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Thread: HTPC Sys Requirements

  1. #1
    ATX Mental Case Dane Bramage's Avatar
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    Default HTPC Sys Requirements

    I am in the planning stages of building an HTPC, but I am unsure of the specs that are needed.

    I have two computers that I can use for this build. One is an older AMD Athalon 2000+ or a slightly better AMD X2 2400+ Dual.

    My problem is that I also want to build a game server. So, my plan is to use the X2 Dual Core for the game server if the 2000+ Athalon is enough of a machine to run the HTPC.

    Another concern is that the mobo for the Athalon is a Soyo Dragon Ultra (AGP), so if PCIe is a must for a good HTPC, then the whole question is moot. Tho, from what I have gathered is that the specs don't seem to be that high end for HTPC.

    So... the question at hand. Does the HTPC really need the dual core processor or does it need the PCIe video card?

    Thanks for helping a newb out.
    Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.
    Kurt Vonnegut - Sirens of Titan

  2. #2

    Default Re: HTPC Sys Requirements

    What OS are you using? I have no idea with Windows, since there is so much bloat - main reason that I went with Linux.

    To answer your main question - no, you don't need either duel core or PCI-e

    Now, the question is, what do you plan to do with it? If you're looking for a lot of HD-TV content (recording/transcoding/playback) then, yes, you'll need a beefier processor.

    I don't really do a lot of that, so here is the single core processor that I have in my backend (which does most of the gruntwork.) Newegg doesn't have this one anymore, but you can get better stuff for what I paid for it (only about $30.) The duel core that you have below should be just peachy.

    Video Card: Yes, my backend has a PCIe card - but that was because it was the more modern option. My frontend (from my worklog) has an AGP card in it (I wanna say ATI Radeon 9200SE, but the "2" might not be the right number.) It has both a standard video out, S-video and DVI...everything that you could need in an HTPC. Main draw-back to them - they're getting harder to find, since they're old.

    I'm sure that you could also track something down on a PCI card as well.

    Again, my experience is with Linux. YMMV with Windows, but here is a wiki for MythTV (the software I use.) It should give you a ball-park of what you need...and you might be surprised at how "low-tech" you can get away with.

    I hope that this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. #3
    ATX Mental Case Dane Bramage's Avatar
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    Default Re: HTPC Sys Requirements

    thanks for the info, crippler.

    i was planning on using Windows MCE, just because it's all already there. i have Vista Ultimate on my main rig, and it has MCE. i played around with it a little and pretty much like the interface.

    not sure what i'm gonna do now. i think i would like to have new hardware for the HTPC. i most certainly want Hi-def, so i think there is gonna have to be some cash laid out for that. i also want to replace my DVR, so two tuners is pretty much required.

    this is going to require some research. thanks for getting the ball rolling.
    Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.
    Kurt Vonnegut - Sirens of Titan

  4. #4

    Default Re: HTPC Sys Requirements

    The bad news with windows is that you are stuck with whatever they give you (little customization) as well as the fact that DRM and broadcast flags are more likely to effect you.

    But the good news is that you are going have very little trouble with equipment compatibility, which frankly can out weight the cons above. I've had to beat my head against the wall with some stuff on my Linux setup.

    For High-def, you are definitely going to want a card with DVI output (Some of the newer ones even have HDMI.) Also, invest in a good sound card. You're going to want at least a 3 Ghz processor (or equivelent) and 2-3 gig of ram. Also, get the biggest hard drive you can afford. HD files are big.

    Another thing to keep in mind: Newegg has a lot of very cheap tuners/capture cards...but beware: Note that, by law, most of those tuners have a note on them that points out that they are analog. The selection of digital ones is still fairly limited - but that's the way you're going to want to go with the change-over coming in the new year.

  5. #5
    Measure once, curse twice nevermind1534's Avatar
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    Default Re: HTPC Sys Requirements

    I was just looking at hardware for one earlier today, and I say get the Hauppauge Personal Video Recorder WinTV-PVR 500 MCE White box PCI Interface. It supports hardware encoding, and has two or three s-video and composite a/v inputs. It would really reduce the load on the cpu for recording video. Plus, you can listen to the radio.

    This is my 400th post

  6. #6

    Default Re: HTPC Sys Requirements

    Hauppauge is a good brand that a lot of people use. Just notice the specs for that model - analog only.

    Congrats on the 400!

  7. #7
    Measure once, curse twice nevermind1534's Avatar
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    Default Re: HTPC Sys Requirements

    oh, I didn't notice that. I guess get the best model with a digital QAM tuner. Looks like it's this one.

  8. #8

    Default Re: HTPC Sys Requirements

    Quote Originally Posted by nevermind1534 View Post
    oh, I didn't notice that. I guess get the best model with a digital QAM tuner. Looks like it's this one.

    Like I said...the selection on newegg right now is fairly slim for digital...Newegg is an overstock/overrun clearance site, and everyone is trying to get rid of their old analog stuff right now. I want to add a second tuner to my back end, but I'm holding off until after the change-over in hopes that prices drop pn digital.

  9. #9
    Measure once, curse twice nevermind1534's Avatar
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    Default Re: HTPC Sys Requirements

    I think I'm going to be getting mine pretty soon, seeing as I have an old socket 478 celeron system and a DVD player/VCR that was killed after it got hit by lightning.

  10. #10

    Default Re: HTPC Sys Requirements

    The 5500 is what I'm rocking out with, but it was designed for Linux. Sorry, no radio

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