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My Current HTPC and my findings after 3 years

2040 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  B Leisle
I find that normally (my self included), the posts on this forum and are about issues, so I thought it would be nice to start a thread on what I have, how it works, and what it can and can not do. I have built 3 separate systems over that time and just finished a refresh of the 3rd system which I will call number 4 and this is where I'm at.

First the hardware


Case: Thermaltake Mozart TX

PS: Thermaltake Toughpower 850

CPU: Core 2 DUO x6800 (OC'ed to 3630, 11x330)

Cooling: Danger Den Water Block

Memory: 2x 1GB DDR2 OCZ 1066MHZ (running at 990MHZ)

MB: Asus DH5 Deluxe

I do not use the Wireless, Remote from the MB

Sound: Auzentech HDA X-Plosion 7.1 DTS

Video: x1800Pro (water cooled)

HD: 2x WD 36GB Raptors

RAID: Promise 8350ex: 5x WD 500GB in RAID5 92TB storage)

DVD: Samsung 183L SATA 18x burner

HD-DVD/Blu-Ray: LQ GGW-H10N 4x blu-ray Burner

Tuner: HD Home Run (connected to Cable and OTA)

Remote: USB-IRT

Color: EyeOne2

Keyboard Mouse: Logitech X1000

Monitor: Samsung 17inch (used for working on the System)

Remote: Theatre Master MX3000

Next the software (only HTPC related is listed)


OS: Windows XP x64 SP2 installed

Windows Vista 32bit is also installed, but not used currently

Zoomplayer 5.5 Alpha,

5.0 is also installed, but not currently being used

Power DVD 7.3 (not patched as the patch will not install)

RealMedia Alternative

Quicktime Alternative (Quicktime 7.x does not like installing on Windows x64)

CoreAVC 1.2 (have not seen a reason to upgrade to 1.3 yet)

Nvidia Purevideo Decoders 1.2.X (never can remember the subversion)

WinDVD 8.0 (I only use the directshow filters for OTA HDTV display)

MediaInfo 7.4

AnyDVD-HD (used for DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray)

Grider 4.0.12 (using the USB-IRT plugin)

Media Portal 0.2.2 (5/12 SVN build)

Reclock 1.7B4

Descaler 0.8

Xvid 1.2

Divx 6.5


FFDSHOW (51207 build)

Foobar2000 0.9.3

Acdsee 9.0

All those other random DirectShow filters required

This is connected to (just to cover that)


Receiver: Denon 3805 (using optical)

TV: Westinghouse LVM42W2 (using DVI display is 1080P)

Other Notes on the layout


So thats the basics of the system, what is different and needs explanation on the hardware is I use 2 cases, the Mozart TX is where everything kept and is located in a closet, about 5 feet away on the otherside of the wall where the TV is located is a Silverstone LC03 which I have modified has the LG burner installed. I have modified this case so that it contains 2 USB hubs, and 1 E-SATA connection which run to the primary unit, therefore the Remote and DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-Ray drive can be used in the livingroom, while all the noise is elsewhere. To be far the Mozart TZ is reasonable quiet and even during development (when I move it out to the livingroom, does not effect watching video).

What Works


DVD playback (resized using FFDSHOW through Zoomplayer)

HD-DVD playback (using PowerDVD)

Blu-Ray Playback (using PowerDVD)

Recording OTA/Cable Clear QAM (using Media Portal and the HD Home Run)

Playback of record TV and downloaded Video (resized using ZP and FFDSHOW)

Remote control of ZP, Windows, Media Portal, Foobar2000 (working of PowerDVD currently)

Watching Live TV (using Media Portal)

Music Listening (using Media Portal or Foobar2000, I do not do much of this)

Picture Playback (using Media Portal or Acdsee, I prefer Acdsee, but the remote only works with Media Portal)

What needs improvement


Remote control is difficult and I'm the only one that has no problems using it, hence the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse setup.

Media Portal can be unstable

Returning from Hibernate takes about 90 seconds, from standby takes about 60 seconds.

Power Draw for the full system, including TV receiver is almost 750 Watts (costs a lot to run).

Audio playback (while I do not use it), is sub-par in my book, Media Portal is limited and Foobar2000 is not HTPC friendly

What does not work


HD-DVd and Blu-Ray through Zoomplayer (I know there is no support for this, but is is very annoying).

BeyondTV will not install on Windows x64 with dot net 3.0 installed

What it needs


I will be buying an ATI 2600XT when if comes out for the HDCP connection, and new AVIO engine



Overall this is the 4 incarnation of my HTPC and it can handle almost anything I can throw at it. However it has a thousand plus hours of my time in it, and is hard for anyone else to use. The system requires constant monitoring and tweaking (I spend 1 to 2 hours a week even now (work consists of modifying the remote, updating codecs, tweaking the custom graphs which I use in Zoomplayer, and basic system maintenance). My personal findings are that a high powered HTPC is great, and can really improve image quality (such as in the case of DVDs), but it is only for the dedicated geek that has both a full understanding of PCs and is willing to put a great deal of time and sadly money into the equation.

I hope this is of interest to other people,

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I have a couple of questions:

Why not use mediaportal's internal player for DVD's? It uses VMR9 renderless exclusive and you can attach ffdshow postproccessing filter to the graph. The only downside when compared to zoomplayer is that there is no way to set up custom graphs, so you are at the mercy of directshow filter merits.

I also use media portal 0.2.2 with the latest svn (tv engine 0.2) to record and watch qam cable. I have major stability issues when recording off one tuner, watching a different channel with the other tuner, and scrolling through the guide. This will ussually lock up my pc for 20 seconds. Have you had any similar issues? I am wondering if this has to do with my old hardware, media portal's database structure, or the streambuffer engine used my tv engine 0.20.

How are you using your remote to control the different programs? Something like girder or evenghost maybe? Do you ever run into focus issue? If so, you could assign keyboard functions to the remote to control Acdsee when the program is in focus. With eventghost, you can control the button mapping of the remote based on which program is in focus.

What are your main stability issues with media portal? Have you tried getting the tv engine 0.3 to work with the hdhomerun?
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Power Draw for the full system, including TV receiver is almost 750 Watts (costs a lot to run).

Ouch! That is a lot especially if its 7x24. My HTPC is just a media player only so I only use it for watching video and music.
Its the custom graphs that I need, also I use many of the advanced Zoom Player Options.

As for Media Portal, I do find that most of my lockups come from the EPG. I assume that it is the result of having the small image on screen.

I have not tried the 0.3 TV plugin with the HD Home Run, I asked if it was supported on the forum, but the question was never answered.

Yes there is a lot of draw, but then the TV and Receiver take over 300 of that, so the PC is only pulling max of 450 and normally it is more in line with 375 to 400 which is about online for a system such as this.

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Hi: I have been trying to find a more recent version of Dscaler. Mine is 4.1.7.

Your list shows Dscaler .8. Is this connected with the 5 version that was talked about quite some time ago? There seems to be no current develpoment

on this software.

I bought a PDI Capture Card + Xcard combo from Pixel Magic and am having trouble getting them to work with Dscaler which is the software that came with them. Are you familiar with these cards and do you know of any other software that would work with these cards?

thanks, gene
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I thought all 2600 GPUs had on-chip HDCP keys, thereby rendering all 2600's HDCP compliant. I know my 2600XT is HDCP compliant.

Regarding the 750 watts, that sounds way too high for what's in your box. I can't see your system drawing more than 350-400 watts under a full load and half or two thirds that at idle. Are you sure it's drawing 750? Did you check at the plug with a Kill-a-watt meter or something similar? ~EDIT~ Oops, I see you clarified the power draw a couple posts up.

90 seconds from hibernate and 60 seconds from standby are much too long. What's your regular boot time? My HTPC comes out of standby and is ready to accept input in about 5 seconds. I'm guessing you're using the two Raptors in RAID 0 as your boot/OS drive - are they running on the mobo's controller or an add-in card? Wonder if that could be affecting your slow resumes.
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