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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking at building my first HTPC. I've been using my Xbo360 to play some movies and tv shows and I've run into problems with HD Files because I can only connect a FAT32 drive to the xbox. Anyway, I've been reading through the Guide, which is great, but there's so many options. I'm not sure what I want to do.


I'm thinking of getting an ATI Radeon HD 4850 or 4870 Video Card. I want HDMI out for sure and preferably sound included. I'm not going in through a receiver, just straight to the TV for now and using the TV speakers. Is a 1GB card overkill? I might play a game or 2 on it, but nothing too serious.


I want to have a Blu-Ray player and burner. Not sure if I'm going to want OTA recording. Would it be hard to add that later if I made sure to buy the right case and components?


Are the AMD motherboards better for HTPC's or is Intel fine? I'm partial to Intel but wouldn't be opposed to getting an AMD if it's better.


I've been reading about pairing the right components is important for minimal noise so I want to do this right.


I think I'll do an ATX build, and start with the ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card. If you guys can give me some good suggestions for motherboard and CPU that would be great. And also Power supply. Thanks.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebes1099 /forum/post/16972779


I'm thinking of getting an ATI Radeon HD 4850 or 4870 Video Card.

If this is just for HTPC purposes (playing back video files) then a 4850 is definitely overkill. A 4350 will play back absolutely any video file just fine, and it will use a lot less power and generate a lot less heat while doing it. It should be fine for casual gaming as well. Plus you can get one for less than $40.


Any currently produced desktop processor will be just fine. A lot of people use the Intel E5200 because it is more than powerful enough, but is still cheap and not too power hungry.


You can easily add a tuner/capture card later provided you choose a motherboard and case that can accommodate it.


If you need more hardware suggestions, this is a good place to start.
 

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Hi,


are you going to be doing any gaming on your HTPC? If not, I would suggest you drop the dedicated video card and go for the Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H motherboard. It has the Geforce 9400 GPU built in and supports 8 channel LPCM trough the HDMI Connection.


Also take very good care in selecting your ingredients for thermal properties. The lower your temperatures are by default, the less cooling you have to use. I just finished a build and used the Intel Q9550S because it's a very fast CPU (needed for ripping and transcoding) but also because it's only 65 watts and you can cool those passively in a case with good airflow (like the antec fusion remote).

If you use the Antec fusion remote, I suggest you replace the stock 120mm fans by some Scythe ones, they are much more silent. Look at the Kama Flex 1000rpm.

Some acoustic dampening materials to cover the inside of your case is also a very good addition, it helps a lot.


For the power supply, take a look at the Nexus Value 430.


And check out silentpcreview.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok, so I'll start with a ATI Radeon 4350.


For the processor, how will the E5200 perform if I'm doing Blu-Ray ripping? Also, what about OTA Recording? I don't mind spending a little more on a processor if it will make a significant difference in performance on those issues.


What are the advantages/disadvantages between a microATX and ATX? If I'm only watching videos from the HD and streaming, and a Blu-Ray player. I can probably just use a microATX right?


I'm not too picky about the case so I'm thinking I'll pick that out once I get these core parts decided on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the help guys...


I'm thinking about the Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Wolfdale 2.8GHz 3MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor. ($110 on NewEgg)


And maybe up the Video card to a SAPPHIRE 100256HDMI Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card, ($70 on NewEgg)


Also, how much RAM would I need? 2GB? 3GB?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebes1099 /forum/post/16972911


For the processor, how will the E5200 perform if I'm doing Blu-Ray ripping? Also, what about OTA Recording? I don't mind spending a little more on a processor if it will make a significant difference in performance on those issues.

If you're just ripping the video and leaving it intact, then the drive transfer speed is the only real bottleneck and the CPU doesn't really matter. If you're going to be transcoding them to x.264, then a faster processor will make a big difference. Any decent capture card has encoding hardware built-in, so the CPU doesn't much matter for that either.


mATX will be fine. The only difference is board size and obviously accessories like slots and SATA connectors. If you can find a mATX board with all the connections you need, then go with that. It will allow you to use a much smaller, more attractive case. There is no inherent speed difference between ATX and mATX.


2GB RAM is probably sufficient, but RAM is really cheap. The difference between 2GB and 4GB is only about $20. You might as well just go for 4.
 

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Also, if you can afford it and you can store your actual data on a NAS or something away from your television, go for an SSD harddrive. OCZ Vertex Series or Intel X25-M.


Go with 4GB to future-proof yourself, Windows (and 7MC) like RAM.


Processor: as candre123 said / e7400 is good if not for transcoding / if for transcoding, go for q9xxx of i7, remember what I told about passive cooling though, only 2 or 3 models in the q9xxxS series are made to have a TDP lower than 65watts. You will probably not find a heatsink that is made to go higher than this for passive. The Scythe Ninja Mini is a good choice.


mATX's only limit is number of PCI(e) slots. Count what you need now and maybe a spare for futureproofing, see if you get there.


/K
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcdaemon /forum/post/16972999


Also, if you can afford it and you can store your actual data on a NAS or something away from your television, go for an SSD harddrive. OCZ Vertex Series or Intel X25-M.

This isn't a very good idea for a media center PC, especially not one where you will be ripping blu-ray discs. SSDs may have the edge with access time, but spinning platters still rule for transfer speed and capacity. When you're ripping blu-ray, it's all about transfer speed and capacity.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by candre23 /forum/post/16973038


This isn't a very good idea for a media center PC, especially not one where you will be ripping blu-ray discs. SSDs may have the edge with access time, but spinning platters still rule for transfer speed and capacity. When you're ripping blu-ray, it's all about transfer speed and capacity.

Capacity: yes, transfer speed: no

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/2tb-hd...w-31560-7.html

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/ssd-pe...w-31565-4.html


And, both capacity/speed is no issue if you immediately rip to your NAS. If you buy decent cables and set up your network options in a good way, you can easily get up to 800Mbit out of a 1Gbit connection (that's 100MByte/sec, I'd like to see your BD-drive do that)


Your gain with SSD lies in faster bootup, resume, suspend, faster image cache access (think 7MC and MediaBrowser or MediaPortal).


/K
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Alright here's the setup so far...


Video Card...

SAPPHIRE 100274L Radeon HD 4350 1GB 64-bit GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card ($45 on NewEgg)


CPU...

Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Wolfdale 2.8GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80571E7400 ($110 on NewEgg)


Motherboard...

ASUS P5Q-EM LGA 775 Intel G45 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard ($125 on NewEgg)


CPU Cooler...

COOLER MASTER GeminII S RR-CCH-PBU1-GP 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler ($35 on NewEgg)


RAM...

A-DATA Vitesta 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model ADQVD1B16K ($50 on NewEgg)


Power Supply...

CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX 450W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply ($75 on NewEgg, $15 mail in rebate)


Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives ($95 on NewEgg)


How does it look? I'm not using NAS so I'm just going to put in a 1TB drive. Now I need to find a case. Any suggestions on that?


I also need a Blu-Ray drive. Anything else, will it be all ready for networking with that motherboard or do I need to get an additional part? And does that motherboard have USB 2.0?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebes1099 /forum/post/16972941


Thanks for the help guys...


I'm thinking about the Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Wolfdale 2.8GHz 3MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor. ($110 on NewEgg)


And maybe up the Video card to a SAPPHIRE 100256HDMI Radeon HD 4670 1GB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card, ($70 on NewEgg)


Also, how much RAM would I need? 2GB? 3GB?

I had a Sapphire 4670 and the fan was noisy. I had to replace it at considerable expense. In addition, it generated considerably more heat than the 4550 did.


Regarding RAM, only a few dollars separates 4GB from 3GB, so I'd suggest the former.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcdaemon /forum/post/16973081


Capacity: yes, transfer speed: no

Did you even read past the first graph? Read rates are impressive, but writes are abysmal. The old firmware numbers show average write speeds around 15MB/s, which is less than half the throughput of an 8X BD-ROM. Even with the newer more efficient firmware, the average write speeds are significantly lower than a traditional hard drive that holds more than 10X the data and costs less than half as much.


At this time, using an SSD in a HTPC which will be used to rip BD discs is not even remotely advisable. The real-world benefits are negligible to non-existent, while the detriments are many and significant.
 

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1. I'd go with this video card:

ASUS EAH4350 SILENT/DI/512MD2(LP) Radeon HD 4350 512MB 64-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 CrossFire Supported Low Profile Ready Video Card - Retail

- It has HDMI-output on the card itself, no adaptors needed.

- If you plan on playing with Linux, go with an Nvidia card, ATI drivers are crap on Linux. look at the 9400GT models, you can find some with HDMI onboard.


2. I'd pick following motherboard:

Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H mATX

- has onboard video with hdmi/dvi/d-sub

- more recent (better) onboard audio (dolby support and 8-channel LPCM)

- has some nice power-saving mechanisms built-in

- because I like gigabyte ;-)


3. Zalman HD160 Plus or Antec Fusion Remote, VFD display is crap on both. I'd choose the Zalman because you can install a card reader on that, not so in the Antec.


4. HDD is a good choice, Samsung HD103UJ is also a possibility, your choice will be more silent in idle, the samsung will be more silent under load, your choice. Samsung a tiny bit slower.


5. CPU Cooler

Following coolers are more silent options

- Scythe Ninja Mini (passive cooling, so 0 dbA ;-)

- Noctua NH-C12P (silent, but expensive)


/K


edit: 1 and 2 are not mutually exclusive but there won't be any benefit to having an extra card in your box. Only more power usage. The Gigabyte has NVidia Purevideo HD built-in which offloads some graphics workload away from the CPU and on to the GPU. With ATI I think this is called 'Stream', don't know if the 4350 has that, should look that up.
 

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Just another 4350 to consider:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814125251


I own this card and it does a great job. $35 -$10 MIR + Free shipping

The fan is whisper quiet and it has all the connections. The biggest plus for me is that it is a single slot solution. The x16 and x1 PCIE slots are very close together on my mATX board, and I needed a single slot card so I could put a TV Tuner card in the x1. Works perfectly for me. Highly recommend.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by candre23 /forum/post/16973204


Did you even read past the first graph? Read rates are impressive, but writes are abysmal. The old firmware numbers show average write speeds around 15MB/s, which is less than half the throughput of an 8X BD-ROM. Even with the newer more efficient firmware, the average write speeds are significantly lower than a traditional hard drive that holds more than 10X the data and costs less than half as much.


At this time, using an SSD in a HTPC which will be used to rip BD discs is not even remotely advisable. The real-world benefits are negligible to non-existent, while the detriments are many and significant.

That's why I said, -provided he uses a NAS of some kind for data storage-.

I agree nobody in his right mind should use SSD's as a primary data storage medium (capacity and write speed are issues there like you said).


For an OS drive (and image cache etc.) which are mostly reads, there's no better alternative (imho).


/K
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by kcdaemon /forum/post/16973213


1. I'd go with this video card:

ASUS EAH4350 SILENT/DI/512MD2(LP) Radeon HD 4350 512MB 64-bit DDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 CrossFire Supported Low Profile Ready Video Card - Retail

- It has HDMI-output on the card itself, no adaptors needed.

- If you plan on playing with Linux, go with an Nvidia card, ATI drivers are crap on Linux. look at the 9400GT models, you can find some with HDMI onboard.

After reading the last few pages of that long HTPC Build Guide, it looks like a lot of people are choosing the HD4550. That's on NewEgg for close to the same price as the HD4350. Should I go with that instead.


I'm thinking I'm going to stay away from Integrated graphics on this build. Gonna stick with ATI, I won't be using any Linux.


So does this core setup sound good (and working)? Is the RAM fine?


SAPPHIRE 100252HDMI Radeon HD 4550 512MB 64-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Low Profile Ready


ASUS P5Q-EM LGA 775 Intel G45 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard


Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Wolfdale 2.8GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80571E7400


A-DATA Vitesta 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model ADQVD1B16K



And, I'll take a look at those other coolers you suggested. Thanks.
 

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I just built my first htpc and it plays everything I throw at it. I plan to replace the dvd player with a bluray in time.


antec microfusion case

intel 2.8 wolfdale

gigabyte 775 built in Nvidia 9400

Adata ddr2 4gig

1 tb wd green

avermedia dual tuner (white box)

Sony dvdrw

windows 7

to Panasonic Plasma 50in g10

Sony Receiver
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebes1099 /forum/post/16974632


After reading the last few pages of that long HTPC Build Guide, it looks like a lot of people are choosing the HD4550. That's on NewEgg for close to the same price as the HD4350. Should I go with that instead.

Yes
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebes1099 /forum/post/16974632


So does this core setup sound good (and working)? Is the RAM fine?

Yes


Have fun

/K
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
After talking with a friend, I might want to do some transcoding on this machine. So now i'm thinking I want a better processor. I can get an Intel Core i7 920 for $199. But then I'd need to upgrade the Mobo. Not sure which Mobo to get now and with that change how would it affect the rest of my setup? Looks like their are only 4 microATX mobo options on NewEgg, an MSI, ASUS, DFI and EVGA. I'd probably keep same Video Card, would that be fine? But maybe need a bigger PSU and different (more/less) cooling options?


For the RAM i'll probably put in at least 4 GB. Not too worried since that's easy to deal with. And for the HDD i'll put in AT LEAST 1TB. The case I'm looking at is the Raidmax IceCube ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811156200 ) I can get that for $55 at a store here. Or is there a case in between that and the Antec Fustion Remote? Not sure I want to spend close to $150 on a case if I can get a decent one for less than $100. I just haven't found any yet, is there a better site to search than NewEgg for cases? I like the Ice Cube because it has 4 internal 3.5" slots for HDD's. Most of the other MicroATX cases I see only have a couple.


So if I do go for the Core i7, which of those previously mentioned mobos would be best (or another one I can get somewhere besides NewEgg)? And what am I going to need to do about PSU and Cooling? Thanks.
 

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The "ASUS Rampage II GENE Republic of Gamers" is an excellent board, but also very expensive.

Another option is the MSI X58M, which is cheaper but doesn't have the X-Fi soundcard. If you don't play games however, this won't be needed.


For cooling, heavily recommended:

Heatsink + Fan:

- Nexus LOW-7000

(Optional) Replacement fan - this one will be a bit more quiet at load:

- Scythe Kama Flex 1000rpm - 120mm (SKU=SA1225FDB12L)

A combination of these 2 will make an excellent cooling solution.


Passive cooling isn't an option for the i7, as it has a much higher TDP (135W I think instead of 65W). Invest in good, decent cooling and check silentpcreview.com for the best choice on fans and heatsinks. 2 links of interest:
Recommended heatsinks @ SPCR
Recommended fans @ SPCR - a bit older, but useful info

If you get a good fan, stick a voltage regulator between the fan and the motherboard and set it to 7 volts. This seems to be the sweet spot for silent but still decent cooling.

Disclaimer: ---- do not overclock with my recommendations, high performance cooling and silent cooling are 2 very different things ----


Stick with the video card you chose, it's a low-profile card, which is excellent in this case. You can find a lot of cards with passive cooling where the heatsink rises a bit above the card and in the case you chose that would be a problem.


Also, remember you need DDR3 for these Core i7's, it supports Triple-Channel, so if you find a good offer, put in 3 x 2GB = 6GB and install the 64bit version of Windows 7.


/K
 
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