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BrooklynJew September 9, 2011 03:00 AM

HTPC Build on a Budget
Hi Guys, Awesome forum loaded with lots of great tips and suggestions. I'm close to purchasing the pieces to the puzzle and thought I could use a little input, help, advice, etc.

Here goes...

I'm building an HTPC around a Ceton InfiniTV 4 using Windows 7's Media Center, I'd have it running pretty much 24/7 in a dual display setup, WMC will need to be set to output in 1080p via HDMI on the flat screen for TV and other media, while web surfing and some light gaming (LofL) on the main display connecting via VGA or DVI input (really dependent on which video card I purchase). I'd also be using 2 xbox 360s as Media Extenders.

I'm going to canabalize parts from other PCs so that I can keep costs relatively low while trying to get the best bang for my buck. I have a fairly new Thermaltake TR2 430W power supply on hand but if need be I can buy a better option.

The pieces I'm looking to upgrade are:

Video Card
Power Supply?
BluRay Drive? (if within budget, could go with DVD Burner from spare parts if not)
Ceton CableCARD tuner card.

I'd love to get an SSD as a boot drive into this bad boy as well but maybe later on down the road when prices come down.

I'm also adding an OTA HDTV PCI tuner card from a prior build as well into this build, the idea here is I can give this tuner priority over the cableCARD tuner for local un-encrypted QAM channels when recording in WMC.

Looking to spend around $800 USD but might go higher if I need to.
Please tell me your recommendations.

Thanks in advance for your input guys =)

Andy September 9, 2011 04:23 AM

Off the top of my head ... something like this.
  • Intel Core i5 2500K
  • Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H
  • Any 4Gb kit. RAM these days is dirt cheap.
  • 6850 if you're an ATI fan (or I guess it's AMD now) Or a similarly priced 550 for nVidia
  • 650W Corsair PSU
  • 250Gb Momentus XT Hybrid drive if a SSD is out of your reach. I use these all the time for HTPC's.

This should put you around the $700 mark if you price match everything. I have no knowledge about tuner cards so hopefully someone else can chime in on that. This is too much power for just an HTPC but you mentioned some gaming so the quad should help out there.

Any reason you are using WMC? I can't stand it ... the lack of customization and IMO ugly interface. Personally I use XBMC. It can be customized ... well endlessly and can look awesome. Would run smooth as butter on the above system. It definitely has a bit of a learning curve though.

What does everyone think? I haven't build a HTPC for six months now so I may be off with the current gen of parts. I've got two budget builds coming up for family members in the next two months so i'm interested in hearing alternatives.

BrooklynJew September 10, 2011 12:57 PM

Thanks a ton Andy, well the reason for going with WMC is because it is a requirement of the tuner card and seems like a simple solution. I have no experience with the current XBMC, only the version that was installed on modded xbox 1s and that wasn't too difficult to customize, then again I'm sure it's progressed since. If there is linux support for the Ceton tuner card I'd consider that as it would surely be cost effective.

The average price on the Ceton tuner card is around $300 usd, so that would leave me with about 500-600 to buy parts, including win 7 os. Beginning to wonder if I can get this done on this budget. Comparable AMD CPUs tend to be less expensive, maybe I'll need to go that route to make it happen. Might have to wait and see if some lowered pricing occurs after Bulldozer ships.

Any thoughts on the Thermaltake power supply on hand?

BrooklynJew September 12, 2011 01:49 PM

I've managed to piece it together at just around $750, I'll move this topic to a new thread in the "New Build" section.

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