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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So while not a newb in AVS, I am definitely a newb when it comes to HTPC. I need an HTPC guru to steer me in the right direction. I am primarily a mac user. Problem is, I don't think a mac can do what I want it to in the HTPC department without it costing me several thousand bucks! I have a licensed unopened copy of Vista Ultimate...so that'll save me some cash. I've also looked at building a hackintosh, but frankly, that whole arena is a big mess right now.


So if I go to the darkside I want to be sure what I want to do can be done in one box:


1) Playback of 1080p mkv

2) Playback of Blu-Ray discs


I have a Sony 1080p LCD TV in the living room. I have a Mits 720p projector in the media room. This computer will be centrally located in a media closet along with a stereo amp that amplifies my in-ceiling speakers. Which lead me to....


3) Dual HDMI output WITH audio...one directly to my Sony LCD TV, and the other to my Yamaha 7.1 Amp that is connected to the projector in the media room


4) Regular stereo output (headphone jack is fine) to the Sherwood stereo amp for in-ceiling iTunes use


5) Netflix and Smooth hulu playback


...and if you can't tell me about price, please let me know if the hdmi/audio setup is possible with recommend graphics cards.
 

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i think the dual hdmi requirement could be a stumbling block. no mobo has dual hdmi but you *might* be able to use 2 vid cards...


but there are hdmi splitters that you can use. no clue how well they work. there are also hdmi switchers that you could use.


any other questions go here for some great advice and ideas. its a little dated and some items are not in production anymore but there are plenty of replacements and alternatives to whats listed, just ask.


its differently possible to build a htpc for sub $500. a tip, if you need hdmi cables, go to monoprice.com. cable is cable.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bojangles139 /forum/post/16938217


i think the dual hdmi requirement could be a stumbling block. no mobo has dual hdmi but you *might* be able to use 2 vid cards...

I also think you're going to have to use multiple vid cards, which could drive up the cost. Other than that, the $500 range should be close to obtainable.

Good luck!
 

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I think the problem you are going to run into with dual out is DRM. It generally will only let you output to one display at a time. You would probably need an external splitter.


Since you are coming from a mac it will be tougher to stay under $500


CPU: $50

Memory: $30

Mobo: $50-80

Video Card: $40

Hard Drive: $60

Bluray Drive: $70

Case: $50-100 w/PSU


So that is $350


This is for minimalist approach of course.


Here is your problem


Windows OS (Vista or 7): $100-120 for an oem

BD playback software: $40-70



You just make it there... but you might end up needing anydvd hd if you plan to rip. That is another $150.


Better audio? $$$$$

split the signal? $$$$$$


It won't be cheap. Is there a reason you need to play back MKVs and not just blurays. If you just want BDs... get a player.


You might want to consider Popcorn Hour


I am not saying it can't be done... but it may cost you more than you think.............. in the end.


Most of us Windows users have an "extra" Windows lying around which can shave the initial cost. If you mean $500 for hardware, more than do-able IMO,
 

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Heres a possibility....around $620 shipped and could handle blu-ray appropriately



Qty. Product Description Savings Total Price

1


APEVIA X-QBOII X-QBOII-NW-BK/500 Black SECC Steel MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail

Item #: N82E16811144224

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$69.99

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HITACHI 0A38016 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM

Item #: N82E16822145233

Return Policy: Limited Replacement Only Return Policy



$74.99

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GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

Item #: N82E16813128392

Return Policy: Standard Return Policy



$84.99

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SAPPHIRE 100254HDMI Radeon HD 4650 1GB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail

Item #: N82E16814102843

Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy

-$5.00 Instant



$59.99

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Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM

Item #: N82E16835100007

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$6.99

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GeIL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10660) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model GV34GB1333C9DC - Retail

Item #: N82E16820144266

Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy

-$5.00 Instant



$69.99

$64.99

1


AMD Athlon II X2 245 Regor 2.9GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor Model ADX245OCGQBOX - Retail

Item #: N82E16819103687

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$67.99

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$7.98

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XIGMATEK XSF-F8251 80mm Case Fan - Retail

Item #: N82E16835233007

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$8.98

($4.49 each)

1


LG Black 6X Blu-ray Disc Burner & HD DVD-ROM Drive SATA Model GGW-H20L - OEM

Item #: N82E16827136155

Return Policy: Limited Replacement Only Return Policy

-$5.99 Saving



$159.99

$154.00

1


Verbatim 25GB 4X BD-R Single Disc - Retail

Item #: N82E16817130042

Return Policy: Consumable Item Standard Return Policy



$5.99

Subtotal: $591.88

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Subject to credit approval.

Grand Total: $622.47
 

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All you need for dual HD video is a HD video card with dual DVI outputs, that's all. With a DVI-HDMI adapter you have dual HDMI. You don't need two video cards; you can never 'Clone' a display with two separate cards. Any HD video card $40 and above will have dual DVI outs.

About the audio, I'm not sure how that would work. I assume you will not be using both outs at the same time. So it might be possible for the card to route audio through the active connection only. The only way to know is to try it out.

I use mine to connect to a TV and projector, so I know dual outs work. I use AnyDVD HD though. You will need that.
 

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Wait for a deal at Dell outlet. Just picked up a Studio 540 with Intel e5200, 320gb caviar blue, 2 gb ddr2 ram, 350watt power supply, memory card reader, LG dvd+/- optical, ATI Radeon 4350 video card with hdmi, Windows Vista 64 bit with FREE upgrade to Windows 7, for $261.00 delivered.


Unit was mint condition with all shrink wrap still on the case panels. I will be transferring the guts to a HTPC and adding the LG GGC-H20L which arrived today.


My total with all above including the HTPC case is $473.00 and I still need ANY-DVD HD and eventually a Zonar Audio card for bit streaming or other solution when available.


I will be over $700 easily.


Good Luck!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the reply guys. I have a Popcorn Hour A-100 with an internal 80GB drive, I was looking to sell and upgrade to a HTPC. It's just a little clunky, but a great player for 1080p mkv. I have a PS3 for the media room, so this HTPC is to be a Blu-Ray/DVD player for the wife for the living room, as well as a toy for me in the media room.


Thanks for the comments about video cards and audio. It seems that most of you guys don't know for sure how audio will work with multiple displays/cards, and this was my question. I think it's still a mixed/unsure bag at this stage, so i think I am going to go with a Monoprice HDMI PRO splitter, they run $60 to $90 for a 2 or 4 port unit and the reviews are great. I don't want to waste money on trying to get multiple video cards or a dual DVI video card to work since it's unclear if this will in fact work. I don't want a DVI card because I am going to be making a 75 foot run from the computer to the media room and I don't want to have to run a separate audio cable.



I have a licensed copy of Vista, so I am good to go on that.


Since I am unfamiliar with windows and audio device setups on it, can I run audio through the HDMI card while watching a Blu-Ray movie, then quit the player and start up iTunes and just play that through the headphone jack? Or do I have to go into windows settings and change the "audio output device" or similar?
 

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You will have to change the default audio device manually when you want to switch between HDMI audio and stereo audio, I was doing it under windows 7 with a start menu shortcut to sound properties, until that system gave up the ghost, and it really wasn't bad, it can be done with shortcuts from the desktop, or with a hotkey to make it a little easier.


As for dual cloned HDMI out, shouldn't be too tough, though I'm not sure how DRM/HDCP will handle it, it's very possible not favorably, but you won't be able to get simultaneous audio over hdmi from both. If you want both to have audio and video simultaneously, I would highly reccomend a powered HDMI splitter, just make sure you get one that is specifically rated for video and audio, as the cheapies tend to not pass 8 channel audio.


As for a $500 build, here's my vote:

Intel Pentium E5200 $66

Zotac nVidia 9300 microATX board $105

Rosewill R115 MicroATX mid tower, 120mm exhaust & space for 120mm intake $20(it's cheap and not so pretty, but it's just going to be in a closet anyways)

Adata 2x2GB DDR2-800 Cas5 $45

PC Power and Cooling Silencer 370W 80Plus Certified $40

Lite-On 4x BD-Rom Drive $58

WD Caviar Green 1TB drive:$85


Grand Total before any software or shipping @Newegg: $421


Powered HDMI Splitter compatible with HD audio codecs $33.20 at Monoprice plus shipping.


Should drop in at right about $500 with shipping, if not, get a smaller hard drive, the 500GB WD Green drive is only $55
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by acc97a /forum/post/16938909


Thanks for the reply guys. I have a Popcorn Hour A-100 with an internal 80GB drive, I was looking to sell and upgrade to a HTPC. It's just a little clunky, but a great player for 1080p mkv. I have a PS3 for the media room, so this HTPC is to be a Blu-Ray/DVD player for the wife for the living room, as well as a toy for me in the media room.


Thanks for the comments about video cards and audio. It seems that most of you guys don't know for sure how audio will work with multiple displays/cards, and this was my question. I think it's still a mixed/unsure bag at this stage, so i think I am going to go with a Monoprice HDMI PRO splitter, they run $60 to $90 for a 2 or 4 port unit and the reviews are great. I don't want to waste money on trying to get multiple video cards or a dual DVI video card to work since it's unclear if this will in fact work. I don't want a DVI card because I am going to be making a 75 foot run from the computer to the media room and I don't want to have to run a separate audio cable.



I have a licensed copy of Vista, so I am good to go on that.


Since I am unfamiliar with windows and audio device setups on it, can I run audio through the HDMI card while watching a Blu-Ray movie, then quit the player and start up iTunes and just play that through the headphone jack? Or do I have to go into windows settings and change the "audio output device" or similar?

The biggest monkey wrench you keep throwing in is the splitter. Is there a reason you need the video to simultaneously display on 2 displays because that is what you are asking us? Are you going to have someone watch the movie in one room and someone else watch the same movie in another room? If you are talking about playing two different movies, you are really going to need 2 different computers. If that is the case, you either want a cheap server and two clients or set it up as an HTPC master and HTPC client.


If you are looking to switch between two different diplays, it has been built into XP for 6 years. All you really need is a $40 video card with dual dvi/hdmi out. pretty much most video cards nowadays have atleast 2 dvi outs. With ATI, it can send the 8 channel audio out via dvi and they can come with a dvi to hdmi converter. It would need to be a newer card though like an HD4350 or better.


I think we need some clarification of what you are actually trying to accomplish.
 

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i mentioned the splitter, but after thinking about it i'm not 100% how a splitter will effect HDCP. i know on my laptop, if i try to play a BD to my plasma AND keep the video showing on my laptop lcd, it will yell at me for having two displays (i just turn off the laptop lcd and it runs fine).


i honestly don't know what the bd player would do with a splitter. i'd suggest asking somebody knowledgeable about it.


again, i'm not sold that dual vid cards would work. i doubt that each card would pump out audio (or that a single card with dual dvi -> hdmi would do audio to both). would be nice to find out if anybody does know for sure.


i would suggest posting in the building an htpc sticky thread, renethx is active on that one and might know the answer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtosDracon /forum/post/16939446


You will have to change the default audio device manually when you want to switch between HDMI audio and stereo audio, I was doing it under windows 7 with a start menu shortcut to sound properties, until that system gave up the ghost, and it really wasn't bad, it can be done with shortcuts from the desktop, or with a hotkey to make it a little easier.


As for dual cloned HDMI out, shouldn't be too tough, though I'm not sure how DRM/HDCP will handle it, it's very possible not favorably, but you won't be able to get simultaneous audio over hdmi from both. If you want both to have audio and video simultaneously, I would highly reccomend a powered HDMI splitter, just make sure you get one that is specifically rated for video and audio, as the cheapies tend to not pass 8 channel audio.


As for a $500 build, here's my vote:

Intel Pentium E5200 $66

Zotac nVidia 9300 microATX board $105

Rosewill R115 MicroATX mid tower, 120mm exhaust & space for 120mm intake $20(it's cheap and not so pretty, but it's just going to be in a closet anyways)

Adata 2x2GB DDR2-800 Cas5 $45

PC Power and Cooling Silencer 370W 80Plus Certified $40

Lite-On 4x BD-Rom Drive $58

WD Caviar Green 1TB drive:$85


Grand Total before any software or shipping @Newegg: $421


Powered HDMI Splitter compatible with HD audio codecs $33.20 at Monoprice plus shipping.


Should drop in at right about $500 with shipping, if not, get a smaller hard drive, the 500GB WD Green drive is only $55


Thanks for the tips. I was unaware that a Pentium could handle 1080p video. Cool. Also, thanks for the information on having to switch audio output. That is a bummer and maybe a deal killer for me right now. I want to use this system so my wife can listen to Pandora/iTunes in the house and watch Blu-Ray's in the living room, and occasionally, I'll use it to watch MKV, etc, in the media room.


Telling her that she has to go into system settings and change audio ouput when she wants to listen to pandora/itunes and then change it back for movies is probably not something that she is going to want to do.


The HDMI PRO Splitter that Monoprice sells is about double the price of the one you mentioned but it has great reviews, including cable runs to 75 ft.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjmarchini /forum/post/16940460


The biggest monkey wrench you keep throwing in is the splitter. Is there a reason you need the video to simultaneously display on 2 displays because that is what you are asking us? Are you going to have someone watch the movie in one room and someone else watch the same movie in another room? If you are talking about playing two different movies, you are really going to need 2 different computers. If that is the case, you either want a cheap server and two clients or set it up as an HTPC master and HTPC client.


If you are looking to switch between two different diplays, it has been built into XP for 6 years. All you really need is a $40 video card with dual dvi/hdmi out. pretty much most video cards nowadays have atleast 2 dvi outs. With ATI, it can send the 8 channel audio out via dvi and they can come with a dvi to hdmi converter. It would need to be a newer card though like an HD4350 or better.


I think we need some clarification of what you are actually trying to accomplish.

It seems that according to the reviews on Monoprice, the guys using the higher end one haven't had any problems getting audio and video. They are doing exactly what I'm doing - running one TV in the living room and one Projector in the media room. They are splitting the output of the HDMI source to the TV and Projector. So I should be good to go on that.


No, I don't need to be able to view them both at the same time. I just don't want to have to go into the closet and change them out when I decide to watch it in the media room. This HTPC will primarily be for the living room, but should I decided to watch something in the media room, I want that option without having to physically unplug and plug HDMI cables.


"All you really need is a $40 video card with dual dvi/hdmi out. pretty much most video cards nowadays have atleast 2 dvi outs. With ATI, it can send the 8 channel audio out via dvi and they can come with a dvi to hdmi converter."

-I think I am not understanding this statement. I am fairly sure that DVI can't carry an audio signal? Or do you mean on the video card there are two dvi ports, and two audio ports, and somehow that is combined to an HDMI adapter?


I think the best option for me is the monoprice splitter. But, I need to decide if the audio output hassle is worth it. It would help if I had my Sherwood audio receiver had an HDMI connection I guess but it does not. Surely there is a program that allows automatic switching of audio...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by acc97a /forum/post/16942134


It seems that according to the reviews on Monoprice, the guys using the higher end one haven't had any problems getting audio and video. They are doing exactly what I'm doing - running one TV in the living room and one Projector in the media room. They are splitting the output of the HDMI source to the TV and Projector. So I should be good to go on that.


No, I don't need to be able to view them both at the same time. I just don't want to have to go into the closet and change them out when I decide to watch it in the media room. This HTPC will primarily be for the living room, but should I decided to watch something in the media room, I want that option without having to physically unplug and plug HDMI cables.


"All you really need is a $40 video card with dual dvi/hdmi out. pretty much most video cards nowadays have atleast 2 dvi outs. With ATI, it can send the 8 channel audio out via dvi and they can come with a dvi to hdmi converter."

-I think I am not understanding this statement. I am fairly sure that DVI can't carry an audio signal? Or do you mean on the video card there are two dvi ports, and two audio ports, and somehow that is combined to an HDMI adapter?


I think the best option for me is the monoprice splitter. But, I need to decide if the audio output hassle is worth it. It would help if I had my Sherwood audio receiver had an HDMI connection I guess but it does not. Surely there is a program that allows automatic switching of audio...

Well here is the deal then. You change which monitor to use within Windows. It isn't a switch or something. You just open the display options and pick which display. It auto senses what you have plugged in. Many card even feature a quick popup in the botom right hand corner that makes it even easier.


You can have as many monitors plugged as you have video outputs (though I think there must be some theoretical limit).


Here is a simple shot of what the screen looks like. I think this is XP, but it works basically the same in XP through Windows 7. He has four displays hooked up.




The E5200 is pretty on par with a X2 6000. They will both cost you about the same, but you really don't even need either. My AMD x2 5000 plays back Bluray with lossless audio just fine even with HWA off. You want to consider an AMD 65watt version which is very energy efficient and stay very very cool as it is in the same range in cost (like a 5200B). You could even go with a 45 watt if you want.


The other thing is that I think you will find the AM2 socket motherboards will be cheaper than their Intel equivalents.


You don't want to go below a x2 4800 for the most part. I personally go with a 5050e myself. They have it at directron for $63 and it is a 45w low voltage chip. It could also be easily oveclocked to 5500-6000 performance with probably less heat than both the 6000 or e5200.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjmarchini /forum/post/16945370


Well here is the deal then. You change which monitor to use within Windows. It isn't a switch or something. You just open the display options and pick which display. It auto senses what you have plugged in. Many card even feature a quick popup in the botom right hand corner that makes it even easier.


You can have as many monitors plugged as you have video outputs (though I think there must be some theoretical limit).


Here is a simple shot of what the screen looks like. I think this is XP, but it works basically the same in XP through Windows 7. He has four displays hooked up.




The E5200 is pretty on par with a X2 6000. They will both cost you about the same, but you really don't even need either. My AMD x2 5000 plays back Bluray with lossless audio just fine even with HWA off. You want to consider an AMD 65watt version which is very energy efficient and stay very very cool as it is in the same range in cost (like a 5200B). You could even go with a 45 watt if you want.


The other thing is that I think you will find the AM2 socket motherboards will be cheaper than their Intel equivalents.

Video is not the issue.


Audio is the real issue, which is why I was asking if I would need to switch the audio output from HDMI to analog when I go between watching something on my projector through my home theater receiver, and listening to iTunes/Pandora on my simple stereo receiver with analog only inputs.


That's why member ArtosDracon told me I'd need to switch the audio in the Windows system settings, and that is my dilema. Switching audio settings to go back and forth between HDMI and analog outputs for two different receivers is a hassle, and perhaps one that my wife would not want to deal with.
 

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you would only need to switch the audio when you use the jack to your stereo speakers.


if you use the splitter, you would get a video and audio signal to both the lcd and projector and would not ever have to change any settings. simply start the movie and turn which source you want to use. you would need to change the audio setting when you want to use the stereo speakers and thats it.


to change the audio output, just right click on the speaker in the bottom right and select "playback devices". once thats open, just choose the headphone jack. you'd need to go through the same process to get back the hdmi audio.


the display example that bjmarchini is if you used dual vid card or a single vid card with dual dvi outputs. if you go that route, you would select the video/audio output path to either the lcd or projector. you'd do that anytime you switched. the audio to the stereo speakers would still be the same process.


ati has a dvi -> hdmi dongle/adapter (its proprietary, so you need theirs) that will add the audio stream into the hdmi cable.
 

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If is just the audio for music that you are worried about, there is a 3rd option. You could be a media extender.


With demand dropping on those, you can get a linksys media center extender or something similar for about $100. You would just set up the media files to share on your network and you are good to go. There is one on ebay, new, right now for $99 free shipping... and it is wireless.


hmmmm I should think of getting one of these. They have a used one on there for $49.
 

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two extenders + the media server might put him over $500 though.


but ya, its defiantly an option and not a bad way to go.


man i wish vista business had media center, but can't pass up free software through the college.
 
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