Maybe Time for another Build

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Joined: 12 Aug 2007
Maybe Time for another Build

I've been having some really annoying problems lately, and I can't seem to figure out where the problem lies.  I'm almost at the point of chucking everything and starting with new parts from scratch.  I've been using an Intel motherboard, E6600, 2 gigs of RAM, and a 6570. 

I would like some suggestions on what I should go with.  An Intel Sandy Bridge build with Intel integrated graphics?  Or an AMD APU build?  Or something with a discrete card?  I want something that will play my recordings, DVD, bluray, 3D bluray, plays Netflix smoothly, and can bitstream.

My system has been driving me crazy since making the change from my 2600xt to the 6570.  When I first switched I thought the change had gone smoothly.  But now I'm running into a lot of crazy stuff that I didn't notice at first after the change.  Netflix is a choppy mess now.  Not too big of a deal since I know a lot of others have this problem too.  But sometimes I'm getting stutter on recordings and bluray.  Restarting the PC seems to resolve this (I think).  But the other thing I've noticed, and I'm at more of a loss for, is when I play a recording sometimes it doesn't look "right".  I don't know how to explain it, but peoples' faces look "blocky" or like their faces shift around.  I didn't think much about it because I hadn't watched a recording in a while so I thought maybe this is the best it can do (since it is an analog recording made from satellite).  But I messed around in CCC and when I played a recording it looked pretty good, almost as good as the original source.  I went back in CCC and un-did everything I changed and rewatched the same recording.  Again, it still looked pretty good and did not look "blocky" as I noticed before.  Tonight I go to watch a recording and it's back to not looking very good.  I go into CCC and then back out and the recording looks fine.  It's almost like just the fact of going into CCC forces the 6570 to do whatever it is it's supposed to do.

I would try another video card, but I'm almost gun shy at this point.  I changed from my 2600xt to a 430GT a while back but the stutter was terrible in my recordings, and nothing I did got rid of it.  Once I went back to the 2600xt everything was fine.  Then I switched to the 6570 and recordings was the first thing I tried and it was fine so I thought all was good.  At this point I'm afraid to trust AMD or nvidia, and I'm not sure I'm a believer in Intel either.

What do you guys recommend?

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Joined: 7 Nov 2011

I completed my first HTPC build a couple of months ago. I primarily use it as a DVR but also store and play back my ripped DVD/Blu-Ray library. The build consists of:
 
Hardware:
 Gigabyte GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3 motherboard
 Intel Core i5-2500K Processor w/HD Graphics 3000
 8GB RAM
 pair of WD Caviar Black 2TB
 Samsung SH-B123L BD combo drive
 Silverstone Grandia GD06 HTPC case
 430W Power Supply
 Ceton InfiniTV 4 PCIe Quad Tuner Card
 IOGear GKM561R Wireless Keyboard
 HP Media Center Remote and HP IR Receiver
 MediaBridge Ultra Cat 2 HDMI Cables
 
Software:
 Windows 7 64-bit
 Arcsoft TotalMedia Theater 5
 Shark007 32/64 Codec Packs
 MakeMKV
 Handbrake
 YAMM
 
The HTPC is connected like this with HDMI cables:
 
HTPC --> Onkyo HT-RC630 AVR --> Sony KDS-60A3000 RPTV
 
Overall it's 99% stable and I'm quite pleased with it. Using it as a DVR works great and ripped 1080p movies play smoothly with no sync issues; bitstreaming audio works as expected and uncompressed audio is simply impressive.

There are a few minor glitches worth mentioning and some workarounds:
 
1. I often see HDMI audio indicated as "NO SIGNAL" on the AVR when in the Windows 7 OS (but is ok in Windows Media Center)
2. TMT5 works best with the Video Acceleration turned off with the Intel HD Graphics 3000 for some reason. When on, I get video artifacts and audio sync issues. I have not tried any 3D yet.
3. Random HDMI handshake/HDCP issues, resolved by power cycling the AVR while the HTPC and TV are both on.
4. Netflix HD streaming is a tiny bit jerky but not unwatchable (SD is fine). I read that the problem lies with Silverlight. I suspect it's not fully supporting the Intel HD Graphics 3000 acceleration.

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Joined: 7 Nov 2011

Holy overkill batman.

You can accomplish the same thing with an i3-2100 and 4GB of RAM.  I play 1080p blu-rays rips (not-transcoded) without issue in MPC-HC configured with bitstreaming audio.  That i3 is a trooper.

 

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Joined: 7 Nov 2011

Draven is right that a Core i3 is sufficient. But with abundant rebates the Core i5 and 8GB was only incrementally more expensive.

Plus, if you're going to do any transcoding (to fit movies onto a mobile device using Handbrake for example) you will appreciate the Core i5.

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Joined: 7 Nov 2011

The i5-2500k is an additional $100.. that's pretty substantial in my book.

You won't make use of that 8GB of RAM, even with transcoding, so while it's only an extra 40 bucks or so, it's a wasted 40 bucks.

I agree about the processor for transcoding though.  I have an i5-2500k that I use for transcoding and commercial stripping and it's awesome.

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