Advice on First HTPC

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Joined: 15 May 2010
Advice on First HTPC

I would like to build an HTPC.  Eventually I would like it to play bluray and eventually 3d movies.  I also would like to add a TV tuner at some point.  I don't however have the resources to do all of that right now.  The core pieces of hardware should be able to accomplish that however.  To start with it will just stream hulu and netflix and I would like to put all my movies on a hard drive for it.  I do have an old desktop that should be able to provide the RAM, Hard Drive and DVD drive.  My question is what kind of processor and graphics card should I get?  THis is what I was looking at.  Is it extra powerful?  Do I need a better graphics card?

nVidia GeForce GT 240
Intel core i5-750 2.66 GHz
Open to suggestion for a motherboard
Would like a case like this onebut am open to suggestions.
Will need advice on a tv tuner eventually
Do I need an audio card?

When I was looking at this I think the power consumption will be close if not above that of the power supply that comes in the case.  Is it possible to get a better power supply that fits in a case like the one I showed?

Im thinking of running linux with mythtv and xbmc connected by mythbox.  Does anyone have any experience with that?  Is there a better option?

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Joined: 1 Oct 2007

I've added my comments below based on the assumption that this will be for htpc/general use only, ie no gaming Smile

SSMI wrote:

nVidia GeForce GT 240

This isn't necessary for htpc use as the integrated graphics from nvidia, amd, and intel are all sufficient to handle htpc tasks

SSMI wrote:

Intel core i5-750 2.66 GHz

Again, if this is just for htpc use and even general use the i5 is way overkill.  You can save your self some money by dropping down to an i3 and you'll get the added benefit of having the clarkdale integrated graphics which is capable of bitstreaming HD audio from bluray discs

SSMI wrote:

Open to suggestion for a motherboard

I'm partial to msi motherboards so for me, I would go with this

SSMI wrote:

Would like a case like this onebut am open to suggestions.

I've never used that case but there are plenty of cases of that size.  Just be careful that if you do decide to add a video card or tv tuner that you get ones that are low profile otherwise they won't fit in the case.

SSMI wrote:

Will need advice on a tv tuner eventually

Your tv tuner will obviously be based on what your tv service is (cable, satelite, ota) and which software package you tend to go with.  Currently, Windows Media Center is the only software that currently supports cablecard tuners which allows your pc to tune all of your channels without the need for an external set top box.

SSMI wrote:

Do I need an audio card?

Nope, with the i3 and the h57 chipset, you'll get audio over hdmi (assuming you're using hdmi)

SSMI wrote:

When I was looking at this I think the power consumption will be close if not above that of the power supply that comes in the case.  Is it possible to get a better power supply that fits in a case like the one I showed?

Your power consumption shouldn't be anywhere near using the 275 that comes with that case however you can definitely replace it, you would just need to purchase a flex power supply vs. a standard ATX power supply.

Unfortunatley you will not be able to use the RAM from your old system as both intel and amd now use DDR3 which just recently became mainstream in the past year and a halv. However the cost savings of dropping to the i3 and eliminating the graphics card should more than cover the cost of RAM.

Since you mentioned the issue of available resources, if SageTV fits your needs, then you should definitely look into the possibility of running SageTV on your old desktop and purchasing their new HD300 extender for your viewing location.  For the extender and Sage software ($200), and PlayOn software needed to get hulu and netflix through SageTV ($80), your total cost is under $300 and you have a great foundation that supports tv and bluray for when you add them.  The cost for your htpc would be roughly $430 (Core i3 530 - $115, msi h57 mb - $100, 4GB RAM - $75, Windows 7 OEM license $100).  Depending on how you view it, you can either pocket the additional savings or use those savings to go ahead and add a bluray drive and a tv tuner.  I didn't include the software costs that would be required in both scenarios ( such as anydvdhd to remove copy protection to rip dvds and blurays).

And if you do decide to go the HTPC route, renethx on avsforum has put together an amazing and helpful guide of recommended systems here

mikinho's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2007

The components you listed are good but as ruwacked mentioned I would start with an Intel HD integrated graphics.

Both the Core i3-5xx and Core i5-6xx series processors support the Intel HD Graphics when paired with an H55 or H57 chipset.

For a primary HTPC I disagree with ruwucked that an i5 is "way overkill".  I have an i3-540 and i5-670 (reviewed to be published in the near future) and I highly recommend both but absolutely prefer the i5 for a primary HTPC.  For pure audio\video playback either processor will suffice but if you run commercial detection software and\or video conversion the i5 offers a significant improvement over the i3.  It really comes down to what you want to accomplish.

I wouldn't worry about the power supply, my i3-540 \ DH57JG idles at 24W and at load between 33W to 42W which is powered by a 102W picoPSU.

The i5-670 \ DH57DD didn't use much more until I added added a few more drivers and peripherals

For 3D support the current Intel hardware does support 3D; Intel is working on adding 3D support to their HD Graphics lineup but we currently do know whether existing hardware will be forward compatible.  I honestly would not worry about it.  If needed you can always add a discrete card later when DX11 is more mainstream.

Mikinho | Missing Remote | Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP

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Joined: 15 May 2010

Let me ask a question.  Will an integrated support 3D through HDMI?  If not, is it possible to add a graphics card to a system with an integrated GPU without much trouble?

mikinho's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2007

At the moment you are limited to NVidia for 3D support but this will be changing very soon.  Both Intel and AMD will have solutions, Intel will be integrated and I believe AMD's will be but I'm not positive.

It is very easy to add a discrete card so unless you have a 3D HDTV and want it now, it is worth the wait to get a "better" card when you need.

Mikinho | Missing Remote | Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP

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