installed exactly how this picture is shown:



I ended up installing my HDD in the section I marked in the below photo:

post #1752 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chuccck View Post

excellent guide assassin. I am well on my way to building my first htpc. bout to post a my config for review.

Great! Can't wait to see it.
post #1753 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Zacate isn't really leaps and bounds better than ION. Hmm, to be more accurate, you can probably liken Atom+ION to an older, less efficient 1.5L V4 while Zacate is a more modern 2.5L V4.

Agree with you. The zacate is only about 15% more powerful than the atom.

Again its the gpu that I think sets them apart.
post #1754 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Again its the gpu that I think sets them apart.

Actually, both CPU and GPU on Zacate is better than the Atom/ION. However, the difference isn't that great. Probably just around 20~35% on average. While that may seem like a lot, it should be considered that an Athlon II X2 is probably more than 100% faster than either.
post #1755 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post

Actually, both CPU and GPU on Zacate is better than the Atom/ION. However, the difference isn't that great. Probably just around 20~35% on average. While that may seem like a lot, it should be considered that an Athlon II X2 is probably more than 100% faster than either.

I'm a big fan of the Athlon II x2. Its the weakest cpu my htpc's will have. I also like to use a discrete card. Unless maybe I was going to go itx.
post #1756 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

It all depends on what you want in a case whether or not that would be an option.

OK, you got me. Me asking "Would that case work.." is pretty open-ended. More specifically I was wondering whether the recommended components on your builds would fit in that case, especially for height. Is there a way to tell without actually purchasing everything?

Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Slim optical drives - which the case you posted require - cost about $100 for just a DVD version

Oh yeah, the cost; kinda forgot about that part . That may kill the internal optical drive idea in a slim case.
post #1757 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

Option to use a FULL sized optical drive (Slim optical drives - which the case you posted require - cost about $100 for just a DVD version)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdbrown View Post

Oh yeah, the cost; kinda forgot about that part . That may kill the internal optical drive idea in a slim case.

Don't rule out slim just yet. They've come down in price quite a bit lately. You can get a slim blu-ray drive for $100 now (link) and a DVD drive for $26 (link).

Slot load drives are still expensive, however, and you need to make sure you have a mini-SATA power connector... a standard SATA power connector won't work.
post #1758 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteboy714 View Post
I'm a big fan of the Athlon II x2. Its the weakest cpu my htpc's will have. I also like to use a discrete card. Unless maybe I was going to go itx.
At least until Llano comes along. If I can get Redwood level performance from integrated graphics, I'd have no reason to buy a discrete card unless it's for heavy gaming.
post #1759 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwpritchett View Post
Don't rule out slim just yet. They've come down in price quite a bit lately. You can get a slim blu-ray drive for $100 now (link) and a DVD drive for $26 (link).

Slot load drives are still expensive, however, and you need to make sure you have a mini-SATA power connector... a standard SATA power connector won't work.
That's a pretty good price on the DVD drive. Definitely lower than the last time I checked.

I still don't know that I would spend $100 on the bluray drive unless I was absolutely in love with the case.
post #1760 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post
I still don't know that I would spend $100 on the bluray drive unless I was absolutely in love with the case.
I'd be happy if I can find a slim, slot-loading Blu-ray drive with decent speed at $100. As it is, last I checked, even 2x ones are already $200.
post #1761 of 15912
Ok Assassin - super noob here.

I have a HP Pavilion dm3 laptop which was purchased recently, and now Im figuring I can use it as my HTPC.

It has HDMI out and is running Windows 7 (64bit) so I should be all set to go.

Questions:
-I have no disc drive. What should I connect to the laptop to read (and download) BD to the HDD?
-Do I need s/w to rip the BD to my HDD? Or is that handled by Windows Media Center?

Thanks!
post #1762 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post
I'd be happy if I can find a slim, slot-loading Blu-ray drive with decent speed at $100. As it is, last I checked, even 2x ones are already $200.
Slot loading is a whole different animal.
post #1763 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mondo Rock View Post
Ok Assassin - super noob here.

I have a HP Pavilion dm3 laptop which was purchased recently, and now Im figuring I can use it as my HTPC.

It has HDMI out and is running Windows 7 (64bit) so I should be all set to go.

Questions:
-I have no disc drive. What should I connect to the laptop to read (and download) BD to the HDD?
-Do I need s/w to rip the BD to my HDD? Or is that handled by Windows Media Center?

Thanks!
Before you invest any money in anything I would get your hands on a few different HD files to make sure that everything is compatible and plays okay through your hdtv without stuttering.

MKV files are what a lot of people use. Look for some of those and test them out.

As far as ripping bluray to your harddrive there are numerous different ways you can do it but one involves using anydvd and makemkv. WMC does NOT do this for you and will only playback files (although nothing on windows including WMC plays blurays natively without converting it to something like mkv. For that you need additional software).
post #1764 of 15912
So I spent a good chunk of today reading all 59 pages of this post and am really looking forward to starting this. Thanks for everyone's input But first I wanted to run some stuff by everyone here.

My wife and I are in the market to build our own HTPC. Here are the things to know:

1) We plan to stream video content from Hulu, and other network websites that do not use Hulu.

2) We want it to act as a DVR (currently our HDTV can pull in about 20+ channels of SD and HD programming just from putting a splitter before our cable modem and running a cable out to our tv) to schedule and record said programing.*

3) We want it to act as a BluRay/DVD player

4) We want it to rip BluRay's to ISO/MKV, and transcode DVDs to h264 using Handbrake

5) We don't care about the aesthetics/dimensions of the case

We attached our spec list as of right now and come out to just over $567, minus the OS and BluRay software. We essentially took the Clarkdale build and put in a Hauppage TV tuner. We scaled back on the internal HDD as we have a 2 externals, a 2 TB and 500 gb WD. The internal HDD will essentially be used for DVR-ed programs and any BluRay rips before they are moved to one of the externals. The internal HDD may be scaled back to a 500 gb Samsung or WD Caviar Green to cut cost if it is significant. We only went as far as the 750 gb because it kept the 64 mb cache.

*This is actually the part we are the most unsure of. We don't know if the channels we are watching are technically OTA or cable, as we don't have a cable package. Because we don't know what type of signal it is and we have never used a TV tuner before and have some concern that we won't get the local HDs as we do now, running it straight to the TV. The TV tuner could also be a place to save some $$$ once we figure out what we need exactly. As for now a near top of the line Hauppage should work.

I trust that this HTPC will do everything we want, as we are following Assassin's guide pretty closely, but we would love some help on the TV tuner issue. Some general reassurance would also be appreciated.
LL
post #1765 of 15912
Ok, I think I may have picked most of the parts, still haven't decided what RAM yet though.

Core i3-2100 (using stock HSF)
GA-H67N-USB3
WD20EARS (run wdidle3 to change idle times)
LG BH10LS30 (flash to remove riplock)
Crucial c300 64gb (boot drive)
In-Win BP655 (internal fan will be changed to a Noctua NF-R8 on L.N.A)

HD5450 will only be bought if needed(as per assassin's thoughts on 24p)

I already have Win7 and a DiNovo Mini

Does anyone see any problems with this list?
post #1766 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajrietveld View Post
So I spent a good chunk of today reading all 59 pages of this post and am really looking forward to starting this. Thanks for everyone's input But first I wanted to run some stuff by everyone here.

My wife and I are in the market to build our own HTPC. Here are the things to know:

1) We plan to stream video content from Hulu, and other network websites that do not use Hulu.

2) We want it to act as a DVR (currently our HDTV can pull in about 20+ channels of SD and HD programming just from putting a splitter before our cable modem and running a cable out to our tv) to schedule and record said programing.*

3) We want it to act as a BluRay/DVD player

4) We want it to rip BluRay's to ISO/MKV, and transcode DVDs to h264 using Handbrake

5) We don't care about the aesthetics/dimensions of the case

We attached our spec list as of right now and come out to just over $567, minus the OS and BluRay software. We essentially took the Clarkdale build and put in a Hauppage TV tuner. We scaled back on the internal HDD as we have a 2 externals, a 2 TB and 500 gb WD. The internal HDD will essentially be used for DVR-ed programs and any BluRay rips before they are moved to one of the externals. The internal HDD may be scaled back to a 500 gb Samsung or WD Caviar Green to cut cost if it is significant. We only went as far as the 750 gb because it kept the 64 mb cache.

*This is actually the part we are the most unsure of. We don't know if the channels we are watching are technically OTA or cable, as we don't have a cable package. Because we don't know what type of signal it is and we have never used a TV tuner before and have some concern that we won't get the local HDs as we do now, running it straight to the TV. The TV tuner could also be a place to save some $$$ once we figure out what we need exactly. As for now a near top of the line Hauppage should work.

I trust that this HTPC will do everything we want, as we are following Assassin's guide pretty closely, but we would love some help on the TV tuner issue. Some general reassurance would also be appreciated.
That looks great. As long as that tuner does QAM which it should , you are good to go.

But let me get this straight. You and your wife are building an htpc together. That is fooking awesome. I tried to build a pc with my wife, and my daughters lol. They weren't interested. Have fun man.

Edit* Sorry your signal is qam, those are the ones your cable provider is giving away free. Bear in mind that can stop at anytime, from time warner I get nothing. OTA would be from an antenna you would need to mount.
post #1767 of 15912
Anymore zacate build? I wanted to ask you to load up a 1080p mkv with external srt sub in that MC7/mediabrowser/mpc-hc setup. A couple of months ago i setup that same combination for my father on an Asus Revo 3700 (atom 525/ion). It played 1080p videos fine but as soon as I enabled srt subtitle - cpu went into the 90% causing unwatchable stuttering. So I pretty much put mini/notebook-sized htpc builds on hold until there is faster hardware.
post #1768 of 15912
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdiddy73 View Post
Anymore zacate build? I wanted to ask you to load up a 1080p mkv with external srt sub in that MC7/mediabrowser/mpc-hc setup. A couple of months ago i setup that same combination for my father on an Asus Revo 3700 (atom 525/ion). It played 1080p videos fine but as soon as I enabled srt subtitle - cpu went into the 90% causing unwatchable stuttering. So I pretty much put mini/notebook-sized htpc builds on hold until there is faster hardware.
Probably has to do with configuration. I don't have those problems with MPC-HC on an Atom 330/ION. Of course, using the internal WMC player (+VobSub) makes it an unwatchable, stuttering mess.
post #1769 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajrietveld View Post
So I spent a good chunk of today reading all 59 pages of this post and am really looking forward to starting this. Thanks for everyone's input But first I wanted to run some stuff by everyone here.
Great! I'll try to help as much as I can but as I don't use tuners or DVR on my HTPC (I still have DirecTV) my experience there is admittedly limited.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajrietveld View Post
1) We plan to stream video content from Hulu, and other network websites that do not use Hulu.
Any of the i3 builds can do this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajrietveld View Post
2) We want it to act as a DVR (currently our HDTV can pull in about 20+ channels of SD and HD programming just from putting a splitter before our cable modem and running a cable out to our tv) to schedule and record said programing.*

*This is actually the part we are the most unsure of. We don't know if the channels we are watching are technically OTA or cable, as we don't have a cable package. Because we don't know what type of signal it is and we have never used a TV tuner before and have some concern that we won't get the local HDs as we do now, running it straight to the TV. The TV tuner could also be a place to save some $$$ once we figure out what we need exactly. As for now a near top of the line Hauppage should work.
I think that once you get a proper antenna you should get even more channels including the local HDs. This is a popular tool that people use to determine what is in their area and what type of antenna to buy: http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/Address.aspx

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajrietveld View Post
3) We want it to act as a BluRay/DVD player
No problem. Just be aware that to play Bluray you will need to purchase software as bluray disc playback is not supported natively in Windows.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajrietveld View Post
4) We want it to rip BluRay's to ISO/MKV, and transcode DVDs to h264 using Handbrake
I would definitely recommend the Sandy Bridge or Clarkdale i3 here. Some would recommend even more processing power but transcoding can be done easily with an i3 --- it just might take a little longer. Ripping of blurays is generally limited by the speed of the bluray drive - NOT the CPU or harddrive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajrietveld View Post
5) We don't care about the aesthetics/dimensions of the case
I would definitely go with a micro-ATX at the smallest and may even consider a full ATX case/motherboard. For what you are using it for though I think the micro-ATX in a tower case is ideal. That will give you a few slots for upgrades in the future like tuner cards as well as 4 or more spots to add hard drives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajrietveld View Post
We attached our spec list as of right now and come out to just over $567, minus the OS and BluRay software. We essentially took the Clarkdale build and put in a Hauppage TV tuner. We scaled back on the internal HDD as we have a 2 externals, a 2 TB and 500 gb WD. The internal HDD will essentially be used for DVR-ed programs and any BluRay rips before they are moved to one of the externals. The internal HDD may be scaled back to a 500 gb Samsung or WD Caviar Green to cut cost if it is significant. We only went as far as the 750 gb because it kept the 64 mb cache.
I gotcha. As I state in one of the first paragraphs I don't keep up with the tuner technology so you will have to ask one of the many excellent persons on AVS about which is the best. I'd look at which hard drive you can add for the best deal and get the biggest you can with your budget. No one ever said "I wish I had gotten a smaller hard drive". And I wouldn't worry about the cache size --- for playback its not that important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajrietveld View Post
I trust that this HTPC will do everything we want, as we are following Assassin's guide pretty closely, but we would love some help on the TV tuner issue. Some general reassurance would also be appreciated.
Yes, it will do everything you want it to do. If this were my build I would bump it up to the Sandy Bridge i3 since its roughly the same amount of money and the Sandy Bridge will give you a slight bump in CPU performance (probably about 10%) which will be helpful since you are transcoding. In either scenario I would upgrade you RAM to something a little faster like this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231275 for about the same amount of money.

Edit: And I agree that its totally cool if your wife helps you build this thing.
post #1770 of 15912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris19992 View Post
Ok, I think I may have picked most of the parts, still haven't decided what RAM yet though.

Core i3-2100 (using stock HSF)
GA-H67N-USB3
WD20EARS (run wdidle3 to change idle times)
LG BH10LS30 (flash to remove riplock)
Crucial c300 64gb (boot drive)
In-Win BP655 (internal fan will be changed to a Noctua NF-R8 on L.N.A)

HD5450 will only be bought if needed(as per assassin's thoughts on 24p)

I already have Win7 and a DiNovo Mini

Does anyone see any problems with this list?
Build looks great. If the heatsink will fit I'd go with the G.Skill Ripjaws X-series. May even want to go with the DDR3 1600 version if you see yourself upgrading to Ivy Bridge in the next few years. If not stick with 1333 and save yourself a few bucks.
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