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Old May 3, 2010, 02:44 PM
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Default Several noob questions

Hi everybody,

Just spent the last few hours trawling through here trying to figure out exactly what direction I need to be taking. Any answers you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Please bare in mind, I'm not a tech guy, I'm a cabinet maker, but I really want a nice htpc for when I finally get my basement finished.

I intend to have a couple of 1 or 2tb harddrives that are NAS. I have spent the last several weeks ripping all of my existing dvd's to h.264 mkv files (low res for ipod touch and normal for tv).

Here goes:

Requirements:

Windows 7 machine capable of playing bluray discs. Smaller design to compliment entertainment unit. I want windows 7 because I don't know enough about software to get into linux (even though I seem to think people are saying its more stable)

Questions:

32 bit or 64 bit windows? How much of a difference will I see in performance and how much extra would I need to spend on hardware to run them?

I've heard that on board graphics aren't up to much when it comes to hdmi 1080p output. Is this really true? The mini itx mobo (gigabyte something) that I was looking at has hdmi out on the back. If I was to get an extra graphics card, do I have to use the hdmi output on that card? Or will the onboard hdmi output be upgraded?

If I am getting a seperate graphics card, can I get a cheaper mobo that doesn't have hdmi out on it?

Do I need to overclock? I hope not because I can't really find an explanation of what that actually is that I can understand.

I think (from my trawling) that using the cat5 versions of hard drives through my router will be faster. I am hoping to have them in the office area of my basement to keep the look as clean as possible at my tv. Is it true that they are faster? and can I access them from both a mac (old powermac G5 os10.4) and my new computer?

Whats all this hubbub about 3D? Should I take that into consideration when I look at mobo/ graphics card/ processor combos? I don't want to have to rebuild this thing every year to keep up, but when I upgrade my tv (probably for christmas) will I kick myself for not doing 3D now?

I've seen something about a 230 not supporting 10.1 but a 330 will. Whats the 10.1 all about?

Again, sorry for all the newbie idiot questions, but I have to start somewhere. I looked (briefly) for a faq or noob section, but couldn't see anything.

Just putting it out there that if anyone in the Guelph K/W area who knows their stuff wants to swap woodworking skills for tech skills, I'm open to that!

Len.
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Old May 3, 2010, 04:55 PM
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I'm not an expert, we do have some experts around here though, but I'll do my best to answer a few of those.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuelphLen View Post
32 bit or 64 bit windows? How much of a difference will I see in performance and how much extra would I need to spend on hardware to run them?
I'd go W7 x64 just to be up to date. Not sure there's any performance difference to be had either way though. You don't need a lot of processing power at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuelphLen View Post
I've heard that on board graphics aren't up to much when it comes to hdmi 1080p output. Is this really true? The mini itx mobo (gigabyte something) that I was looking at has hdmi out on the back. If I was to get an extra graphics card, do I have to use the hdmi output on that card? Or will the onboard hdmi output be upgraded?

If I am getting a seperate graphics card, can I get a cheaper mobo that doesn't have hdmi out on it?
If you get a separate vid card you will use it's HDMI out and disable the onboard video.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuelphLen View Post
Do I need to overclock? I hope not because I can't really find an explanation of what that actually is that I can understand.
No, you don't need to overclock.
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Old May 3, 2010, 05:22 PM
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There are Linux distributions out there specifically made for building htpc's, which should make it easier and free. But if you're not ready to take the plunge stick with Windows. 32bit/64bit shouldn't be all that different in terms of HD playback performance, but I could be wrong. Nothing wrong with going 64bit though.

Most of the newer integrated graphics will be good enough for hd playback, so there shouldn't be a need for a graphics card assuming you aren't reusing an old motherboard. H55, ION, AMD/ATI 4200+ will be good enough.

Most of these will be on boards with 4+ SATA ports, so you should be able to just put 3x 2tb drives and a Blueray. If ~6tb is enough for you, forget about network storage for the time being, the bottleneck is the hard drives themselves, not the cables.

Overclocking typically voids warranties and is really just for enthusiasts who want to squeeze out every bit of performance they can get from their hardware.

3D is still a bit of a gimmick atm. But since you're building an htpc, just make sure you have a spare pci-e16x lot and a 3d capable tv if you want to be able to do that later on.

I have no idea what you mean by this 230/330/10.1 business, atom 330?
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Old May 3, 2010, 06:57 PM
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Not an expert either.

For HTPC I stick with 32bit OS with 2GB ram to lower cost and spend more money on a decent TV and or soundcard/sound system.

I do not know much about nvidia chipsets but I do know that all RS780 and later AMD chipsets will be able to do full MPEG-2, VC-1, AVC. For Intel I think anything G45/Q43? will be able to do the same. And most of these chipsets comes with HDMI out, so there is no need to spend more money on an add on.

Overclock? that depends what CPU you buy. And if overclock would be needed to be able to play 1080p or not. But with DXVA enable even a single core can play 1080P with ease.

I do not know much about storage and networking.

No clue about this 3D either.

As for DX10.1, I only know that having DX10.1 allow the use of DXVA on Flash video codec.
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Old May 5, 2010, 07:44 AM
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Everyone had to start from somewhere, right?

Quote:
32 bit or 64 bit windows? How much of a difference will I see in performance and how much extra would I need to spend on hardware to run them?
Performance wise you won't see that much of a difference. 64bit is faster compared to 32bit. The improvement will be there, but hard to notice. The most important thing about 64bit is that it can support more than 4GB's of RAM, where 32bit stops at 4GB.
You could get 4GB's of RAM, to run smoother. With 2GB on Windows 7 on idle it already reaches 40% usage. More than 40% usage of RAM on idle is not recommended.

You won't need to spend anything more on hardware to run 64bit. All the modern CPU's already support that.

Quote:
I've heard that on board graphics aren't up to much when it comes to hdmi 1080p output. Is this really true? The mini itx mobo (gigabyte something) that I was looking at has hdmi out on the back. If I was to get an extra graphics card, do I have to use the hdmi output on that card? Or will the onboard hdmi output be upgraded?
Well that has changed since the introduction of Core i3 processors with integrated GPU's. There is nothing to left wish for really. Improved software, they run cooler, quieter and more energy efficient.

Intel Core i3 530 is a good choice.

Quote:
Whats all this hubbub about 3D? Should I take that into consideration when I look at mobo/ graphics card/ processor combos? I don't want to have to rebuild this thing every year to keep up, but when I upgrade my tv (probably for christmas) will I kick myself for not doing 3D now?
There is no world shaking changes on 3D technique. All that is that a new image is put right next to the other one. As far as the hardware goes you don't need to change anything. All you need is a software that can "understand" those signals and pass them to the TV.

I'm not sure if TV's have be capable of understanding these "signals", but to my logical thinking they don't.
Correct me if I'm wrong though. I would like to know that for sure as well

Quote:
Do I need to overclock? I hope not because I can't really find an explanation of what that actually is that I can understand.
No overclocking is needed, since your most likely to get a new cpu, that can run everything smooth out of the box. I wouldn't even advice you to get an old CPU.

Some of the other questions don't have to be answered if you get a Core i3. Or unless you want to learn all about it.

Hope this clears things a bit. Good luck on your further learning :D
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