HTPC build - need some pro eyes to look over

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AlexNC
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Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:01 am
Location: Raleigh, NC, USA

HTPC build - need some pro eyes to look over

Post by AlexNC » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:41 am

I am about to start purchasing parts to build my own HTPC. It will be based on Windows 7 MCE. This will be my first build, so I am a bit nervous. I am hoping you guys that are more experienced can look over my list and give me pointers. Any advice, no matter how elementary is welcome. I am trying to keep it as quiet as posible. That is why I chose the larger SG06 case. It has more space and uses 120 fans. If you have any other small case suggestions that have 120 fans, please let me know. The smaller the better ... but want to keep the bigger fans.
Thanks!

Unknowns:
CPU fan replacement - does the Intel CPU come with a heatsink/fan; should I replace it, and if so, with which one?
Cables - what cables do I need to buy, if any?
Thermal glue - which is the best for mounting the processor, also any tips?

Case: SILVERSTONE SG06-B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811163151

Motherboard: ZOTAC GF9300-D-E LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300 HDMI WiFi Mini ITX
(waiting on rev 3 board with 'wake on USB')
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813500022

Memory: CORSAIR XMS2 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820145184

Storage:
(for OS and programs) OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30G 2.5" 30GB SATA II
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820227393
(for music/videos/pictures/etc) Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6822136317

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Wolfdale 2.8GHz 3MB L2 Cache 65W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819115206

Tuner card - I can not find any that fit the Zotac board. All the ones I find look to have a different pin placement (two short sections). The Zotac board seems to need a card with a long pin placement running down the whole card. Is this an old connection?

Riffer
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Location: Toronto, Canada

Post by Riffer » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:00 am

A retail CPU (Part number preceded by BOX...) comes with a heatsink. This is quiet enough for some, but you may want to replace it. If you do, be very careful that the replacement will fit in the case.

I don't know if the memory slots on that board are spaced as close together as my DG45FC, but if they are, you will not be able to properly fit memory with heat spreaders. Find some photos of someones build and make sure they will fit.

richuu
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Location: UK

Post by richuu » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:10 am

Looks like the only slot on the Zotac is a PCI-Express slot... most tuner cards are still PCI, so look for a tuner card that is PCI-e or look for another board. Also, with only one slot, unless you find a dual-tuner card, you will only be able to record one program at a time, or not record one whilst watching another live channel. Many HTPC's have dual tuners.

alleycat
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Post by alleycat » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:32 am

I'm no expert on this but I've read that Intel's X4500 graphics is better than Nvidia for HD playback (but not as good for 3D gaming). Is this only going to be used as an HTPC? Also, reading some of the customer reviews at Newegg, they mention the audio and wireless on that motherboard are poor.

You could probably use a cheaper CPU like an E5200. Should be very easy to cool.

For thermal paste, MX-2 has been recommended a few times, but I haven't tried it myself.

mark314
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Re: HTPC build - need some pro eyes to look over

Post by mark314 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:47 am

I just built a similar system.

The Zotac GF 9300 is the most recommended ITX board for HTPC (Check out AVS Forum for a 30 page discussion on the board - http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1111996 )

As for sound, if you are using analog out, onboard might only be decent, but digital out will be excellent.
AlexNC wrote: Unknowns:
CPU fan replacement - does the Intel CPU come with a heatsink/fan; should I replace it, and if so, with which one?

If you buy a retail CPU (not OEM) it will come with a HSF. You probably could replace it. For instance mine sounds like a jet engine inside the case and will need replacing.

Cables - what cables do I need to buy, if any?

Motherboard will come with two sata cables which is sufficient for your hard drives but if you plan on having an optical drive, you'll need another cable.

Thermal glue - which is the best for mounting the processor, also any tips?

Arctic Silver Ceramique is the standard.


Case: SILVERSTONE SG06-B
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811163151

Motherboard: ZOTAC GF9300-D-E LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300 HDMI WiFi Mini ITX
(waiting on rev 3 board with 'wake on USB')
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813500022

How long do you plan on waiting? It could be a long time. If you read deep in the AVS forum link I posted above, I think the system is capable of S3 wake when used with a non-usb keyboard.


Memory: CORSAIR XMS2 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820145184

Storage:
(for OS and programs) OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30G 2.5" 30GB SATA II
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820227393

My new system boots completely in under 15 seconds

(for music/videos/pictures/etc) Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6822136317



Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Wolfdale 2.8GHz 3MB L2 Cache 65W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6819115206

I found the Pentium E6300 2.8 GHz to be perfect, it's 65W and much cheaper. The Zotac board will do all of your HD decoding, the CPU isn't needed much really.


Tuner card - I can not find any that fit the Zotac board. All the ones I find look to have a different pin placement (two short sections). The Zotac board seems to need a card with a long pin placement running down the whole card. Is this an old connection?

PCI-e x16 - one of the few (or only) mini-ITX boards with this connection

Jay_S
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Re: HTPC build - need some pro eyes to look over

Post by Jay_S » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:58 am

AlexNC wrote:If you have any other small case suggestions that have 120 fans, please let me know. The smaller the better ... but want to keep the bigger fans.

[SNIP]

Case: SILVERSTONE SG06-B

Motherboard: ZOTAC GF9300-D-E LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300 HDMI WiFi Mini ITX
Is there any reason you're not going with a home theater style case (like the Antec NSK2480/Fusion)? Your mini ITX "cube" case is going to look out of place in your component rack, and it severely limits your motherboard options, expansion options, fan options, etc. The NSK2480 was co-designed by SPCR's MikeC, features two 120mm fans, comes with an 80+ PSU, takes mATX motherboards and full-height expansion cards. I have the older NSK2400 (same as the NSK2480 except for the PSU), and love it. You'll find TONS of gallery threads featuring the NSK2400 & 2480 here at SPCR.

AlexNC
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Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:01 am
Location: Raleigh, NC, USA

Post by AlexNC » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:21 am

richuu wrote:Looks like the only slot on the Zotac is a PCI-Express slot... most tuner cards are still PCI, so look for a tuner card that is PCI-e or look for another board.
Will these cards work. I don't see anything about PCI-Express, but looking at the pins, they look like it fits. All the PCI-Express cards I see have two very short pin groupings ... making them look like they will not fit correctly.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6815293003
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6815116007
alleycat wrote:I'm no expert on this but I've read that Intel's X4500 graphics is better than Nvidia for HD playback (but not as good for 3D gaming). Is this only going to be used as an HTPC? Also, reading some of the customer reviews at Newegg, they mention the audio and wireless on that motherboard are poor.

You could probably use a cheaper CPU like an E5200. Should be very easy to cool.
From what I have seen, the Intel x4500 does not have an advanced setting for adjusting the X,Y axis for overscan. I have an older HDTV and will need some form of overscan adjusters. I am 99% the Nvidia cards do.

I am using digital out, so audio is not an issue.

I was going to use the E5200, but for a few more dollars, I can get a much higher performing processor. Both are 65W rated, so I assumed the heat and power usage would be the same for both. Please correct me if i am wrong. I am more concerned about power consumption and heat than performance. That is, assuming the E5200 is capable of pushing HD content, and pushing Hulu full screen on the high setting.
Jay_S wrote:Is there any reason you're not going with a home theater style case (like the Antec NSK2480/Fusion)? Your mini ITX "cube" case is going to look out of place in your component rack, and it severely limits your motherboard options, expansion options, fan options, etc. The NSK2480 was co-designed by SPCR's MikeC, features two 120mm fans, comes with an 80+ PSU, takes mATX motherboards and full-height expansion cards. I have the older NSK2400 (same as the NSK2480 except for the PSU), and love it. You'll find TONS of gallery threads featuring the NSK2400 & 2480 here at SPCR.
Yes, it is because the depth is too deep. Those cases are too long/deep for my entertainment center. The face would hang out the front. I really like those boxes; I just wish they sold one that was 15" or less. Because I REALLY like that case.

swivelguy2
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Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2004 9:18 pm
Location: Illinois, USA

Post by swivelguy2 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:33 am

AlexNC wrote:
richuu wrote:Looks like the only slot on the Zotac is a PCI-Express slot... most tuner cards are still PCI, so look for a tuner card that is PCI-e or look for another board.
Will these cards work. I don't see anything about PCI-Express, but looking at the pins, they look like it fits. All the PCI-Express cards I see have two very short pin groupings ... making them look like they will not fit correctly.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6815293003
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6815116007
No, those cards will not fit into a PCI-e slot. Those are both PCI cards.

The reason you see two short groupings on the PCI-e tuner cards is that they're PCI-e x1 cards. The first short group of pins is for delivering power, and the 2nd short group is for data. The slot on the Zotac mini-itx board is a PCI-e x16 slot, designed for graphics cards, which transmit much more data, so there are more data pins. When you plug a PCI-e x1 card into the x16 slot, it simply leaves most of the slot uninhabited, and the bus automatically senses what kind of card is present.

Here are newegg's PCI-e tuners: Link

Jay_S
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Post by Jay_S » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:46 am

AlexNC wrote:[Yes, it is because the depth is too deep. Those cases are too long/deep for my entertainment center. The face would hang out the front. I really like those boxes; I just wish they sold one that was 15" or less. Because I REALLY like that case.
Yikes, 15" or less - that's short! OK, what about building a PC into an old VCR or CD/DVD player? Check out this build: "HTPC with a twist".

eit412
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Post by eit412 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:41 pm

If you would like to record hd from somthing other than over the air then you will not want the hd tuner. I have ATT U-verse and i use a Happuage HD PVR to record my HD shows. The HD PVR is buggy in Windows XP that i have, but i hear that it intigrates well into MCE. I get very few HD Channels over the air where i live so the HD PVR was worth it to me, i have filled up my 750GB external hard drive with movies, and i need another one.

Riffer
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Location: Toronto, Canada

Post by Riffer » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:09 pm

Jay_S wrote:
AlexNC wrote:[Yes, it is because the depth is too deep. Those cases are too long/deep for my entertainment center. The face would hang out the front. I really like those boxes; I just wish they sold one that was 15" or less. Because I REALLY like that case.
Two cases that are <15" Deep and would look good in an AV rack:

Silverstone LC04
Monueual 312

I think Lian-Li has a couple as well.

AlexNC
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:01 am
Location: Raleigh, NC, USA

Post by AlexNC » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:29 am

Riffer wrote:Two cases that are <15" Deep and would look good in an AV rack:

Silverstone LC04
Monueual 312

I think Lian-Li has a couple as well.
I like the dimensions of the LC04, but I do not think it is made to fit a ITX-mini. Am I correct? Also, I wander how well the tuner card would fit do to it needing an adapter to mount sideways. I am looking for an easy solution. I really do not want to be modding stuff and making mounts.

Riffer
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Location: Toronto, Canada

Post by Riffer » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:45 am

AlexNC wrote:
Riffer wrote:Two cases that are <15" Deep and would look good in an AV rack:

Silverstone LC04
Monueual 312

I think Lian-Li has a couple as well.
I like the dimensions of the LC04, but I do not think it is made to fit a ITX-mini. Am I correct? Also, I wander how well the tuner card would fit do to it needing an adapter to mount sideways. I am looking for an easy solution. I really do not want to be modding stuff and making mounts.
It actually can fit a full ATX board, so it will also fit micro ATX and Mini Itx boards. The mini itx boards just use the upper left four screws of the ATX form factor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VIA_M ... arison.jpg

edit - you are right about the card. The LC04 comes stock with a riser card designed for an AGP in the first slot position and a PCI in the second. It looks like the Zotac has the PCIe 16x in the first slot. Silverstone has a riser card for a PCIe 16x slot in the first position that is available separately.

Hezu
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Post by Hezu » Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:10 pm

richuu wrote:Looks like the only slot on the Zotac is a PCI-Express slot... most tuner cards are still PCI, so look for a tuner card that is PCI-e or look for another board. Also, with only one slot, unless you find a dual-tuner card, you will only be able to record one program at a time, or not record one whilst watching another live channel. Many HTPC's have dual tuners.
USB tuners are also one possibility, although a USB stick or even worse a separate box connected via USB may not be as pleasing to eye as a PCI/PCI-e card hidden in the case.

derekva
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Post by derekva » Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:34 pm

If you would like to record hd from somthing other than over the air then you will not want the hd tuner.
Windows 7 supports Clear QAM natively, so if your cable provider broadcasts local network HD content in the clear, you can record content on those channels. However, if they encrypt all QAM, then you will be out-of-luck. The ultimate HTPC solution is OCUR (e.g. CableCard), but currently you can only legitimately use an OCUR system that is built by an OEM due to CableLab's required encryption handshake between the motherboard (specifically the OFSR table within the BIOS) and the CableCard tuner. Also there is currently only one CableCard tuner manufacturer - ATI (although a company called Ceton is working on a new tuner) and the tuners command a premium (e.g. $250+ for used tuners on eBay).

Currently I'm running two Media Center systems at home - one that is a Windows 7 QAM + analog configuration for recording PBSKids for my children and one that is a Vista SP2 OCUR system (Dell XPS420 that's been moved to a better case). Vista works OK but Windows 7 is a huge improvement. I'm looking forward to Windows 7 being available for purchase so I can upgrade the OCUR system.

Check here (http://winqual.microsoft.com/HCL/Produc ... =&f=86win7) for supported TV tuners in Windows 7.

The OCZ is nice, but you may want to spring for the 80GB Intel X-25 solid state drive as 30GB is a bit on the small side and the X-25 is a performance monster.

-D

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