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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've been using my xbox 360 as a "HTPC" but I'm fed up with the obvious problems and the required work arounds it has as a streaming media player. I don't want to blow a lot of money on HTPC but it seems to be the route to go for what I want to do. So here's what I want to do:


* Stream video and audio content off a NAS, support all formats you can think of

* Play Blu-ray (through a rip or off a blu-ray drive)

* Play HD-DVD using the xbox 360 add-on drive

* Output the best audio currently possible (more on this soon)

* Be cheap and quiet


After some ridicuously confusing research I think I know the current state of audio output from a PC source. This is concerning mainly the "HD" formats. TrueHD and DTS-HD-ma. For now, the best output you can get is an 8 channel output via PowerDVD (or other software) that is downsampled from whatever the track is (usually 32bit/196kHz) to 16bit/48kHz and it will still sound better than any other option but is downsampled none the less. Correct me if I'm wrong about this. Also, I read a bit about going from HD->mkv and then playing those without running into the downsampling problem.


The HTPC:

Via these threads

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...3#post13872683

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940972


I've came up with some idea on a budget HTPC that might do all those things I listed.


GeForce 8200 chipset (which mfg?) ~ $70-80

2x1GB ram (whatever brand DDR2-800) ~ $30

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000 Black Edition ~ $100 OR

AMD Athlon 64 X2 BE-2400


My questions are:

Case/PSU? - Has to fit a Blu-ray drive, maybe a DVD drive and possibly a modded HD-DVD drive but small and quiet hopefully

CPU cooler? - kinda outta the loop on this one, I have been using huge CPU coolers in my builds, but want something smaller and quiet yet able to OC a bit on

OS - I have an extra copy of Windows Vista Business 64-bit, I assume this would be adequate


I also have a Logitech 880 remote that I would consider getting an IR receiver for if there is a front end solution that would use it. Ideally, I would use it for navigating/playing the networked video and audio. I have yet to research that possibility but maybe someone knows more about it.


I would throw a small HD in there as well, all storage will be done on the NAS.


Questions, comments and suggestions are all welcome and needed.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tys90 /forum/post/14186306


For now, the best output you can get is an 8 channel output via PowerDVD (or other software) that is downsampled from whatever the track is (usually 32bit/196kHz) to 16bit/48kHz and it will still sound better than any other option but is downsampled none the less. Correct me if I'm wrong about this.

Source formats are at best 24bit/48kHz on motion picture soundtracks, with most LPCM tracks being 16/48k and overall most soundtracks being 16bit/24kHz or 20bit/48kHz.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for clearing that up, like I said, it's rather confusing. After some more reading I've pretty much nailed down the hardware so I guess my only question left is about front end software.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
GeForce 8200 chipset, I mentioned it, as far as brand, probably whatever brand is available at the website I buy most of this stuff from. The other stuff is:


Lite-on Blu-Ray drive - $130 - Thought I might as well get one if I'm going to need a DVD drive anyways

Case - Microfly case mATX - I don't need a lot of HD space or DVD space and this fits regular size drives (for the blu-ray drive) so I went with it

Cooler - Scythe Mini Ninja.


I have a copy of Windows XP home or Windows Vista Business 64-bit...I was kinda looking forward to using VMC but I guess I won't be able to with Business edition of Vista.
 

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For front end, what I'd say to do is, do the Vista any time upgrade from your business edition and get ultimate (though you could get away with home premium) and you can use media center that comes with home premium and ultimate.


then get the microsoft MCE remote/IR receiver: http://www.pcalchemy.com/product_inf...f667f5b3f5c0ef


then as far as HD DVD/Blu Ray playback I'd say check out Arcsoft Total Media Theatre, has a cool plugin for MCE that integrates it into MCE pretty well.


- Josh
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That sounds like a good idea, but that's another $140 I wish I didn't have to spend. What started out as a $300 HTPC quickly turned into a $600 HTPC. I want the HTPC to be able to do everything I want but nothing more. The Blu-ray is a good chunk of that but I think it's a good idea.


Also, I already have a Harmony 880 remote, could I just buy a cheap IR receiver and use the 880 instead?
 

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well if you want to use MCE, you NEED to get the Microsoft based IR receivers. They work out of the box, no software needed. then you just program your harmony to control windows media center and it just works, simple as that.


Head over to ebay might be able to find just the usb IR receiver there. That or buy the combo and then just sell the remote on ebay.


- Josh
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tys90 /forum/post/14190337


Also, I already have a Harmony 880 remote, could I just buy a cheap IR receiver and use the 880 instead?

The MCE Remote/IR receiver quoted above is a pretty decent price, even if you only use the IR receiver and throw the remote away. Plus, a lot of programs out there support the MCE IR receiver, like girder and eventghost (even linux's LIRC supports it). You can program your harmony to emulate an MCE remote. Another popular IR receiver is the USB-UIRT (what I use), but it's more expensive.


Before you spend the money to get VMC, try out the free front end programs. Media Portal and Meedios are popular around here. I use an old version of xlobby, for my htpc, that only does movie playback. It can be a pain in the butt to setup, but it's free and very customizable. If you want more info, there are several long front-end threads buried in this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the informative responses guys. I checked out TMT and it doesn't work with Vista x64. As far as I can tell there's no real reason to use 64-bit for a HTPC. I get my microsoft programs through the MSDNAA program (thus the business version) which I believe I can get 32-bit version from it, so that shouldn't be a problem.


And you are right, being picky on that cheap remote/receiver package is not worth it.


I think I need to look into the 8200 some more, it seems people are having driver problems with it.
 

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If you have any thoughts about putting a HD-DVD drive in as well as a BD drive, you might as well save yourself some money and space and get one of the LG drives that play both. Here is one that is a steal right now at 119.99, offer only good for about another hour though:

http://www.stootsi.com/


if you miss the deal, here is a link to the same drive at regular price.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16827136133
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Josh8 - I bought that drive last night along with the rest of the hardware


For anyone who is interested this is what I ended up with:


Abit GeForce 8200 mATX board

LG HD-DVD/BR combo drive

2GB OCZ DDR2-800

160GB SATA Hard Drive

Antec NSK2480 case

AMD X2 5000+ BE

Scythe Ninja Mini


Some from newegg, some from mwave and LG drive from stootsi. I believe the total was around $550, about $250 over my budget for the HTPC itself but I don't have to buy a standalone BR player which I was accounting for in my total HT budget. In theory, this does everything I want it to. In reality, I hope the 8200 board plays nice and doesn't give me troubles.


Currently planning on using Vista Business 32-bit with some of the free frontends before going to Vista Ultimate and VMC (if I find I need to).
 
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