Building a Media Center PC - Techist - Tech Forum

Go Back   Techist - Tech Forum > Computer Hardware > System Upgrades
Click Here to Login
Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 12-01-2007, 01:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
Newb Techie
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 2
Question Building a Media Center PC

Hey everyone!

I just signed up for these forums for this sole request (although if it helps I'm sure I'll stick around).

I am looking to build a home media center that will replace my DVD Player, HD DVD/BD Player, Audio player, and possibly gaming console. I would also like this machine to be able to record (so that I can pause and play TV shows).

I'm not looking for top of the line, but more around the average equipment and parts to make this happen. I don't know very much about this type of system at all so I found a list (created on January of 07) on a tech site and figured I'd use it as a guideline.

Here it is:

Case
• SilverStone LaScala LC17 $120

Power Supply
• Antec NeoHE 430 $70

CPU
• Athlon 64 X2 3800+ $56

CPU Cooler
• Zalman CNPS7000A-Cu $25

Motherboard
• ABIT AN8 Ultra $115

Memory
• 2GB Kingston ValueRAM $104

Graphics Hardware
• ASUS Extreme N6600 Silencer $109

DVD Decoder Software
• nVidia PureVideo Decoder $30

Hard Drive
• Seagate NL35 400GB $200

Optical Drives
• HP dvd740i DVD Writer $78
• NEC ND-3520A DVD±R DL $50

Memory Card Reader
• Mitsumi FA-405M $16

Audio Hardware
• Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi $116
• Creative DTS-610 $99

Analog TV Tuners
• ATI TV Wonder Elite (PCI) $110
• PowerColor T55E-P03 (PCIe x1) $85

HDTV Tuners
• Vbox Cat's Eye DTA-150 $89
• Vbox Cat's Eye USB-A 3560 $109

Keyboard/Mouse
• Microsoft ZV1 MCE keyboard $75

Remote Control
• Microsoft Media Center Remote $35

Operating System
• Windows XP Media Center Edition $125


Now what I need from you are recommendations, feedback, or anything that will help me build the system that I want.

The list does not seem to support HD or BD so that would be an important issue that I need help with. I would also like to know if it'd be possible to run DirectTV through this. The list also has Windows XP MCE, but I've heard that Vista Home or Ultimate would be a better choice. I could use some guidance there as well.

Again, any comments are welcome and appreciated. I plan on building this over the next month or two (preferably after Christmas).

Thanks a ton!

Andrew Lancaster
__________________

vChosen is offline  
Old 12-01-2007, 10:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
Monster Techie
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 1,909
Default Re: Building a Media Center PC

I think you can buy a decent Manufactured PC specifically for Media Centre from HP, Packard Bell, Philips. will save you with all that hassle of building and configuration. also, for speakers, get yourself Creative Gigaworks.
__________________

Blind_Arrow is offline  
Old 12-02-2007, 12:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
Newb Techie
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 2
Default Re: Building a Media Center PC

That is probably the most unhelpful response I could have hoped for. Thanks anyways...
vChosen is offline  
Old 12-02-2007, 03:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
Lord Techie
 
veedubfreak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 6,979
Default Re: Building a Media Center PC

Ok first things first DO NOT BUY XP. Buy vista home premium. 2nd, buy a good motherboard that has 7.1 surround sound, a gigbyte ds3r board is great, its a lot cheaper than buying a ****** board and a sound card. third, video card, get an 8500gt, it has hd decoding and costs under 100 bucks.

What is your price range, i just built a media center pc with 3.5 tB of storage space, and im absolutely loving it.
__________________
Nothing to see here.
veedubfreak is offline  
Old 12-02-2007, 05:13 AM   #5 (permalink)
Patron
 
saltynay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: West Coast, Singapore
Posts: 5,149
Default Re: Building a Media Center PC

What I recommend for your usage:

CPU: Intel E2180
Motherboard: Asus P5K
Ram: 4gb Good manufacturer best if bought as; 2(2x1gb dual channel) = 4x1gb
Gfx: 8500gt (passive) or if you want to do low end gaming 8600gt (passive) if your going to overclock it then get an active variant.

Harddrive:
Choice 1 (silent operation)
8-16gb flash drive for boot
networked hdd space of 2-4tb (requires a hidden base server but that can be a pentium 3 old thing $30 on ebay attached to a home network)
Choice 2 (loud operation)
320gb seagate barracuda 7200.10 for boot
5x500gb seagate barracuda 7200.11 (raid 5) = 2tb

psu: Corsair 520hx
optical drives seem quite expensive.... just get any by a big manufacturer e.g. lg, sony, samsung, panasonic. With facias that match case front or if you want to be suave get slot loading slimline laptop drives so the cd just seems to disappear into a slot and start playing.
tv tuner: get an allinone with dual decoders by hauppauge e.g.
WinTV-HVR-4000 Product description
Soundcard: not needed onboard is excellent however if unhappy with onboard come back to us and will help you choose one to plug in it is very simple to install.
OS: I second the vote for Vista home premium
Cpu Cooler: if your getting a slim htpc or desktop case then this one Kustom PCs Thermalright SI-128 SE Heatsink
If its a traditional tower computer case then
Kustom PCs Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme Heatsink
as long as your case has good airflow you won't need an extra fan on these heatsinks
__________________
saltynay is offline  
Old 12-02-2007, 05:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
Lord Techie
 
veedubfreak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 6,979
Default Re: Building a Media Center PC

If you get the e2180 which im running in my media pc you dont need a thermalright ultra. A 20 dollar AF7 will suffice. 2gb is also enough. Depending on if you want to run raid or not stick with a ds3 board, either the r(raid edition) or l cheaper edition with the same options.

Do a search for the "storage beast" to see the thread on my media pc.
__________________
Nothing to see here.
veedubfreak is offline  
Old 12-02-2007, 08:05 AM   #7 (permalink)
Patron
 
saltynay's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: West Coast, Singapore
Posts: 5,149
Default Re: Building a Media Center PC

I am talking about running it passively for silent you will need either of the Thermalrights which are essentially the same but one is lower profile with a reduction in cooling due to size limitation.

4gb is the optimum level for running VISTA, XP only needs 2gb to be at its prime but VISTA in benches and real life performance runs quicker with 4gb and ram is so cheap it doesn't matter.

Don't use motherboard RAID for your hardware raid get a cheap card $50-100 which supports raid5 which is basically all of them. If you use onboard raid control then you have the limitation of having to back up 2tb of data before you change motherboard or lose everything you have saved. If you use a raid CArd then all the RAID details are saved to a pci card so essentially ypou can plug it into any pc and have your raid array work.

3.5tb is quite small.............. I built a server with 7.5tb (6.75tb after RAID5) for just running a Media centre intranet page.
__________________
saltynay is offline  
Old 12-02-2007, 08:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
Monster Techie
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 1,909
Default Re: Building a Media Center PC

Quote:
Originally Posted by vChosen View Post
That is probably the most unhelpful response I could have hoped for. Thanks anyways...
sorry about that, I thought it will be more helpful buying a pre-designed system. anyway, the prices you wrote must be older?

you will find media centre in Vista Home PREMIUM or Ultimate only, so, Home Premium being cheaper will be better.

N6600 will not be with pureVideo Technology, get series N8xxx video card. if you are building system based on AMD Processor, then get ATi's card. with AVIVO and for TV Tuners, don't buy separate Analogue and HD, buy a ATi/AMD HD TV Wonder Combo ATI TV Wonder™ 650 Combo PCI Express® - Overview this will take care of both HD and Analogue TV as it comes with dual tuners.

and get a BlueRay Drive, that will as well write DVD's. so you don't have to buy a separate DVD+R drive.

building a system that will be absolute silent is not difficult, but will cost you handsome money, the Solid State Drive for O/S boot that saltynay recommended, a very good choice for deadly silent and fast O/S bootups, but expensive.

in cases, I will strongly recommend Antec Sonata II/III, they come ready with PSU and are built to silence. (both case design and PSU).

4GB RAM will not work entirely on Vista 32-Bits, as they can only support 3GB RAM, so unless you can find a pair of 1.5GB's Sticks, it will be BEST.

the sound cards that come on Motherboards in most cases are not very good, but I haven't tested the Azalia chip in Intel Chipsets Motherboards. I hope, that newer Intel chipset boards as well as RealTek ALC8xx chipset, should be very good, so better try using on-board audio, if you aren't satisfied, then go fo Creative X-Fi. as again, opposed to recommending X-Fi only I will recommend listening to the On-Board sound then buy creative.
Blind_Arrow is offline  
Old 12-03-2007, 11:06 AM   #9 (permalink)
Lord Techie
 
veedubfreak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 6,979
Default Re: Building a Media Center PC

Running vist home premium on 2gb of memory with an e2180 is plenty. I havent had any slowdowns yet. And the onboard 7.1 sound absolutely blows away the sound output that i had on my regular dvd player.

The hauppage 1600 or 1800 is also a good dual tv tuner.
__________________

__________________
Nothing to see here.
veedubfreak is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Confused about getting Media Center... Flame Hawk New Systems | Building and Buying 3 08-25-2007 07:22 PM
Vista Business (Media Center Question) Freebirth Microsoft Windows and Software 3 08-01-2007 04:51 PM
Windows Media Center Problem Mike9182 Microsoft Windows and Software 1 05-29-2007 03:35 PM
Interested in testing the next version of Windows Media Center? Now's your chance. Osiris Microsoft Windows and Software 1 04-19-2007 08:18 AM
Building Media Computer - Need Advice bigbaddog Computer Audio and Multimedia 5 04-12-2007 11:20 PM



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:16 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.