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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Folks,

Lets try this, if I have $2,000 budget, what is the BEST HTPC I can get.


Purpose:

Mainly for 1080P/720P HD movies and Music (Gaming-seldom)

7.1 Speaker System (with 2 Subs).

HD sound.

Image on 134" big screen.

HDMI is a must (full Video and Audio stream).


All suggestions are welcome with THANKS.
 

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You can get all those things for about $500. Spending more might get you a few extra bells and whistles, but a $500 HTPC will be functionally equivalent to a $2k HTPC for HD video playback, 7.1 audio and HDMI out. You can spend the extra $1500 on a pretty case and extra crap you don't need, or you can put that money into a dedicated file server and get some actual use out of it.

Here's an example including blu-ray, wireless N, a mini keyboard/mouse and a media center remote.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by candre23 /forum/post/16997997


Nope. The 785G chipset contains an ATI 4200 GPU. It's plenty capable of solid 1080p playback from any source you're likely to run across. It'll also do HD 7.1 audio passthrough over HDMI.

What about this report?

http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=629
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by candre23 /forum/post/16997997


It'll also do HD 7.1 audio passthrough over HDMI.

No, it won't, sorry.


For $2K I'd get a 9600GT or 9800GT and an Asus Xonard HDAV Deluxe, that'll get you full bitstreamed 8 channel audio when used with the correct versions of TMT.


The rest of the hardware is relatively insignificant, practically anything will work. I will suggest 4GB of ram though, the leap from 2gb to 4gb was noticable in menu's and media load times on my HTPC.


I would however suggest spending a large chunk of change on storage, get a true hardware raid controller and at least 4 hard drives. Data bandwidth internally is quite possibly the worst bottleneck modern computers are facing.
 

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Damn. I hadn't seen that retraction. I have a feeling that this is an intentional software limitation, since every other 4000 series GPU can do it without issue. You can get 7.1 audio with a $40 ATI 4350 and still be in the general neighborhood of $500.
 

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no offense but anyone that spends $2000 on an htpc is crazy, spend less than half of that and use the rest on a better tv, reciever or speakers
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_311 /forum/post/16998290


no offense but anyone that spends $2000 on an htpc is crazy, spend less than half of that and use the rest on a better tv, reciever or speakers

That depends entirely on how much storage you want. A decent eight port raid card plus 8 1.5tb drives is going to set you back all of $1K if not a bit more. Then if you want bitstreaming, the HDAV slim is almost $200. Luckily bluray drives are down to about $60, add motherboard, processor, memory, boot drive and you could easily make $1500. Then you have to add a case, a good looking HTPC case that could hold all of that is going to cost at least $100, and people are spending $200-400 on them pretty consistantly. Now you want it to be quiet so you upgrade the CPU HSF, the case fans, get a passive power supply and factor in shipping, and $2000 for a do all HTPC that can hold your entire DVD collection is pretty achievable, pretty easily.


I'm in no way saying that everyone needs to spend $2K to get a good functional HTPC, simply saying that it can be done without really reaching outside the box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Do you agree with my opinion that sound card or audio processing in a high end HTPC is more important than the graphic display capability (for movie watching), I feel there is not much HD sound cards (or not at all) available to process (or pass through?) HD sound of Bluray, Dolby TrueHD and DTS MasterHD via HDMI output of HTPC.


Can you all please give the detail spec/components how you will build your dream HTPC as now with any budget range?
 

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If you send sound out digital through HDMI or Optical, a sound card of any kind does not matter in the slightest. A sound card is for if you want to send out sound via analog, otherwise a $250 sound card will sound exactly the same as the onboard motherboard sound if both are sending out the same sampling rate and bit depth for digital, which everything does 96kHz/24-bit now so it doesnt matter.


If you really want to spend $2000 on an HTPC, then get a great computer with a nice sound card and send out your audio via analog into your receiver. Otherwise don't waste your money. This is the best HTPC card for sending out analog sound:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829271005




Yes and no on sound being more important than video. An older video chipset doesn't look as nice as the newer ones, but now days onboard video looks just as good as dedicated graphics cards so it isn't an issue anyway. If you had an old sucky video processor, a $2000 HTPC would be crap because nothing would look good when played through it. Even if it sounded amazing, it is kinda pointless if you cant see all the detail on the screen. Sound in my opinion is just as important as video, but neither should be of greater importance than the other.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtosDracon /forum/post/16998769


That depends entirely on how much storage you want. A decent eight port raid card plus 8 1.5tb drives is going to set you back all of $1K if not a bit more.

That belongs in a separate media server, not the HTPC itself. Storing your media on your HTPC itself is OK if you have a small collection or don't have the cash for a dedicated server. But as I suggested before, if you've got two grand burning a hole in your pocket, spend the majority of that on a separate file server.


If you try to store your media in your HTPC, you will eventually run into noise, heat and capacity problems. Sooner or later you'll wish you had a dedicated server. If you've got the cash, do it right the first time.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtosDracon /forum/post/16998016


No, it won't, sorry.


For $2K I'd get a 9600GT or 9800GT and an Asus Xonard HDAV Deluxe, that'll get you full bitstreamed 8 channel audio when used with the correct versions of TMT.

What's the point of buying a 9600/9800 if you're also buying the Asus card? Won't the Asus card give you the same audio-out options with any GPU?
 

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You really need to outline your goals a bit more here.


Do you intend to store all media on the box or would you prefer a silent HTPC drawing media from a PC in another room?


Does your budget include software?

Do you intend to power 3d 1080p content on a capable display?

Will you want to use cablecard tuners for digital cable? If so, how many?

Alternatively, do you only use RF cable?


There's a lot you can put into an HTPC as the budget goes up and up and up....


However, I've always been a fan of the "silent player" approach where the HTPC itself is just the player... it has cool and quiet parts and it draws its files from another PC on the network where all the storage and recorded are.


Add a few more details and I'll see if I an through some ideas your way.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by iwanrs /forum/post/16999480


Do you agree with my opinion that sound card or audio processing in a high end HTPC is more important than the graphic display capability (for movie watching), I feel there is not much HD sound cards (or not at all) available to process (or pass through?) HD sound of Bluray, Dolby TrueHD and DTS MasterHD via HDMI output of HTPC.


Can you all please give the detail spec/components how you will build your dream HTPC as now with any budget range?

thats the thing. HTPC's aren't that expensive. period. only time you need to spend 2k on a pc is for gaming or video editing. if you don't need either, the requirements drop drastically.


785g mobo ~100 bux

althlon II 250 >100

ddr-800 ram > 40

X amount of HDD - depends how much storage you want

Asus Xonard HDAV Deluxe for 7.1 if needed

a case of your choosing.


the only place where price is no option is with the case and how fancy you want it. the top end cases are $600 and thats where bragging right's are (which you obviously want).


if you want complete and total bragging rights, get an intel i7 system. get a useless sound and video cards. there aren't hd sound cards cause hd sound is a marketing gimmick. there are 7.1 audio streams, but there is no upgrade going to hd sound like going from sdtv to hdtv. all that those fancy hd sound codecs are for is for the 7 channels or sources. it doesn't sound better, crisper, etc etc. it only means you have more sources/speakers. Dolby TrueHD = regular old Dolby with 2 more channels. thats it.
 

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Well another place price varies is the storage, if you want the best you'll end up with a Intel 2nd gen SSD or something similar and that could set you back alot more then the normal Samsung 500GB would.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bojangles139 /forum/post/17000611


Dolby TrueHD = regular old Dolby with 2 more channels. thats it.
Dolby TrueHD is actually a new, lossless codec. If you have the equipment to play it back properly and good ears, it is of higher quality than AC3.


Quote:
Originally Posted by zicoz /forum/post/17000443


What's the point of buying a 9600/9800 if you're also buying the Asus card? Won't the Asus card give you the same audio-out options with any GPU?

There is no point. All GPUs in the 9000 series have the same capabilities from a HTPC point of view. The added benefits of higher end cards are only useful in gaming situations.
 

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That's what I tought aswell, thank you. So if the 785 chipset gives the best picture (hypotetical), then the optimal setup would be 785G+Xonar correct? _If you have a Xonar it'll bistream audio no matter what GPU you use?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by zicoz /forum/post/17000904


If you have a Xonar it'll bistream audio no matter what GPU you use?

That is correct, as long as your audio card has HDMI out.


As for 785G being the best, that's debatable. Some people claim that Nvidia cards have slightly better picture quality. They definitely have more stable drivers. I've never done a side-by-side comparison, so I can't say for sure.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by candre23 /forum/post/17000772

Dolby TrueHD is actually a new, lossless codec. If you have the equipment to play it back properly and good ears, it is of higher quality than AC3.

its like saying you can hear the difference between a 320kps mp3 and flac. i'm rather critical of "golden ears". have to be very experience in listening to music to tell the difference, like sound engineer or professional musician.


also, 785g is prolly his best bet, i *think* its the only onboard hdmi that supports 1.3a which is needed for bitstreaming. tbh, i'm not all that interested in hdmi lpcm/bitstreaming stuff so not 100%, just thought i remember hearing you need 1.3 for bitstreaming so you don't get downsampled.
 
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