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Whats the ultimate HTPC?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema & Hi-Fi' started by Nox, 5 Mar 2006.

  1. Nox

    Gangster

    Joined: 2 Nov 2005

    Posts: 136

    I've been looking at this for a while but can never make my mind up what to do and go for. anyone got any experience?
     
  2. Hawklord

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 6 Feb 2003

    Posts: 1,824

    Location: Aldershot, Hampshire

    Here's mine :D :-

    [​IMG]

    I just need to get a bigger screen now and try to hide the snake pit :o

    I suppose you ULTIMATELY have to decide how much you have to spend and buy what your ears tell you is the best bang for buck.
     
  3. Paul11

    Capodecina

    Joined: 28 Sep 2003

    Posts: 10,169

    Location: London


    are you talking about building one or buying an off the shelf one ?

    set yourself a budget, and outline what you need it to do , and go from there.


    Since you mention the world ultimate, i would guess that you wont see much change from £1500 as a minimum, but i suppose it depends on what you mean by ultimate !
     
  4. Goatboy

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 22 Oct 2003

    Posts: 4,023

    Location: a crappy part of London

    I don't know if there's an ultimate, spending £3000 won't give a better picture than spending £1500.

    I guess the ultimate set-up would be a small sleek silent HTPC and a huge media server tucked away somewhere
     
  5. mcmad

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 19 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,572

    depends what you intend to play back on it..

    gfx card wise, a 7800GT & up will play anything using the latest purevideo decoders (which will also feature in the soon to be released Theatertek 2.3).

    http://www.nvidia.com/page/purevideo_support.html

    so I would say a 7800GT is now the minumum spec for the best possible HD playback (SLI doesn't offer anything extra over a single card)

    cpu wise, it really depends how much post processing you intend to do, FFDSHOW needs lots of processing power for rescaling, sharpening etc.

    Basically the faster your processor the more post processing you can do (note FFDSHOW does not support dual core, its pure speed that counts).
     
  6. Nox

    Gangster

    Joined: 2 Nov 2005

    Posts: 136

    What are the slim ones out there? There's some nice looking Silverstone ones that i have seen but they are still pretty bulky, and the ones that do look a bit slimmer tend to have a poor finish. Any suggestions?
     
  7. Paul11

    Capodecina

    Joined: 28 Sep 2003

    Posts: 10,169

    Location: London


    so basically you want "a slim one".. ?

    do you have a budget in mind ?
     
  8. Rojin

    Soldato

    Joined: 19 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,990

    Location: Gloucester UK


    I thought Purevideo is available with TheaterTek 2.2, or is that something else?
     
  9. pinkaardvark

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,705

    Location: Cambs

    Nvidia codecs came with my recent 2.2 purchase.
     
  10. mcmad

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 19 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,572

    Sorry for the confusion in my post..

    the purevideo codecs are available direct from NV or you can buy TT which has them as well.

    the NV ones are more up to date at the moment , TT 2.3 will include all the new features, thats what I meant, TT 2.2 is slightly out of date now..
     
  11. Bigpops

    Mobster

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 4,373

    Location: Sheffield, UK

    I was looking at building an HTPC based on a mATX motherboard based on the Nvidia 6510 and mcp430 chipset. Sadly, all the motherboards i found with said chipset were all socket 939 (apart from the Albatron KM51PV-754, but that doesn't seem to exist in shops), and A64s are far too expensive when a Sempron will do easily. This is despite Nvidia aiming it as Sempron systems ( http://www.nvidia.com/page/gpu_mobo.html )

    The main reason for choosing that chipset, is it supports all the new Nvidia Purevideo features, like H.264 and VC1 acceleration upto 1080p/i, without having to shell out for a gfx card. Purevideo is also great for upscaling DVD without hammering the CPU. To be honest, on my 32" LCD TV, i can barely tell the difference between it, and FFDshow (which does leather the CPU). It can also output DVI, VGA and Y Pb Br component video, which is great if you want to use your DVI/HDMI socket for something else.
     
  12. Mr Latte

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 8 Aug 2003

    Posts: 9,137

    Well everyone has a different take on what ultimate should be. The biggest problem with slim style cases means you wont have the ability for ultimate or the highest performance components. Also a typical HTPC case of approx 160mm will allow future upgrading which again shallow cases may not.

    First and foremost a decent HTPC must be quiet so forget standard cooling and base your components on low noise or silent CPU/CASE/PSU cooling solutions. A nice case goes a long way to create or maintain a snazzy image with Plasma or LCD flatpanel TVs or with other hifi or AV gear.

    Next, well you wont need a fast graphics card so a decent nvidia 256mb ram silent pipe option is fine untill the new HDMI cards appear. Personally i think Nvidia offer the best HDTV options. Also onboard audio will not be used on a qualty system, so consider something like the X-Fi or other good quality soundcards.

    AMD X2 based systems currently seem popular having a great motherboard (asus silent pipe) with the best CPU you can afford and 2GB, hell why not 4GB of quality RAM will take care of everything you throw at it.

    DVDrw of course with room for Blue Laser drive to be added and say 2 terrabyte of storage is a good start. Personally would recommend 4x 500GB ibms for around £880 these perform terrific and are as fast as RAPTOR drives.

    Regards performance to give an idea I bencharked my own system faster than a X2 4800+ and it can even run 3x 1080i movies simultaneously with no dropped frames. Having such additional power is also great for ripping/shrinking/uncompressing etc, certainly blows away my old loft P4 2.5 1GB PC and with it running almost silent fits in well with my living room components:
    [size=-1]AV : Sony SKDLV40A12U / Sony DAV-DZ 700 / Sony RDR-HX 710 / Sony Sky VTX-S760U / Alphason A03 Piano Black [/SIZE]

    Be prepared to spend a right packet if wanting to make a great little system. For an example my gear is average/decent components but this lot is near 5k for a livingroom "wife friendly" HDTV 5.1 entertainment system

    Approx £1500 for my sig spec and approx £2300 if you wanted something like that but as mentioned taking it to a nice 2 Terrabyte storage with 4GB ram, now that would make a good looking and seriously specced out base unit.
     
    Last edited: 7 Mar 2006
  13. james.miller

    Capodecina

    Joined: 17 Aug 2003

    Posts: 19,397

    Location: Woburn Sand Dunes

    [​IMG]

    it's not strictly a HTPC since it never had a tuner card, but it does have 370gb of HD space, an x800gto2 and a 2.9ghz opteron powering it:)
     
    Last edited: 7 Mar 2006
  14. pinkaardvark

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 6,705

    Location: Cambs

    Thought Home theatre PC simply implied you could play a DVD movie on it.
     
  15. Paul11

    Capodecina

    Joined: 28 Sep 2003

    Posts: 10,169

    Location: London

    you can play a dvd with ALL computers now days (assuming they have a DVD drive)