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Old 12-20-2010, 03:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New HTPC Build Help

I am building an HTPC for my parent's home. I have less than a week to research because I need to have it built and ready to go in two weeks. The budget is around 2500 but that is flexible. It's going to be used for watching tv, not gaming.

I am new to this stuff and I need help. I have built a PC before, but I still don't know a lot about this. I have been researching a bit lately, but it is hard to figure out where to begin. I am hoping you guys can ask my questions to narrow down what it is exactly that I want.

This is going to be from scratch, meaning I also need to purchase a TV as well.

The majority of the $ will be going toward the TV, which is going to be 55" at the very minimum. Should have specified that, sorry.

Basically, what the HTPC will be used for is:

-Netflix/Watching movies that we have downloaded/blueray movies
-Streaming youtube videos
-Webcam chatting
-Playing music
-Viewing family pictures

I have Dish network. The Dish already has DVR playback. That has nothing to do with the HTPC - that is just something separate, because I think it will be too much of a hassle to integrate satellite into the HTPC.

It will be HDMI. We do have an external hard drive, but I'm sure it won't be enough and we'll have to store things in the HTPC hard-drive, or if it gets too loud, upstairs on the desktop PC and then network it to the HTPC downstairs somehow.

I was going to start from here, but a lot of that stuff in the link is over my head. From what I gather, I should figure out the type of mobo, because that will determine the type of case (form factor). It's a shame that the most recent edition (holiday edition) - he is making you pay for

I'm the type of person that likes to research everything to death before purchasing, to ensure that I get the most bang for my buck. So I tend to stray away from generic cookie cutter build recommendations, especially if it is outdated. But I would still consider the various parts on an individual basis.

Anything would be appreciated including:
  • links to guides for htpcs
  • links to good deals for tvs/pc parts
  • any advice/guidance

Thanks!

Budget wise for the actual HTPC - I was thinking 400, 600 at the very most but I'd prefer to stay under. I already have an OS CD for win 7 so that isn't an issue

My parents have DISH network - at first I was not going to bother integrating it. But I just want to be sure. Is it really a big hassle? I thought it was based on reading this.

Is a HTPC w/ Dish Network possible? - DBSTalk.Com

Am I missing something? Do I not just need a tuner card and coax? Also, the DISH receiver is upstairs, and the HTPC will be downstairs, so that may be another problem right?

As far as the CPU - could I not just buy a decent CPU and then offload some the processing power to the GPU - is that feasible? I heard it may not work in Netflix though.

So here is what I am thinking for price range:

Mobo - ~$60 (most likely microATX)
CPU - ~$60 (maybe a dual core AMD?)
GPU - ~$80 (HDCP-capable, and maybe even passively cooled)
RAM - ~$40 (ddr3, 2gb is fine, 4 is overkill)
HDD - ~$70 (2TB!)
PSU - ~$?? (modular?)
Case - ~$??
Case Fan - Necessary??
Blu-Ray/DVD Player - ~??
Blue-ray software - will I need to buy this?
OS - Win7 Home 32 bit (I have the trial version)
Media center - XMBC or WMC (free)

TV - ~$1500 (55+", HDMI, 1080P)
Speakers - ~?? (surround wireless? Probably too expensive)
Remote - ~?? (MCE?)

How does that all look? Am I missing things? Wireless card? Do I need that? Should I do OTA HD?

Thanks for all the help.
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Old 12-21-2010, 01:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New HTPC Build Help

Im sorry to see your not getting many replies on this. it sounds like a pretty interesting thing your going for. Im just getting into building myself so I dont know a whole lot about anything. Good luck with this project and I cant wait to see how it turns out! =)
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Old 12-22-2010, 05:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New HTPC Build Help

Thanks JSFord.

So my family decided they don't want anything less than a 60 inch TV.

Right now, the best deal I can find is this one: LG 60" 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV

Newegg.com - LG 60" 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV 60LD550

This is a recent deal on Newegg - 1300 for the LD550. It was sold out last night but it looks like they restocked. It is relatively the same price as the PK550. Putting aside the plasma vs lcd discussion, it still seems like it is better than the PK550 (60 inch plasma). What do you guys think?


Regarding HTPCS, I think it will be easier for me to decide on one thing at a time. So right now, I will focus on CPU and motherboard.

Based on what I want to do, please help me weigh the cost and benefits of the following:

Also, please feel free to suggest other options!

CPU OPTIONS:

- AMD Athlon II X2 240 (2.8Ghz) - $57
Newegg.com - AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor ADX240OCGQBOX

- AMD Athlon II X2 245 Regor 2.9GHz - $60
Newegg.com - AMD Athlon II X2 245 Regor 2.9GHz 2 x 1MB L2 Cache Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor ADX245OCGQBOX

- AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor - $77
Newegg.com - AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX445WFGMBOX

- AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition 3.2GHz Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core - $90
Newegg.com - AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Desktop Processor - C3 Revision HDZ555WFGMBOX

I don't see any reason to go with the $57 when I can pay $3 more for the 2.9 Ghz. But is the triple core the best deal? Or is it even needed?

MOBO OPTIONS:

- MSI 740G Motherboard mATX AM3 - $50 (integrated ATI Radeon 2100)
Newegg.com - MSI 740GM-P25 AM3 AMD 740G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

- GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM mATX - $70 (integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200)
Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
or
Newegg.com - ASUS M4A785-M AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

- ASRock 880GMH/USB3 Micro ATX - $82 - (integrated ATI Radeon HD 4250)
Newegg.com - ASRock 880GMH/USB3 AM3 AMD 880G HDMI USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

- GIGABYTE GA-880GM-UD2H AM3 AMD 880G Micro ATX - $90 (integrated ATI Radeon HD 4250)
Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-880GM-UD2H AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

CPU/MOBO COMBO:

- ASUS M4A785-M Micro ATX: $65 (integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200)
- AMD Phenom II X3 Black Edition Heka 2.8 GHz Triple Core - $76
Combo Discount: -$15
Combo Price: $126
Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more!

- ASUS M4A88T-M AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard: $85 (integrated ATI Radeon HD 4250)
- AMD Athlon II X2 260 Regor 3.2GHz - $68
Combo Discount: -$17.00
Combo Price: $136
Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more!

- GIGABYTE GA-MA785 Micro ATX: $70 (integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200)
- AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2 GHz Dual Core: $90
Combo Discount: -$15
Combo Price: $145
Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more!

HTPC COMBO:

$501
Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more!

OTHER COMBO:

$250
Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more!

What do you guys think?
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Old 12-22-2010, 05:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New HTPC Build Help

Honestly this combo you listed seems to be a great deal though I would invest into a better PSU. Newegg.com - Computer Parts, PC Components, Laptop Computers, LED LCD TV, Digital Cameras and more!
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Old 12-24-2010, 02:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New HTPC Build Help

Thanks Abstract.

So I think I have a pretty good grasp on what kind of CPU/Mobo to purchase.

We purchased a $1600 Sony - BRAVIA 60" Class / 1080p / 120Hz / LED-LCD HDTV - KDL60EX700 (DISPLAY MODEL) from Sam's Club - no tax.

Next thing I want to focus on is the speaker system, which I am a complete newbie at, but I have been researching a bit.

Budget max is $400-450ish - is there anything out there like this for that price that meets the below requirements?

Living Room - 17x20x17
Kitchen - 17x12x9
The wireless rear speakers in the kitchen will be 30 feet away from the TV.

Home theater surround sound system requirements:

- 5.1
- wireless rear speakers (or cheap enough for me to buy a wireless rear kit like Rocketfish for $100?)
- HDMI input
- AV Receiver (either dedicated or included in the blueray or DVD player)
- reasonably high wattage
- DTS-HD or TrueHD audio format (how important is this?)
- good cross over design and THD
- 14 guage speaker wire should be adequate (right?)

Anyone know anything that meets this criteria?

So the best deal I've found so far is the Sony HTS-S370 - which meets all the above requirements besides the wireless rear speakers, which would be an additional 75-100$ to purchase (RocketFish). There was a recent deal in the past few months where this system, with a coupon code, was about $235 shipped - unfortunately, it is about a $100 more than that now. Anyone have any good deals/recommedations or advice?

Thanks!


P.S. We also purchased this for the universal remote:

Amazon.com: Lenovo Multimedia Remote with Keyboard: Electronics
Right now, it is $26 shipped with a coupon code
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Old 12-25-2010, 03:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New HTPC Build Help

I have been researching speaker systems heavily the last couple days, and I think I finally have a winner that meets all my requirements.

Sony HT-SS370 1 kW 5.1 Home Theater System

It is $258 shipped at thenerds.net with the -$8 holiday couponcode.

With the Bravia Sync, it is a perfect fit with our new Bravia TV.

The two requirements that it does not meet, by itself, is the wireless rear speakers and the true-HD/DTS-HD audio decoding in the A/V receiver.

The wireless rear speakers problem can be solved with the universal Rocketfish set, so +$110 (but we have a gift card!).

As for the true-HD/DTS-HD, that can still be done via LPCM even if the AV/Receiver does not decode that audio format. I have a PS3 and the blueray on there will do the decoding for those HD audio formats - so the blueray will do the decoding and send it to the A/V receiver.

So knowing that I am doing this, will it change any of the requirements for the hardware I need? I'll still be fine without a dedicated GPU? Whether that is having the GPU in the mobo, or included in the Intel i3 Clarkdale, either one will support the true-HD and everything else, right? Are there any problems that you guys anticipate I will have?

So the total will be:

$259 - Speaker system
$110 - Rocketfish
$15 - Tall front speaker stands
$238 - Pinnacle 56 Inch TV Stand with 2 Glass Doors - NEX1210 [link]

= $622

Now that all this is done, I can refocus on the HTPC hardware!
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Old 12-27-2010, 04:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: New HTPC Build Help

Do you guys see any need for an additional blu-ray player in my HTPC if I am already going to have one in my SONY PS3, which will be with the HDTV anyway, since it is needed for the trueHD/DTS-HD decoding. Also, wouldn't I need to buy blu-ray software if I went with a blu-ray player/DVD combo drive? I'm thinking of just going with a $15-20 DVDRW drive and leaving the blu-ray playing to the PS3, just to save $40 - although I know the ps3 can play dvds as well

Here is what I am thinking now - please let me know your opinion on this build for the HTPC:

-Intel Core i3-540 Clarkdale 3.06GHz LGA 1156 73W Dual-Core Desktop Processor BX80616I3540
-ASUS P7H55-M/CSM LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
-G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3
-Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal HDD
After combo discount for the 4 above (-$33)
= $300

CASE:

I am thinking this case will be perfect for the price:
Newegg.com - nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 6000B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
$70 nMEDIAPC Black HTPC 6000B ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
With that case, there is no need to buy an internal card reader.

PSU:

OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ600MXSP 600W (Modular)
$63 with promo + $20 MIR

total = $433
- MIR = $413
Should I get this PSU instead?
Link

Am I forgetting anything? I will be using my ps3 as the blu-ray/DVD drive.

Will all these things be compatible with what I want to do? Am I missing any ports that I will need? Will I need anything else?

What about wires?
Besides an HDMI cable, what else will I need?
I was told that I may need an adapter cable from video card to TV? Are they called displayport to HDMI cables?
DisplayPort Adapters
I am here, but I am not sure which one I need.. especially when they assign genders to the adapters.

Do I need to purchase any other remotes aside from the Lenovo one I purchased? I noticed that has buttons to forward, play, rewind, and things like that along with functioning as a keyboard and mouse. Will I be able to sync all that with my PS3 blurays/DVDs? What about the DISH?

Thanks!
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Old 12-27-2010, 05:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: New HTPC Build Help

I don't see the relevance of an HTPC if it's limited to regular DVDs. I guess that just my personal opinion is I'd go with a bluray drive.

I would suggest getting a dedicated graphics card just for the sake of resolution, futureproofing and then the HDMI just runs straight from the card and you don't require adapters.

Besides that you look golden! You've done your research. I really wish we could have been more help on this thread but it seems you had it figured out.

Remotes you'll be fine I believe and cables as well.
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Old 12-27-2010, 02:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: New HTPC Build Help

Thanks for the feedback.

Could you please elaborate on your first statement? I will already have a blu-ray player with the PS3, so what's the point of paying extra for a blu-ray drive? Is there something that it will be able to do that the PS3 cannot?
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Old 12-27-2010, 05:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: New HTPC Build Help

CPU/MOBO Combo:

Intel Core i3-550 Clarkdale 3.2 GHz
+ ASUS P7G55-M PRO

- $220 Newegg


Hard Drive:

Western Digital 1.5 TB Caviar Green SATA Intellipower 64 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive WD15EARS by Western Digital

- $60 Amazon


PSU:

Ill just go with the non-modular PSU, 30$ after MIR.
Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

- $30 Newegg


RAM:

CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333

- $44 Newegg


DVD Burner:

LG DVD±RW SuperMulti Drive Black SATA Model GH22NS50B

- $16 Newegg

= $370

Now that I think about it, perhaps I should get the blu-ray player for $40 - only $24 more. Since the PS3 will not be able to rip blu-rays, and the blu-ray player on the PC will. Unfortunately, it is sold out now, but I will just wait until it is back.
Newegg.com - LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Reader Model iHOS104-06 - Blu-Ray Drives

So that would make the total $354.

Will I need to use a TV tuner card for anything? Integrating the DISH satellite to the HTPC? Is that possible? Or is the TV tuner card just for recording DISH programs on to the HTPC?

I apparently have the following stuff lying around from a couple years back:
extra wireless adapter, tv tuner card, and a NVIDIA eGeforce-8600GTS

I can put the first two things to use, any need for the dedicated GPU? Just unnecessary clutter, right?

Lastly, I'm thinking of integrating bluetooth as well, but I doubt that comes with the motherboard. I'll just go with a USB bluetooth receiver for cheap.
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