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Old March 6, 2011, 10:59 PM
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kingnubian kingnubian is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2007
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I have been building HTPC's for myself & friends for a while and I have a few observations for you.

1) With respect to a minimum cpu requirement, I have an Intel E5200 (@3Ghz) in my personal build, the video chipset of your motherboard or discreet video card will be of most importance.

2) While HTPC's with "modern" graphics do not need a monster cpu, as most video processing will be done by the GPU, this doesn't mean that the cpu choice can be anything. While the Nvidia Ion & AMD Fusion ITX motherboard Gpu's may be great at video decoding & playback, they are paired with cpu's that on the definite low end with respect to general computing. Also to keep in mind is that there may be one or two videos you may encounter where the GPU may not play a part due for example to how the video was encoded in the first place. The cpu then will do all the grunt work. This happens less & less with modern gpu's but keep that in mind. Also to bear in mind is that one of the advantages of building an HTPC is that you can do more with it, if you want, than just enjoy media.

3) The amount of cash necessary to buy a discreet video card that will be great for an HTPC, 1080P palyback included) is not much at all, many times costing under $60! Unless you are going to play 3D games these are examples of what I mean.
NCIX.com - Buy Powercolor Radeon HD 5450 650MHZ 512MB 1.3GHZ DDR3 HDMI DVI VGA DIRECTX11 PCI-E Video Card - PowerColor - AX5450 512MK3-SH - in Canada
NCIX.com - Buy ASUS GeForce GT 430 700MHZ 1GB 1.6GHZ GDDR3 PCI-E DVI VGA HDMI Low Profile Video Card - ASUS - ENGT430/DI/1GD3(LP) - in Canada
NCIX.com - Buy XFX Radeon HD 5450 650MHZ 512MB 1.0GHZ DDR2 DVI VGA HDMI PCI-E Video Card W/ Low Profile Bracket - XFX - HD545XYNH2 - in Canada

And if you want some more "Juice".
NCIX.com - Buy Powercolor Radeon HD 5670 775MHZ 1GB 1.33GHZ GDDR3 HDMI DVI VGA DIRECTX11 PCI-E Video Card - PowerColor - AX5670 1GBK3-H - in Canada

4) Total HTPC cost is not very much even for a machine that can play back the vast majority of video codecs in clear 1080p. The $1000-$1500 builds are overkill where sometimes the case is the most expensive part on those "Luxury" builds.

5) There are some very capable TV Tuner/Capture cards that won't break the bank.
NCIX.com - Buy Hauppauge WinTV HVR-2250 Media Center Kit Dual TUNER/ ATSC HDTV / QAM Receiver /RADIO / TV / PCIe - HAUPPAUGE - 1213 - in Canada

It would be great to know what parts you have lying around so that this forum can help you get well on your way to HTPC nirvana.
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