Need comments on HTPC Specs (1 Viewer)

BorgmanJayce

Portal Member
November 28, 2005
17
0
These are the specs that I'm planning on using for my HTPC which I'm calling "Kawaii Ami-chan" after Ami Mizuno from Sailor Moon and which I plan on building in the near future when my finances are better and I just need some comments to whether the specs are good for a HTPC.
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SilverStone SG01B Sugo Computer Case [Silver]
Gigabyte GA-K8NMF-9 Motherboard
Seasonic S12-600 PSU
4 x Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 500GB SATA v3.0 Hard Drives [Equivalent to 2TB of Hard Drive Space]
Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme Music Soundcard
Sapphire Radeon X800GTO² Graphics Card [256MB RAM]
2GB 400MHz DDR Non-ECC (3-3-3) DIMMs from Kingston Technology
Logitech Cordless Desktop MX3100 [Keyboard and Mouse]
PCI Wi-Fi Card
Athlon 64x2 4400+ CPU [L2 - 1MB Cache]
SilverStone NT03 CPU Cooler
SilverStone FX121 Cross Flow fan
2 Sets of 3½ to 5¾ HDD Bay Converters
4 S-ATA Cables
Windows XP Professional Edition
MediaPortal for Windows XP Professional Edition [mediaportal.sourceforge.net]

I also have a couple of questions...

1) What's a good TV Tuner card to use if you want to use it with a regular Sky TV decoder box to record programs from Sky TV
2) This is more Windows XP related but I wanted to know what the picture quality is like on a regular CRT TV when viewing files like text files and PDF's for example...
 

Callifo

Retired Team Member
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  • December 7, 2004
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    Good enough for a HTPC? lol Thats 10x better than my gaming PC :p

    1) If you just using the video on the Sky box then a Hauppauge PVR-150MCE will do the job fine.

    2) Using the Native 576i resolution of a SD CRT TV, text on webpages are only good for about 2 metres. After that youll be straining your eyes way too much to read it. Its crisp enough and such (component in on mine its great) but its just too small to read from distances. The MP text is sufficiently large though so thats no problem.
     

    knutinh

    Portal Pro
    September 4, 2005
    558
    2
    I would scale down on:
    ram
    graphics card
    avoid soundblaster (m-audio audiophile or 7.1)
    go for a 3000+ (upgrade with dual core once they dip in price)
    go for a 330W seasonic

    with regards
    Knut Inge
     

    BorgmanJayce

    Portal Member
    November 28, 2005
    17
    0
    I forgot to mention that I'd be playing not only emulated games on the machine but also games like Phantasy Star Online:Blue Burst, Ragnarok Online 2 [when it comes out] and World of Warcraft which is why I chose the particular types of graphics card, soundcard and PSU...

    I think I will take the advice concerning the CPU and check out the card that Callifo recommended...

    As for the TV, it sounds like I will need to invest in a HDTV LCD-TV with DVI-D socket after all that's Sky TV compatible as well...

    On another note, would it OK using Windows XP Professional or should I use the x64 version instead...

    And I just want to thank those who've helped me out so far... :D
     

    Smirnuff

    Portal Pro
    December 7, 2004
    630
    3
    United Kingdom
    or should I use the x64 version instead

    MP runs well on x64 but as yet we haven't done all the work necessary to allow native x64 builds. However if you can find x64 drivers for all your hardware then I'd say go for it.

    m-audio audiophile

    I'd second that, these are really great soundcards. I purchased and installed one recently and am very happy with it; x64 drivers are available.
     

    BorgmanJayce

    Portal Member
    November 28, 2005
    17
    0
    Hmmm.... I'll decide what flavor of Windows XP to go for when all the other parts are bought...

    On another note, I checked out the details of that card Callifo recommended and it seems it only works with MCE 2005 or later and not regular Windows XP... :(

    So if anyone has any recommendations for TV Tuner cards that do work with Windows XP and are Sky TV compatible, I'd like to hear them... :D
     

    chili

    Portal Pro
    September 20, 2004
    339
    0
    somewhere in the bowels of Texas
    knutinh said:
    I would scale down on:
    ram
    graphics card
    avoid soundblaster (m-audio audiophile or 7.1)
    go for a 3000+ (upgrade with dual core once they dip in price)
    go for a 330W seasonic

    with regards
    Knut Inge

    Why must everyone parrot this crap??

    What in the heck is wrong with 2gig of ram if he wants it? It doesn't add any noise or much heat and hdd swap would be pretty much non-existant, even while playing those games he's listing.

    Why avoid SB?? because you read that somewhere in a forum? SB is perfectly acceptable and maybe he already has one?? (I have a Philips card so I'm not biased either way) Most of us just pass through the digital signal anyways and that Sound Blaster label on the box hasn't had an effect on passthrough as far as I've heard.

    Why scale back on the processor and graphics? Makes absolutely no sense as he didn't say he was on a tight budget... the more processing power the better especially if he's going to do any pre/post processing! If the money is not a problem.

    The only thing that may be a problem would be quieting the beast.. But it can be done.

    You pretty much told him to change his whole system like you are some hardware god.. and I have seen this type of statement way too many times in the A/V forums.. what reasoning did you give him for swapping to YOUR preferences? you just told him to "scale" - not very constructive and a waste of time....... sorry to rant.
     

    BorgmanJayce

    Portal Member
    November 28, 2005
    17
    0
    With the system I'm building, I want it to be my dream system which wouldn't need updating for a few years yet.

    I chose 2GB of RAM as it would mean that the PC would be able to handle all kinds of tasks without being able to break so much as a sweat... [If PC's could sweat, that is! *L*]

    It's the same with the graphics card, the soundcard and the PSU, I did my research for those by reading the reviews for the parts concerned in Custom PC magazine and the guys there know their stuff when it comes to PC's and that's why I chose them as I knew they would be good parts to use...

    For the CPU, I chose the one in the specs because of the fact that I'd be doing a lot of recording on one of the 4 hard drives and it's better to have more processing power rather than have less power which is why I'm now going to stick to my original choice of processor.

    With cooling this sucker, it's going to have the maximum number of fans in the case including the cross-flow fan which is purchased seperately and is specially created for this particular case [and I chose this case not just for its looks but also for the fact that I can use any kind of m-ATX mobo instead of buying a SFF case which don't seem promising, that plus it looks good! *L*]

    Smirnuff - It's good to hear that the card you mentioned IS compatible with Windows XP as I thought it wasn't from the way the specs read it...

    On another note, I'm really glad I signed up to this forum as the posters here are so friendly and it's good to know that some of the people who actually work on the program actually take the time to post and answer people's questions even if they come across as being noobish... :D

    I also promise that when "Kawaii Ami-chan" is built, I'll post pictures of it for everyone to see how kick-ass it looks! :D
     

    knutinh

    Portal Pro
    September 4, 2005
    558
    2
    chili said:
    knutinh said:
    I would scale down on:
    ram
    graphics card
    avoid soundblaster (m-audio audiophile or 7.1)
    go for a 3000+ (upgrade with dual core once they dip in price)
    go for a 330W seasonic

    with regards
    Knut Inge

    Why must everyone parrot this crap??
    You pretty much told him to change his whole system like you are some hardware god.. and I have seen this type of statement way too many times in the A/V forums.. what reasoning did you give him for swapping to YOUR preferences? you just told him to "scale" - not very constructive and a waste of time....... sorry to rant.

    Yes, I probably should qualify my answers. I do think that your tone is unnessary, though...

    If you have unlimited funds, I would go with the best of everything. Given that you, like most of us, have a limited supply of $, I would scale back on certain components, and either use those $ on other aspects of the HTPC, or beer =)

    ram
    I have seen reports of users removing ram sticks one at a time when playing back HD MPEG2 video files, where the performance was essentially constant from 512MB and up. This makes sense, as you are streaming a file from disk that is to large to fit into ram anyways.

    In this guide, the author recommends 512 MB ram, after conversations with one of the guys ("Andy") behind ffdshow (sadly in norwegian):
    http://www.hardware.no/guider/hele_maskiner/htpc_trinn_for_trinn_-_del_2/13774/2 .Translated:

    "7. There is no need for large amounts of memory, 512MB is enough.."

    sound card
    If you only want a spdif pass-through, any card that can pass a bit-perfect signal will do. I can`t see why an expensive soundblaster give any advantage to more modest spdif equipped cards for pure HTPC use. For gaming, the situation may change somewhat.

    If you want analog output, other cards may have better connectors, and more "professional" DAC/drivers/bass management etc.

    I had a soundblaster live and was fed up with the 30MB+ driver/bloatware that wasnt stable, and issues with hardware-resampling. The soundblaster label has had a very marked impact on pass through up until recently when I last checked (core running at 48kHz so 96kHz pass through was actually down-sampled, processed, then upsampled!)

    graphics
    After my post, the thread starter added that he will use the PC for newer PC games. In that case, my original post does not apply. I have yet to see a objective reason why HTPC users should go for anything faster than a passive GF6600GT (for pure video processing), or 6200 or equivalent (for ffdshow processing).

    CPU
    x2 processors are really expensive. Any application that does not support dual threads will benefit 0 % compared to a single core if that is the only application running. Even a multi-threaded application may see little improvement if the usage is not symmetric. This is confirmed by a test at www.anandtech.com where they had to use many applications at the same time to see significant benefits of dual core vs single core processors. Do you think this is a common use of HTPCs? This may change as applications are changed to reflect the hardware situation, but then processor prices will also drop. A 3000+ will probably be cooler and a lot less expensive that a x2 4800. In 6 months a faster processor thatn the 4800 may be bought for half the price...

    PSU
    Tests at www.silentpcreview.com shows that even the most power-thirsty systems consume more than 200W at full load. Tests at the same site shows that PSUs have a "sweetspot" where their efficiency peaks. This means that a 600W PSU used in a 150W system will develop more heat than a 300W PSU in the sme system if all other variables are equal. And it will cost far less.


    So, chili, I dont know if you still think this is crap, but I have tried to explain my meanings as good as possible, with relevant links where I could remember.

    best regards
    Knut Inge
     

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