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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am wanting to convert my old Gaming PC into a HTPC. Want it to be a DVR and plan to use KODI as my software. Need to know what i need to do to my computer to make it work for all that. Here are the specifics. It is a lil older was good at the time lol. I have never used a HTPC and am completely new to how they work, so any help is greatly appreciated!! I can add any additional info needed just let me know what is needed. Thanks!

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 2.81 Ghz
Nvidia Geforce GTS 250 video card
4 GB DDR3 Ram
64 Bit windows 7 Home Premium
1TB Hard Drive
No SSD


I am basically wondering what my options are to minimally get it to where it needs to be to work as a DVR w/ KODI and basic HTPC. Going to be using Basic Cable no Box but will have 175 channels through coaxial. What do i need to add to my computer to get it to work? Thanks for all the Help!!
 

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Welcome to the forums!

It looks like your video card doesn't have a direct HDMI out connection, so you'll need a DVi to HDMI adapter. You'll also need some way to get audio out. Does the motherboard have a digital audio connector? If so that's the easiest way. From a quick google search, it looks like this can also be done by making connections directly to the card so the audio signal can be sent out over DVI. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/268423-33-spdif-connection

You'll also need a TV tuner that accepts a cablecard from your cable TV provider. You may also need a tuning adapter (also from cable TV provider if their system requires it). The Silicondust HDHomerun Prime is a networked cablecard device with 3 tuners that connects to you home router (or switch or directing the HTPC) via an ethernet cable. Ceton makes both networked and internal cablecard tuners too.

If you just want DVR capability, use Windows Media Center (WMC) that's included with Windows 7. See Assassin's setup guides here http://assassinhtpcblog.com/wmcandmbsetup/. It's a good idea to read through all his Windows and WMC guides before you start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Welcome to the forums!

It looks like your video card doesn't have a direct HDMI out connection, so you'll need a DVi to HDMI adapter. You'll also need some way to get audio out. Does the motherboard have a digital audio connector? If so that's the easiest way. From a quick google search, it looks like this can also be done by making connections directly to the card so the audio signal can be sent out over DVI.

You'll also need a TV tuner that accepts a cablecard from your cable TV provider. You may also need a tuning adapter (also from cable TV provider if their system requires it). The Silicondust HDHomerun Prime is a networked cablecard device with 3 tuners that connects to you home router (or switch or directing the HTPC) via an ethernet cable. Ceton makes both networked and internal cablecard tuners too.

If you just want DVR capability, use Windows Media Center (WMC) that's included with Windows 7. See Assassin's setup guides here. It's a good idea to read through all his Windows and WMC guides before you start.
Thanks for the help and the welcome! Do you suggest the Silicondust over other options? like built in cards?
Also is there a reasonable way to get access the dvr shows in others rooms?
WMC over XBMX? just curious your thoughts. XBMC looks really good, but from my looking around so far haven't seen a ton on the DVR side of it.
 

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Silicondust works great for me. I haven't tried the Ceton products.

The easiest way to access the DVR functions is to use WMC with a media center extender, like an XBox360 or Ceton Echo. An extender runs a virtual session of WMC that looks exactly the same as on the HTPC with the same access to recordings. There are pros and cons to both brands of extenders, a quick search of the forums will give you a good feel for that. I use XBox360s and have been happy with them. Their are also other older discontinued extenders available used as well that may or may not work for your setup.

Alternatively, you can set up HTPCs or other streamers at each TV, but it isn't always straightforward and you may or may not be able to play all your recorded TV, depending on your cable provider. In other words YMMV.

As a side note, if you want multi-room DVR, you probably need to run ethernet cables or another wired networking solution. Video over WiFi can be done, but it's usually difficult to make it work well.

I just use WMC. Someone else (Dark_Slayer?) will need to comment on XMBC for DVR capabilities.
 

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First off I have no comments about DVR/tuners 'cause in Canada (where I am) you really can't do this--we've got no CableCard, etc. OTA yeah but you're only getting 4-5 channels that way.


Anyway... Secondly. ADD AN SSD! Not even joking with the emphasis there. Really, you NEED an SSD on any computer that's C2D/A64x2 or later. Makes a huge difference. You don't need more RAM, you don't need a faster CPU... But you do need an SSD. HDD as the OS/boot drive is crippling that system, plain and simple. I've added SSDs to Turion laptops and seen great benefit, so having that PC on HDD is just a plain shame.


C2Q Q6700 is actually a somewhat rare beast--most people had a Q6600 in the Conroe/Kendfield days! Hopefully you're running that at around 3.2Ghz at least? It should be able to do more but even at stock voltage it should do that no problem.


If you want HD audio (and proper audio-over-HDMI for that matter) you'll probably want to upgrade that GTS 250 to something newer. GTS 250 was merely a rebranded 9800 (itself a rebranded 8800) so by today's standards it's upper low-end at best even for gaming. Plus it lacks energy efficiency and features (like audio) of modern cards. So...I'd think about upgrading that, particularly if HDMI is being used. Question is, in "converting" this old gaming system into an HTPC...do you still want to be able to be gaming or is that no longer a concern? In the former case we'll have to talk about what kind of gaming, in the latter a cheap card like an HD 5450 will be a good choice.


Otherwise you can stick with the same GPU and use on-board sound/whatever soundcard you currently have, and you should be okay.
 

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Going to disagree on the "needing" of an SSD. Would one be nice? Yes. I have one on every PC, I can't use mechanical hard drives anymore (I even bought the original OCZ vertex back in the day when it was $250 for a 64GB SSD). But he doesn't need one as he's looking for minimal options to get up and running. It looks like others have covered the tuners a bit, but I'll go over it again just so there's another voice in the mix. For receiving cable on your computer, you'll need a cablecard (received from your cable provider) and a tuner of some sort, such as the Silicon Dust HDHomeRun Prime that was mentioned previously. I highly suggest silicondust over other devices simply for flexibility, as you can have multiple devices connect directly to it, or have one device connect to it and then route it to other PCs. It's also nice for people who are minimalist/go minimalist and don't have the pci-express slots for a card. Can you share your cable provider? Some cable providers are a bit more strict on channels and how they're sent. There's two types of channels, copy-once and copy-freely (technically there's 6 types, but most people only run into copy once and copy freely). Channels such as HBO tend to be copy-once, meaning that you can only watch that recording on the PC where it was recorded. Some cable providers even put copy-once on more general channels. This limits your options to the extenders that were mentioned above. If you don't have hbo and never will, and don't have to worry about copy-once material, your options open up quite a bit.

I think your first steps, should you choose to continue, would be to get a cablecard, a cablecard tuner (HDHR prime), and get that all sorted out with your computer and windows media center. After that you can worry about extending it to other computers imo.
 

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To answer a question I didn't see answered, for DVR capabilities, you asked why WMC over Kodi (XBMC). Kodi by itself does not have DVR capabilities, and all the add-ons to give it the ability typically require another machine - in fact, WMC. There are other DVR options out there, but the thing is they won't work with Copy Once channels, and so again you are back to WMC. And WMC works really well, so anyone wanting to perform DVR functions might as well just use WMC and be done with it.
 

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I am basically wondering what my options are to minimally get it to where it needs to be to work as a DVR w/ KODI and basic HTPC. Going to be using Basic Cable no Box but will have 175 channels through coaxial. What do i need to add to my computer to get it to work? Thanks for all the Help!!
Cool that you get that many unencrypted channels

For setup you can add a HDHomerun Dual (2 tuners) or HDHomerun Prime (3 tuners) to your network and plug the coaxial from the wall into whichever one you go with

Notes on your scenario
  • Unencrypted QAM has been phased out by other cable companies (depending on whether they feel like it)
  • Both the Dual and the prime can receive/tune unencrypted QAM
  • The dual can also tune OTA but not cablecard
  • The prime can tune cablecard but not OTA
  • In the future your cable company may go cablecard as a requirement, so it's more sensible for you to just get the prime

Also, from the above notes, the Dual is usually $40+ and you can also find the Prime for $80+ so it's not too much more expensive. Definitely go with one or the other silicondust tuner though

After you choose that, it's pretty straightforward. Install the hdhomerun software on your W7 machine and let it scan for channels. Then run the Live TV setup in WMC. It should find all the same channels. If there are some you don't want or know that don't work you can disable them back at the HDHomerun channel scan, and they won't ever even appear in WMC.

After that, since you are unencrypted I'd recommend installing ServerWMC. Then for all your other "clients" around the house use Kodi or Mediabrowser. Kodi is still a little further along than most mediabrowser clients on the "PVR" interface

A nifty feature either way will be to install and run MyChannelLogosXL (worth buying if you don't have it). It will populate your program guide in WMC with channel logos. It has an auto feature that works pretty well for most stations. The nifty part is that ServerWMC will pull these channel logos to all of your clients, so you'll have logos in Kodi and Mediabrowser as well. At the moment, only the roku and web clients for mediabrowser appear to have program guides.

Most in this forum will recommend going wmc+extenders and I still recommend going ServerWMC+Kodi/Mediabrowser

We've debated it ad nauseum. If live tv is the top (only) priority I concede that extenders are the way to go, but they do have some playback short comings (for ripped media, not TV) compared to Kodi which is more what is most important to me. One thing I'll say is that ServerWMC architecturally seems less resource intensive than extenders. It's virtually just doing multiple recordings and dumping the wtv buffer to .ts which the clients are streaming (the exception being mediabrowser which also transcodes that ts file ~ which will take more power). Lots of boxes could do 3x recordings though, but I'm not sure if all the boxes that could do 3 recordings could handle 3 WMC extenders. An extender session uses more resources (I believe) than just remuxing 3 active recordings to ts. That's something I've never thought of and we've definitely never compared head to head around here
 

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I have three XBOX extenders and also 3 prime tuners and 2 dual tuners. I know I've had 3 prime recordings and 2 extenders going at the same time without issue, and I've had all 3 extenders and one recording going at once, but never have tried 3 and 3. HTPC is a i3 2100 with 4GB RAM. I've looked at the performance counters and it's barely even breathing hard doing what I've seen it do before.
 

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Thanks for the help and the welcome! Do you suggest the Silicondust over other options? like built in cards?
Also is there a reasonable way to get access the dvr shows in others rooms?
WMC over XBMX? just curious your thoughts. XBMC looks really good, but from my looking around so far haven't seen a ton on the DVR side of it.
Your systems is pretty much a HTPC already, per say.
get the DVi to hdmi converter bamm done.
I would say PCI slot tuner card ( if it has the room on the MOBO)

XBMC looks really nice and pretty, but my draw back is the live tv feature, WMC well... its WMC, live tv, ect and to my knowledge there isnt a WMC studio program where you can customize the start screen anymore :/
SSD is nice but not needed, today the prices on SSD are pretty reasonable, so I you find a deal on one get one.
 
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