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#357511 - 10/27/11 12:07 AM HTPC setup
bdpf Offline
aficionado

Registered: 06/28/08
Posts: 769
Loc: Toronto, Canada
This is a question for the HTPC gurus on the forum.
Currently I have an old Pentium 4 in the basement that I use for downloads and as a media server. I then have a WDTV live for streaming to my AVR. This works fine but a couple of things annoy me.
1) the P4 is on all the time and being an older technology probably consumes quite a lot of power.
2) it really annoys me when I want to listen to a song to have to scroll down a gazillion times with my harmony remote in order to find it
3) even though the WDTV does youtube, it's a pain to select each letter with the remote
4) it would be nice to browser the internet in my living room.

Because of all of the above, I want to build a HTPC. A lot of people stay away from HTPC as it looks like it might sometimes be a PITA in order to get everything working properly with all the codecs and all, hopefully it won't be too bad. My Main concerns are price (would like to keep it around $300) and power consumption since it will be on all the time, it can be mini or micro itx, the OS will probably be WIN7 64 bits.. This PC will not be for gaming, it will be only for internet browsing/streaming, downloading, audio/video streaming to my AVR. I want to be able to stream 1080p without an issue as I have some .mkv files with this resolution and also any HiDef audio.

At the beginning I was considering the Atom + Ion. Some people say it's not enough and a I3 is needed, other say it will be fine as most of the graphic software support graphic acceleration and the Ion will handle that. Personally if the Atom + Ion will do the job I would rather avoid the I3 because power consumption and price are higher.
After doing some more research, it looks like a lot of people are prefering the AMD fusion E-350 to the atom. It looks like power is more or less the same but you get better performance and it's cheaper. Here is a review: http://techreport.com/articles.x/20401
The only thing that bothers me a little is that I couldn't find a motherboard with this processor that supports RAID. I'm not gonna put anything critical on this PC but was still thinking of doing RAID1 cause it would still suck to loose all my media. Maybe I can live without it or maybe I'll just use a PCIe card.

Anyone using the E-350 or Atom as a HTPC? Any motherboard recommendation in particular?
It looks like this mobo can be had for $110/$120
4GB RAM $30 (or 1GB or 2GB if I get win7 32bits)
2 TB HD $100 (I have an old 500GB for the OS)
Case $70
Bluetooth keyboard/touchpad $50
This puts me closer to $400 but are rough estimates, I'll need to shop around and probably can cut cost on the case, keyboard and maybe a smaller HD.

Any input or suggestion are greatly appreciated.
_________________________
Bruno
M80s/VP180/QS8s/EP600/AVR-890
------------------------------------
"The problem is choice..."

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#357513 - 10/27/11 12:34 AM Re: HTPC setup [Re: bdpf]
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8293
Loc: Tacoma
I tried to use a Atom/Ion (Zotac Zbox HD-11) running Ubuntu and I just cannot get HD video to render smoothly. Very frustrating. There is no substitute for processing power. If the machine doesn't do what you want, the fact that it's only sucking 20W doesn't really matter.

Personally, I think RAID is overrated. RAID is NOT Backup. Just get a nice, big, fast hard disk and back it up to another machine on your network and/or an external drive "often".

I'm thinking an Intel i3 for a budget HTPC build.

BUT...

I've had a PC in the living room for years, now. And I'm kind of "over it". I think the industry is headed more towards streaming boxes like the WD, boxee, Roku, etc. We're using iPads to control the Squeezebox touch for music streaming. That totally solved the "access to music" problem. It also gives me internet in my lap (where I can see it) but not on the big screen (where I really can't).

I wish you a joyful journey and satisfying technology experiences. wink
_________________________
bibere usque ad hilaritatem

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#357531 - 10/27/11 07:59 AM Re: HTPC setup [Re: tomtuttle]
CatBrat Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/05/09
Posts: 5908
Loc: Milky Way Galaxy
I use Raid 1 for my one and only PC. It might not be a backup, but it definately is peace of mind. I also run drives that are raid rated which cost a little more, but are designed to last longer. So far, after 2 years of use, no drive failure.

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#357533 - 10/27/11 09:29 AM Re: HTPC setup [Re: CatBrat]
nickbuol Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 4514
Loc: Marion, IA
(Digging back into my gray matter for when I was a server admin as well as a SAN storage admin)

Another benefit of raid is the increased number of read/write heads. We used to take servers that needed really fast disk access (database servers for example) and lets say that they needed 1 TB of data. we wouldn't throw 12 100GB drives at it (never format to 100 GB and you lose 1 for the RAID 5). We would put in a big array of like 24 50GB or in one case, we had a monster with an external set of arrays and several (not just dual) SCSI cards to communicate to 35 30 GB drives. That system had multiple on-line hot spares since the more drives, the more potential points of failure, but boy was it fast! SOOOO many read/write heads.

Of course, you have to have the CPU processing power to handle all of that data too.

So either you can do some sort of RAID setup and while you don't have a backup (be sure not to delete or format things that you don't mean to), you should gain zero down time due to a hard drive failure, and you gain increased data throughput by having the data striped across multiple drives.

Not saying that it is the best way, or only way, just offering up other benefits of RAID. Most people I've talked to that have a HTPC just put a couple of large drives in the HTPC and then backup the key data elsewhere (another computer). In essence it is like a remote-RAID system in that you are still spending the money on storage backup data on another system if you keep things stored in more that one location. If you just have 1 copy of the data, then you run the risk of losing it... So on and so forth.
_________________________
http://ht.buol.us
M60s, VP180, VP150, QS8s, SVS 20-39PCi, HTPC, JVC RS45, Onkyo TX-NR709, Shakers

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#358050 - 11/04/11 11:12 AM Re: HTPC setup [Re: nickbuol]
DanielBMe Offline
devotee

Registered: 02/08/07
Posts: 394
Loc: Toronto - ON
Just wanted to add a couple of things.

I have an HTPC and store all my blu rays, dvds, photos, music on my Unraid Media Server. I have 10 x 2TB drives. I started with 2 drives and and old pc case. I just recently upgraded my case to something that can handle 15 drives. I just add drives as I needed them. You can mix and match sizes. Personally I found it to be the best all round HTPC Media Server.

The Unraid server can run on some really small requirements. Mine is running on a P4 2.8 cpu and 2GB of ram. I haven't had a single problem in 4yrs. The software for 3 drives is free. You can read about it here -
http://lime-technology.com/

You can also check out their forums
http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php

For the HTPC you should check out AVS Forums Guide to Building an HTPC, loads of great advice!

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=940972


Hope that helps!
_________________________
M22's v3, 2 x EP500v3, VP150v3, QS4's, Denon 3808CI

My Botswana Safari photos
http://smu.gs/R41Byt

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#358051 - 11/04/11 11:46 AM Re: HTPC setup [Re: DanielBMe]
bdpf Offline
aficionado

Registered: 06/28/08
Posts: 769
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Thank you for the great info.
_________________________
Bruno
M80s/VP180/QS8s/EP600/AVR-890
------------------------------------
"The problem is choice..."

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#358190 - 11/06/11 11:31 PM Re: HTPC setup [Re: DanielBMe]
duckman Offline
devotee

Registered: 01/09/03
Posts: 312
Loc: kansas
+1 on unraid. a year and a half trouble free here.
And a great forum of helpfull smart guys.
_________________________
Just say No to HDMI

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#358407 - 11/10/11 12:08 AM Re: HTPC setup [Re: duckman]
jakewash Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 12/26/03
Posts: 10399
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
Where is this forum of helpfull smart guys?
_________________________
Jason
-----------------
TTTHHHPPPPPTTTT!

My HT

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#358606 - 11/13/11 11:06 PM Re: HTPC setup [Re: jakewash]
duckman Offline
devotee

Registered: 01/09/03
Posts: 312
Loc: kansas
_________________________
Just say No to HDMI

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