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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to this forum so I'm not sure how you all will react to this, but here goes.


First and foremost, there will be dozens of people that will disagree with what I write here. There will always be someone smarter than I and others that have very strong differing opinions. I do not claim to hold the best opinion, just mine. My inability to find a sound consensus opinion on what would make the best home media system lead me to search and dig and prowl the internet for almost a month for just the right hardware and software to do what I wanted: a kick-ass home media server for the hundreds of DVD movies in my collection.


I'll start with the hardware. Get the fastest computer you can afford with the most storage you can afford. I know that sounds lame, but it all comes done to money. By fastest, I mean the hottest processor with the most RAM. By storage, I mean just that. Get as much as you can afford and plan to get more because you'll add to your collection. Also, factor in the best video display card you can afford. Display cards aren't just for gamers. The better the card, the better the playback. If I had to prioritize, I'd say, first a fast cpu with a lot of memory, then the best display card you can afford and then as much storage as you can afford.


Now that you have your basic box (pc), it's time to get your DVDs into the pc. I chose the Hauppauge Colossus for video capture because it takes RGB inputs which bypass the encryption on HDMI streams from satellite DVRs and DVD/Bluray players. It will encode to an H.264 video format which will give you great playback and maximize your storage. Also, it leaves your HDMI outputs available for your TV and sound system. That is, you can keep your HDMI cables running to your TV and still have separate rgb/LR stereo going to a capture card (without the encryption) because most satellite receivers and Bluray players have both HDMI and RGB outputs.


Finally, you need some kind of database for your movie library and a player for the digital files. I chose Collectorz for my database. It will do all the heavy lifting of finding movie info and will also give you a one-button link to file playback. I chose VLC media player for default playback because it's free and works really well with great full screen playback and audio. I tried numerous H.264 players and currently I feel VLC is the best.


Now, my hardware setup. I have a Dell Studio XPS 9100 with an Intel i7, 18GB RAM, and 2 - 2TB internal drives (1 for OS and software, the other for extra storage) and an AMD Radeon HD 6870 display card. Also I have a DirecTV satellite Receiver and a Sony Bluray player. I'm pushing the RGB/LR audio from the Sat Rec'r and the Bluray to a 4x1 RGB router (AVAVT5841 from B&H Photo) then to the inputs of the Hauppauge Colossus. Yeah, this leaves two open spigots on the RGB switch, but it's the best RGB switcher I could find. That takes care of the getting the source to the video capture. On the other side, I chose an EVHDMI4I 4x1 HDMI switch also from B&H Photo to select from the DirecTV, Bluray, PC output (movie playback from my media server). This feeds the TV. **for my personal setup, I have an HD monitor right by my pc monitor in addition to my regular HDTV, so I have an HDMI splitter coming out of the HDMI switch; one side to my TV the other to the monitor by the PC display.


Last but not least, my storage. I have 2 - 3GB Iomega 3.0 usb drives and can add more as needed. The 3.0 usb has a fast throughput for transfer to and from the external drives. And, 6TB will do for now (hey-hey). This is in addition to the extra internal 2TB drive I have in the PC for temporary expansion. The 3.0 usb spigots on the PC allow for additional external drives. The PC has a 525w power supply and the external drives have their own power supplies so I don't think power overload will be an issue.


Anyway, that's what I wound up with and I'm happy. Which is all one can ask for. What do you think?
 

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I'm going to guess that people will wonder what you get with a $2000+ machine that you can't get for 1/4 to 1/2 the price.


What does the i7 accomplish that an i3 doesn't, for media use? For example, my i3 only runs at a few % load during HD playback.


What use do you have for all that ram? Have you ever found that the machine is using more than 4gb at a time?


What increase in HD playback do you see with the 6870 that you wouldn't get from using the graphics built into the sandy bridge chips?


Considering speed is a priority for you, and you are willing to spend the money, why did you not opt for a SSD for the OS and applications?


I can't imagine that anyone will argue with you that you need as much storage as you have media data. However, buying as much as you can afford to begin with may not be the best strategy, as the prices are always coming down. You can buy as much as you need, then get more as you need it.
 

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I really hope that you're not advocating ripping your bluray/dvd collection via the Colossus. There are many ways to rip that are lossless, retain chapters, subtitles, etc... MakeMKV, Clown BD and AnyDVD are better solutions that rip entire dvds in a fraction of real time. You can also rip directly from disc to mp4 (x264) with Handbrake - but storage is so cheap that it's really not worth the time.


If you think VLC is high end, you should check out XBMC and MPC-HC.

Welcome to the world of Directshow filters. Try to read up on MadVR, LAV Splitter, etc...


Although the hardware you list is great, it is complete overkill for a HTPC.

Not to mention noisy and power hungry.


You will not have any better results than a savy builder using:


1. Intel i3

2. SSD Boot Drive

3. 4 Gigs of Ram

4. Possibly an nVidia (440) or AMD (6xxx) mid level card


That being said, I have an i7 as my office computer and it rips.

just wouldn't let all those resources go to waste as my i3 HTPC is now perfect.


Enjoy your new toys!


Best,

Brian
 

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your money, your party.


Almost no on here would understand your choices.. clearly you have plenty of discressionary income to throw at the things.


I woud argue unless you are into very expensive cases.. you could have a caviar HTPC with tons of storage for much less than you spent, under a grand with cable tuners and all the storage you needed for awhile.


You don't need anything more powerful than ans i3. Even on a champagne budget one might choose an i5 2500S or T but really a G620 with a decent gpu is more than enough. An i7 Sandy Bridge is wasteful overkill no other way to put it. A $75 subscription to AnyDVD will remove the copy protection so why in the world would you do capture from an Blu-Ray Set Top Box?


There are plenty of mid-level Nvidia cards for $120 or much less that do madVR and LAV CUVID ver well .. As for playback quality, MPC-HC properly configured for free, or JR Media Center autoconfiguring for playback using their Red October will make the output of VLC look just plain ugly and that is on an i3 with a $50 GT 430.


If you have cable a $299 Ceton, or SiliconDust cable tuner card will let you watch and record HD content directly without conversion and handle multiple streams simultaneously.


If you live somewhere there is no cable or over the air television maybe your capture card makes some sense to capture sattelite other wise it is a pretty uselss device.



Your money, you spent it, but it seems you should have spent some time on the forum reading before you spent time spending.
 

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I guess someone should have done some research before throwing money at a project.


I think I built my HTPC for a little over $350 two years ago, my only other expense has been AnyDVD HD and more HDs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I welcome and respect your opinions. You all make really good points.

I'm not saying you can't build a really good system for 1/10th the price. Nor am I trying to say I have the ultimate solution.


This configuration will also be used or video editing and large scale graphics projects. I just thought as long as I was building a new PC for my work at home business (hence the amount of ram and storage), I could add a few things and use it as a media center as well.


As for bluray ripping, i only have 6 bluray titles and about 600 DVD titles. the Colossus would be normally used for saving movies from my sat dvr.


Anyway, I'm sorry if I stirred up a hornet's nest with my post. That was not my intent. At least I now know how you feel.


Regards
 
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