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Advice on building an HTPC (media) computer


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10 replies to this topic

#1 elsmandino

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 03:30 PM

Hello.

I am building an HTPC, which has got to be quiet and efficient. It will not be used for gaming, but has to be capable of producing full 1080p picture quality/playing blu-ray.

The computeris going to be plugged into my tv in the lounge and I eventually intend to wire cat6 all over my house, via a gigabyte router - so I can stream live or recorded tv to two other televisions via media extenders.

I also have a sat dish with twin lnb and an external aerial, so the computer has got to be capable (in the unlikely event) of recording two channels, whilst allowing live tv to be watched in the living room as well as streaming a recording to one of the media extenders all at the same time - this will not happen very often, but probably will happen eventually.

The computer is going to be used as a replacement for my DVR, so it needs to come out of sleep mode properly and come on automatically to record and return to S3 afterwards.

My specs are as follows:

Mobo: ?? - Nvidia board with onboard graphics and e-sata (decided against a 785G board, due to current problems with ATI graphics drivers
and BBC HD)
CPU: Athlon II X2 240
Modular PSU: Corsair 450 HX
HDD: F3 1TB Spinpoint (Paritioned) - or possibly 1TB Eco Green, but possibly 5,400 rpm too slow for mutliple streams?
Operating System: Windows 7 32-bit, using MCE as the front end
Case: Antec Fusion Remote Max
Optical Drive: LG Blu-Ray
RAM: 2x2GB of RAM (brand and speed undecided)
TV Tuner card: Black Gold BGT3595 (apparently coming out next month)

I would be very grateful for your recommendations on a decent Nvidia board that will be fit my purposes and your general comments on the build.

Many thanks

A

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#2 RTCTech1

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 03:53 PM

For your mother board, take a look at this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16813128384
It has incredible FSB for faster processor delivery.

Also, With your Hard Drive situation. I don't know your budget, but if you're going to be putting a lot of media on there (and plan on NOT losing it all) consider a RAID array. Preferably RAID10 as it will give you more redundancy and faster seek time. And choose wisely, get yourself a big enough hard drive it will last for a few years. i would recommend (once again i don't know your budget) 4 2TB drives for the RAID10 config. Giving you a total of 4 GB of storage and having thoes other 2 as redundant drives.

As for your wanting to make it a DVR, Media Center will have all the tools necessary.
Take a look at this card http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hvr1600mc.html it's a dual tuner and you'll be able to record 2 shows at once using Media Center.

Hope this helps, just ask for anything else!

#3 Swordie

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 04:01 PM

I would get a 64 bit Windows 7 Edition to utilize the full effect of 4GB RAM, that is unless the programs your possibly using will be only 32 Bit support.
Who said I couldn't have everything?

#4 elsmandino

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 06:20 PM

Thanks very much for the advice. Unfortunately, many brits are avoiding ati graphics for media builds at them moments because they do not seem to work properly with HD BBC and the problem is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. The mobo suggested looked great - could you perhaps suggest an equivalent spec nvidia board with onboard graphics?

Also, how are the rest of the components I have suggested for my build. Do you think the suggested CPU is up to what I am trying to achieve?

Thanks again

A

#5 Swordie

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 06:26 PM

If your budget can allow, I'd jump it up to a quad core. Although your not gaming, a quad core will allow you to handle processes alot more smoothly. Perhaps a AMD Phenom X4?
Who said I couldn't have everything?

#6 elsmandino

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 06:57 PM

Good call - hadn't really considered a quad core. In terms of extra heat and energy use, what is the difference between the AMD Phenom X4 and the Athlon II X2 240?

#7 Swordie

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 07:03 PM

2 more cores= 2 times the amount of performance it can deliver. There are many types of Phenoms, if you pick a mid class 2.66 ghz, you would have 11.3 ghz total. As for a AMD Athlon, you might have a 4.6-5.0 ghz total.

The energy consumption is not too much in difference, I believe one is 45 W and the other is 60 W.
Who said I couldn't have everything?

#8 DJBPace07

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 09:42 PM

AMD systems don't use FSB so that isn't an issue. They use HyperTransport. Also, you don't need RAID in an HTPC. Quad cores can work well, assuming, of course your applications can use all four cores, which many cannot. A quad core will be overkill here, in my opinion. The problems related to using ATI or NVidia may come from how drivers handle the media input. I assume you're in the U.K. since you mentioned the BBC. You can use any graphics card with any motherboard. The exception to this lies with using Crossfire or SLI, but a HTPC shouldn't be using those anyway. If you want to use on-board NVidia graphics, the MSI NF750-G55 nForce 750a SLI Socket AM3 will work. Use that with DDR3 memory like the OCZ 4GB Kit (2x2GB) DDR3 1333MHz/PC3-10666 Gold Dual Channel CL and you will be set. Also, the GHz. in multicore processors do not stack, so if you have a quad core CPU with 2GHz. in each core, you don't have 8GHz. Instructions are processed only as fast as the core processing them. Also, not all programs can use all four cores, limiting them to one or two. In this type of situation, clock speed will play an important factor in performance since one or more cores aren't in use.

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#9 PlyPencil

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 06:43 AM

I recommend looking at this site http://www.kustompcs.co.uk/ it is where I built my one from. If you would like the specs just PM me.

#10 DJBPace07

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Posted 27 September 2009 - 05:45 PM

That reminds me of Newegg but for the UK. It seems quite extensive.

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#11 PlyPencil

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 12:33 PM

Oh yes I forgot its UK only :S sorry.




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