Planned HTPC (Over the coming Months) - Comments/Suggestions

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Planned HTPC (Over the coming Months) - Comments/Suggestions

Postby Flagg on Thu Apr 26, 2007 4:42 am

So this is the HTPC that is planned at the moment:

Using Xlobby, the dragon skin, and numerous plugins...

Storage:

1.5TB (currently) soon to expand to 2TB eventually to go to 4TB at least, 8 IDE devices (via controller card), going to be upgrading to an SATA compliant MB which will allow 4 sata drives on top of that, cooled and with the power supply upped.

DVDs are archives at full quality (with the exception of a few older movies and animated tv shows which I dropped the quality a tad with), ripped with DVDFab to keep menus intact.

CPU/etc:

Going to P4 3.x GHz, 1GB RAM to start.

Currently I'm decoding on an older box with a HW decoder card.

Will be upconverting with FFDShow and MPC after the upgrade.

Planning on putting in a MyHD MDP-130 tuner/capture card.

Output to:

37-42" HDTV
Surround sound receiver
Possibly some high-end Paradigm speakers as I know someone who works there

Any suggestions? I'm mostly all about storage space and having my entire library on HDs with menus. HD's are easy for me to slap in as I already had a ton of space. The PVR feature with the MyHD is basically an afterthought, but it should support unencrypted QAM. Good enough.
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Postby S Pittaway on Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:17 am

all those disks in a htpc? it will be damm nosiy! and you havent mentioned anything like raid or backups?


I took an old pc, bought a large case, transported the guts to it and added 9 disks and a load of fans...

I then ran a network cable into the garage and i leave it running in there headlessly (connect via remote desktop).

Its noisy but i dont live in the garage so i dont care.

The disks are 1x400 (music/sys partioned) and 8x250.

I use the hack on windows to enable software raid 5 (it works i had a dsik faliure)

When the 1Tb disks are out i will probably do it again using much larger disks...

spec wise its a 2GHz amd with a (very) cheap moba and 500mg of ram.

I stream all of my music/dvds from it and it works without any problems (been well over a year now).

The pc in the living room only has a small disk in it but it does not matter - the storage is on the network.




the only other thing i would say is why keep the menus?

if simply keep the film part of thedvd (in your language) i have found a typical dvd is only ~3-4Gb

you can use xlobby as the "menu" and rip any "extras" you want in the same way.

I also found that my disks of tv type shows were actually takling up A LOT of space (futurama was 50GB!), i ended up converting them to avi's (decent quality settings). They now take up ~300Mb an episode and i cant tell the differance in picture quality.

If you go down this road what ever space you have will go even further.
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Postby Flagg on Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:36 pm

S Pittaway wrote:all those disks in a htpc? it will be damm nosiy! and you havent mentioned anything like raid or backups?


I took an old pc, bought a large case, transported the guts to it and added 9 disks and a load of fans...

I then ran a network cable into the garage and i leave it running in there headlessly (connect via remote desktop).

Its noisy but i dont live in the garage so i dont care.

The disks are 1x400 (music/sys partioned) and 8x250.

I use the hack on windows to enable software raid 5 (it works i had a dsik faliure)

When the 1Tb disks are out i will probably do it again using much larger disks...

spec wise its a 2GHz amd with a (very) cheap moba and 500mg of ram.

I stream all of my music/dvds from it and it works without any problems (been well over a year now).

The pc in the living room only has a small disk in it but it does not matter - the storage is on the network.




the only other thing i would say is why keep the menus?

if simply keep the film part of thedvd (in your language) i have found a typical dvd is only ~3-4Gb

you can use xlobby as the "menu" and rip any "extras" you want in the same way.

I also found that my disks of tv type shows were actually takling up A LOT of space (futurama was 50GB!), i ended up converting them to avi's (decent quality settings). They now take up ~300Mb an episode and i cant tell the differance in picture quality.

If you go down this road what ever space you have will go even further.


Right now I can't support RAID so I just haven't bothered. The noise in the current case is actually minimal, and the PC won't exactly be next to the TV so it shouldn't be too much of an issue. In future I'm looking at going to a NAS.

I'm using 500, 300, and 250GB disks atm. With 500GB drives now around 175$ CDN for me, I'm hopeful 750's will start dropping soon.

I agree on the TV shows. The X-Files alone will come to almost 400GB at full quality. 9 seasons :P

However, compressing everything I have would take about 800 hours and I just don't have that kind of motivation. I did a couple test runs with a few different packages. Plus, I insist on having menus, it's just kinda my thing. I've looked at keeping the menus via doing a rip, converting the video, and keeping everything in a wrapper (Matstroka) but it was just too tedious and the support for it is iffy. The menus themselves don't take much space, and I usually rip any extras I know I won't use.

Was excited the hear Divx6 had menu support then extremely disappointed when I saw what that menu support was.

Especially for TV eps, I need my menus... and really, the menus aren't much of a space concern. The other thing for me is, after a few more purchases, my collection is pretty much done. It'll finish off at about 2TB. It's taken me 10 years to buy 2TB worth of DVDs so with an additional 2TB of space for expansion and PVR functionality should be fine for me.

I'm not planning on archiving any HDDVD/Bluray so I don't need to worry about those, will go the standalone player route on them once burners come down in price.
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Postby Marbles_00 on Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:53 pm

Flagg,

Possibly some high-end Paradigm speakers as I know someone who works there


That's cool...they make some awesome speakers. That also means your in my neck of the woods. If I'm right, depending on your location, you should check out Wintronic Computers (http://www.wintroniccomputers.com). They have some pretty competitive pricing (if your in the Nort York region, forget what I said, there are tonnes of computer stores). I'm kinda in the same boat as you and I'm trying to research into what I want to do. So far (prices in cdn funds):

Case
Antec NSK2400 ($109) - simple, straight lined, sleek, no bells or whistles on the outside, but got a good review at http://www.silentpcreview.com/article591-page1.html (though may be a little biased).

Motherboard
Asus M2NPV-VM ($107) - received some good reviews, multi-monitor Nvidia 6150 Chipset. The onboard video would just get me going until I saved up for a good video card.

CPU
AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200 Dual Core (Socket AM2) Windsor 2.6GH ($215) - kinda the middle of the pack but powerful enough for my needs.

I was an Intel guy but a post on the XLobby forums made me think otherwise. Been looking more at the AMD processors and boards and figure I'd give them a run.

Memory
Kingston KVR667D2N4K2/2G - 2Gb DDR2 667Mhz PC5400 ($139) - I'm not the best when it comes to memory. I know Kingston is good, but I'll take any advice I can get.

Hard Drive
Seagate ST3500630AS Barracuda 500GB SATA ($169) - only going to use one to store movies, record TV shows and pictures. Music is stored on my music server. Later I would like to put together a NAS as well, but not a high requirement at this time.

Video card
Though this will be an after thing, I was thinking to something like an Asus EN7600GS Silent HDT w/512MB ($169). What would others recommend?

Capture Card
Already have a Hauppauge PVR-150, works well. I don't have HDTV yet so I will keep on using it.

Sound Card
Was going to use a SB Live 5.1 to get me going, but may pick up an Audigy off Ebay.

DVD Burner
I have a dual layer Pioneer which hasn't even been used yet...the bezel is silver and will match the Antec case nicely

Of course a USB-UIRT is a must as I want to control the system via remote.

Toss between Xlobby (frontrunner of course) or GAM (Got All Media), mainly because of its PVR abilities, or I may try to combine the two.


Any recommends are welcome. Hope this helps.
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Postby tswhite70 on Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:46 pm

Flagg, just a couple comments since you asked....

I'd go ahead and go 2 gigs high quality ram off the bat. That way you've got some headroom and overclocking potential if needed/wanted in the future. (I've been stuck in the past where I bought the minimum I needed at the time and then couldn't find another two sticks of the same thing later on which had me scrambling to find some ram that would play well with what I already had...)

Depending on your PVR needs you might look at the HDHomeRun instead of the MyHD card. There's not a plugin for Xlobby for it, but you may find the MyHD functionality doesn't really suit your needs whereas something like SageTv in combination with the HDHomeRun might work better for you (I'm a Sage user by the way so I'm biased).

With that much storage you may want to look at using Unraid, also see this post for somebody here that's using it.


Marbles...
That Antec looks pretty nice, personally I don't like the drive bays exposed. You might look at the Silverstone cases, I've had an LC03 for several years now and I'm very happy with it.

That's a pretty nice Micro-ATX board, but you might want to go full size an just avoid the built-in video right off the bat depending on your case. Either way the video card I've been thinking about is the GIGABYTE GV-NX85T256H GeForce 8500GT 256MB GDDR2 PCI Express x16 HDCP Video Card - Retail that has all the Nvidia decoder acelleration builtin (including PureVideoHD), DX10 and is HDCP compliant (might as well future proof now for when you buy that Double Layer BlueRay/HD-DVD burner you've been dreaming of..:)) Not to mention silent, it's brand new though so I'll have to wait for some more reviews.

Ram - Kingston, Corsair, Patriot, OCZ, Crucial - they are all good and bad (read the reviews at newegg to find one you like in your price range). I would definitely buy PC6400 (800Mhz) though, 2GB and high performance. I personally just can't skimp on ram anymore...

As for the hard drive just make sure it's not one of the noisy Seagates, I know some of them (maybe the perpendicular recording ones?) have been reported as being very loud recently.

Don't forget to let us know what you buy and how it turns out...
good luck,
tsw
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Postby Flagg on Sat Apr 28, 2007 5:52 am

Thanks tswhite & marbles! Sorry if my replies are kinda jumbled into one.

I'm still an Intel guy for now... and the MB I'm looking at is a socket 775 with 5 PCI slots so lots of expansion room (given I just want to swap out a few existing PCI devices this is ideal for me budget-wise) so I'll stick to that.

The RAM is more of a money thing (putting off one chip, save a few bucks) but I might go direct to 2GB.

I'm not in North York but the burbs rather... I have quite a few options on custom built systems.

I'm going to check out that case you mentioned.

In regards to HDHomeRun... am I correct in believing it's a tuner only and that encoding is done on the PC? One thing I like about MyHD is the onboard encoding for atsc/HD (although any analog channels via MyHD are a software encode).

In regards to drives - thus far I must have been lucky. I've had no drive noise issues with the 500GB Seagate, and same goes for the 250GB WD's.

I currently have 5 internal IDE HDs, 2 ATAPI devices, and one external USB HD connected to my desktop, with minimal noise. Most of this space will migrate to the new box, be added to, although the external I'm going to keep just to port files between work/home/friends etc. Will check unraid out this weekend.
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Postby S Pittaway on Sat Apr 28, 2007 6:03 am

i did post this yesterday - no idea where it went :)


My htpc upgrade was canceled this month - car sevice/insurance x2 :(

But i had pretty much settled on -

Case: Anteck Fussion ( http://www.silentpcreview.com/article591-page9.html ), Marble have you considered it? its only a little bit more expenive, but it has a nicer finish (and the dvd is behind a door...)

CPU I thoght Core2Duo was king at the moment, so i getting a E6600 its ony a bit more expensive now, and i cant be arsed overclocking.

Mem 2Gb: brand depends on whats on sale at the time :)

Mobo: open for sugestions, was probably going o go for an intel and play it safe (must be a MicroAtx + have spdif)

CPU fan: depends on mobo, sugestions?

Hard disk: i was going to go with a couple of laptop drives you can pick a 80Gb up for ~£35 now (160 for 165) i have a nas box to store big things on...

Sound: i was planning o going with the onboard spdif, if i still get drop outs ill look arround...

TV: i ue a nebula tv card, software / picture both very good.


The pc drives a Toshiba 32 LCD (dsub) and a Panny AE500 projector (dvi).

They are both in the living room, pc sits uder the tv with an amp

Speakers are just KEF Eggs, ot them for the size, but i have actually been very happy with them.

xlobby run on the tv selec film/music etc) and films are (normally) watched on the projector.

Current pc is a (noisy) shuttle box.


Sean.
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Postby P3rv3rt B3ar on Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:59 am

tswhite70 wrote:
Marbles...
That Antec looks pretty nice, personally I don't like the drive bays exposed. You might look at the Silverstone cases, I've had an LC03 for several years now and I'm very happy with it.




Well actually my friend is also buying HTPC now and planning that exact same case. Depending how long it will take, i can give u his impressions.

What comes to drivebays, i guess it depends on user and his/hers needs, but i find those must. The fact that my case (Origen AE X15e) doesnt provide slots for 5,25" is IMO its biggest shortcoming. There are all those cool fan controllers / front panels / screens / and even this thingy musketeer 3 u cant do HTPC without :P

I think... when i bought my case there was two serious players in HTPC-case business SilverStone and Origen AE, but nowadays every fan-company is putting out their HTPC-case lines and many of them have really moved beyond old giants. So i think instead saying your silvy has worked fine for years... u better go out and see todays market ;)

I think that antec has unbeatable looks/price ratio... if u however are begging for divorce... id like to suggest getting my favorite Origen AE S21T

[/url]
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Postby tswhite70 on Sat Apr 28, 2007 5:37 pm

What comes to drivebays, i guess it depends on user and his/hers needs, but i find those must.

Huhhh? I said I don't like "exposed' drive bays, not "external" drive bays... The LC03 has 2x3.5 and 2x5.25 "external" bays behind a well designed door, along with the normal complement of usb/audio plugs + firewire (which Marbles might want since he's looking at a mb with firewire). If YOU like "exposed" drive bays more power to you, personally I think it looks like crap in my equipment rack...

So i think instead saying your silvy has worked fine for years... u better go out and see todays market

What makes you think I'm not aware of todays market?! Silverstone makes some great cases and has excellent customer support. I'm a happy customer of theirs and have yet to see a case that has the functionality/looks/price that "I want" that's "better" than the LC03. So I suggested Marbles take a look at Silverstone if he hasn't all ready, nothing more. Seriously - what is it with you? Seems like everytime I (or anyone else for that matter) make a suggestion you seem compelled to imply that we are somehow uninformed, ignorant, or just wrong. Tell you what, I've got a suggestion for you - if you don't have something productive to add to the conversation then just mind your own f'n business and don't post.

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Postby P3rv3rt B3ar on Sat Apr 28, 2007 6:04 pm

tswhite70 wrote:Seriously - what is it with you? Seems like everytime I (or anyone else for that matter) make a suggestion you seem compelled to imply that we are somehow uninformed, ignorant, or just wrong. Tell you what, I've got a suggestion for you - if you don't have something productive to add to the conversation then just mind your own f'n business and don't post.

tsw


And finally 'most anoying forum member' award goes to...

... gee i hope thats free copy of lobby ;)

Hey dont get your knickers twisted... if i disagree with u on something, doesnt mean we'll have to roll up our sleeves.

I greatly respect your work on Apple Movie Trailer utility, i actually think its among best plugins/utilities. I'm sure Intheaters is cool as well, just useless on my neighborhood. That doesnt mean however i wouldnt snap back at u, like run-in with Lars little while back prooves, this time i just turn the other cheek... who knows mayby u blow a kiss :shock:
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Postby S Pittaway on Sat Apr 28, 2007 6:33 pm

ts, I really think you should go back and reread that post, Marbles hasent said anything even vaguley rude or confruntational...

Not sure if you to have an history but it did seam a bit strong :)

I also thoght that at least a bit of it was aimed at me??

Having said that i couldnt cope with a case with exposed drive bays!


Sean.
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Postby tswhite70 on Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:47 pm

This will be my last post on the topic, it was never my intent to hijack this thread with a bunch of bs...

Sean - My comments were not in ANY way directed at you or Marbles, I'm sorry if you got that impression. They were directed at the quotes that P3rv3rt B3ar made regarding my initial post and no one else. If they came off as rude towards bear, that's exactly what I intended. My patience has run thin with his rude attitude, implications of ignornance towards others & unproductive comments...

regards,
tsw
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Postby P3rv3rt B3ar on Sat Apr 28, 2007 11:14 pm

:? hmmm... u better shave so i wont accidently rub u wrong way next time :D
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Postby Marbles_00 on Sun Apr 29, 2007 5:19 am

Thanks for all the responses so far guys. I didn't think it would get controversial (well maybe between the Intel dudes vs the AMD dudes :) ). Tswhite, no harm done, I know your comments weren't pointed at me.

As for the case, the thing I like about the Antec cases (NSK and Fusion) is that they include a pretty silent PS already. All the other ones I've looked at don't (Silverstone, Thermatake etc.), so that is another $50 or so to get one. If the case does include a PS, then the case ends up being considerably more expensive the the NSK as well. I like the Fusion case, but around here it is about $100 more than the NSK. Hidden drive bays would be nice but since my DVD rom bezel would match the case, I don't think it is not a huge concern for me.

P3rv, I'll be waiting for your buddy's review on his case.

I've been always more of a full ATX guy personally, but the case will only carry a MicroATX, hence the reason to go for one of those boards. Judging the only extra card I would put into it would be a HD capture card. As well, the onboard video would only be temporary until I'm able to get a full graphics card.

Funny, I have a 250 Gig Seagate in my music server and I can't even here it spin up. It is as quite as can be, and I've been very pleased with it.

Keep it coming. This along with Buddabing's short document is all very helpful.
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Mayhem Creations
where my:
    -Music Distribution
    -HTPC
    -MediaPVR
    -UnRAID box
    -OTA
are all discussed.

Xlobby Free Zone
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Postby S Pittaway on Sun Apr 29, 2007 8:52 am

Dident notice bears post in the middle :)
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