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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I currently have a last-generation Macbook...

Processor: 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

Memory: 1GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM

Video: Intel GMA 950 (Integrated)

Audio: Intel High Definition Audio (Integrated)


It is able to handle all of my needs, currently. That is DivX/XviD low resolution with AC3 audio and external subtitles, up to H.264 high resolution (720p) with DTS audio and external subtitles. Plays flawlessly, with no frame-dropping or noticeable lag.


The hassle with this set-up, is the need to use a MINI-DVI to VGA for video... and a Headphone Jack to RCA for audio.


(PS. I find that content played through my Macbook on these outputs look SIGNIFICANTLY better then any content played through my PS3 via HDMI... and yes, the TV and PS3 have been properly configured. I used the AVS-provided disc to calibrate the set via the PS3 and it's HDMI input. Any idea why?)


I am moving, and taking this opportunity to rebuild my home theatre system. I have a few pieces of equipment in mind.

Samsung 50" 3D Plasma HDTV (PN50C490)

I realize this set only outputs in 720p. That is not an issue for me. While I will be utilizing the system for Blu-Ray content, I have owned a 50" Samsung Plasma (1080p enabled) for the past year... and most of the time, focused on gaming (PS3 titles outputting 720p most of the time...) and backups over my home server (720p MKVs/DVDs in .ISO format...) I am very used to seeing 720p content as opposed to 1080p content, and to be honest, my eyesight is not good enough to notice a significant difference at an 8" distance. Which is my viewing distance.


Okay, that's actually all I have thought-up... I'm stuck on what to invest in.


I would like a one-box solution, but I don't think that is possible.

Playstation3 as Media Solution...

It can handle 3D content, 720/1080p gaming content and standard Blu-Ray content. It can also play DivX/XviD natively and MKV through PS3MEDIASERVER transcoding (which would require, at least, another PC operating the software...) I will likely have this in my setup for the gaming aspect alone, but will likely not use it for the transcoding due to it being unreliable over my wireless network. I do not want to ethernet everything together...

High End HTPC as Media Solution...

This sounds perfect, to be honest. Think. With a Blu-Ray drive, it can play Blu-Ray content and upconvert standard-def DVDs. It would also handle every file format in terms of video and audio, of course. It could run console gaming via emulation; NES, SNES, Genesis, PS1, N64... even Gamecube/Wii if it was high-end enough. I have never built a custom PC myself, and I was considering an i5 or i7 solution directly from Dell. Expensive, however...

Mac Mini as Media Solution...

This would essentially be my Macbook enclosed in a smaller box. The HDMI output would eliminate the wire-rigamarag, as well. I would like something that could provide me with emulation, as well... but I guess that is not necessary. Mini would provide SNES, at the very least.


Is there a better option for me? Honestly, the HTPC seems ideal... it's just building, which would be difficult. The only thing hardware-wise I've done is exchange my Macbook's hard-drive. Fairly simple.


Is that a good TV choice? Is it fairly easy to build an HTPC from scratch? Is there a better media solution? Help, eep!
 

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What are you looking to do?

1. Do you want to watch and recored TV?

2. Stream Movies, TV Shows etc from a dedicated place?

3. Do you want to play games on it?

4. Do you need it to transcode on the fly?

5. Will you be ripping DVD/BR with it?

6. Do you have a dedicated server or external hard drive that you media is already on?

7. Will this be a stand alone unit or will it stream to external units?


These are just some questions, but the bottom line is we need to know how you will be using you media to recommend a system type. There are many options out there such as boxee box, sage tv, and more that are cheaper and may be the right answer for you instead of an HTPC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
1. I have Telus Optik, which has a unique interface and integration with the 360. I honestly don't watch much television. If I'm viewing a specific series, it's more-often-then-not, through Hulu or Netflix... or DVD.


2. Streaming isn't needed. I could directly connect a 2.5TB drive to the solution, and access all the media locally. I don't need a NAS or to send files over my home network.


3. That would be nice. My current laptop can handle SNES emulation. Would be nice to be able to run Dolphin, but I heard that requires a powerhouse PC. I just wish my Wii console looked better then it does, it looks like **** to be honest.


4. If my files are stored locally, and the solution can play the filetypes needed... then, no. I wouldn't have any need to transcode.


5. Yes, I would like to create backup copies of my physical media. I could use the solution to simply play these backups, as my current laptop can handle the ripping of DVD/BD. As long as the solution is able to play the resulting .ISO and .MKV files, thats golden.


6. I have (2) 2.5TB drives. As mentioned, however, these can be directly attached and do not need to be accessed remotely.


7. Standalone.
 

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Building it is very easy, the hardware part. It takes a little more time to set up the software, but nothing you could not handle. 2-3 hours tops including the OS, especially if you follow a guide for 7MC/XBMC.


The Macbook will have trouble playing back BD content, that CPU is to low-end for software decoding and the GPU doesn`t support h/264 or VC-1 hardware decoding on either Win 7 or OS X Snow Leopard, neither does it support HD audio bitstreaming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've used Boxee/Plex/XBMC extensively running Snow Leopard, so I'm familiar with the software. I haven't used a Windows operating system since XP, but I'm sure it wouldn't be too difficult to figure out.


Does building a HTPC hardware-wise require any sort of soldering? I'm terrified that I'll spend upwards to 750$ on the parts, put it together, and have it short-out and overheat.
 

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No soldering at all. Building a PC is very easy. There are many videos out there that you can watch to see how easy it is. Really, the hardest part is picking out the components that you want.
 

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Lol, no, we`re not in 1985
. It`s like building a lego game, but you can`t actually put a PCI Express slot inside a RAM slot, or DDR1 ram inside a DDR2 slot unless you use a hammer.


As for the OS, besides installing it and installing the video drivers there is nothing else you need to configure in the actual OS.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TornadoTJ /forum/post/19549067


Streaming DVD/BD isn't going to work reliably (or even at all) on wireless no matter what solution you go with. Even 802.11n doesn't work for me.

For you maybe not, i stream full bitrate BDs on my Cisco 610N all day.
 

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What router and wireless card/dongle were you using?
 

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Its really easy to build.


Should take you probably 45 minutes at most even with the learning curve.


If you were to ever build a second one you could be done in about 20 minutes - you learn a ton after just 1 build. They are easy to do once you get past the fear of doing it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshaube /forum/post/19546959


I am very used to seeing 720p content as opposed to 1080p content, and to be honest, my eyesight is not good enough to notice a significant difference at an 8" distance. Which is my viewing distance.

Hmm, your eyesight must be really bad if you can't tell the difference from less than a foot away (8 inches).


Quote:
Originally Posted by joshaube /forum/post/19546959

High End HTPC as Media Solution...

This sounds perfect, to be honest. Think. With a Blu-Ray drive, it can play Blu-Ray content and upconvert standard-def DVDs. It would also handle every file format in terms of video and audio, of course. It could run console gaming via emulation; NES, SNES, Genesis, PS1, N64... even Gamecube/Wii if it was high-end enough. I have never built a custom PC myself, and I was considering an i5 or i7 solution directly from Dell. Expensive, however...

Personally, my vote's on this one. Building your own isn't really all that difficult. I built a really nice Mini-ITX Gaming HTPC (i5-760+GTS 450) for $1000 ($800 without the SSD). Never tried Dolphin on it, but it handles PCSX2 quite nicely. Only thing better is an overclocked Bloomfield/Gulftown. No Phenom II can touch it in PCSX2 looking at clock for clock performance. It doesn't have a Blu-ray drive, though. I rip all my Blu-rays to a file server and just stream them to my HTPCs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for all the responses.
Very glad to hear that building is an option. I'm going to read through all of the guides provided here for component ideas. For my needs, which would you recommend? Intel i3/i5/i7... or perhaps an AMD solution? Keeping budget in mind. I'm considering a basic build at 750$~ which can be upgraded as time goes on.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshaube /forum/post/19549513


Thanks for all the responses.
Very glad to hear that building is an option. I'm going to read through all of the guides provided here for component ideas. For my needs, which would you recommend? Intel i3/i5/i7... or perhaps an AMD solution? Keeping budget in mind. I'm considering a basic build at 750$~ which can be upgraded as time goes on.

What are the restrictions in regards to your case size? Often times that's the best place to start with selecting parts.


List your height x width x depth dimensions and we can get started.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshaube /forum/post/19549513


Thanks for all the responses.
Very glad to hear that building is an option. I'm going to read through all of the guides provided here for component ideas. For my needs, which would you recommend? Intel i3/i5/i7... or perhaps an AMD solution? Keeping budget in mind. I'm considering a basic build at 750$~ which can be upgraded as time goes on.

Depends. For PCSX2 emulation, I'd go with Intel. My Core i3-530 murders my Phenom II X6 1055T when it comes to PCSX2. Dolphin seems to be less exacting, though. The rest of the emulators you mentioned are even less picky. Heck, even my Atom 330 can run ePSXe. Personally, I'd say any of renethx's mid-range builds with discrete GPU would be good.


By the way, pricing leak for Sandy Bridge:

http://semiaccurate.com/2010/11/26/w...icing-appears/
 
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