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First HTPC Build - Advice Appreciated


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It's a late response, but I'll throw my 2 cents in the ring. I have built/rebuilt my HTPC setup several times over the last few years and am now very happy with my setup.

 

1) NOISE: Try your best to keep this thing whisper quiet. It's going to be in your living room and you don't want it puting out a ton of fan noise. Use the largest/fewest fans possible. Remember, that if you have a tiny motherboard chipset fan that is loud and a giant case fan right over it, consider unplugging the loud one (at your own risk). I did go with and SSD for my OS to reduce noise.

 

2) Light: Get a case with minimal LED lights. Nothing worse than a blinding blue light blinking at you when watching a movie in the dark. Again, just unplug pesky lights or put the little Intel sticker from your CPU over the light on the case to dim it down.

 

3) Software: I assume you're using Windows 7. Media center is amazing, but no native blu-ray support. I use and like Total Media Theater from Arcsoft (I have version 3). I also like and use MyMovies on the server and HTPC for an excellent movie browsing experience.

 

4) Storage: I initially stored my Blu-Rays on the home server and streamed them to the HTPC. This works 99% of the time but seemed to always skip on me when I had people over to watch a movie. My solution was to put a 3TB drive in the HTPC and load the blu-rays rignt on there for immediate access. This works like a charm. The SSD with the OS leads to wicked fast boot times and Media Center responsiveness.

 

5) Accessories: I use a USB TV Tuner with a giant antenna on the roof for TV. OTA HD content is a must have for and HTPC in my opinion. Remote Control: I am a big fan of the Gyration remote that basically acts as a Wii-mote for windows. You'll also want a small wireless keyboard (Go RF to avoid line of site problems).

 

6) Settings: Turn SLEEP OFF! It never works and causes nothing but headaches. A well built HTPC should be super efficient (with the right power supply) and should draw less than a light bulb at idol. Leave it on 24/7 and just turn the TV/receiver on and off.

 

Ok, enough for now. I could go on and on but this is a good start.

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5) Accessories: I use a USB TV Tuner with a giant antenna on the roof for TV. OTA HD content is a must have for and HTPC in my opinion. Remote Control: I am a big fan of the Gyration remote that basically acts as a Wii-mote for windows. You'll also want a small wireless keyboard (Go RF to avoid line of site problems).

 

As far as recording OTA HD, is there anything you particularly recommend? Antenna, tuner, etc?

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It's a late response, but I'll throw my 2 cents in the ring. I have built/rebuilt my HTPC setup several times over the last few years and am now very happy with my setup.

 

1) NOISE: Try your best to keep this thing whisper quiet. It's going to be in your living room and you don't want it puting out a ton of fan noise. Use the largest/fewest fans possible. Remember, that if you have a tiny motherboard chipset fan that is loud and a giant case fan right over it, consider unplugging the loud one (at your own risk). I did go with and SSD for my OS to reduce noise.

Totally agree about noise: keep it as low as possible. My approach was different: I went with more fans so I could lower their speed, which really helped reduce the noise (2 fans @ 1,000 RPM is quieter than 1 fan @ 2,000 RPM).

 

2) Light: Get a case with minimal LED lights. Nothing worse than a blinding blue light blinking at you when watching a movie in the dark. Again, just unplug pesky lights or put the little Intel sticker from your CPU over the light on the case to dim it down.

I have a bit of an issue with this ATM. The blue LEDs are particularly bad IMHO. I'm looking to put in resistors to dim them down.

 

3) Software: I assume you're using Windows 7. Media center is amazing, but no native blu-ray support. I use and like Total Media Theater from Arcsoft (I have version 3). I also like and use MyMovies on the server and HTPC for an excellent movie browsing experience.

I wish TMT didn't cost so much. I like it, but it seems pretty pricey to me, for what it is.

 

4) Storage: I initially stored my Blu-Rays on the home server and streamed them to the HTPC. This works 99% of the time but seemed to always skip on me when I had people over to watch a movie. My solution was to put a 3TB drive in the HTPC and load the blu-rays rignt on there for immediate access. This works like a charm. The SSD with the OS leads to wicked fast boot times and Media Center responsiveness.

No SSD for me, but I may have to look at a larger hard drive. Fortunately, I could replace the existing drive with a bigger one, and I just inherited some 1TB drives from work :)

 

6) Settings: Turn SLEEP OFF! It never works and causes nothing but headaches. A well built HTPC should be super efficient (with the right power supply) and should draw less than a light bulb at idol. Leave it on 24/7 and just turn the TV/receiver on and off.

My experience isn't that bad. It does seem that the HTPC comes out of sleep on its own sometimes but, for the most part, it sleeps OK. It's just the dang flashing LED that's annoying.

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It's a late response, but I'll throw my 2 cents in the ring. I have built/rebuilt my HTPC setup several times over the last few years and am now very happy with my setup.

 

1) NOISE: Try your best to keep this thing whisper quiet. It's going to be in your living room and you don't want it puting out a ton of fan noise. Use the largest/fewest fans possible. Remember, that if you have a tiny motherboard chipset fan that is loud and a giant case fan right over it, consider unplugging the loud one (at your own risk). I did go with and SSD for my OS to reduce noise.

 

2) Light: Get a case with minimal LED lights. Nothing worse than a blinding blue light blinking at you when watching a movie in the dark. Again, just unplug pesky lights or put the little Intel sticker from your CPU over the light on the case to dim it down.

 

3) Software: I assume you're using Windows 7. Media center is amazing, but no native blu-ray support. I use and like Total Media Theater from Arcsoft (I have version 3). I also like and use MyMovies on the server and HTPC for an excellent movie browsing experience.

 

4) Storage: I initially stored my Blu-Rays on the home server and streamed them to the HTPC. This works 99% of the time but seemed to always skip on me when I had people over to watch a movie. My solution was to put a 3TB drive in the HTPC and load the blu-rays rignt on there for immediate access. This works like a charm. The SSD with the OS leads to wicked fast boot times and Media Center responsiveness.

 

5) Accessories: I use a USB TV Tuner with a giant antenna on the roof for TV. OTA HD content is a must have for and HTPC in my opinion. Remote Control: I am a big fan of the Gyration remote that basically acts as a Wii-mote for windows. You'll also want a small wireless keyboard (Go RF to avoid line of site problems).

 

6) Settings: Turn SLEEP OFF! It never works and causes nothing but headaches. A well built HTPC should be super efficient (with the right power supply) and should draw less than a light bulb at idol. Leave it on 24/7 and just turn the TV/receiver on and off.

 

Ok, enough for now. I could go on and on but this is a good start.

 

 

Great advice. The issue with sleep is not really all th PC's fault it is the compatibilty withe the device it is plugged into in terms of handshaking. This is more pronounced when you plug into a receiver as they are notorious for handshaking issues. I always recommend turning off sleep, save grief in the long run.

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As far as recording OTA HD, is there anything you particularly recommend? Antenna, tuner, etc?

 

I like an external USB tuner to get the unit as far from the electronic interference inside the case. I think I have an HDTV Pro Stick. I would also very much like to get my hands on a HD Homerun.

 

As far as antennas go, try antennaweb.org. Bottom line the more metal the better. Go BIG or go home.

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