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 Post subject: Building an HTPC
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:44 pm 
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Posts: 7
Location: Winnipeg, MB Canada
I've been researching this & I'd like to build an HTPC for my 50" Panasonic TH-50PX600U TV. Initially that's all it will serve but I'd like to get into SageTV and use some extenders for my other two non-HD TVs. Here's where I'm at so far, I've got this equipment already...

-Intel E6850
-4Gb of Corsair PC6400 RAM
-PC Power Silencer 750w psu

I'm thinking of buying the following:
- ASUS P5K-E/WIFI-AP ATX LGA775 mobo
- Silverstone Crown CW03B-MT Black case
- Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3870
- Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500 Dual tuner
- WD Caviar 1TB HDD
- Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit

I'll replace the fans in the case with Noctua NF-R8 80MM Ultra Quiet Cooling Fans. I'd like to get a CPU heatsink but don't know what to choose. My gaming machine is watercooled so I'm unfamiliar with air driven heatsinks. I'm also wondering about the video card... do I need that good a card or can I go for a 2600XT instead? Any suggestions or things I've missed? Thanks for any help.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:28 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:48 pm
Posts: 37
Location: Brisbane Australia
Don't know where you have been researching, but here is a site dedicated to such projects and it may be worth strolling around / registering & posting:-
http://www.xpmediacentre.com.au/community/

Depending on your budget, an alternate idea. See this Alienware product announcement:-
http://www.alienware.com/product_detail_pages/hems/hems_features.aspx#pdp-nav

You could ask this guy for more info:-
/copy & paste/ from Alienware web site.

HIT PLAY TECHNOLOGIES INC
KEVIN RAUCH
38 NIAGARA STREET
TORONTO CAN M5V3X1
416.276.3467
kevin@hit-play.com

http://www.hit-play.com

For the record, I have no connection with these companies / products.

If it helps...

RK


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:41 pm 
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Posts: 14
What type of content are you going to be viewing? Blu-Ray and HD-DVD? Over the air HDTV? QAM HDTV?

The video card doesn't need to be anything spectacular. The new ATI 3450 is supposed to be sufficient for offloading the CPU enough to enable smooth playback of 1080p material (BD and HDDVD). Thats like a $60 card with passive cooling from Powercooler.

I had that tv tuner and it worked really well. The new 1600 has two tuners on it as well, but one of them does over the air HDTV. Check out this site for more info www.hdtvtunerinfo.com

I think the 3870 is way overkill. Going with a 3650 or 3450 would be sufficient.

As for CPU heatsinks, the Scythe Ninja Minin is well regarded as is the Thermalright Ultima (which I used in my last HTPC). I'm almost certain the Ninja Mini would fit in that case. Silverstone makes nice stuff by the way. Any case that has 60mm or smaller fans is a killer for an HTPC though, they're just too noisy.

I would consider using the 32bit version of Vista, I know there is the ram limitation, but the driver support and program support for HTPC stuff is going to be much better in the 32bit version, I think. That said, if you're goin gthe Sage route, then this may be less of an issue.

I think you can get away with a much smaller PSU, Aerocool Zerodba 500w was near silent and was plenty for my HTPC.

If you have other q's, post 'em!

Alex


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:17 am 
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
There's no point going with quieter fans and all that if you're going to be using that PSU. I don't think it will be quiet no matter what load you put on it.

The CPU and vid card are overkill for an HTPC, but I would also half-heartedly second redtyler1's comment on the RAM and OS choice. 64-bit just isn't there yet, if in the end you decide you don't like the way VMC does things and want to go with SageTV or Mediaportal or the like. But if you know you like Vista Media Center and know you won't be using anything else, then it should be fine. I also would recommend Hauppauge cards, but the HVR-1800 would also be a good fit, same thing as the 1600 (though you don't have to worry about which version you get to support QAM) and it also has an FM-tuner, if that interests you. It's PCIe only however, but your board has a couple of those anyway.

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Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:56 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:37 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Winnipeg, MB Canada
I'll be watching DVDs that I've already got on a HD, analog TV but in the future HDTV. I'm waiting for the Hauppauge HD tuners that are coming out to see what they're like. I plan to use SageTV and will move into the media extenders for my other TVs in the house. I chose Vista 64 mainly because my gaming machine is Vista Ultimate 64 & once I got the newest drivers & bios everything works fine. I figured a gaming machine puts a lot more stress on the computer & if I can get that to work I should be able to get this to work. If not I can just reformat with XP and start over.

As for PSU, I had the PC Power kicking around so I wanted to use it. I'll keep it as a backup & look at a Corsair 520w. It seems to get pretty good reviews on both power & sound. The CPU may be overkill but I already have it so I will use it. I'm going to try the Ninja Mini as well.

Thanks a lot for the help.


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 Post subject: Re: Building an HTPC
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 10:38 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2004 4:38 am
Posts: 426
Location: Bellvue, Nebraska
DaveWC wrote:
I've been researching this & I'd like to build an HTPC for my 50" Panasonic TH-50PX600U TV. Initially that's all it will serve but I'd like to get into SageTV and use some extenders for my other two non-HD TVs. Here's where I'm at so far, I've got this equipment already...

-Intel E6850
-4Gb of Corsair PC6400 RAM
-PC Power Silencer 750w psu

I'm thinking of buying the following:
- ASUS P5K-E/WIFI-AP ATX LGA775 mobo
- Silverstone Crown CW03B-MT Black case
- Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3870
- Hauppauge WinTV PVR-500 Dual tuner
- WD Caviar 1TB HDD
- Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit

I'll replace the fans in the case with Noctua NF-R8 80MM Ultra Quiet Cooling Fans. I'd like to get a CPU heatsink but don't know what to choose. My gaming machine is watercooled so I'm unfamiliar with air driven heatsinks. I'm also wondering about the video card... do I need that good a card or can I go for a 2600XT instead? Any suggestions or things I've missed? Thanks for any help.


Pretty much everything is overkill for HTPC w/o gaming usage...

Do you really need that much processor for multimedia only? My E6750 runs at only x6 multiplier (2Ghz) when watching BD and HD DVD. The 8800GT is taking care of offloading most of the work. Since I use this for gaming, I went with the more powerful CPU and GPU. The HTPC I have in the bedroom runs an E4500 and X1650XT and also plays BD and HD DVD just fine.

I would not opt for a 2600XT... Compared to the newer cards, the 2xxx series cards are hot power hogs. I would personally look at the 3650 or 8600 series cards.

The Ninja Mini is a great cooler, however, that huge case could probably fit a full-size Ninja. An E6850 will run quite warm, so if you can fit the larger cooler, go for it. I have a Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme on my E6750 and it will idle in the upper mid-upper 30's in a low flow P180B. Unless you're stuck on the looks (and screen) of the case, I think there are better/queiter solutions in the HTPC configuration.

I'd say the PSU is extreme overkill, but I have an Enermax Infiniti 720w in mine, but I've had bad experiences with PSU in the past and this one has a 140mm fan.

Personally, I would stick with 32-bit Vista for HTPC-type software compatibility. That'll save you money on RAM as you'll only need 2GB.

You really don't need a whole lot of "horsepower" to run a HTPC. If you plan to game on this, then you're heading in a better direction, otherwise you're wasting money.

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Click HERE to see my computers.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:40 pm 
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Posts: 2131
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
DaveWC wrote:
I chose Vista 64 mainly because my gaming machine is Vista Ultimate 64 & once I got the newest drivers & bios everything works fine. I figured a gaming machine puts a lot more stress on the computer & if I can get that to work I should be able to get this to work. If not I can just reformat with XP and start over.


That being said, the difference between gaming and HTPC is that HTPC needs to work with the decoders for proper media playback. A lot of the decoders out there don't like x64 and will wreak havoc on a system if assembled haphazarly. I'm not saying don't do it, I'm just saying have a backup plan.

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HTPC: OrigenAE X11|Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H|Phenom II x3 740BE w/AC Freezer 7|150GB Velociraptor|Corsair VX450
Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
WHS: DF-85|P8H67-M Pro|I5-3450S/Hyper 212+|Corsair AX650|Sandisk Extreme 240GB, 2xWD20EARS, 2x WD15EARS, WD15EADS


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:51 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 12:16 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Oxford, MS
Wow, sounds like you want to go all out and make a gaming rig, not a HTPC.

That system is going to generate a lot of heat, which means it won't be quiet.

The new Radeon 3450/3650 series offers a dedicated unified video decoder (UVD) for H.264/AVC and VC-1 video formats for <$100 passively cooled and no external power is needed.

I would definitely go with that and perhaps a 45w Athlon BE-2350 processor (atleast those are my soon to be plans). Looks like you plan on going the Intel route, so I'll leave that to you. Athlons are cheaper and easily meet the need of HTPC.

Less heat = more silence.

4gigs ram? No need to exceed 2.

I personally like Seasonic power supplies, the 380W should be sufficient.
I'm about to go with a PicoPSU 90W, because I'm going for absolute silence and 24x7 power savings.

EDIT: One more thing, you might want to consider a discrete sound card. I know a lot of onboard audio isn't as clear as a discrete sound card.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:15 pm 
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Posts: 426
Location: Bellvue, Nebraska
kevinfelker42 wrote:

4gigs ram? No need to exceed 2.



4GB of RAM in 64-bit = 2GB of RAM in 32-bit.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:31 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:37 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Winnipeg, MB Canada
Wow, thanks for all of the replies. I should reiterate that the reason I was planning on using the PSU, CPU & RAM was because I owned them & was not using them. I'll get a more suitable PSU but will try the RAM & CPU. I don't doubt I will use the machine for gaming, or my son will, so I've tried not to underpower it, as you've noticed.

I like to have some redundant parts for testing & in case of breakdown so I'll look into getting a 32bit version of Vista and a Radeon 3650.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:04 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:37 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Winnipeg, MB Canada
Just as a follow up, I got all of the equipment in and assembled. It works fine so far. The heat isn't nearly what I thought it might be... the mobo shows a temp of 34°C, CPU 22°C under normal conditions. And the sound is indistinguishable. The psu puts out little to no sound as does the video fan. I didn't replace the fans in the case as they're very quiet. I'm still going to replace the psu with a Corsair 520w as it's modular and even though this is a big case it's still tight for cable space.

As for the processing power, after doing some reading I'm happy I overpowered it. Everything I've read about the upcoming Hauppauge HD tuner card says that if you're going to be recording HD content you'll need a pretty powerful machine. They don't go on to specify just how powerful but I'm thinking that in the near future more power will be better then less. Thanks for all of your help.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:49 am 
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Location: Bellvue, Nebraska
Your CPU temp is probaby wrong as it cannot be lower than ambient temps ;-)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:03 am 
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Posts: 2131
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
DaveWC wrote:
As for the processing power, after doing some reading I'm happy I overpowered it. Everything I've read about the upcoming Hauppauge HD tuner card says that if you're going to be recording HD content you'll need a pretty powerful machine. They don't go on to specify just how powerful but I'm thinking that in the near future more power will be better then less.


Then the card is crap and is doing something it shouldn't. The disk subsystem is the only part of the PC that should be doing any work other than the decoder on the card. Now if you plan on recording one and watching another, then that's a slightly different story, but nothing that a midrange system made in the last year or so can't handle.

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HTPC: OrigenAE X11|Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H|Phenom II x3 740BE w/AC Freezer 7|150GB Velociraptor|Corsair VX450
Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:30 am 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB Canada
yamahaSHO wrote:
Your CPU temp is probaby wrong as it cannot be lower than ambient temps ;-)



Yeah, I wondered about that. It isn't lower then my room temp but it does seem low. I'm using the Asus temp utility. I'll try Coretemp.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:32 am 
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Location: IN, USA
What upcoming Hauppauge HD tuner are you talking about? There are a bunch already available.. I have a HVR 1600 with a C2D 6300 and a 7300 GS, and it does OTA HD *almost* fine, but the CPU hardly pushes 30% when watching HD, and I'm pretty sure it does nothing while recording. I think my video card is responsible for the occasional stutter, but I'm not sure it isn't a software problem either.

What software are you using?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:34 am 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB Canada
This is the card. I plan to use SageTV.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:55 am 
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Location: IN, USA
Yikes, it's -20F (-30C) in Winnipeg! :shock: Maybe your CPU is at 22C.

Woah.. I have not heard about that "device." I kind of quit doing research when I got my HVR-1600. Again, having not done any reading, it seems like there's a lot unsaid about that thing:

1) It's designed to record HD from component signals? This sounds like a way to circumvent Cable/Satellite DRM... Does this work?

2) Does it fit on a PCI/PCIe card? Is it an external device? How does it connect to your computer?

3) It *has* video out, but *probably* will require a computer for playback? This sounds more like a stand-alone DVR.

Anyway, will be interesting. I'm guessing it won't be out by March 31, unless there's more info on it somewhere else. For those of you not interested enough in the "details" to follow that link, the high CPU requirement comes from the fact that the "device" encodes the component HD signal to H.264.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:59 am 
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I don't know anything more about the card then what's written there. I believe you'll still need a cable box to decrypt the signal.

btw, I loaded Coretemp and my CPU temps are in the 31ºC range.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:04 am 
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Avalanche wrote:
For those of you not interested enough in the "details" to follow that link, the high CPU requirement comes from the fact that the "device" encodes the component HD signal to H.264.


Erm...

that page wrote:
# It’s based on a chip from a company called Ambarella (http://www.ambarella.com/)
# It’s an all-in-one chip that has a digitizer and H.264 encoder
# A similar chip from Ambarella happens to be used in popular HD camcorders


... says to me that the compression will be done on the card not on the CPU (in common with many other Hauppauge cards already), and...

Quote:
You’ll need a relatively powerful PC to playback these recordings


...says you'll need a relatively powerful PC to playback the recordings. As you'll see if you search around in this forum 1080p doesn't require a monster PC, something in the 2.0GHz class should be fine.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:06 pm 
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Location: IN, USA
Sorry for the mis-communication, Nutball. :?

I was trying to say it was the decoding of the H.264 that is computationally intensive. In the US anyway, OTA HD signals are broadcast basically an MPEG-2 format, which is much easier to decode. jhhoffma and yamahaSHO kept telling Dave his CPU and GPU choices were overkill, and I assume they thought the same thing I did: he would be playing back MPEG-2 video.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:55 am 
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I'd steer clear of 64bit windows for a HTPC, driver support isn't the best and you really don't need 4Gb of RAM to watch video!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:30 am 
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Avalanche wrote:
jhhoffma and yamahaSHO kept telling Dave his CPU and GPU choices were overkill, and I assume they thought the same thing I did: he would be playing back MPEG-2 video.


No, originally I was assuming BD or HD-DVD, and I commented on that. His setup is still overkill. That doesn't make it a bad setup, just one that's going to generate more heat than necessary. He could step down to a E6550 and a HD3850 and do just as well.

That being said, would I hesitate to put that system in MY HTPC if I had the equipment on-hand? Hell no!!!

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HTPC: OrigenAE X11|Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H|Phenom II x3 740BE w/AC Freezer 7|150GB Velociraptor|Corsair VX450
Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
WHS: DF-85|P8H67-M Pro|I5-3450S/Hyper 212+|Corsair AX650|Sandisk Extreme 240GB, 2xWD20EARS, 2x WD15EARS, WD15EADS


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