Budget HTPC Help

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Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Budget HTPC Help

I am currently in the process of building a budget HTPC, I will be using it for recording TV shows and watching movies. I have some components which may or may not be useful. I am looking to spend around $600 and the following components:

Nvidia 7600 GT
Silverstone 500W PSU
Western Digital 120GB SATA HD

If I use the 7600GT, I will have to change the fan/heatsink, since it is noisier than anything. I also plan to make this a silent PC or a overclocked PC, thus I will need a good CPU heatsink.

So far I have been planning to purchase the following for the build:

AMD 3600 X2 Brisbane & G.Skill PC-6400 2x1GB - $134
Antec NSK2400 MATX Case - $90
BIOSTAR TForce TF7025-M2 ($70)
Hauppauge WinTV-PVR 500 MCE - $140
Seagate 320GB SATA HDD - $75
LG 18x DVD-RW - $32
ZALMAN Copper 120mm Cooling Fan - $40
ZEROtherm GX700 VGA Cooler - $17

The total cost is either $598.
Now is there anything that I am missing?

I was thinking about upgrading to a 500GB HDD, possibly the  Seagate Baracuda 500GB, which would bring my cost to $623. Is there anything else that I need instead of extra storage?

I would also like a decent remote for controlling the system, I have heard people use Wireless Xbox 360 controllers, is this a good idea?

What will I need as far as software? Windows MCE, SageTV, etc.

I am open to suggestions, especially you guys are much more experienced than me.
Thanks

EDIT: Oops did my math wrong!

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Joined: 6 Aug 2006

Few questions.
1. Standard Def DVDs or Next gen DVD?
2. Are you ripping DVDs to your hard drive?
3. Cable, Sat or OTA or other standard for content?

Comments
4. I would suggest a different cap card, the new ones have quite good quality. Take a look at our latest cap card review.
5. I am a big fan of the Zalman VF series VGA coolers.
6. I would suggest 500 GB myself and use the 120 for OS
7. Silverstone should do you fine.. IF you are looking for a replacement check out seasonic or Zalman.
8. XP MCE and Vista MCE, Sage, BTV all will work well as a PVR setup. BTV does not play DVDs. I personally like both and am using Sage right now on my test machine to record shows while I plan my build.

Bout all I have for that Smile.

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Joined: 22 Jun 2007

Few answers.
1. Standard Def DVDs or Next gen DVD?
Current gen until I can afford $200 Xbox 360 HD drive or equivalent, but I might just wait to see who wins the format war, if anyone does.
2. Are you ripping DVDs to your hard drive?
As of right now I do not have any plans to. If I did, then I would probably upgrade my HDD.
3. Cable, Sat or OTA or other standard for content?
Cable

Responses
4. I would suggest a different cap card, the new ones have quite good quality. Take a look at our latest cap card review.
That M780 is looking better, is the retail worth it or should I just buy the whitebox?
5. I am a big fan of the Zalman VF series VGA coolers.
Sounds good, I am just going to get the Aluminum zalman since this is just to eliminate noise and not for OCing
6. I would suggest 500 GB myself and use the 120 for OS
I agree, especially since I only have 2 bays
7. Silverstone should do you fine.. IF you are looking for a replacement check out seasonic or Zalman.
I had the Silverstone on my pc before and it is plenty quiet.
8. XP MCE and Vista MCE, Sage, BTV all will work well as a PVR setup. BTV does not play DVDs. I personally like both and am using Sage right now on my test machine to record shows while I plan my build.
I can get Vista Ultimate for $34 from my school, so I guess I will do that.

New cost is $613 + OS (Vista Ultimate)

Any suggestions for remote? I was thinking about a Harmony 520, 550, or the XBOX 360 version, suggestions?

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Joined: 2 Oct 2006

If you're using Vista's Media Center, you'll need a Media Center compatible Remote.  If you have a non-MS remote in mind, just buy the M780 Whitebox.  Get PCAlchemy's M780 package deal if you want to pick up an MS Media Center Remote & transceiver with the tuner...

Dude...  How old IS this FusionHDTV3 ???

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Joined: 22 Jun 2007

How good is the quality of the MS remotes? If I went with a non-MS remote, like a Harmony, what would I need in addition to get the remote to work?

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Joined: 2 Oct 2006

Well....  I own three.  99% of the time, they work well.  They can get quirky and it used to drive me crazy at times until I found the simple solution.  Once in a great while the MS Media Center Remote gets funky (buttons stop responding, some work, some don't, etc., etc. ) and needs a reset.  Simple to do - leave the battery out for a period of time OR remove the batteries, "short" the battery connectors and it gets reset and it's ready to behave again immediately.

Be aware that the MS Remote is ONLY for Windows ( and for all practicle purposes, Media Center... )  The only other things it may do:  You may be able to program the "TV On/Off" button to power on/off your television.  You might be able to get the "Volume Control" key to work with your receiver - I can't...

That being said, it's strong point is being extremely simple to use, requires no setup (except to program the TV On/Off...), and it controls every aspect of Media Center.  I don't need anything else and the WAF was extremely high for the MS Remote.  I've never used a Harmony.

Dude...  How old IS this FusionHDTV3 ???

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Joined: 21 Jun 2007

gearhead364 wrote:

How good is the quality of the MS remotes? If I went with a non-MS remote, like a Harmony, what would I need in addition to get the remote to work?

You'd need an IR unit attached to your rig and that is about all. I currently have a Harmony 880 and I love it. It works great with my current system and Xbox 360 acting as an extender.

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Joined: 22 Jun 2007

havalon wrote:

You'd need an IR unit attached to your rig and that is about all. I currently have a Harmony 880 and I love it. It works great with my current system and Xbox 360 acting as an extender.

I have recently been thinking about just upgrading my desktop and using my 360 for an extender, which would save me a lot of money. How has the 360 been as an extender?

Mike Garcen's picture
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Joined: 1 Oct 2006

um....considering it's your only option for MCE Extenders right now, and judging that my ONLY basis for comparison was the HORRIBLE V1 extenders....then it works great. Although, it's pretty darned noisy.

If you can wait, there'll be some new extender-only devices coming out later this year that should *cringe* be quieter.

Mike Garcen (shadymg) MissingRemote Editor-in-Chief Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP (formerly Media Center MVP) Twitter @mikegarcen MissingRemote on Facebook

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Joined: 22 Jun 2007

shadymg wrote:

um....considering it's your only option for MCE Extenders right now, and judging that my ONLY basis for comparison was the HORRIBLE V1 extenders....then it works great. Although, it's pretty darned noisy.

If you can wait, there'll be some new extender-only devices coming out later this year that should *cringe* be quieter.

I am not too worried about the sound level of the 360, I am having troubles with the one I have now, so I might turn it in for a new one that has the extra heatsink. So other than the sound, you had a good experience?

Mike Garcen's picture
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Joined: 1 Oct 2006

yeah, as far as being an extender it's much peppier than my V1 extender (and far more reliable as well). Now, it still takes way longer to startup than I'd prefer, and there's some lags...and having to use Transcode360 is annoying...but hey, it's a vast improvement over V1.

Just don't go wireless, wired is definitely the way to go. i tried wireless & wanted to kill myself. after going wired it's a MUCH more pleasant experience.

Mike Garcen (shadymg) MissingRemote Editor-in-Chief Windows Entertainment and Connected Home MVP (formerly Media Center MVP) Twitter @mikegarcen MissingRemote on Facebook

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