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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Folks,

I want to put a HTPC in my new room as it seems to be the right way to run a projector,. I also want to hook it up to my home network so that I can share music and pictures around the house. However...

I'm not a guy who wants to build a PC from scratch (change out a board or add some RAM, I'm find with, but starting from scratch is a bit intimidating to me). Are there companies that offer decent packages, all put together, that require little tweaking when you get them? If so, any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I see gateway has something, but it doesn't appear to be customizable at all (there are things on the high end version that seem like overkill).


Thanks,

Luke
 

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Checkout www . gamepc . com. They offer prebuilt PCs that are totally configurable, and their options include a number of HTPC friendly cases and quiet PC options. Look at the Cooler Master desktop and Silverstone lascala series cases. As far as quiet components, they offer zalman heat sinks, power supplies, and GPU coolers. But you would still have to do all the work of getting the software side of things going.


DanW
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by lukeout
Hey Folks,

I see gateway has something, but it doesn't appear to be customizable at all (there are things on the high end version that seem like overkill).
I was/am in nearly the exact same boat as you. The Gateway appealed to me, but I wanted to customize things a bit more, but was very hesitant to go the whole build-your-own route. I ended up buying an HTPC from www.ibuypower.com, which is an authorized seller of PC's with the Media Center Edition on it (I thought it'd be good to get that as long as I was starting from scratch).


Here's a link to another thread I started in which I was debating on what to buy. Hope it helps. My machine is suppose to be delivered this week so I'm not positive yet whether I made the right choices, but I think I did. -- Steve

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ghlight=sangel
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Please post here or email me directly when you get your system. I'd really like to hear how it goes. I so wish there were some pre-configured systems that would work as easily as they should. --Luke
 

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You might want to look at the htpc system(s) at cyberpowerinq.com


Sorry, not enough posts yet to link to the site.
 

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You don't have to either buy a whole HTPC at once or build it yourself. If you're fine with adding/changing a part at a time, you can start with a "non-HT" PC, and then just add one or two parts and several programs. It's only a few things that make an HTPC any different from a regular PC. Start with an ordinary computer and all you have to customize is the DIFFERENCE between that and an HTPC.


For example, I built my computer from scratch, but I'd have almost exactly the same thing I have now if I'd ordered a normal PC from Gateway/Dell/HP/Compaq and just added a tuner or tuner/graphics card.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If I go this route and just buy a gateway or dell, is there any thing I should make sure I get so that I won't be replacing parts. My guess is that there are some minimum inputs/outputs I want and a certain speed chip. I can easily add RAM.


I'm a newbie, but from what I've pieced together here, I'll then want to...

- add a tuner card (to help with TV stuff?)

- add powerstrip (to get the resolution issues ironed out)

- swap everything into a better looking case if I'm feeling adventurous


Other than that, what else would I need?

(I plan to run a projector with this, and expect to network it into the house system if that makes a difference).


Thanks folks!
 

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I say dont be afraid and just build it yourself, its not that big of a deal, and windows XP can pretty much install itself.


To be honest, building the computer is the easy part.
 

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What parts you need to have depends on what you want your HTPC to do. For example, if you plan to store many audio/video files in it, you need hard drive space. Thus, while shopping the websites of the four main PC makers, you'd lean toward the biggest hard drive options they offer, so you could start off with the biggest hard drive you can, probably 120-160 or maybe eevn 180 when you're dealing with the big four PC manufacturers. But if you'd rather play your CDs and DVDs in the optical drive off the original disks instead of from hard-drive backups, hard drive space won't matter, so you can save money with the basic level, which is typically 40 GB. (You'd also start at that level if you plan to put the OS and programs on one hard drive and media files on another, because the biggest hard drives in the 200-300 GB range are something you'd buy separately, not as part of a pre-assembled package.)


Note what kind of video card the pre-made PCs come with. ATI/Radeon cards are considered the best line around here for TV and movies, although I think maybe I've seen it said that N-Vidia cards can be taken seriously by "gamers". At least one company gives you the choice between the two.


You would need Powerstrip if your display device thinks like a TV; you don't if it's a true computer monitor and doesn't have some wacky native resolution. If you don't already have a display device, you're better off getting a monitor than a TV.


You'll probably want the monitor and speakers of your own separate choosing, so watch for no-monitor options and don't pay extra for the little doopy speakers many PCs come with.


Other programs, you'll need or not need according to whether you'd use them, obviously. If you plan to store music files on the computer, you'll need a program of the type called "jukeboxes". If you want to watch DVDs, you'll need a DVD-watching program. If you want to backup DVDs on your hard drive, you'll need a "ripper".


If you plan to watch TV, you need a tuner card. Those generally come with the software you'd need to use them. Just watch out for which ones are "standard" (480i) TV only and which ones are "digital" or "HD". Only get the card for the type of viewing you plan to do.


If you plan to feed input from any other devices like a Sega/Nintendo game system or VCR into the HTPC, you'll need a capture card with the right kind of inputs. Sometimes, you can get all the capture inputs you need on the same card with the tuner. There are lots of capture and tuner cards to choose from depending on what you want to plug in to them.


When the PC manufacturer's website asks you what kind of memory and CPU speed to get, there's no need to get fancy and flashy. Many HTPCers even make the case that you're better off lagging a bit behind the "bleeding edge" on those things so you can get technology with some maturity and refinement and stability. The "power" to do HTPC functions already exists in any CPU made new these days, except maybe the very cheapest IF you're after HDTV. And most HTPCers don't even really push 512 MB of memory usage.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, that was really helpful.


The rest of my system will be a HD sat system (with PVR there). I'm then planning on taking the two DVI outputs (HTPC and SAT) to a DVI switcher, then sending it to a front projector. So I'm guessing I won't need a TV decoder for the HTPC.


I'm also planning on networking in the HTPC.


Thanks again!

Luke
 
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