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Immer
Gentleman
Premium
join:2010-01-07
Evans, GA
kudos:8

HTPC Project Build

My wife was looking to restore an old furniture pieces from her late grandmother, and one piece caught my eye. It used to be an old tube radio and turntable console. Sadly, the radio and turntable were long gone. However, I offered to restore the console by turning into an HTPC. She agreed, and I now have a project on my hands.

Our Needs:
• We want to consolidate our DVDs into a media center
• I'd like to have access to these movies anywhere on our home network
• We are shooting for low-noise, low-power consumption.

Here is what I'm looking to:
• Motherboard: »www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···13157228
• PSU: »www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···17104080
• HDD: »www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···22148697

I do have some questions regarding this build.
• Operating System. I was planning on going for an OpenSource solution like XBMCbuntu. Has anyone worked with Lubuntu and/or XBMC for their HTPC? Am I correct in assuming that this approach will make BlueRay unavailable?
• I'd like to have a slim slot-load DVD drive for this build. Any recommendations?
• Has anyone used this PSU (or similar?) and do you think it would run this HTPC? »www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···17129006
--
Guild leader of Pride and Ego (US:Nathrezim)
Good times with Great people in the Best way to spend $15/mo.

Intelligence is no substitute for Character.



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

I cannot answer your hardware questions because it doesn't really matter. A media server is actually a pretty low-load server. Your highest consideration is going to be your network card and *maybe* your CPU would be next, due to some of the conversion.

Your network is going to be critical and that's going to be more than just at your PC. You'll want a Gigabit switch in your house if you don't have one. Absolutely no wi-fi for anything other than your devices you can hold in your lap or your hand. Any TV that you hook up to this HTPC should have a gig connection setup. You'll probably go with some Roku box for remote TVs and some XBMC setup for the rest of them.

Are you looking to store your Blu-Rays digitally? If so, I have no advice to offer about what flavor of Linux will properly read and store those. Read through the XBMCbuntu documentation for that.

»My Setup

For the rest, read that. This is my current HTPC setup. It focuses on the more difficult part of the solution, the software, rather than the hardware. You don't need a 3D accelerator or anything like that, so your concerns about memory, PSU, motherboard aren't really that big of a deal. If this were a high-end gaming PC, it would be different.

The software setup is important. Depending on your views of "Downloading and streaming Linux ISO's" (wink wink), you can discard some of that, but there's nothing wrong with converting your existing library into a digital library and then using the remainder of my post to stream things out to the other devices in your house.

With my set up, I can not only stream to all the devices in my house, but to any device I own from any location in the world that has 3G or wireless internet access.

I would strongly advise against streaming over 3G unless you:
Turn the bitrate way down (youtube quality)
or
have unlimited data

Otherwise, stick to wi-fi.

The post above is the knowledge of a massive amount of trial and error and all sorts of other headaches that I went through until I got to the point where I'm at. Good luck with your hardware concerns, but really, it won't matter in the end. Just have Gig ethernet and possibly a fat CPU and you'll be fine.

The CPU is for video conversion, converting your library into digital and for on-the-fly conversion of content to your mobile devices that can't stream 8GB worth of Blu-Ray data... although I'm starting to convert those into mobile-versions as well, so the CPU usage gets done in the off-hours and not during a live stream. This could allow me to stream to multiple devices simultaneously.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



Immer
Gentleman
Premium
join:2010-01-07
Evans, GA
kudos:8

From what reading I've done, I don't like the idea of constantly trying to "hack" Blu-Rays to get a Linux player for it. I'm really just looking to share DVDs and possibly family photos. Thanks for the input, I'm currently reading your link.


pandora
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Outland
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reply to Immer

Of all the things you listed, the only change I'd make, assuming you are determined to go with the form factor is to try and find a 3 TB drive on sale for under $100.
--
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman"



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
reply to Immer

said by Immer:

From what reading I've done, I don't like the idea of constantly trying to "hack" Blu-Rays to get a Linux player for it. I'm really just looking to share DVDs and possibly family photos. Thanks for the input, I'm currently reading your link.

Throw Windows on it and then it won't be a big deal. There is plenty of software that will convert your Blu-Ray library into a digital library without a headache. If you're not otherwise a Linux user, the task of setting up an HTPC while simultaneously learning Linux could be a real headache as well... enough to have you scrap the project entirely.

And yeah, find yourself a nice fat 3TB drive. If you get anywhere close to filling that up, you can either get a second one, remove some content or consider an external NAS device ($$$).

I have a 3TB drive with as much content as I can throw it at and I'm no where close to filling that thing up. You really have to go out of your way to throw a massive library at that much space.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK


Immer
Gentleman
Premium
join:2010-01-07
Evans, GA
kudos:8
reply to pandora

Yeah, I was debating going with multiple 1TB drives or just a big drive. As for the linux thing... if I give up on linux I'll just buy a drive and an OEM version of Windows. I definitely won't be scrapping this project. I also have time because of the woodworking that will go into the "case". Thanks, guys.



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

Depending on your stance on certain subjects, there are ways to reduce your software/OS costs, but I can't post details here. You can send me a PM.

I run Win7 on my HTPC.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK


pandora
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reply to Immer

said by Immer:

Yeah, I was debating going with multiple 1TB drives or just a big drive. As for the linux thing... if I give up on linux I'll just buy a drive and an OEM version of Windows. I definitely won't be scrapping this project. I also have time because of the woodworking that will go into the "case". Thanks, guys.

IMO it's a lot easier to get an OEM copy of Windows 7 or join Technet for a year.
--
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman"


El Quintron
Resident Mouth Breather
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join:2008-04-28
Etobicoke, ON
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1 recommendation

reply to Immer

said by Immer:

From what reading I've done, I don't like the idea of constantly trying to "hack" Blu-Rays to get a Linux player for it. I'm really just looking to share DVDs and possibly family photos. Thanks for the input, I'm currently reading your link.

It's a little simpler than that, and I'm no expert at Linux overall, but I'm pretty good with Ubuntu and it's derivatives.

If you choose to stick with Linux and need help, you can either PM me, or post over in the Linux forum for any questions regarding playable formats, which apps to install etc.
--
Support Bacteria -- It's the Only Culture Some People Have


Immer
Gentleman
Premium
join:2010-01-07
Evans, GA
kudos:8
reply to Immer

Okay, so I'm less restricted in space than I had initially thought, which means I'm no longer confined to the miniITX form factor. I can manage a micro-ATX form factor, which will allow me a beefier CPU as recommended. I'm still looking for low-noise, low power consumption, so I'm probably going with the following:
• CPU - AMD A6-3650 APU with AMD Radeon 6530 HD Graphics 2.6GHz.
• MOBO - ASUS F1A75-M PRO R2.0

I've never really cared about noise levels from CPU fans until now... Any advice on finding the most quiet cooling solution for this build?

--
Guild leader of Pride and Ego (US:Nathrezim)
Good times with Great people in the Best way to spend $15/mo.

Intelligence is no substitute for Character.



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

No, I should have probably considered the same. My shit is loud. I don't notice it when I'm using the HTPC, but I do hear it when everything else is off.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



csiemers

join:2000-09-16
Portland, OR
Reviews:
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reply to pandora

said by pandora:

IMO it's a lot easier to get an OEM copy of Windows 7 or join Technet for a year.

Not quite the great deal it used to be. If you don't keep up Technet membership year after year your Keys expire. This is the new rules starting last July.
--
»www.caryontech.com

pandora
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Outland
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Reviews:
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said by csiemers:

said by pandora:

IMO it's a lot easier to get an OEM copy of Windows 7 or join Technet for a year.

Not quite the great deal it used to be. If you don't keep up Technet membership year after year your Keys expire. This is the new rules starting last July.

I have Win 7 keys from almost 3 years ago (10 home, 10 pro and 5 ultimate) do you think they will expire without renewal?
--
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman"


csiemers

join:2000-09-16
Portland, OR
Reviews:
·Comcast
·VOIPO

said by pandora:

said by csiemers:

said by pandora:

IMO it's a lot easier to get an OEM copy of Windows 7 or join Technet for a year.

Not quite the great deal it used to be. If you don't keep up Technet membership year after year your Keys expire. This is the new rules starting last July.

I have Win 7 keys from almost 3 years ago (10 home, 10 pro and 5 ultimate) do you think they will expire without renewal?

No, as long as you don't renew after July 2012 then those are ok. I renewed in June and will no longer renew, but I'll still be able to use the keys that I have (up to their limits).
--
»www.caryontech.com

pandora
Premium
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said by csiemers:

No, as long as you don't renew after July 2012 then those are ok. I renewed in June and will no longer renew, but I'll still be able to use the keys that I have (up to their limits).

Thanks for the information, my renewal date is 2/2013. I guess no renewal. Is there a page to stop automatic renewal?
--
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman"


csiemers

join:2000-09-16
Portland, OR
Reviews:
·Comcast
·VOIPO

said by pandora:

Thanks for the information, my renewal date is 2/2013. I guess no renewal. Is there a page to stop automatic renewal?

I don't know about Auto-Renewals (I never had it), but if there was I'd only presume on your Account page.
--
»www.caryontech.com

pandora
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Outland
kudos:2
Reviews:
·ooma
·Google Voice
·Comcast
·Future Nine Corp..

said by csiemers:

said by pandora:

Thanks for the information, my renewal date is 2/2013. I guess no renewal. Is there a page to stop automatic renewal?

I don't know about Auto-Renewals (I never had it), but if there was I'd only presume on your Account page.

I am amazingly over the current quota's on many products, and will not renew if that means my old licenses will be excluded from this nonsense.

I've been a member for 3 years and this is a bit annoying. Thanks for the heads up, just prior to renewal, I'm resigning from technet.
--
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman"

pandora
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1 recommendation

reply to Immer

Immer,
My apology about the technet stuff. I haven't really followed it much. Looks like technet isn't a good deal anymore. This thread was as useful to me as it probably was to you.
--
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman"



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

1 recommendation

Who needs technet when you have piratebay?



drew
Automatic
Premium
join:2002-07-10
Port Orchard, WA
kudos:6

1 recommendation

reply to Immer

said by Immer:

I've never really cared about noise levels from CPU fans until now... Any advice on finding the most quiet cooling solution for this build?

Water can be really, really quiet.

For whatever it's worth the name of the game with quiet and fans is "bigger is quieter." You have X amount of heat to dissipate. Fan 80mm @ 4000RPM (made up RPM number) is louder than 120mm @ 2000RPM but still (if everything is linear and I don't think it is) moves the same amount of air.
--
flickr | 'Cause I've been waiting, all my life just waiting
For you to shine, shine your light on me


Feralmordius

join:2011-01-18

1 edit
reply to Immer

A self contained CPU water cooling system would be the quietest way to go. They are a lot better now days and require almost no maintenance.

Haven't looked at which ones are good but here is one.

»www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···35181010

EDIT:
After a quick look though, it seems most people suggest Scythe SHURIKEN and not water cooling.
»www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00700···070066DI



Immer
Gentleman
Premium
join:2010-01-07
Evans, GA
kudos:8

1 edit

I have heard great things about the Scythe Shuriken... might have to finally give it a go. Thanks!

edit: but it would also be cool to try out that Corsair H50 cooler. hmmm....


n_w95482
Premium
join:2005-08-03
Ukiah, CA
reply to Immer

I'm using an A8-3870K and the same motherboard for my HTPC, with a Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme for the CPU heatsink. The whole system is nearly silent and runs very cool.
--
KI6RIT


pandora
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reply to Immer

I've been setting up a slightly more elaborate PC, one that will serve as an HTPC, but also a home automation controller, home alarm interface, answering machine, Comcast DVR (via a Silicon Dust device) and a DVR for security cameras.

The boot device is an old Kingston 128 GB SSD drive. Mass storage is to a mechanical 3 TB drive. The case is a 1U rack mount.

Motherboard is an Asus supporting an I7 3770K with 16 GB of RAM.

I've been testing it a bit. Today I overclocked the GPU a bit, and underclocked the CPU. With slightly higher voltage to the GPU.

Then I kicked off World of Warcraft. The result ... frame rates averaging over 40 on relatively low settings and not full 1080 x 1920 resolution. The game wasn't great, but was playable.

Intel has kicked up their integrated GPU's.

Heat was a problem when playing WoW, but isn't for any non-gaming load. Without overclocking the PC will draw a maximum of about 50 watts, averaging about 40 per my Kill a Watt device. With overclocked GPU and playing WoW, power consumption ranged from 80-100 watts.

I don't think this level of GPU is good enough for any serious gamer, but without overclocking it's a fantastic device for surfing, playing videos and what not.

When not playing games, I'm averaging about 35 watts fairly consistently (with no video running, ie video off). 25 watts seems to be the idle floor. I'm going to try underclocking the CPU and GPU cores then lowering voltage to see if I can reliably run the unit without video at about 25 watts. If so, it'll be a capable device and low power.
--
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman"


xrobertcmx
Premium
join:2001-06-18
Sterling, VA

1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to Immer

I tried using the E-350, it worked really well as a stand alone media player, but did not handle live TV. I ended up moving to an A4-3400 which came in at about the same price when couple with a mATX motherboard.

I ended up going with Windows 7 for the HTPC's but keep Ubuntu on a server in the basement. While AMD has made great strides with their linux driver, hardware acceleration for media playback still seemed lacking. I couldn't get smooth HD video playback in either OpenSuSE or Kubuntu even with the proprietary driver.

All of our DVD's and Blu Ray's are ripped to .mp4 or .mkv and are kept on the server. This is done using AnyDVD and Handbrake on my x6 and dumped via samba to the shares on the server. Handbrake shuts the machine down when finished so I generally just leave that running at night. I upgraded the server to an A0-5700 which is 65W and I'm thinking I will start ripping on it. Run AnyDVD to strip the movie from the disk, transfer to server, rip there.

I have 5TB in the server, but so far haven't filled a 2TB, which is kept backed up to an external.

Plex media server runs under ubuntu and the media player runs well on Windows. Plex is based on XBMC and automatically downloads all the information for the movies. Currently it should still be free.

It integrates well with Windows Media Center which we needed for the HD Home Run Prime.

At some point I want to get my hands on a low end Nvidea card to try out Myth TV again.

--
I voted for Snoopy!