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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,


I didnt want to hijack someone elses thread therefore I hope you dont mind me starting this new one looking for advice.


I would like to start working out which components I need in order to build my HTPC. At the moment I just use my laptop or dvd player with usb using external wd passport. Im so sick of it. My Xbox 360 is dead. I really should get on with building my HTPC whlst I have my savings! I have a large collection of media and I would like to use XBMC with a remote and also have the ability to play bluray through my LCD (HD). I will eventually be getting a HD projector but find it pointless at the moment since most of my collection is in divx. I would prefer to use my money on getting a good htpc ready and a audio system in place!


I cant afford the best and dont need a top of the line PC. I would however like it to be fairly good.


At the moment I have these potential components from reading millions of threads but they might be now outdated!


-- Gigabyte MA785GPMT-UD2H


-- AMD Phenom II 550 (Although unsure if I should be getting a X4 and pc shop has a 965. Its nearly double price of II 550.. eek)


-- 4GB RAM


-- 1gb Nvidia GT240 / 1gb Nvidia GTS25 / 1gb Nvidia 9800GT

(Something capable of bluray and 3d ready in the future)


-- Corsair 550 PSU //


-- Some sort of fan??


-- Zalman HD160 (love the 135 but too much).


I dont need to worry about bluray player just yet or hard drive. I will get a bluray player later. I also have plenty of hard drives and really only need to start off with one big enough for Windows 7 and XBMC etc.


I am a complete newbie. I hope you can please help!


Oh and Im from Australia. Im not sure if the pc parts are known as something else.


Thanks
 

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I posted this in another forum as a foundation post for HTPC's:


With the computer industry addressing this niche of our world I decided to do a write up on what would be a good HTPC build. Something that wouldn't be complete budget but not really a break the bank top of the line everything screamer. In this I will discuss the components I chose, why I chose them and what software is best/easiest to use. If my wife can operate it, then anyone should be able to operate it. You don't have to build exactly as me but can use this thread as a foundation for your own HTPC or if you want to have a seperate HTPC you can then follow this thread with ease (I hope).




DISCLAIMER: There is a program that will be needed for ripping blu-ray, HD-DVD, and DVD but due to it's nature it can also be used to do illegal things. I do NOT condone this action and ask that you only use it to do the legal thing of backing up your movies to your hard drive. With that being said and because it's against FS's TOS I will not name this program by name here in this article. You can either figure it out for yourself or contact me through my e-mail for that information.




Components:




Intel Core i3-530 - $125




GIGABYTE GA-H55M - $90




OCZ Obsidian 4GB - $100




LG Blu-ray reader - $90




Thermaltake 430W PSU - $42




WD Caviar Black 1TB HD - $100




WD Caviar Green 2TB HD - $180




Media Center Remote - $25




Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit OEM - $105




Nmedia PC HTPC 5000B Case - $60




Total Price: about $930 from Newegg.com




I like the Core i3 chip because of the small die size and the fact that it's onboard GPU is fully HDMI 1.3a compliant with the supplied motherboard. Also, with the new Intel supplied HSF you could easily bump that cpu up to 3.3Ghz or a bit farther with ease (although you probably don't need it to be that fast). The case may not be everyone's favorite but for the money I think it works out really well. It looks like part of your entertainment system and is really quiet. The hard drives should be setup with the 1TB being your main OS/DVR/Music drive with the 2TB being used for movies (blu-ray, hd-dvd, and dvd) being backed up on it. Western Digital seems to be the new Seagate of old with the 5 year warranty on their caviar black series and the green series being very efficient and cool (which is always nice in a HTPC build). Both are great compliments to each other and with the motherboard supplied there will be 3 more SATA spots open so you can easily expand with 3 more 2TB drives if you felt the need. For those ordering parts a Blu-Ray disc will have on average about 40-45GB of information, HD-DVD will have 25-30GB of info, and a DVD will have anywhere from 5 to almost 10GB of information (Pirates of the Carribean is the biggest DVD I've seen at 7GB of information). Hopefully this will help you plan accordingly when figuring out your setups for HTPC. Finally the HTPC remote is nice, you don't have to use it, I use the IR receiver and have it mapped to my Harmony 880 remote although I did use the remote for awhile and it is nice in itself. Definately a must have for any HTPC build.




Okay on to




Software:






Arcsoft TotalMedia Theatre 3 Platinum - $90




Slysoft Virtual CloneDrive - $0




My Movies 3 - $0




The program that rips disc images and allows you to watch those images on your PC is subscription based. They offer 1-4 years and Lifetime. 1 year is $70, Lifetime is $155. I got the Lifetime as it will let me upgrade the product for the time I am using it.




So I know most of you haven't heard of Arcsoft's TMT 3 but it is a great program that I like alot better than Corel and Cyberlink. It also has a WMC plug in which allows extremely easy access when controlling your HTPC (bring up your WMC and voila, it's right there). My Movies is a WMC plug in that will organize your .ISO so you can scroll or search for the movies you want, it can also setup client-server status, with another PC that you want to be an extender, really easy. This allows your main HTPC to act as a server if you wish and you can make a laptop (with WMC) be an extender for another TV in your house with no problem all with a few clicks of the mouse. Once you pick the movie you like from My Movies it will automatically mount it in Virtual CloneDrive and play it over TMT 3 or if it's a DVD you can pick between WMC or TMT 3 as if you had the disc. My Movies 3 does like to charge but for what you need it to do, it's free. For the $50 they ask for it will make the .ISO and automatically organize the movie but won't always let you watch the movie (that's what you need the other program for) so I just use it for it's WMC Plug-in even if it takes some extra button clicks to set up.




.ISO vs. .MKV




.ISO are an image of the disc you are copying which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. For me I get an exact copy of the disc that allows me all the features of the original. The negative to this is that it takes up alot of room. With a program like ClownBD you can make an .MKV of the BD or HD-DVD and trim down the fat by eliminating extra audio tracks and special features (I.E. I just want the movie and the 7.1 English sound track). By doing this you can take a 45GB BD and trim it down to 20GB or so. So the benefit would be more room for your HD movies. The negative is that like working on an engine by tweaking and tuning it more things can go wrong. I've heard some people tried and spent hours trying to get their .MKV's to work and never got them to play back properly and I've also heard of great success stories as well. Playing .MKV's also allow you to use Windows Media Center to play them all you need is the .MKV codec which is free with some searching.




You mentioned DVR, but no card?




You are right because most people will find their favorite shows on Hulu.com, or the major networks websites. But if you are one of those that have Dish, Direct TV, Cable, or you want to capture over the air (OTA) here are a few good cards that you can add to your HTPC:




ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner




WinTV HVR-1600




Ceton MOCURS




Silicondust MOCURS




I will keep adding to this list as I find more but those are the only two, from what I hear, that are worth a look but offer features such as DVR, rewind/fast forward of live TV, and TV Guide programming/recording. They also work with WMC.*EDIT* I just found the Ceton and Silicondust cards and from what I read, when they are released, they will be the most fully featured HTPC cable card on the markets. I like the specs of the Ceton better (and it is supposed to be released soon) but both will offer the ability to watch/record up to 4 channels in HD quality from your cable company.



One thing I will add is that for $20 more someone recommended the Corsair VX 430W PSU over the Thermaltake I listed. If that matters. And now I get to put it to the test of the AVS Forums ; ) We'll see how much red (ink) there is.
 

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GT 220/240 (VP4) is ready for BD 3D, but unfortunately not ready for HD audio. The onboard video HD 4200 is usually good enough for video playback. A better discrete card (a better HD video decoder + HD audio) will come later.


In general Core i3 530 is a better choice (overall better performance, lower power consumption). Intel IGP is also usually good enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your posts.


You both recommend the core i3 530. Could you please advise what you think is the best motherboard at midrange price that is should be used.


Does the motherboard have integrated gfx as I would really like to get gfx card in the future but not now.


Also, would you happen to know if a 550w psu would fit in the Zalman HD160. Im a bit confused with the fans I need for this case and PSU. if your unsure, its all good.


Thanks!
 

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GPU is integrated in the processor (on a separate die). You need a H55 or H57 motherboard to use it. ASUS P7H57D-V EVO is the best ATX board, but pricey. Intel DH55HC is a (too) basic ATX mb. There are many microATX mb. Among them check ASRock H55M Pro and GIGABYTE GA-H55M-UD2H. If you want USB 3.0, ASUS P7H55D-M EVO.


Corsair VX550 (CMPSU-550VX) is of the standard ATX size and fits HD 160 fine.
 

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I'll throw in a suggestion for the ASRock H55 motherboard. Best feature/price ratio that I've seen and I've had some very good luck with ASRock boards in the last few months, nothing better than GigaByte or ASUS, but notably cheaper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, I checked the motherboards you guys suggested with the computer shop I buy from. I cant seem to find much! I do however have:


AsusP7P55 -EVO - Its a bit too much for now unless it has onboard gfx and I can hold off getting a gfx card.


GIGABYTE GA-H55M-UD2H. - Good Price


And they dont show Asrock so I will ring tomorrow to get their prices.


I haven't had a chance to check out all the specs so will do that tomorrow.


Thanks heaps!
 

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P55 does not support GPU integrated in CPU.
 

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I get tired of saying this, but, if you're building a dedicated HTPC that's NOT for gaming, you can do much, much better than this.


You should aim for low noise, low heat, efficient cooling and as low power usage as possible.


Get a decent case with good ventialtion, and if possible, mount points for 120mm fans. Get GOOD quaility fans (e.g. Noctua), which spin totally silent at 800RPM. Get a low TDP dual core CPU (45W are good), and chuck the stock CPU cooler in the bin. Again replace with something quiet and efficient.


A modern passive GPU that fully decodes HD in hardware is a must, and there as passive versions available (or integrated). You should be able to get away with a 350W PSU in that case, but make sure it's 80%+ and replace the internal fan if necessary.


Try to get a motherboard with as much integrated that you intend to use as possible, so you reduce the number of add-in cards required. Be very careful when putting the thing together, to make sure you do not impede airflow at any point. Your intake fan(s) should be coupled with effective outtake fans to equalize pressure, but optimize airflow.


Disks should be modern, efficient, low power (e.g. WD Green's or Samsung EcoGreen's). 5400RPM drives is more than ample for a dedicated HTPC.


Although, if none of this is important to you, then go ahead with what you've spec'd.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tman247 /forum/post/18144972


I get tired of saying this, but, if you're building a dedicated HTPC that's NOT for gaming, you can do much, much better than this.

He is going with Core i5 530. How can you do *much, much better* than this?
 

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The only I can add is that I like Gigabyte over Asus. I think their quality/price is slightly better but Asus is still a good brand. Also, if you are not in need of SATA 6GB and USB 3.0 the board I had good features for the price. Gigabyte also has a full featured board as well with 6GBs SATA and USB 3.0.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natedog51 /forum/post/18145093


Gigabyte also has a full featured board as well with 6GBs SATA and USB 3.0.

Which mb?
 

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I was mistaken, they have 3 P55 boards but no H55 or H57 but I would imagine they are coming soon. Like I said, IMO, I think Gigabyte is better than Asus with better prices, but they are both great boards.
 

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Precisely speaking, all these eight P55A mb support SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 (although the bandwidth may be limited to 250MB/s except for UD7, which has PEX8608 bridge).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/18145257


Precisely speaking, all these eight P55A mb support SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 (although the bandwidth may be limited to 250MB/s except for UD7, which has PEX8608 bridge).

Are the other SATAIII controllers using a PCIe 1.0 1x bus? I hadn't noticed it before, just that they were all on PCIe 1x buses, I had assumed that they were 2.0 spec controllers so they should get 500MB/s, I realize that's only the badwidth for one SATAIII drive, but it's at least better than SATAII.
 

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It's a well-known fact that PCI Express in P55/H55/H57/Q57 (and all mobile versions too) is compliant with v2.0 but the bandwidth is the same as v1.1. (The reason is likely to be the limited bandwidth of DMI, which will be fixed in Sandy Bridge.)


The following mb


- All ASUS P7P55D-E mb (except for the vanilla P7P55D-E)

- GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD7

- MSI P55-GD85

- ASRock P55 Deluxe3


have a PLX PCI Express switch to avoid this issue (although the actual performance improvement is in question). One of NEC/Marvell chips can be connected to CPU directly in the following mb (when one of PCI Express x8 links is not occupied, or via BIOS):


- ASUS P7P55D-E

- All GIGABYTE P55A mb except for UD7


LGA1156 introduced this silly complication because of the lack of enough PCI Express 2.x lanes in full bandwidth (only 16 lanes connected to CPU). Both LGA1366 chip and AMD 7 Series chipset are good in this point (the former has 36 PCI Express 2.0 lanes, the latter has 38 [RD790]/22 [Rx780] lanes). BTW AMD 8 Series chipset to be released this March supports SATA 6Gbps natively (ahead of Sandy Bridge).
 

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I would advise the i5 with integrated GPU. It can handle just about everything you would ever want for a HTPC outside of heavy gaming. . Why mess around with another GPU until you actually need/want it.


You don't need 3rd party cooling solution as the included heatsink/fan from intel is pretty quiet. Also, I wouldn't bother with USB3.0. You may want it but you certainly don't need it. It's like saying I would love to have an nvidia 280gtx but you just don't need it outside of gaming.


Also for anyone getting arcsoft TMT3 - I would highly recommend that you buy the download from Newegg. It's about $40 cheaper than from arcsoft directly.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by anthem /forum/post/18145638


I would advise the i5 with integrated GPU. It can handle just about everything you would ever want for a HTPC outside of heavy gaming. . Why mess around with another GPU until you actually need/want it.


Also, I wouldn't bother with USB3.0. You may want it but you certainly don't need it. It's like saying I would love to have an nvidia 280gtx but you just don't need it outside of gaming.

Why i5 over i3? i3 is enough for HTPC.


USB 3.0 external HDD enclosure is already available. USB 3.0 may take place of eSATA. (I don't know if he needs it or not, of course.)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/18145720


Why i5 over i3? i3 is enough for HTPC.


USB 3.0 external HDD enclosure is already available. USB 3.0 may take place of eSATA. (I don't know if he needs it or not, of course.)

Actually not much difference. The i3 is more than capable for most as well. I prefer the i5 as its more 'in-line' with the rest of the nehalem class cpu's. I think from a media/htpc point of view the only difference is the turbo boost and slightly faster clock speed over the i3. Neither of which are critical - especially since the turbo boost is so minimal and would only come into play for say something like encoding. . From a commercial point of view, the i5 is capable of virtualization which I doubt most home users would use.


USB3.0 while starting to come out, just isn't necessary from a bandwidth point of view. Not only from the bridge/transfer limitations - but from a htpc, you just aren't going to have those as limitations on a htpc (for 99.9% of people). Now, if you're trying to hang drives and build a media server using usb3.0 - then yeah - they might come into play but there are better ways for slicing that cat. ..
 

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Yup, paying $63+ more for Core i5 for HTPC use is a stupid idea, IMO (unless you find a really good deal).


Quote:
USB3.0 while starting to come out, just isn't necessary from a bandwidth point of view.

Necessary or not depends on the usage (not on your opinion, needless to say
). In external enclosure the difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 is HUGE. I have already seen in *this* forum quite a few people want USB 3.0. Not everybody fits in the "pure HTPC+media server" scheme. Again I don't know about the op, of course.
 
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