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Building a HTPC - Questions

Old 08-18-05, 04:52 PM
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Building a HTPC - Questions

I am planning on building my first computer soon (a HTPC), and have been doing a lot of research, but have some questions.

First off, what I plan on using this for is:

1. Playing DVDs
2. Playing Music
3. Playing Divx & xvid movies
4. Capturing HD from a Comcast Moto 6412 box via firewire
5. Playing back .ts files from #4
6. Playing WMVHD
7. Very little gaming

**edit - removed link to wishlist (see post 15 below)***

Now for questions...

1. I do want Socket 939, correct?

2. You'll notice I have a 6600 video card on there for $105, passively cooled. Will this suffice for my needs, or do I need a 6600GT? Newegg doesn't carry a PCI Express 6600GT that is passively cooled, and zipzoomfly is $179. Or, do I get a GT that is fan cooled, like this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814135167

2a. I will be hooking this up to a 57" Hitachi RPTV. It has DVI but the guide says "The DVI-HDTV input is NOT compatible when used with a DVD player from a personal computer." Am I correct in my research that as long as the video card has component video I am ok (and will not need to use extra software like Powerstrip)?

3. Am I setting myself up for headaches by having the motherboard have on-board ATI graphics? If so, what mATX board socket 939 with PCI-E should I be looking at?

4. Can I save $44 (which would go towards the upgrade to the 6600GT if I need it) by getting the 3000 Venice (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819103537) instead of the 3200?



Thanks

Last edited by nevermind; 08-19-05 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 08-18-05, 09:34 PM
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I do want Socket 939, correct?
If you're building an AMD system, then yes! Socket 939 is the way to go, in my opinion.

You'll notice I have a 6600 video card on there for $105, passively cooled. Will this suffice for my needs, or do I need a 6600GT? Newegg doesn't carry a PCI Express 6600GT that is passively cooled, and zipzoomfly is $179. Or, do I get a GT that is fan cooled, like this one:
If you don't plan on doing much gaming, or plan to play the latest games, then a 6600 should serve you fine. As for cooling, a passively cooled card will be quieter. But you need to make sure the cooler on the card does a good enough job. Two things kill PC parts quicker than anything, dust and heat.

2a. I will be hooking this up to a 57" Hitachi RPTV. It has DVI but the guide says "The DVI-HDTV input is NOT compatible when used with a DVD player from a personal computer." Am I correct in my research that as long as the video card has component video I am ok (and will not need to use extra software like Powerstrip)?
Not sure on this one, as I don't know why a DVI output from a video card wouldn't work for a TV.

Am I setting myself up for headaches by having the motherboard have on-board ATI graphics? If so, what mATX board socket 939 with PCI-E should I be looking at?
If you're buying a 6600, you don't need a mobo with built-in graphics. I'd recommend you go for one of the Asus, Abit, or Chaintech 939 boards. I myself prefer the Asus A8N-E, but any of the above three are great boards.

Can I save $44 (which would go towards the upgrade to the 6600GT if I need it) by getting the 3000 Venice (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...N82E16819103537) instead of the 3200?
My advice is if you're not going to do much of any gaming, spend the money on the processor. To do what you're planning on doing, you don't need anything more than a 6600. Plus, you can always upgrade the video card a year or two down the line with little trouble. Spend the money on the faster processor. In fact, save an extra $30 and you can step up to a 3500+ with the Venice core.
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Old 08-18-05, 09:52 PM
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6600 GT is better suited for HT because of VMR. In the past I've tried DVI -> HDMI with a Direct View television and it was horrible... I'm not sure if straight DVI is easier, might be... However I'd recommend component. Save yourself a headache or 2.
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Old 08-18-05, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Terrell
If you don't plan on doing much gaming, or plan to play the latest games, then a 6600 should serve you fine. As for cooling, a passively cooled card will be quieter. But you need to make sure the cooler on the card does a good enough job. Two things kill PC parts quicker than anything, dust and heat.
Yeah and I'm worried that a passive cooled card going into a small HTPC case is not going to have enough airflow. Maybe one with a fan would be better? I'm not sure noise will be too much of an issue since I will have the sound on when the computer is. Remember, I'm not going to be doing any DVR duties with this, and it will be in my basement, 2 floors away from my bedroom.


Not sure on this one, as I don't know why a DVI output from a video card wouldn't work for a TV.
I'm not sure either. I could always give it a try before going the component route. I was mainly curious if nvidia cards would allow me to NOT use Powerstrip.

If you're buying a 6600, you don't need a mobo with built-in graphics. I'd recommend you go for one of the Asus, Abit, or Chaintech 939 boards. I myself prefer the Asus A8N-E, but any of the above three are great boards.
If I go with the case listed in my first post, I need a mATX board. I don't have a lot of choices either, at least not at Newegg - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...ubmit=Property

My advice is if you're not going to do much of any gaming, spend the money on the processor. To do what you're planning on doing, you don't need anything more than a 6600. Plus, you can always upgrade the video card a year or two down the line with little trouble. Spend the money on the faster processor. In fact, save an extra $30 and you can step up to a 3500+ with the Venice core.
OK - thanks for your reply Terrell!
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Old 08-18-05, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Gallant Pig
6600 GT is better suited for HT because of VMR. In the past I've tried DVI -> HDMI with a Direct View television and it was horrible... I'm not sure if straight DVI is easier, might be... However I'd recommend component. Save yourself a headache or 2.
With a 6600GT would I still need Powerstrip or a VGA to Compnent Transcoder, or just the dongle thingie and nvidia software?
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Old 08-18-05, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Terrell
If you're buying a 6600, you don't need a mobo with built-in graphics. I'd recommend you go for one of the Asus, Abit, or Chaintech 939 boards. I myself prefer the Asus A8N-E, but any of the above three are great boards.
Do you know where to get a A8NE-FM from? The prices online range from $90 to over $1000 and they are all places I have never heard of before.
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Old 08-18-05, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by nevermind
With a 6600GT would I still need Powerstrip or a VGA to Compnent Transcoder, or just the dongle thingie and nvidia software?

The 6600GT comes with a component output cable that hooks up great to televisions with component. I'm not sure what you mean about a dongle thingy? Please elaborate. If you are asking about macrovision or whatever.... I probably can't elaborate on this but maybe consider thoroughly diddling around with various other detrimental options. Or something.

Also I recommend instead of going cable capture, you consider a HD TV card such as the ATI HD Wonder or the many others out there. It's free OTA HD Capturing and works really well. Thats' my setup at least. Most of what's on Showtime is junk and HBO crops most of their stuff that isn't already 16x9 so that's junk too. Well that's just my opinion because I was able to shed a $170 cable bill and still get HD channels.
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Old 08-18-05, 11:18 PM
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You know it's a damn shame Dell took the SC400 server and played around the video card of it so you can't use a real PCI Express card. It was the perfefct $220 HTPC.
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Old 08-19-05, 12:54 AM
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If I go with the case listed in my first post, I need a mATX board.
Ah, didn't see you needed a mATX board. I'll have to look around.

Do you know where to get a A8NE-FM from? The prices online range from $90 to over $1000 and they are all places I have never heard of before.
http://www.atacom.com/program/atacom...RCH=SEARCH_ALL

There's one place with a price of $88.95. I think if you keep a record of your transaction, you'll be okay if you order from any reputable site. The reader reviews for that site seem pretty good. But any site can be hit or miss some of the time.

As for why I like Asus, I've had 3. My previous two were rock solid with a ton of features. My current board is the Asus A8N-E with the nForce4 Ultra chipset, and it has been fantastic so far. Having said that, most of the brand name boards like Abit, Chaintech, Gigabyte, Asus, etc, all make very good boards.

Last edited by Terrell; 08-19-05 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 08-19-05, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Gallant Pig
The 6600GT comes with a component output cable that hooks up great to televisions with component. I'm not sure what you mean about a dongle thingy? Please elaborate. If you are asking about macrovision or whatever.... I probably can't elaborate on this but maybe consider thoroughly diddling around with various other detrimental options. Or something.
Yeah it sounds like what I called the dongle thingy is the component output cable. Does it look kinda like an S-Video on the end that connects to the card? Powerstrip software is used (definitely on ATI cards) to set custom resolutions and timings to match your display. Is that built in to the nvidia software? To put it another way, you don't just hook the component cables to the tv and viola - it works, correct? You have to do something about timings, overscan, and resolution to match whatever the display can handle (in my case 540p, 720p, 1080i).

Oh and BTW, you answered my next question. Are you psychic? I will definitely diddle around.


Also I recommend instead of going cable capture, you consider a HD TV card such as the ATI HD Wonder or the many others out there. It's free OTA HD Capturing and works really well. Thats' my setup at least. Most of what's on Showtime is junk and HBO crops most of their stuff that isn't already 16x9 so that's junk too. Well that's just my opinion because I was able to shed a $170 cable bill and still get HD channels.
I'd love to do this but I'm 45 miles from the antennas and live in a townhouse where a giant antenna on the roof would go over like a fart in church, and I doubt I'd get all the channels with an attic antenna. I only have local HD through Comcast (and a DVR). Actually I had been paying for local channels to save $ on my internet for 3 years without ever using it because it was cheaper to do that than be internet only . So when I got my HDTV it was only another $10 a month for a HD DVR box.
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Old 08-19-05, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Terrell
Ah, didn't see you needed a mATX board. I'll have to look around.



http://www.atacom.com/program/atacom...RCH=SEARCH_ALL

There's one place with a price of $88.95. I think if you keep a record of your transaction, you'll be okay if you order from any reputable site. The reader reviews for that site seem pretty good. But any site can be hit or miss some of the time.

As for why I like Asus, I've had 3. My previous two were rock solid with a ton of features. My current board is the Asus A8N-E with the nForce4 Ultra chipset, and it has been fantastic so far. Having said that, most of the brand name boards like Abit, Chaintech, Gigabyte, Asus, etc, all make very good boards.
Cool - thanks

I think it's a no-brainer for only $15 more to go with this board.
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Old 08-19-05, 01:13 PM
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I'd say so, considering the upgrade possibilities.
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Old 08-19-05, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by nevermind
I will be hooking this up to a 57" Hitachi RPTV. It has DVI but the guide says "The DVI-HDTV input is NOT compatible when used with a DVD player from a personal computer."
They all say that. Generally, it works fine.

The reason they say that is DVI-HDCP. Consumer HD devices like settop boxes and such output the copy protection signal. You gotta have an HDCP capable display to display these things. The DVI output on your PC doesn't output a copy protection signal. But it's the HDCP player that needs an HDCP display, not the other way around. Odds are that it'll work fine.

However, since it's an RPTV, be careful of burn-in. PC images are very static in nature, and it could burn into your projector. Use a screen saver with a very short time interval to kick on, unless you're playing movies and such.
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Old 08-19-05, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Otto
However, since it's an RPTV, be careful of burn-in. PC images are very static in nature, and it could burn into your projector. Use a screen saver with a very short time interval to kick on, unless you're playing movies and such.
Oh I know - I took the TV out of torch mode the minute I got it, and calibrated everything except grayscale within a week. I doubt I'll do much surfing on it anyway - it'll mainly be for movies, hdtv, and music.


Thanks for the DVI info, too.
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Old 08-19-05, 04:35 PM
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Well silly me has been taking stuff out of the wishlist from my first post which may prove to be confusing, so I'll edit it out. Today I picked up a 200GB Seagate Barracuda Ultra ATA/100 hard drive and 1GB(512x2) Kingston DDR400 RAM.

Terrell, I have been able to find a few forum posts about the mATX Asus board, and they don't leave me feeling good. The posts say that Asus doesn't even list it on their website (they don't) and that the only place to find any support or drivers are at the Fijitsu-Siemens website. One person had one and returned it. I think I am gonna pass on this, especially since there's no well known place selling it.

That leaves me with not many choices, and almost none that have no video on-board.

I think I am going to change my choice in the case, and look for something that will accept a full size board but still look good in my Home Theater.
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Old 08-19-05, 08:10 PM
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Then try out the Foxconn board for $79.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813186066
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Old 08-19-05, 09:02 PM
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I built a new HTPC today. My 800MHz P3 was a little anemic for the latest and greatest filters and formats. Here's how cheaply you can do it if you shop carefully.

2.2GHz P4 (running at 2.4GHz) with micro ATX motherboard - $86
512MB PC3200 RAM - $22
ATI 9600 - $43
160GB WD hard drive - $23
Lite-On DVD-ROM - $32
Micro ATX enclosure with PS - $48
Total: $254

Already had a digital-out soundcard, keyboard & mouse, XP and various software since I was upgrading my old HTPC.
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Old 08-19-05, 09:14 PM
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X, I'd be interested in seeing a full component & vendor list if you get the time.
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Old 08-19-05, 09:58 PM
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2.2GHz P4 (running at 2.4GHz) with micro ATX motherboard - CompUSA price error this week - http://www.compusa.com/products/prod...id=dsr&ref=dsr

512MB PC3200 RAM - Circuit City RAM deal from last month - http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Kings...oductDetail.do

ATI 9600 - was on sale last month at geeks.com for $38 - http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?inv...&cpc=SCH&srm=0

160GB WD hard drive - Best Buy this week using $20 coupon - http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1051826249503 - http://images.bestbuy.com/BestBuy_US...upon_combo.pdf

Lite-On DVD-ROM - Newegg a few months ago, down to $20 now - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16827131410

Micro ATX enclosure with PS - Newegg, very nice enclosure - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811190017
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Old 08-20-05, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Terrell
Then try out the Foxconn board for $79.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813186066
I went with this one

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813127187

and this case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811163044


Now I just have to wait and hope I put my first build-PC together right

Thanks for all the help!
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Old 08-20-05, 02:31 PM
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Cool deal. Abit and Silverstone make a good combo.

Now I just have to wait and hope I put my first build-PC together right
My advice, take it slow and double check all your connections. It's better to do it right the first time, than to put it all together only to find out you did it wrong. Be careful with that AMD processor, and remember to match up the small gold triangle on the processor with the gold triangle on the socket.

You're welcome for the help.
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Old 08-20-05, 03:00 PM
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Thanks - oh I went with the 3500 Venice as well.

I'll let you know how it goes.
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Old 08-20-05, 04:03 PM
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Silverstone I just built an HTPC with the new Silverstone LC17 case, and I have to say the case is virtually silent, even moreso then my Antec Aria rig at bootup (though I had to demote it after the 120MM power supply fan ramps up). I was never too crazy about the 60mm fans, but as soon as I saw this one with 80mm ones (with 92mm options), I jumped on it.
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Old 08-20-05, 11:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Gallant Pig
Also I recommend instead of going cable capture, you consider a HD TV card such as the ATI HD Wonder or the many others out there. It's free OTA HD Capturing and works really well. Thats' my setup at least. Most of what's on Showtime is junk and HBO crops most of their stuff that isn't already 16x9 so that's junk too. Well that's just my opinion because I was able to shed a $170 cable bill and still get HD channels.
Originally Posted by nevermind
I'd love to do this but I'm 45 miles from the antennas and live in a townhouse where a giant antenna on the roof would go over like a fart in church, and I doubt I'd get all the channels with an attic antenna. I only have local HD through Comcast (and a DVR). Actually I had been paying for local channels to save $ on my internet for 3 years without ever using it because it was cheaper to do that than be internet only . So when I got my HDTV it was only another $10 a month for a HD DVR box.
OK I may have an option for this now:

DVICO FusionHDTV5 Lite

This HD capture card has QAM so it appears from some research that the HD channels I get right now (the locals) from Comcast will be available by inserting the coax directly into the card.

I am really thinking about this now, as I would be able to get rid of the Comcast DVR and it's $10/month fee. That means this card would start saving me $$ after 10 months.



Anyone have any experience with this card?

Edited to add - this one is $149 but has digital and analog tuners.

FusionHDTV5 Gold Plus

Last edited by nevermind; 08-20-05 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 08-21-05, 11:49 AM
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Do you plan on using that with MCE?
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