All About Building An HTPC (MoBo, CPU, Cards, Other Gear, Software) - Page 11 - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #151 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-06, 10:16 PM
 
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So do you think I would benefit from a seperate video card if my plan is solely for video file playback via DVI or HDMI? I am trying to keep the system pretty low in cost but I also want a system that is somewhere in the middle in terms of performance. Not the worst but not the best either (since the best usually costs $$$$).

Between these 2 motherboards is it worth it for me to get something that has a direct HDMI output or am I fine to go with the less expensive one with the DVI output and run a DVI-HDMI adapter?

ASUS M2A-VM mATX AM2 AMD 690G DDR2 PCI-E16 PCI-E1 2PCI Video VGA DVI Sound Motherboard

Vs

ASUS M2A-VM HDMI mATX AM2 AMD 690G DDR2 PCI-E16 PCI-E1 2PCI Video HDMI Sound Motherboard

So after more reading and a few changes here is what ive arrived at now. I removed the seperate video card and sound card for now since I dont think I will need either of them right away. I also changed the Ram to the Patriot Extreme as they are a little bit less than the OCZ. I changed the HD to the WD 320GB SATA2 as it is cheaper than the seagate I had originally and from what I read WD is quieter generally than seagate.

-Antec NSK2400 New Solution mATX Desktop Case 2X5.25 2X3.5INT 380W ATX12V V2.0 Silver Black

-Samsung SH-S203B Black SATA DVD+RW 20X8X16 DVD-RW 20X6X16 DL 18X/12X INT DVD Writer OEM W/ Vista SW

-D-LINK DFE-538TX 10/100 ETHERNET ADAPTER PCI

-AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Dual Core Processor Socket AM2 Brisbane 2.3GHZ 2X512KB 65NM 65W Retail Box

-ASUS M2A-VM HDMI mATX AM2 AMD 690G DDR2 PCI-E16 PCI-E1 2PCI Video HDMI Sound Motherboard

-Patriot Extreme Performance 2GB 2X1GB PC2-6400 DDR2-800 CL4-4-4-12 Dual Channel Memory Kit

-Western Digital SE16 320GB SATA2 7200RPM 16MB 8.9MS Hard Drive OEM 3 Year MFR Warranty

TV - Samsung HLR5064W, Gaming Console - Ps2 w/chip and component cables, Cable Provider - Rogers STB - SA3250HD

Last edited by Stealth1; 2007-10-06 at 10:59 PM.
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post #152 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-07, 02:20 AM
 
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quote Wayne IMHO MyMovies is the best playback option. It integrates beautifully into MCE - sure there are other players but most of them aren't that easy to integrate into the whole MCE experience. It also is very nice in downloading the DVD cover artwork, and lots of metadata about the movie. It integrates well with TheaterTek.

As far as ripping I use DVDShrink to rip to hard drive and AutoGK to convert to DivX or XviD.



Quick question: Can you configure MCE and My Movies to load ripped ISO files into Daemon tools so that theatretek will playback the movie. Or does the movie have to be ripped in file mode only?
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post #153 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-07, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blatch13 View Post
Quick question: Can you configure MCE and My Movies to load ripped ISO files into Daemon tools so that theatretek will playback the movie. Or does the movie have to be ripped in file mode only?
I don't think so - I generally rip in file mode - i.e. creating the VIDEO_TS folder with all of the files. You can then point My Movies to this folder and it will play the movie back.
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post #154 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-07, 11:27 AM Thread Starter
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Stealth1

The only benefits for an HTPC to have HDMI is for the smallness of the connector/cable and that you can (On some mobos) get your audio in the cable.

Now, there are other alternatives to the ASUS boards. Sapphire produces a couple of really nice competitors that are based on the same chipset. Gigabyte also has a nice one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth1
I also changed the Ram to the Patriot Extreme as they are a little bit less than the OCZ.
In reality, for an HTPC, it is a waste to use anything more than DDR2-667 and generic at that. If you feel you need to spend the extra on the more exotic stuff, then go ahead but it is overkill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth1
D-LINK DFE-538TX 10/100 ETHERNET ADAPTER PCI
Why are you getting a NIC? All of the boards that you are looking at have Gigabit cards that cover all your needs (10/100/1000).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth1
I changed the HD to the WD 320GB SATA2 as it is cheaper than the seagate I had originally and from what I read WD is quieter generally than seagate.
Believe it or not, the best drives for silence and generally good overall performance, is Samsung. They are consistently the quietest drives by far and are typically middle of the pack or better for performance. They are also not prone to failure as bad as they were way back 7 - 8 years ago. Most of the drives I use are Samsung (3 Sam, 3 Hitachi, 2 Max and 2 Western) and I have had no issues.
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post #155 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-07, 12:29 PM
 
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Indeed, if you are relaying sound by any other means than HDMI, the DVI has the advantage of actually screwing in and less chance of getting knocked loose.

As for on-board GPU vs discrete card, if money is tight start with the AMD 690g chipset. If you get the urge to game on that thing later, or are unsatisfied, you can always buy a GPU later. The price of graphics cards can only go in one direction: down.

As for the memory ddr2-667 is fine as stated, and even 5-5-5-12 memory will do. Due to a quirk of the A64 AM2 memory controller, your ddr2-800 wil actually run a bit slower, so don't sweat the speed issue.

Last edited by mr_raider; 2007-10-07 at 12:34 PM.
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post #156 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-07, 01:14 PM
 
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In terms of the motherboards, im trying not to get too confused because there are so many options and all this LGA775, AM2 etc is confusing to me because I am not sure what the differences are.

If this board (ASUS M2A-VM mATX AM2 AMD 690G DDR2 PCI-E16 PCI-E1 2PCI Video VGA DVI Sound Motherboard) will do then I will go with that. The HDMI version is like $15 more, I would personally rather just run 1 HDMI cable from the PC to my TV instead of having a DVI cable and whatever I would need to run audio from the PC to the TV if I went with the DVI version. Now if there is another board in around the same price range ($90ish without taxes) from another company that has improvements over this board I currently have on the list please let me know what it is.

For the RAM the Patriot extreme 2GB is like $60 after rebates, seems like a pretty decent deal to me and with all the options it is very difficult to sift through and find DDR2-667 2GB. Also I am not sure what the differences between say PC2-6400 and PC2-4200 are so I am not sure if there is a specific sub-category I should be looking in for RAM.

Thought I needed an ethernet card but if I dont then thats great, have removed it from my list...thanks for the heads up .

The only Samsung I can find is ATA100 which I dont think works with SATA Motherboards, am I wrong?

The only thing I am really not sure of is the CPU, have I chosen the right one and is it good enough, overkill or not good enough for what I want to do?

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Dual Core Processor Socket AM2 Brisbane 2.3GHZ 2X512KB 65NM 65W Retail Box

TV - Samsung HLR5064W, Gaming Console - Ps2 w/chip and component cables, Cable Provider - Rogers STB - SA3250HD
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post #157 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-07, 05:21 PM
 
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It's a good board. Stick with it. If the memory is 60$ for both, that's a good deal.

That CPU is good. Is it overkill? Maybe. However, if you ever decide to put in an ATSC tuner and start to record HD streams, the more CPU headroom you have the better. Also, the faster the CPU, the faster your encodes to divx from mpeg. IIRC there' barely 50$ separating the 1.9GHz Brisbanes from the 2.4GHz ones.
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post #158 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-07, 11:46 PM
 
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I have actually decided to switch the RAM for some DDR2-667 Crucial Rendition 1Gig x 2. From reading many have had issues with DDR2-800 RAM and some of the higher end ram didnt work well with the Mobo. Has anyone experienced issues with audio using the HDMI output on the Mobo I have in question. Would I benefit at all from running 4 sticks of ram (4gig) vs. just the 2 im planning to run. Any benefits in terms of movie playback etc?

In your opinion should I just get a wireless keyboard/mouse setup for navigating or should I also get the Microsoft remote that is available aswell.

TV - Samsung HLR5064W, Gaming Console - Ps2 w/chip and component cables, Cable Provider - Rogers STB - SA3250HD
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post #159 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-08, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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There is little, if any, benefit of 4 GB on XP.

As for the keyboard, take note that there are other options. BTC and Gyration make alternatives that are RF and not IR based. I use BTC for both my systema and am happy. Of course, my HTPCs are nothing but HTPCs. They are not for active web browsing or for gaming so I do not need an exceedingly fancy keyboard/mouse solution.
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post #160 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-08, 10:12 AM
 
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To be more specific, XP can only address 3.25gigs of RAM. To fully access 4 gigs, you need a 64-bit OS (LInux, Xp-64bit, or Vista 64), and I wouldn't touch the last two at this stage.
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post #161 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-08, 11:14 PM
 
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Ok, thanks for all of the input, looks like now i just need to pull the trigger and order the parts and put the setup together. Once that is done I will probably be asking more questions in regards to software, tweaking the system etc.

TV - Samsung HLR5064W, Gaming Console - Ps2 w/chip and component cables, Cable Provider - Rogers STB - SA3250HD
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post #162 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-09, 01:08 AM
 
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Not sure if this is the right place to ask but more than likely will I require something like PowerStrip to get a proper screen size setup via HDMI on my 50" DLP?

Also my main reason for building an HTPC is instead of wasting 4 hours taking an avi video file which has been compressed from what it originally was and then having nero encode it and burn it to a DVD and have all these dvd's lieing around I would rather have a simple computer to have the files on and be able to play them from there. Will there be a noticeable difference in quality of the picture between playing a downloaded avi video file from an HTPC via HDMI to my DLP vs. the same video burnt to a DVD ? I always seem to have black crush issues and the picture doesnt ever look as good as I would think it should so these are the main reasons I want to venture into HTPC territory. I am concerned though that I will need to find files that are in VIDEO_TS format rather than the usual .avi which are very common and easy to find/download.

TV - Samsung HLR5064W, Gaming Console - Ps2 w/chip and component cables, Cable Provider - Rogers STB - SA3250HD

Last edited by Stealth1; 2007-10-09 at 01:15 AM.
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post #163 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-11, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth1
Not sure if this is the right place to ask but more than likely will I require something like PowerStrip to get a proper screen size setup via HDMI on my 50" DLP?
Very unlikely that you will need this. The alignment issues are only with component connections to TVs. There were only DVI/HDMI alignment issues back a couple of years ago. From all that I have read and experienced, this is a thing of the past.

To your question on video playback, if there is no data there, then there is little that can be done (Black crush). However, an HTPC with a good NVidia or ATI card is (short of some special circumstances) the very best upscaling or down scaling video output device you can have.

The special circumstances are:
  • Using a $5000 Silicon Graphics based video processor.
  • Using a PS3 for DVD playback.

As for my personal experience, a good DivX file of an HD show still looks better than the SD or DVD equivalent.
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post #164 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-12, 12:45 AM
 
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Building HTPC

Hello,

Like many others I'm thinking of building a HTPC.

I've built desktops before, but it's been a while, and I'm not quite up to date on all that's available.

First off, I already have a PVR, so I'm not looking to use it for recording tv. At least not off the bat, perhaps a Tuner card upgrade down the road.

Basically I'm electronically lazy, I have quite a few DVD movies 200+, which I don't usually watch because I'm too lazy to go get it and put it in the dvd player. So I'm looking to transfer the majority of my movies to the HTPC. This will require quite a lot of storage, so I figure I should start there.

To sum up
Two main questions I'm not quite sure of yet.

q1: what O/S is best for a HTPC? my desktop is XP home, labtop Vista.
q2: Storage, RAID?

What I'm looking for in my HTPC:
1. Lots of Storage(at least 1 terabyte)
1: used for DVD and multimedia storage, and playback
2. Quite
3. Upgradeable for Tuner, and HD (DVD's and Broadcasts)
4. Controlled using Harmony 880 remote(if possible)
5. Aesthetically Pleasing Case

Display for the HTPC is a Panasonic 37" HDTV.
HTPC will be stored on a open ended Stand(glass, not enclosed)

Any tips to help me get started would be great,

Thanks
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post #165 of 340 (permalink) Old 2007-10-12, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
q1: what O/S is best for a HTPC? my desktop is XP home, labtop Vista.
Really, the best route(s) is/are XP with Sage or Beyond or XP Media Center 2005.

Quote:
q2: Storage, RAID?
RAID is not a terribly good idea for the average user even if you are not average. A good idea that I am about to pursue (as are several others here) is a dedicated PC/Server that runs the new Windows Home Server operating system. WHS allows for much easier expansion of server storage space than any other setup that has been out in the past. From there, you build a thin client PC that has the appropriate amount of video horsepower but does not need gobs of storage space for itself.

I would target using 500 GB drives as they are now the best price/storage value out there and would allow a fair amount of storage in a PC case that holds a large # of drives. If you can hunt down one of those chen ming type cases (The really tall Thermaltake/Antec cases), you can squeeze 8+ drives into them.

If you are doing up 200 DVDs and are not going to compress to DivX, then you are looking at needing 1.75 TB of space right away so you may want to look at having at least one 1 TB drive in whatever you build.

As for system components for the HTPC, the last list posted by Stealth1 is a very good place to start.
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