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HTPC HTPC Build Opinions Please.

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Lord_A, 30 Dec 2009.

  1. Lord_A

    Lord_A Boom baby!

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    Sorry for another build advice thread, just wanted some experienced views on my draft build.

    It will be used for playback of all media, 1080p mkv included, as well as BD-drive playback (eventually). I won't be playing games on it - for now anyway. I have a 5.1 amp which I'd like to use, I'm assuming I can just use an optical cable from the mobo to my amp and get 5.1? Or will I need a XONAR sound card or similar?

    This is what I have selected...

    Motherboard:
    Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H 785G Socket AM2+
    OR
    Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H 785G Socket AM3

    CPU:
    AMD Athlon II X2 235e 2.7GHz Socket AM3

    Cooler:
    Zalman CNPS8000

    Memory:
    No idea, was looking for the cheapest option, 2GB is fine unless someone knows a 4GB kit for under £60-ish?
    Kingston 1GB DDR3 1333MHz

    HDD:
    Space is not an issue as I have 4TB of RAID5 upstairs, 500GB will do fine for the occasional PVR use.
    Western Digital WD5000AAKS 500GB

    Optical Drive:
    Can't find the LG BD/HD-DVD combo drive in stock anymore :(
    Think I will wait until BD-ROM drive prices drop a bit more, so I'll re-use an old DVD-ROM for now.

    PSU:
    Have a spare lying around that I'll re-use.

    Case:
    Already have the Antec Fusion :)

    I'd appreciate people's opinions on which motherboard to go for, and if the CPU is good enough for decoding 1080p video.

    I also have no idea about tuner cards, I'd like a dual card ideally so I can watch & record different shows at the same time, and it has to support freeview. Is the WinTV-HVR-2200 overkill or would something like the WinTV-NOVA-TD 500 be OK?
     
  2. jake9891

    jake9891 Loves Internet Shopping

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    I had some old parts lying around and build htpc from it. The cpu in it was the dual core celeron 1.6GHz and the mobo was gigabyte GA-73PVM-S2H. Other stuff was Samsung HD502J (i think, can't remeber now), Geil 2GB PC6400 ram and Win XP Pro SP3. I hooked it up to my 50" samsung 720p TV through VGA cable, which gave me resolution of 1360×768 and played Transporter 3 that was in 1080p. I was suprised that this little celeron can actually cope with playing that movie.

    However since your need to play full HD content, you would probably need something more than my little celeron.
     
  3. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    The 240e should be about the price of the 235e, no?

    Get the AM3 - DDR3 is pretty much the price of DDR2 now anyway. My HTPC works with 2GB of memory fine - 1GB is just not worth it and unless you're multitasking recording/transcoding then 4GB is probably overkill.

    Are you storing stuff on the drive? Think about a Green if so because you don't need speed, you need silence, or, a 40GB SSD if you are pulling data from elsewhere. They are pretty cheap and will boot your system super-super fast. You dont need write performance so even though that's shitty it won't matter.

    I suspect your PSU will probably be the loudest thing in your case after all that.
     
  4. Lucy2005

    Lucy2005 New Member

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    hi ive just recently built a htpc with similar specs to yours and i can tell you that 1080p .mkv is choppy via videolan i dont know why but thats how it is atm, im thinking about getting a dedicated video card soon and hope that fixes it

    link to my build - HERE
     
  5. Fazed

    Fazed Active Member

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    Almost identical to a build I recently undertook for my sister.
    A Low-Profile HD4550 sorted HD playback out.
     
  6. Lord_A

    Lord_A Boom baby!

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    Thanks for your replies.

    @Lucy2005 & Fazed:
    I've read about a few people having problems with choppy HD playback using VLC, have a read through this thread it may help!

    @Bindibadgi:
    You're right, just £8 difference between the 235e & 240e, so I'll get that one :)
    I'll stick with 2GB as well, didn't see much need for 4GB, would only put that much in if the price was low. Not too bothered about storage, as I mentioned before I have 4TB of storage on the main PC anyway. I will however go for a WD Green HDD for noise reasons. The PSU will be upgraded at a later date once I sell some unused items to generate some spare cash.

    Any suggestions on tuners then?
     
  7. thewelshbrummie

    thewelshbrummie Active Member

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    Memory - Scan have a 2GB Corsair stick of DDR3, CAS9, 1,333MHz for £35, so £70 for 4GB - might be worth it though it's been out of stock since November - it's the best price I can find for 4GB of DDR3 though. 4GB DDR2 is only slightly cheaper at £60 for 2x 2GB Micro DDR2 @800MHz, CAS 6

    Mobo - Both motherboards will do the job - obviously DDR3 would be the better option as the new Intel (LGA 1156/1366) sockets only support DDR3 and most AMD AM3 sockets don't support DDR2 - fo that reason I'd go with the GMT over teh GT board, as you can buy DDR3 now and it'll probably still be of use in a few years should you want to upgrade - DDR2 certainly doesn't have much potential to upgrade. The HD 4200 onboard the GMT should be powerful enough for Blu-Ray decoding too.

    Blu-Ray - The cheapest BD-ROM drives have been around the £50 for at least the last year & I'm not sure they'll drop anytime soon, so I agree it's best to hold off for the next few months at least.

    Sound - Both motherboards have HDMI outputs so should do the job well enough without a separate soundcard... so long as your amp has HDMI in/our passthrough.

    Personally speaking I'm holding out for more reviews of the GPU core in the new Core i3 530 before going ahead - as it stands though it's an extra £60 on top of your mobo/CPU links so I agree you're right to go with AMD based on current pricing and reviews od the i3.

    TV tuner - I'm using the Compro E700 & the T750F - the former is a dual-DVB-T card, the latter hybrid analogue/DVB-T with for video capture and FM radio. The remote with the E700 is a but rubbish tbh but the card has been faultless in XP, Vista and 7 - and I rate it higher than the Hauppauge Nova-T500. It's a bit nasty to wire if you want full functionality, but it is awesome to be able to use a remote control to power on/off my PC (it requires routing the PC power switch cable to the card, then using the supplied patch cable to connect to the mobo).
     
  8. tk421

    tk421 Idiot.

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    i was getting choppy 1080p playback on my rig while hooked to my LG lcd (37" 1080p) over hdmi with VLC. uninstalled all codecs, installed Shark007 codecs and x64 extensions - now WMP will rip thru anything no problem.

    I'm not sure that the video card has that much to do with it, as there is a 4850 in it now.
     

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