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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning to build a new HTPC. (my first)


I would like some suggestions for the components.


I am planning to run WinXP Pro.


I want to use an intel chipset MOBO for 2.6 GHz P4 or faster with 1+ Gig DDR ram. Which MOBO is the best choice now? I don't need any on board video or audio obviously.


I know that I want to use the following components:


H3D card. If the new HD version comes out in time I will use that.


Mike Parker modified Radeon 9700 Pro.


Wester Digital 200 Gig EIDE Hard Drive




I need suggestions for the following components.


MOBO


Sound Card. I will most likely only use optical out to my receiver.


DVD Drive.


Quiet power supply.


Quiet case, CPU cooler, video card cooler.


I will be out of town until Monday, so I wont be able to reply till then. Hopefully this thread will be full of suggestions by then.


Thanks,


Ken
 

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HTPC case:

I would recommend the A-techfabrication HTPC case . These cases are custom built, all aluminum and compatible with full ATX motherboards. One significant difference from the others is its size. THe dimensions resemble those of any other audio component.


It is a very nice case but expensive. After you put the bells and whistles on, it should run you $500-$600.


GPU cooler:


I went with the Zalman ZM-80A (I think thats right) for my 9500 pro. If you decide on the A-tech case, Glenns make his own.


Remote Control:

MX-500, MX-700, Pronto TSU-3000. You can read about these in the remote control area of the AVS forum.


Motherboard:

Myself and alot of others like the ASUS P4PE. But there are alot of choices. If are in the mood to spend some $$ then get a motherboard that supports SATA hard drives.


Hard Drive:

If you are concerned about noise then I would recommend Seagate HDD. They are the only, or one the few, offerring SATA HDDs right now.


CPU HSF:

I went with the SWiftech MXC-4000 and a Sanyo Denki 15mm fan secondary to the size constraints of the A-tech case. However, Zalman now has the xxx-7000, which is an upgrade from the xxx-6500cu.


That is all I can think of.


Scott
 

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Oh, on the DVD:


I would go ahead and spend the bucks on a DVD burner but I don't kow which is best right now. I wish that I had but have not taken the time to upgrade.


Scott
 

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i wouldn't get a dvd-rw/+rw for an htpc. i wouldn't wanna do any burning on an htpc.


if money is no object then you can get dual channel ddr and a raid setup.
 

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I just finished building my HTPC last month, and price was not much of a factor, only performance....here's my set up:


CPU: Intel P4 3.06


MOBO: Gigabyte GA-81NXP, w/RAID/wS-ATA firewire, ethernet ($240)


powersupply: Enermax 610 watt EG651p-VE(FMA) very quiet with adjustable fan speed (about $175)


Case: Coolermaster ATC-201C-SX2


1GB ram, PC2700 333DDR SDRAM


HD dual 200GB drives western digital...not set up as RAID, so I keep one 200GB drive available to wipe as needed for PVR to prevent the drive getting fragmented over time. (I highly recommend 2 drives...even if its just 1 60GB drive for your apps and one 200GB for your media)


video card: ATI 9700 pro (now the 9800 is out)The 9700 is quiet enough for me, but you can get a Zalman Copper VGA heatsink for it. Now cheaper since 9800 release.


DVD: Toshiba 16X DVD (simple and quiet)


DVD-RW: Sony DRU500AX (can use -/+R)..about $400


Sound card: creative labs THX audigy 2 platinum (optical out on the front of computer for easy access)...about $200


H3D ...also waiting for the HD card.
 

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I recently built a HTPC using the Antec Sonata case, it uses a low RPM 120mm fan instead of 80 mm fans to reduce noise. It also has a special quiet power supply fan and uses rubber grommets for mounting the disk drives. It is a mid tower case, but it looks pretty nice. it is considerably quieter then my other systems, unless I get right next to it I can't hear it. I have not yet gone to a Thalman CPU cooler and am using a standard AIW 8500DV ATI with its fan. These two fans are probably the next area that I would focus on to reduce the noise but the system is already extremely quiet. The CPU fan is running at variable speed.


I also went with a RAID0 for disk performance. I use a 20 Gig partition on the RAID0 for the System drive to make it easier to ghost to DVD (for backup) so that I don't have to back up the large amount of audio and video media I keep on line (a 200+ gig partition). I keep a second system available acting as a server for back-ups of all the media files.



Part of my reason for all of this is I am not yet totally satisfied with all the software I am using so I regularly install new software and new drivers, sometimes it is nice to roll back a change when I find things got worse instead of better.


For a while I used the "Go Back" utility that is part of the Norton System works to provide roll-backs but it causes an extreme amount of disk seek thrashing making the system much nosier (that I can easily hear) and slows the RAID0 performance.


I also regularly defragment my drives since I am doing a lot of installing (and sometimes uninstalling), and for the media files, although there is not that much fragmentation on the media file partition.



The Sony RW DVD all format drive is also great, highly recommended. If you are actively using your HTPC for more then just viewing media, having the ability to write +RW (must faster then -RW) and -R (much more compatible then +R) makes this an ideal drive.
 

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As far as Intel CPU MOBO chipset, I wouldn't go for anything less than the Canterwood i875p

The features this chipset provide will probably mean the only card you'll need is a display card.


There is a great article in the current CPU magazine ( http://www.computerpoweruser.com/ ) That details the current recommended components for a high end machine.
 

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You guys that put DVD writers in your HTPC... do you use that for your normal DVD playing (i.e. often)? Or do you get a second cheaper DVD ROM drive for just playing DVD's?
 

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I have a second (quieter) DVD player in my system, it wasn't planned but it has been handy. I usually use the second DVD drive for playing DVDs but in terms of reliability, I am not aware of any concern about using a DVD-RW to play lots of DVDs. This is getting off the topic, but if this is known to be a problem using a DVD-RW to play DVDs please let me know (I know there are writeable media vendors that are not compatible, the Sony 500DRU came with a sheet listing manufactures to not use, luckily a short list).
 

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In keeping with the spirit of "money no object" I would certainly pay someone to run cat 5e cable in order to establish a network. Also, buy a wireless router to go with it. This serves as powerful HTPC versatility multiplier!


Scott


:) I ran my own because, to me, money is an object.
 

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I have noticed that my DVD Burner will read some burnt disks that DVD ROMs have trouble with.
 

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I definitely agree about getting the wireless router, I only recently build all my systems so I was able to build everything using the Linksys with the new 11g standard (54MBps, actual is about 22 MBps), that is a nice additon to have (although I do run a wire to my file server for the added bandwidth). Another option would be to get a Progrear or ViewSonic or other Tablet PC and put MainLobby on it and another copy of MainLobby/Girder, etc. on the HTPC to get a nice flexible remote capability.


If money is no object you will find plenty of opportunities in the AVSForums.
 

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I think if money was no object I'd go with...


P4 3.06 processor with hyperthreading

1GB DDR (2GB if I had crazy money)

Most feature laden MB (ASUS, Gigabyte or MSI), likely with an SIS chipset.

2 x 30GB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM drives in a stripe set (for the OS and apps)

2 x 200GB WD 7200RPM drives (not in a stripe set) (For everything else)

Case, whichever aluminum one tickles my fancy. The A-Tech case is nice.

480W Dual Fan Enermax Power Supply.

Radeon 9700 AIW

Sony DRX-500ULX External DVD +- RW/+-R burner with Firewire & USB 2.


And any other sundry cards to meet my other needs (MY HD etc.)
 

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The latest Asus P4G8X-Deluxe with i7205 chipset works great with the exception of MyHD and hyperthreading, which does not work together well.
 

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I agree, go with the new 3.0GHz HT P4 (not 3.06GHz), the canterwood chipset for the 800 MHz FSB, Dual channel DDR, and serial ATA with Raid. Like this one:
http://usa.asus.com/products/mb/sock...d/overview.htm


As far as power supplies go, I love my Antech True power. It has excellent ratings and is quiet.
 

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"I need suggestions for the following components.


MOBO


Sound Card. I will most likely only use optical out to my receiver.


DVD Drive.


Quiet power supply.


Quiet case, CPU cooler, video card cooler. "


MOBO - I know you say you are thinking of using a Sound Card with optical out, but the ASUS P4PE is a very nice board that comes with coax and Optical SPDIF. I at one time was thinking that I might get a Revo, but after 6 months, I have yet to see the need.


DVD Drive. You said price is no object, and with component in with the H3D card purhaps you are looking at an external DVD player, so a Sony DRU-500A DVD Burner. Even if you are not planning on mastering DVDs with it, it is extremely quiet and an easy way of backing up your 200 GB hard drive. It is also a lot faster to burn a RW DVD and walk it to your editing PC than forcing it down a Cat 5 cable.


PowerSupply - the biggest you can find - I am partial to the Antec TruePower series with it's built in fan control.


CPU cooler - Zalman Pure Copper Flower with 92cm Fan and speed control. (if you can support it, it might be quieter with a 120cm fan).


Video card cooler - hands down to Zalman ZM-80A. You might loose your first PCI slot though.


Missing items may be -


a Philips Pronto or a video touch pad for computer control.


a Gyration Mouse and Keyboard - range is good and since it is a USB device, you can also have standard keyboard and mouse connected at the same time.
 

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guy you are not radical enough for cost no object dream configuration:


MOBO: Asus P4C800


Processor: Intel Pentium 4 Northwood 3.0C GHz 800MHz FSB with HT Technology


Memory: Corsair DDR400


Processor Cooler: Zalman CNPS7000-AlCu Ultra-Quiet CPU Cooler


Video Card Cooler: Quiet Video Cards - ZM50-HP Zalman Video Heatpipe


Power Supply: Zalman Model ZM300A-APF or ZM400A-APF


Sound Card: RME DIGI96/8 PAD or RME HSDP 96/32 or CardDeluxe or LynxTWO.

Hard Disk: DON’T BUY!



Instead buy other components:


Network Boot Software: BXP


Network Server with Gigabit Network Card or use Network Attached Storage like Maxtor MaxAttach NAS 4100 .


This setup will not only eliminate the highest noise contributor inside a PC but will have beneficial effect on sound quality. For example see this sound quality measurements .




Good info in this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Wow! Great info folks, thanks.


I have decided on the following components based on suggestions here.


MOBO:


GigaByte 8KNXP Ultra (875P)


or


ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P)


I like the layout, networking and memory slots of the GigaByte board, but it does not have firewire or optical outputs like the ASUS board. The ASUS may cause a problem with interference of a large CPU cooler and the northbridge heatsink. I can easily machine the northbridge heatsink to fix the problem, and I don't think I will have any overheating issues.


CPU:


P4 3.0GHz 800MHz FSB



Memory:


1 GB Corsair DDR400



HardDrive:


Segate 120GB SATA Drive (Probably 2)


Video Cards:


Radeon 9700 Pro with MP-1 Mod

Halo3D II with HD option


Sound Card:


I'm going to try to use only the optical output on the MOBO if I use the ASUS. Otherwise still undecided.


DVD Drive:


Undecided. I would like to get one that can be run at 1X for noise concerns. Suggestions still welcome.


Power Supply:


Zalman ZM400A-APF


Coolers:


Zalman CNPS7000-CU CPU Cooler

Zalman VGA Heatpipe Cooler ZM80A-HP

Zalman ZM-NB32J Northbridge Cooler


Case:


I really like the A-tech Fabrication case, So I will probably use it.



I already have both wired and wireless (11g) networks installed in my house, but I will install a gigabit network card in my server so I can transfer large files(DVD Storage). I also have a pronto remote that I will need to program for the HTPC. I have not looked at wireless (RF) keyboards and mice yet, so suggestions are welcome.


I am planning to buy a DVD burner as well, but I will install it in my server machine instead of the HTPC.


The reason for the two video cards is that I also need to use this machine as testgear for product development. I think (hope) that they will co-exist OK in the machine.


Thanks again for all of the suggestions. I plan to start purchasing parts within the next two weeks, so I will let you know how this works out. I'm sure I'll be asking for help as well!



Ken
 

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P4C800 audio section completely misses the 'money no object' criteria.


I bought the board last Saturday and sound is crap. It resamples everythin to 48KHz. Totally useless as audiophile component.


You should also check Intel D875PBZ motherboard. That would be my 2nd choice.
 
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