Help me Build New HTPC (Post here to discuss plans for new HTPC) - Page 7 - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #91 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-18, 10:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by que3jxp View Post


If he is going to stick with Linux this may not be a good idea. There is better support for NVidia in Linux.
Indeed. If that is the case, than an equivalent nvidia card with proper HD acceleration would be the way to go. Maybe one of the 8600s would in his price range if he trims a little on the PSU and mobo.
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post #92 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-20, 08:27 AM
 
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Hey everyone,

I'm looking at building an HTPC in the near future, but my problem is that I never know what I need to buy to make it usuable. Basically whenever I price one out I pick highend parts that I probably don't need.

So my question is, what is the lowest cpu, ram, etc that can be used for an HTPC which I'd want to use for SD channels, HD channels, and Blue-Ray DVDs, and then general internet surfing.

This would really help me out in finding out what kind of price I'm looking at.

Thanks!

Dave.
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post #93 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-20, 08:35 AM
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Trying to find the "lowest" powered system is a dangerous game because if you are right on the edge you end up fighting the instability ghost.

Since you included BluRay then you will need something relatively reasonably powered. The "problem" with an HTPC is that there are so many ways for you to get there (MB options, CPU options, graphics options) that there is no single correct answer.
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post #94 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-20, 12:46 PM
 
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jvincent,

Ya, I wouldnt be looking for the lowest powered option, I was looking for more of a starting point, so that I know I need something better then X.

I'm thinking my best bet is to try to find someone who will build me a HTPC, and someone who is very knowledgable in HTPCs, and won't mind helping someone like me. Any suggestions? I'm going to take a look in some other threads on here, just thought I'd ask since we were on topic.

Thanks!

Dave.
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post #95 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-20, 12:59 PM
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First off, if you put your location in your user CP it will be helpful.

The only drawback to getting a pre-built one is that you are "stuck" with the configuration they choose for you. In my case, I built mine so that it's main function (DVD playback) is completely controlled by my remote. That particular configuration is specific to my setup and might not work for you.

In terms of what you need, anything that would be considered "mid-range" on the performance curve should be fine if you get a card that support H/W acceleration for BluRay.

It's always a moving target though. There's a new MB coming out soon (AMD 780 based) with embedded graphics that allows acceleration of BluRay so you could in theory build a sweet HTPC without the need for a graphics card.
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post #96 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-20, 03:23 PM
 
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Sorry about that, as you can now see I'm in Burlington, ON. So, can anyone suggest a good place in the area (Ill drive out of town if necessary, but not too far) that has real experience building HTPC's. I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks!
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post #97 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-20, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvincent
The "problem" with an HTPC is that there are so many ways for you to get there (MB options, CPU options, graphics options) that there is no single correct answer.
This issue has frustrated me for a while. I have been thinking hard on what I may be able to draft up to help people with the general selection process and I believe I am on the verge and may soon have something decent to post.
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post #98 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-20, 11:50 PM
 
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Ok, so I've been doing a lot of research, I havent chosen a case, motherboard, etc yet, but I think I would be going with a nVidia 8800GTS, and a quad-core Intel chip, combined with 3GB RAM and 750GB HDD. The 8800GTS because it has HDMI, which I'd rather have then not have. I might drop the chip to a dual core for price reasons, but this is a starting point.

Any comments/suggestions/questions?

I actually have three. I've read that nVidia's PureVideo HD is very good at upscaling DVDs and SD TV, any experiences with this?

Is there any need for PurceVideo Decorder? What does this do?

Now for audio... do I need to get a reciever? Or is there an audio card, etc that can be put in the HTPC?

Thanks for everything, seriously this is a huge learning experience for me. THANKS!
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post #99 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-21, 09:39 AM
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A couple of comments.

An 8800GTS is overkill unless you plan on gaming. I can't remember the support matrix but there are other cards that will accelerate HD that can be had for much cheaper.

Same goes for the quad core. One of the newer dual-core should be more than enough power.

PureVideo is a brand that Nvidia wraps around their more recent drivers and some applications. The decoder is the product which actually plays back DVDs, MPEG files, etc. It uses the PureVideo features of the drivers. Depending on what playback S/W you use it can usually be configured use the PureVideo decoders.

Playback of DVDs using PureVideo decoders/drivers is very good.

What is the rest of your HT like for audio? Depending on what you have, there are a few different options you can use for audio.
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post #100 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-21, 10:42 AM
 
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jvincent,

I know the 8800GTS is overkill, but I picked it because it has HDMI. I originally was thinking of the 8600GT, which is cheaper, and apparently is very good for SD upscaling, which is what I want, but no HDMI. Is there another way to have HDMI output that I don't know about? For instance, can it come from another component that will combine audio and video?

I'd rather be safe then sorry with the CPU, and I think I can fit the quad-core in if I go with the 8600GT instead of the 8800GTS. Also, the idea of having a quad-core sounds good to me, haha.

Ok, so just so I understand. Purevideo/PurevideoHD is what does alot of the upscaling, the Purevideo Decoder is what will work with VMC to allow for the videos to actually play? I'm assuming its a seamless integration, meaning I don't have to use anything outside of VMC.

As for the audio section, I'm building everything from scratch (moving to my first place), so I can go any route with audio, visual, etc. Just comes down to what I like, and what I can afford. Looking for a medium range system across the board really.

Thanks for all your help. I'm slowly learning how things go together.

Dave
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post #101 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-21, 10:49 AM
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Do you want the HDMI to also carry audio? If not then any video card with a DVI interface is sufficient. All you need is a DVI to HDMI cable. You just need to be careful about HDCP compliant vs compatible.

Technically the videocard/driver combination does the scaling based on whatever resolution you have. I'm not a MediaCenter guys so I assume there is a way to have it use the Nvidia decoders.

Right now getting the newer HD audio formats out an HTPC is actually kind of hard. I haven't done my research yet but from what I have read so far none (?) of the video card HDMI solutions support it. Some of the newer MBs with integrated HDMI do but give that the playback solutions (PowerDVD) are still somewhat new that's not unexpected.

S/PDIF output to a receiver is probably your best bet for the time being unless you want to get a soundcard with 7.1 analog output and connect that to a receiver. But again, I'm not sure how well that works for HD audio output.
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post #102 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-21, 12:03 PM
 
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I'm looking long and hard at the back of my BFG 8800GTS 512MB and see only two dvi's and a component out. No HDMI here. You would need a DVI to HDMI cable, but virtually all modern GPUs have DVI.
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post #103 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-21, 02:39 PM
 
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mr_raider, I must have either misread, or misunderstood what I read. I thought I read that it did have HDMI in an article I read in another thread. Sorry.

So I've been laying out some parts of the HTPC, and I picked a geforce 8600GT, but now the 9600GT has just been released. I know its new, but any comments on which is better? I understand then 9600GT will be under $200. Maybe go to this card and drop to a dual core CPU? (just thinking outloud).

Thanks.
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post #104 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-21, 06:59 PM
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Death, taxes, a new video card every six months, these things are all certainties.

I haven't read up on the 9600 series yet but it will probably be an upgrade over the 8600. One thing to look at for HTPC use is if it is available with passive cooling. Gigabyte tends to do a good job of making passively cooled video cards.
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post #105 of 1073 (permalink) Old 2008-02-21, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canadaneedsmusi
and I picked a geforce 8600GT, but now the 9600GT has just been released. I know its new, but any comments on which is better? I understand then 9600GT will be under $200.
Actually, where there are no benchmarks or reviews of the 9600GT yet, it is an unknown quantity.

Otherwise, the actual best choice right now is the ATI Radeon HD 3650. There are versions that even have a full audio and video capable HDMI port on it.

To make a belated comment on the 8800GTX, it is NOT an HTPC card. it is a gaming card. It is not as good a choice as the 8800GT or the 8600GT as the GTX does not support PureVideoHD. On the NVidia side, that is VERY important if you are intending to play BluRay.
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