Whats a good motherboard for a multi tuner PVR/HTPC?

coolred

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Nov 12, 2001
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I am building an HTPC to hook up to my new 37" HDTV. It will almost definitely be used as a HDTV tuner(unless I can find a way to get directv into my apartment without having cables run all over the place). I am currently with WOW cable, and they are uping my rates, plus the added cost of going to HD, they would be pretty expensive. Time warner is cheaper, but they don't have my local fox and abc channels in HD, but they are my top choice if I can't get the directv. So if I go with them, then i will have at least a single HDTV tuner for the ABC and FOX channels.

But there is a chance I may just forgo the HD from the cable company and get it all OTA, in which case I would probably have 2+ HD tuners. I currently have 2 tivos for recording SD, and I love their simplicity, or more so, my wife can use it, so thats great. If I can make the HTPC stable and reliable and easy enough to use, then I may get rid of the Tivos as well, which would mean I would be adding 2+ SD tuners to the mix.

I am leaning towards an Antec Fusion HTPC case, and with the possibility of needing space for multiple tuners I am pretty sure I should go with an ATX motherboard. I know there are some good mATX HTPC boards out there. I actually have an Asus A8N-VM CSM in my main rig(SFF).

So I look to you, knowers of everything motherboard related, lol. I mainly stick with AMD, but am not opposed to Intel, the C2D's are sweet, but a bit expensive. If possible it would be great to be able to game a little on this PC as well, but don't make it your main criteria for recommending a board. I would say stability is my main concern, I don't much have to worry about my tivo crashing or for some other reason missing a recording, I would prefer to get as close as possible to that with this PC. I know I can make a stable system, but I also know I will likely not reach the stability of the Tivo, since there is more hardware and software involved in the HTPC.

I already have MCE 2005, so that will likely be my OS/front end, unless for some reason sage/beyond/myth or one of the others is really better, but I doubt that would have much of an impact on motherboard choice. With the exception of maybe mythTV

So anyways, thanks for the help.
 

coolred

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Nov 12, 2001
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Just realized the fusion only supports mATX boards. I kinda figured with ti being so big that it could handle an ATX MB, but apparently not. So now I may have to look for a new case as well.
 

tpalik

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Nov 3, 2006
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Coolred, I don't have direct experience but a friend of mine used a MSI K8NGM2-FID GF6150 which is socket 939 and was available on Newegg for $78.99. The socket 939 is being discontinued a the end of the quarter. This board is mATX with integrated video. He has it connected to OTA HD and has it in an Antec NSK1300 stuck in a cabinet with limited ventilation. It runs reliably, cool, and fast.

Can I ask what capture card you are considering ? I am thinking of extending HD to my new machine.

 

coolred

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Nov 12, 2001
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Yeah that board looks nice, but not a lot of room for expansion.

As for tuners, i have not fully decided yet, if its good, I will go with the upcoming vbox dual HD tuner, not sure for SD yet.
 

Fallen Kell

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Oct 9, 1999
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See sig....

I have room for 2 more tuners in there. You still need lots of PCI slots if you want to have tuners. There are very few tuners that are PCI-E. I currently have the Hauppauge PVR-500MCE dual tuner internal and a Plextor PX-TV402U external USB2.0 tuner. Again the MSI motherboard was the best of both worlds in my opinion for being able to have a PCI-E video card and still have 4 PCI slots.

But this is a AMD based board. If you want Core 2 Duo (and I recommend it), look at the MSI 945P Neo3-F.
 

coolred

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Nov 12, 2001
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Originally posted by: Fallen Kell
See sig....

I have room for 2 more tuners in there. You still need lots of PCI slots if you want to have tuners. There are very few tuners that are PCI-E. I currently have the Hauppauge PVR-500MCE dual tuner internal and a Plextor PX-TV402U external USB2.0 tuner. Again the MSI motherboard was the best of both worlds in my opinion for being able to have a PCI-E video card and still have 4 PCI slots.

But this is a AMD based board. If you want Core 2 Duo (and I recommend it), look at the MSI 945P Neo3-F.

Yeah like i said, I lean towards AMD, but mainly because they have been faster/cheaper/cooler lately. They appear to have lost most of those if not all to the C2D. But I am open either way, why do you recommended C2D?

I would prefer to purchase my stuff at Microcenter I get a discount through them, so they tend to be about as cheap as newegg and I can get the stuff locally now rather then having to wait for it to ship. But they don't appear to have either of the board you mentioned. Is the 945 an older board? They have some MSI 965 boards and even a 975.
 

tpalik

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From what I have read for an HTPC the CPU doesn't take a lot of load. Most of it is on the capture card and video card. I have a C2D for my main machine but I'm inclined to lean towards AMD for cost reasons if I was building a HTPC.
 

coolred

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Nov 12, 2001
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Originally posted by: tpalik
From what I have read for an HTPC the CPU doesn't take a lot of load. Most of it is on the capture card and video card. I have a C2D for my main machine but I'm inclined to lean towards AMD for cost reasons if I was building a HTPC.

Yeah i will weigh the cost benefits on the cpu.

For about the price of the E6300, I can get an X2 4200+. I assuem the C2D is the better deal?

About the motherboard, from what I ehar MCE can support 2 tuners out of the box and can be hacked to support up to 4. If this is the case, could I get a hauppauge 500 for dual SD in one slot and/or the upcoming vbox dual tuner which allows both tuners to do HD or SD. So either way thats a total of 4 tuners in 2 slots, maybe I can deal with an mATX board.
 

Fallen Kell

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Oct 9, 1999
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If you want quality HD captures and playback you will use a lot more CPU then you think. One of the great things of having your own HTPC is that you can run FFDSHOW to do video upscaling, noise reduction, de-interlacing, etc of the video content. You can and will easily max out your CPU when you start doing some of those things and will have to pick and choose what your system has the ability to perform depending on your system limitations. I would love to do more then I can right now, but I will drop frames if I try. I will say that the improvements in picture quality are stunning when you start doing some of this. A great introduction can be seen below:

http://www.htpcnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=132&Itemid=54

And that was done with technology from 2 years ago (as well as older versions of FFDSHOW). There is so much more that is possible even now. Basically, the more processing power you have, the more you can do using this program.

As for MCE, well, I tried it, but ditched it. I use SageTV now. I had lots of issues with MCE. With SageTV, I don't have a limitation on number of tuners. I also can have completely different channel line-ups on each and every tuner (i.e. I have 1 of my tuners connected to a digital set top box so I can get HBO, Stars, Encore, Skinamax... and the others are using the regular non-digital cable channel line-up). Some people actually have one tuner connected to their satilite feed and another to their cable feed (yes, some people do have both services), and you just can't do that with MCE because it's scheduler program can not handle dealing with the problems that only certain cards can record or watch certain shows/channels. I also wanted to store my shows across multiple disks. With SageTV, I simply add a new "disk store" directory and tell it how much space it is allowed to use in that area (i.e. I can say use only 10 GB on C:, use all available space on D:, use all but 5GB on E:, etc., etc., whatever or wherever I like, it could be C:/my_movies or whatever...).
 

coolred

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Nov 12, 2001
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ANy hope of me getting a system( a good system, just with the minimum of parts required to run) for around 500?