Building a Media Center PC
Apr 3, 2006 at 7:42 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 30

redshifter

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i'm looking for advice on bulding a budget media center pc for my home theater.

budget is under $1000 us.

it will be used to record tv shows (analog and maybe in the future digital), play dvd movies, and mp3.

the tv is an analog sony wega, and the reciever is a denon 6.1 ht.

the reciever can decode dolby digital and dts, etc.

the media pc basic requirments:
- pcm or bitstream coaxial digital output to the reciever's digital input (for surround, pcm, etc).
- COMPONENT video output, later upgradeable to hdtv.
- DVD RW drive that can decode dvd-a and perhaps sacd.

i'm not concerned with games at this point.
 
Apr 4, 2006 at 11:12 PM Post #4 of 30

redshifter

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Quote:

Originally Posted by PsychoZX
http://www.hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=103


thanks psychozx!
icon10.gif
 
Apr 4, 2006 at 11:39 PM Post #6 of 30

humanflyz

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Here are some components for a low-budget HTPC that can still offer a pretty good performance:

1) Mid-level Athlon X2 CPU/mobo combo: a mid-level Athlon X2 should offer plenty of performance for video recording/encoding, and a mobo should be cheap because you are not looking for hardcore OCing options and such, just make sure it has support for PCI-E.
2) An entry-level ATI X-series GPU: this card won't give you good game performance, but get it because of the transcoding capabilities of the X-series. It will offload a part of video transcoding to the GPU, thus saving some CPU cycles for other stuff
3) RAM and HD: these things are dropping in price steadily, so finding cheap components shouldn't be hard.
4) Soundcard: X-Fi Extreme Music. It supports Dolby/DTS and have a digital out with bit-perfect output, also decodes DVD-A through the analog connections.

Now just throw in some decent quiet cooling and a case and you'll have a pretty decent HTPC.

Also, you won't get true DVD-Audio play back on a HTPC over a digital connection. You can only get it through an analog, 6CH connection, which means you need a soundcard with 6.1CH analog outputs and a receiver that has 6.1CH analog inputs.
 
Apr 5, 2006 at 12:59 AM Post #7 of 30

PsychoZX

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Quote:

Originally Posted by humanflyz
Here are some components for a low-budget HTPC that can still offer a pretty good performance:

1) Mid-level Athlon X2 CPU/mobo combo: a mid-level Athlon X2 should offer plenty of performance for video recording/encoding, and a mobo should be cheap because you are not looking for hardcore OCing options and such, just make sure it has support for PCI-E.
2) An entry-level ATI X-series GPU: this card won't give you good game performance, but get it because of the transcoding capabilities of the X-series. It will offload a part of video transcoding to the GPU, thus saving some CPU cycles for other stuff
3) RAM and HD: these things are dropping in price steadily, so finding cheap components shouldn't be hard.
4) Soundcard: X-Fi Extreme Music. It supports Dolby/DTS and have a digital out with bit-perfect output, also decodes DVD-A through the analog connections.

Now just throw in some decent quiet cooling and a case and you'll have a pretty decent HTPC.



I agree with all of the above just don't forget the tv tuner card.
 
Apr 5, 2006 at 1:18 AM Post #8 of 30

humanflyz

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^

LOL. How stupid of me: a HTPC without a TV tuner. If you want to watch and record HD shows, then there's only one choice: the ATI HD Wonder. But if you do get that, you have to get a separate tv tuner to watch and record analog shows, which could be a problem because of space in the case and cooling. Otherwise, a midl-level Hauppage or the ATI TV Wonder Elite both offer very good image quality.
 
Apr 5, 2006 at 2:11 AM Post #9 of 30

redshifter

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that forum won't let me join with my gmail account.

so i've been doing some research. here is a mobo i found:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813138268
it is a biostar with onboard coaxial digital output.

here is the tuner card:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814129051

questions:
with that motherboard, can i run the sound from the tuner card to the digital coax output on the mobo? this would connect directly to my denon reciever for decoding. also, for dvd viewing a direct coax output would be ideal.

are there any video cards with a DEDICATED component video output?
thx

-edit-
with everything except the fans and psu and os, the htpc comes to $550
 
Apr 5, 2006 at 2:43 AM Post #12 of 30

humanflyz

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I don't think there is a tv tuner card that has a digital out. Most TV tuner cards are either connected to the auxiliary input on the soundcard or connected to the line-in jack on the soundcard through a mini to mini IC. But I'm not sure if an integrated soundcard has an auxiliary input on it.
 
Apr 5, 2006 at 3:06 AM Post #13 of 30

PsychoZX

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Quote:

Originally Posted by redshifter
thanks. any particular reason?


Better brand, made for Windows MCE, dual tuner card (picture in picture and record one show while watching another), and built in mpeg encoders (spares your cpu from having to do all the encoding).
 
Apr 5, 2006 at 3:23 AM Post #14 of 30

Mr.PD

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Neither of those cards has a component video out.

This is a very interesting project redshifter. I am going to follow along here for a while. My only problem is that I have DirecTV, so a tuner card is worthless to me. I don't know how I can get around this yet.
 
Apr 5, 2006 at 4:31 AM Post #15 of 30

redshifter

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no, i don't mean a tuner with a digital coax out.

here's what i'm after:

[analog tv cable]-->[tuner card]-->[htpc motherboard's onboard soundcard (see above)]-->[digital coax out]-->[high end digital coax cable]-->[denon ht reciver for decoding (dolby digital, pl2, etc.)]

you notice in this configuration buying a seperate soundcard is not specified.

the mobo already has onboard sound with a digital coax out. i just want to know if the above chart works with the tuner card.
 

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