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Mr. Gruntsworthy October 12, 2008 02:04 PM

Home Theatre PC build
Now that i'm done building my new gaming/internet/WTF ever rig, I was thinking of taking my current machine and chopping it up into a cheap but effective Home Theatre PC.

The build you see probably wont change much unless something is lacking (ie. psu or gfx card).

Here is what the home theatre pc would look like (just a rough preselection of parts):
Italicized parts are leftover parts being put into the new system.

Case: Antec Minuet 350 mATX Black Case (350W)
OS: Windows XP SP3
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E4600 @ 2.4GHz, 800MHz FSB
HSF: Stock Intel cooler, some higher grade thermal paste
Motherboard: Intel DG35EC LGA775 DDR2 8GB PCI-E MB
Power Supply: Undecided; must be Micro-ATX
Graphics Card: Asus EAH3650 SilentMagic 512mb DDR2 PCIE
Memory: 3GB total DDR2 @ 667MHz
Hard Drives: 1 x 80GB IDE Western Digital (OS, apps, local temp storage)
Optical Drives: LG IDE DVD-RW combo drive
TV TUNER: Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1600 MCE Kit

>> I don't need the system to be Media Centre Edition capable; for most things (except the tv tuner remote) i'll use a wireless keyboard and mouse to access things.

>> The TV is a decent 27" Standard Definition TV, the output will be S-video to Component output (RGB cables). I only need the HDCP compliancy if a) I want to play HD movies on my machine and/or b) I finally do get an HD TV. The resolution will be low, but i can deal with it.

>> The hard drive doesn't need to be very big; actual media content will be stored on a seperate computer, a File Server i'm building; connected via Ethernet through a (small) home network with decent transfer rates. Though if necessary I will store files in use on the HDD temporarily.

>> Noise isn't too big of a problem, as long as the thing doesn't fall outside of reasonable ambience level (no louder than an Xbox 360 minus game in tray).

One question remains: What is the absolute minimum wattage this PSU till take? I shall try and find a good MATX PSU for this system.

information, commentary, etc much appreciated! If I think of anything else i'll edit it in.

sswilson October 12, 2008 02:08 PM

Before you bother starting this project, plug your current gaming rig into the svideo of the TV and start from there. :)

PC over S-Video is pretty poor quality (especially if you need to be able to read any of the text).

yamawho October 12, 2008 02:10 PM


Originally Posted by sswilson (Post 99314)
Before you bother starting this project, plug your current gaming rig into the svideo of the TV and start from there. :)

PC over S-Video is pretty poor quality (especially if you need to be able to read any of the text).

I agree, S-video sucks big time ... abort the mission :ph34r:

JD October 12, 2008 04:59 PM

Personally I'd go with an AMD setup with a motherboard using the 780G chipset. Cheap and powerful with decent integrated graphics along with HDMI output and all.

CMetaphor October 12, 2008 06:19 PM


Originally Posted by Mr. Gruntsworthy (Post 99311)

1) Would this rig get away with the 350W PSU that comes with the case?

In short, yes it would. But the power supply will be running close to maximum for most of it's life, and may fail on you because of that. I would suggest buying a better one.

Originally Posted by Mr. Gruntsworthy (Post 99311)
2) I know it's aging, but the Radeon X1650 pro i have lying around seems like it would go well with this HTPC (after I clean it out and fix it up). Is the X1650 pro HD compliant? (ie, can I play blu-ray movies with no problem?)

No, the X1xxx series is not fully HD compliant in that it does not support onboard decoding of HD content. You'll need an X2xxx series or HD3xxx series (or newer) to get that. The 3600-series card you were looking at would do that well.

Originally Posted by Mr. Gruntsworthy (Post 99311)
3) Will the TV tuner work with the system okay? the system itself is not Media Centre edition, but that doesn't matter to me. I just need to make sure it'll work with the system.

... Yup :thumb:

Any other questions?

Mr. Gruntsworthy October 15, 2008 05:58 AM

The build has been somewhat finalized. What kind of PSU would you reccommend for the system? It has to be microATX.

misterd October 15, 2008 07:58 AM

If you're not DEAD set on that particular case I would change it to the Antec Fusion Remote?? I think that's what they renamed the Fusion Black 430 to. Or the NSK2480 NCIX.com - Buy Antec NSK2480 380W M-ATX Desktop Case (BLACK/SILVER) - 761345-92480-1 (NSK2480) M-ATX In Canada. It comes with a basic PSU and it's a much bigger case to work with, I have the Fusion black (maybe slightly updated) and am VERY happy with it.

kingnubian October 15, 2008 08:16 AM

I've been looking at your proposed build & have a few comments, having an HTPC myself.

1) Instead of the HD3650 listed I would seriously consider the newer HD4550 unless of course you already have the 3650 in hand. These newer cards now support 8 Channel LPCM over HDMI which the 3xxx series did not.

2) Much has been said about how much power supply is needed without looking at the Quality of the unit first . Given the specs of your proposed system a quality 300W PS would do great. Anandtech has an excellent article, and a Must Read Imho, on how much power supply do you really need. AnandTech: Debunking Power Supply Myths
Lots of "Myths" are debunked in this article and it mirrors my own experiences with my systems including my HTPC.

I do not believe that a quality 300W supply will run anywhere close to its max specs given your proposed component list, in particular given the systems' intended use & since you are not overclocking.

From the article all figures taken at load: Chipset P35(37W) + CPU E4500(36W) + HD3650(32W) + Misc(50W) = 155W (Full Load!)

I have been very generous overestimating the Misc power requirements (Includes Hard Drive, optical drives, ect.) which would probably never reach even close to 50W at any load. In everyday use you systems load averages will be much lower than the full load figures I've listed above.

An interesting observation is that most 300-400w PS's don't even reach thier max efficiency untill the 125-200W range.

Here are my HTPC specs for comparison:

Asus P5L-MX Motherboard (S775)
Intel E4300 Oc'd to 3ghz
2gig Adata DDR2 800Mhz
HIS HD3450 (ATI) Video Card
Samsung F1 750gig Hard Drive
Inwin Mt. Jade Micro ATX Case with 300W PS

I have no issues whatsoever with this setup.

Enjoy your HTPC

CMetaphor October 15, 2008 08:20 AM

System current draw during post especially can go far above the Full Load power requirements for certain components. Therefore, If the system at full load uses 150W then during post a spike might reach as high as 250W or more. This is why I suggested getting a slightly higher power supply, one with Active PFC would help as well.

MpG October 15, 2008 08:43 AM

Yeah, you get a startup spike at power-up, but since you'll never see the other components (CPU/Video) maxed out during this time, it's not a serious issue. And even if the spike approaches the PSU's max, it's only temporary, and not going to impact the life expectancy of a good PSU ('good' being the operative word, of course).

And there's no way this system is going to pull much power. Seriously, I can't pull over 400W from the wall with my overclocked Q6600/8800GTS 640 combo. For this HTPC, I'm inclined to agree with Kingnubian's power assessment. Something in the 200-250W range will help keep the PSU working in the better parts of its efficiency curve.

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