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First HTPC/Desktop

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by IAmTheDude, 14 Apr 2010.

  1. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    Hey guys/gals.

    My xbox with XBMC is dying so thought it was about time to do a full upgrade. Decided to go for a HTPC rather than something like a Popcorn Hour so I can have the full benefits of a PC as well.

    This will be my first desktop build in about 5yrs so am a bit out of touch with things and have been a laptop guy since.

    Im looking for some advice on a couple of components. I have my eyes set on a Silverstone Grandia GD01B-MXR for the case. Itll fit nicely in my unit, has 2xODD, a LCD & IR with space for a full ATX and plenty of HDDs.

    Ill be running it through HDMI into a 32" 1080P TV so have need for GFX & sound card that will handle this with ease as well as being able to handle a BRay drive.

    Looking through the site it seems I am WAY out of touch with mobos and processors lol

    I have a few HDDs sat around and will no doubt add and upgrade these so they are not an issue at the moment, same with the RAM.

    Ill be using Windows 7 as the primary OS and WS2008RS2 later on this year (course work) and will probably be using XBMC as the main player.

    I have more or less £500 to spend at the moment and any advice on these components would be greatly appreciated

    TIA
     
  2. fretted

    Hitman

    Joined: 4 Jan 2010

    Posts: 600

    Some considerations:

    I don't have windows 7 but I understand that Media Center is more than adequate as a player.

    LCD screen is not necessary and maybe distracting, are you really going to want to see lines of text/or an equalizer from the sofa?

    How important is silence for you when you are watching a film/movie?

    Will you be using iPlayer desktop? As far as I understand, this does not utilise graphics accelaration well and will struggle on low spec CPUs (eg. I have a quadcore Athlon II and cpu usage can get near 100% and experience screen freezes).
     
  3. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    Ive had issues with WMC in the past which has always put me off as well as a few other niggles I have with it. Been using XBMC as my main app on my xbox, dads xbox downstairs and bros laptop for a while and its great, never had any issues with media, great UI, networkable etc

    TBH, I dunno about the LCD, I had a LCD on my xbox so think thats where I got the idea from. Ive read both good and bad reviews concerning them but its not really a deal breaker if the case hasnt got one. The main things I defo need are space for 2xODD and the IR feature. If theres any other case you recommend that you think better fit my needs feel free :)

    Im pretty deaf lol my currant laptop is a few years old now and kicks out a far bit of heat resulting in a louder than usual fan, with that, my 360 and the TV kicking out the noise I can say that it needing to be ultra quiet isnt really an issue. Then theres always a few fan upgrades I could add if it is just that little bit too loud.

    As for iPlayer I dont think Ive ever downloaded it, I watch a lot of xvid and DVDs (and soon BRay) never really been into the on demand stuff through the cloud. I have a Virgin STB if I ever watch normal TV anyway.
     
  4. eddyc

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 13 Nov 2009

    Posts: 1,105

    What about something like this:

    [​IMG]

    The raidon 4200 IGP is more than capable of playing 1080p content and even some light gaming. I am not convinced that you need more than a dual core to play iplayer hd content. In any case a new version of flash allowing graphics acceleration is coming out soon.

    Not got any experience of the cooler but the reviews look generally positive. You might even be fine with the stock cooler but I figured this one would be quieter.
     
  5. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    Wow thats all coming in a lot cheaper than I expected!

    I like the look of that mobo, has all the connections I need and the advantage of the onboard gfx and hdmi OOB, that will save me a few pennies rather than buying a separate gfx card on top. The 6 sata works out just fine, 2 for ODD and upto 4 HDDs. Theres nothing else that runs of sata these days is there that I might end up using, just ODD and HDD?

    I have no real intention of gaming on it, have the consoles for that :)

    Do you reckon I could push for quad core without causing too many issues?

    For future upgrading, how do you feel on DDR3? Is it better to stick to DDR2 at the mo?
     
    Last edited: 14 Apr 2010
  6. eddyc

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 13 Nov 2009

    Posts: 1,105

    Good old athlons. Very good bang for buck. :cool:

    No I think you are right. 6 Will be plenty.

    Yes DDR3 and an AM3 (as opposed to AM2+) socket will be better for upgrading in the future. I stuck to DDR2 because I thought you were planning to use your existing RAM (assumed it was DDR2). How about this for a quad DDR3 system:

    [​IMG]

    To be honest you would be fine with only 2GB of RAM but there dont seem to be any cheap DDR3 2GB bundles on OCUK at the moment.

    As for the quad I dont really think you would see all that much of a performance increase but then the cost is not that much greater so maybe might as well. Just in case you ever need to do anything a bit heavier on it.

    Oh also (since you have cash left over :)) how about an SSD for a boot disk. I get the impression that the hard drives you will be using are older ones so might not be all that fast? An SSD would give a good boost to program loading + booting up etc. I have the OCZ Vertex 30GB (£99.99) as a boot disk and am pretty pleased with it. I think some of the more expensive ones are even faster.
     
    Last edited: 14 Apr 2010
  7. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    Was just looking at that mobo :)

    I think with the money Id save on a separate gfx card I could put to use on the RAM, might save some time with DDR3 now. Same with quad core, am really surprised at the prices these days was expecting to be struggling to build one on my budget!

    Ive was looking into SSD for my laptops a few months ago and as the boot drive for this one its just begging to have one in lol I might have to hold off on one for a couple of months till my bank balance recovers though. I have a month 1TB WD in a caddy at the mo which Im going to transfer to PC and a spare 160 which Im going to use as boot drive for the time being but will eventually upgrade it. Its had some hammer as an external but its still running smoothly and all tests come back ok.

    Now its just the case, fretted has got me thinking about it a bit more so will have to have another good look into them.

    Just on a similar but side note, concerning stuff like the IR and LCD. How universal are they? XBMC has the ability to have IR codes programmed into it to make it compatible with say the Harmony remote series but how does that work with the actual IR software? Can you ONLY use the remote that comes with the case?

    Ive read that people have programmed the old xbox1 remote codes into it with no problems but how does that all relate to the IR hardware/software?

    Same with the LCD, can you ONLY use the software it comes with?

    My only experience with IR on a PC is back in the day of flashing graphics and tones to the old Nokias by IR lol

    Thanks for all the help by the way :)
     
  8. eddyc

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 13 Nov 2009

    Posts: 1,105

    Since this is a media centre pc you could go with a smaller case and then have a microATX mobo in there. Just make the whole thing a bit smaller. Keep the rest of the spec the same but replace the mobo with a Asus M4A785TD-M Evo instead. Same gfx etc, just smaller.

    No idea sorry. :rolleyes:
     
  9. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    I was originally thinking of going the micro way but the micro cases I found didnt really accommodate 2 ODDs and a smaller number of HDDs. Looking to the future I might end up moving to a full tower etc keeps more options open for me. Will have to have a browse methinks.

    Little miffed I missed the Grandia on the OC deal last week or so ago, didnt have the money at the time :(
     
  10. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    This is what I think Im going to grab so far, fits just around my budget and should ahndle everything I need it to do :)

    Silverstone Grandia GD01B-MXR in black
    Asus M4A785TD-V Evo AMD 785G (Socket AM3) DDR3 Motherboard
    Patriot G Series 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-10666C9
    AMD Athlon II X4 Quad Core 630 2.80GHz (Socket AM3)

    Saw this cooler and thought it might fit a bit better in the case and the reviews look ok for it - Scythe Shuriken BIG Quiet Low Profile CPU Cooler. Would this come with thermal paste preapplied or would I need to grab a tube of it as well?

    For the PSU I was thinking the OCZ ModXStream Pro 500w Silent SLI Certified Modular Power Supply which should be way more than enough to handle the system, its modular and has a fair few connections.

    And of course needed a keyboard & Mouse so going for the Keysonic Wireless Keyboard/Touchpad ACK-540RF

    Would all this go together well?
     
    Last edited: 15 Apr 2010
  11. Baboonanza

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    Joined: 10 Nov 2009

    Posts: 1,099

    Location: London

    Looks OK. You need to take out the links to competitors though of face the wrath of the mods.

    I have that Keysonic, and while it's great for fiddling with HTPC configuration (easily tucked away) I wouldn't want to have to do typing or serious mousing on it.
     
  12. eddyc

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 13 Nov 2009

    Posts: 1,105

    Most likely it will come with a tube but not preapplied. But it wont be the best quality. Get some arctic silver 5 or similar if you are wanting the best quality.

    Looks like a great build. Should be a really nice HTPC but like you said: enough grunt to be used as a full desktop if you want it to be.

    How much is it all coming out as?
     
  13. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    My bad, sorry about the link :s

    Bless my missis, she said she'd buy me the case for it saving me 130 so have added a 1TB HDD and 2xPioneer writers to the total (she doesnt have to know Ive added them :p)

    With a few extra bits and bobs like a HDMI cable and artic paste its coming to £523.32 with VAT :)

    Without the new drives and using my old ones, but buying the case myself it would come to around the same which I still considerbly shocked at what Ive got for the price :)

    Thats really all the keyboard will be used for tbh, hopefully the remote will be taking on most of the work :)

    Ive got a KVM (with no V) setup between 2 laptops on the desk next to the TV which I can always extend to the HTPC if I ever need to (highly doubtful) but for the general usage the keysonic should be fine.

    Well here goes, credit cards away...... ...And its all gone through and should be here tomorrow :)

    Thanks for all the help and advice, saved me a lot of headaches lol but I shall no doubt be posting again tomorrow night in tears when nothing works lol
     
    Last edited: 15 Apr 2010
  14. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    Told you Id be back :(

    Everything came today and set about installing. Everything works and fits but no video :(

    Im a bit flumexed. Went back bit by bit and everything seems fine. Tried a CMOS reset in case it wasnt set to the right video - no go.

    Have absolutely no idea what it could be tbh. Would connecting it straight to my TV through VGA make any difference, shouldnt should it? Nothing through HDMI either :(

    Green light on mobo, all fans kick in, LCD lights up, drive spins and DVDRWs work - Just no video.

    Just noticed before I packed in for the night that the power LED isnt working but that couldnt stop it from booting could it?

    Well out of touch lol used to dealing with other peoples PC problems not my own. Wish Id stuck to me laptops lol

    Its gonna be something simple Ive missed, I can feel it :(

    Any help would be appreciated :)
     
  15. freddie64

    Mobster

    Joined: 22 Mar 2008

    Posts: 3,198

    Are you choosing the right AV input on the TV?

    For the power LED, it may just be the plug needs turning round.
     
  16. eddyc

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 13 Nov 2009

    Posts: 1,105

    I am guessing you dont have a monitor to test it on?
     
  17. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    Dont know what, dont know how, but its working now :s

    Started from scratch and its all up and running now through HDMI :D

    BIOS picks everything up ad just installing windows to test Ive not missed ought. Worried about the sound through HDMI really, as long as that works Ill be ok, its enabled in BIOS so will have to see :D

    Yup, HDMI sound is working fine. W7 pulled down the GFX card drivers for me and after a reboot its all working fine. Need to figure out how to get it to fill the screen now though. Its running at 1920x1080 but has an inch of black border around the entire lot. Tryed my 7 lappy and ubuntu lappy and they both fill it completely. Might just be a driver issue as havnt got that far yet with it.

    Windows rating gives it a nice 4.7 (7.2-7.3-4.7-5.5-5.9) which is always nice :)

    BIOS wasnt recognizing wireless keyboard at first but after a couple of reboots with W7 installed it did which is even better :D

    Will get back to you when everything's up and running properly :)
     
    Last edited: 17 Apr 2010
  18. Trunks9486

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 11 Oct 2007

    Posts: 1,287

    Update the graphics drivers from AMD, it should boost the performance a bit.
     
  19. IAmTheDude

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    Joined: 12 Apr 2010

    Posts: 10

    All is well :)

    Mobo is all updated and set up, loving all the things I can do with it! Always so restricted with laptop BIOS it makes a nice change.

    7 is all installed and updates, drivers are all current. LCD and remote all working fine. HDMIs all working correctly. All other mobo related stuff seems fine, havnt got any mem cards to try but its all detected by windows.

    Sorted the black border issue out with the driver update and a fiddle with the display overscan thanks to that website everyone keeps raving about, google is it?... :p

    So far everything fricking great :D:D:D

    Im quite impressed that I managed to build it all without either blowing it up or electrocuting myself.

    Thanks to everyone hows helped me out, made a first desktop purchase all the more easier thanks to you, and overclockers themselves of course :D
     
  20. eddyc

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 13 Nov 2009

    Posts: 1,105

    Nice one! Glad it all worked out. :)