Benefits for HTPC? Build me one?

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by popsnbeer, May 29, 2009.

  1. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    So here's the deal, I have been confronted by quite a few people asking me about HTPC's (really just about hooking their computer up to their TV to watch movies and stuff). I got to asking some of them more about this and they are willing to pay if I built them one (they did not really know much about HTPC's and were excited on the idea).

    What are some benefits that can be seen by normal everyday people and an HTPC?

    What's an average HTPC build that is minimal in cost but good in picture, sound, and performance?

    Any insight is appreciated! I have built a few computers in my time, but no HTPC (but I realize this is basically the same thing). It has also been a few years since being heavily in the computer game.

    Thanks guys :bowdown:
     
  2. Doc Brown

    Doc Brown Don't make me make you my hobby

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    It's mostly about the video card and hard drive space.

    Pretty much any recent cpu series is plenty fast.

    Find out what case style they're interested in, then go from there.
     
  3. seismic

    seismic New Member

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    Are you talking about something to record TV?

    Windows Media Center is awesome, IMO. Vista version being the best.

    I've got a Shuttle that records TV and streams it over my network to my XBox 360, so I can basically watch recorded shows on either TV in my house. It's got a Athlon 64 in it, with 2GB RAM and a 400GB HDD. It holds almost a couple hundred hours of TV in it.

    I don't use it for music or anything, but it could also stream that.
     
  4. cp5184

    cp5184 New Member

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    do you want a gaming computer that can also push stuff to the TV in the same room? do you want a dedicated computer that does nothing but serve as the brains for your widescreen chapel? do you want a home office/web box that also pushes stuff to a tv in the same room?
     
  5. Doomsday

    Doomsday XXX

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    yeah,.. its basically the same thing, but instead of your small monitor and crappy pc speakers,... you hook it up to your big screen tv and home theater receiver


    Case - people usually pick small/compact cases for their htpcs.
    if you don't care how it looks,... any case will do.
    just make sure its quiet (doesn't amplify fan/hdd vibration/noise) and has adequate cooling.
    also,... avoid those that are distracting (e.g. case with blue LED fans).
    checkout the htpc cases at newegg
    http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=690&name=HTPC-Media-Center-Cases


    CPU - a favorite is the E5200.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116072
    its cheap, runs cool, good energy consumption, and still have enough horse power.
    note that some people also game on their big screen tvs,.. or hook up their camcorder/home made videos and do some video editing on their htpcs.
    this might require a more powerful cpu.


    Motherboard - mATX mobos are perfect for this.
    these two are the best you can buy right now for an Intel platform, but are expensive because they have the latest IGP (NVIDIA GeForce 9400)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...ption=&Ntk=&CFG=&SpeTabStoreType=&srchInDesc=
    an alternative is just buy any cheap matx mobo (e.g. a $50+ G41 Asus or Gigabyte mobo) and just use a separate graphics card.
    but of course, you can also use ATX mobos.


    Graphics - as i mentioned above,... you have two options here:
    Integrated graphics (IGP) or discrete (separate graphics card)

    with IGPs,... Nvidia Geforce > AMD/ATI > Intel GMA

    discrete,... Radeon HD4350, HD4550 or above if you want ATI
    9400GT, 9500GT or above if you want Nvidia

    what people usually look here is if it has HDMI, has passive cooling (fan less), and has hardware assist decoding (Nvidia's PureVideo HD, ATI's AVIVO HD).
    also,... some pick 'low profile' designs for small cases.


    Sound Card - most people just use the onboard S/PDIF out to save costs
    only audiophiles would care,... and it is a never ending debate on which sound card is best for their favorite Celine Dion tracks.


    RAM - any will do as long as your mobo supports it.


    PSU - a reliable 300-400W PSU should be fine, unless its a gaming htpc with a powerful graphics card.
    some use fanless PSUs for less noise.


    HDD - HD Porn takes a lot of space.


    Optical Drive - DVD burner, Blu-Ray Drive, whatever you want


    TV Tuners/Capture Device - you'll need one if you want to record TV Shows, hook up a VCR, camcorder, etc
    most TV Tuners today supports NTSC (analog), ATSC (over the air digital), and clear QAM (digital from cable), AM, and FM.

    there are single tuners, there are duals
    dual will let you watch a show while the other tuner records one

    they also come in different flavors,... pci cards, usb, or an external device. get the pci ones. i recommend hauppage.


    Input Devices - wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, and remote. pick your favorite
    logitech diNovo/harmony remotes > *
     
  6. avctechsupp

    avctechsupp New Member

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    building is the easy part. making it 'work' how a consumer would expect with a STB is another story. major undertaking, IMO. I built one in a few hours, and spend 10x the time troubleshooting and configuring the software to do what the customer wanted. Sell them a TiVo @ markup! :)
     
  7. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    lol....good points! thanks for the insight. I guess the battle would be getting that HTPC to perform to the consumers expectations so that I don't get calls everyday from them complaining about it not doing something the way they want them to.

    good thoughts. I may just beta test one on myself and pick someone else to see where that goes.
     
  8. popsnbeer

    popsnbeer New Member

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    thanks for the help. Your writeup seems to be close to what my thoughts were on how I wanted to go about the build. Good Idea with the harmony remotes for the user. I have an old 628 sitting around somewhere in my house. Any favorite models for this type of application though?

    I also like the fanless design ideas.

    I would probably go with a separate graphics card versus the onboard as long as it's small enough and does not create too much heat.

    good to hear the build is pretty straightforward. looks like I will have a fun time getting the user preferences setup for streamlined usage.

    wish me luck. I will probably get this going here in the next few weeks. I will try and do an update with an EDU if all goes to plan :bigthumb:
     

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