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 Post subject: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:25 am 
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Anyone out there built there own HTPC for under $300? or are there already built options for about the same price.

I want something that will be just like using a foxtel box (ie no pc element at all) or an apple tv (without the ridiculous apple ass reaming setup)

will be mainly used by wifey (thus no teccy type input required to operate)

will be used to stream movies/tv from a imac using osx, so no windows only setups. we will be using a fetchtv box for the pvr part so that is not required.

will be (at the moment) used on a SD lcd tv, but will be upgraded to a fullHD or UltraHD in the future.

cheers for any input

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:59 am 
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I haven't, but have been looking at going down the Intel NUC route. The Celeron version can be got for about $180 and since I don't stream massive BD Rips it would be ok for me.
Probably run Openelec(XBMC) or something similar on it from a USB drive and have all my movies on my network drives.

I've also got a Boxeebox and I'm going to try the new XBMC hack for that first though.

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:44 pm 
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You can definitely get away with a Celeron or Pentium setup, something like this...

Pentium G3220 $69
ASUS H81M-E Motherboard $65
Corsair VS2GB1333D3 2GB (1x2GB) DDR3 $29
Western Digital WD Blue 500GB WD5000AAKX $56
EVGA GeForce GT 610 Silent 1GB $49

That's $268 for your main guts but you will need a case and PSU for it as well. HTPC cases start at around $100 and look just like any other AV equipment or you can get a cheap ass case and hide it. PSU requirements won't be much, 450 watts should be ample.

I included a graphics card there as I find it's better than relying on any onboard solution and that card runs silent and handles all HD audio and video.

Add $50 for a Hauppage remote (the best in my experience), all the essential buttons just work and it makes it more user friendly for the non-techie ones.

I run XBMC (Windows) which just looks at network shares so it won't care if it's looking at a Mac.

Happy to offer any advice where I can :)

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:24 pm 
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Can I put my hand up to suggest a Western Digital Live box? They're only about $130, and play nearly every format I have, apart from probably FLV files - even 20GB bluray rips. Ours streams off a server in the office over the network.


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:26 am 
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I'm running my htpc from a ITX based mobo, running it through MediaPortal, bit-sync from the main computer to keep the htpc upto date with new downloads. It runs -okay-, normal hdtv runs okay, sd and 720p rips are fine, but it does struggle to 1080 stuff a little bit and depends strongly on how it was encoded. Some stuff at 1080 runs okay, other stuff is very choppy. Haven't bothered to figure out why since I don't have that much 1080 anyway. I use the mce remote to drive it all. It's pretty stable, crashes maybe once a month, usually due to the virtual drive program crashing, VirtualCloneDrive. I don't use ISO images enough to warrent me spending time to fix it though...heh. I have been tempted to stream my steam account from the main pc onto it, haven't bothered yet though. I figure if I get gaming going in the lounge room then my productive life is pretty much over :) I had a friend who used one of the western digital devices, he hated it. Crashed alot, menu system very slow, and it couldn't stream from his NAS correctly...so he gave up on it..


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 Post subject: Re: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:44 pm 
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I have the WD TV which is very slow to navigate menu. Remote is somewhat unresponsive but it works well 95% of the time. An occaisional factory reset as the USB Drives don't always respond.

Pretty happy with it overall though and would get another based on its simplicity and ease of use, even with its downfalls.

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:26 am 
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I guess it comes down to what you want in the end and how much flexibility you need.

Plug and Play (minimal setup) - WD Live or equivalent would probably be the way to go but if you're prepared to spend a bit of time setting things up and want wide support for formats then a more in depth solution might be the go. XBMC supports all formats including ISOs plus it has the really pretty front end with cover art etc. Once set up the ease of use for the end user (wifey) is straightforward and there is minimal downtime.

Oh and if you're thinking of doing it over your network forget trying wireless, either go wired or Ethernet over Power (200Mbps), you need the higher bandwidth to handle HD content.

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:18 pm 
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I've always wanted an HTCP or XBMC and like you say, it tops everything you throw at them. These days I like Plug and play. I'm just a lazy ass who wants someone else (Has BIG in mind) to build me all my wish list toys....:(

Thanks for the tip on going hardwired and not wireless. I would have thought wireless was ok for the local network, unlike gaming. Does the picture get choppy or something BIG?

Building a new Desktop upgrade in a few weeks but will throw it up in another thread.

Hijakicking is a strongpoint of mine and holding back.... :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:35 am 
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I'll admit that there is a learning curve to understand all the nuances of XBMC but it doesn't take long and when you do the experience is even better. It's no more difficult to configure than MAME essentially.

What happens with the wireless is that the playback will pause and buffer and the higher the quality, the more it happens. Even over wireless n you'll experience it, particularly as more devices try to share the available bandwidth. Very occasionally on my wired network there will be a momentary buffer on big files however only for a second - that's only because one of my network switches is 100Mbit, once I upgrade that to Gigabit that should resolve that. That's why I recommend a minimum 200Mbit for Ethernet over Power, 500 would be better.

I love building new machines, built one of these for a mate and he loves it! His is all local storage but with mine I have 3 dedicated HTPCs in the house streaming off the media server plus a couple of laptops running XBMC as well. Simultaneous streaming is also possible.

I'm such a geek.

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 Post subject: Re: HTPC build query
PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:21 pm 
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Big Giant Head wrote:

I'm such a geek.



Possibly but you know what you are talking aboout.

Sounds like your setup is very concise, yet complicated with all the bells and whistles for 24/7 entertainment at your fingertips.

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