AVS Forum banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,


It all started off so innocently. My main computer was built by me with 8GB RAM, Q6600 overclocked to 3GHz, 300GB of RAID0 WD Raptors and 2TB of RAID5 main storage (three Segate 1TB drives). As my home theater started taking shape, my friend bought a media server that was capable of ripping blu ray DVDs and showing them on a menu via Windows Media Center. I bought a LG blu ray reader and started experimenting. My computer's stability was always somewhat suspect and I think I traced it down to the Crucial Ballastix sticks I had in there. One outright died and then I was only on two sticks (4GB in total) before I started having issues with blue screens. I sent them back to the manufacturer and just got a new set of 8GB yesterday.


Anyway, I started getting paranoid and wanted to separate out file serving/file storage duties to a dedicated NAS because every time the workstation crashed, it would sometimes have to validate the RAID5 array. So I bought a Norco RPC-3116 16-bay hot swappable rackmount case, Supermicro server MB (for stability), 4GB ECC ram, and an Intel Celeron 440 Conroe 2GHz chip, 3ware 9650se 16 disk controller and (currently) four WD 2TB enterprise drives for RAID 5. I'm still trying to figure out what OS I want to run on the NAS, but I'm leaning towards OpenSolaris. I figure I can also run the SqueezeCenter service on it to serve up lossless WMA to the squeezebox when I just want to listen to music.


Anyway, I bought a Asus HDAV Slim PCI card and put that into the workstation. My old 8600GT (MSI) graphics card is fanless and has two heads. I was able to use the second DVI out to the HDAV Slim to the home theater's processor (Anthem D2v), but it started getting a little flakey and annoying having the main screen (30" LCD) in the office and the plasma in the adjacent room (I wired HDMI keystones in wall ports and have everything run in the basement). Right now I know I have to upgrade the firmware in the processor and I hear the HDAV is bad at the HDMI handshake protocols and it sometimes requires me to shut off the processor and turn it back on and sometimes the machine goes unresponsive, crashes, etc. On more than one occasion, the machine was hosed and I had to reinstall everything.


So I'm thinking I need a dedicated PC just for the home theater to pull ripped blu ray DVDs/DVDs/music from the NAS and send it to the processor. Am I mad? I'm tired of having my main workstation hosed and right now it's connected solely to the processor and I'm on my laptop. Haha.


So my question is this: What type of hardware would you recommend? I was trying to be energy conscious when building the NAS as that might be on 24/7. That's why I chose the Celeron 440 processor as it's 35W processor, though when everything is running, it's doing about 130Watts =/ There is a hard drive for the OS and I will eventually/hopefully move to a USB key. I do have the workstation to rip the blu rays and regular DVDs as well as rip music CDs. I guess my main question is why people build such powerful HTPCs. I'm not really a gamer, but do have a PS3 for Guitar Hero and Rockband for multiplayer fun.


Is there any other reason to put more juice in a HTPC? To this day, I don't understand why people make such a big fuss when talking having enough horsepower to handle blu ray...it's only 1920x1080 res for crying out loud! I want the HTPC to be very slim and not have a lot of ugly ports. Something along the lines of a Silverstone LC19B-R, but I'm not sure if it'll be big enough to accomodate the hardware I will need (HDAV Slim + do I need a video card?). That's the second question: Are integrated graphics good enough these days so that I can pull the DVI/HDMI output and put it into the HDAV Slim? Then I would only need one expansion slot.


What hardware would you recommend? Are the Atom chips powerful enough? Or do I need a Core 2 Duo chip at the very least? I was also thinking about picking up a 30GB SSD to speed up boot/minimize power consumption/minimize noise. I was thinking of running Windows 7 or Vista on the HTPC, btw.


Lastly, I see the processor utilization of the Celeron 440 in the NAS maxes out when I'm copying data to it. I found this surprising as the hardware RAID handles the parity computation, so I'm not sure what's going on. I can put the Q6600 in that and then build a new core i7 system for my workstation. I would have the Celeron 440 chip available. Can I use this in the HTPC? The current workstation has a Gigabyte GA-P35-DS4 rev2.0 motherboard and if I move to a core i7, I'd need to get a new mobo anyway...so maybe the old gigabyte w/ celeron 440 for the HTPC?


The current home theater (I haven't finished running the power for the plasma; otherwise, there would be no wires hanging):



The bigger picture:



I plan on building a shelf that will divide the 18' tall wall in half. Artwork/vases/other **** on the shelf. Inside the shelf....that's where the magic will happen with a 60" tall motorized screen (2.35:1 native that will be pretty much the same size as the imaginary panel that is as tall as the speakers and spans between the outside edges).


TIA,

Chester
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
110 Posts
I happen to use 2 computers for duties. One PC to rip and store and edit blu-rays (remux) and the HTPC. the HTPC for just playing back blu ray ISOs doesn't need to be special at all. I have an Nvidia 8300 IGP that plays back all 1080p movies (MKV and bluray) I throw at it very smoothly. A micro-ATX mobo, an Asus Xonar slim, 4GB of ram, >40GB of hard drive (speed is not that important), and a nice case with low noise is pretty much all you need to get great blu ray playback. I store the ISOs on my other computer and just mount the ISOs from it onto the HTPC. Works well for me.


I think a lot of the more powerful HTPCs are if people are going to want to use cablecards and DVR tv.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by roots4x /forum/post/17040531


I happen to use 2 computers for duties. One PC to rip and store and edit blu-rays (remux) and the HTPC. the HTPC for just playing back blu ray ISOs doesn't need to be special at all. I have an Nvidia 8300 IGP that plays back all 1080p movies (MKV and bluray) I throw at it very smoothly. A micro-ATX mobo, an Asus Xonar slim, 4GB of ram, >40GB of hard drive (speed is not that important), and a nice case with low noise is pretty much all you need to get great blu ray playback. I store the ISOs on my other computer and just mount the ISOs from it onto the HTPC. Works well for me.

roots4x, just curious are you just using windows file sharing between computers, and are you just using 10/100 nics?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,964 Posts
I will come over and run the power cables for you.


All I need is your address, a spare key, and the times when you will not be home...so I do not bother you with the noise of course...



oh, and how heavy are those speakers?


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
332 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by btgracing /forum/post/17040450


So my question is this: What type of hardware would you recommend? I guess my main question is why people build such powerful HTPCs.

cause they can and want too. some do it cause they plan on transcoding and some for gaming. but beyond those two, really isn't a good reason to other then if you got the money to throw around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by btgracing /forum/post/17040450


Are integrated graphics good enough these days so that I can pull the DVI/HDMI output and put it into the HDAV Slim? Then I would only need one expansion slot.

onboard is plenty for everything short of gaming. i'm not 100% if you can do onboard hdmi -> hdva, but i would prolly say yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by btgracing /forum/post/17040450


What hardware would you recommend? Are the Atom chips powerful enough? Or do I need a Core 2 Duo chip at the very least? I was also thinking about picking up a 30GB SSD to speed up boot/minimize power consumption/minimize noise. I was thinking of running Windows 7 or Vista on the HTPC, btw.

atom won't cut it. i *think* most people have said e5200 for intel and the new athlon II's (240 and up)are really good for the price (~$60).


SSD i don't believe will provide any real significant advantage over hdd for htpc purposes. you won't be loading a lot of applications. start up media center and your done accessing the ssd for the most part. boot up shouldn't happen very often. a better choice is putting the computer to sleep/standby/s3 where its saved the ram and everything powers down. it only consumes a few watts in this state (~10w i think and i believe i heard a pc turned off will consume roughly this much also). wakeup from that state is within few seconds and a ssd won't speed it up.


nothing crazy about having 3 pc's: htpc, server, and workstation/everyday pc. i just built my htpc and am strongly considering building a server so i don't tie up my gaming machine with ripping/transcoding. building htpc/servers are pretty cheap these days (minus storage costs).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. Yeah, my original intention was not to make it a completely dedicated home theater...more for entertainment. I already made the concession in my mind that I would only watch movies at night. The speakers are RBH T-30LSE left and right channels, 6100-SE/R center, 66-SE/R surrounds. Anthem D2v process, Anthem P5 5-channel amp and A2 2-channel amp for the surrounds. And, unfortunately, I have to sit that far from the 60" plasma....can't very well put the couch in the middle of the room! It looks absolutely tiny....hence the plan for the big screen. =)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,696 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bojangles139 /forum/post/17041465



nothing crazy about having 3 pc's: htpc, server, and workstation/everyday pc. i just built my htpc and am strongly considering building a server so i don't tie up my gaming machine with ripping/transcoding. building htpc/servers are pretty cheap these days (minus storage costs).

The cost comes in paying $20/mo or so to keep them running 24/7. It adds up over time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
332 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 /forum/post/17044168


The cost comes in paying $20/mo or so to keep them running 24/7. It adds up over time.

htpc shouldn't be running 24/7. put it to sleep and it barely uses any power (i've heard ~10w).


not sure how people handle server and power saving. server shouldn't need to run 24/7 though, put it to sleep with WOL ability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,744 Posts
I've 3 PCs just for my home entertainment.


One for backup and playback ISO, sleep most of the time and wake up if need.


One for my home automation server and streaming photos and MP3 to my other PCs in my home. On 24X7.


One for my server. Movies, files and important stuff there. Same as #1 power on if need.


btgracing you and I share the same goal and like to have an entertainment room not delicate HT room. If you have moment free please check out my 16:9 and 2.35 set up here .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,696 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bojangles139 /forum/post/17044184


htpc shouldn't be running 24/7. put it to sleep and it barely uses any power (i've heard ~10w).


not sure how people handle server and power saving. server shouldn't need to run 24/7 though, put it to sleep with WOL ability.

Most people running servers leave them on 24/7. Few with HTPC's use the sleep function, but more are starting to.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,390 Posts
Very nice, but use that as a monitor. Get curtains and a serious projector for such a space. Powerful htpc's are built for headroom. Mine records hd OTA while ripping an ISO and playing an ISO and spyware/antivirus scan, and hardly farts while browsing if it's a film that interests others.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top