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Some basic questions about HTPCs

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Okay so
-my desktop died
-I had recently wired the house with gigabit routers and cat 6 cables (yes I know overkill but why do a job twice? at some point speeds like that will matter)
-currently streaming netflix through xbox 360, apple tv, wd tv live, ps3 (been trying different methods over the years)
-just started "sharing" folders in my external drives thoughout hte house and watching via wd tv live, wd tv and asus o!play

So the next desktop I want it to be able to
-rip dvds
-rip blu rays
-store my library of over 1000 dvds and blu rays (uncompressed) - if necessary it doesn't have to hold all right now
-download content from the internet

I'm thinking about the computer as basically a server/ripping station/downloading machine

If I had this machine I would be able to access it with the current streaming devices that I already have

So what are the advantages of getting a HTPC?

Is it the GUI (which I admit look sharp)? Do they provide better sound quality and picture quality than those $100 boxes?
post #2 of 30
You are defiantly a great candidate for a server biggrin.gif

It's always a good idea to post some sort of budget so folks know what to recommend realistically . You could do an all in one server / htpc or two seperate units . A nice powered server with a modest htpc OR an all out kick *ss server with all the htpc bells and whistles in one unit . Both ways work and both have there pros and cons .

To me : Having a custom htpc pro built or better yet building your own means one thing in one word ... FREEDOM ! Show me another word that humans love more ? (now, now ... keep it clean)

I can build what I want , how I want it and decide 100% how it is used . What software goes on it or better yet what DOES NOT go on it . Quite frankly it is just a complete thrill ride with ups and yes , downs along the way . But in the end it is you , the one with the freedom to make your own choices . Better pictures , better software , better control .... I could keep going !!

You will NOT get any and I mean NO freedom with the store bought $100 crap boxes

Hope that helps a bit .....

Freedom cool.gif
Edited by flocko - 8/22/12 at 9:18pm
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 
Well here's the dilemna I was thinking of customizing a computer as the beginnings of a server/ripper using local shops it was looking like $1500 but that was me just picking what I thought I wanted

So mother board and cpu I was thinking i7 with 8 mb / and a 2011 mother board with usb 3.0, and a number of slots for the faster version of sata 6 (instead of 3 sorry forgot the units I am still learning)

I figured that for blu ray rippind I want a fast cpu but didn't want to pay the extra bit for 10 mb

chose the 2011 motherboard as the older mbs with 2 slots for ram seemed restrictive and the ones with three slots typically come with crossfire (and I'm not a gamer so dual vid cards is not something that I want)

Box I was thinking a gaming box with as several fans (4)

a coolmaster cpu fan system

16 gb of ram (4 x 4 can't remember the spd but it was intermediate)

Power source debating between 750 or 850 W not sure how to decide

vid card a cheap 1 gb ddr5 vid card (figuring that I'd like a low end card with newish tech)

As for drives I was thinkiing 2 or 3 x 3 tb drvies wit hthe faster transfer speed

blu ray drive

dvd drive

both optical drives looking for fast x without going nuts on cost


It has to be located in the office rather than the theatre which is why I focused on building a fast ripper with lots of storage but it's also designed to include more recent pieces so that I can upgrade it in the future and get more life out of it rather than buying say a cheap 400 or $600 pc that is pretty much going to have a shorter life being relevant.


Would it be worth it to make changes to this computer?

As it stands the idea is that using ethernet cables my %100 boxes that I already own would be used to view the media. Would a cheap HTPC give me benefits in pic or sound qualiity or is it mainly just prettier interface and more freedom with internet access than a box loaded with apps for only certain sites?

Will I basically have to save up for a second pc to put in the theatre to recieve the data from the server in the office? Or is there another way to get more of the benefits of the htpc without it being in the same room>
post #4 of 30
Thread Starter 
Oh forgot about sound card. Ideally at 24 bit/196 with rca inputs...... I want to make hi res digital copies of some of my record collection to create wav files to manipulate.

Currently I only have an external usb soundcard that is 16/44.1
post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by flocko View Post

Show me another word that humans love more ? (now, now ... keep it clean)

I know a word that loved even more its called...........F**K biggrin.gif
post #6 of 30
How are you getting Live TV? CableBoxes? DVR? How much are they costing you?

You can replace all those too. Just run Windows 7 on your HTPC with a CableCard tuner, and you will have access to all of the cable channels (even the encrypted ones), and then, when you connect XBOX360 to the network, you can also view the same content, independantly form the HTPC on the XBOXes.

You can record, rewind and pause live TV anywhere in the house! And save money!
post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueiedgod View Post

How are you getting Live TV? CableBoxes? DVR? How much are they costing you?
You can replace all those too. Just run Windows 7 on your HTPC with a CableCard tuner, and you will have access to all of the cable channels (even the encrypted ones), and then, when you connect XBOX360 to the network, you can also view the same content, independantly form the HTPC on the XBOXes.
You can record, rewind and pause live TV anywhere in the house! And save money!

Good point that's an unexplored topic for me
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankcastle1975 View Post

Well here's the dilemna I was thinking of customizing a computer as the beginnings of a server/ripper using local shops it was looking like $1500 but that was me just picking what I thought I wanted
So mother board and cpu I was thinking i7 with 8 mb / and a 2011 mother board with usb 3.0, and a number of slots for the faster version of sata 6 (instead of 3 sorry forgot the units I am still learning)
I figured that for blu ray rippind I want a fast cpu but didn't want to pay the extra bit for 10 mb
chose the 2011 motherboard as the older mbs with 2 slots for ram seemed restrictive and the ones with three slots typically come with crossfire (and I'm not a gamer so dual vid cards is not something that I want)
Box I was thinking a gaming box with as several fans (4)
a coolmaster cpu fan system
16 gb of ram (4 x 4 can't remember the spd but it was intermediate)
Power source debating between 750 or 850 W not sure how to decide
vid card a cheap 1 gb ddr5 vid card (figuring that I'd like a low end card with newish tech)
As for drives I was thinkiing 2 or 3 x 3 tb drvies wit hthe faster transfer speed
blu ray drive
dvd drive
both optical drives looking for fast x without going nuts on cost
It has to be located in the office rather than the theatre which is why I focused on building a fast ripper with lots of storage but it's also designed to include more recent pieces so that I can upgrade it in the future and get more life out of it rather than buying say a cheap 400 or $600 pc that is pretty much going to have a shorter life being relevant.
Would it be worth it to make changes to this computer?
As it stands the idea is that using ethernet cables my %100 boxes that I already own would be used to view the media. Would a cheap HTPC give me benefits in pic or sound qualiity or is it mainly just prettier interface and more freedom with internet access than a box loaded with apps for only certain sites?
Will I basically have to save up for a second pc to put in the theatre to recieve the data from the server in the office? Or is there another way to get more of the benefits of the htpc without it being in the same room>

Really, you don't need anything like that. Neither a server nor ripping is cpu or memory intensive. No need for an i7, or 16gb of ram, or even SATA III (it's marginally faster with SSDs, it's NO faster with hard disks than SATA II). You don't need an 850w power supply.

What you really need is to spend $25 on Assassin's Server guides. I figure that $25 investment will save you about $500-800 or more off of your $1500 not to mention a lot of hours of your time.

Oh, and that $600 system will have just as long a life as a $1500 system. You don't buy any extra longevity by overbuilding.

Frankly, a lot of people here build their servers with leftover Core2Duos from old retired systems and they perform perfectly wel. It won't serve video any faster with an i7. (Even if you were going to be doing a lot of heavy duty transcoding - probably the most demanding htpc task - an i5 is more than enough).

Truthfully, you can build a nice fully capable server and separate htpc for a total of less than your $1500.
post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Really, you don't need anything like that. Neither a server nor ripping is cpu or memory intensive. No need for an i7, or 16gb of ram, or even SATA III (it's marginally faster with SSDs, it's NO faster with hard disks than SATA II). You don't need an 850w power supply.
What you really need is to spend $25 on Assassin's Server guides. I figure that $25 investment will save you about $500-800 or more off of your $1500 not to mention a lot of hours of your time.
Oh, and that $600 system will have just as long a life as a $1500 system. You don't buy any extra longevity by overbuilding.
Frankly, a lot of people here build their servers with leftover Core2Duos from old retired systems and they perform perfectly wel. It won't serve video any faster with an i7. (Even if you were going to be doing a lot of heavy duty transcoding - probably the most demanding htpc task - an i5 is more than enough).
Truthfully, you can build a nice fully capable server and separate htpc for a total of less than your $1500.

Thank you that's the kind of input that I was looking for.

I want it to be able to do the job well and a wife friendly price tag makes the process easier.
post #10 of 30
Heres' the link to Assassin's server guides by the way: http://www.assassinserver.com/

BTW, here is also a link to his free htpc hardware guide: http://assassinhtpcblog.com/?page_id=160
Edited by Zon2020 - 8/23/12 at 1:58pm
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Really, you don't need anything like that. Neither a server nor ripping is cpu or memory intensive. No need for an i7, or 16gb of ram, or even SATA III (it's marginally faster with SSDs, it's NO faster with hard disks than SATA II). You don't need an 850w power supply.
What you really need is to spend $25 on Assassin's Server guides. I figure that $25 investment will save you about $500-800 or more off of your $1500 not to mention a lot of hours of your time.
Oh, and that $600 system will have just as long a life as a $1500 system. You don't buy any extra longevity by overbuilding.
Frankly, a lot of people here build their servers with leftover Core2Duos from old retired systems and they perform perfectly wel. It won't serve video any faster with an i7. (Even if you were going to be doing a lot of heavy duty transcoding - probably the most demanding htpc task - an i5 is more than enough).
Truthfully, you can build a nice fully capable server and separate htpc for a total of less than your $1500.

110 % Excellent advice !

@ the O.P.

I have that i7 $1500 htpc but not out of choice of purchase but because I had the parts and wanted to dabble in htpc before jumping in on a discrete purchase.

I can tell you first hand about the expensive i7 htpc . It is loud , runs hot , HAS TO HAVE a discrete vid card and plainly sucks as a htpc . What it did do was give me incentive to get away from it as fast as I could . What I have now is quiet ( i mean a whisper) , runs very cool , is 1/3 the size of the old htpc and best of all .... it cost about 1/3 of what the i7 did .
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankcastle1975 View Post

Well here's the dilemna I was thinking of customizing a computer as the beginnings of a server/ripper using local shops it was looking like $1500 but that was me just picking what I thought I wanted
So mother board and cpu I was thinking i7 with 8 mb / and a 2011 mother board with usb 3.0, and a number of slots for the faster version of sata 6 (instead of 3 sorry forgot the units I am still learning)
I figured that for blu ray rippind I want a fast cpu but didn't want to pay the extra bit for 10 mb
If you're leaving the movies uncompressed you don't need much CPU power. If your building a desktop machine use an I3 of I5. If your going the HTPC route I3 or G620
Quote:
chose the 2011 motherboard as the older mbs with 2 slots for ram seemed restrictive and the ones with three slots typically come with crossfire (and I'm not a gamer so dual vid cards is not something that I want)
New motherboards come with 2 or 4 memory slots. No need to search for last years model
Quote:
Box I was thinking a gaming box with as several fans (4)
Antec Three Hundred
Quote:
a coolmaster cpu fan system
You only need a CPU fan if your overclocking or trying to make your computer silent
Quote:
16 gb of ram (4 x 4 can't remember the spd but it was intermediate)
4 or 8 GB is plenty
Quote:
Power source debating between 750 or 850 W not sure how to decide
450 Watt
Quote:
vid card a cheap 1 gb ddr5 vid card (figuring that I'd like a low end card with newish tech)
You don't need a video card at all, use built in graphics.
Quote:
As for drives I was thinkiing 2 or 3 x 3 tb drvies wit hthe faster transfer speed
sata 3 drives will be no faster than sata 2 drives, buy what is cheapest at the time
Quote:
blu ray drive
dvd drive
both optical drives looking for fast x without going nuts on cost
A Blu-ray drive will read DVDs.
Quote:
It has to be located in the office rather than the theatre which is why I focused on building a fast ripper with lots of storage but it's also designed to include more recent pieces so that I can upgrade it in the future and get more life out of it rather than buying say a cheap 400 or $600 pc that is pretty much going to have a shorter life being relevant.
Would it be worth it to make changes to this computer?
As it stands the idea is that using ethernet cables my %100 boxes that I already own would be used to view the media. Would a cheap HTPC give me benefits in pic or sound qualiity or is it mainly just prettier interface and more freedom with internet access than a box loaded with apps for only certain sites?
Will I basically have to save up for a second pc to put in the theatre to recieve the data from the server in the office? Or is there another way to get more of the benefits of the htpc without it being in the same room>
post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 
So I think I will invest 25 in assasin's guide is it just for servers does he or she have one for htpcs as well?

Because while I am not intent on spending 1500 if I can build a server/downloader/ripper (where speed and storage size are the mainconsiderations) and have money left over for a htpc that is dead quiet and has high quality vid and audio output that would be awesome.

I guess my understanding of computers is clearly awful as I assumed that faster hds, more ram and i7 would mean faster ripping. Where is the bottleneck created such that I don't need that kind of power?
post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 
Well joined the htpc server and htpc blogs.

You guys should get 10% biggrin.gif

Pleaes be gentle but reading the section on servers

I see that I will have to think about operating systems like WHS 2011 and running something like flex raid if I want to protect the data

Will I be able to use the server like a standard office desktop for word processing and surfing and what not? Ideally i'd like the one box to handle mundane stuff like that plus the ripping and storage of media so that it can be used by other machines in the house via ethernet
post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankcastle1975 View Post

Well joined the htpc server and htpc blogs.
You guys should get 10% biggrin.gif
Pleaes be gentle but reading the section on servers
I see that I will have to think about operating systems like WHS 2011 and running something like flex raid if I want to protect the data
Will I be able to use the server like a standard office desktop for word processing and surfing and what not? Ideally i'd like the one box to handle mundane stuff like that plus the ripping and storage of media so that it can be used by other machines in the house via ethernet

PS sorry for such a stupid question but I am new to the concept of servers being something in the home
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankcastle1975 View Post

Well joined the htpc server and htpc blogs.
You guys should get 10% biggrin.gif
Pleaes be gentle but reading the section on servers
I see that I will have to think about operating systems like WHS 2011 and running something like flex raid if I want to protect the data
Will I be able to use the server like a standard office desktop for word processing and surfing and what not? Ideally i'd like the one box to handle mundane stuff like that plus the ripping and storage of media so that it can be used by other machines in the house via ethernet

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankcastle1975 View Post

PS sorry for such a stupid question but I am new to the concept of servers being something in the home

Sure. Just use windows 7 and flex raid instead if you want to use your server more like a typical PC.
post #17 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks Assasin,

Now that I feel more confident that a server/ripper/office is the correct first step I think I'll focus on that box first.

After that I'll look over all that info on the htpc side as the box that goes into the mancave.
post #18 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy_Steb View Post

If you're leaving the movies uncompressed you don't need much CPU power. If your building a desktop machine use an I3 of I5. If your going the HTPC route I3 or G620

What do I look for in the i3 or i5 for a desktop machine if this is the mobo that I am thinking about

Asus P8Z77-V PRO Socket 1155 Intel Z77 Chipset Dual channel DDR3 2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz 2x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 1x PCI-Express 2.0 x16 GLAN 8-CH High Definition Audio 4x SATA 3.0Gb/s 4x SATA 6.0Gb/s 1x eSATA 8x USB 3.0 10x USB 2.0 Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n VI/HDMI/VGA/Display Port ATX

This will be a desktop for ripping and serving and general use

Is this okay?

Intel Core i5-2380P Quad-Core Socket LGA1155, 3.10Ghz, 6MB L3 Cache, 32nm 95W TDP (Retail Boxed) (BX80623I52380P)

Is there a diff between 32 nm and 22 nm?
Edited by frankcastle1975 - 8/23/12 at 11:02pm
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankcastle1975 View Post


Is there a diff between 32 nm and 22 nm?

Yes, but not one you should worry about. As a theoretical matter, shrinking the die size means shorter circuit traces, higher speeds, lower power, lower heat, and a higher number of transisitors in a smaller size, meaning (once manufacturing settles down) higher yield per wafer which means lower manufacturing costs.

But as a user, it means little or nothing by itself. It allows Intel to produce faster lower power chips, but as a user you should be paying attention to the specs, not the die size, and if a 32nm chip you're looking at is faster or cheaper than a 22nm chip you're considering, then it's faster or cheaper, and really the particular manufacturing process is essentially irrelevant to you.

Shrinking the circuitry is one way that Intel increases speeds and decreases costs. Often because of foundry advances a new series of chips can be released using a smaller die size but essentially the identical design and layout as previous chips and will provide somewhat better performance then their predecessors simply because the feature size is smaller (and thus the electrical circuitry is microscopically shorter). Other times Intel updates moderately the chip layout. Then periodically, but less frequently, Intel will do a total redesign of the architecture.

Ivy Bridge not only went to a smaller 22nm die size, but also introduced a brand new three-dimensional transistor layout in their foundry process. The basic chip architecture is not significantly changed from Sandy, but the manufacturing changes produced higher speeds. The next round of chips - Haswell - will introduce a new architecture that will replace the "Core" architecture they've been using for a while.

Basically, you should pay attention to how the various chips perform and how much they cost, and really don't need to worry about the foundry process used to produce them.

BTW, the "P" processors do not have integrated graphics. Personally, I don't think they're they're usually a very good value, and you can typically find the equivalent "standard" Sandy Bridge cpu for the same price or less.
post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Yes, but not one you should worry about. As a theoretical matter, shrinking the die size means shorter circuit traces, higher speeds, lower power, lower heat, and a higher number of transisitors in a smaller size, meaning (once manufacturing settles down) higher yield per wafer which means lower manufacturing costs.
But as a user, it means little or nothing by itself. It allows Intel to produce faster lower power chips, but as a user you should be paying attention to the specs, not the die size, and if a 32nm chip you're looking at is faster or cheaper than a 22nm chip you're considering, then it's faster or cheaper, and really the particular manufacturing process is essentially irrelevant to you.
Shrinking the circuitry is one way that Intel increases speeds and decreases costs. Often because of foundry advances a new series of chips can be released using a smaller die size but essentially the identical design and layout as previous chips and will provide somewhat better performance then their predecessors simply because the feature size is smaller (and thus the electrical circuitry is microscopically shorter). Other times Intel updates moderately the chip layout. Then periodically, but less frequently, Intel will do a total redesign of the architecture.
Ivy Bridge not only went to a smaller 22nm die size, but also introduced a brand new three-dimensional transistor layout in their foundry process. The basic chip architecture is not significantly changed from Sandy, but the manufacturing changes produced higher speeds. The next round of chips - Haswell - will introduce a new architecture that will replace the "Core" architecture they've been using for a while.
Basically, you should pay attention to how the various chips perform and how much they cost, and really don't need to worry about the foundry process used to produce them.
BTW, the "P" processors do not have integrated graphics. Personally, I don't think they're they're usually a very good value, and you can typically find the equivalent "standard" Sandy Bridge cpu for the same price or less.

Intel Core i5-2380P Quad-Core Socket LGA1155, 3.10Ghz, 6MB L3 Cache, 32nm 95W TDP (Retail Boxed) (BX80623I52380P)

Is the bolded p the one you are referring to? when reading descriptions how do you know if you are looking at a equivalent sandy bridge cpu?
post #21 of 30
Thread Starter 
Intel Core i5-2300 Quad-Core Socket LGA1155, 2.80Ghz, 6MB L3 Cache, 32nm (Retail Boxed) (BX80623I52300)

Is this what you had in mind as an equivalent that had integrated graphics?

)
Edited by frankcastle1975 - 8/24/12 at 11:36am
post #22 of 30
I'm pretty sure it's the same chip as an i5-2400. Same speed, same cache.

The P versions actually include the graphics core because it's part of the chip, it's simply disabled. It's been suggested that the Ps were released as a way for Intel to sell chips for which the iGPU flunked QC testing, which may be true, and their catalog price is less than the equivalent standard chip, but because they have never sold in much quantity and aren't sold by many places, there's no real competition and the street prices are just as high as their graphics-included brothers. In fact, Newegg sells the 2400 for $5 less than the 2380P.
post #23 of 30
BTW, to come full circle, you started this thread by saying your desktop had "died". Do you know what's wrong with it? How hard and expensive would it be to fix whatever is the problem? Old desktops can often easily and cheaply be transformed into perfectly servicable servers, and then you could build a nice small quiet new htpc.

Maybe it doesn't need to be thrown out just yet.

I built a new desktop pc for my wife a few months ago and still have her old Dell Inspiron Core2Duo E8400 sitting here just for the purpose of turning it into a server one of these days when I get around to it. I expect it will be just fine for that. It won't hold a lot of disks, but an SSD for the OS and three 3TB hard drives for storage should work just fine.
post #24 of 30
Off that link you provided to that Canada Computers site, in that $195-199 range I'd personally probably pick the 15-2400S.

For what you've described, I'm not sure you need an i5 rather than an i3, and the "S" models are lower clocked and thus lower power in standard use, but the i5 "S" models still have a high turbo boost speed. So in most of the usage it would run at a cooler but plenty fast 2.5Ghz, but if you were doing somethign demanding like transcoding you still have a 3.3Ghz turbo boost speed. I've always been attracted to the i5 "S" chips for HTPC use, but because they're harder to find, and Micro Center doesn't sell them, they're usually a lot more expensive here and so I've never bought one. But Canada Computers has a whole bunch of i5 models crammed into a $10 price range, and of those, if it was me, and I decided I wanted an i5, I'd probably pick the 2400S.

But you should consider whether you can do everything you want to do with an i3.
post #25 of 30
Thread Starter 
Oh man that desktop was about 10 years old mother board didn't even allow for sata (was ide). At the time of purchase it wasn't even very good by standards in those days. It was my frist PC bought for work out of desperantion so entry level income meant entry level PC.

I have fond memories for the pc as I addd ram, new hdds, dvd burner, graphics cards and sound cards over the years but it was time to say goodbye. I worked that thing like a mule ripping dvds and 24 hr downloading.

I think there was something wrong with the hdd as the lights came on but wouldn't boot up.
post #26 of 30
If it's IDE, it sounds like it's not worth throwing money into it.
post #27 of 30
Thread Starter 
I'll take a look at what they have for i3s,

Side note:

I find canadian prices tend to be a bit higher but I like this website/store as they have brick and mortar locations and they can tell me if they have what I want in stock before I make a trip over there.
post #28 of 30
Thread Starter 
Yeah, that computer has a special place in my heart. Much like a first car that you buy. But it was time to say goodbye. I sent it to an electronics recycling plant.
post #29 of 30
Thread Starter 
i3 choice is slim which is why I went to i5

here are the three choices

Intel Core i3-2100T Dual-Core Socket LGA1155, 2.5Ghz, 3MB L3 Cache, 32nm (Retail Boxed) (BX80623I32100T) $140

INTEL - PROCESSORS I3-2105 3.10G 3MB LGA1155 MM#914937 $142

INTEL - PROCESSORS I3-2130 LGA1155 3.4GHZ 3M CACHE MM#917720 $156
post #30 of 30
2105 would be nice and has the HD3000 graphics.
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