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Building a Home Theater PC is often times a much better option for enabling your entertainment center for various forms of digital media playback capability.  Rather than stepping up to additional discrete components, like a stand-alone Blu-ray, DVD or CD player, why not really infuse your living room entertainment center with real intelligence and multimedia muscle and build an HTPC (Home Theater PC)?  In this video, we'll give you some suggestions on a few component selection options for building an HTPC, as well as a high-level overview of its assembly and a few key design points to look out for.



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rapid1 replied on Tue, Mar 16 2010 1:26 PM

That's a very nice guide to building an HTPC Dave. I have been thinking about doing this so I appreciate the walk through and considerations overlook.

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That's some beautiful cabling there Dave.

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Dave_HH replied on Tue, Mar 16 2010 2:43 PM

gibbersome:

That's some beautiful cabling there Dave.

 

Hahah... it's actually pretty messy compared to what Marco can do!

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I really like the flat case the shuttle-esque case was cool, but the other one was great. 

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Nice. I have been debating on doing something for awhile now. Would be cool if you guys could of hit on the software end of things to kinda show some of the options available.

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Nicely done! I may have missed it, but what OS did you use? Also, is there an IR provision available so the units can be remotely controlled? Cheers!

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Dave_HH replied on Tue, Mar 16 2010 9:43 PM

Thanks, Gator.

We used Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit and yes, there are a bunch of different Windows Media Center remotes on the market these days. Just plug in a USB wireless dongle from one of these kits and you can control Media Center and some basic Windows functions from the comfort of your couch. Sorry we didn't cover that! There is only so much you can squeeze into these videos and keep it reasonably concise. :)

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Thanks again!

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Very nice guide you put together, Davo.  Was that a snapshot of your home theater system at the beginning?

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Well, this makes sense. If a component decides to fail you aren't stuck with buying a whole new system (like a brand new DVD player). You can just replace the drives. 

Nice post!

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slugbug replied on Thu, Mar 18 2010 12:21 AM

Not much space for wire management in those HTPC cases. I use an older Thermaltake Tenor with mine and it's not pretty on in the inside.

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Hey Dave, why no All-in-Wonder card or tuner card?  That would be something I would want in any HTPC.

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dizowned replied on Thu, Mar 18 2010 8:03 AM

Nice guide there, I was going to do one of these but my entertainment center is kind of full with gaming consoles, so I opted for just a media server instead. I picked up one of those ACER boxes off newegg just cuz I was lazy, aside from not really being able to customize it they do what they advertise and make a great addition to your entertainment center. But at any rate I might try to do one of these if I get some spare cash just cuz that case is too sexy :) (Not the shuttle one the other one).

Dave I did have one question though, did you have to connect the aux audio cable (spdif, or whatever it uses??) to the video cards to enable sound through the HDMI?

It's not custom unless your the only one who can boot it.

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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Mar 18 2010 9:05 AM

dizowned:

Dave I did have one question though, did you have to connect the aux audio cable (spdif, or whatever it uses??) to the video cards to enable sound through the HDMI?

Hey Diz,  Thanks for checking out the guide.  And actually, no.  That's the beauty of HDMI.  The audio signals with full surround sound, are all piped over the HDMI connection.   In fact, we connected to a stereo amplifier for the demo and it processed the audio and passed on the video to the Plasma TV.   What's even better is that an HDMI driven desktop is perfectly crystal clear, with fonts sharp, over HDMI.  This is something you couldn't say and still can't in many situations with other PC-to-TV connections.

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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Mar 18 2010 9:10 AM

InfinityzeN:

Hey Dave, why no All-in-Wonder card or tuner card?  That would be something I would want in any HTPC.

 

So true InfinityzeN!  The fact of the matter is, we didn't have time in the video to cover it.  Youtube limits you to 10 minutes max and we always try to hit that so we can push the content to the large YT community out there.  You're right though.  That should have been something covered and I would have opted for a discrete tuner card in this build.

 

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la_guy_10 replied on Thu, Mar 18 2010 10:21 AM

Hey thanks Dave for posting this how to guide, I was thinking one day down the road of building one, and now I know the procedure. I guess these are a self made DVR / DVD or Blueray / PC pop a TV tuner card in it and bam, you have a complete multimedia setup.

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So we figure another $100 or so to cover that.  That was the only fault I found, the rest of the build is great.

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slugbug replied on Fri, Mar 19 2010 1:07 PM

Hah, I didn't even notice that a TV tuner card was missing Smile

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So what tuner card would compliment this setup the best?

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Dave_HH replied on Fri, Mar 19 2010 6:07 PM

I like Hauppauge cards personally.  Something like this:  http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hvr2250.html

Note that it's PCI Express X1 to drop in one of the spare slots.

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Dave, I read the question about the audio over the card as to an internal spdif cable that needs to be connected to the video card. I know some that it's required is it not to get the sound to travel over the HDMI? The 1 I remember with the card my buddy used required a tiny 3 pin cable that connected it.

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Dave_HH replied on Fri, Mar 19 2010 9:40 PM

nelsoncp21:

Dave, I read the question about the audio over the card as to an internal spdif cable that needs to be connected to the video card. I know some that it's required is it not to get the sound to travel over the HDMI? The 1 I remember with the card my buddy used required a tiny 3 pin cable that connected it.

Hey Nelson,

There are some cards that need a cable for the audio pass through, while others don't.  The new generation of ATI cards we used didn't need this.  Surround sound audio was present over HMDI exclusively.

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This is exactly why I have stopped buying any kind of home theatre equipment!  With a Blu-Ray and optical out within the computer, there is no reason to keep buying every new format that comes out. Even more now that it is all up in the air as to what the next format is going to be. hopefully HD movies will be the next wave that actually lasts for a while.  Even with all the new formats of sound decoders is another reason to keep it simple.
 
If you are good at building computers, It is way cheaper as well. Having to constantly upgrade DVD players with the latest Progressive, upconverting, HDMI, Etc...can be very daunting. I am also a big fan of these Home Theatre PC cases. some of them look really cool and have lots of space that allows you to build an all encompassing system for a variety of uses.
 
Although I can say, I do miss my Laserdiscs. DVD's have way better pictures on a single side with all sound formats available. But LD's were much cooler sitting on the self, just like collecting records.
 
This How-to Gives you a great advantage of where to begin without having to do all the research and stress of building something that might be incompatible with HT.  Think of it this way, if you are a gamer you can build a rocking gaming PC in a case that matches your receiver and play on the big screen :)
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Inspector replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 2:30 PM

Yep animatortom, it does wipe out the research and stress of thinking part Wink. It is a build by HH which is just awsome! :) Why build one that matches :) just plug you own nasty rig in ;) lol

 

also animatortom whats with the yellow highlights??? your html shows

<span class="J-JK9eJ-PJVNOc" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% yellow;">Blu</span>

when normal text background from the menu shows

<span style="background-color: #ffff00;">Test</span>

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Another question regarding this build...can it be used to receive Netflix over the Internet? A DVR perhaps? Am I getting greedy?? Big Smile

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 4:56 PM

gator_grabber:

Another question regarding this build...can it be used to receive Netflix over the Internet? A DVR perhaps? Am I getting greedy?? Big Smile

 

Yes, definitely... Netflix's "watch instantly" option allows for this, as do other services.

 

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sp12 replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 5:15 PM

I thought this was really informative, but I actually decided on a full tower CPU in the room next over with an HDMI running to my receiver. Allowed me to get higher performance/price.


But I have to run to the other room to insert Blurays....

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Dave_HH:
there are a bunch of different Windows Media Center remotes on the market these days. Just plug in a USB wireless dongle from one of these kits and you can control Media Center and some basic Windows functions from the comfort of your couch.

One thing I would like to say in on this topic. If you have a iPod Touch or a iPhone then check out Mobile Air Mouse. http://www.mobileairmouse.com/

I have been using this app for a while. There is a free and payed for version. The free version turns your iPod into a touchpad kinda like a laptop. You can also use the keyboard. The payed for version adds shortcut buttons for browsers and and media players. It also adds a mode like the logitech air mouse were you move the mouse like a wii remote. I have the payed for app and the shortcuts work for VLC and Firefox. I'll test it in Windows 7 Media Center see if it has shortcut buttons.

I have the old ATI Wonder II remote here http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16880100402

I actually prefer the Ipod air mouse though. The way it works is you download the program on your PC then download the app on the iPod/iPhone. It will pick them up over wifi. You do need to have wifi though. It will not work over 3G if you have a iPhone you have to have wifi. 

 

Anyway great app if you are thinking about a HTPC. 

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I know silly aint it?  

I use a different compositor and spell check, since on the initial pass Spell check is not here. So if I copy it over and has words not recognized they are yellow. Plus it was late last night....Sorry? I will try and use highlights only when  necessary  Cool

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Dave_HH replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 4:20 PM

bob_on_the_cob:

Dave_HH:
there are a bunch of different Windows Media Center remotes on the market these days. Just plug in a USB wireless dongle from one of these kits and you can control Media Center and some basic Windows functions from the comfort of your couch.

One thing I would like to say in on this topic. If you have a iPod Touch or a iPhone then check out Mobile Air Mouse. http://www.mobileairmouse.com/

I have been using this app for a while. There is a free and payed for version. The free version turns your iPod into a touchpad kinda like a laptop. You can also use the keyboard. The payed for version adds shortcut buttons for browsers and and media players. It also adds a mode like the logitech air mouse were you move the mouse like a wii remote. I have the payed for app and the shortcuts work for VLC and Firefox. I'll test it in Windows 7 Media Center see if it has shortcut buttons.

I have the old ATI Wonder II remote here http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16880100402

I actually prefer the Ipod air mouse though. The way it works is you download the program on your PC then download the app on the iPod/iPhone. It will pick them up over wifi. You do need to have wifi though. It will not work over 3G if you have a iPhone you have to have wifi. 

 

Anyway great app if you are thinking about a HTPC. 

Great tip!   Thanks Bob!

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I noticed, too, that there was no mention of RAM... am I missing something?  I realize that there is a time constraint, so for the build price, would you mind commenting on the "all - in" cost (with tuner, OS, RAM, etc...)?  Thanks.  I've got my wish list over at Newegg running over $1K and don't want to buy anything that isn't necessary.

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Dave_HH replied on Wed, Mar 31 2010 12:39 PM

Heya Casual,

There was definitely a mention of RAM as we stepped through the parts list in the beginning of the vid. 

Also, if you look here, there is a part by part break down of costs

http://hothardware.com/Articles/Home-Theater-PC-Building--A-HotHardware-HowTo/

add to that a $70 - $120 turner card and you're set.

Thanks

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Mar 31 2010 6:57 PM

Dave_HH:

I like Hauppauge cards personally.  Something like this:  http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hvr2250.html

Note that it's PCI Express X1 to drop in one of the spare slots.

A lot of the Hauppauge variants have good Linux support too - which is what I would want for MythTV.  Great guide - I may actually have to look into building one.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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Thanks Dave, looks like I was missing something.  Typical oversight for me.  Great article and video; much thanks.

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ORan replied on Fri, Nov 5 2010 11:47 AM

Whenever I contemplate building a nice HTPC (read: a micro-ITX that can run real games) I end up with a PSU problem -

Is the Element Q's 250W PSU really enough to support the i5 and the Radeon 5670?

I know each is rated below 70W but did you get to test the system under real stress?

BTW, I read that now there's a 270W version as well.

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rrplay replied on Fri, Feb 18 2011 4:59 AM

Looks like smaller HTPC are going to even more popular this year here is a rather in expensive card from Diamond AIW5000

Bus Type: PCI Express X16 (Graphic Card) and PCI Express X1 (Tuner Card) | Part Number: AIW5000 http://www.diamondmm.com/AIW5000 sell for about 145.00 probably less and several to choose from as well.

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Dave that was a good video something I,ll definatly refer back to! I just couple mnor questions if you would had more allowable time for the video would you have gone for an all in one setup on the tuner card and ant particular reason you did not use an AMD platform as one of the builds! Im going to add a AIW 5000 to an existing computer I,ve I have just curious why you used exclucise Intel ! Also Im looking forward to checking out the AIW 5000 always wanted an AIW way back when but they are marked improvements from then and now!

 

 

 

 

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Feb 27 2011 10:06 AM

amdcrankitup:

Dave that was a good video something I,ll definatly refer back to! I just couple mnor questions if you would had more allowable time for the video would you have gone for an all in one setup on the tuner card and ant particular reason you did not use an AMD platform as one of the builds! Im going to add a AIW 5000 to an existing computer I,ve I have just curious why you used exclucise Intel ! Also Im looking forward to checking out the AIW 5000 always wanted an AIW way back when but they are marked improvements from then and now!

Heya amdcrankitup,This video is pretty dated now but if I were to do it again, actually I'd probably go with a new AMD Zacate / Brazos system and a dedicated tuner card.  The other way to go for a bunch more horsepower if you need it, would be Intel SandyBridge and a dedicated tuner card.  We have a new HTPC build coming with Mat Miranda on our team that will look at SB solutions.  Marco just looked at some AMD base solutions here: http://hothardware.com/Reviews/AMD-Fusion-Hits-Retail-Zotac-and-Gigabyte-E350s-Tested/

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I was curious to ask because I wasnt sure at the time of the video if there were more available Intel solutions offered for a HTPC setup than AMD! Thats why I asked! Bit I will be looking for this upcoming (HTPC build coming with Mat Miranda on our team that will look at SB solutions)!

 

 

 

 

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