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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,


I am in the market for an HTPC... I looked at building one but right now it's prohibitively expensive. Also, I'm not all that knowledgeable about internal PC components. I've been doing a lot of research and definitely know more today that I did even a week ago, but I'm certainly no expert.


In any event, I can get an HP Pavilion Slimline S3000 Series PC for free. I'd like know whether this will work as an HTPC. Specifically, I'm looking to get a blu-ray drive and use it as a blu-ray player. I'd also like to use as a DVR (I'd love HD but I understand that's probably not possible, so I'm ok with SD). Also, I'd like to play HD videos.


My current set up includes a 50" LG 1080p plasma.


So my question is, will this work and what will I need to add/upgrade to get it to do what I want it to do?


Here are the specs:


Processor

AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core Processor 3800+

2.00GHz, 512KB + 512KB L2 Cache

Operating system installed

HP recommends Vista Home Premium.

Chipset

NVIDIA GeForce 6150 LE

Standard memory

1024MB

Memory type

DDR2-SDRAM

Memory slots

2 DIMM (240-pin, DDR2) (occupied)

Internal drives

Internal hard disk drive

250GB

Hard disk controller

SATA hard drive

Hard disk drive speed

(7200 rpm)

Optical drive type

DVD Burner

Optical drive speed

16x DVD±R, 8x DVD+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 8x DVD+R DL, 4x DVD-R DL, 5x DVD-RAM, 16x DVD-ROM, 40x CDR, 32x CDRW, 40x CD-ROM

System features

Memory card device

15in1 memory card reader

Modem

56k modem

Network interface

Ethernet 10/100BT integrated network interface

Video adapter

NVIDIA GeForce 6150 LE Graphics with TurboCache

Video RAM

128MB dedicated graphics memory. Up to 319MB Total Available Graphics Memory as allocated by Windows Vista

Internal audio

High Definition Audio with up to 7.1 surround sound capabilities

Keyboard

HP multimedia keyboard

External drive bays

1 external optical drive bay, 1 internal HDD bay

External I/O ports

5 USB 2.0 ports (1 in front); 1 FireWire®-IEEE-1394;

Expansion slots

1 PCI slots (available), 1 PCI-E x16 slot (available)
 

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It would be ok, with some caveats:


1) I'd recommend getting a new video card with HDMI for that PCI-E x16 slot. Not sure how much space is available in that case, but even a 1/2 height AMD 5xxx series would suffice. This would go a long way in offloading HD playback from the CPU.


2) If you want to DVR, then I'd recommend Windows 7 over Vista. Windows Media Player 7 is much better than what is in Vista


3) You'd have to add a tuner card in the PCI slot or use USB versions to record TV.


4) Bluray playback (besides the physical drive) is going to require 3rd party software like PowerDVD 10 or TMT3 / 5, unless you plan on ripping the movies first.


When you add it up (video card, tuner, blu-ray drive, new OS and software) its MUCH less expensive (and simpler) to just buy a
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianley /forum/post/19627848


It would be ok, with some caveats:


1) I'd recommend getting a new video card with HDMI for that PCI-E x16 slot. Not sure how much space is available in that case, but even a 1/2 height AMD 5xxx series would suffice. This would go a long way in offloading HD playback from the CPU.

Thanks for the info... I was planning waiting to see how the stock configuration did with HD video but since I'll need an HDMI out, I guess I'll have to upgrade the video card regardless unless I can use the VGA out. I've done some research and have a few video cards in mind. I was also thinking about upgrading to a new case, which should make room less of an issue. Especially if I have to upgrade the power supply with the video card.


Quote:
Originally Posted by brianley /forum/post/19627848


2) If you want to DVR, then I'd recommend Windows 7 over Vista. Windows Media Player 7 is much better than what is in Vista

I didn't know this... I assumed the media center of both Vista and 7 were the same. I hadn't planned on upgrading the operating system since I only really plan to use the media center interface. I know there used to be a fairly inexpensive way to upgrade from Vista to 7 but I'm not sure if that's still available. I'll have to check.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianley /forum/post/19627848


3) You'd have to add a tuner card in the PCI slot or use USB versions to record TV.

Yes, I had planned on doing this... there seem to be a few inexpensive options out there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianley /forum/post/19627848


4) Bluray playback (besides the physical drive) is going to require 3rd party software like PowerDVD 10 or TMT3 / 5, unless you plan on ripping the movies first.

I didn't realize this either. I was hoping to play blu-ray movies through media center. I guess that's not an option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianley /forum/post/19627848


When you add it up (video card, tuner, blu-ray drive, new OS and software) its MUCH less expensive (and simpler) to just buy a


Nah, where's the fun in that. Plus, I can't turn down the free PC and I plan on buying as many used/refurbished parts as I can to keep the cost down. Depending on whether I actually buy a new case and upgrade the operating system, I don't see why I can't have a decent HTPC for less than $200.00. Most wifi enabled blu-ray players are +$150.


Thanks again for the info.


Kevin
 

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I'm using a newer version of an HP Slimline (w/ a 5400+ processor) and it works fine. The only thing I would caution is that when I tried switching to an ATI video card it would no longer recover from sleep properly. So if you go w/ ATI make sure you can return, or just go with another Nvidia card. In that regard, some Nvidia half-height cards don't come with the half-height bracket for the back, but the one on my old card was a perfect fit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karyk
I'm using a newer version of an HP Slimline (w/ a 5400+ processor) and it works fine. The only thing I would caution is that when I tried switching to an ATI video card it would no longer recover from sleep properly. So if you go w/ ATI make sure you can return, or just go with another Nvidia card. In that regard, some Nvidia half-height cards don't come with the half-height bracket for the back, but the one on my old card was a perfect fit.
Thanks for the info... I'll keep that in mind. The two upgrades I definitely plan on making right away are a video card and cable card or usb tuner.
 
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