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Author Topic: Help me build my new Home Theater PC  (Read 19450 times)
4wd
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« Reply #25 on: November 05, 2008, 06:05:32 AM »

#1 by far - getting the QUIETEST components i could.  people always seem to overlook this, but bleeding edge graphics cards and hard drives are LOUD.  power supplies can be too.  For a multimedia pc i think youd be better off with slower cpu and lower powered graphics card that are quiet. just my 2 cent.

Josh is using the integrated graphics on the board, more than capable of handling any format and fanless.

Can you recommend a good case with a VFD display? What exactly is it?

VFD - Vacuum Fluorescent Displayw, most commonly seen on VCRs.

For example, the Silverstone LC16M I mentioned previously.  You've also got the ThermalTake DH101 and Bach, Zalman HD135 among others.

Most manufacturers provide software for the display to interact with MCE.

There's also aftermarket VFDs, eg. ThermalTake Media LAB, there are others.

What you need to find out is exactly what you want to display and whether the supplied software is able to do it.

Quote
As can be seen above I have decided on the hard disk drives as well. 1x 10000RPM OS Drive (Western Digital) and 2x Seagate Barracuda's in a RAID 1 config for the data portion.

Thoughts?

Yeah, Seagate's are loud compared to Samsung and WD.  WD also has the highest MTBF rating, eg. Barracuda 7200.11 @ 750,000 hours; WD AV @ 1,000,000 hours (33% higher longevity).
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Josh
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« Reply #26 on: November 05, 2008, 06:47:26 AM »

Per your recommendation 4wd, I am switching the 1TB WD AV-GP drives. I am just hoping the OS Drive wont overpower them.
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brewmonkey
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« Reply #27 on: November 05, 2008, 10:13:28 AM »

Also, a question I have been pondering, would it be best to run 64-bit or 32-bit?

You need to run s 64-bit OS to take advantage of all 4 GBs of RAM.
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Josh
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« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2008, 11:37:09 AM »

Yeah, that is something I have been toying with. I am thinking I will start out with 32 bit and then when Windows 7 pushes out, I am going to make the jump completely to 64 bit, including my workstation. I figure the system will be more than capable to run Windows 7 and as such, wont have any qualms upgrading it as I think the media center is getting a major overhaul in this next release. We shall see.
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mjcummings
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« Reply #29 on: November 05, 2008, 03:41:01 PM »

you should go to tigerdirect.com and check the prices there ex:
1TB Sata 300 seagate drive $109.00
1.5TB Sata 300 seagate drive $ 149.00
Asus P5N-D Motherboard CPU RAM Bundle - nForce 750i SLI, Socket 775, Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 Processor OEM, Corsair Dual Channel TWINX 4096MB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz Memory (2 x 2048MB) $409.00 (minus a $30.00 rebate if you are into that)
they also have a Onkio 7.1 sound system (1000 + watts) for under 600

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mjcummings
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« Reply #30 on: November 05, 2008, 03:52:19 PM »

you may want to remember that on board video chipsets share memory with the CPU and OS. a dedicated card might be best.
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4wd
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« Reply #31 on: November 05, 2008, 04:51:46 PM »

you may want to remember that on board video chipsets share memory with the CPU and OS. a dedicated card might be best.

You may want to have a look at the board he's chosen, it has it's own dedicated 128MB of DDR3 - and even if it didn't, (from the perspective of actually having a board with the previous GPU and shared memory), it won't make any difference.

The onboard GPU is the fastest available - it's equivalent to the Radeon 3400 series.

It can even run quite a few 3D games, while I don't get into benchmarking, a 3DMark06 > 2000 is rather excellent for onboard graphics.

Also, you can add a cheap Radeon 34xx series PCI-e card and run them in Hybrid Crossfire to get about a 40-60% increase in GPU processing grunt.....not bad for adding a card that costs about $30.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2008, 05:00:47 PM by 4wd » Logged

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mikiem
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« Reply #32 on: November 05, 2008, 06:53:30 PM »

FWIW, more of an overclocking, gaming machine from the board & CPU, plus many of the 9950s aren't doing as well - quality seems to vary - plus you've got smaller Phenoms out in 2 months, consuming less power & needing less cooling (quieter). I've also has some quality issues on an early Gigabyte AM2+ board if that matters - 2nd RMA board received today. If you do stick with the 9950, might well want to point separate fans at the PWM heatsink & NB areas. Also, check memory compatibility, paying attention to voltages. I didn't check specs etc on your 1st choice, but my gig board likes lower voltage RAM.

2nd, don't rely on on-board graphics!!! For an HTPC get a mid range ATI card if you're using a board with ATI chipset. Forget about hybrid crossfire - go regular crossfire if needed for gaming, but make sure you have the power for it. Mid range cards have both needed power & separate avivo chip for video processing, which is cool for HDTV. Bear in mind you'll often loose a slot with current video cards due to cooling.

3rd, check out your power supply, & alternatives at jonny gurus's site & similar, where they actually check specs.

4th, not sure how relevant sound card will be if you hook up HTPC to HDTV via HDMI, assuming you get audio over HDMI working - doesn't always...  embarassed
---
At any rate check over at the AVS & green button forums for info on various cards & how well they work, maybe even with the same brand/model TV. Check out the various forums to compare boards - FWIW I'm impressed with Biostar over at Rebels Haven. Looking at the pwr supply site is self explanatory, & they do rate noise BTW. For gaming, rage3d has some decent info on ATI cards... not a lot out there on on-board chips or hybrid crossfire.
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Josh
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« Reply #33 on: November 05, 2008, 11:24:29 PM »

Thats just it, the on board graphics included with this system board is designed for HD decoding and encoding. The problem with add-in cards is additional heat and additional noise generated by a cooling fan that is likely included. Is an add-in card really going to give me much more benefit over the built-in 3300 w/ built in 128MB of ram? I don't really need a gaming capable card as that is not what this system will be used for. This is strictly for home theater purposes. I still have the ability to hook up my home computer to my TV through HDMI out and as such, don't need a high capacity card.

Now, from what I am reading, you seem to say not to go with the 9950. Is that just due to heat issues? I really don't see this thing heating up that much given it's intended purpose. But again, I could be wrong. Could you give me some more info on this? I want to ensure I make the right decision here.
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4wd
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« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2008, 12:58:25 AM »

Now, from what I am reading, you seem to say not to go with the 9950. Is that just due to heat issues? I really don't see this thing heating up that much given it's intended purpose. But again, I could be wrong. Could you give me some more info on this? I want to ensure I make the right decision here.

The 9950 BE is the current top-of-the-range Phenom and is rated at 125/140W, in fact any Phenom X4 from the old 9750X and above is 125W.

I would check to make sure you get the 125W version of the 9950 if you're going to stick with it, AMD part number: HD995ZXAGHBOX

No point putting an extra 15W into the case when you don't have to.

The new Phenom being released in January will be using a 45nm die process BUT the first ones that are slated for release are 2.8GHz and 3.0GHz 125W desktop versions.  So you'll save nothing by waiting except possibly a bit of money since they'll probably drop the prices on the 65nm CPUs just after release of the new ones.

Considering that the GPU will be doing most of the work regarding decoding, I don't see the CPU getting much load over 10%, so it should be running reasonably cool.

I'm assuming you're going for the 9950 to put the most into any video transcoding you do?

During video encoding, (eg. MPEG2->h.264), the CPU is going to be pretty much 100% across all cores, (assuming an encoder that uses all cores).  At that point you'll find out if the HSF is going to get noisy but it can always be fixed by using a decent aftermarket HSF, (eg. Zalman, ThermalTake, Scythe, etc), assuming it'll fit in your chosen case.

You should also check out Silent PC Review, they review quite a few HTPC cases.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2008, 01:03:06 AM by 4wd » Logged

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Josh
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« Reply #35 on: November 06, 2008, 02:42:05 AM »

4wd,

I thank you for the detailed responses. As you can see in my listing at the start of this topic, I have decided on the 9950 125W phenom when i first made the pick. That seems to be the best bang for the buck.

My big concern, now that several have pointed this out, is the graphics card. Is it really going to help me to get an additional card for this system given its intended use? I am not much of a gamer and even when I do game, its on my PS3 or on my workstation computer which can handle most games I am into at a decent frame rate (not top end framerates or resolutions, I dont need the best of the best when it comes to that).

Thoughts?
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Davidtheo
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« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2008, 03:30:08 AM »


Why go Integrated with the graphics I think it is a bad idea, By not Integrating them you can get a better graphics card and update when needed.

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« Reply #37 on: November 06, 2008, 03:45:11 AM »

I am presently building an HTPC myself, and my investigations have brought me to pretty much the same conclusions as 4wd on this subject.

I went with the GA-MA78GM-2SH with the AMD 4850e X2 processor, albeit I'm shooting for a generic mATX case (steal, not aluminum) with a Seasonic SFX 350w 80 Plus power supply and a Gyration remote control. This combo is more than enough to handle an HTPC scenario and will still allow me to use the unit for other purposes if I've a need to.

Stay away from the Seagate 750 and 1000 gb hard drives. Failure rates have been very high on these units (read up at Newegg) and they run hot as hell - which means you'll need good cooling and fans make noise. I bought a 750GB Seagate for an external backup unit and I had to put it in an enclosure with a fan. You can burn your fingers if you touch one of those things after they've been running for awhile!
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f0dder
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« Reply #38 on: November 06, 2008, 04:00:40 AM »

Why go Integrated with the graphics I think it is a bad idea, By not Integrating them you can get a better graphics card and update when needed.
If the integrated solution is (more than) adequate for his HD en/decode needs, why waste money and space (and noise and heat and reduced airflow) on a discrete solution?
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4wd
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« Reply #39 on: November 06, 2008, 04:33:10 AM »

My big concern, now that several have pointed this out, is the graphics card. Is it really going to help me to get an additional card for this system given its intended use? I am not much of a gamer and even when I do game, its on my PS3 or on my workstation computer which can handle most games I am into at a decent frame rate (not top end framerates or resolutions, I dont need the best of the best when it comes to that).

There's nothing wrong with the integrated GPU for your purpose - which is, as you have said from the very first post, is for a HTPC.

The AMD 790G is more than capable, as indeed was the AMD 780G (which I have), the AMD 740G and the AMD 690G - all of which did not have the benefit of dedicated DDR3 that the AMD 790G has.

I don't know why everyone suddenly thinks you want to play games on it.

Why go Integrated with the graphics I think it is a bad idea, By not Integrating them you can get a better graphics card and update when needed.

There's nothing wrong with the integrated GPU for the purpose Josh wants to use it for BUT if he did find that it wasn't up to scratch for it's intended purpose, (unlikely), then the motherboard also has 2 16xPCIe slots.

Honestly, besides Josh, did anyone look at what the board is capable of?

I'd buy one tomorrow if I could sneak it past the wife.

If the integrated solution is (more than) adequate for his HD en/decode needs, why waste money and space (and noise and heat and reduced airflow) on a discrete solution?

Exactly right.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2008, 05:01:52 AM by 4wd » Logged

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4wd
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« Reply #40 on: November 06, 2008, 04:54:50 AM »

I am presently building an HTPC myself, and my investigations have brought me to pretty much the same conclusions as 4wd on this subject.

Thanks, nice to know I'm not spouting rubbish occasionally  cheesy

Quote
....... Gyration remote control.

Hadn't heard of those before but they look rather good - I had thought of getting some kind of wireless 3D mouse, (sorry, can't recall what they call them).  Then again, maybe use CamSpace, a webcam and wave my arms around to move the mouse pointer and run programs - at least I'd get a workout  tongue

Quote
Stay away from the Seagate 750 and 1000 gb hard drives. Failure rates have been very high on these units (read up at Newegg) and they run hot as hell - which means you'll need good cooling and fans make noise. I bought a 750GB Seagate for an external backup unit and I had to put it in an enclosure with a fan. You can burn your fingers if you touch one of those things after they've been running for awhile!

Same as I've found, (heat and noise that is), it's worth noting that on the list of recommended 3.5" HDDs at Silent PC Review, not one is a Seagate.  I think they gave up on quiet and heat in their quest for the all important transfer rate bragging rights.
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« Reply #41 on: November 06, 2008, 07:51:02 AM »

Here is a question for whoever is listening. Are speakers a necessity on a system such as this or do you just turn your tv on when you want to listen to music? I mean, with this system, I would have the capability of streaming throughout the house if i wanted and turning on the tv isnt that big of a deal. Thoughts?
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mouser
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« Reply #42 on: November 06, 2008, 08:09:54 AM »

Quote
or do you just turn your tv on when you want to listen to music?


are you crazy? if you're going to take all of the time and effort to set this up, surely you want to be able to listen to music and watch tv with a nice dolby surround speakers, etc.

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« Reply #43 on: November 06, 2008, 08:38:05 AM »

Thats just it, there arent any really DECENT RCA connector speakers for use with these 5.1 systems. Heck, I can't find a set that does 7.1. Is there a way to convert standard red/black style connectors to RCA?
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« Reply #44 on: November 06, 2008, 09:23:32 AM »

4wd - I've been using a Gyration remote for awhile now and I like it. It works as a psuedo keyboard/mouse via a USB dongle. That should give you an idea of the versitality potential of the Gyration. I also saw a new freeware software program at ZDNet yesterday that allows you to run commands based on mouse gestures. It sounds like the perfect match for use with the Gyration. I think that will be my next little project :>)

Josh - Streaming music has its problems. You get staggered output room to room due to timing delays in network communications. No one has ever been able to resolve that issue. I opted for a decent RF unit that plugs into my PC and broadcasts FM signals throughout the house. I just put a good (or not so good :>) FM radio in each room (they're cheap enough) and, wala, synchronized music throughout the house. Not the highest sound quality I agree, but decent enough.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2008, 12:14:06 PM by phillfri » Logged
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« Reply #45 on: November 06, 2008, 09:35:50 AM »

I have decided to go with the CW02S-MXR case from Silverstone. It looks like the best of both worlds given that I really dont NEED an LCD but a VFD might be useful.
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phillfri
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« Reply #46 on: November 06, 2008, 12:42:30 PM »

A case made of aluminum acts much more like an echo chamber than one made of steel, i.e. it amplifies internal case sounds. Higher end case manufacturers have tended toward using aluminum blended with other materials to counter this echo chamber amplification effect (increased noise level). I'd make sure that this case is appropriately blended aluminum and not just plain aluminum - giving recognition to the high-end nature of the HTPC you want to build and the money you're spending on it.

This case has been out there for 2+ years or more now, and there are almost no revews on it. That tells me to be careful because the HTPC geeks have not been hitting on this product. There must be a reason. My guess is first the price, and second the aluminum construction.
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« Reply #47 on: November 06, 2008, 01:33:10 PM »

no reviews? There are a few, not many, but each of them positive. I am open to ideas for cases still and this is by no means a finalization.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2008, 01:35:20 PM by Josh » Logged

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phillfri
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« Reply #48 on: November 06, 2008, 03:42:06 PM »

Actually I found a comparison review for you. Its in Swedish, but push the translation button. It will take a few seconds, but you'll end up with an english language page. Scroll down the page to the bottom and you'll see a comparison chart that you can double click on to enlarge. Actually, they cover a couple nice boxes in this review that I might take a look at myself. In the end, the CW02S-MXR gets a fairly decent rating (82 out of 100) - but it d^%# well better at $400.00 :>)

Comparison Review

Actually, there's a button at the bottom of the translated page that will take you to the home page of this site. Sadly, its all in Swedish - I couldn't fine an english language button anywhere. But it looks like they have a lot of good info here on HTPC equipment. If you use firefox I think there's an addin that will give you language translation on the firefox context menu. It might be worth installing that just to check this site out.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2008, 03:55:26 PM by phillfri » Logged
4wd
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« Reply #49 on: November 06, 2008, 04:36:58 PM »

This case has been out there for 2+ years or more now, and there are almost no revews on it. That tells me to be careful because the HTPC geeks have not been hitting on this product. There must be a reason. My guess is first the price, and second the aluminum construction.

According to someone who made a HTPC with it, it was new in October 2007, which makes it only a year old.

no reviews? There are a few, not many, but each of them positive. I am open to ideas for cases still and this is by no means a finalization.

The suspension dampened HDD cage should take care of the resonance from any HDD vibration.

A little on the high side for my tastes but I assume you want the six drive bays for increasing storage later?

Also, given they provision it for use with water cooling, (two grommeted holes at the back), it would look really cool with one of these or these sitting next to it cheesy

Thats just it, there arent any really DECENT RCA connector speakers for use with these 5.1 systems. Heck, I can't find a set that does 7.1. Is there a way to convert standard red/black style connectors to RCA?

OK, I'm confused, the normal red/black connectors are RCA......or did you mean convert the normal computer style 3.5mm stereo connectors to RCA?

If you meant the latter then adapters are available almost everywhere, eg. RadioShack
1/8" Right-Angle to Two RCA Plugs
RadioShack Gold Series Audio Y-Adapter

For computer to speakers/amp you usually need 3.5mm stereo plug, (1/8" to the non-metricised), to male red and black, (could be red/white), RCA connectors.

Plus, you can always buy the connectors and roll your own - what I usually do.

Addendum:
What would probably be better though, is choose a surround sound speaker system that can take SPDIFw input and just use a single TOSLinkw cable.
For example, the Logitech Z-5500 has both a S/PDIF optical and coaxial input so you'll only need one cable to connect to the HTPC.

I'm sure there will be comparable systems from Altec Lansing, JBL, etc.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2008, 07:29:14 PM by 4wd » Logged

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