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SFF HTPCs? Can it be done and meet my specs?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
So I really don't want a bulky box sitting next to my flat screen. I'd love something that I can mount to the wall behind the flat screen. Because of that, I'm looking for small.

My needs:
1: Stream 1080p movies from NAS: Wirelessly.
2: Play Blu-Ray rips from my collection.
3: Play Music from my collection, Spotify, and Pandora
4: Access Netflix/Hulu/Internet

Wants:
5: Ability to stream Cable TV through it. (Ditch Qworst/Clink/Comcrap Box) - I don't have a DVR, I have just the regular cable box. I'm not sure if I can route this through the HTPC to get DVR capability while still having the TV Guide ability.
6: Ability to use a Remote Control on it (Keyboard for internet)

Bonus:
If there is room for a DVD or Blu-Ray drive, that would be a bonus. But that is very easy to sacrifice, as I have ripped my entire DVD/Blu-Ray collection onto my NAS so I can watch it through my WDTV currently. (Sadly, the WDTV can't handle BluRay-> MKV rips.)

Because I have NAS, I don't need a huge Hard Drive. I'm not sure how small a graphics card I can get away with to still play Blu-Ray / 1080p. Nor am I sure how small a Mobo I can get away with while still having enough Memory to do this. How small can I make this thing?

I am *slightly* willing to accept a larger box if I can completely remove the Cable Qwest Box, the DVD Player, and the WDTV all in one fell swoop, leaving the HTPC and the Wii. I live in a Studio, so space is a premium.
Edited by Kaeth - 5/5/12 at 12:16pm
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post #2 of 27
It sounds like you could just do with a standard HTPC. Honestly, if you use a good looking HTPC case, you shouldn't need to hide it. Then you could make it look like your blu-ray player, and just buy a blu ray drive for it. As for wireless, I will always say it's a bad idea. If you can, try and actually wire to your area with cat 5e or cat 6 cable. I have a box in the wall behind my TV with 2 ethernet jacks. Wasn't hard to put in and punch down my own cable. You'd probably be alright with a low level GPU with passive cooling to get your 1080P video.

Also, the WDTV can't handle the MKV bluray rips? I watch 720 and 1080P rips all the time on mine....., are you using wireless? That could be half your issue. It supports gig ethernet, give it as much bandwidth as it can handle.

As for form factor, you should be able to fit everything you need into a smallish htpc case, a low level i3 dual core with 4 or 8 gb ram, a 320 or 500 gb sata hard drive, and a 450 watt psu. As for getting rid of dvr...


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815706001

or

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815116072( there is a 4 tuner 1 card version, didn't see it quickly)

Note, those only really work with cable companies effectively, not satellite.
Edited by herkalurk - 5/5/12 at 3:17pm
post #3 of 27
http://www.overclock.net/t/1244638/project-pint-size

if you are looking for small biggrin.gif it can do all but number 5, or if you have a usb capture device, you can do it.

but if you are not looking for small, you can do everything pretty nicely with a matx rig and htpc case.
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post #4 of 27
Ikem's build plus an external cable tuner similar to these will do everything on your list...

EDIT: Forgot to mention that they make a mounting plate for the case that Ikem and I have that allows you to mount the HTPC to the VESA mounts on your monitor or TV...keeps it completely out of sight if you want.
Edited by longroadtrip - 5/5/12 at 3:45pm
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post #5 of 27
I will say you should use a standard sata drive in there for storage of your DVR shows. SSD won't save many hours of recorded TV and run windows as well.
post #6 of 27
I too like small but i advise against *too small* as this would hamper the addition of more drives, optical drive, tuners, etc and remove a lot of the goodies the "one box rules all" awesomeness of the HTPC has going for it IMHO thumb.gif
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post #7 of 27
how about this? case lianli pc-q07 its a foot tall can easily be tucked away, supports any 5.25" drive and has an pci slot for a internal tv tuner card, pair it a with a fm1 board and cpu and you would be golden.

my ideal would be that case, some low power decent ps this mobo and this cpu, its not going to be pulling any high end gaming, but 1080p video and some light games you would be golden.

edit: looking at ikem's build, it seems perfect for you ultra small and its basically what i suggested in a smaller case.
Edited by mr. biggums - 5/6/12 at 3:23am
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
This is all great advice.

Two last questions: Is there any "Bottom end" on processors I should stay away from? Is an i3 or a small generation behind going to be ok?

Also: Are there any TV Tuner cards that can handle both Digital Cable and Satellite Cable, while preserving the functionality of "TV Guide?" For example, right now, I'm on the Clink/Qwest bandwagon, but it's presumable when I graduate college that I'll move to somewhere where I'll have to switch to Comcast. I understand that I may have to buy a different card, so, for now, I'm willing to cope with a card that can handle Satellite. Preferably DVR capable, two-channel.

Thanks!
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post #9 of 27
Unfortunately, there is nothing that will handle satellite and preserve the guide. The only way to use an HTPC with satellite is to keep your satellite box and run the signal into a regular tuner card. You won't have the functionality of being able to control it from the HTPC.

As for your question on I3 processors, it is more than enough. I prefer the I3-2120 because it has the intel HD3000 gpu vs. the HD2000 found in the 2100. There is only about a $10 difference in price, but the difference in graphic capability is worth it.
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post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
At the very least, is there a "Box" that I can purchase? This thing that Qwest gave me is a behemoth. They don't charge me for it because it's an old version, but it doesn't have DVR and it is huge. Are there third party vendors that sell "smaller" boxes?
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