Hardware Home Theatre PC Buyer's Guide - Q1 2009

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Tim S, 4 Feb 2009.

  1. Tim S

    Tim S Well-Known Member

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  2. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    Great guide as ever!

    I like the choice of motherboards both the Gigabyte mATX and ATX have the most PCI slots going 2 and 3 respectively. This is a god send in HTPC's as ideally you want more.

    Dream HTPC would be running an optical out to DAC/Amp to cover audio, low power GPU for HD decoding and 3 Tv tunners two record one watch.

    However the humble HTPC is let down by the crap options of broadcast in the UK, yes we have sky, but it extremely difficult to use on a HTPC.

    Maybe in the next 5 years it might be worth while.
     
  3. The boy 4rm oz

    The boy 4rm oz Project: Elegant-Li

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    A very good guide. I have been meaning to make my spec sheet for a while now but never got around to it. I want to make one using that Linux media center software you reviewed a while back.
     
  4. pimlicosound

    pimlicosound New Member

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    I've been considering high-end HTPC specs for a while, but I'm coming round to the idea that the PS3 (with the right additions) can do most of the same stuff for half the price.

    You can get the PS3, PlayTV, remote and a large hard disk for about £400. It can function as a media library, digital TV recorder, games machine, Blu-Ray movie player and even a basic web browser. Furthermore, it's relatively small and quiet.

    Admittedly its library functions aren't quite as elegant as as WMC, and it's not as expandable, but these seems like acceptable trade-offs for the price.
     
  5. <Blake>

    <Blake> New Member

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    wrong choice bout the 260 216 for any HTPC. cooler is too loud, the alternative should have been the first choose (simply because it it silent).
     
  6. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    the cooler on the 260 is the same as my GTX280, and thats hardly loud. I admit it not passive, but a passive 4850 seems like trouble to me considering there operating temps, or are they completly different to the 4870 revision.
     
  7. Whalemeister

    Whalemeister is so hot right now!

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    A great guide but I didn't see any mention of TV tuner cards. In my mind a TV Tuner card is going to be an essential component for a HTPC.

    Any suggestions for a good one?
     
  8. Paradigm Shifter

    Paradigm Shifter de nihilo nihil fit

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    Not sure why that 4850 couldn't deal with Full HD properly... I game on a 4850 at the minute (the actively cooled stock-OC'd version of that passive Gigabyte card, as it happens) and it handles 1920x1200 without any issues on everything I've thrown at it so far... OK, so I can't run Crysis @ Very High with AA, but then, High looks just as good, and unless I'm going slowly, trying to find screenshot fodder, I don't really notice a lack of AA on a WUXGA screen.
     
  9. Tim S

    Tim S Well-Known Member

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    We wanted to be able to turn AA on... I don't know about the other guys, but it's one of my pet peeves with console gaming - the lack of AA on a big TV really annoys me because the pixel pitch is much coarser than it is on a WUXGA 24in monitor.
     
  10. Psytek

    Psytek New Member

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    Are those two cheaper builds even capable of 720p/1080p?
     
  11. Paradigm Shifter

    Paradigm Shifter de nihilo nihil fit

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    Ah, yes, that's true... I find myself looking at PC games from the perspective of a 24" panel, so the pixel pitch is a lot better. ;)

    I'll agree that playing games on a big (40"+) panel without AA is not the best experience if you're sitting close. Still, playing natively at 1080p isn't too bad... I don't get closer than 10ft or so to my HDTV.

    Console games are fairly bad at it, certainly, since so many of them aren't true 1080p, they're upscaled from 720p (if lucky) or even lower... isn't GTA4 on the PS3 upscaled from 480p or something? I know the jaggies on that drive me mad if I move close to the TV for whatever reason. :(

    ...

    That micro HTPC has got me thinking. I might put together something like that for my parents... I'm sure a 500GB drive should do. :D
     
  12. Bindibadgi

    Bindibadgi Tired. Forever tired.

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    I simply don't know enough about them, I wouldn't know how to cover sky/cable/analogue/dvb-t/dvb-s etc and with stuff like Boxee - we'll soon not need them either.
     
  13. Bindibadgi

    Bindibadgi Tired. Forever tired.

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    Easily. As long as the software is setup right I run the affordable option myself all the time.
     
  14. perplekks45

    perplekks45 LIKE AN ANIMAL!

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    They both have UVD(2) so they should be.

    Another great guide by you! Did I just miss it or did you not recommend any OS?
     
  15. remixme

    remixme Own a Dremel, but not used it yet!

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    A couple of things on the the Antec Fusion Remote; it seems it no longer sports a VFD; it is a much poorer quality LCD now. The price link for that item for me goes to ebuyer, where the description says LCD and having recently bought this item from them I can confirm this.

    Second thing is that the IR sensor is not very sensitive at all, the only thing good about it is the fact you can turn the pc on with it, I ended buying an additional IR receiver for everything else. Personally I wouldn't recommend it.
     
  16. TGImages

    TGImages Grandpa

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    I built mine last fall in the Silverstone LC17-B case. I liked the design of the case as it looked like another component and is just about the same size as my AV receiver. They're both on a shelf above the TV, one to the left and one to the right and no one has even noticed that it's actually a PC yet. The assembly order is quite important or, like me, you'll end up (re)building the system 3 or 4 times until you get all the parts in there. I'd consider my build to be an average system. Mostly watching streaming stuff, playing music, occasional family/party gaming (some old YDKJ games) and such.

    Next up is to add a TV card/input. I was considering one of the cards until I came across the SiliconDust HDHR network digital tuner. Now I'm seriously considering it as I can have dual inputs (cable or OTA on either or both) and send it to more than 1 PC. It also is supported by most of the HTPC apps out there. (MCE, MYTH, etc.) Anyone else use one of these yet?

    -Gary
     
  17. Bindibadgi

    Bindibadgi Tired. Forever tired.

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    No I left that choice open because there's a higher possibility of *nix or WinMCE - it depends on the front end being used

    Good to know, thanks!
     
  18. MG Man

    MG Man New Member

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    Although you haven't specified an OS, the CPU choice on the lower end boxes means you won't be able to do 1080p playback on anything other than windows.

    GPU hardware acceleration just isn't there (yet- it looks about 6 months away or so) for linux due to driver (lack of) support.

    XBMC guys are talking 3 GHz minimum on a C2D to get 1080p without dropping many frames.
    and don't forget, even if you're outputing to a 720p screen, the 1080p content of Blu-Ray /HD-DVD/other 1080p rip still has to be decoded and downscaled, taking more CPU than just decoding 1080p alone
     
  19. Bindibadgi

    Bindibadgi Tired. Forever tired.

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    You can't do Blu ray on XBMC anyway and not all "other" video sources are GPU compliant. That's also why I've thrown in the Intel CPU as an alternative choice - it'll easily do 3GHz. The 2.5G 4850e will overclock pretty heavily too, without the need for buying a more expensive, and hotter CPU.

    The only downside of a K8 AMD CPU is that AMD claims it needs HT3.0 for better HQV /HDHQV quality - so that's 7750 territory. The thing is, you don't need the large L3 cache though just to playback video, so it's a bit of a waste, and the other answer is a 9350e quad core + CoreAVC codec which is heavily threaded.
     
  20. Sir Digby

    Sir Digby The Supprising Adventures

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    I'm actually curious what type of HTPC could be based around an atom build - if I was only looking at something to run an XP media centre and was only planning to use if for browsing and TV how well do you think it would cope?

    I guess spending a little more on the TV tuner to get one that decodes the video itself would help, but the overall cost I would think would be very low...
     
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