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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The goal is to ditch u-verse tv in favor of netflix, ota, etc but still keep dvr usability. 


I want my htpc to handle network storage also. I know most will say get a dedicated nas but I can't place a nas in a separate room as my router as the router and modem has to be near the ethernet port jack on the wall and there is only one jack in my apartment. Coax is out of the question as I have fiber. 


Tell me what you think the best setup is for me based on the below criteria and budget of around $500-600. 



- Ditch U verse TV

- Record at least 1 Stream of OTA while watching Live OTA via antenna

- Using dnla capability of tv to stream movies and recordings from htpc

- Possibly use xbox 360 as an extender


Goals for HTPC:

-DVR functionality

-Emulator up to PS2 capabilities (with xbox 360 controller input)

-Stream content to dnla tvs (possibly 2 at once)

-Watch OTA Live

-Doesn't have to fan-less since xbox 360 and dvr make noise and I can tolerate it.

-Dimension Limit: 9" height x 21.5" Width x 14.5" Depth

-Wireless Remote





Current Setup:


Living Room Setup:

- U-Verse fiber with fiber connection in the walls but only one jack which is in the living room. Using a coax jack is not feasible for internet. 

- Wireless gigabit N router connected to u-verse modem

- 1 Vizio WifI Smart TV with dnla support

- Media Center that houses the modem, current u-verse dvr, router, and tv on top. 

- HTPC would go in living room. 

- 1 2TB HD connected to Router via USB as backup device only. (not ideal but works for me for now)


Bedroom Setup:

-1 Vizio Wifi Smart TV with dnla support

-Xbox 360


Software I have already:

- Netflix Sub.

- Watch ESPN sub.

- HBO Go Sub.

- Windows 7 Ultimate





My thoughts so far:


- Tuner Card (not sure if I need two antennas)

- Micro-atx case

- 1 64GB ssd for windows 7 ultimate (already have copy of windows 7 ultimate)

- 1 1TB 5400rpm HD for DVR

- 1 2TB 7200rpm HD for data files: documents, pictures, music, movies, etc. (I don't have a huge collection, currently less than 1TB)

- 6GB of Ram

- intel i3 equivalent and possibly low to mid-range GPU



- Xbox 360 wireless controller emulator support input device

- Wireless card for remote control

- Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for internet browsing/typical computer stuff



- Windows 7 with WMC (already have)

- XBMC I assume but maybe Plex?

- Movies are already in MKV format

- PVR support (no clue)?

- Sickbeard/etc for possibly bravo, lifetime, E for the wife?



I apologize in advance for the long post, but thank you for any feedback. 

3,388 Posts
I would bump the HD capacity for your DVR from 1 TB to atleast 2, 3 is better if you plan to keep your shows. With WMC as your DVR, for HD recordings you're looking at 3 gigs for a 30 minute HD show and 6 for and hour long HD show. 'The Ten Commandments" came out to a tad bit over 30 gigs when I recorded it last spring.

You can Flip a coin between Plex and XBMC. I currently use Plex on my HTPC and use a Chromecast to stream Plex Content to my son's TV. Not sure which TVs are compatible but I believe Samsung has some Plex Capable TVs.

For a Tuner, I would look into a Silicon Dust HD Homerun Dual Network Tuner. The HD Homerun Prime is for Cable users while the standard HD HomeRun Dual is for OTA Reception. This will run on your network and can be used with Windows Media Center for Recording programs OTA. If you add an extra HDHomeRun, that's 4 tuners to record 4 shows, or record 3 shows while watching on another.

The hardware for your HTPC should be sufficient enough to handle your needs for distribution to other devices on your network, especially if Transcoding is involved. I'd stick with Intel for the CPU.

Hope this helps.

7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Thank you for the feedback that helps greatly.


As for having plex/xbmc with a combo of WMC to handle dvr does that mean I will have to switch constantly between plex/xbmc and wmc or can plex/xbmx somehow front-end the controls of wmc? I guess I am asking is if there is one interface to control plex/xbmx and wmc dvr.


Do I need two physical antennas to record 2 OTA at once or do I use one antenna and the signal is split between 4 streams or 2 tuner cards (2x2) if I wanted to record 3 at once and watch one live?


Have you used a service like sickbeard to watch tv networks that are restricted to cable companies such as bravo, lifetime, E? I am against Hulu for the delay in upload time and still having to watch commercials. 


What exactly will I have to trans-code if everything is in a mkv container? I was under the impression trans-coding is only necessary for blue-ray iso files. 

3,118 Posts
Your goals are pretty similar to my system. I run Windows Media Center as my primary DVR/movie library/movie player, and I use the Plex Media Server running the background to get movies to my phone and Google TV.

You don't need several antennas. If you buy [for example] a dual tuner card it has two tuners built into it. One antenna, two channels at once. If you had mutiple tuner cards you could split your antenna signal, though you may need an amplifer for it. Tuner cards split the signal inside and amplify it themselves.

All of your DLNA devices (such as your smart tv) need to be able to support MPEG2 video and AC3 audio if you want to watch DVR recordings on them. This is what is sent OTA and what your DVR software will record. MPEG2 is supported much less than the newer H264 is. This is where transcoding could potentially come into play. For example, if you recorded CBS inside Windows Media Center, and tried watching it on a DLNA device that doesn't support MPEG2, you won't be able to watch it. Transcoding will convert it in real time to something your DLNA player is capable of playing.

That is really what Plex is for - it's a very good transcoding media server. Many devices have actual Plex apps that give you a much more media rich solution. Check out the difference between Plex on my Google TV (using a dedicated app) and on my 360 (using the DLNA server):

Plex also has HTPC player software, but NO DVR capability. So based on your goals (and the availabilty of a 360 as an extender) I would recommend you use WMC to record and server your HTPC and Xbox 360, and [possibly] Plex to serve your DLNA devices. If the 360 and smart tv are going to stay in the same room you might not need Plex at all - just WMC extender mode on the Xbox.

Now as for movies there are several pieces of software that can play them on your HTPC - thats not a problem. But trying to watch on the 360 or smart tv could be. They need to be in a container and use a codec that your playback device supports. One again, this is something Plex can "fix" by converting non compliant media in real time.

Silicondust makes a DLNA compliant transcoding tuner that can create H264 streams on the spot if thats what your DLNA player needs.

3,388 Posts
In my current set up, I use WMC for Live TV, if I want to watch a series, I switch to Plex (or XBMC whichever you choose). With XBMC, it will support live TV through its PVR Support, I'm just not a big fan of it when it compares to the stability of Windows Media Center. The WMCServer set up for XBMC is by far the most stable of the PVR options, but changing Channels is painfully slow compared to WMC.

One antenna is all you will need in your set up.

I've never played with Sickbeard. You may want to Try Playon for they seem to serve the same purpose as what you are looking for regarding streaming Networks.

If your devices have native MKV support then Transcoding may not be needed, but if you want to expand to streaming to tablets and smartphones in out and outside of your network, Transcoding may come in handy, and it works great with Plex.

7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Thank for the great information regarding plex and wmc. I guess I will just be switching between plex and wmc for my needs. Not that much of hassle I guess. 

As for the tuner card I think I will just go with one tuner card supporting 2 streams. So in essence I can record one and watch one live or record two at the same time and not watch anything live.


Is it possible to record an ota show while doing something else with the htpc like watching a movie or another show? I assume it is since all the tuner card is focused on is the digital ota signal and recording to a HD. 


As for gpu, do you think it is necessary for me to have a separate gpu than the on-board h4400/4600? If I don't, do you think I should spend a little extra for hd 4600 (i3-4130t vs i3-4330t) or is not really worth it? Wiki shows $7 difference. 

3,388 Posts
Definitely, you don't even need WMC running (The interface itself) to record programs.When a show is recording, you 'll just see a red icon within the Task Bar on the Bottom-Right corner of the desktop. I do it all the time. With your hardware set up mentioned in the initial thread, you'll have enough memory and processing power to be able to watch a movie or tv shows from within Plex or XBMC while WMC is recording.

As far as GPU, I'm a bit limited regarding that information but I do have an I5 Based Dell laptop which works great regarding Playing and Transcoding my movies on the network to mobile devices and Chromecasts I have set up. This led me to purchase a Quad Core AMD Phenom Processor for my Dell Zino HD which initially had a Dual Core Processor, which worked great, but when I started messing around with high Bit Rate Movie Files, the I5 laptop ran laps around the Zino in regards to transcoding. For 7 bucks more, I'd get the 4600.

One thing to take into consideration is the Ability to play HD Audio from your MKV files, which is a breeze to configure with Plex and XBMC compared to Windows (IMO). If the GPU can support it, and you have an HDMI Reciever, you should be able to play back Dolby TruHD and DTS MA audio.

91 Posts
What you have planned for the HTPC box itself should work fine, but there are three accessories that took my HTPC experience from good to great.

1. HDHomeRun Dual network attached tuner. Strong dual ATSC tuner that can live close to the antenna.

2. Ortek Media Center Remote with USB/IR receiver. The remote itself is cheap, but the IR receiver works well with Harmony remotes.

3. Logitech K400 RF keyboard with touchpad. Small enough to live on the coffee table yet large enough to type on. Plus it will last almost a year on a set of batteries.

An Xbox 360s is the only thing plugged into our bedroom TV. Both the S or E series consoles have extremely quiet fans.

73 Posts

Originally Posted by LastButNotLeast  /t/1523116/advice-for-htpc-build#post_24498739


Thank you LastButNotLeast for the recognition!

Likewise, Here are 2 more pieces of information for the community that should help you/others in your endeavor!

Guide on How to Eliminate Cable:

Assassin's Easy NewEgg Hardware Wishlists:

Hope those help!
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