TESTED Community Project: HTPC

Created by simian on March 15, 2012, 6:34 p.m.
  • Yeah, I think Fusion would be great for a HTPC build and I'd be interested in seeing tests coparing it and the dual core Atom machines @Helushune:.
  • @WolfOfOne: Gigabyte's coming out with a few Fusion boards as well which I would also gladly pick up if they would just give a release date!  I even have two dual core Atoms (one currently acting as my HTPC) ready to run benchmarks against.  The wait is killing me.
  • I forgot about this project when real life decided to slap me with some house projects.  
     
    If we can still pull one of these builds or take parts from each one to make a tested HTPC Frankenstein would be awesome. 
     
    I see that Lane's so far has been the general push.  
     
    What do Will and Norm think over all so far?

  • AMD Fusion is here, gents. 
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128468&Tpk=e350n-usb3
  • @Helushune: Haha! Finally! Been trying to keep track of when it was gonna hit, thanks for the update. 
      
    So it may be jumping the gun since we don't have any good tests to see how well these Fusion CPUs work, but here is a quick build I threw together:
     
    Case:   APEX MI-008 Mini-ITX Tower - $39.99
    Os:   Windows 7 Home Premium - $100
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 AMD E-350 - $149.99
    CPU:   Included on motherboard
    GPU:       On-board video
    Ram:   Corsair XMS3 4GB DDR3 1333 - $42.99
    HDD:   WD 1TB 32MB Cache - $69.99 (From Lanes Build 3)
    PSU:   Included in case, 250 W
    Wireless:        Rosewill wireless adapter(b/g/n) - $29.99
    Tuner:  Kworld UB435-Q - $30
    Remote:  Rosewill WMC Remote - $24.99
    Keyboard :  Logitech coordless keyboard - $29.99
    Extra/Antenna :
    BluRay/DVD:  MISSING 
     
    Total price before shipping/tax: $517.93 
     
    This leaves roughly $82 for shipping/tax and maybe a BluRay/DVD drive if you want.
  • @LtSquigs:
    I'll be picking one up pretty soon here and running tests against my Atom+ION machine.  I'm glad these finally hit, I've been waiting for what seems like too long.
  • I'm going to start this project in another month or so but I'm still debating a few things.  My needs are as follows:

    1.  Store DVD rips so I can box up my DVD collection
    2.  Stream video content from the net

    No gaming at all.  The only thing that's throwing me for a loop is which streaming software I want to use or if I even want to use any at all.  Here's how I see it:

    1.  Windows 7 with PS3 media server (using this currently, this would be the easiest and would free up my workstation from the server role)
    2.  Mac Mini and one of the many Mac based streaming servers
    3.  Linux Media Center

    The biggest issue I have with PS3 media server right now is that the wireless causes all kinds of problem.  I think I'll run a long ethernet cable to the router, to confirm if the wireless or ps3 media servers configuration is the problem.

    What would everyone recommend?
  • @bretthancock: Is there any reason you are tied to PS3 Media Server? Like specific services it provides?
  • @LtSquigs said:

    " @bretthancock: Is there any reason you are tied to PS3 Media Server? Like specific services it provides? "

    It plays native .mkv files with 5.1 audio, its free, and when it works its perfect for me.  I tried tversity and hated it.  Any other suggestions?  I really need to decide on an ideal streaming software piece and just run with it.  If hard wiring my current PC/Media Server to my network fixes the issue, I'll likely just build a box to mimic it and go with that.  I'm definitely open to other suggestions though.
  • @bretthancock: I guess I don't understand what you mean by streaming. Do you mean streaming locally stored video files from your PC to the HTPC to play? Or do you mean streaming things off the internet (like youtube et al)?

    Something like tversity and PS3 Media server are useful for streaming internet related things to a device that doesn't have native support for those things, like streaming youtube to an XBOX or a PS3.

    However if you build your own HTPC you have a lot more option, because you are essentially just running a specialized PC. Consider for example the Xbox Media Center program (XBMC), which despite it's name is just a fully featured media center for the PC (Windows and I believe Linux are both supported). It supports things like streaming  youtube, Netflix, Engadget, and many more in the program itself. Similarly if something needs to be streamed from a local PC it can stream the file off of a LAN share.
  • I'm trying to remove my PC out of the picture.  I'd like a dedicated box (HTPC) that I can hook into my current home theater set up and play my DVD rips, internet content, and other stuff on.
  • @bretthancock: I'm not sure you can connect a storage solution to your PS3 directly and since you want to eliminate the PC you currently use for it I'd have to suggest going with a box like the custom built one this thread is trying to do or Boxee (or AppleTV?) which will have the effect of removing the PS3 from the setup as well.
  • That's where I was crossing wires in head.  By building an HTPC, does that eliminate the need to use streaming software (tversity, ps3media) as the HTPC is just hooked up directly to the TV/Home Theater.  Is there any advantage to using a PS3/Xbox 360/Boxee/Roku whatever, with a dedicated HTPC?
  • @bretthancock: The PS3/360 are for setups like you have right now: You have computer somewhere else which you can't move or connect to the TV and want to access the media it stores. The advantage this has is that you don't have to buy devices if you already own those devices.

    Boxee and Roku are basically HTPCs by design. Even the OS is Linux-based. The advantage they have is it's simple design (only media). 
  • @Guibone:  Thanks for the info, that helps me sort some things out.  Hearing about how people use all these devices/options helps.
  • Who remembers this thread? Old school

  • @LtSquigs:

    this thing ever going to get built?

    I would use this for the keyboard: http://www.logitech.com/en-sg/keyboards/keyboard/devices/wireless-touch-keyboard-k400

    It looks similar to the logitech keyboard remote, which I have. It's great for HTPCs because it's small and has a built-in touchpad.

    I would also switch the remote to a Logitech Harmony 300. It is a great remote. The only annoyance is that the device settings must be updated through the logitech web app. (Edit: just remembered you might need a separate IR receiver for the harmony 300)

  • I've been through many builds of my HTPC and the wife had input on all of them.

    First, I just put my gaming pc next to the TV. That was awesome for gaming and just about everything. But the keyboard mouse experience was a bit annoying from the couch. And the first time we had a substantial amount of company, it got moved.

    Second, I tried a Lian-Li case that looked like a and oversized DVD player. It fit under the tv so it fit into the living room. But the couch experience was hampered by IR dongles, poor audio, and still a pretty solid requirement for mouse and keyboard. Gaming was so-so.

    Finally, two years ago I personally feel I hit the nail on the head. I gave up the goal of gaming on this box as I have a wii, ps3, and xbox 360 hooked up to the same TV. The build below has lasted me for the past... going on 3 years and is totally wife approved. We have without formal cable, using just cable internet and an OTA antenna.

    Software:

    Windows 7 w/Media Center for DVR, EPG, Netflix, Music, Pictures, DVD, Ripped Discs, Amazon Unboxed Video

    Hulu Dekstop w/Media Center Launcher,

    Boxee w/Media Center Launcher for Pandora, Youtube

    Hardware (I'll be general for some of this as my 2 year old hardware is irrelevant):

    Luxa2 LM100 Mini, this was key as it was small, and had built in IR

    Mini ITX Motherboard (I used a Zotac with Nvidia chipset)

    Intel CPU (I have a Core2Duo) I would recommend a corei3 so you can hopefully go fanless.

    4 GB Ram (again I have DDR2)

    1 TB HDD

    Hauppauge HVR-2250 (Dual QAM/ATSC Tuner)

    Logitech Dinovo Mini for when keyboards are necessary

    Logitech Harmony One

    The wife loves it, can watch more than one channel at once. Record more than one thing at a time. Recently added a HDHomerun, so now I can record 4 things at a time.

  • If one of these Frankenstein creations gets made would be awesome. I remember going through the process of possibly getting Will and Norm to build one.


  • I think a major component holding this back is some compelling HTPC software solution. Some available at the moment are:

    Windows 7 Media Center - I switched to this a couple of years ago, after using SageTV (bought by Google, so no longer available) for years. It works ok, but has some bugs and I don't expect Microsoft to ever provide updates for this.

    Mediaportal - Free. I haven't used it. Setup doesn't look simple though...

    Boxee - They just updated the PC software version to 1.5... and also announced they were no longer supporting it. No DVR solution.

    MythTV - Free. Linux. Like Mediaportal, documentation and setup looks rough.

    XBMC - Free. I've never used this. I don't believe this has any DVR functionality.

    So yeah, the list is pretty weak IMO. I'm personally using W7 MC for the DVR functionality and free guide updates. I guess MS has mentioned they may bring back the media center for Windows 8, so it may be worth waiting to see what that brings. They've also said media center usage amongst W7 users was very low, so I'm skeptical they'll want to spend the resources developing something no one will use.