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-   -   New to HTPC -> Questions! (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/htpc-systems-software/41370-new-htpc-questions.html)

Myst88 March 6, 2011 04:35 PM

New to HTPC -> Questions!
So I have a bunch of older PC's and parts laying around the house collecting dust and started thinking to myself it might be cool to put them to use and make a dedicated HTPC. I've looked through a couple "guides" there's a couple questions that come to mind.

Why would anyone bother building a HTPC when the guides are recommending builds that vary anywhere between 1000 and 1500 bucks worth of parts. That's insane!

What's the point of a TV tuner card? Often times in the suggested builds the most expensive part seems to always be the tuner card usually at anywhere between 300 and 400 bucks. From my understanding this card allows the PC to receive a TV signal so that I can watch my, for example, bell satellite tv and also record anything I watch. Not really seeing the point of blowing that much cash when years back my dad got the tivo version of the satellite box that has 50 hours worth of space and if I remember correctly it only cost 100 dollars over the free non tivo default model.

And lastly I'm wondering if on board graphics are enough to watch 1080p on an older model CPU (honestly have no clue which ones came in the dell pc's my dad bought a year ago), or would I need to buy a graphics card. We have a 37 " tv.

Arinoth March 6, 2011 04:44 PM

It would depend on what the on board graphics chipset is actually. I am using onboard for my own htpc, however it's chipset is an hd4200 which is performing all the work. Certain older onboard chipsets are just basic ones and dont contained a chopped down graphics processor such as mine.

Myst88 March 6, 2011 07:43 PM

Cool good to know. Worst comes to worst I guess I can try to see if it works well with on board graphics and if not just go ahead and buy a video card if not.

JD March 6, 2011 08:13 PM

If you can figure out the hardware you have and list it here, we could make better suggestions.

If it's anything older than Core 2/Phenom-era, then you'll likely need a video card to assist.

kingnubian March 6, 2011 10:59 PM

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.

Myst88 March 8, 2011 03:59 PM

Alright guys I popped open a couple computers and here's what I got:

E2200 Allendale 2.2GHz, Dual Core CPU (LGA 775) with stock heatsink / fan
2x 1 gb no name ram sticks at 667 mhz
This setup is running on a no name mobo that has room for two more ram sticks and what seems to be a 16x PCI lane and two 8x lanes.
200 gb western digital hard drive.
No name 350W PSU.

In a really old gaming rig the only thing worth salvaging was the video card, it's a 5700 LE 256 MB nvidia card with a DVI connection.

If I popped the video card in the above mentioned rig would that be enough to stream 1080p on a 37" TV? I'm gonna try it anyways but i'm hopping so.

Before I decide to go ahead and buy some parts, if any are needed, I wanna test this out and see how well it works. For the time being seeing as storage capactiy would be an issue, I'm just gonna network the PC and use storage from my main computer.

Myst88 March 8, 2011 04:24 PM

Alright we got a problem team. The damn video card isn't fitting in the largest lane. Upon closer inspection the mobo is by foxconn and it's the G333M02 model. According to the spec's it's supposed to have 1 x PCIe x16, 1 x PCIe x1, 2 x PCI.

I noticed the video card's interface looks a little funky and apparently it's a AGP 8X, which I'm gonna go ahead and guess is why it's not fitting. Nvidia GeForce FX 5700 LE AGP 8X 256MB Specification has a picture of pretty much exactly what it looks like.

Any suggestions?

Edit: The mobo's chipset is Intel® G33 + ICH9R if that means anything to anyone but the real problem is that it only has a VGA connection.

biff March 8, 2011 08:00 PM

Pick up a cheap vid card. I have two HTPCs with ATI 4xxx graphics and they work perfectly. I don't know if there is any advantage with a higher card except that AFAIK 5xxx and up can also pass audio over the HDMI. Kingnubian has some links above. Just pay attention to the cooling solution as some cheap vid card coolers can be really noisy.

Aside from that, the rest of the system looks good enough as is.

JD March 8, 2011 08:51 PM

Grab either the HD4350 or HD5450 and you'll be set :thumb:

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