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Discussion Starter #1
Building an HTPC has long been a challenge I wanted to tackle. I wanted a system that would be able to watch/record cable, play Blu-rays and also play some games. My build:

Intel Core Duo CPU
ASUS P5Q-E
4 Gb DDR2-800
EVGA Gtx 260 Core 216
LG GBW-H20L BD-R
Enermax 625W
1 Tb Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ
Auzentech X-Fi Home Theater
Hauppauge PVR-150

Keyboard Logitech diNovo mini
Logitech Harmony One remote

Monitor/TV Samsung LN-T4761F

Stereo Amplifier: Yamaha RXV-1600 (HDMI 1.2 only)

BD software Software: PowerDVD 9 Ultra (recently upgraded to 10 Ultra)

Initially the build had Vista Ultimate in it. Everything worked fine. My video went through the X-Fi and to my TV. Since my Yamaha doesn't have HDMI 1.3, I was using SPDIF out for the sound. This made things cumbersome switching to DD Live for video games and back again for everything else. Also, the Samsung Auto-Motion Plus settings looked better when I moved out of PC mode, but then that required me resizing my desktop to less than 1920X1020, but that all worked into a routine at least.

Enter Windows 7. With all the anti-Vista hype, I purchased Windows 7 Pro 32 bit. Since then, I have successively had to contend with two things: 1: when playing a Blu-ray, the movie will stutter with a corresponding CPU spike, with the audio continuing before the picture jumps forward again. And 2: the dreaded black screen of death.

For 1: I've disabled everything. Viruses, taskbar programs, Windows Update. Doesn't work. I run ReClock in the background, didn't seem to do anything. I unchecked the certificate thing that I read about in an AVS forum. Didn't work. What would cause CPU spikes with my new system?

For 2:
I've tried the PrevX fix. Didn't work.
Sometimes my IR blaster registered as faulty (I understand that the PVR-150 isn't fully compatible with Win7), so I disable it to reboot. That doesn't work.
I tried searching for viruses (Microsoft Security Essentials), and I've done the scandisk fix. Doesn't work.

However, sometimes, it does work. I don't know what I do, but it does. The last thing I did recently from the last time it did work was update the nVidia drivers from 197.45 to 257.21. Now, nothing seems to work.

Screw it. After all the money I paid, I went out and bought a Samsung BD-C6500 for $230 at Future Shop. I guess I'll go and try a system restore later and see what happens. Until then, I'm going to watch BBC Life in the way I suppose it should be seen.

Any help or insight will be appreciated.
 

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Yes, man, forget" system restores", even disable that feature. Forget about upgrading the OS - re-install Windows 7 on a freshly formatted hard drive.
I'm pretty certain that broken video or audio drivers are the main reason for all your problems. Make sure to install the latest drivers by the manufacturer (Nvidia or ATI) right after the W7 install. Also, every time you upgrade the video drivers, run the "Uninstall all ATI software from Windows control panel (I don't know if Nvidia have something similar), reboot, and then install the new video drivers.
I'm pretty happy with Windows 7 and PowerDVD 9, no problems whatsoever.
Make sure you always download and install only the Windows 7 drivers.
Oh, forgot the most important part - the less "recommended by Internet users" codecs you have on the machine, the better. For starters, uninstall, erase and completely forget about the most useless HTPC program ever created called "ReClock". ;)
Also, Microsoft Security Essentials is more than enough protection for an HTPC, in my opinion.
 

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I "upgraded" from XP to Win7 64-bit and things have never run smoother. I say "upgraded" because it was a fresh install. The only change required was a RAM increase from 2GB to 4GB. I suspect that 2GB would have been Ok with a regular video card but the mapped video made the available RAM a little too low with paging turned off. The only codec pack installed is Codec 8.3q, which contains about half a dozen popular codecs and utilities. While that was necessary with XP I'm not sure much of it is with Win7.
 

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i wouldnt disable system restore... that is actualy an excelent feature...
I'd say, based on my personal experience - if you use it to alleviate driver problems, it acts the same as ReClock - creates an even bigger mess. You'll be much better if you don't count on them (and don't use them), and stick to clean installs and uninstalls of drivers, and never, ever install those "popular" codec packs.
The only restore I'd recommend is a full drive image.
 

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ive used it multiple times when installing incorrect drivers / progams on windows 7. i agree on xp / vista it didnt work well. but on win 7 i find it works great. but does require harddrive space
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Will reinstall

Thanks for all the informative attention, its more than I could glean from my previous email skims, and I hope others learn from my experience.

I did, in fact, install my Win7 as an upgrade over Vista and did not do a fresh, clean install, so I will go ahead with that the next time the stupid thing burps a black screen and leaves me with a cursor.

Any help wrt the CPU spike that intermittently stutters my Blu-ray playback?
 

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not sure

i've got 1/2 maybe 1/4 the system you have, and I don't have any issues with blu-ray rips

only codec installed

divx8 plus
 

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Any help wrt the CPU spike that intermittently stutters my Blu-ray playback?
It could be any number of things but as others have pointed out it's most likely driver or codec related. The problem with "upgrade" installs is they often leave existing drivers or codecs intact and these may or may not be totally compatible with the newer OS. It's always best to do a clean install and make sure to install the latest drivers specifically for that OS. Personally I wouldn't waste any more time troubleshooting until you've done a clean install since you're likelihood of getting a stable system at this point is very small.

A few other tips:

- Try to get drivers directly from the device manufacturer wherever possible and don't just rely on the default Microsoft ones. Drivers that are often overlooked are things like the chipset, network, etc. e.g. your Asus P5Q-E motherboard uses an Intel P45 chipset so get the latest chipset driver from Intel for Windows 7.

- Try to keep things as clean as possible and install only the minimal amount of software needed to run what you need, especially for an HTPC. e.g. Don't install these massive codec packs or various utilities like ReClock, etc. Start with the basic OS and drivers for your hardware and try to run the apps you want like your preferred media player, etc. If they don't work because they need a specific codec or something then install just that and try again. You'll often find that a lot of things you used to need 3rd party add-ons for are no longer needed with a new OS. The less things you install the less chance of introducing a problem so keep it simple.
 
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