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Suggestions for an HTPC? I need one that can play any file flawlessly on XMBC

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I have been interested in getting an HTPC so that I can surf my shows and movies from the couch with my Harmony Remote. I was thinking about getting a Mac Mini when the refresh comes out, but who knows when that is finally going to happen?

I need my HTPC to

Play any file type flawlessly
1080p even at a high bit rate
5.1 out to a receiver through HDMI using either using PCM or able to decode the codecs on each file type correctly.
Work without a lot of problems.

A plus would be emulation support, but that is not necessary.

Is running XBMC on Windows or Linux better? I would have it likely set to run on startup.
post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 
Also I'm assuming that XBMC is still the preferable software to use? Is there anything better out now?
post #3 of 12
XBMC or media portal in my opinion. I use media portal b/c you can set up all your own codecs and such.
If you want linux get a nvidia GPU, windows Intel or AMD.
Dual core AMD or intel will be plenty.
A budget would be awesome to work with.
I think This thread at AVSforum would tell you all you need to know about what hardware to get (just not the zacate if you are using emulators.
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post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hick View Post
XBMC or media portal in my opinion. I use media portal b/c you can set up all your own codecs and such.
If you want linux get a nvidia GPU, windows Intel or AMD.
Dual core AMD or intel will be plenty.
A budget would be awesome to work with.
I think This thread at AVSforum would tell you all you need to know about what hardware to get (just not the zacate if you are using emulators.
Thanks.

My budget is preferably kept as low as possible, but it can be from $500-$1000 at the most.

Edit: I'd probably prefer having a small SSD on the machine so that the machine loads faster. All of my media would be coming from a file server connected on a LAN.
Edited by Trojita - 5/5/11 at 5:57pm
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trojita View Post
Thanks.

My budget is preferably kept as low as possible, but it can be from $500-$1000 at the most.

Edit: I'd probably prefer having a small SSD on the machine so that the machine loads faster. All of my media would be coming from a file server connected on a LAN.
any preferences for your system? are you specifically just playing video files and such? if that's all, you should be able to get udner 500 pretty easily for xbmc htpc. have you tried looking at the zacate motherboards?
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post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Oh, one thing I should have probably mentioned is that I have an extra ATI 4870 laying around. I was going to put it the server I just bought, a Dell 110, but I don't know if it would fit in it, plus it might be more cost effective buying a cheap solution for the server and putting the 4870 into the HTPC. I wanted a graphics card in my server just because the stock onboard display hardware on the server only allows 800x600 or something.
post #7 of 12
XBMC Live (Linux) has a pretty small footprint. That would require Nvidia GPU, though. Definitely forget about Zacate if going Linux.

Given your 1080p @ high bitrate requirement, though, both Zacate and Atom are out. Probably Sempron, too, unless you unlock. Zacate can't handle 1080p60 28Mbps even with hardware acceleration working (test videos).

My only gripe about the HD 4870 is power consumption and heat. Otherwise, sure, why not?
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post #8 of 12
Does the 4870 have an HDMI port? Not necessary, but handier than super long DVI cables or DVI-to-HDMI convertors.

I just put an HTPC together with a GT 430; great card, idles at like 30C and doesn't get very hot.

I also put an E6500 in it I believe. It's also a bit of a multi-purpose computer, though, so it's got a little more power/I wasn't too strict with what I got.

I tossed the Corsair CX430 into it and it works wells. Not modular, but dirt cheap. The only real problem I had with it was the coil whine.

If you're really looking into putting ~$1000 into it I'd start looking at really beefy sound cards and such, especially if you're looking for the total experience here.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yeah my 4870 has an HDMI port.

Would I need a really beefy sound card if I have a Pioneer Elite Receiver?
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trojita View Post
Yeah my 4870 has an HDMI port.

Would I need a really beefy sound card if I have a Pioneer Elite Receiver?
If you're bitstreaming audio and letting the receiver handle the digital to analog conversion, then no need. Radeon HD 4000 series only supports 7.1 LPCM, though. Need to go HD 5000 if you want HD audio bitsreaming. Not very familiar with what your AVR supports, though, and it's a pain to research on an iPad.
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