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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am wondering what is the cheapest possible HTPC that I could build that would still playback video without hesitations. I basically just want to make something that I can use like a tivo but without paying monthly subscriptions. -Rob
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If I was willing to spend around $300 could anyone recommend a good configuration. This computer would never be connected to a monitor, just to a tv.
 

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PIII at 600mhz, over clocked to 733mhz. 300 watt power supply, 64MB video card (nvidia or ATI), 4X DVD rom reader, 128MB RAM, any 5.1 sound card. That would be identical to my first HTPC that gave excellent results.


Or look for a "Hollywood DVD decoder" which is hardware based DVD decoder card that really did well in the early days. I found one for $25 on eBay awhile back. This will let you slide with even less quality system components.


eBay has one now, item# 5129936233. Here are it's system requirements:

Quote:
System Requirements


The DVD/MPEG-2 Playback Card requires the following:


· 2 megabytes (MB) of free hard disk space


· 16MB of RAM


· Pentium-based PC (or compatible), 133 MHz or higher


· PCI 2.1 compliant expansion slot


· VGA card


· DVD-ROM drive


· Plug and Play BIOS support


· Microsoft™ Windows 95/ME/XP


· Amplified stereo speakers (Dolby Digital or Dolby Pro Logic amplifier and speakers required for surround sound)


· Bus mastering IDE controller recommended


Also check the search function on the board for "budget HTPC" or something along those lines and you'll find other good suggestions.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by RobDMB
If I was willing to spend around $300 could anyone recommend a good configuration. This computer would never be connected to a monitor, just to a tv.
This could easily be cut down even more, but I like this config with all new stuff for not quite $500 including all legit software costs. Use Linux and cut $100. Get a worse TV card and cut another $50.


Cheap Asus mobo: $50

Cheap AMD cpu: $45

Cheap case+ps: $40

128MB RAM: $20

60GB HD: $30

ATI 9000: $20 on eBay

DVD or CD Drive: $25

Old keybd + mouse: $10


SageTV + PVR-250: $150

WinXP: $90
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I should say that I have a PVR 250 already in my main pc that I would use in the htpc so I would not need to buy that, I have a valid copy of Win XP Pro so I dont need that and I also already have purchased Snapstream so basically I would basically just need to buy the hardware to run it.
 

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This is probably overkill for your purposes, but I beleive this represents the best box in the sub-300 range. Might be a stretch, would take some work. All prices are including shipping. Some of this you can cut down on, but this is what I would do if building a budget HTPC:

1. Refurb Biostar M7NCG 400 nForce2 IGP mobo @ newegg - $20

-These come up at least a couple times a week at night, stock goes fast (usually a couple minutes at max) although it's doable, I snagged one tonight :D

-Integrated video, audio, network, and tv output (would need to build a convertor for the tv, cost is basically nil)
2. Used 1700+ TbredB and heatsink w/some light overclocking - $35ish

-These aren't hard to find if you watch the major fs/ft forums, and most do 2.0 easily with little or no voltage increase.
3. Infineon 6A or 6B chips DDR, 256mb should cost around $25 on ebay

-Will do 200mhz 7-3-3-2.5 @ default voltage. 512mb is a bit more than you need, 384mb should be perfect. Buy one stick to start but add another as needed for dual channel.
4.. ATI E-Home wonder TV Tuner refurb @ newegg - $48

-This also comes up rather often, at least a couple times a week. This is the best hardware encoding card you're going to find for the price, with the hauppauge PVR-150 coming in at around $70 but having a bit better software compatibility.
5. Case - Anything you want, I would say go for the $40 Powmax micro atx desktop case @ newegg. Not elegant, but it's cheap and gets the job done plus it has a power supply. Remember that if you plan on using a full sized video card later, its well worth getting a case that supports them. Pretty much all the cheap desktop cases are half height.
6. Keyboard/Mouse - Lite-on Airboard $23 @ newegg.

-Awesome for HTPC's, has a built in mouse that is fairly good but it does take a couple days to adjust to. I'm using mine for web browsing and its almost natural to me.
7. DVD Drive - Toshiba SDM1912-TA - $25

-Not the cheapest dvd-rom drive but super quiet and reliable. I would recommend toshiba over all others, especially lite-on (which is an excellent value but almost all of them are noisy)
8. Hard drive - Samsung 80gb 7200rpm for $62 @ newegg.

-You can do cheaper with used or old, I wouldn't go under 80gb.
9. Remote - Anything will work, depends on your needs. For a pure budget system I would just use the airboard.


That comes up to $278, but you're getting one kickass box for that. I didn't include any software prices since that all depends on personal ethics and/or needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow thanks for the detailed listing - maybe I could make this work and I might have fun doing it as well. I already dont need a tv tuner so that knocks 50 off right there. Too bad I've never built a pc before but maybe its time to try. -Rob
 

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Just a quick note on the Hollywood DVD decoder card listed above. You'll only need one of these if you have a processor with less power than a 533Mhz Pentium 3. It also is DVD region locked and I've never been able to find a way round it (got one sitting in a box somewhere:) ). Oh, and if you've never built a PC it's likely that installing and more importantly configuring Linux for an HTPC is not for you. I'd stick to Windows (Home should be enough unless your planning on extensive home networking).


Stu.
 

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You could try to get a first generation Tivo off of eBay. I did that and don't pay the monthly subscription fee ($90 with shipping, $15 for a serial cable, plus old spare disk drives). You can program the recordings manually and the Tivo reminder messages aren't very annoying at all. Every once in a while I connect to it using HyperTerminal and the serial cable from 9thtee to reset the clock.
 

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I paid only $420 for my refurbished HTPC machine. It is an Athlon A430n with a 3200+ old style Athlon processor. However, it has an 8x agp slot and a 4x DVD burner with 512 megs of ram. If you already have the PVR video card you wan then something like this would do everything you want and probably a whole lot of things that you didn’t know that you would want to do. The place where I got my computer sells many different models that generally range in price from $200 to $500. You can find some whole P4 computers there for about $330 usually but they don’t have agp slots. I will Private message you the site because if everybody goes there then the prices will surely skyrocket.
 
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