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Windows 7: HTPC build

26 Apr 2010   #1
eggyuk

Windows 7 Ultimate X64
 
 
HTPC build

I'm considering building a home theatre pc that will replace my dvd player and freeview recorder currently hooked up my TV.

The problem is I'm not sure exactly how powerful it needs to be.

Like I said it will be used as a dvd player (potentially Blu-ray) browsing the net and recording tv shows onto. What kind of processor should I be looking at? Do I need a dedicated graphics card. I want to be able to smoothly player 1080p HD content.

Storage size isnt a major issue. I intend to have it connected wireless to the other computers I have and just stream music etc onto it.

I would like something that is reasonably small (I will have to sit next to or on the shelf under my tv) and it has to be quiet.

The other option I'm considering is a mac mini. So this system has to either be cheaper or significantly better.

So I'm throwing down the challenge to you all. I seem to be unable to do it since last time I got sidetracked and ended up buying my girlfriend a new laptop and designing myself another i7 system!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Apr 2010   #2
z3r010

 

Be sure to remember when buying a freeview card that you need a dvb-t2 card for HD freeview, the first ones should be available in the next month or two.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #3
eggyuk

Windows 7 Ultimate X64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by z3r010 View Post
Be sure to remember when buying a freeview card that you need a dvb-t2 card for HD freeview, the first ones should be available in the next month or two.
Thats a good point. I forgot we had HD freeview coming soon.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

27 Apr 2010   #4
Zepher

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

My little HTPC uses an Asus mobo with onboard Nvidia 9300 graphics and plays 1080P content perfectly.
It has an Intel E5200 processor, 4GB of ram (ram was cheap at the time so I just bought a 4GB kit for $35), Asus mobo, 500GB and 400GB drives, LG BluRay/HD-DVD/DVD-RW Drive, Silverstone case and an Antec PSU.
the most expensive part was the Mobo at $130.

You can go with an AMD based system with Nvidia 8300/8400 system and save about $50-80 on the mobo and CPU.

If you want to play any kind of game, then you will want to get a dedicated card, but then you are adding heat and or noise to the system.

Here is my HTPC before I bought the LG Drive,
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #5
Digerati

Windows 7 Profession 64-bit
 
 

Not powerful at all. That's what is really nice about HTPCs, they don't need monster CPUs or graphics cards. In fact many good boards with integrated graphics solutions work great for PVRs. And what makes all this even better is that because you don't need monster CPUs or graphics solutions, you don't need monster cooling solutions either. In fact, many HTPC enthusiasts strive for "silent running" HTPCs - using all passive (no fans) cooling. This is often accomplished by some by underclocking their CPUs and motherboards to cause them to run slower and therefore generate less heat.

HTPC don't really do much but relay video and audio from here to there. That does not take much horsepower. A decent amount of RAM is necessary 3 - 4 Gb I would recommend for a minimum. And you need a really good PSU - as the better PSUs tend to have better fans. There are passive cooling PSUs too - designed for HTPCs. They, naturally are not very powerful - but then again, they don't need to be more.

Now if you want to play games on this machine too - that's a whole different ballgame. Gaming is very demanding on system resources - and cooling. You cannot have a passive cooling game system - unless MS solitaire is all you play.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #6
sergiogarcia9

 

If you want the easy solution, get the ASRock ION330-HT-BD.
It comes with a 320gb HDD, 4GB DDR2 Ram, Intel Atom 330 (1.6GHz, dual-core) and a BD Combo Drive (+ an MCE remote)
I got that model myself (except i have the one without BD drive and MCE remote), and it plays pretty much anything you throw at it. 4gb 720p BDRIP's runs smoothly over the screen, and it does 1080p as well.
The Harddrive can be upgraded as well, but it is a 2,5" so it is a bit expensive if you want it upgraded to 1tb.

Also, you could just go with building it yourself
I would use these parts:
A small silent case, and a silent PSU as well.
Intel Atom 330 1,6ghz
2-4 gb ddr2 ram
1tb to 2tb storage (if it fits the case)
Nvidia ION motherboard (with onboard graphics)
BD combo drive or DVD Drive
A tv tuner card.

You could also go for the more powerful media center and use parts like these:
Silent Small case + PSU.
Intel BOXDQ43AP LGA 775 Intel Q43 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93ghz Wolfdale CPU
4-6GB DDR2 Ram
1tb or 2tb storage
a nice TV Tuner card (none of those cheap ones, that'll come back and bite you in the arse after a while)
BD Combo Drive
A mid graphics card like a Nvidia GT220


Note. With the Asrock ION you will have to add an external TV Card (Like an pinapple dongle)


Hope this helps

SG
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #7
eggyuk

Windows 7 Ultimate X64
 
 

Thanks for the info guys.

One thing I was dubious about was using an Atom processor. Wasnt sure if it would have the necessary grunt. I've got a separate gaming rig so it will just used as a PVR/DVD and to browse the net.

Is there a noticeable drop off in performance for usb tuners vs pci / pci-e ones?

Edit: some atom/ion cpu/mobo are suggesting that u need at least 256mb discreet graphics to smoothly play blu-ray? yes/no?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #8
Zepher

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by eggyuk View Post
Thanks for the info guys.

One thing I was dubious about was using an Atom processor. Wasnt sure if it would have the necessary grunt. I've got a separate gaming rig so it will just used as a PVR/DVD and to browse the net.

Is there a noticeable drop off in performance for usb tuners vs pci / pci-e ones?

Edit: some atom/ion cpu/mobo are suggesting that u need at least 256mb discreet graphics to smoothly play blu-ray? yes/no?
It depends on the graphics chipsets on those particular boards.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #9
z3r010

 

I have one of these (without the bluray) ASRock ION 330-BD Nettop Review - SlashGear and when I did test 1080 playback it was flawless.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Apr 2010   #10
sergiogarcia9

 

Those small Asrocks are great machines, i use mine everyday to view Movies on, and TV series. Never had a single problem with it
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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