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Can I build a HTPC with these components?

bull2118

Member
Apr 7, 2009
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I just upgraded my desktop and I have these parts left over...

AMD X3 720 2.8 GHZ Black
EVGA GTX 260 core 216
Mushkin blackline 4gb DDR2 800
Foxconn A79A-S 790FX

I was going to try and sell them but I am also shopping for TV/Internet and the thought of giving COMCAST!!!! one more thin red cent than I have to makes my eyes bleed. So I thought, hey, I wonder about this HTPC thing.

Also, I know nothing about HTPCs. Do they have a menu and everything like my cable box? Can I use a DVR like function? Do I need any other gear?

Thanks in advance for any help.
 
Sep 12, 2004
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It will be adequate as an HTPC since an HTPC doesn't need a lot of horsepower unless you plan on doing things like transcoding.

Regarding menus, no, WMC doesn't have a menu like a cable box. The WMC menu blows a cable box menu out of the water. It is far superior to the crap menu system that just about any cable system offers. DirecTV is the only one that even comes close.

What you will need is a cable card tuner like the Silicon Dust HD Homerun Prime or the Ceton InfiniTV series of tuners. With those you can rent a cable card from Comcast and you will have a multi-tuner HD DVR for cheaper than the monthly fee that cablecos charge for their own DVR boxes. One drawback is that with a cable card and and HYPC you won't have PPV and on-demand functionality. However, for PPV you can always call Comcast to set up a PPV event and simply tune to the required channel. For on-demand you can still tune in HBO Go and Showtime streaming (if you have a premium channel package) and you can also do Hulu, Vudu, Netflix, Amazon Streaming, and any other network or website that offers streaming services, free or PPV.

There is an initial learning curve when using WMC. However, once properly tweaked it works every bit as reliably as a cable box and is far more flexible.
 

bull2118

Member
Apr 7, 2009
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0
66
Thanks for the awesome (and quick) reply.

Just a couple follow up questions.

Software?
I'm guessing I can get an IR receptor that'll control it all?

Thanks again for learning a noob.
 
Sep 12, 2004
16,852
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The only basic software you need is Windows 7 Home Premium. I also use a utility called MCE Standby Tool, freeware that resolves some wonkiness that Media Center can exhibit when resuming from sleep mode, and My Channel Logos, which expands the functionality of the Media Center menu system. It's 5 bucks, or whatever you want to contribute, and worth every penny. I also use TotalMedia Theater but that's because my HTPC is also a Blu-ray player.

You can pick up a USB based, MCE IR receiver that works natively with Windows and works with most remotes, including Harmony remotes, for $15 or so.
 

Alan G

Member
Apr 25, 2013
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Regarding remotes, one was included with my Hauppage 2650 tuner. This tuner only lets you record two channels at a time but that's all I need and I don't need the network possibilities of some of the other options. As TLC already noted Windows Media Center is all you need and it works just fine. I'm on Verizon FIOS and would agree that the WMC program guide and features are superior. The only glitch in set up is configuring WMC if you have HBO. I think it's the Data ID# that gets dynamically assigned on installation and you need that along with two other ID#s to properly install your cable card for HBO (a wrong data ID# doesn't seem to affect any of the other channels as I found out the hard way).

Anyway, take the plunge!! I don't know how much Comcast charges for Cable Cards; Verizon is $5.98 but that's a lot cheaper than the monthly DVR rental fee.
 

tential

Diamond Member
May 13, 2008
7,363
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Regarding remotes, one was included with my Hauppage 2650 tuner. This tuner only lets you record two channels at a time but that's all I need and I don't need the network possibilities of some of the other options. As TLC already noted Windows Media Center is all you need and it works just fine. I'm on Verizon FIOS and would agree that the WMC program guide and features are superior. The only glitch in set up is configuring WMC if you have HBO. I think it's the Data ID# that gets dynamically assigned on installation and you need that along with two other ID#s to properly install your cable card for HBO (a wrong data ID# doesn't seem to affect any of the other channels as I found out the hard way).

Anyway, take the plunge!! I don't know how much Comcast charges for Cable Cards; Verizon is $5.98 but that's a lot cheaper than the monthly DVR rental fee.
From what I've heard, Comcast is first cable card is free.

As for the channels like HBO, when I did my setup the Ceton Drivers told me that my card wasn't authorized so I called Verizon. It took them about an hour to get my paidchannels to work so don't be surprised if it's on their end. Paid channels do work.

The BEST thing about it is of course being able to reencode your DVR stuff. I'm using Handbrake, and 100 recordings took up around 300 gigs. After reencoding using Handbrake? It's like 30 gigs.

I LOVE using a cable card over a cable box. I only wish that I could use some other program other than WMC. It's too bad it's SO HARD to get the EPG to show up well on other programs.
 

LoveMachine

Senior member
May 8, 2012
491
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If I remember correctly, your video card may not support the latest HD audio streams natively over HDMI. I think the 240GT was the only one from that series that did. You will be fine with standard 5.1/DTS sources, though. A $30 6450 or 620GT will do the job, and burn a lot less electricity.
 
May 27, 2008
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I have Comcast and my cable card is free. But it could be different in other regions.

How do you plan to connect it to your TV? Your video card can work, but sound may be tricky without a true HDMI port on the GTX260.

Are you using a receiver?
Does your receiver have a Toslink (aka optical) connector?
Does your receiver have HDMI?
Does your receiver support Dolby TrueHD and/or DTS-HD? (The logos would likely be painted on the front of the receiver if it does.) And do you plan to play BluRays on your HTPC (either directly or ripped)?

Will you be connecting your HTPC directly to your HDTV and using its built in speakers?
If so does your TV have a Toslink in (aka optical) connector? (It has to be in.)
-Or- does your GTX260 have a SPDIF in header AND your motherboard have an SPDIF out header?
 

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