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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, I'm glad I stumbled on this forum. Not only did reading in here open my eyes to some potential problems/issues, but it also helped me curb the sales-person zeal from the local stores.


That said, here's what I'm planning on doing - for a few months now I've been planning on buying a HTPC, with the intention of purchasing a HDTV at a later date. Just today I hit a great deal on a Hitachi 51UWX20B that I couldn't pass up, so everything has been put into 'overdrive' on purchasing the HTPC.


I've got more experience than most with PC's, from building to troubleshooting, so I'm familiar enough with the ins-and-outs of performance and building. What I'm looking for is the experience factor with the HDTV end of thing - I'm really starting to second-guess my choices for hardware (but I'm glad I have before I bought the system!)


Here's what I'm looking at purchasing. Please give me any/all input/advise as to the pros/cons of what I'm choosing. I want to make the best choice I can here!


Case: CoolerMaster ATC-600-GX1

Power Supply: Antec True 380P

Motherboard: Asus P4T533-C

CPU: Intel P4 2.53GHz

Memory: 512M PC1066

Storage: Western Digital 120JB

Optical: Sony DVD-R DRU-500A

Sound: Sound Blaster Audigy 2 (This will probably change since reading in here!)

Video: ATI 8500AIW Pro 128M

Input: Microsoft BlueTooth Wireless Keyboard/mouse


I plan on hooking all of this up to the Hitachi via the DVI-I interface, so a video card with DVI out is important.


I'm really unsure about the video capture part. I want this system for the obvious PVR/time-shift abilities. Also for playing DIVx, DVD, MP3, and recording programs onto DVD-RW (thus the Sony drive). Internet surfing is also a nice feature - the system will be connected to a broadband i-net connection).


Price right now... I'm sitting around $2K (if you were to include WinXP). I'd like to keep it under $2500 for sure.


Thanks in advance for the advice... looking forward to a great experience!
 

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You're planning on capturing with an AIW rather then a dedicated capture card? I'm curious what others think of this approachb.


Since you're time shifting, are you sure 120GB is enough?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:
You're planning on capturing with an AIW rather then a dedicated capture card? I'm curious what others think of this approach


Since you're time shifting, are you sure 120GB is enough?.


No, I'm not set on the AIW - that was my first thought - but I'm not too certain about the capture cards/quality, etc.


And no, I'm not sure 120GB is enough for time-shifting, but I do have the DVD-RW for moving files off of the drive. I also have about 500G of storage on the network that can be used as well... although moving large files over 100bT isn't fun :)
 

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Not trying to spend your money for you, but you said hi-end so here are some things to think about...


Consider a radeon 9000 pro ($133) and a Hauppauge 401 or somesuch capture card (about $90) instead of the $250 8500 AIW. You will get scaling support by dScaler and a better card (I believe). You can also upgrade your capture card to something like a H3D ($800) in the future without having to switch your video card. Actually cheaper now too.


With the 200mb drives and rebates where they are you can get them at $1 per meg (a good sweet spot) and a significant kick in storage.


I hear more lovey dovey stuff about the m-audio revolution than the audigy 2, but I don't have either so read up if you like.


Just my thoughts,

Shawn
 

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I have gone for a Radeon 7500 + Falcon capture card.

I probably will upgrade to the 9700 when price comes down.

Dscaler compatibility with the Falcon means that I need a very fast processor, to run all those filters (hence I am also contemplating the upgrade to a 2.4 processor).

Hard Disk, I would not have anything else than the Seagate Barracuda 80G that is sitting in my DIGN case... veery silent.

Soundcard: Maudio Delta410, connected to an amplifier via SPDIF to give me Dolby Prologic II on my stereo recordings via the Falcon, and 6 channel analogue to play my DVDs using the analogue outputs. I bet money that there will be a standalone player for DVD-A that I will be able to use with any multiple analogue outputs card. And I am not really bothered with the -A thing right now anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by shstevens
Not trying to spend your money for you, but you said hi-end so here are some things to think about...


Consider a radeon 9000 pro ($133) and a Hauppauge 401 or somesuch capture card (about $90) instead of the $250 8500 AIW. You will get scaling support by dScaler and a better card (I believe). You can also upgrade your capture card to something like a H3D ($800) in the future without having to switch your video card. Actually cheaper now too.


With the 200mb drives and rebates where they are you can get them at $1 per meg (a good sweet spot) and a significant kick in storage.


I hear more lovey dovey stuff about the m-audio revolution than the audigy 2, but I don't have either so read up if you like.

I was actually going to get the 9700AIW PRO, but the price tag alone (aside from the fact it's hard to find just now) puts it out of consideration. I actually DID want (originally) a high-end video card (Ti4200 or ATI), before I decided to go with the larger case (I was originally looking at the sub-compact PC cases, but they're just too small and limiting.


I'll have to look up the H3D... I might actually be able to swing it now, depending.


And yes, I think I am going to get the Revolution - I couldn't quite make it thru all the posts in the other thread talking about it, but it sure seems like a great card. I just have to check and make sure that my Yamaha HTR-5560 handles all the right inputs, which I believe it does.


Thanks for the input!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by WatchThis
why all that horsepower? those chips make heat and heat means fans and fans mean noise. :rolleyes:
I realize that... I'm getting variable-speed fans on the CPU, and I'm getting the Intel due to its ability to scale performance based on need. At low CPU useage times, it runs a lot cooler, and if things get TOO hot, it'll even slow down before burning itself up.


I've got to try and get some larger 80 fans with low RPM to help move air, which I haven't picked out yet... but the case is large enough to allow for good air circulation.


I might even go with some Serial ATA drives to help airflow (smaller cables).


And if I ever do any kind of video decoding/encoding from DVD to DiVx or something, I'll need all the speed I can get!
 

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I plan on getting the holo3d card. I'm going to use it when scaling external sources like cable and DVD. Can I use it as a PVR capture card as well?


If I have only one capture card, I assume I can't watch a DVD while I'm time-shifting a cable program . Am I right?
 

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Some points to consider:


With the right ASUS motherboard, you can get S/PDIF out directly, so no real need for a sound card, unless you intend to create your own sound.


No matter what encode/decode you plan, there is no reason for any CPU faster than a 2GHz P4. Much cheaper, cooler.


Since you start off with a statement on the importance of HDTV, make sure you have room for one of the new HD capture cards - I presume that's what you really want.


An ATI 7500 will put out any high quality picture you could want - anything more is a waste of money and power.


Use the money and power for the HDTV capture card. It's where things are needed and matter.


Not a fan of your disk choice - Seagate's (x2) is my choice - low noise, high realibility.


Enjoy the journey. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Want1394
Some points to consider:


With the right ASUS motherboard, you can get S/PDIF out directly, so no real need for a sound card, unless you intend to create your own sound.
I was under the impression that a better audio card will give you better results so far as decoding goes - like the Revolution.


One the same note, I don't believe the board I'm looking at doesn't have good audio as that wasn't a concern.

Quote:


No matter what encode/decode you plan, there is no reason for any CPU faster than a 2GHz P4. Much cheaper, cooler.



Encoding from DVD to DivX takes a huge amount of processing power. The more the better. Same with CDDA to MP3.

Quote:


Since you start off with a statement on the importance of HDTV, make sure you have room for one of the new HD capture cards - I presume that's what you really want.



Yes, that is an issue... looks like the H3D is going to be my card of choice here, which brings me to your next comment...

Quote:


An ATI 7500 will put out any high quality picture you could want - anything more is a waste of money and power.


Use the money and power for the HDTV capture card. It's where things are needed and matter.



This is something I didn't even think about... I think I'll be changing that.

Quote:


Not a fan of your disk choice - Seagate's (x2) is my choice - low noise, high realibility.


Enjoy the journey. :)
I was going for the WD's because of the 8M cache on them. They scream... but then again, I'm really not needed extrodinary speed with the HDD's on here. Fluid bearings might be a better decision there!


Thanks for the input...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by gnollo
Soundcard: Maudio Delta410, connected to an amplifier via SPDIF to give me Dolby Prologic II on my stereo recordings via the Falcon, and 6 channel analogue to play my DVDs using the analogue outputs. I bet money that there will be a standalone player for DVD-A that I will be able to use with any multiple analogue outputs card. And I am not really bothered with the -A thing right now anyway.
I read your comment a while back, and then went looking for some info but wasn't quite able to find what I was looking for. I've seen a lot of mention about the SPDIF input, and haven't quite been able to figure out why people are choosing coaxial over an optical connection.


On top of that, I'll be damned if I can find the right cable to work with the coaxial SPDIF out! I've got a SB Live! 5.1 on my PC now, and I have a SPDIF out on the card, with the SPDIF in on my Altec speakers, but I can't find a cable to run the thing... any input (no put intended!).


Anyway, I'm going to go do some more digging on SPDIF coax vs. optical. Thanks for the thoughts - I think that's the way I'm going to go, but I'm going to get the Revolution :)
 

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Unless I am mistaken, you're gonna need a shoe horn to make that work. :) The motherboard you mention is an ATX form factor, where as the ATC-600 is a micro ATX form factor case. It simply won't fit inside that case.


DanW
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by DanW
Unless I am mistaken, you're gonna need a shoe horn to make that work. :) The motherboard you mention is an ATX form factor, where as the ATC-600 is a micro ATX form factor case. It simply won't fit inside that case.
Son of a [email protected])(*&! I think you're right. Looking at CoolerMasters' site, it says "Standard ATX" under "IO Bracket"... but looking at my reseller, it says Micro... ARGH!


Back to the drawing board... and I wanted 32bit Rambus, too! Actually, there's another Asus that'll work just fine... and my reseller would have let me know ... but thanks for the heads-up. Maybe I'll get one of the other cases I've seen around here... although a lot of them seem pretty pricey as well - I'm going for something nice looking. Grrr.
 

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The Coolermaster 600 takes an ATX power supply, but a mATX motherboard. I've been happy with mine, but I don't have any huge capture cards installed...


Count this as another vote for the Seagate drives. The new 'Cudda Vs are available in 120GB capacities and will soon have the new serial ATA interface.


Best,

Brad
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Gahhh.... I'm going to have to make sure that H3D card fits before I settle on the case. I can stand getting a Mini-ATX board, but if I can't fit a H3D card in there, that just won't cut it :)


It's pretty amazing. In the last week I've gone from thinking I knew what I was doing to realizing I was just scraching the surface :)


And oh, workpermit, thanks for the link - but I think that's a little out of my price range. I've seen some other HTPC cases in this forum that support more drives and might not look as pretty, but I don't want to mutilate my DVD-RW drive if I can help it, and I don't mind a fold-down faceplate.
 

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I have a high end virtually silent HTPC with very low use that you may be interested in. PM me if you have any interest.
 

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As far as micro ATX motherboards, the best memory solution I have found is on this MSI motherboard: http://www.msi.com.tw/program/produc...&MODEL=MS-6714


It offers DDR333. Which is the fastest memory bus I have seen on a micro ATX motherboard. Its only listed on their Taiwan website, not their US site, so availability in the US might be an issue. Think of it this way, at least you won't be supporting rambus, they are even more evil than either Intel or Microsoft. :)


DanW
 

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Hi,

it looks like a fun project.

two things about 1. the H3D it's huge, you probably will have to leave a pci slot open beside it unless it's neighbour is really skinny.

2. i always thought that capture card was a bad name for the H3D because it doesent capture video to the computer. it just scales it and passes it through to your highdef display (you cannot record video to the computer with this card!!!).


that said, there is a companion card that plugs into it coming out soon that may change all of that.

BTW that is not a knock on the card, I have it and love it!!


peter m.
 
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