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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, after browsing this forum yesterday and using Plex the past week on my mac, I've become very interested in building my own HTPC. This is a very preliminary interest however, because I'm not quite sure how much it would cost to build.


The main things I would be doing with it:
  • Watching and ripping Blurays
  • Downloading media from the web
  • Hookup to my 47" 1080p Vizio LEDTV
  • Install Plex as my media player
  • Use computer as a media server
  • Run it through my new HT-C6600 home theater system via HDMI



Can anyone help me in estimating about how much this could cost me, the parts I would need, etc? I'm not looking to spend too much...which is why this is probably a pipe dream.


EDIT: Per assassin's tip, I'd be looking to spend around $300.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin /forum/post/20773847


Before people spend time helping you this needs to be specified in a dollar amount.

Thanks for the tip assassin.


I would say I'd be looking to spend something around $300.

I'll update that in my OP.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pman555 /forum/post/20773857


Thanks for the tip assassin.


I would say I'd be looking to spend something around $300.

I'll update that in my OP.

Well windows alone is $100 so you are looking at $200 if you want to build this yourself.


I think you are going to have to increase your budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin /forum/post/20773865


Well windows alone is $100 so you are looking at $200 if you want to build this yourself.


I think you are going to have to increase your budget.

Wow, I didnt even think about the OS. As you can tell, I'm definitely a beginner in this field. Maybe I'll have to spread out the part purchasing over a couple of months...


I know you're an expert, seeing some of your posts on this forum, but is this something that someone who has never built a computer, can do? I've replaced hard drives, RAM, etc. but never built a full computer from the ground up.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pman555 /forum/post/20773885


Wow, I didnt even think about the OS. As you can tell, I'm definitely a beginner in this field. Maybe I'll have to spread out the part purchasing over a couple of months...


I know you're an expert, seeing some of your posts on this forum, but is this something that someone who has never built a computer, can do? I've replaced hard drives, RAM, etc. but never built a full computer from the ground up.

Absolutely. The hardware building is actually the easy part. There are a ton of you tube video guides and online guides. I also have a link to a very good online building guide in my faq.
 

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What you are looking to do can all be easily done (though not sure if Plex is a windows software, I'd recomend Mediabrowser). However, $300 is a very unrealistic budget, especially if you plan on ripping Blu ray as you are going to eat through HDD's quickly. I think $500 is more reasonable for the Hardware, and then a couple hundred more on software, if you don't already have it.


My recommendation is always to separate storage from playback, so if you have another PC you can setup as a basic file server, you will be better off than trying to cram too many disks in your playback machine, especially if you want to get an HTPC style case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by davdev /forum/post/20774040


What you are looking to do can all be easily done (though not sure if Plex is a windows software, I'd recomend Mediabrowser). However, $300 is a very unrealistic budget, especially if you plan on ripping Blu ray as you are going to eat through HDD's quickly. I think $500 is more reasonable for the Hardware, and then a couple hundred more on software, if you don't already have it.


My recommendation is always to separate storage from playback, so if you have another PC you can setup as a basic file server, you will be better off than trying to cram too many disks in your playback machine, especially if you want to get an HTPC style case.

Yikes, well I dont have another PC to use for storage. I just have a Macbook Pro that I'm using now to hook up to my TV. Plex is windows capable as well as mac, but I'm open to trying Mediabrowswer.


Maybe the ripping of blurays is an unrealistic goal. I guess that is more of a luxury.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by davdev /forum/post/20774040


My recommendation is always to separate storage from playback, so if you have another PC you can setup as a basic file server, you will be better off than trying to cram too many disks in your playback machine, especially if you want to get an HTPC style case.

Why? You can easily get a case that can house multiple hard drives. Not everyone has a setup for separate storage like a wired high speed network.


I just made a mini-ITX build that can house a ssd and up to 3 hard drives. The temps are in the 40-45 C range and it is a compact unit.


I think if you are on a tight budget going with 2 PCs (a HTPC and a server) is not the best advice.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pman555 /forum/post/20773885


Maybe I'll have to spread out the part purchasing over a couple of months...

Actually, a few months ago when I was thinking of buying parts on sale over a couple of months prior to when I would have time to actually build the system someone, I think it was Assassin, gave me some good advice which I will pass on. Don't buy parts too far in advance, especially things like the CPU, PSU, RAM and motherboard. In case you are unfortunate enough to get a bad one, the return times most places tend to range from 2 weeks to a month. So, it's a good idea to wait until you are sure you will be able to sit down and assemble it within 2 weeks or so of when you start buying parts. (Also, rebates, if you have any, tend to have short fuses and you usually have to cut a bar code out of a box or package. Since they won't take them back after you've done that, it's a good idea to make sure the part works first.)


(Obviously some things like a case without PSU don't present much risk.)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pman555 /forum/post/20773885


I know you're an expert, seeing some of your posts on this forum, but is this something that someone who has never built a computer, can do? I've replaced hard drives, RAM, etc. but never built a full computer from the ground up.

I just built an HTPC, and it was the first computer I've built. Assassin even called me brave for doing my first build in a small, cramped case. Honestly, it was a cake walk. I took my time, and it didn't take more than a couple hours. There's no need to be intimidated by the build.
 

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My take on an HTPC is that 95% of the difficulty is with software and getting the thing to do what you want it to do. You have that problem whether you buy or build (unless you happen to buy a fully configured HTPC such as from Assassin, but those are few and far between).


Actually assembling the hardware and installing the OS is a piece of cake. At that point you are at the same position as if you bought a Dell or HP (but have a better pc with the parts you actually need and want and that you better understand and is not loaded with bloatware). From that point forward your task is the same either way.


Actually assembling a PC in this day of plug-and-play and Windows standard drivers, and no interrupts, no IDE, no "master/slave" or other dip switch settings to worry about, no .bat files, etc. etc. etc. is, it seems to me, easier than it's ever been.
 

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On the topic of budget...


I wanted everything to be under $1,000. I'm now over $1,800
Granted, this is everything I need to completely ditch Charter Cable (elaborate antenna setup in attic, rewiring of all rooms, PC parts, software, cables, etc.)


Things just sneak up on you. Like, "Aww crap, I forgot this cable, or this adapter."


As far as building the PC, it is fairly straightforward. There are a few "gotchas" though. I received all of my parts last night, and the system was completely built, and Windows 7 was completely updated all in less than 30 minutes (thanks SSD). I do have over 20 years experience building these things though. But with the amount of knowledge out there you should run into little to no problems.
 

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I am probably in the minority on this opinion, but you can get an off lease business pc with a 2.4-ish Core 2 Duo processor that has been refurbished for $180-$300. A lot of those machines would have a desktop form factor case, which would sit in an entertainment center a bit easier.


Ive seen used Dell pcs with processors like the e6550 (2.3ghz) for under $200 on ebay. Add a video card, bluray drive, and maybe an extra hard drive and you have everything you need.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 /forum/post/20774506


I am probably in the minority on this opinion, but you can get an off lease business pc with a 2.4-ish Core 2 Duo processor that has been refurbished for $180-$300. A lot of those machines would have a desktop form factor case, which would sit in an entertainment center a bit easier.


Ive seen used Dell pcs with processors like the e6550 (2.3ghz) for under $200 on ebay. Add a video card, bluray drive, and maybe an extra hard drive and you have everything you need.

I guess the question is whether you actually consider that adequate. Admittedly, on a secondary HDTV setup I am actually using an old 3.0 ghz Pentium D Dell Optiplex. But at the same time I'm just awaiting a case to build a system to replace an E6550 system because it's too slow and outdated for use as my wife's desktop.


Would that E6550 system work for simple streaming of online content and for playing DVD and BD disks? Sure, with a new video card. That old Optiplex is perfect for Amazon VOD, ESPN3, etc. But would I use the E6550 unit as my main HTPC on which I wanted to do any recording or encoding or ripping? No, I wouldn't. I mean, it's probably the equal of or or better than an Atom, but then I wouldn't buy an Atom system either. Maybe that old E6550 system can be repurposed as a server.


I already had a Windows 7 upgrade pack laying around and only spent $30 on a 5450 GPU in order to repurpose that old Optiplex. $30 to continue to use a system that otherwise would be collecting dust in the basement is great. But it already had an adequate hard disk and 3gb of RAM. On the other hand, I'm not sure it's worthwhile to spend $200 on an obsolete PC and then invest another $200 in RAM, BD drive, video card, hard disk and Windows 7. $400 is close to what you could start building a new, more capable system.


On the other hand, if you just want a streaming/surfing box to connect to your TV, you can pick up a refurbished small form factor Pentium D Optiplex for only about $100 at Micro Center.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 /forum/post/20774250


Actually, a few months ago when I was thinking of buying parts on sale over a couple of months prior to when I would have time to actually build the system someone, I think it was Assassin, gave me some good advice which I will pass on. Don't buy parts too far in advance, especially things like the CPU, PSU, RAM and motherboard. In case you are unfortunate enough to get a bad one, the return times most places tend to range from 2 weeks to a month. So, it's a good idea to wait until you are sure you will be able to sit down and assemble it within 2 weeks or so of when you start buying parts. (Also, rebates, if you have any, tend to have short fuses and you usually have to cut a bar code out of a box or package. Since they won't take them back after you've done that, it's a good idea to make sure the part works first.)


(Obviously some things like a case without PSU don't present much risk.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by dankev /forum/post/20774413


I just built an HTPC, and it was the first computer I've built. Assassin even called me brave for doing my first build in a small, cramped case. Honestly, it was a cake walk. I took my time, and it didn't take more than a couple hours. There's no need to be intimidated by the build.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 /forum/post/20774485


My take on an HTPC is that 95% of the difficulty is with software and getting the thing to do what you want it to do. You have that problem whether you buy or build (unless you happen to buy a fully configured HTPC such as from Assassin, but those are few and far between).


Actually assembling the hardware and installing the OS is a piece of cake. At that point you are at the same position as if you bought a Dell or HP (but have a better pc with the parts you actually need and want and that you better understand and is not loaded with bloatware). From that point forward your task is the same either way.


Actually assembling a PC in this day of plug-and-play and Windows standard drivers, and no interrupts, no IDE, no "master/slave" or other dip switch settings to worry about, no .bat files, etc. etc. etc. is, it seems to me, easier than it's ever been.

Great advice.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 /forum/post/20774506


Add a video card, bluray drive, and maybe an extra hard drive and you have everything you need.

Video card with 3D: $50

Hard Drive: $50

Bluray Drive: $60


Not a whole lot cheaper for relatively antiquated parts.
 

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The other thing to consider is how much aggravation you are causing by trying to save a little bit of money. For me, if it's slow, or loud or doesn't play things smoothly, then what's the point?


You'll be very hard pressed to do it right for less than $500+OS honestly.


As I understand it though, you can put Plex on an Apple TV 2, which is $99. Then you wouldn't need anything with any real power to act as your media server.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by DravenGSX /forum/post/20774776


The other thing to consider is how much aggravation you are causing by trying to save a little bit of money. For me, if it's slow, or loud or doesn't play things smoothly, then what's the point?


You'll be very hard pressed to do it right for less than $500+OS honestly.


As I understand it though, you can put Plex on an Apple TV 2, which is $99. Then you wouldn't need anything with any real power to act as your media server.

I was just thinking about the Apple TV2 and putting plex on it...but really that would only serve as a $100 shortcut to physically plugging my macbook pro into my TV.


What I want is another computer to handle my video downloading, streaming, storage, etc. I think I might bite the bullet and spend the $500 or so on a decent HTPC build.
 
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