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Replace old HTPC with new HTPC or Laptop?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
My HTPC is long in the tooth and has issues. I'm replacing my wife's dead laptop with mine. So what do I buy, HTPC or an a/v type laptop?
New in my system is a Vortex Appliance NAS, Logitech Squeezebox Touch and an Android tablet. Haven't done much with any of this because of HTPC issues.
Before I get started ripping my media, I want to assemble the right hardware and software. My a/v cabinet has the usual HDMI connected components, including an Oppo blu-ray player.

I don't think I'm up to building an HTPC again. So whadya think, buy a pre-built HTPC or an a/v type laptop and why?
post #2 of 30
If youre dead set on not building another HTPC... l like the ASRock CoreHT boxes (http://www.asrock.com/nettop/overvie...oreHT%20Series). They're kinda on the high side (over 5 bills) but ppl I know seem to like it and I never seen them complain about issues. ASRock basically stuff a laptop into a little 7x7 box.

I like the HP Envy for my entertainment needs on a laptop. Its overkill though but you get 1080p on a 15" screen (or 17).
post #3 of 30
There are better prebuilt options out there than that tiny overpriced asrock.
post #4 of 30
Honestly I havent seen any lower-priced ones that dont have an ATOM or a Zacate in it. But I havent really looked.
post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLOCKMONSTER View Post

Honestly I havent seen any lower-priced ones that dont have an ATOM or a Zacate in it. But I havent really looked.

I'm sure someone will point you to an alternative very soon...
post #6 of 30
haha. I'll bite.

I might suggest visiting a well respected establishment that specializes in pre-built and pre-configured HTPC's.

www.assassinhtpc.com

They've got a myriad of options, non of which include Zacate or ATOM products the last time I checked (and really hope that still rings true)!
post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 
Actually I'm hoping for some pros and cons about an HTPC in an a/v type case, like I already have as opposed to a laptop intended for home theater use.
As for visiting an HTPC store, well there's one little thing. I've retired to beautiful Florida on the water. Life's great. BUT, I'm in technology hell! I came here from the heart of Silicon Valley. Yeah, I miss the mountains but I really really miss the tech. My Integra processor, I pick that up on the way home from work. Same for my Oppo DVD player and my Oppo BD player. Motherboards and CPUs and video cards were practically invented there. But I degress.

Working on the house is occupying most of my time. So I think I'm better off with a turn key PC of some sort to hook up to my Vortexbox Appliance, SBT player, network, a/v components and 65" screen. I'm also in the beginning stages of whole house audio and ripping and storing all my media. I must be nuts!

So which is it? And why?
post #8 of 30
This topic gets asked a few times a month.

Should be some good threads if you do a search.
post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 
OK then, I guess I'll do a more thorough search.
post #10 of 30
Ripping stuff you def dont want anything like an atom/zacate based system. If your not up to building another HTPC from the ground up, there are a small handfull of ITX desktop form barebone systems that will take regular intel or even amd cpu's pretty cheap...just add cpu, ram, and hdd...but your choices are limited with those and I dont imagine they would be the quietest things with the best quality since focus is on price and not good silent fans, quality power supply, etc. Anyhow for example, you could get a Foxconn H61 based barebones like that at the egg for $130...$50 for an intel G620...$20 for 4gb ram...so $200 + hard drive and software with minimal work to assemble. You can put one together from the ground up for about the same money as well. Either way, I'd rather use even a cheap barebones setup like that then a laptop.
post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 
Yikes! Who said anything about price? My last HTPC cost $2000. Four years later I gave it an $800 upgrade. I'm not wealthy but I always worry about price AFTER I find what I want.
I thought a little dialogue would get me in the right direction considering my new hardware additions and my new archiving chores. But I've already figured out I need a standalone stout HTPC.
I was hoping for a discussion about HTPC/laptop followed by hardware then software.
Well gotta go, got lots of searching to do.
post #12 of 30
A desktop will give you more bang for the buck - more processing power and storage space at similar price levels. Most will also allow the flexibility of internal tuners as well. I also find that, under heavy loads, desktops can be made to perform quieter than laptops due to bigger fans and more volume in the case.

Laptops are compact and portable, and, to me, ultimately more usable should you want to use it from something other than a dedicated HTPC. However, if you're planning on setting up a dedicated HTPC, I'd stick with a desktop for the reasons listed above - better value, more flexible, quieter in high-effort tasks like transcoding...
post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 
Assassin, I did more searching. First thing I read was your sticky "HTPC for Dummies". Yup, I should of read this first. It got me thinking about building again. So now I need to nail down my requirements for the pc. I've definetly decided not to upgrade the old HTPC. But I will keep the same size form factor to fit the opening in my cabinet.
So you really don't need a separate video card anymore?
I still have one version of my Windows 7 three pack left.
This is getting easier all the time.
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Collins View Post

Assassin, I did more searching. First thing I read was your sticky "HTPC for Dummies". Yup, I should of read this first. It got me thinking about building again. So now I need to nail down my requirements for the pc. I've definetly decided not to upgrade the old HTPC. But I will keep the same size form factor to fit the opening in my cabinet.
So you really don't need a separate video card anymore?
I still have one version of my Windows 7 three pack left.
This is getting easier all the time.

Nope. Don't need a video card on both Intel (Sandy Bridge) and AMD (Llano) platforms.
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Collins View Post

Assassin, I did more searching. First thing I read was your sticky "HTPC for Dummies". Yup, I should of read this first. It got me thinking about building again. So now I need to nail down my requirements for the pc. I've definetly decided not to upgrade the old HTPC. But I will keep the same size form factor to fit the opening in my cabinet.
So you really don't need a separate video card anymore?
I still have one version of my Windows 7 three pack left.
This is getting easier all the time.


Sounds like a fine , new htpc build with posted pics is on the way ! SWEET !

If I may offer some small bit of advice . The free guides that Assassin puts out are nothing short of amazing and worth well more that twice the price of the paid guides . What I would do is go ahead and get the paid guides and start reading thru them and familiarizing yourself so that when your new htpc is built you can (will) have a good handle on the content and how to use it . This is what I did and really helped me a lot !!

EDIT : you will be reconsidering a self built vrs. a pre built .... right ? There really a lot easier to build that what they use to be and the guides really do make building a walk in the park

Good luck and post back
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by technikal View Post

A desktop will give you more bang for the buck - more processing power and storage space at similar price levels. Most will also allow the flexibility of internal tuners as well. I also find that, under heavy loads, desktops can be made to perform quieter than laptops due to bigger fans and more volume in the case.

Laptops are compact and portable, and, to me, ultimately more usable should you want to use it from something other than a dedicated HTPC. However, if you're planning on setting up a dedicated HTPC, I'd stick with a desktop for the reasons listed above - better value, more flexible, quieter in high-effort tasks like transcoding...


Can you elaborate a bit on that "bang for buck" thought ?

I need to rap myself around this thought process

Thanks
post #17 of 30
Thread Starter 
I'm still trying to wrap my head around (that's an odd concept) archiving my media, yeh I'm late to the game. It will be going on my Vortexbox Appliance NAS that has it's own drive. I also have a networked Oppo BDP83. My current HTPC has a blu-ray drive and lots of issues. Would it still be recomended to get a BD player for the HTPC?
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by flocko View Post

Can you elaborate a bit on that "bang for buck" thought ?

$500 will get you an 15.6" laptop with a 500gb drive, 4gb ram, a ~2.0ghz intel i3 mobile processor, and a dvd rw drive. For a desktop, that same price point will get you a 3.0ghz or faster desktop i5 processor, which will be noticeably faster doing things like video transcoding, a 1.0 terabyte drive (or more), 8gb of ram and room to expand. So, buying a desktop, you can spend the same and get more performance, or spend less and get the same performance, as a laptop.

With a laptop, you're paying a premium for the screen, battery and compact size. For a dedicated HTPC, those things don't matter. You'll never use the battery as you'll always be plugged in. You'll never use the screen as you'll be attached to your tv, and the compact size won't matter if you're sticking on the shelf with your receiver.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by technikal View Post

$500 will get you an 15.6" laptop with a 500gb drive, 4gb ram, a ~2.0ghz intel i3 mobile processor, and a dvd rw drive. For a desktop, that same price point will get you a 3.0ghz or faster desktop i5 processor, which will be noticeably faster doing things like video transcoding, a 1.0 terabyte drive (or more), 8gb of ram and room to expand. So, buying a desktop, you can spend the same and get more performance, or spend less and get the same performance, as a laptop.

With a laptop, you're paying a premium for the screen, battery and compact size. For a dedicated HTPC, those things don't matter. You'll never use the battery as you'll always be plugged in. You'll never use the screen as you'll be attached to your tv, and the compact size won't matter if you're sticking on the shelf with your receiver.


Interesting concept , i must say

OK , my turn

What brand name mother boards are in those systems ? Crap , flaky , no name has been my experience. How bout the ram ? How bout the restrictive case with the no flowing loud cheap fans ? Poor cabling . Rarely any type of effort toward sound proofing . Proprietary case shapes (curves and other oddities) can force you to have to buy THERE add on hardware. Which is over priced . Extended warranties are over priced and full of loop holes.

Now onto the software :

Tell me what software that comes on those systems that u actually wanted / use ? Everyone give a big hoooo raah for Norton Anti - virus All the lovely splash screens and crap advertising that you spend hours trying to remove . What drivers are they using ? Windows drivers ? Not good ! How was Windows set up ? Custom install ? Nope . What firmware is being used on devices ? Since you have cheap no name hardware there proly will be no web site to even get updates. Is the bios customizable ? No, not usually .


Some of this stuff can be fixed (removed , maybe ) and reworked after hours , maybe day's . Still end up with a screwed up registry and at best a hacked up system in the end full of needed dog and pony tricks to get it to do what you need .

In the end , time = $ . Now how cheap is that pre built system ... really ?

What self gratification did you get from not building you own system ? None

To "each his own " .... I suppose . Just my thoughts
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Collins View Post

My HTPC is long in the tooth and has issues. I'm replacing my wife's dead laptop with mine. So what do I buy, HTPC or an a/v type laptop?
New in my system is a Vortex Appliance NAS, Logitech Squeezebox Touch and an Android tablet. Haven't done much with any of this because of HTPC issues.
Before I get started ripping my media, I want to assemble the right hardware and software. My a/v cabinet has the usual HDMI connected components, including an Oppo blu-ray player.

I don't think I'm up to building an HTPC again. So whadya think, buy a pre-built HTPC or an a/v type laptop and why?

screw the htpc and just get a tivo premiere with lifetime. easy to use for you and the wife, great picture quality, its about $600 with the lifetime but it will hold resale value VERY well so you will not lose much whenever or if you decide to sell it. also works great...never misses recordings or messes up.
post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by saknice20 View Post

screw the htpc and just get a tivo premiere with lifetime. easy to use for you and the wife, great picture quality, its about $600 with the lifetime but it will hold resale value VERY well so you will not lose much whenever or if you decide to sell it. also works great...never misses recordings or messes up.

It is indeed an excellent product.

(owns and builds many HTPC's)
post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Collins View Post

Yikes! Who said anything about price? My last HTPC cost $2000. Four years later I gave it an $800 upgrade. I'm not wealthy but I always worry about price AFTER I find what I want.
I thought a little dialogue would get me in the right direction considering my new hardware additions and my new archiving chores. But I've already figured out I need a standalone stout HTPC.
I was hoping for a discussion about HTPC/laptop followed by hardware then software.
Well gotta go, got lots of searching to do.

What is your budget? Needs?

I would suggest a laptop won't cut it and you need a real PC made from desktop parts if you want to do real HTPC stuff.

It's more powerful and cheaper... so your in luck there.
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Collins View Post

I'm still trying to wrap my head around (that's an odd concept) archiving my media,... Would it still be recomended to get a BD player for the HTPC?

The biggest benefit of a standalone HTPC is storage, but if you have a NAS, you can easily get away w/ a laptop, especially if you need one occasionally.
What did you use your HTPC for?

FWIW, I'd get an Oppo 95 for bluray...too much DRM crap for HTPCs still, particularly if you run Linux (though FWIW, MythTV works fine on a decently spec'd Sandy Bridge system nowadays)...
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Collins View Post


I don't think I'm up to building an HTPC again. So whadya think, buy a pre-built HTPC or an a/v type laptop and why?



NO LAPTOP!

ARGUMENT OVER.
post #25 of 30
Thread Starter 
That did it! I have two dogs. I'm building an HTPC.
Actually I've already decided to go the HTPC route again, whether I buy or build. Buying has some advantages but I would like the experience of building an HTPC again. I'm sure a builder could tweak it better than I could but that will be part of the process. I'll keep the old one intact but I will be yanking some of the software.
So far I've already started a spreadsheet with components, model #s, prices and notes about each. It'll include software info which is my weakness. I have too many hobbies to be proficient with computers. I'll be starting with TMT5, AnyDVD HD and WMC7. But I'll be putting a lot of emphasis on high rez audio.
OK then, back to spec'ing.
post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Collins View Post

That did it! I have two dogs. I'm building an HTPC.
Actually I've already decided to go the HTPC route again, whether I buy or build. Buying has some advantages but I would like the experience of building an HTPC again. I'm sure a builder could tweak it better than I could but that will be part of the process. I'll keep the old one intact but I will be yanking some of the software.
So far I've already started a spreadsheet with components, model #s, prices and notes about each. It'll include software info which is my weakness. I have too many hobbies to be proficient with computers. I'll be starting with TMT5, AnyDVD HD and WMC7. But I'll be putting a lot of emphasis on high rez audio.
OK then, back to spec'ing.


I would like to see your final component choices...
post #27 of 30
Of all the things to push a man over the edge Who da thunk it

@ the op

EXCELLENT choice !

You mentioned a "lack of time " as one of your main concerns . Keep in mind that this doesn't have to be a race . I spent a month building and setting up what I am using as a htpc and still do not have all the soft ware installed . I like to add things one at a time , test there function , see if it will cause issues and then enjoy the htpc for a while then add some more .

Lots of great folks here to help along the way if you get stuck.

Good luck and post back
post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Collins View Post

Assassin, I did more searching. First thing I read was your sticky "HTPC for Dummies". Yup, I should of read this first. It got me thinking about building again. So now I need to nail down my requirements for the pc. I've definetly decided not to upgrade the old HTPC. But I will keep the same size form factor to fit the opening in my cabinet.
So you really don't need a separate video card anymore?
I still have one version of my Windows 7 three pack left.
This is getting easier all the time.

You can do a full system upgrade and more than likely keep your same case, power supply, and optical drive. Dropping in a new motherboard, ram, and cpu gives you a new system.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Collins View Post

That did it! I have two dogs. I'm building an HTPC.
Actually I've already decided to go the HTPC route again, whether I buy or build. Buying has some advantages but I would like the experience of building an HTPC again. I'm sure a builder could tweak it better than I could but that will be part of the process. I'll keep the old one intact but I will be yanking some of the software.
So far I've already started a spreadsheet with components, model #s, prices and notes about each. It'll include software info which is my weakness. I have too many hobbies to be proficient with computers. I'll be starting with TMT5, AnyDVD HD and WMC7. But I'll be putting a lot of emphasis on high rez audio.
OK then, back to spec'ing.

Spec'ing is pretty much a no brainer at this point
core i3 or llano A6-3500
4 gigs of ram
win7
and your done
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

You can do a full system upgrade and more than likely keep your same case, power supply, and optical drive. Dropping in a new motherboard, ram, and cpu gives you a new system.

Yup.

$50-$100 for Motherboard
$50-115 for CPU
$35 8GB DDR3 1600mhz

Total cost $135-$250 depending on your choices.
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