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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While I'm not new to building PCs I am a complete newbie to HTPC and audio systems in general. I've spent hours reading various threads in this and other forums and remain confused as to what purchasing decision I should make. I've read the mini-FAQ and the article about the inexpensive HTPC being able to match a $10,000 DVD player in terms of quality. However, I'm not sure rather this article is still current or not.


So before I take the plunge my question is, are HTPCs better or comparable to similarly priced off the shelf blackboxes? Building an HTPC will probably cost around $700 if not more. Right now I am thinking that the HTPC is probably better.




My next question is, what parts should I get?



Video:

My primary concern is image quality on a TV. This is going to be a dedicated HTPC. I am thinking about getting an ATI AIW Radeon 9000 Pro. I saw that a lot of people in the forum have the 7500. Is this because it is cheaper with the same quality or is the 7500 in some way superior. Do the more expensive versions of Radeon better?


And what other TV tuner cards or video cards should I consider?



Sound:

My primary concern is again the quality of the sound produced. Is it going to be comparable or better than $2-300 black boxes? I have heard a lot of good things about the M-Audio Revolution in this forum and in Newegg. However I've also seen that alot of people opt for other sound cards, namely other M-Audio cards in this forum.


What sound card should I get?



Also, I read from the audio forums that it is a good idea to have a receiver as a preamp and then get another amplifier. However I am thinking that the HTPC will act as the DVD/CD players, the TV tuner and the receiver so all I need is a dedicated amplifier. Is this correct? If so what would you recommend I get for an amplifier? If not what else should I be getting?


Thanks in advance!!!
 

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Video:


9000 series are not compatable with the HD-Adapter if this is your plan. You would then need a Transcoder if your TV has component input. If your TV has DVI or RGB (15 pin), then no worries. If you need component and want to use the HD Adapter, the AIW 8500 or AIW 9600 might be better.


Many here prefer not to go with AIWs though. Some don't like the quality or the guide. Others just like the freedom of change a tuner without having to change the video, and visa versa.


Sound.


Do a search on Prepro. There has been quite a few threads on this approach. I personally just use a reciever with DD/DTS decoding, all feed from the HTPC with sdif cables.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the help.


I'm trying to make this as simple for me as possible thus the all in wonder. I figure I'd have fewer things to deal with if I go with the AIW. So it looks like I'll probably go the 8500 route then.


So what about recommendations for a DVDROM? I'm looking at a Lite-On DVDROM/CDRW combo drive which along with an M-Audio Revolution and an AIW card will allow me to get a Shuttle XPC or one of the mATX cases for my HTPC. I didn't see the Lite-On in any region free list . I see a lot of people in the forums have Pioneer but I read a lot of negative reviews about the drives. So I am still considering alternatives.


Finally, I'd still want to know what people think about the sound quality of an M-Audio card compared to something like a Denon or the Video quality of a HTPC vs a nice progressive scan DVD player.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Looks like the 9600 is about the same price as the 8500 so I think I might go for that.


Also, I'd like to as, if I went with a regular video card like an GeForce 4 4200 and got a separate TV tuner. Which TV tuner should I look into? Thanks!
 
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