New HTPC build, need some suggestions

Spike

Diamond Member
Aug 27, 2001
6,770
1
81
I normally do all my own PC building but this time was asked to build a HTPC for a friend and I'm not sure where to start. I'm used to building gaming PC's to building a HTPC is sorta out of my normal realm. His requirements are fairly simple, all he wants is to be able to remote in wireless from an Xbox360 and use it to record/display HDTV signal on his tv. He also wants to do some music mixing/editing. Based on what I have read here and other places I have a basic list that so far hits $710, $90 short of his $800 max budget. All the prices are from newegg and are not "optimized" yet (I will look at other websites for best prices, this is just to do a general build).

AMD X2 5000+ combo 2GB G.Skill $81
G.Skill 2x2GB $84
Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H $90
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1800 kit $100
WD 640GB SATA x2 $200
Antec Sonata 3 $130 (comes with EW 500, love those PSU's)
LG DVD-R SATA $24

This is just what I am seeing right now and seem like decent deals though I will check the usual suspects (ZZF, TD, buy, etc...) for each of the products to find the best price. I have no idea if that TV tuner is any good, any help on that one? He does not want to game at all so the built in graphics are good and he will go for a BR drive later on for high def playback.

Anyone have any good reccomendations for a sound card to use for simple sound editing? I'm not sure exactly what functionality he is looking for, just that he wants to "edit and mix".

Anyway, thanks for the help!
 

ther00kie16

Golden Member
Mar 28, 2008
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You should buy the CPU+RAM combo soon as newegg codes typically don't last.
For the case, ask if your friend wants a HTPC case or not. Directron has a good price on the Thermaltake DH101 which is a very good HTPC case that has some nice features. Antec Fusion is a simpler HTPC case that also comes with an Earthwatts PSU.
For tv card, look into Avertv PCIe.
There's also the LG Blu-ray/HD-DVD drive for $160ish at a few places if your friend is interested in those.
Other than that, you did a fairy good job though I wouldn't recommend getting 2 hard drives right now as 1TB drives are going to be significantly cheaper by the time your friend needs a 2nd drive.
Onboard sound is good these days. And if your friend's just talking about simple recording/editing, onboard + some simple software like Audacity will be good enough.
However, if he's talking about a sound studio with lots of line-ins, you'll want to look into one of those cards that has a 5.25" bay with all sorts of connections.
 

Cogman

Lifer
Sep 19, 2000
10,277
125
106
look at low power CPUs. even if they are at a price premium, it will be worth it, for example the AMD Athlon X2 4050e 2.1GHz Socket AM2 45W Dual-Core Processor Model ADH4050DOBOX - Retail. You'll want low power so you can strap on some quiet fans and such. As well, you will probably want to invest in an after market cooler, the biggest that will fit in whatever case you decide on. Then strap the largest fan that the cooler will support with the lowest DB rating you can find. HTPC should be seen not heard (so to speak)

Lots of ram is good, so that was a good choice. A 64bit operating system will help encoding speeds and as you haven't included that in your price, I would suggest going with a linux based system (for the money saves). If you do go with a linux system you will want to make sure that your TV card is supported. Haugpauge usually is, but you will want to be on the safe side with this one.

You might consider a board based on the ATI 780G [edit]Well I just looked up the motherboard you chose, looks like you where 5 steps ahead of me :)[/edit], it has an onboard video card that supports HD decoding. That can take off a fair amount of stress from the CPU during playback time. (when you want your system the quietest).
 

ther00kie16

Golden Member
Mar 28, 2008
1,573
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He can just undervolt and/or underclock to lower the heat output so I suggest whatever's cheapest.
 

Spike

Diamond Member
Aug 27, 2001
6,770
1
81
I'm sorry, I realized when I posted I missed a few key points there, oops :eek:

First off software is not an issue, his wife works at MS so they will be running Vista 64 ultimate.

Second the pc will be in another room so quiet is not needed, not that they want loud they just don't need it to be quiet.

Third, he wants additional space at the moment due to immediate conversion of his dvd library to divx for easier viewing on the tv so the space is a must, he wants to add two additional 1TB drives in later.

Fourth, I found out he is not all about mixing on this, just wants to do basic audacity. He is getting a mac to do his real mixing in his home studio so onboard should work fine.

fifth and last, this is going to primarly be a media extension box to be controlled through his xbox 360 to start with. Eventually it may move into the living room but for now it will be in the other room.

Phew, sorry for not including that info in the OP, I just clarified his requirements today so I apologize. It sounds like most of the stuff I chose is good, I'm just really lost when it comes to the TV tuner cards. I know the CPU/combo thing will be gone by the time we order but thats fine, I am still going to aim for the $100 range for whatever amd cpu I pick up.

I guess I also need a wirless card, preferrably N for future network upgrades, so he can actually stream HD well. Any suggestions on that?

I will check out that Avertv PCIe you reccomend rookie, any particular reason it works well?

Thanks again for all the help and sorry for not including everything in the op.

 

heyheybooboo

Diamond Member
Jun 29, 2007
6,278
0
0
If he wants to be able to display/record premium HD cable on his setup he needs an OEM computer with cablecard.

Here is a Tuner Comparison Chart.

I use a Fusion5 for analog and unencrypted digital cable --- and OTA. The only problem I've had is with the time-shifting function so I disabled it - didn't use it anyway. I understand it has been fixed in the lastest drivers but I haven't tried it.

Works well in XP , MCE-05 and Vista. With Vista MC it can be rather tenuous to setup but maybe sp1 helped iron some of that out. Check the AVS Forums and see how they have handled it ...