I want to build an HTPC

Discussion in 'Home Theatre Computing' started by CrazyDiamond, Nov 23, 2007.

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  1. CrazyDiamond

    CrazyDiamond New Member

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    Fed up with watching downloaded video at my PC. Want to go for an HTPC to connect to my TV.

    Screen is an 32" LCD with 2 x HDMIs. Have a closeby ethernet connection to a gigabit switch. Planning on buying the Antec Fusion case. Already have an LG HD DVD/Blu-Ray Drive. What I would like to know:
    • Would like to go intel. Is a Core 2 Duo OK?
    • Mobo is uATX. Recommendations?
    • Video Card. Recommendations? HDCP required?
    • Does video Card need to be low profile for the case?
    • Suitable CPU cooler for the case?

    Not bothered with regard to HDD size, will stream from the main PC (Soon to have 1 TB storage). Also have 2x Noctua 800RPM 120 mm fans which I plan to replace the 2 stock case fans with.

    Any other suggestions guys?

    Thanks

    Gary
     
  2. Fireblade

    Fireblade Mental Modder[ator]!!

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    Welcome to the forums Gary :cool:


    Have you had a shuftie through Kustom's HTPC Shop yet?

    Pick a case you like... then add the various components, and list your choices in here. A couple/few of each would be best.

    The HTPC experts will then help you decide which would be the better options - based on your precise needs for the system ;)
     
  3. jameson_uk

    jameson_uk Super Kustomer

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    what tv is it? Oddly enough you are generally better off using the VGA input than the HDMI. Once HDCP actually gets turned on it will be a different story but by then most people will probably have 40" sets capable of 1080p :D

    As long as you get a GPU which has some form of HD hardware acceleration a low end model will suffice
    I would just go for a cheap one. You should not need anything fancy for a HTPC so just get a good model that has the basics and is cheap
    It is more important to get a card that does hardware acceleration than HDCP but all the cards that do this have HDCP anyway... As for which model this is something I am pondering at the minute as I plan to upgrade my HTPC to blu-ray. Read this recently I am guessing the 24xx ATI cards are probably a good bet for HTPC use currently but I need to do research on this too:rolleyes:
    No
    No experience of this case so I suggest you talk with Kustom to check compatability. A quick look based on sizes suggests Thermalright SI98 but with a fan on it may be too big. If it is see is Kustom can source you a Thermalright XP120 as this should almost definately fit.
     
  4. eXistenZ

    eXistenZ Super Kustomer

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    Then you have to run separate cables for video and audio, when HDMI does both just fine.

    I wouldn't bother replacing the fans in the Fusion - the included 120mm ones are excellent, and silent.
    My friend has that case, and I have the Antec NSK2480 (basically the same but without the VFD built in) - you won't regret getting it; the build quality and design are both spot on. In terms of cooling, my friend is running a core 2 duo 2180 with a Scythe Mini-Ninja fanless and the processor sits around 40 degrees while watching HD videos. (Kustom can order the mini-ninjas too - I've already asked Graham about getting them ;))
     
  5. jameson_uk

    jameson_uk Super Kustomer

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    Agreed you only need one cable but from what I have experienced the syncing of the audio and video by the GPU has not been great so far.
    Also I would have thought if you are going to bother of having HD video you are going to have a proper home-cinema audio setup?? In that case you are going to want a digital out anyway and I have not looked since I got my LCD a year ago but most don't have digital audio out.

    The problem with HDMI is to do with native res and rescaling. If you have a 32" screen the chances are your native res is something like 1366*768. If you have a larger, newer screen then the changes are it's native res might be 1920x1080 (hence 1:1 for 1080p) and not really a problem.

    Most screens will likely have some rescaling going on at some point. If you set your PC res to the native res of the screen it is possible on some screens to get a 1:1 pixel mapping (but only via the VGA input). Given that scaling on the PC is going to be better than most TVs that is the better option.

    eg. even if you set your PC res for 720p and watched movies in 720p via HDMI, the first thing your screen will do resize this to 1366*768. If you connect up via VGA and set your screen res to 1360*768 (or something like this depending on what your TV can accept and whether 1:1 mapping is even possible with your set) then you are doing the scaling on your PC which contains a stupidly powerful GPU and you can turn on post processing which means you get a much clearer more vivid image.

    I seem to recall an issue with refresh rates and PCs via HDMI too but been a good 10 months since I spent most my life investigating ....
     
  6. CrazyDiamond

    CrazyDiamond New Member

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    Thanks for the replies guys. The Antec Fusion case will be my case of choice (Purchased from Kustom PCs of course!). My TV is a Sharp Aquos 32" LCD with native res of 1080i. Has 2 HDMIs, one with a PC audio in. But, I will be pushing the audio out to my surround system via optical.
    Plan will be in the near future to buy a new screen with 1080p, but I think that will be a long way off.
    I had heard that to play Blu Ray/HD DVD that HDCP certified hardware was required?
    Regarding CPU cooling, I would like to use a passive cooler i.e. thermalright Ultra 120, employing the 2 120mm case fans. Would this be sufficient?
     
  7. six5tring

    six5tring Silent Kristian Konsumer

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    Well that works for my venice chip in mine... just make sure that you have the head room my artic cooler (something) was more than a very tight fit!

    six
     
  8. jameson_uk

    jameson_uk Super Kustomer

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    Whilst it will display 1080i I am fairly sure the native res is actually 1366*768. Also having a quick look here I am not sure it will actually support 1:1 pixel mapping so you may end up with either black bars or a slightly stetched picture. (What res's does the manual say it will accept via VGA input ??)

    If you are interested you will probably find http://www.avforums.com a good place for model specific advice

    Not yet. Once HDCP is actually turned on (will probably be a number of years yet) you will only get a decent picture if everything is HDCP compliant. It has the option to downscale to say standard 576i (PAL) it if can't get the HDCP link all the way from source to TV.

    The Ultra 120 is going to be too big for the Antec case ??? (160.5mm tall but the case is only 133mm tall ???). I am a bit of a Thermalright nut as every one of their products I have ever used has been fantastic. I have heard great things about the Scythe coolers but never tried them out myself. You might want to look at the mini-ninja (I am sure Kustom can source one for you) also have a look at http://silentpcreview.com/ as these tend to have great reviews for this type of thing
     
  9. Westy5

    Westy5 Space

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    You can easily get one of these in a Fusion -- Got one passive cooling my 45W AMD BE chip!
     
  10. CrazyDiamond

    CrazyDiamond New Member

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    Thanks again guys!

    I have been looking through the gumpf that came with my TV and it states that the VGA input will only accept a resolution upto 1024 x 768!!! This isn't even widescreen!

    Will I be able to get a better resolution if I go through the HDMI? It states a res of 1080i. I don't mind if I get black bars top & bottom. As long as they don't take up too much screen.

    Also like the look of this. Seem like a good option for the Antec?
     
  11. jameson_uk

    jameson_uk Super Kustomer

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    Does it display any widescreen res's ??

    You may find it will actually accept other res's than officially listed if you fudge it via powerstrip. It is worth checking on the avforums link above as you may be able to get decent res via VGA / DVI or HDMI.

    As regards whether it would be better via HDMI that is interesting... You are not going to (easily) get an interlaced output from a graphics card so you would probably need to go for 720p.

    This then depends on what res your actual source is and if you are going to play something at anything other than 720p then it will be rescaled on your PC sent to the TV and then rescaled to 1376x768 (the native res of the panel) which can look poor (depends very much on the set and I have no experience of the Sharp LCDs)