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Design for a Home Theatre PC

Discussion in 'Home Theater PC' started by Horace11, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. Horace11

    Horace11 Member

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    I'm surprised that, with the convergence of technologies and the increasing availability of media cards, there isn't a general design thread dedicated to home theatre PCs, to allow us novices gain from the experience of those who have done it, and know what should be included.

    I intend to assemble a dedicated PC to use in the lounge room and replace a number of other boxes, some still functional, some obsolete. I will be connecting (via optical cable) to my home theatre receiver/amp (Yamaha RV640) and via DVI to a high definition large screen display (Panasonic or Samsung, plasma or LCD - yet to be decided).

    The system will be used for digital standard definition and HDTV viewing and program capture to HDD; playback of saved video, commercial DVD video and CD audio; burning of selected programs to DVD; and backup of commercial DVD for safe-keeping.

    I sought advice from my local friendly computer shop, and they proposed the following configuration:

    AMD Athlon 64 3200 CPU
    GA K8NSNXP motherboard with nForce3-250 chipset
    1G DDR PC3200 400 MHz
    256 Mb ATI 9600XT SVGA card with DVI out
    Vision Plus HDTV card
    200 Gb Seagate HDD 7200 rpm with 8 Mb cache
    16 speed DVD-/+ RW Pioneer 108 with dual layer
    16 speed DVD LG
    Logitech cordless keyboard and mouse
    Windows XP Home OS

    I suspect some of this is on the high side of performance, and not totally necessary since the only function will be TV and DVD activity, without any application computing to interfere with processing.

    I believe the 200 Gb HDD is necessary for storage. I'll do more research myself on the DVD drives and select the best value for money at the time of committal.

    My main concerns are the video card, the HDTV card, and whether the motherboard audio (purported to be Dolby 5.1 capable) is adequate, or whether I should go for an audio system off the board, like a Creative card.

    I understand Windows Media Centre Edition is only available to selected (Microsoft acceptable) manufacturers, but believe I should be able to achieve what I want with just XP.

    As far as TV reception is concerned, I'm in Australia, we have standard and (some) high definition digital broadcast available via standard antenna and coax, as well as digital cable (standard definition). We don't have program information available for download,so that aspect of the TV card is not important. A remote control for the TV functions would be a desirable feature.

    Is there someone out there who has experience in assembling a home theatre PC who could advise alternative options to those suggested?
     
  2. wild77

    wild77 Guest

  3. Horace11

    Horace11 Member

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    Thanks for that.

    I understand you can't get Windows Media Centre OS without purchasing the hardware as well, and I'm given to believe that only certain brands have been accredited by Microsoft to have it installed.

    Therefore I believe I wouldn't be able to get the OS and install it in a system I assemble myself. Please tell me if I'm wrong.
     
  4. wild77

    wild77 Guest

    I purchased XP PRO there, any hardware such as a fan,cables or whatever is all that is required to purchase OEM software from them.The components you listed would all qualify and should work well
     
  5. Horace11

    Horace11 Member

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    Thank you. I'll give it a try and report progress.
     
  6. Gruelius

    Gruelius Member

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    MCE AHAHAHHA

    www.meedio.com

    It is the best customisable frontend around, the tv tuning end is a bit sketchy but it can be customised to do anything! e.g. i have it installed on my room pc for home theatre and i have it on my mame cabinet to frontend it.
     
  7. project37

    project37 Member

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    a athlon 64 3200 is about as overkill as you can get, I do all of wat you've mentioned on a athlon xp 2200, which is a 1.7ghz without problem. Your ram may be necessary, I have 756 pc 2700, 1 gig is a safe bet. Your video card isn also overkill, you might as well be playing doom 3 with that one, (pretty nifty idea for you) however, currently video cards won't get much cheaper than what you mentioned so seeing that your not on a budget, I saw the video card is a safe bet as well. I have no idea what the hdtv card does, the video card should be able to do what the hdtv card does, anyways, no comment on that. Same with the audio, I have no experience with audio

    AS for you harddrive, 200 gb seagate is fine, there isn't much difference between harddrives and their brands. Actually, I'd go for more than 200 gb :p.

    Last thing to note is that windows xp media center edition is not necessary, you DO NOT want to use windows software to play dvd videos. THere are plenty of other free software out there that works better than windows software, have better user interface, startup faster, and are free!
     
  8. centrix

    centrix Member

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    Make sure your audio is 5.1, or coaxial, most new mb's have that or higher (more speakers), and if you plan on using an HDTV, dont use DVI, the pixel ratio is not ALWAYS 1:1, as well as a limit on text. Try for a projector instead, they display exactly like a monitor...an 80" monitor
     
  9. lon

    lon Regular member

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    One the current PC magazines shows a 'desktop' style PC from Alienware (other vendors to come) which have all the
    media hardware-- including an FM tuner in a desktop design with digital readout panel.

    Have you investigated these?

    I'm using one receiver amp to play tv, dvd, cd, vhs and soundcard. It's the Yamaha RP U100. Connection to
    PC is via USB. These receivers have been discontinued
    and I got one on closeout and rebate. I'm very happy with it.

    But I'd like to move into the Linux world and have
    my RP U100 software working in that OS. No clue if there are Linux USB programs to run the Yam.


     
  10. d2harvey

    d2harvey Guest

    Hi,

    I plan on buying a system from

    http://www.viciouspc.com

    The Commando SLI features a dual GPU mobo that is said to enhance gaming graphics, naturally.

    I am also wanting to use it as a home theatre pc and am curious if I could put a tuner card in place of the second GPU.

    This is what I am trying to set up with one pc:

    Projector & 19in LCD
    Dolby 7.1 sound for theatre
    Dolby 7.1 for gaming Room (closet)



    Please visit Vicious PC and look at the commando SLI
    and add your comments on harware selection and configuration.

    Thanks,
    Dan

     
  11. keza_a

    keza_a Member

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