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Newbie, Need Recommendations for HTPC Build

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone, I just joined the forums and this place is great! I used to be a lurker but I signed up so I can see everyone's build. My birthday is coming up soon and I am hoping to build a HTPC with the money I will be getting. I am hoping to keep it around $500, which may be too optimistic, so maybe under $800. Here is what I am looking for.

1)I want the machine to be relatively small and light weight so I can carry it from my bedroom and out to the living room 72" so I can watch movies with my family.

2)I am hoping for 3-4 hard drive bays to future-proof for storage. Is there any way to somehow stream the content from the HTPC to another computer in the house?

3)I would like to play up PS1 games, not sure on this however, may not game on it at all. Emulators would be fun though, PS1 or N64 or Dreamcast. EDIT: If I can find a good GPU for this that is cheap, I think it would be cool to game on 72" screen!

4) I need the machine to be fast enough to rip DVDs using Handbrake. Thinking an i5, I do not know much about AMD processors.

My parents are getting surround sound soon, I am not sure what they will be though, so I can't information on what kind I need.

I hope this isn't too much to ask Thank you everyone!

EDIT: Blu-Ray would be nice to have as well now that PS3 broke (Red Screen Of Death)
Edited by VeganHipster - 8/10/11 at 3:32am
post #2 of 10
1) Look around at different places for cases, newegg is a good place to start, see which one will fit your need.

2) If you want a small HTPC, then just worry about 1 drive bay. Just get a small SSD drive for OS and software that you will need. Or if you are wanting to game a little, get a case that can hold 2 bays and put int a larger drive for the 2nd. The reason for this is i would pick up a NAS drive, this one you can have 2 bays, 4 bays or more, depending on need and budget. That is where you will store all your media (movies, musics, photos, etc.) Now once you have that set up, all on your network, you can then stream to your HTPC or PS3, or media streaming box...etc.

3) Emulators are great to be able to play some of those old games. You can pick up something like a low end AMD 5xxx series card or even an older 4xxx series and still able to play those games. If you need blu ray, then i would go with the 5xxx series to support bitstreaming. I've not mess around with emulators for a while, but even back 5 years ago, it didnt' take much to run them.

4) depending on budget, i5 2500k is best bang for the buck for new builds. but i would go with a i3 2100 myself for a HTPC build. Ripping DVD will also depend on the DVD drive that you have, find one that you can load a modified firmware on there that allows for faster ripping. Or blu ray drive if that's what you need.

hope that helps.

5) have fun!

-D
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post #3 of 10
well if you wanting an i5 setup for an htpc you will want to go with an h67 board and thow in ther ea nice 56xx or 66xx card.
as for case you will want to look into a silverston htpc case, i do believe they hold up to 4 HDD and a dvd/bluray.
Let me know if you need a board cheap, got a spare h67 laying around.
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post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by VeganHipster View Post
1)I want the machine to be relatively small and light weight so I can carry it from my bedroom and out to the living room 72" so I can watch movies with my family.
Plenty of options there. Heck, you can have a shoebox-sized PC with i5-2500K and GTX 460 that's fairly lightweight and portable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeganHipster View Post
2)I am hoping for 3-4 hard drive bays to future-proof for storage. Is there any way to somehow stream the content from the HTPC to another computer in the house?
The 3-4 drive bays may be difficult if you're aiming for lightweight. Easy to stream, though, but you definitely want a wired connection. Heck, even Windows' Network Sharing would work for this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeganHipster View Post
3)I would like to play up PS1 games, not sure on this however, may not game on it at all. Emulators would be fun though, PS1 or N64 or Dreamcast. EDIT: If I can find a good GPU for this that is cheap, I think it would be cool to game on 72" screen!
PS1 is easy. Even a $30 Radeon HD 4550 is enough for max settings with Pete's OpenGL2 GPU plug-in at 1920x1080 resolution even if you use custom shaders. Other plug-ins are much easier on the GPU compared to Pete's OpenGL2. Not so sure about N64 and Dreamcast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeganHipster View Post
4) I need the machine to be fast enough to rip DVDs using Handbrake. Thinking an i5, I do not know much about AMD processors.
An i5 would probably rip through your DVD's quite quickly. However, given you have a 72" screen, are you sure you want to further reduce picture quality through re-encoding? A 2TB HDD can hold around 250~400 full DVD rips. If you just rip the main movie and don't includes extras and audio tracks you don't need, you can save even more space.
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post #5 of 10
a 4550 will not run a ps1 emulator smoothly rui, i had to switch out my 4650 for a 5670 and it was running at a nice pace.
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post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by downlinx View Post
a 4550 will not run a ps1 emulator smoothly rui, i had to switch out my 4650 for a 5670 and it was running at a nice pace.
Yes it will. People have been running PS1 emulators even with older Pentium II's and III's, and on lowly nettop processors such as Atom and Zacate.

If your HD 4650 wasn't running it smoothly, then there's something wrong with your settings. I have no problems with ePSXe on a Core 2 Duo E7200 + Radeon HD 4550 512MB. Heck, even an integrated GeForce 9300 can handle Pete's OpenGL2 if you tone down Internal X & Y resolution. Just make sure you have a.) Render mode set to 2: Use framebuffer object, and b.) Gfx card vram specified if using ATI GPU.

Originally, ePSXe was also running slow on my PC w/HD 4550 when using Pete's OpenGL2 but those two settings fixed it. Now, I'm getting more than 100 FPS if I disable frame limiting.
Edited by rui-no-onna - 8/10/11 at 12:55pm
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post #7 of 10
i will try that thanks bud
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post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks for all the replies everyone! Ok, so I know now that I can't get hard drive bays, that is fine. I will do some research on parts later in the day.
post #9 of 10
I Agree with Downlinx on most of his comments.

The integrated graphics card of the sandy bridge i3 will run most simple emulators. I run SNES and NES games on mine just using the integrated graphics card. The new lenavo are supposed to have an even better graphics card but a little slower of a processor.

I second the advice on the Silverstone case. GD04's look nice. You will need to pick up a 400w-500w power supply. Antec makes cheap and good ones.

Also, check out these guys. They build HTPC's but also have a guide and one is a step by step on how to install emulators that should be helpful.
www.assassinhtpcblog.com
post #10 of 10
The graphics on Sandy Bridge i3 can actually handle ePSXe, too. Pete's OpenGL2 just isn't supported due to buggy Intel drivers.

The Lenovo you're referring to likely features Llano which is basically an Athlon II level CPU paired with HD 5550 level graphics on a single die.

500W is pretty overkill. 300~400W is sufficient for an HTPC (as long as you don't install a high-end GPU). Granted, it's hard to find good quality power supplies below 350W.
Edited by rui-no-onna - 8/12/11 at 7:28pm
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