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TheAudioDude's HTPC? Or Popcorn Hour C-200?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
EDIT: I think this should be moved to Dedicated Source Components...

A couple of days ago Vista finally decided to be a jackass (after a few years of pretty much no issues at all) and refuse to boot. This is my only desktop computer, and it's where I have my many TB of movies and music. Years ago I would have it fixed within 20 minutes, but I figured this was a sign to just say ***** it and install Windows 7, which has been sitting on my table for the past 5-6 months. Well, that led me down a path...

I've decided to build a brand-new HTPC. I've got pretty much all of my parts picked out, but I still have to choose a good theme (maybe XBMC).

My goal is to build something in a small form factor and spend as little as possible... yeah right.

Here's what I have so far:

LIAN LI Black Aluminum PC-C37B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

AMD Athlon II X2 240 Regor 2.8GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual-Core Processor

GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

SAPPHIRE 100292DDR3L Radeon HD 5450 1GB 64-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card

AuzenTech AZT-FORTE X-Fi Forte 7.1 Low Profile PCI Express Sound Card

OCZ Gold Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory

OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30GXXX 2.5" 30GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

ENERMAX Liberty ELT400AWT-ECO 400W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Compatible with Core i7 80 PLUS Certified Modular

I'll only be putting Windows and all of my applications (not many) on the SSD, and I'll stream my movies and music from my 'main' desktop computer. This will end up costing almost $800, which is a little more than I'd like to spend.

I've also just started to consider getting the Popcorn Hour C-200, which is less than half the price of my proposed HTPC. Does anyone have experience with the Popcorn Hour? There doesn't seem to be many threads about it on this site.

My main concern is getting bit-perfect playback, up to 24-bit/192kHz, and streaming high-bitrate 1080p BD rips over my network, but I can easily remedy that with a Gigabit switch if needed.

The fact that the Popcorn Hour is pretty much the same exact thing as my HTPC really leans me more towards that direction. It's less work (but not as fun setting it up; I love to build computers), and seems to do everything that my HTPC would do.
post #2 of 6
i was in a similar situation some months ago. i decided to get a QNAP ts109 NAS(they have many better models but price was a big factor for me at the time) and ploped a 1TB drive in it. installed Twonky Media server on the NAS. then i stream all my movies/music/pictures with my ps3 or xbox 360. i stream 1080p rips over a 10/100 router with no problems what so ever. truth be told you can even stream 1080p over wireless. there is enough bandwidth, providing you are within the right distance of the router. i know it's not exactly what you were asking but i thought id throw in my experience with my set up as maybe another option.
post #3 of 6
i've tried and still own both (because i'm lazy to sell the popcorn hour), but i ended up building a much cheaper HTPC, final cost was right under $400. i ultimately went with the HTPC because i like how it can be completely customized to my personal taste and with my logitech harmony one i was able to control everything in my living room setup.

you can definately build an HTPC for much cheaper, IMO if you're just going to be streaming you don't need the video card or the sound card. your motherboard will play 1080p content perfectly fine and you can just use DLIII as the dac and bypass the onboard dac. i would also skip the SSD in the HTPC because it's really not going to make much of a difference unless you're going to be doing alot with your HTPC, but seeing as how you have a main desktop i would make the HTPC a streaming device and all those extras aren't really necessary for 1080p content.

i pretty much use my HTPC to stream 1080p movies and audio into the living room but occasionally i'll play with some emulators an roms.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkSpoon View Post
i was in a similar situation some months ago. i decided to get a QNAP ts109 NAS(they have many better models but price was a big factor for me at the time) and ploped a 1TB drive in it. installed Twonky Media server on the NAS. then i stream all my movies/music/pictures with my ps3 or xbox 360. i stream 1080p rips over a 10/100 router with no problems what so ever. truth be told you can even stream 1080p over wireless. there is enough bandwidth, providing you are within the right distance of the router. i know it's not exactly what you were asking but i thought id throw in my experience with my set up as maybe another option.
Hmm, well that's good to know. I found a pretty decent 4-slot SATA external enclosure, with a USB interface for just over $100, and it got pretty good reviews. That could be a cheap alternative to streaming if I decide to go the Popcorn Hour route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenny6007 View Post
i've tried and still own both (because i'm lazy to sell the popcorn hour), but i ended up building a much cheaper HTPC, final cost was right under $400. i ultimately went with the HTPC because i like how it can be completely customized to my personal taste and with my logitech harmony one i was able to control everything in my living room setup.

you can definately build an HTPC for much cheaper, IMO if you're just going to be streaming you don't need the video card or the sound card. your motherboard will play 1080p content perfectly fine and you can just use DLIII as the dac and bypass the onboard dac. i would also skip the SSD in the HTPC because it's really not going to make much of a difference unless you're going to be doing alot with your HTPC, but seeing as how you have a main desktop i would make the HTPC a streaming device and all those extras aren't really necessary for 1080p content.

i pretty much use my HTPC to stream 1080p movies and audio into the living room but occasionally i'll play with some emulators an roms.
That's a good point. I may re-configure my HTPC plans and see what else I can come up with.

I've heard that even a motherboard's optical out may have jitter, but the opinions are very conflicting on whether or not a motherboard's digital output is as good/better than a soundcard's.

The one thing I don't like about having an HTPC do video-out is overscan/underscan (I have a 61" DLP). Usually stand-alone devices scale really well, but with a PC I've had to re-size the desktop and whatnot to get it perfect.

The one advantage to an HTPC is having that great customization. If a video file doesn't play, I can just find the codec. I'll have to do some more research before I make a decision.

Besides customization and price, were there any big differences between an HTPC and the Popcorn Hour? How did the video and sound quality compare between the two?
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Now I remember why I like building computers so much...

I spent the whole day researching and I think I want to build a mini-ITX system around the Intel i3 CPU.

The only thing that has me down is 24p support with the Clarkdale, but I'm still reading about it.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Sorry about the triple post... but I think I've finally come up with a solution.

It only took me a week, but here's what I've decided on:

Motherboard:
Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H

CPU:
AMD Athlon II X2 245 Regor 2.9GHz

Case:
LIAN LI PC-V351B

Fanless GPU:
POWERCOLOR Radeon HD 5450

PSU:
Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W

For my harddrives, acting as a cheap 'server':
SANS DIGITAL TR4M-B

I think I'm going to gut my 'old' desktop and steal the memory. I think it just has 2x2GB DDR2 800 (G.Skill), which will be good enough for this new HTPC. I'm also taking my LG Blu-Ray/HD-DVD drive and putting it in my HTPC. One day I'll get back into PC gaming and re-build my desktop...

I was set on getting the Intel Core i3, but the 24p (23.976Hz) issue is what sold me on the AMD setup. I'm also saving about $30 by going AMD + dedicated GPU. I'll also be using the onboard S/PDIF output of the motherboard.

My hardest decision was the case. I looked at so many mini-ITX and micro-ATX cases over the past week. I even convinced myself I wanted a mini-ITX system, and that a PicoPSU was the answer. But in the end, I decided to go with micro-ATX and I think my case choice is a pretty good one.

The total cost will be ~$460, which includes shipping.

Any opinions?
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