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HTPC build advice

Discussion in 'System Builder's Advice' started by brettule, May 11, 2009.

  1. brettule New Member

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    My old HTPC which lasted almost 5 years gave up the ghost and I'm forced to salvage only the hard drives and build from scratch. I'm looking for advice on what components I should use (motherboard, graphics card, cpu), I have fairly simple requirements as follows:

    As reasonably cheap as possible without cutting my nose off
    Display 720p in HDMI to my telly
    Support 5.1 optical audio out
    All my HD content is matroska .mkv codec so the system has to handle the strain of decoding this (my old AMD Athlon XP 2000 barely handled this)
    An HD digital tuner.

    Looks, fan noise, heat output, etc is all irrelevant since the rig sits in another room from the telly.

    I'm wondering about the merits of the motherboards which pack the GPU and an HDMI output on them. Is it a good buy for my application?
     
  2. ChaoticAtmosphere

    ChaoticAtmosphere

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    well seeing as you want to save cash an AMD system might be the way you want to go.

    Here's a good AMD ready Mobo with built in HDMI I/O output that won't break your bank

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131368

    And you can get Athlon X2 or go Phenom X4 or even Phenom II with this board.
     
  3. brettule New Member

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  4. ChaoticAtmosphere

    ChaoticAtmosphere

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    To be honest with you bro, I'm not even sure if it is you present rig setup that can't handle the .mkv files but maybe your player of choice. I'm not even sure that the .mkv file "containers" have a hardware minimum requirements specification as far as performance goes.

    Have you inquired or researched any minimum requirements or recommended software to play those files? Once you're armed with that then you can go from there and maybe your 2000+ can actually step up to the plate afterall.

    Maybe all you need is a MoBo that has great onboard sound and a graphics card with HDMI interface that includes an S/PDIF header for sound passthrough from the onboard sound.

    Either way, I would still look into the .mkv situation...I am not experienced with .mkv files so I am only taking your word that it's your current rig's specs that can't handle them :)

    Here's some info I found for you. The second link talks a little about HDMI GPU's

    http://www.highdefforum.com/computers-htpcs/86417-requirements-codecs-matroska-files.html

    http://www.anandtech.com/tradeshows/showdoc.aspx?i=2770
     
  5. angelkiller

    angelkiller

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    Ok, you have fairly simple requirements.

    Any 1.5GHz dual core CPU and AMD's 780G chipset is capable of playing 1080p material no problems. That said, 720p is even easier. The original XBox could play 720p material ok and even an Intel Atom + G945 chipset can play 720p without issues. So to be quite blunt, nearly any modern (ie less than 3 years old) computer should have enough power to play your material.

    That said, here are some part guidelines.
    • CPU - Anything will suffice here. If this will be strictly for HTPC duties with no other purposes in the foreseeable future, then just get an Athlon X2. Avoid the X2 7xx0 (Kuma) series, as they are based on the inefficient Phenom architecture. They may be faster than other X2's, but they use considerable more power, and the extra power is not needed.
    • Motherboard - I would get a board based on the 780G chipset. This chipset has been known for having one of the best integrated video ever. Paired with a dual core CPU, it can tackle 1080p with ease. An alternative could be a board using nVidia's GeForce 9300/9400 chipset. This chipset is just as powerful as the 780G, however, it tends to be more expensive. Both chipsets are able to output via HDMI.
    • Graphics Card - Modern integrated graphics can handle video decoding without the help of a discrete graphics card. If you pick one of the chipsets I mentioned above, you have no need for a discrete graphics card. Save your $$.
    As for the optical out, I think that both the 780G and GeForce 9x00 chipsets can output 5.1 over opticial. However, I am not sure. So I'll leave this with a: [CITATION NEEDED]

    I also am not knowledgeable with TV Tuners, so I can't offer any recommendations.

    Also, Matroska is not a codec, but rather a container. So there are no system requirements for playing back Matroska files. Matroska containers hold video and audio streams, and each of those streams does have system requirements, depending on how they are encoded. For example, I could put a video encoded with Xvid/Divx into a Matroska container. Most older (ie 4-5 year old) computers should be able to decode this. However, I could also put a video encoded with H.264 in a Matroska container. The H.264 encoded video would be much more demanding and may not play on the previously mentioned computers. Same container, different codecs.

    Hope this was clear and helpful.
     
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