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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As I prepare to finally assemble my theater consisting of an HTPC, receiver, speakers, projector, and screen I find myself looking for a list of components that are considered "Best in Class".


Fortunately, xcel wrote a just such a document! Unfortunately, it was last updated almost a year ago. :(


So would anyone like to take a crack at the basics? What's the current state of the art for HTPC video cards, sound cards, and (HD)TV tuner cards? Also, what's the preferred software (OS, DVD player, PVR) of this board?


I've tried to find this information by searching the forums, but it would be great to get it all in one place and linked from the meta-faq.


Thanks!

Charlie
 

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Rewriting his post would take awhile...but I think a lot of it can be gleaned from some reading.


Video out: Radeon 9700.

Sound: Still M-Audio

HDTV Tuner: MyHD is pretty popular while Hipix has a lot of development going on. Haven't heard much about HiDTV card.

TV Input: Immersive Holo3DGraph is far and away best


Software: Windows XP, Catalyst 2.4 drivers, Sonic Cineplayer 1.5 for DVD playback.


or alternate route:

SDI player -> H3D card -> DScaler
 

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For TV Input, have a look a the new XCapture CX23881 caputre card thread. The XCapture card has excellent s-video capture for $40 (with experimental DScaler support) and Asus has a CX23881 card w/ analog tuner for about $80 I believe. These cards would be on the new list, probably as the "value" and probably "mid" best-of. H3D might be regulated to the "highest" quality HTPC best-of due to its price.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...light=xcapture


matt
 

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Also, the Sonic Cinemaster 1.5 video filters combined with TT or ZoomPlayer would have to be included for best DVD PQ.


matt
 

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On the M-audio card, is there a particular model?


Would the model be different if sending the signal to a receiver as opposed to just using an output to go to, say, a 5.1 computer speaker setup, and which model(s) would that be?


Is coax SPDIF or optical output more accurate?


How does the M-audio card compare to, say, the Audigy 1/2 series and their coax SPDIF and optical outputs?


Thanks.
 

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How about mobo? A good, general purpose mobo is the ASUS P4PE. But are there features particular to HTPC use that would make another mobo attractive. For example, q-fan feature for silencing htpc fans could be important
 

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How about the new asus mobo that uses the nforce2 chipset? A7N8X

Onboard dolby digital, usb2, firewire, 2 LAN ports...

ATHLON support and DDR 333 mhz SDRAM and AGP 8X for a 5.4 gighz bandwidth


Sounds like the next ASUS winner.
 

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The problem with the nforce2 chipset in an htpc, is that it works with AMD processors. The AMD processors run much hotter than Intel processors. While I prefer AMD's for a desktop computer, the hotter running processors in an htpc mean more fan noise. That said, if you intend to play games on an htpc, the nforce chipsets have the added benefit of an on chipset Dolby Digital encoder. This means you can use spdif out to send the game audio to your receivers and benefit from your surround speakers.


DanW
 

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Quote:
The AMD processors run much hotter than Intel processors.
This is true. However, check out the NexusTek fan and power supply. Here's a review. They are supposed to be very, very quiet. And they work with the very hot AMD Athlon chips.


You can have your nForce cake and eat it (silently!) too. :)
 

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People tend to have alot of religon on the choice between INTEL and AMD. We need two choices in mobo. Best AMD mobo and best INTEL mobo.


RE AMD mobo choice, nforce2 based mobo seems no brainer. For 6 way nforce shootout, check out


Are there other important features? For example, If your board does not support ACPI S4 mode it probably won't wake itself up to run scheduled events.
 

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All of M-Audio's stuff is pretty good. The choice between the 24/96 model and the 410 / 1010 series basically comes down to if you need the analog jacks that the latter offers. A lot of people just want digital output.


You could also go with the USB Revolution which is a little cheaper but less feature packed.


As for which to use, I believe tests have shown that coaxial works a little better. Optical is kind of gimmicky, and the fiber optic cords cost more anyway :)
 

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How about the Best in Class for the other *less obvious* components:


Case

Power supply

Case fans

CPU heatsink/fan

Harddrive

DVD/CD-ROM


Any nominations for the above?
 

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Power supply: Any antec Trupower supplies...not that loud, and definetly the cleanest power you can get on the market today.


Hard Drive: for quiet performance, most people prefer the segate drives


Case Fans: Get 80 or 120 mm fans..the bigger they are, the slower they have to operate to generate CFM's, so the quieter they run!
 

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Best CPU HSF:


With a quiet panaflo fan thermaltight slk 800 (AMD) and SLK 478 (for p4, when it comes out).


With a really quiet panaflo fan, thermalright AX7/AX478

Beat the pants off of Zalman CNPS 6000CU.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Beatles
By an extreme margin.


In regards to HTPC use, or just gaming? Im not planning to game on my HTPC, would the 9XXX series really be worth the extra cost?


-Chris
 

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Quote:
Power supply: Any antec Trupower supplies...not that loud, and definetly the cleanest power you can get on the market today.
What about if you want also the most quiet one (with still a decent power output)?


Quote:
Case Fans: Get 80 or 120 mm fans..the bigger they are, the slower they have to operate to generate CFM's, so the quieter they run!
I perfectly agree - the bigger the better. But some times your case limits you to use only 60mm or so. So it has to be quiet even at higher rpms. Any brand name / model no suggestions for those case fans?


Thanks!

__________

Axel
 

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9700 beats 7500 by extreme margin in PQ? Are you talking about gaming performance, of course it would its newer.


But I am talking strictly picture performance in DVD playback with proper drivers and scoped settings.
 
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