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Fao TIPSTIR....in need of HTPC advice please

By k.jacko ยท 4 replies
Nov 26, 2007
  1. Hi Tipstir,
    You certainly am de man for htpc advice, so i hope you don't mind helping me out here. I've trawled the boards but am looking for definitive advice regarding my situation please.
    Ok, here goes:

    I want to build 2 x htpc's, for the kids bedrooms, it also wants to be a gaming pc, currently i have 2 sets of brand new:
    Gigabite P35 DS3R (full ATX)
    2Gb ram
    E2180 (core2duo)

    I need:
    1. CASE; has to be ATX, but small as possible (silverstone maybe?), but needs to fit full size pci-e gfx card in. I will also overclock the E2180's, so room to breather would be nice. Would preferably like to sit a 19" widescreen tft monitor on it;
    2. COOLER; good enough to cool the overclocked E2180, be it low profile or full height.
    3. TV TUNER CARD; Now, i want to be able to hook it up to sky AND freeview, so i assume a dual tuner is needed? Recording one channel and watching the other would be a nice feature. Am i right in thinking that the cards come with in-built freeview? I just need a decent aerial on the roof and i'm set? Would like a remote control with it as well.
    4. OS; thinking of Vista Home Premium, and using the in-built media centre software.

    Now, i'm looking for the cheapest deal i suppose, but any advice regardless of price would be most appreciated.

    Your ongoing topic on HTPC is fascinating. I'm glad i only want a small setup as yours is huuuuuuuge and probably costs a fortune!

    Thanks in advance :)
  2. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,839   +193

    I wouldn't do both gaming and HTPC on the same rig because of the way the HTPC is so demanding. Even with dual core. I would have another PC for gaming and only gaming. That's how I do it.

    OS for HTPC either MCE 2005 (if you can get it) or Vista Ultimate with MCE 07
    500GB, 750GB or 1TB HDD and go SATA II 300mbps in speed. Fastest RAM you can get. CPU anything over 2GHz for Live TV and whatever you're going to watch with the kids? :)

    Hauppauge UK web site would have more info about the PAL sky stuff for your part of the world.

    Case I know you want to go low profile, but it has to be kept cool has the tuner cards do get extremely hot when they are working and recording.

    Check newegg, pricewatch, buy.com or in your area cia.co.uk I think for items like this.

    Yes like you I go the cheapest route, but I've build-up for what you see posted. I just want everything stable that's the goal here. It's taken a very long time. I just started with 1 card and look where I am at. I run out of space so fast, I am the market for two RAID SATA II HDDs as my case does support RAID. You might want to look into that but regular SATA II will do.

    If you have questions I'll be around. I just been busy doing other things.
  3. k.jacko

    k.jacko TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 483

    thanks for the advice pal, i appreciate that you're busy.
    Unfortunately there's no way i can build separate gaming and htpc rigs. I have 3 kids!!!!!
    What i will say though is that the htpc will only really be for watching/recording live tv, watching dvd's, playing music etc. There will not really be any streaming done. I suppose you could say its a gaming rig with a tv tuner card in it. Albeit i do want a smallish case. I think, unless i'm persuaded otherwise that i'll probably go for the Silverstone LC-17b case, here

    Do you not think Vista Home Premium would suffice, seeing as its half the price of Ultimate?

    Will research the haupauge uk web site for details on sky.

    I'll let you what i find out, thanks again! :)
  4. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,839   +193

    I understand but once the PC starts recording then when you access such a machine to watch Live TV they you already have the system working very hard. Then to play games on such a system it may crash or run out of memory. 1GB of RAM is good enough.. But under Vista 2GB would better..

    You can try it and run games, but you might not be happy. I have to build systems to do many things. The file, print, web, music server is one PC but I never touch it. I remote into it to check on things once in a while. The same goes for the HTPC and MediaMVP Server. I even got a caller ID server when calls comes in the girl friday takes and manages the calls and sends me balloons popups telling me who calls.

    But try it and let me know how you make out...
  5. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,094

    playing games and watching tv at the same time is possible, although as above, doing too many things will impact your system dearly, especially if its one of those very demanding games. But i think that you'd be either recording the tv for later and play the game full screen or not use the tv cards at all whilst gaming..

    there's always going to be a trade off in specs for a gaming rig and a media centre pc. Gaming rigs you'd try and get the best possible combinations of parts (possibly high end) to play the games smoothly and last you a bit longer with lots of upgrade options, MPCs you can go as cheap as you want (only things important are tv cards, hdds and some custom features) although some smaller forms of mpcs would be hard to easily upgrade. They both can play games, but how well is the question. Same applies to watching/recording tv.

    Vista home prem is fine for your case, unless you need all the extra stuff that ultimate has. Seeing that its just for the kids, yeh.. unless they know how to take the advantages of ultimate. And i'd agree with 2Gb of ram. Look at Coolermaster or Zalman for your cooling options as they are very good, and some models are also very silent (good thing if its going in the bedroom - fan noise makes you go crazy if you forget to turn off your pc and fall asleep). The case you've listed is good, has lots of space and cooling features, also able to fit full sized atx components.

    The pc i'm currently on is used as one of those multipurpose pcs that does tv, gaming, study, web, media creation etc and sometimes i do multitask, although most times i usually turn off everything and just use it for that particular function. That being said, i don't run vista nor have room for multiple tv cards on this rig, so performance issues for having lots of things happening i can't really say.....
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