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  1. #1
    Master Untangler
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    Default Not Something I normally do... Built HTPC for Customer

    We mainly do small/med business IT stuff, but the owner of a company heard about my HTPC at home controlling my 57" 1080p, and wanted one for himself....

    I didn't build it too crazy but:
    Nextherm ICS8200 peltier cooled case (works GOOOD)
    Asus P5N-D
    Intel E7300
    4GB G.Skill DDR2 800
    EVGA 9800GT
    WD Caviar Black 1TB HDD
    AverMedia AverTV Combo x1 dual HDTV tuner
    Windows Vista Ult x64

    He opted out of the bluray drive due do the fact that you can coughdownloadcough them (main reason for this, and he just needed a new pc).

    There is room for upgrade in the future with this pc as you can tell. I'm installing it at his house this week, I'm going to hate to see it go

    He was orginally going to use his current HD USB tuner, but the AverMedia has S-Video input, so he can use a hdtv tuner box from his cable company. We put that on his presentation PC in the office that runs a 42" 1080p
    Last edited by Rick@BBM; 12-16-2008 at 01:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Untangle Ninja gotkimchi's Avatar
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    Default

    Wow! Impressive stats. I need to finish my HTPC project.

    If money wasn't an issue, I would love to get this HTPC case.


    Or this looks pretty clean.


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  3. #3
    Untangle Ninja juank's Avatar
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    Those are beautiful !
    --------------------------------
    Juan Machado
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  4. #4
    Master Untangler
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    Wow! Awesome case! This guy wanted a tower, I had a nice HTPC case lined up too. The A/C cooled case is actually good. It's weird to feel cold air blowing out the rear case exhaust fan. It's not cold enough to chill beer, but considering I also have a peltier wine fridge next to my desk, I'm sure the case can be easily "hacked" to drop the case temps in the 40s instead of just 10* colder then ambient (to avoid condensation).
    Last edited by Rick@BBM; 12-16-2008 at 02:56 PM.

  5. #5
    Master Untangler
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    I'm an avid fan of the HTPC myself but I wouldnt advise building one.. about the only way I would recommend it is if you plan on buying a prebuilt one and then transplanting it into a nicer case. With everything going Digital and trying to use cablecards its not possible to build a decent HDTV mediacenter anymore. You'd have to build it without cable cards - since those are restricted to OEMs. If anyone chimes in with OTA or QAM... forget it.. OTA and unsupported QAM is crap. Until mediacenter supports HDTV natively and the cable labs open up a bit theres no way i would try and sell / build a HTPC for a customer, hell im an MCSE and mine give me fits from time to time. until HD becomes easy.. forget it.
    Last edited by whatuusay1; 12-18-2008 at 01:26 AM.

  6. #6
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    MCSE and you can't even use an HTPC huh? I hear those "Mojave" events travel the country, maybe you should attend.

    Well, HD is easy. QAM works great for all the local HD channels, because they are always unlocked. Besides that fact, a good HD tuner card has S-VIDEO input and audio input. Why? That's where you plug in your local cable company's HDTV cable box if you so desire digial channels. Windows Media Center in Vista loves doing it that way, it was designed for that in mind.

    With an HTPC in the $1000 range, you have:
    7.1 surround sound reciever/stereo system
    TV tuner with full recording capabilities
    Full online content available on your tv (i dont know about you, but youtube on the 57" is great guest entertainment)
    Blu-Ray player
    264 HD BR and HDDVD movie downloads
    Thousands of MP3's and cool on screen visuals
    Legal online TV shows if you miss them (nbc, cbs, etc now do online hd format)
    Plus whatever else you can do with a computer ( I play crysis and flight simulator X on mine )

    To build something piece by piece without a PC that does the same would cost you thousands and you'd have a remote control and wiring nightmare. Vista boots to Media Center and I use a harmony one remote control. It can't be any easier. My father is 67 years old and has no problems using it. Maybe he should be MCSE
    Last edited by Rick@BBM; 12-17-2008 at 06:29 AM.

  7. #7
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    haha Mojava.. Interesting comment. I'll refrain from forum flaming and give you the benefit of the doubt here.. Rest assured I'm a very competent IT consultant and yes an MCSE with more than 10 years IT experience (not a paper MCSE). I stand by my comments..You're truly doing your customer a disservice by building them a home built HTPC. If your customer is forking out 1-2k for a standard def mediacenter.. i guess they deserve to get ripped off.

    HD is easy as long as all you like to watch is ABC..and NBC..oh and maybe some PBS. If you intend of watching anything offered by your cable company other than OTA content you're off to hacking in QAM - if your provider is nice enough to offer content in QAM, regardless QAM isn’t supported in media center - any version at this point. If you do get QAM working (hacking in the new powerpack or firewire STB hacks) it’s somewhat stable.. Until the next windows update comes out, or until the next video driver update.. or until some other issue pops up. Oh and have fun editing XML QAM pointers..and channel logos.. and hopefully the channel will pop in correctly.

    Cable cards work fairly well... except that they cant offer VOD.. so you're pretty much stuck with the freebee crap offered on the "internet media" areas of media center. That leaves some random video clips, trailers, and ads. Oh.. and you also have to rent the cable cards.. thats a nice touch. And you have to buy a Cable Labs certified computer ($$$$). And.. it 'might' work out ok.. and it might not. Just the luck of the draw - check out thegreenbutton.. they have lots of experiences documented. Its also nice knowing that you cant change anything on your expensive prebuilt mediacenter least it break activation, or break the digital video chain. Experience the great big "Cannot record content messages yet?"

    And.. Svideo.. hello... looks brutal on my 52" 1080p LCD.. Makes a lot of sense to rent a HDTV STB.. and convert it back to SD (svideo) .. and then watch it on your HDTV. Great plan...but then again I suppose your father probably wouldn’t notice :-)


    With an HTPC in the $1000 range, you have:
    7.1 surround sound receiver/stereo system
    ?? I guess optical out qualifies as cool these days. Pretty much any media gear has optical or digital outputs – including my $135 MSI Wind (net top)…anyways, its just a pass through anyway, you have to have a decent receiver to decode the content - which its rare to find 7.1 audio tracks.
    TV tuner with full recording capabilities - in SD or horribly restricted OTA HD. Nothing like paying $100 for a OTA Tunter to pick up 6 channels.. don't know about you but time warner charges me 5 a month for my HD DVR.. thats about 2 years worth of rental fees for just the price of the OTA HD Card.
    Full online content available on your tv (i dont know about you, but youtube on the 57" is great guest entertainment) Yes... Hulu and youtube look pretty awful full screen.. Maybe if you have a SD big screen. Not to mention both have documented issues at full screen HD.
    Blu-Ray player... have fun with HDCP.. love the bluescreens that come with that mess.
    264 HD BR and HDDVD movie downloads - yes..12GB movie downloads are awesome...
    Thousands of MP3's and cool on screen visuals... media centers music manager is brutal to say the least... and good luck if you truly have thousands of songs. It'll take several minutes just to cache the directory without a cache to ram hack. Been there..done that - not worth it, and mediacenters visuals are far from 'cool'. I guess you could bust out the keyboard and mouse and go old school with winamp... and some milkdrop. Oh.. and if you're using the mediacenter IR keyboard.. have fun with that too..

    Legal online TV shows if you miss them (nbc, cbs, etc now do online hd format) again..barely watchable full screen on a HDTV, Hulu and youtube have documented issues with full screen HD formats..youtubes not even advertising the HD (widescreen stuff yet). It’s a URL hack if you want to watch them in the upgraded format..

    Plus whatever else you can do with a computer ( I play crysis and flight simulator X on mine ) - guess that’s still plausible.. yet I doubt your playing Crysis in 1080p.. on a sub $1000 pc w a Blueray player. Guess you can surf on your mediacenter.. thats a surefire way to break it :-)

    Overall.. pretty much a $1000 headache, Mediacenters are awesome.. if you are dealing with SD.. or a relatively small HDTV for example a 27 or 32” (with only SD content). But its not worth it - HDTV is a disaster with mediacenter, its just a nightmare. I hope you enjoy your sleepless nights, or the nagging wife when content flags.. stutters.. HDCP issues.. and of course all the other fun vista quirks come out. Personally.. i'll leave well enough alone and let some other sucker take those calls. I've been involved with mediacenters since the first 2004 version.. and its gotten much better but theres no good answer for HD Content yet, but perhaps you're more qualified to comment.
    Last edited by whatuusay1; 12-18-2008 at 01:28 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default

    It's Mojave, not Mojava. You obviously have no idea what you're talking about.

  9. #9
    Master Untangler
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    I think a media center has a place in every rack. Like the poster above I think there are way to many problems to make it an all in one machine. HD Tuning (except OTA) is just about impossible with Media Center. (you will be much happier with your providers HD DVR.

    However there are some great uses for a MC. I use mine to playback my movie collection all stored on a storage server in my basement. Everything from Bluray ISO's to H264's and let me tell you they look awesome. 1080P pushed to my projector with DTS running to the Onyko is great. Music is also a treat but I cheat and use itunes and my Itouch to control every MC in the house's music.

    guess that’s still plausible.. yet I doubt your playing Crysis in 1080p.. on a sub $1000 pc w a Blueray player. Guess you can surf on your mediacenter.. thats a surefire way to break it :-)
    I guess you have not looked recently to see what kind of hardware a thousand bucks can buy you. Crysis isn't much of an issue anymore.

  10. #10
    Master Untangler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick@BBM View Post
    It's Mojave, not Mojava. You obviously have no idea what you're talking about.
    Thanks for the correction.. as clearly the most important part of my post.. glad to see you cant comment on any of the other part of my post.

    Also - the Cyrsis comments.. Yes, a 1k pc gets you quiet a bit these days, but not if you plan on including tuners, blueray, HD space for blueray/hddvd iso's, thousands of mp3s, video card with functional HDCP, etc etc etc. Crysis at 1080p isnt a cakewalk either - I guess if you drop it down to 1024x768.

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