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Should gaming ability be required of HTPC computers?

Discussion in 'Audio, Video & Home Theater' started by Lazzer408, Nov 23, 2011.

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Should HTPC computers support -REAL- gaming performance?

Poll closed Jan 22, 2012.
  1. Yes. I'd love to play hardcore games on my TV.

    32 vote(s)
    80.0%
  2. No. I only use my HTPC for surfing and media playback.

    8 vote(s)
    20.0%
  1. Lazzer408

    Lazzer408

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    I'm developing a line of micro-ITX chassis targeted at entertainment and gaming. As most of you know, SFF computing has it's limitations but I'm working hard to overcome them without sacrificing performance.

    I am open to your requests. The more I know about what YOU want, the better the product can be.
    newtekie1 and Damn_Smooth say thanks.
  2. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    I think a HTPC should be able to play every game on the market. However, I don't think it has to be able to do so at maximum settings. Lowish settings at 720p(basically console equivalent graphics) is good enough, IMO.
    Crunching for Team TPU More than 25k PPD
  3. EarthDog

    EarthDog

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    I voted No. Home Theater doesnt mean games to me personally, and thats why I will buy a console (when my son is able to play it, in a year or so), and I play games on another PC. I keep it separate.
  4. Lazzer408

    Lazzer408

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    Is that because of the current hardware limitations or personal preference?
  5. cadaveca

    cadaveca My name is Dave

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    I have Zotac Z68 mITX board for HTPC use. with 2x 4GB DIMMs, and an HD6950 2GB, it's possible to ahve your gaming cake, and eat it too.

    I think perhaps a 560ti might be the card for HTPC gaming? Add in Lucid's software, and the VGA doesn't even need to have any outputs, even.

    The recent release of Batman: Arkham City is the perfect example...my family of six will be sitting around the bigscreen watching me play and playing themselves, for the next several days, and the graphical quality is just better than it would be on console. I did the exact same thing with Arkham Asylum, too..we all sat together, and made a family event of it.
    Jizzler says thanks.
  6. erocker

    erocker Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I definitely think that the market is there, however the market in that segment will generally buy a console. So, I suppose the HTPC would need to compete with the console in terms of price.
  7. lilhasselhoffer

    lilhasselhoffer

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    When I think home theater, I want something with substantial media access, minimum noise, and a small physical foot print.

    Gaming requires power hungry graphics cards, beefier processors, and generally requires a substantial amount of space.

    As the goals are mutually exclusive, there is no good answer. Ask me, and I'd be willing to trade off performance for size and noise. You ask someone else, and they would sacrifice space and noise to get gaming performance.


    I think the question you should be asking is not what we prefer, but what our minimums are. The metrics would be size, noise, and graphical performance. My two cents:

    1) Size: moderate priority
    2) Noise: highest priority
    3) Graphic performance: lowest priority


    I would assume video has to be HD (1080p) playback capable, but that is all I really need. Noise kills an HTPC, because of those first two letters of the acronym. Size is a variable concern, given that you have to find a way to fit it into your set-up.
  8. qubit

    qubit Overclocked quantum bit

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    I voted Yes, because it would be nice for a HTPC to be a hardcore gaming machine, but that's wishful thinking. In practice of course, the gaming and HTPC requirements conflict considerably. For HTPC you want quietness, low power use and heat and performance isn't really needed so much. However, for gaming, it's all out performance you want, which pretty much negates the above, especially heat and noise.

    I guess one could make different grades of HTPC with different blends of performance and quietness.
  9. Mr McC

    Mr McC

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    I originally had my rig installed in a Silverstone lc17. I had too change it as the temperatures started to alarm me, but through necessity and choice I wouldn't consider hooking up to anything except a tv and any rig I own must be able to let me game at sufficient quality levels (1920x1080, or HD rather than HD ready, if you prefer)
  10. phanbuey

    phanbuey

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    Yes! Finally! I think this is a market that is overlooked and there could be some substantial improvements in HTPC construction.

    Important items for me (in order of importance) in a entertainment (Gaming AND HTPC) PC:

    1. Sublte and sleek - Lian li hit the nail on the head with the PCQ25 and silverstone with the SG08 in terms of looks - I want something that looks like a sleek and high-tech and fits no matter what my living room decor is. No two-tone fancy designs or scoops or anything like that.

    2. Size - prefer a mini ITX - about the size PCQ25 if using full size PSU, or SG07/SG08 if using smaller silverstone PSU's. But it HAS to fit the largest consumer videocard without modding, this is an absolute must Silverstone would have sold 100x more SG05's if they had done this. I would not look at an SFF chassis that could not fit a 6990/5970.

    3. Airflow - the SG05 is a perfect example of a case that did it right - one big fan in the front as an intake that could take a H50/H60, and the other components exhausting heat. Being able to handle an all-in-one WC system such as the h50 is also a huge bonus for OCing and space saving.

    4. Materials - Metal - preferably aluminum, or at minimum, thick acryllic - no plastic. Plastic looks and feels cheap, as does mesh - SG05's plastic front detracts from the case in a big way.

    With those three things, one would have the perfect SFF case. If lian li PC Q25 could move the exhaust vent over to handle a 120 MM rad, it would be an amazing case, if the SG05 could take longer videocards and had an aluminum bezel, it would also be perfect. the LanGear DA MOM/Infinity is also a promising case:

    http://www.lan-gear.eu/shop/en/13-da-mom.html
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  11. twilyth Guest

    I voted no because of the way the question was worded. I don't game but that doesn't mean that an HTPC shouldn't be able to be used for that purpose. As a couple people mentioned, it's a natural fit.

    The bottom line is what most people will want and I think most will want the option to do both. But HTPC's have to meet a different set of aesthetic requirements. Having CCFL lights in your case and blinking leds is fine for a bedroom or home office, but that's the kiss of death for something with pride of place in your livingroom.

    Also, it has to require a minimum of inputs and outputs. You can provide as many as you want, but people should be able to hook it up with 2 cables - HDMI and power. Everything that can be wireless should be. People hate wires, especially in rooms where they entertain. And if you can even do wireless HDMI, even if it's at 1080i, that should be an option too.

    One thing I've noticed is that people love ultra thin tv's that can be hung on a wall with a wall mount. For a mini-ITX rig, making it with a wall mount, or in such a way that it can be attached to an existing wall mount would be killer. But whether the unit will go in a rack or be hung on the wall, it should have multiple color options. I would design it so that covers can be easily interchanged without tools. This can be done easily with an outer frame and slide in panels.
  12. Fourstaff

    Fourstaff Moderator Staff Member

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    Voted yes, because if I ever have a HTPC setup, my TV will become my main work/internet/game station.

    I think it all boils down to how much you are going to spend on your HTPC. If you are planning a budget build, cutting costs as much as possible then of course its not going to be sensible to try to squeeze gaming in too, but if you are going to build a "halfway gaming" rig with the ability to game a bit then you might as well go the whole way. Also, how many people are sharing the TV? its all nice and good to have a powerful HTPC but its pointless if you cannot use it because Mrs. or (insert someone) wants to use the TV.
  13. Jizzler

    Jizzler

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    Should have a complete lineup from media to gaming. cadaveca's setup would satisfy "gaming" for me, though there's plenty of mATX and ATX media cases for those demanding more.
  14. Lazzer408

    Lazzer408

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    Lots of good input guys. Thanks. Keep it coming.

    Here's the direction I'm going. I will explain the smallest case in the line-up first. Remember this is the small one.

    -The internal volume is .26cu ft and will support one PCIe card up to 12" in lenght that occupies 2 slots.
    -Support for one 3.5" or two 2.5" drives. *note
    -Support for one slim slot-load optical drive.
    -Uses micro-ATX PSU. 450w installed. (+12V1@18A, +12V2@18A, 1x 6-Pin + 1x 6+2-Pin)
    -No chassis fans.
    -Option for front LCD display.
    *without the GFX card installed there is support for an additional two 3.5" drives (or four 2.5") -or- one 3.5" (or two 2.5") and one 80/90mm sized fan.

    The larger model contains the above configuration but supports an additional four 3.5" (or eight 2.5") drives -or- two additional 3.5" (or four 2.5") with space for one 120mm fan. It is .36cu ft in volume. This model is focused on HTPC users requiring large storage capacity up to 10tb (5x2tb).

    I do not intend to support overclocking CPUs. The cooling solution is custom, based on the socket used (currently 775 and 1155), and is capable of cooling a 125w CPU while maintaining <70C under load testing. Some overclocking -may- be possible but is not officially supported. Overclock at your own risk. The larger chassis may fit a 120x240mm radiator but that's just a guess. I haven't measured for it. Maybe I'll do a revision to support water cooling. :)

    All chassis are painted aluminum with an anodized front panel. The style is simple with a touch of class. Lets call it "sleek" as phanbuey requested.

    The shocker will come when you see the design. Just for reference, the SG05 is about 0.35cu-ft internal volume and the SG-08 about .50cu-ft.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  15. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    Generally, if I'm putting in a HTPC, it is to replace a console. And I hate buying games twice...

    People I think are over estimating what it really takes to play current games. Something like a GT440/HD6570 can easily handle any game on the market at lowish settings at 720p, which is generally what a console will give you in graphics quality, and i3 will keep up just fine as well. You don't need a power house GPU or CPU.
    phanbuey says thanks.
    Crunching for Team TPU More than 25k PPD
  16. phanbuey

    phanbuey

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    I think that not enabling overclocking of CPU's will cut a huge chunk of the market... I would design it with an h60 space, personally...

    If you go this route you will be competing with shuttle and the likes.
  17. D4S4

    D4S4

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    i voted yes because gaming on htpc's has the potential to kill off consoles and we all know what consoles brought.
  18. Lazzer408

    Lazzer408

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    I'm an overclocker myself and yes it is a large market. I also know that off-the-shelf water cooling is a narrow "gimmic" market. ;) A water cooling enthusiast knows that (Want to buy an h50 cheap?). Considering this will be sold as a chassis or bare-bones, most of my customers will be DIY and the DIY market is where all the overclockers are. So I know what your saying. It's the size to performance ratio that will set this aside from the others. Even without overclocking it will be very fast considering it's size. Where are the 3dmark vs. size charts? :)
    phanbuey says thanks.
  19. phanbuey

    phanbuey

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    I must disagree - the point of all in one systems is not to match DIY systems. Not a gimmick at all - google the Max11L build and you will see why they are advantageous in small systems.

    Look at one of my systems, for instance:

    http://www.techpowerup.com/forums/showthread.php?t=92283

    I am very much a water cooling enthusiast, and I can attest that all in ones are not gimmicks. If you came to me and offered a chassis with a quick and easy way to OC (i.e. mount a h60, and go for 4.2+ghz) vs one that uses an internal heatsink, alot of people would choose the former.

    Obviously that is my opinion, but i dont see the SFF guys on Hardforum or anywhere else running out to buy a chassis that limits tdp, unless you can easily mod it out.
  20. Lazzer408

    Lazzer408

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    @phanbuey: Nice mod but you remember I'm working with a .26cu-ft space? There are plenty of larger chassis out there (including ITX) that can support water cooling. Maybe too many. I'm not trying to compete with them. I'm trying to release a new product into a small nook in the market between the smallest micro-ITX chassis (with no expandability) and the larger ITX chassis that can fit water cooling solutions. Necessity is the mother of invention. That's how this project started. I can't count the numbers of times I said "oh thats a great little case" only to be disappointed once I see the internal pics.

    As things progress I will definitely consider a small water cooled chassis.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  21. m4gicfour

    m4gicfour

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    Cool thread, bro (honestly. Although saying 'bro' without sarcasm makes me feel dirty) :laugh:

    I want to see pictures.

    As for your actual question? Yeah, I think so. Even if the gaming support is for low-end (lets say 720P like everybody else is).

    Do you have room for an ODD? It should have or have the ability to mount a Blu-ray drive, even if it's external. (that of course means slim internal or USB3/eSATA support as well as a very capable IGP or at least a manditory entry-level AIB GPU) If you can find an external BD drive with USB3 support (as I've seen a few) it would make an easy upgrade option, and allow flexible mounting options.


    If it was just an internet box with support for 1080P digital video playback from HDD only, it's really just a beefy version of those net streaming boxes. What makes it an HTPC as opposed to nettop/streaming box is (in no particular order)
    • Optical drive
    • CPU/GPU power sufficient to produce console-quality gaming
    • KBAM
    • Connectivity / Customizability

    That's my 2 cents anyway
  22. Lazzer408

    Lazzer408

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    Of course! I designed it for slot-load SATA optical drives. CPU? It uses a standard ITX board. Latest AMD and Intel CPUs supported. GPU? It will hold up to a 12" long 2-slot PCIe x16 graphics card. I've only tested it with the following.

    HD4850
    HD4870
    HD5770
    HD6870
    8800GT (cooling problems)
    9800GTX

    The Graphics card MUST be rear vented when installed in the smallest of the chassis line-up.
  23. m4gicfour

    m4gicfour

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    D'oh. I must have been reading too quickly. :rolleyes: I had to go back and look but yep, you sure do have that in the specs

    O RLY? A dual-socket/dual-chipset AMD/Intel CPU agnostic board eh? <smartarse mode off>

    Talking about graphics (or rather what I was trying to get at before)... What's your plan for baseline video support? If you offer a BD-capable system, having an IGP or baseline graphics sufficient for basic BD playback with whatever the baseline CPU would be (3D and Dual-hardware decode, etc could be considered "premium" features and hence not a baseline feature) would make the upgrade to a BD drive more attractive for your potential customers. (then again you said you were planning on more of a barebone-style kit so that might not figure too much in your planning)
  24. W1zzard

    W1zzard Administrator Staff Member

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    i rather have a no/low noise media pc. i dont even browse the web on it, only watch media
  25. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    I rather buy a Boxee Box.

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