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Is an HTPC really that much better than running media from every day PC? - Page 2

post #11 of 27
A dedicated HTPC is about low power and silence. Any computer can be used as a HTPC, but a dedicated one is just specialized.

My HTPC (I have 3 actually) use around 70w when watching HD content, around 55w when idle, and 2 of them are on 24/7.
I have a server running WHS on it for storage of all my media and a central location for all TV shows to be stored on (as well as a daily backup of all computers in the house). This lets each HTPC only need a small HDD for the OS (2 of mine are 160 gig drives, 1 is an 80 gig).

Also, it is just you, so having a gaming/HTPC all in one is just fine, but when you have a wife and kids, you need separate systems to keep everyone happy. My 3 other computers in the house can also be called HTPC's since I have access to everything the other HTPC's do (except live TV).

Plus it is just another reason to buy, build and play with another computer.
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post #12 of 27
Mine is a dedicated HTPC in a nMediaPC Full ATX case (About the size of a receiver or amp)
2tb Drive we use for movies, recorded TV from the capture card connected to the DirecTV or antennae, or ripped movies.

Although, we didn't use low end parts... 2500k / 5750 Media PC Ftw (This thing NEVER runs games)
    
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post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by blupupher View Post
A dedicated HTPC is about low power and silence. Any computer can be used as a HTPC, but a dedicated one is just specialized.

My HTPC (I have 3 actually) use around 70w when watching HD content, around 55w when idle, and 2 of them are on 24/7.
Nowadays, that's not really anything special. My gaming rig with i7-860 + GTX 460 uses around 60W idle. The new Sandy Bridge processors are even more power efficient. Couldn't argue with you about the silence thing although I try to make all my computer builds pretty quiet. Granted, my HTPC's use even less power.

Code:
CPU                 E3300          i3-530
MB                  GF 9300        H55
GPU                 GF 9300        Intel HD

Power Consumption, W (AC)
Idle                35             30
Media Playback      40~50          40~50
Quote:
Originally Posted by blupupher View Post
Plus it is just another reason to buy, build and play with another computer.
Exactly. If you can cut off the cable bill due to said hobby, that also gives you extra funds to put into the hobby.
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post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by rui-no-onna View Post
Nowadays, that's not really anything special. My gaming rig with i7-860 + GTX 460 uses around 60W idle. The new Sandy Bridge processors are even more power efficient. Couldn't argue with you about the silence thing although I try to make all my computer builds pretty quiet. Granted, my HTPC's use even less power.

...
Yea, but I was really comparing vs the OP system using a GTX460. If your able to use onboard/intergrated GPU's that helps lower power consumption greatly.
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post #15 of 27
I have an Original Xbox with XBMC on it.
Works for me & cheap.
    
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post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by blupupher View Post
Yea, but I was really comparing vs the OP system using a GTX460. If your able to use onboard/intergrated GPU's that helps lower power consumption greatly.
Again, the Core i7-860+GTX 460 build uses 60W idle. That's pretty low considering how well its performance scales. If the OP has EIST enabled, he'd probably see around the same idle power on his gaming rig. My GeForce 7050 + Pentium E2160 1.80 GHz build uses 70W idle with integrated graphics. I also have a G41 + Celeron E3300 3.33 GHz + GT 430 build and it uses 60W idle. The Q45 + Core 2 Duo E8600 I use in the office uses 85W idle with integrated graphics.

Of course, the i7-860 would have much higher consumption when fully loaded but it really is amazing to see how effective Intel's power gating techniques are. Idle power consumption of the GTX 460 isn't all that bad, either. Nowadays, building a mid-range to high-end PC doesn't mean your power bill has to skyrocket (unless, of course, you triple SLI GTX 580's).
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post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
I think for me right now, since I live by myself, I occasionally have the guys over for beers, games and Tv shows/movies, or the girlfriend over and she will watch her rom coms or whatever movie we choose. Other than that, it's just me, so if I'm gaming, I'm not watching a movie.

To keep costs down, I will use the all-in-one option until the last 800 GBs are filled. At that point, I will seriously consider at least an external rack or some kind of media server to handle them as I have an Xbox 360 and PS3 I can use for front ends. I might even build a cheap HTPC at that point. Thanks for the input! I love the idea of having a server in my place keeping EVERYTHING and backing everything up, and then just pulling it with small HDDs and builds throughout my place. Hmm, lots to think about.

And of course, I love building, which is why I wouldn't mind another build, if only money grew on plants...
post #18 of 27
PC is already in the name, htpc. It's just a customized version of any other computer. Usually htpc's have inputs for remote controls for ease of viewing, large hard drives for storing lots of media, possibly a video capture card for recording programs from the tv like highly functional dvr, and like others said, small form factor, low noise, lower power consumption. Usually they put higher end sounds cards in them, a slightly better than integrated graphics card(they sell cards directly marketed toward htpc's that have hdmi and special features to make streaming certain high end codecs like the ones for hidef movies, smoother. Then the cpu is generally subpar, and a mediocre amount of ram. Not intended for gaming, just web browsing from the couch and watching media from it. I have a couple of baby pc's(smaller than a lot of hard back books) that i use as space saving htpc's, though right now I am using my 42" lcd as my monitor for my gaming rig. I have a wireless keyboard with a long range and a little trackball on it so i can easily browse netflix from afar.
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by hzuiel View Post
PC is already in the name, htpc. It's just a customized version of any other computer. Usually htpc's have inputs for remote controls for ease of viewing, large hard drives for storing lots of media, possibly a video capture card for recording programs from the tv like highly functional dvr, and like others said, small form factor, low noise, lower power consumption. Usually they put higher end sounds cards in them, a slightly better than integrated graphics card(they sell cards directly marketed toward htpc's that have hdmi and special features to make streaming certain high end codecs like the ones for hidef movies, smoother. Then the cpu is generally subpar, and a mediocre amount of ram. Not intended for gaming, just web browsing from the couch and watching media from it. I have a couple of baby pc's(smaller than a lot of hard back books) that i use as space saving htpc's, though right now I am using my 42" lcd as my monitor for my gaming rig. I have a wireless keyboard with a long range and a little trackball on it so i can easily browse netflix from afar.
It's interesting to see people's views of how an HTPC should be. The HTPC is not a one-size fits all solution. That's the beauty of them. While a lot of folks do prefer small form factor HTPC's, there are also those who build rack-mounted performance behemoths with tens of hard drives which are hidden away from view. The primary advantage of HTPC's over network streamers such as the Roku, Apple TV, etc is that they're customizable to suit your specific needs.

Nowadays, the sound card is usually optional since graphics cards can do audio bitstreaming leaving the AVR (which should supposedly work better than PC components) to handle the digital-to-analog conversion.

HDMI (either natively or via DVI-HDMI adapter), GPU decode acceleration and HD audio bitstreaming is already standard on all recently released discrete GPU. Even integrated GPU support these features nowadays. Sandy Bridge i3 and higher even support 3D (framepacking) as will AMD's upcoming Llano line-up.

While you could get away with lower end CPU's such as Celeron Wolfdale (or dual-core Celeron Sandy Bridge which is coming out in Q3'11), or Athlon II X2 Regor (or Llano), I wouldn't exactly consider these subpar. They probably have similar or better performance than early high-end Conroe. I don't recommend nettop processors such as Zacate or Atom. Sure, everything works great as long as hardware acceleration is working, but when you encounter a situation where it's not, the only way to increase CPU performance is to replace MB+CPU.

As for RAM, if you've got a WMC+extender set-up, each of those extenders require quite a bit of memory.

Quote:
Up to five Extenders can stream content from one Windows 7 computer. However, your Extender's performance is dependent on your home network capability and your computer's hardware and configuration. For example, if you plan to regularly stream high-definition content to more than one Extender, you should consider increasing processor speed and memory as well as implement a wired, gigabit network. As a general guideline, you should have one CPU core and one gigabyte of memory per Extender. For example, if you plan to stream content to two Extenders, your PC should have dual-core processors with two gigabytes (2GB) of memory.
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post #20 of 27
I think a strong case can be made that a so called 'every day' PC makes a fantastic HTPC.

1) Everyday builds are MORE then quiet enough to function as an HTPC. Why? Well you are sitting farther away from your HTPC so it is actually easier to build a quiet HTPC then a quiet desktop PC.

2) Everyday builds are now good on power consumption. My HTPC sleeps and wakes up to record TV shows AND only uses around 70 watts idle. Sure you can build a zacate build that will use less power but its already pretty low overall.

3) Everday builds featuring a tower case can hold a crap load of HDs - and they cool well. Most tower builds allow you to convert some 5'25" into HD spots AND hold like six hard drives themselves. Handy if you want to record alot of events and not erase them or fancy ripping alot of movies.

4) Everyday PC builds can easily accomodate light gaming - so you can play some of the better console ports on your big screen (with your XBOX 360 remote for PC) or some of the more controller friendly regular games..

Truthfully the HTPC thing is mostly about wives. Some dudes discovered they could convince their wifes to let them have an HTPC if it 'looked like' a reciever or power amp - or game box. So they went with it..

Functionality wise there is very little advantage.. It's a serious PITA to work with any SFF case IMHO. HTPC is no exception - its only worsened by the fact its a desktop style. Desktop style cases lost out for reason. They are inferior.

Pete
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