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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i never thought trying to build a HTPC would be so complicated. I basically want a HTPC that can I watch blu-ray discs on, watch broadcast HDTV (i have DirecTV), watch HD video files, and browse the internet. I hope its quiet. And it HAS TO be able to bitstream HD lossless audio to my Onkyo 805 receiver. and thats where im a bit confused. Ive been reading up on everything i can possibly find. I have come up with a build but I could use some advice for the parts I still have left to purchase.


Things I already have:

Silverstone GD05 HTPC case

Corsair CX430 W PSU

G.Skill DDR3-1600 4GBx2 ram

LG blu-ray Drive

Hauppage HVR-1800 tv tuner card

WD Caviar Black 1 TB hard drive


Things Im thinking of getting:

Intel i-3 2100 3.1 Ghz CPU

Biostar TH67+ mATX motherboard

Sapphire Radeon HD 6570 1 GB video card

Iogear 2.4 Ghz Wireless HTPC Keyboard


I am willing to buy a better smaller aftermarket cooler for the CPU if its quieter.


I plan on using Windows 7 64-bit and I already have a copy of Arcsoft TMT 5.
 

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I would go with either a Llano or i3 and use the integrated graphics. If, for some reason, you wanted to add a discrete card you could do so at a later date.


The stock cooler should be fine on either system.
 

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I use the GD04 (same case as the GD05 internally, only the front plate is different) and I use an i3-2100 and I have DIrecTV. Have the following comments:


The i3-2100 will do what you want. It will play your Blu Ray disks beautifully, and will bitstream all the HD audio. A separate video card can do the same, but it will generate more heat that you'll have to cool making it that much harder to keep quiet. Also, while I use the i3 alone, I think the consensus seems to be that nVidia cards are preferable to AMD for HTPC use for a variety of reasons, although a lot of people also use AMD. My suggestion is to try the i3 alone and see if it meets your needs. If it doesn't you can always easily add a video card later.


Iogear makes several wireless keyboards. I use a GKM561R, and it works fine. If you want something close to full size, that's a good choice. If you want a really small one, I use a Rii N7 on my other system and like it a lot. I suggest reading the thread here entitled "Best Keyboard and Mouse/Trackball - Whatcha got???" It pretty well covers most of the popular choices.


To cool that case quietly I suggest one of two approaches. You can use the stock fan but put in a fan controller to reduce the voltage and slow those three fans down. Or you can buy quieter slower fans such as Noctua NF-S12B FLX. Personally, I used 2 of those Noctuas, one set at 600rpm, the other at 900rpm, and a Scythe Kama Flex SA1225FDB12H-P (in the right rear fan location) which is a PWM fan the speed of which is controlled by the motherboard. That case is pretty easy to keep cool. There are lots of approaches. (BTW, those Noctua fans are much cheaper at Amazon than at Newegg for some reason).


The stock i3 fan/heatsink works just fine and is quiet, and it fits well in that case with an optical drive. If you decide to go aftermarket, you're very limited in choices because of the height. Silverstone writes good case manuals. There's a section in yours about the cpu cooler height, as well as the PSU size and graphics card length. I suggest reading them.


Also, to play Blu Ray disks you can use TMT 5, but the most trouble free I think is Corel WinDVD Pro 2010, which you can buy on their website for $39. It's not good for much else, but for playing Blu Ray disks, you simply install it, update it, pop in a disk, and it plays and bitstreams beautifully.


Finally, are you keeping the DirecTV? If so, you might want to consider a Hauppauge Colossus or HDPVR. You can make outstanding HD recordings with DD 5.1 from the component video and optical audio outputs of your DirecTV box - they look and sound just as good as the original DirecTV signal. Lots of people with DirecTV use them. I recommend reviewing the threads entitled "Hauppauge Colossus HD-PVR" and "Hauppauge HDPVR-1212 Owner's Thread".


Did you consider a 60 or 64gb solid state drive for the operating system and programs, by the way? Having done that once, I won't ever build another PC without one. The $100 may seem like an unnecessary expense, and true, it's not essential, but I think it is well worth it. It makes using the system much more convenient.


By the way, building the HTPC isn't complicated; choosing and configuring the software is the hard part.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
zon2020, thanks for the great reply. i was looking at the Radeon because from what ive been reading is that the onboard realtek sound doesnt have the proper drivers for it to bitstream properly. otherwise i was just gonna go with the i3-2105 which has the HD3000 graphics for $15 more and no video card. i did a good bit of research on the sapphire radeon 6570 card. its one of the lowest power consuming, quiet, and coolest running video cards out there. and i know that the HDMI out will bitstream for sure. i looked at a bunch of GT430 cards too. ive never been either an only ATI or Nvidia guy but it seemed to me that the ATI cards might be a better fit for me from everything ive been reading in this case. I havent bought a new video card in years, i still have a GTX260 in my i7-960 desktop because my gaming is pretty much now Xbox360.


I will look into the Corel WinDVD Pro. TMT5 is fairly simple which i like so i will have to see which i like better.


The Silverstone case i have actually came with 3 120 mm fans. supposedly they are quiet but if not, i can always get some more Arctic Cooling 120 mm PWN fans. I have 3 of them in my desktop. very quiet even running at 60%.


I already have 2 2-tuner HD-DVR boxes from DirecTV so im not worried about hooking that up to the HTPC.


I already took your advice on the SSD. Newegg had one on sale today for $100. 60GB OCZ SATA III with almost 500 mb/sec read and write speeds. Since I did that, i will probably go with the ASrock Z68 mATX board. It can take better advantage of the SSD. I almost bought 2 of the SSDs but 60 GB is too small for my desktop. Currently I have 53 gb already used on main drive and thats with only 2 games installed and all my music and videos on the other drive.


And finally even though i already have a blu-ray drive, newegg had an LG blu-ray burner for $70 today (only $10 more than blu-ray reader) so instead of spending $25 on a DVD-RW to replace in my desktop, i bought that today with the SSD and the Iogear keyboard which was down to $40.


CPU, motherboard, and maybe video card is all i have left to buy now.



P.S. and someone posted that 8 Gb of ram was overkill. yeah i know it is. I will have to install 64 bit Win 7 just because of that. i already had the memory sitting around. i got it weeks ago when there was a special for $50, free shipping and no rebate. at best i would have saved $20 had i bought just 4 Gb.
 

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Whether you use the integrated graphics or a card, the Realtek is irrelevant to bitstreaming. When you connect by HDMI, the audio is handled by the GPU, not by the Realtek chip. Some people even disable the Realtek chip. You certainly do not need a separate video card for audio reasons.


I almost made the same choice you are about to make regarding the 2105. But after reading up, by absolutely all accounts, you will receive zero benefit for HTPC purposes by getting the HD3000 rather than HD2000 graphics. Maybe for light gaming there's a benefit, but not for watching video. You can get a 2100 at Micro Center for $99.


An H67 or Z68 mobo is fine. Really, for HTPC purposes you don't need or want to use SSD caching, so you don't need a Z68. Just use the SSD as your C: drive with your OS and programs. Speeding up access to your hard disk by using it as a huge cache is a waste of the SSD for an HTPC. Even 5400 rpm green drives are more than fast enough for video. You'll maximize the benefit by using the SSD as your OS drive and storing data on the hard drive. (BTW, for a desktop I'm building I got a 128gb SSD; for my HTPC 64gb is plenty. I'm still not going to use it for disk caching, though, but just as my OS and programs drive.)


As I indicated, I realize there are 3 stock fans. If you want to use them, you should get a fan controller and slow them down. Otherwise replace them with quieter ones.


I too have 2 Directv DVRs. I don't use the Colossus as a DVR to replace them, I use it as a recorder to archive sports, concerts, movies, etc that I want to keep in HD either on a hard disk or on a BluRay disk. Consider it like an old VHS recorder to make recordings of things you want to keep long term or forever. The DVRs really aren't suited to that.


Looks like you're in good shape overall. Enjoy.
 
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