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Thinking About Building My OWN HTPC... Any Suggestions?
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PorscheXboxster
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 12:27 am   
Post subject: Thinking About Building My OWN HTPC... Any Suggestions?
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Well, I'm thinking about building my own "Multimedia" PC. It looks like Windows Media Center Edition can be purchased after all. I'm not convinced that I want to use it strictly as a MCE PC, as I've heard Microsoft has made DRM a pain to deal with in MCE.

Since this PC will need an OS, I figured I'd pick a copy of MCE (I think it's around $140). I also am considering Beyond TV 4 to use for its TiVo-like function.

I'm not totally sure what all I want to do with this thing... probably store/organize digital photos & home videos, record TV & DVDs, use it as a digital jukebox... maybe other things.

Anyone have any hardware suggestions? I'd like to keep the initial cost under $2000, although if everything goes well, I'd probably invest more. Ultimately, I'd like to be able to record a few programs off of Dish Network simultaneously, but I've heard that might require Dish receivers equal to the number of channels I'd like to record simultaneously.

I've never built a PC before, so I'd like to assemble one that's as fool-proof as possible. I'm considering Athlon 64 x2 3800 ($300), a nice Silverstone case, a 300GB SATA HDD (initially one, but need room for multiple HDDs for future expansion). Anyone have MoBo (or other hardware) experience who can tell me what to look for?

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sjohn
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 3:47 am   
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Normally I use ASUS boards, also don't forget you'll need a pretty good video card, I see you mentioned the Beyond TV capture card, but you will also need a card to display the content that you want shown, I'd suggest atleast a radeon 9800 or so. I think your budget on this is a bit too much really, depending on if you want to kind of do a hideaway unit, or if you don't mind a full pc tower. If you don't mind a tower, you can probably build one for 1500 at most. That's with a lot of top of the line stuff (300 cpu, 500 gpu, 150 mobo, 150 ram, 100 case, 100 psu, 300 hdds) that comes out to about 1600, you can go a lot cheaper on the video card, and spend that money elsewhere. I'd suggest looking at the specs of the ones on the markets and building similar.
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PorscheXboxster
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 11:45 am   
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sjohn wrote:
Normally I use ASUS boards, also don't forget you'll need a pretty good video card, I see you mentioned the Beyond TV capture card, but you will also need a card to display the content that you want shown, I'd suggest atleast a radeon 9800 or so. I think your budget on this is a bit too much really, depending on if you want to kind of do a hideaway unit, or if you don't mind a full pc tower. If you don't mind a tower, you can probably build one for 1500 at most. That's with a lot of top of the line stuff (300 cpu, 500 gpu, 150 mobo, 150 ram, 100 case, 100 psu, 300 hdds) that comes out to about 1600, you can go a lot cheaper on the video card, and spend that money elsewhere. I'd suggest looking at the specs of the ones on the markets and building similar.


Actually I'd like to go have the potential to go top-of-the-line. I'm gonna start out small, but increase as my needs grow. I've been looking at ABIT & ASUS mobos and I'm leaning towards ASUS.

If anyone has the time, could you peruse the mobos at newegg.com and make a recommendation on an Athlon 64 x2 mobo? I'd like something forgiving, but future expandability is also important. A great price would be nice, too, but I want something I won't have to replace if/when I decide to go big-time with it.

Anyone know of any great resources, online or otherwise, for educating me on mobos, etc. ???

_________________________________________________________
The World's Most Awesome Xbox 360 Room
[X X X X X X . . . .]% complete

-----------------------------------------

Xbox 360 x 2
V1.0???
---
Xbox v1.4 Halo
X2.3Blite
4981.06
---
Xbox v1.4 Non-Halo
X2.3B
4983.06


View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
 
 
 
 
sjohn
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 2:26 pm   
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I used to check Tom's Hardware www.tomshardware.com in order to get reviews on boards and such. I've been kinda out of the loop lately (no money so haven't been looking). Either one of those boards would be good ASUS/ABIT are both great boards normally. I've also had good luck out of EPOX but most people never mention them. I'll look and see what is out there. You want atleast 4 slots for ram, and a pci-express 16x slot. Otherwise it's pretty much all the same.

I was just reading this, it seems that the top board makers are now in this order:

ASUS
GIGABYTE
MSI
then it doesn't really list the rest, but it says MSI might overtake the #2 spot with their newboard, and it does really look good, it's the MSI K8N Diamond Plus.

Here's tom's review:
http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/01/26/msi_k8n_diamond_plus/

Board at Newegg:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813130037

I had completely forgotten about MSI and Gigabyte, I'd recommend those, I've used them in a lot of systems, never had a failure.

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PorscheXboxster
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 3:01 pm   
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Great! Thanks for the info/advice!
_________________________________________________________
The World's Most Awesome Xbox 360 Room
[X X X X X X . . . .]% complete

-----------------------------------------

Xbox 360 x 2
V1.0???
---
Xbox v1.4 Halo
X2.3Blite
4981.06
---
Xbox v1.4 Non-Halo
X2.3B
4983.06


View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
 
 
 
 
sjohn
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Post Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 3:30 pm   
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This board is really good, it is one of the top boards out there, this board by ASUS (A8N32-SLI Deluxe) seemed to outdo it in a few tests, but it was just by a few numbers, and it's slightly more expensive, with a few less features. The main one being the MSI one includes a Creative Audigy sound card onboard for very good sound, this would be incredibly useful as the HTPC as it can directly hook up to your dolby receiver.

Otherwise they are basically the same, the ASUS is about $10 higher, but honestly the MSI is a lot better deal, not only being cheaper, but that onboard sound processor takes the strain off of the cpu, and allows for quality audio.

I would also recommend getting 2-1GB RAM at DDR400, both boards allow a maximum of 4gb, and 2gb total will give you plenty but still allow you room to grow. Also with 2 sticks you can take advantage of the dual channel memory controller.

Also for hard drives, I'd probably recommend a nice WD740 Raptor as the main system drive, this is probably one of the fastest drive on the market. Then I would get 2 200-300 GB SATA Drives in a RAID configuration for the storage drives.

This effectively doubles your speeds, by using both drives as a single large drive. As far as a graphics card goes, I'd go with a Nvidia GeForce with 128-256MB of memory, and SLi capability. That way you can buy another one later on, to use with the 2nd PCI-Express 16x Slot. This will help a lot with gaming. Basically I would build a gaming pc, then install media center edition, that is basically xp pro with the media center additions. And then use it as a great HTPC/Gaming PC.

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