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Hey guys, I recently bought the following desktop to replace a laptop I was using as my htpc. I'm just wondering if anyone can foresee any problems I'll run into with 1080p mkv files video playback, as well as If someone can convince me to wipe the windows 8 that's coming with it ( i.e. I haven't received it yet ) and return to ubuntu 12.04. When I first started using the laptop as htpc, I ran windows 7 in combination with xbmc. For a while it was ok, but then I just wasn't satisfied with performance, so I removed windows 7, and redid the laptop with ubuntu 12.04 still sticking with xbmc cause Its freaking awesome. Result: so much more better when run in ubuntu. Now the only reason stopping me from wiping that cursed windows 8 from the drive when I get it is the fact that I am no longer living by myself, and every other person in the house is completely clueless when it comes to any operating system other than a windows OS, and refuses to migrate. I think it's worth mentioning that the laptop was used just for more than looking at videos and music. Since it is permanently set up in the entertainment center, it was used for web browsing, skyping, emails, social networking etc. And another reason why I opted for a processor with more kick is I often play a few pc games on my other desktop but would be nice to be able to play them on this new rig while connected to the tv. Anyway that's my rant let me know what u guys think. I've listed the specs for the laptop I currently use, and the new machine below.

Not sure if this will matter, but I have an extensive media collection so much so that its spanned across 7 USB 2.0 2tb drives, for movies and tv shows ( all filled ), and single 1 tb for music and music videos. I plan to be reconnecting all of these to the new machine, as well as adding an additional 4tb external, and a 3tb external both usb 3.0. My main concern is the power supply in the new machine. It comes with a 300 W power supply. I'm no newb to building machines so if parts have to be swapped out that won't be an issue.

Recently bought ( HP ENVY h8-1414 )

Processing Specs:

AMD Six-Core FX-6120 3.50GHz, 10GB DDR3, 1TB HDD, DVDRW, Windows 8 64-bit, AMD Radeon HD 7450 1 GB dedicated graphics card, 6 usb 2.0, 2 usb 3.0

Current System ( HP dv9700t laptop ) old yes I know but its served me 5 years well, and just starting to break down...

Processing Specs

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz, 4 GB DDR3, 1.25 Total Hd Space, DVDRW, Ubuntu 12.04, Nvidia GT 8600M dedicated graphics, 3 usb 2.0
 

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The hardware specs. on your new desktop HTPC are more than adequate for doing everything you'd like to do on a dedicated HTPC rig. No worries there (and if fact probably a bit over spec'd. as you've already pointed out).

I finally grew accustomed to Windows 8, but it was still too cumbersome for me to use as a daily driver, hence my personal rigs are still running Windows 7. However I think that Windows 8 might make a good platform for a multimedia rig.

It's no Ubuntu, but considering that you have a cross section of "co-inhabitants" who refuse to try anything other than a Windows platform, it sounds like you might not have any choice but to stick with Windows.

Congrats on the new purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by wevsspot View Post

The hardware specs. on your new desktop HTPC are more than adequate for doing everything you'd like to do on a dedicated HTPC rig. No worries there (and if fact probably a bit over spec'd. as you've already pointed out).

I finally grew accustomed to Windows 8, but it was still too cumbersome for me to use as a daily driver, hence my personal rigs are still running Windows 7. However I think that Windows 8 might make a good platform for a multimedia rig.

It's no Ubuntu, but considering that you have a cross section of "co-inhabitants" who refuse to try anything other than a Windows platform, it sounds like you might not have any choice but to stick with Windows.

Congrats on the new purchase.
Lol...on the highlighting "co-inhabitants"..lol indeed...but thanks for the response though...i may go down to windows 7 eventually but I will give windows 8 a chance as the os for a dedicated htpc. I've been using it on my main desktop ever since the first consumer preview, and of all the issues people were reporting about the start button missing and among others, I didnt really find that being a nuisance, then again I am a power user, and I'm running windows 8 on a corsair ssd..."as they say once u go ssd u never go back..."
 

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If you plan to use XBMC (http://xbmc.org/) for your media playback - and if you don't you jolly well should be (!) then they have their own XBMCBuntu that may be worth looking into. I had niggles with using Ubuntu with Gnome or Unity desktop and XBMC such as the taskbar remaining in full screen and pulseaudio resampling all my sounds.

I ended up using MythBuntu which uses XFCE desktop as I used to have tuner cards in my machine (will do again when I move house) and mythbuntu sorted out myth for me

Main benefits of XBMC are it will play anything (well probably not anything but I've never come across anything it won't), you can have an iphone remote interface for it, it will play AirPlay content from your phone, you can have a remote web access to control it and there are about a gazillion plugins and addons for it.

Regarding your hardware it all looks good. I've had bad experiences with ATI and linux but it was when I was first starting out so probably didn't really know what I was doing so if you'd asked me before buying it I'd say stick a nVidia 610GT or 640GT passively cooled GPU in there but I'm sure your HD7450 will be fine.

10GB is an odd amount of RAM though and it can't all be used in dual data rate mode as you don't get 2.5GB or 5GB RAM modules so it seems likely to me it could be 2x4GB modules and a 2GB module. If that's the case, I'd take out that extra module as it's not really doing anything and could cause you issues if it's just some random stick the seller put in.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Update...since I got this machine Ive made a few upgrades...swapped the ram out for a set of 2x8 ddr3 1600 for total of 16gb. But the biggest upgrade ive made performance wise is to add a 120 gb samsung ssd for the os drive and I downgraded to windows 7. The whole experience of the hd uphrade reminded me of why I hate buying branded pcs from the likes of dell, hp etc...ive always built my rigs before but since this was on sale for a ridiculous low price I was like what the hell and got it. The ssd has already made a huge improvement...and coupled with a few os tweaks xbmc on ssd with windows 7 is almost like tripping on ecstacy...luvin it
 

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Another update...I'm now rocking 24gb of ram on this system, and installed a dual gigabit intel network card, and paired both ports for a 2gb network connection. (Probably overkill here but oh well). Also because of the limitation in size of my ssd, i've elected to create junction hard links on the ssd to locations on a different partition for both the XBMC userdata folder, and for the plex media server folder. Oh yeah I installed plex too...Really liking the setup. The only problem I've run into is that when I connect my machine directly to the yamaha receiver, if i turn the receiver off, windows thinks that the audio playback device is no longer available, and that's understandable but even if i turn the receiver back on, windows still says the audio playback device is still not available, and I have to restart the htpc to reinitialize the link. I finally gave up, and just connected my hdmi cable to the tv, and ran an optical audio from the tv to the receiver. I'd appreciate any thoughts on this issue. My graphics card is an ATI Radeon 7450.
 

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Why do you need 24GB of memory??

When you say you have a 2 GB connection, are you referring to the fact that you have 2x1 gigabit ethernet ports? I'm pretty sure that doesn't double your bandwidth for local transfers but you'll need to throw a few files around the local network to find out. Reason being, is the card you installed is likely a gigabit card, hence not having enough bandwidth to transfer twice the speed.

Have you considered getting a NAS? You have a RIDICULOUS amount of local storage (I'm jealous, haha) and it may benefit you to have all that storage in one centralized location as opposed to having..what did I count..9 USB external HDDs? That's nuts, lol.
 

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Originally Posted by SDub View Post

Why do you need 24GB of memory??

When you say you have a 2 GB connection, are you referring to the fact that you have 2x1 gigabit ethernet ports? I'm pretty sure that doesn't double your bandwidth for local transfers but you'll need to throw a few files around the local network to find out. Reason being, is the card you installed is likely a gigabit card, hence not having enough bandwidth to transfer twice the speed.

Have you considered getting a NAS? You have a RIDICULOUS amount of local storage (I'm jealous, haha) and it may benefit you to have all that storage in one centralized location as opposed to having..what did I count..9 USB external HDDs? That's nuts, lol.
I know 24gb is probably overkill, but I've seen plex media server chew through more than half the RAM faster than anything. And yes I have 2x1 ethernet ports. Both ports are gigabit ports. I've since found it doesn't double my speed for local transfers, but in some cases its improved transfer speed in my network. For instance sometimes I see steady infrequent minute bursts of 100-125 mb/s and then it averages out at 50 - 60 mb/s which is much better than what I was getting before.

As for the issue on NAS, I've had NAS devices in the past, mid range ones from Western Digital, and I was never satisfied with performance. Granted, I probably gave up on NAS experience before doing more research and getting a better product from the likes of Synology or Qnap or even at one point I considered rolling my own with FreeNas, but decided I'll save myself the headaches that come with NAS and raid arrays. I'm not saying that I won't revisit that option, but for the time being living in apartment, I'll stick to the external drives. What I would actually like to do is to build a dedicated rig with htpc case and swtich from external drives to internal ones.

Haha, Jealous hah...i suppose it doesnt bode too well that I've added another 12TB since this post across 3 4TB drives. I'm now rocking 26 TB total for media collection. As for managing them, I have a pretty good naming convention and a couple of batch scripts I wrote to help out. That and I use a combination of Media Companion, XBMC, bulk rename utility and one or two taggers to keep the collection in line.
 

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Not sure if this will help you out or not, but they way I have my renaming set up is thus:

uTorrent grabs something (a show for instance) from RSS feed or I remotely add something to it via my smart phone or another PC, when download finishes filebot creates a directory w/the proper name in the directory that xbmc scrapes, hardlinks the file to that new directory, downloads subtitles for it, and notifies xbmc to scan for new media. If you wanna know how I did it, I can explain. It's all automatic and it's glorious!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDub View Post

Not sure if this will help you out or not, but they way I have my renaming set up is thus:

uTorrent grabs something (a show for instance) from RSS feed or I remotely add something to it via my smart phone or another PC, when download finishes filebot creates a directory w/the proper name in the directory that xbmc scrapes, hardlinks the file to that new directory, downloads subtitles for it, and notifies xbmc to scan for new media. If you wanna know how I did it, I can explain. It's all automatic and it's glorious!
I've been angling for a truly automated way of downloading current tv-showz, renaming them, and then moving to specified directories. The thing is I pull from many different filesharing sources, and never been a big fan of torrents. I looked into usenet and couchpotato recently but I never gave it the time of day. Currently, this is my process: I have two sites I keep track of when episodes are released. First is http://episodecalendar.com/calendar, and the other is http://www.tvrage.com. The episodecalendar, I have as a pinned tab in each and every browser on all my machines for quick easy viewing. I have the tvrage calendar imported into my google calendar for on the go notifications via mobile etc. You might be wondering why two. Although I like the interface of episodecalendar much better than tvrage, when importing from episodecalendar to google, it does not have the time the shows appear, but tvrage does. So that takes care of knowing when shows are out. The next part of it is downloading. I frequent www.warez-bb.org primarily for most of my shows, though there are a few other communities I'm apart of for those truly hard to find ones. Warez, coupled with a few premium accounts on a couple fileshare hosts and im set. So I download each episode, rename it to one of the naming conventions xbmc recognizes, and then I move from the temporary downloads folder to the respective drive where that show exists. I use the naming scheme: SHOW_NAME - S01E05 for instance. I always clean up my downloads folder. For cases where I'm bulk downloading, say an entire show or season, I have this windows app called bulk rename utility that lets me do bulk renaming with ease. I have a few batch scripts to extend the functionality of bulk rename utility for those truly unruly names.

My media collection is extensive though. As of this writing, I have 2792 movies, 80% in 1080p or 720p dts, and the rest either either bdrip or dvdrip. Just over half of my collection I ripped from either gifted, bought or rented discs (lol trying to pay homage to the MPAA but seriously f**k uncle sam haha...shhhh) I make it a habit not to go after dvdscreners, or TS or CAM cause lets just face it, the quality sucks. As for tv showz, well thats an entirely different story. I currently have 231 tv showz spanning 12650 episodes. I have all episodes for about 95% of those shows, with only a handful missing from the others. Tvshowz are made up of a wide range of quality rips, the bulk in 480p with about 15% 720p or higher. That said, you can imagine the size of my xbmc userdata folder, or plex server cache directory lol...hence why I mentioned I recently re-set up both since I have a 120gb ssd for the os. Hardlinked their locations to a regular sata drive with more than enough room for caching. As for tagging and subtitles, I let XBMC and plex take of the tagging and subtitle grabs for tv showz. Movies on the other hand is a different story. I use media companion to keep my collection whipped into shape, and then keep that synced with xbmc. Plex automatically picks up any files I put in its folder scanning paths so no worries there. On occasion I set XBMC to export the data for all my showz and movies etc so in the offshoot I ever have to rebuild the libraries I have all the information already local no need to to go out to thetvdb or themoviedb to get em again.

That said, I'm all ears for looking at your automated method of handling episodes.
 

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Your collection is extensive to say the least! Mine is budding, but will not grow to that collection. Essentially, this is how I grab content (I don't need to rip DVD/bluray for my collection as my HTPC can playback both and I'm lazy!)

1. I have an RSS feed set up for all my TV shows (most of which are my wives). I set up the RSS from showrss.info to download only 720p+ content and I set utorrent to download content from this feed automatically.

OR

I add occasional moves I want to test pilot remotely with my smart phone using the uTorrent Remote app or another PC using the "utorrent for google chrome" plugin which allows remote access if you have it set up on your HTPC. The goal here is to never minimize xbmc on my HTPC, which is the reason for the remote access to utorrent.

2. Once a torrent finishes, any torrent, I run two scripts automatically. I run chp.exe which hides the command prompt and I run the command line version of filebot to scan my utorrent directory (not the same as my downloads directory for web browsers). It finds new media, hardlinks it to the folders that xbmc scans (TV Shows and Movies), places it in a directory named according to thetv.db (which is what xbmc scrapes with), downloads subtitles for it, and notifies xbmc that new media is available and it gets picked up immediately. All with one script! And chp.exe to hide it because that would get annoying if a script popped up whenever a torrent finished.

All I need to do is remotely add the torrent (or have RSS add it) and all of that happens automatically! It made me elated when it all worked out, haha.
 

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Oh I bet. Having racked my brain to create a few scripts for various purposes at work only to be stoked when they finally start working they way I intend...that feeling is indeed heavenly haha. On the lazy notion, I get you believe me I really do cause there are times when I have a stack of disks to rip but meh...lazy mode kicks in and I let them sit there forever. I rip because I hate dealing with disks. I may look into your automated method eventually though, when I build my htpc. I've built numerous pc's in the past, this will be my first htpc. So looking forward to it, but I need to have all the money saved before I go buy the parts. I reckon the harddrives alone will run between 3700 and 4200 if i intend to get 10 of them at once. All in all I have a newegg wishlist in the $5500 region. That said im half way there. Silverstone has a case thatll let me stick 10 drives in it, and ill just use a pci express revo drive as the OS. With a 175mb internet connection the internet is my playground haha.

PS...thanks for the method though...
 

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Dear lord. When I built my HTPC I spent as little as I could w/o sacrificing anything that i wanted. In total, it was a little over $500. What you got there..is..is...a beast!
 

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Haha...yeah cause I intend on using more than just for htpc purposes...My current rig I use for ftp server, xbmc media playback, plex media server, bublle upnp media server for accessing all other dlna streams from any mobile device on the go, and well for just basic web browsing. I have windows seven installed, and tweaked to perfection, using stardock object dock to get rid of the task bar, along with a combination of rainmeter and rainlendar theme. So far minus the hard drives i've plunked down right around $850 on this desktop turned dedicated htpc rig. If you go back to my original post it lists the specifications.

The proposed cost for the new server I want to build is that high because I'm after 128mb cache 4tb/5tb seagate drives which cost a doozy at around $375 to $438 a pop
 

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woah! Sounds like a pretty intense build for an HTPC - I've always taken the approach of keeping my HTPCs as thin as possible, with no media stored directly on them. I currently run a QNAP NAS as back end storage, and have three different HTPCs serving from it. Each HTPC runs XBMC, with OpenElec on two of them (Shuttle XS35GTs) and Win 8.1 with XBMC for the main box.

I always liked the idea that the HTPC itself should be cheap and cheerful - it keeps it quiet and unassuming. The other benefit is that I can keep upgrading the box as small cheap PCs become more available. In fact each of the shuttles was at one point my main machine, and now superseded by a mac mini (that was a mistake, although it is amusing to run windows on it).

If you haven't tried it then running Netflix on a machine with PlayOn makes a nice addition to XBMC - you can integrate your Netflix queue seamlessly with your collection - it passed the wife test with no problems!
 
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