First HTPC/DVR build

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First HTPC/DVR build

Postposted on Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:56 pm

So I've embarked on my first HTPC/DVR build. I've decided to go with the <a href="http://www.antec.com/us/productDetails.php?ProdID=15130">Antec Aria</a> case since it seems to be the best compromise between size, flexibility (will take any standard micro-ATX mobo), and appearance (gotta get the wife on board with this project too, and she's adamant that it can't "look like a PC" :wink:).

My first choice for mobo was the <a href="http://www.msicomputer.com/product/p_spec.asp?model=K7N2GM2-LSR&class=mb">MSI K7N2GM2</a>, as it appears to have a near-ideal set of features for this application. Onboard video with integrated TV encoder, temperature controlled CPU fan header, and SATA (I figure the thinner SATA cables will be a plus with the cramped quarters inside the Aria case). Unfortunately, the K7N2GM2 I received from Newegg was defective; my trials and tribulations with that board are described in <a href="http://www.techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=26006">this thread</a>. Rather than delay the build until I receive the replacement (it was RMAed yesterday), I decided to proceed using a <a href="http://www.dfi.com.tw/Product/xx_product_spec_details_r_us.jsp?PRODUCT_ID=1960&CATEGORY_TYPE=MB&SITE=NA">DFI KM400-MLV</a> I had on hand instead. No integrated TV-out, and no temp controlled CPU fan header... but otherwise it is similar to the MSI board. Ultimately I plan to build a 2nd (even smaller) unit for the family room using one of the <a href="http://www.silverstonetek.com/products-lc04.htm">Silverstone low-profile cases</a>, so I'll be able to use the replacement MSI board for that instead.

I'm using an Athlon XP 2100+ CPU and 512MB stick of DDR that I had on hand; I also ordered a Thermaltake Volcano 10+ low-profile copper HSF from Newegg. A Hitachi 160GB SATA hard drive and NEC 3540A DVD burner round out the complement of hardware.

Setup of the DFI board has been trouble-free so far. It isn't installed in the Aria case yet, but I've got the <a href="http://justbrewit.net/trstuff/dvrbuild1.jpg">hardware hooked up</a> and the OS installed, and have been running burn-in tests. (I used the integrated video for the initial setup and testing... I'll install an AGP card with TV-out capabilities when I install it in the Aria case.)

Question: Anyone know if a Radeon 7000 will be good enough for video playback? I've got one on hand, and it is passively cooled (two things in its favor). It would be nice if I don't need to buy a video card...

I also checked out the KM400-MLV's onboard 5.1 audio, not expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised; it actually seems good enough that I'm considering not bothering with a PCI soundcard.

I'll continue posting updates on this thread as the build proceeds.
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Postposted on Sat Feb 05, 2005 4:22 pm

How much did that cost you to put together? I've been toying with the idea of making a HTPC. All I really want is the ability to record a few shows now and then and maybe transfer all my mp3's onto it so I can use my HT speakers.
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Postposted on Sat Feb 05, 2005 4:33 pm

Radeon 7000 does not accelerate MPEG. Radeon 9000/9200/8500/9100 does MPEG and Real. Radeon 9500 and up also do DiVX.
http://apps.ati.com/ATIcompare/
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Postposted on Sat Feb 05, 2005 5:09 pm

apsog33 wrote:How much did that cost you to put together?

Way too much. :roll:

The hardware accelerated dual tuner/encoder card alone set me back nearly ~$200. But I really wanted to "do this right".

You can go with a much cheaper tuner card of course, if you don't care about dual tuners or hardware accelerated encoding.

I've been toying with the idea of making a HTPC. All I really want is the ability to record a few shows now and then and maybe transfer all my mp3's onto it so I can use my HT speakers.

I'm sure you could get away with a fairly inexpensive setup then.

JustAnEngineer wrote:Radeon 7000 does not accelerate MPEG. Radeon 9000/9200/8500/9100 does MPEG and Real. Radeon 9500 and up also do DiVX.
http://apps.ati.com/ATIcompare/

Yeah... I ended up picking up an Asus Radeon 9250. So no worries there.

Haven't had much time to work on this beast. Maybe this weekend.
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Postposted on Sat Feb 05, 2005 7:03 pm

I hope that you didn't have to buy that Radeon 9250 new. I would definitely have favored the 9550 or 9600 (non-pro).
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Postposted on Sat Feb 05, 2005 7:33 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:I hope that you didn't have to buy that Radeon 9250 new. I would definitely have favored the 9550 or 9600 (non-pro).

Live and learn; it was an impulse buy at the TigerDirect Outlet store the other day. At least it was relatively cheap.
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Postposted on Sat Feb 05, 2005 8:44 pm

just brew it! wrote:Way too much. :roll:

The hardware accelerated dual tuner/encoder card alone set me back nearly ~$200. But I really wanted to "do this right".

You can go with a much cheaper tuner card of course, if you don't care about dual tuners or hardware accelerated encoding.
What make / model is this? Did you get an HDTV tuner?
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Postposted on Sat Feb 05, 2005 8:59 pm

Hauppauge PVR-500.

No HDTV yet... I kind of waffled on whether to try and support HDTV now. I decided not to, due to the relative lack of support compared to regular TV, the large amount of disk space required, and the fact that it requires too much bandwidth to stream reliably over 802.11g. Definitely something to consider for a future upgrade though.
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