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Trying to plan an HTPC

post #1 of 3
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OK gang, so I've read and read and read, all over the internet. Almost to the point of "paralysis by analysis"

I'm trying to plan out a HTPC. And while there is a ton of information available out there, it's just too much to absorb. So I thought I'd post here for some comments/advice.

My goals for this system will be:
  • Timeshifting/Recording of my current cable setup, in HD where applicable. Preferably ALL channels.
  • Store/Backup my DVD/BluRay collection to the HTPC
  • Use online content providers such as Netflix, Hulu etc.
  • Placeshifting of all content to other extenders in my house, such as PS3, XBOX360, and my main daily driver PC.

ANd if at all possible, I'd like to ditch my set top cable box, if I can do so and still hav access to all of my premium cable channels

Now I have SOME parts available from the rig I just replaced that I'd like to cannibalize if they are suitable/powerful enough for the build.

Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GH Processor
ASUS IP35 Pro Mobo (probably useless since its ATX)
8GB (4x2GB)G.SKILL DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
XFX GeForce 8800GS 384MB PCI Express 2.0 x16
Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0G

PC Power and Cooling S61EPS 610W PSU
Windows Vista 64-Bit Ultimate

As far as media center software goes, I think I like the looks of SageTv. So I'd prefer to build around that. I assume I'll have to have AnyDVD or something similar as well.

This system will be connected to my Onkyo receiver, and my Samsung 67" 1080p DLP TV. Will most likely have to have a wireless adapter to connect to my home network, since I do not have my home hard wired for networking. And will need to be wife 7 year old friendly once its up and running, if that is at all possible.

So any thoughts about the parts I have available? Scrap them/sell them and start fresh or is that processor enough? What TV tuner etc?
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post #2 of 3
The parts you have are actually what I'd call overkill. The GeForce 8800 GS is a bad fit since it doesn't support hardware acceleration. The Q6600 runs a bit too hot for my taste. I'd say sell your CPU+GPU and replace them with a low-power Pentium E5700 or E6700 and Radeon HD 5450/6450 or GT 430.

There are several ATX HTPC cases available. Most people just prefer mATX because of space constraints or aesthetics.

Yes, you can ditch your cable box but it's going to cost you an initial outlay of $400 if you still want premium channels (Ceton InfiniTV4 CableCARD Tuner). Also, SageTV may not be an option. As far as I know, the only CableCARD-certified software is Windows Media Center.

Assuming the HTPC will also act as primary storage, I would suggest you find a way to go wired (PoE, etc). Streaming OTA and Blu-ray HD over wifi, particularly to multiple clients at the same time is bound to be an exercise in frustration.
Edited by rui-no-onna - 4/9/11 at 12:06pm
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post #3 of 3
Timeshifting/Recording of my current cable setup, in HD where applicable. Preferably ALL channels. -
As said, a Ceton Tuner is all that is available now for full digital cable channels without a STB, but is supposedly works very well (watch, record (and stream?) up to 4 channels at once. Homerun TV is supposed to have something out sometime soon.


Store/Backup my DVD/BluRay collection to the HTPC -
Once you have them ripped, so long as you have enough storage, not a problem


Use online content providers such as Netflix, Hulu etc. -
Netflix works natively within Windows Media Center (not sure if it is available in Vista, but is in Windows 7). Hulu Desktop can be launched from within WMC with an add in.


Placeshifting of all content to other extenders in my house, such as PS3, XBOX360, and my main daily driver PC. -
Well, the Xbox supports the extender feature on WMC, don't think the PS3 does, but may be able to just pull the info from the drive?


As for the equipment, as said, overkill, not really appropriate and power hungry for a true HTPC.
Wireless will just not be sufficient, even wireless n.

No experience with SageTV. For me, Windows Media Center handles my needs on 3 HTPC's (Main in living room, 1 in bedroom and 1 in kids room).
I have just regular OTA TV, so no Ceton card, just regular TV tuners. All movies (and music and recorded tv for that matter) are stored on a server. Netflix gets used a lot, HULU some and then just regular OTA TV and ripped DVD's (no Blue ray yet).

My technophobe wife, 8 yr old daughter and 5 yr old son know how to work it with no problems.
Edited by blupupher - 4/9/11 at 2:38pm
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